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Dallas, Texas, United States

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

I Hated That Picture Yesterday...

...so I had to take a couple of pictures of CruiserDog, fresh from getting his hair done. Isn't this better than that rodent pic?

This was CruiserDog taking a well-deserved nap. The beauty parlor is so taxing. It's hard to be this handsome.

This is the intense stare my sandwich got once he woke up. He seems to forget that he always gets the last bite, not the first.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Where's A Pied Piper When You Need One?

A month or two ago, a friend of mine had an up-close-and-personal encounter in my backyard during the day with a mother possum (and her babies - aw...how ugly) near some bushes that line my patio. I never saw "momma" or her little ones and figure they moved on to greener pastures, or at least next door. And that was good. Amen.
Fast-forward to yesterday afternoon...I'm chatting away on the phone and something grabbed my attention on the patio, poking it's little furry nose through a latticed brick wall that is between my patio and aforementioned bushes.
"It's a little bunny!", I exclaimed. No wait - aw for the love of Todd, it's a goddamn mouse. Phuckity phuck.
I've hardly had any bugs in this house that I bought 6 years ago (good thing!) and now I have a frickin' mouse. Gotta call some guy with a giant fiberglass termite on his car, I guess. It's not like I didn't blow a wad of cash on my trips this summer. It's only money, right?
I continued with my convo when suddenly cute little mouse steps through the hole in the brick wall and scampers towards my sliding glass door.
Oh hell no - that ain't no mouse - it's a RAT!
Needless to say, CruiserDog is now pottying in the front yard thankyouverymuch, until "Ben" is properly evicted.
I called today to get someone out right away and to my complete gross-out surprise, I was told rats travel in at least pairs and they can birth 10 micies (who will "do it" with eachother) every 45 days and so on and so on and they tell two friends and they tell two friends.... you get the picture.
I pondered selling the house briefly, but was told that my new superhero Joe (who surely drives a car with a gianormous fiberglass rodent on it's roof - which will thrill the neighbors) will be right out to put out a "bait station" which cannot hurt, nor even attract CruiserDog, but will make Ben and his family to have an upset stomach, not want to take it to the fam, go under someone's woodpile (of which I don't have - heh) and depart this world. (No worries, I asked about secondary death and this place is super-green and even if a neighbor's cat or dog were to find ex-Ben, they would not be made ill. I'm nothing if not a responsible pet lover.)
And I sit here wondering how many nights I took CruiserDog in the back yard barefooted and unarmed. My skin crawls as I type that sentence. There's only one word that comes to mind: eeewwwwwwwwwww.
Ratatouille anyone?

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Being Platinum Has It's Privileges

Ahoy, mateys! Yes, CruiserMel has finally grabbed an opportunity to continue the rep of CruiserDiety. I was beginning to wonder why I was calling myself CruiserMel at all, frankly, since it had been a year (or was it more?) since I had hit the high seas. But as you know, my year's been wacky what with my madre's passing and all that goes with that, as well as some other shit that you needn't worry your warped little mind about, you four folks who actually read this lame blog.

It all started out with a lone, but oh so fun drive to Houston on Saturday. I plugged in my iPod to the AUX plug of the CruiserCar and shuffled my way through 4 hours of my favorite tunes, slogged through Houston's God-awful traffic (on a Saturday?), found my hotel and asked the front desk idiot where I could get some fresh seafood for dinner. (I'd been Jonesin' all day...) She pointed me to THE most touristy and overcrowded area of Houston (Kemah, actually) wherein I got mired in yet another hour of traffic before I could give up, turn around and hit a hamburger drive-through. I supposed I could've chosen the fish sandwich, but since it was probably processed in June somewhere in Arizona, I elected to go traditional and get a burger and headed to my hotel. *sigh* I think I talked on the phone a couple of hours and watched some Olympic action til I passed out.

Sunday morning was bright and shiny and I was on my way to the pier in Galveston, a mere 20 minutes away! There she was - the Conquest. My dear old friend who I've sailed upon 3 or 4 times prior, and she was looking perdy good with her red, white, and blue funnel towering over the city. I parked the car and waited in the heat for the shuttle bus to take me the 8 blocks to the ship, but punted that waiting idea to the curb when it looked like I would sooner melt into the pavement than get on a bus in the next hour. So I schlepped it. Yes, I ain't no pansy-assed little girl - I am woman - and I am pissy - so get me on that air-conditioned ship, dammit!

It didn't take me long to get those cruise muscles working again - first, dump my stuff in my cabin, then grab some of their great pizza on deck, boat drill (ugh), and then sailawaytime with a drink in my hand!!!! Goodbye Galveston! Goodbye reality!

I won't bore you with the minute details of each day, but suffice to say that here was my usual M.O.:

Awaken around noon.
Watch telly until 1:00 while hydrating from previous night's activities.
Shower and dress.
Emerge from room, pasty and pale around 3:00.
Go to Lido deck for nourishment and maybe a little sunshine. (Vitamin D, ya know.)
Hit casino from 5 - 7.
Dress for dinner.
Hit casino from 7:20 until 8:15 dinner.
Trudge through dinner with weird people who were assigned to my table. More later.
Hit casino from 10:00 until 3 or 4 a.m.
Cavort, if the opportunity presents itself. heh
Pass out.

Once, I went on a cruise where I swear, we spent every living moment in the casino, with a plan to get ourselves completely sunburned on the final day of the cruise so we'd look like we'd been on vacation. Naturally, that last day - rain. Lots and lots of rain. So - when I went back to work, my boss joked "Spend the whole cruise in the casino, Mel?" SOOOO - that's why I made sure to spend at least a few minutes in the sun each day on this one. No burn, but I wouldn't say I look like the vampire I truly am.

About my dinner partners.... I love assigned seating for dinner, particularly when I'm travelling alone, which I did on this particular cruise. When you're assigned to a table, you get to know the 7 or 8 others dining with you over the course of the week and I've made some very good friends this way. I still exchange Christmas cards with a couple I met back in 1992 to this day!

The first night, only 2 of us showed up for dinner. Myself and a man 2-plus decades my senior. He was nice enough I guess. I remembered his name because of a famous guitar player - B.B. He was from Arizona or California or something out that way. (Because he was clearly not going to be of romantic interest to me, I kinda zoned out while he talked a bit.) He seemed to be fairly hip for someone his age - using terms like "been there, done that" and "dude," albeit it wouldn't fly on BET or MTV nowadays, but he was trying. We had a nice dinner and then, natch, I headed to the casino to get my ass handed to me on a platter (nicely decorated with the Carnival logo). But enough of that.

The next night, my gentleman dining partner showed up, in a nice suit and a ... wait for it ... toupee to end all toupees! His real hair was grey on the sides but obviously his toupee-maker didn't get that message and the lid on his head was black as night! Ummm, kay. Mentally, I gave him a pass, thinking that the lighting in the cabins isn't so great, so it was possible that I had too much makeup on - and I didn't want to call the kettle...well, you know. I had one question about B.B., but didn't have the cahoonas to ask, so I'll just post it here and hopefully I'll feel better. B.B., if you don't call yourself a complainer, why do you always complain about everything and send every entree back (after eating 1/2) to order another one? Just askin.

There were 4 ladies who joined us that night! Yay - I don't have to sit here making convo with grandpa all alone anymore! They were a woman (about 70?), her daughter, and her daughter's daughters (17 and 19). They were lovely women from near Dallas, so we had some things in common.

Until.......they all ordered Caesar salads. Every night. Did I mention these were lovely women? Don't lady-like manners usually go with the term "lovely women?" Let me tell you - these ladies would sit there prim and polite, hands in repose in their laps until the exact moment they must've had some silent starter gun go off in their heads and they grabbed their forks like a joy stick, poked into the poor lettuce and hacked away with ferocity until there was little left but minced greenery. The din of the silverware clacking against the dish was deafening. I swear, I heard the Eagles singing in my head "They stabbed it with their steely knives, but they could not kill the beast." Swear! Every night without fail they would mince their salads into a puree before ever taking a bite. That song was the only thing that would throw a bit of humor into my thoughts which kept me from buying a copy of an etiquette book and forcing them to read it before each dinner. It was gross and funny all at the same time. Can you tell this sorta soured my original thoughts about these ladies. Uh - yeah.
I spent quite alot of time just gazing at the sea between naps, eating and blackjack. I would've gazed at the people, but if you'd seen them, you'd swear off all eating for life. You've heard of Doctors Without Borders? This was People Without Mirrors! Do they really make bathing suits in size 46? Some men had bigger back boobs than my front boobs. And let's talk about back hair, shall we? Somebody give me a barf-bag. One guy (or maybe he was a bear) got in the pool and he started to friggin' shed and scared a little girl. Uncool, dood. And there should be a law against wearing bikinis unless you look like a supermodel. I mean it. If you've got a jiggle - and that means just about anyone over 30 - I've got one word for you: cover that shit the fuck up! Okay that was six words. Tough.
I didn't get off the ship but once - Cozumel - but only to go to my favorite dive for some fabulous guac and a bottle of Mexican beer. Here's a question that floated into my brain as I was wandering through some stores: How come they speak perfect English in Mexico to us tourists, yet in Texas, they claim "No hablo"????? Huh???
Get a load of the color of this water! Does that color actually exist in Nature?

Here are some pics I took of the cute little towel animals my steward (Arjawa) left on my bed each night. They were a nice substitute for my precious CruiserDog - well, for a week. Towel animals are one of the little niceties about cruising. I know, it's corny. I don't care. Thwpt.

I'm a card-carrying platinum Carnival-holic, which means I've been on more cruises with Carnival than the Captain, which gets me some special privileges, some of which are pretty cool. After schlepping my luggage eight blocks and presenting my sweaty self to the pier - I got to bypass 2500 others waiting in line to get to the A/C. This was good. I also got special treatment by the giftshop clerks, barkeeps, and waiters when my sail & sign card (yes, it was platinum) was presented. This was good. There was a special cocktail party for previous cruisers and a special wink to the platinum cruisers, of which there were only 12 on board. Two nights I was surprised by beautiful plates of canapes and petit fours. I felt like I needed to invite company over for cocktails when these beauts showed up at my door. Check this out - pretty, huh?

Though I did alot of praying in the casino, there were times I prayed to be 19 years old and cute again. Here is just one example of the hundreds of specimens between 18 and 22 available on board. Girls - if you want one of these, go cruising the week before school starts. These guys outnumbered the girls 3 to 1. Oh. My. God. I'm feeling perverted just typing this.

All too soon, the week was over and I had a bartab that exceeded most of my past cruise tabs now that Todd has taught me to enjoy Martinis at $10 a pop. Yikes. But I was properly vacationed and now I am back to reality, working my way towards my next cruise. Ain't life grand?

Friday, August 08, 2008

Toddtopia Texas Style, The Next Chapter

I promised you kids a Part Deux to my Adventures in Toddtopia, Texas Style, didn't I? Easier said than done, now that almost three weeks has passed, but I'll give it the ole college try...

When we last left our heroes, Doug & CruiserMel were heading back to Dallas from a fantastic night in Austin seeing Todd Rundgren & his merry band (literally). We busied ourselves by brainstorming about how to best commemorate the upcoming one year anniversary of RundgrenRadio and oh shit, I can't remember.

We got home in time to freshen up before heading out to the House of Blues to meet up with more fans for dinner before the show. It was fun, once again, to meet up with like minds and to break bread over gumbo and cocktails for awhile.

Then it was time for the show. I don't know how many of you have been to the Dallas HOB, but it's a jewel! Very roomy and not a bad seat (or standing place) in the house.

I staked my claim down front on Rachel's side of the stage. I'm not sure why - I mean, yes, I usually take up residency on that side of the stage because Kasim's usually there, but I'm not married to that idea when Rachel's holding up the bass end of the show. But she's fascinating to watch! She's a tiny little pixie and she's just beautiful (according to the men in the crowd), but what's so exciting is the poise and ease she shows while hitting these booming basslines with panache while still looking great. Girl power squared.

A few songs into the set, Todd was warmed up and doing his signature spins and scissor kicks. Not friggin bad for 60, which is now the new 30 in his case. Can I get an amen?!?!?

It was the final chord flourish and Todd spun around to stage right and down he went into the audience. Yessir, he fell 6 feet to the floor and onto a barricade of sorts, while spinning with his guitar. And btw, the guitar sounded just fine. There was some commotion, Jesse Gress pulled him up onto the stage, then some "adjustment" done, and Todd approached the mic with an announcement that it's true - they are made of steel.

That fall seemed to give him incentive to push himself to the limit and Todd did not disappoint for a second at the Dallas show. Great fun - good stories - great licks - and an even finer honed body of new music thrilled the crowd.

Yup, that's Mr. RundgrenRadio himself, gettin his hug on with Todd's wife. Yeah, she looks like she minds. Uh huh. *wink*

Not to be outdone, CruiserMel got some snuggle on with the Missus. Take that, Dougie!

Oh yeah, I'd started with single malt scotch that day. So now I know what I look like when I'm a little lit. Niiiiice. Ugh.

Anywhooooo, moving on....once again, Pippi and I started the "raise the roof" dance move during "Mountaintop" - sure to become the next sports anthem at your favorite NFL games - and I was thrilled to turn around at one point to find most, if not all, fans raising the roof in unison. (If this will be my claim to fame, there are worse things to be famous for, right?)

All too soon, the show was over. So wrong. So wrong. I could watch this guy perform every night - same songs even - and I would be thrilled each and every time. I debated going to Houston the next day for his show, but passed on it. Now I regret that decision as it would be a matter of weeks (over a month, Todd dammit!) before I would get a chance to see Mr. Rundgren again. Wahhhh.

At the end of this month - yup, here CruiserMel goes again - I'm headed to Vegas to see Todd front the "It Was 40 Years Ago Today" tour - a Sgt. Pepper all-star show. Todd? Beatles? What could possibly make that better? Oh yeah - VEGAS, baby!

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

My Favorite Restaurant

I always knew I loved their food. Now I know I love their attitude.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Adventure in Toddtopia, Texas Style

I promised you guys a recap of my Todd in Texas / Birthday weekend several days ago and I plan on making good on my promise. So, without further ado, I give you my Adventure in Toddtopia, Texas style.

Lil bro Doug flew all the way from Alabama (and boy, were his arms tired, ha ha) Saturday morning. I picked him up at the aeropuerto in the CruiserCar and we high-tailed it the 3 1/2 hour drive to Austin. Along the way we stopped for colaches in a town called West. The Czechs pronounce that like this: ko-lah-chees. Apparently, in Alabama, they call them ko-laaks. Woops, there go my eyeballs rolling back in their sockets. Boys. Tsk.

We finally got to Austin, threw our stuff in our hotel rooms, and made it to a late lunch with the mother of a Heisman trophy winner. I can't tell you who's mother it was or I'd have to kill ya, but suffice to say, he had roots at UT and is currently with the Miami Dolphins and is recognized by his dreadlocks and arrests. That vague enough? *wink* She was lovely and we had a good time while they discussed whether the Dolphins will emerge victorious or not this year.

Then it was back to the hotel for CruiserMel to take a nap and apparently for Doug to hit his bottle of Gentleman Jack pretty good. I woke up, whored-up, then met Doug as we began our Todd in Texas adventure. Doug was feeling very little pain at this point and I was anxious to get started medicating myself, as well.

Austin is one groovin' place - I'd say there's probably a bar for each citizen. Seriously, there are bars with live music everywhere you turn! I'm not sure how people live there - not that it's a bad place, au contraire; but it's just too fun! I suppose a person would have to occasionally work to pay for all that fun, but it sure would be hard to not make a personal goal-chase out of trying to go to each and every bar within a year or so. I thought New Orleans was hoppin' - but I believe Austin is a close second.

We met up with some fellow Toddstockers (and other Toddheads who weren't fortunate enough to go to Toddstock in Kauai back in June) at an Irish pub called Fado's. They'd held a special area for us and it was just great. Many of us ventured out to the patio though - to prepare for what was surely going to be a hot night - in many ways.

Then it was about time for the show, so we walked around the corner to Antone's, thinking we'd be able to waltz right in. *screech* There was a line wrapped around the building. Hmph, getting to the front of this crowd wasn't going to be easy, but to see such a great turnout for Our Hero was a very good thing for Todd. Austinites are really very nice folks. I wouldn't expect anything else from Toddheads.

Antone's very quickly filled to its capacity and being a little person, I knew that making my way up front was going to be difficult, if not excruciatingly hot, so we hung back at the side where we could breathe and yet have a great view of the band from the wings.
Kasim isn't playing bass on this tour, so I wasn't too heartbroken to not have my elbows on the stage this time. Besides, Rachel Haden is playing bass this time, so trying to get through the guys who are drooling and taking up space below her is completely futile. What do you guys think? She's cute, right?
Eventually, our friend Steve found us and asked our help in getting Toddtinis to the stage for the band. He'd brought light-up martini glasses for the occasion. We each took 1 or 2 drinks and it was amazing how the crowd parted for us. Taking nectar to the Todd takes precedence over having a good view if you're a true Toddhead. The band drank the Toddtinis like Gatorade. Then again, it was about 105 degrees in there, so you would, too.

I finished watching the show with my legs pressed against the stage between Rachel and Todd. Man, those folks were workin' the crowd. It was one of the best Todd shows I've seen in a long time.
I hadn't heard the new material since Kauai and the band has definitely been gellin' like felons. It was phenomenal. I'll do a separate blog entry about the new stuff later, but let me tell you - it blows the shit that's out there now AWAY. The cd hasn't come out yet, but there are enough bootlegs floating around that most people knew every word and crowd-participatory move to make without being instructed. Rhythmic fist pumps were common as the music just demands that.

That's me, next to Pippi (her Hawaiian name) wearing her Hawaiian lights in her hair. She's hysterical and crazy and she's a die-hard fan I met in Kauaii at Toddstock. Todd loved it when we "raised the roof" during "Mountaintop." Could this be the start of a new dance move? You bet it was! By the end of the song, I had a good part of the crowd doing it. Who knew CruiserMel would start a dance craze! Thanks, Pippi for helping me out. You get equal kudos, girl.

After the show was done, we hung out a little bit and then headed for Thai food, where we sang 80's songs at the top of our lungs until the wee hours and then headed for the hotel. Oh yes, this trip was worth it. No doubt.

The next morning, it was rise & shine and back in the car for the ride to Dallas.

Tune in next time for the continuing saga of Doug & CruiserMel's Adventure in Toddtopia, Texas style!