The Wedding of the Century

Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you — Mr. Jesse Hawkins and Mrs. Rachael Hawkins.




They were married last Saturday afternoon in an outdoor amphitheatre at Brownwood State Park, to my delight and to the applause of approximately 45 friends and family.


This is the terrible loss that I suffered, mentioned in my previous post. I gave up my most beloved daughter – but gained both a wonderful son-in-law and a vast herd of cattle in payment.


More below the cut.


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THB For The Masses

Two Headed Baby played a special gig last weekend.


It was a good weekend for me, in many, many ways. I’m planning to post in more detail on that later today or perhaps tomorrow.


I set up a laptop to record the gig as best I could through a single mic off to the side, and seem to have caught about two-thirds of it on disk. I’ve just finished processing a couple of the songs, and thought you might enjoy listening to THB in full fury.


Rachael was there, and told me that we sounded awesome, but she was being especially kind to her Papa last weekend, because I was suffering a great loss. The audience danced their asses off, and didn’t throw anything sharp or too hard at us. I figure that we probably didn’t suck, much.


Rockin’ In The Free World


Blues Medley



As you may know, our old drummer got bored with just hitting things and wandered off to try to learn how to be another goddam dime-a-dozen guitar player. Bob Yeager, who still enjoys smashing the hell out of everything, has gracefully taken his place.


Caroline Spector on bass, cello, and vocals, Warren Spector on rhythm and lead guitar, Gilda Ginsel on vocals and keyboard, my nice friend Bradley Denton on vocals, harp, and rhythm and lead guitar. I was up there, too, mostly played rhythm guitar.


However, we made the mistake of allowing both GreyLion and Bulky Jones to sit in. And they wanked endlessly. Please forgive them.


I’ve whined repeatedly about the Loudness Wars, but – I smashed the hell out these recordings, just because it seemed the rock ‘n roll thing to do. Another mea culpa for that. I tried to leave a few dynamics in place.


This stuff is meant to be played loud, though, so you should turn the volume knob all the way to the right. I hope your neighbors don’t find it too painful to listen to.



Pics credit to Cheryl Collum, who, incidentally, happens to be my baby sister.

Pessimism — Part One

Instead of a music vid this week, I’d like to recommend to you this half-hour long presentation by a gentleman named Stephen Petranek. It’s called ‘Ten Ways the World Could End’:



It’s from the TED Conference in 2002. This is the secret meeting that the Really Smart Cool People have every year. Up until recently, the proceedings weren’t available to folks who aren’t completely cool and smart. However, last year they started putting stuff on-line. I’m not sure why. Maybe they wanted everybody to know how cool and smart they are.

Massive props to The Dude for turning us on to TED months ago, in an email that that he sent to the secret Brainiac listserv that we maintain, where he told us all about it so we could become cooler and smarter. As if that were possible.

There are over 200 videos up on the TED site, and every one that I’ve viewed so far has been absolutely fascinating.

They’re not all as long as tonight’s featured flick, but you could waste at least a couple of days watching these things and probably enjoy them all. Except it wouldn’t be a waste, as you would become progressively cooler and smarter with each one.

More later tonight, on my personal plans regarding that whole End of the World thing.


I Got Plenty of Nothin’…

I wish there was a Weekly Roundup today, but I’m afraid that the house remodeling adventures of the last two weeks have left me drained of my sanity, energy, and what little I have that passes for wit.

Remodeling, even the “easy” kind we’re doing (replacing our old, animal-ravaged carpets with new hardwood floors and painting), is a nightmare. It’s particularly tough at Casa Spector because The Dude and I are packrats.  The only difference between the two of us is that I tend to collect small stuff like vintage jewelry and The Dude has kept every piece of paper, toy, game, and hang tag that has ever touched his fingers.  This can add up.

Not to put too fine a point on it, but trying to move the, hrummmm, stuff out of The Dude’s room was a week-long trial.  It involved much dust, whining, and several threats.

Dante had Nine Levels in Hell. 

He had obviously never remodeled.

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Take Me Out to the Ball Game…

The Dude was out of town this week.  This usually means I do extensive household projects and indulge in watching even more chick-flickage than usual.  “Sense and Sensibility,” “Pride and Prejudice” — okay, Jane Austen anything — but you see where I’m going.  I really thought I knew the ultimate in chick-flickage.

Boy, was I wrong.

See, I was booping around the dial, and as there was nothing on TV thanks to the writers strike and coverage of the New Hampshire primaries (that’s what the Internet is for, fer crying out loud!), I found myself deep in HD land with sparse pickings from which to choose.

But then I see “We Are Marshall” is playing on HBO HD.  Yay, think I, Uplifting Sports Film.  As The Dude and I are both well into our ohmyGodhas”FridaysNightLights”jumpedtheshark? mode, I was ready for some good ole fashioned football as metaphor.

What I was not ready for was bawling my freaking eyes out for the entire hour and a half of the film.  And as I was dabbing the tears from my eyes for the umpity-umph time, it occurred to me that I should not have been surprised.

See, the thing that I finally twigged to after lo, these many years, is that the biggest tear-jerkers aren’t chick flicks.  No, little precious, they’re sports movies.

Yes, our macho, testosterone-laden men are secretly huge suckers for the most shameless emotional manipulation available known to well, man.

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Jargon Monkey

The heavens tumble, Darling, and I’m… Eliza . . .

Words! Words! Words! I’m so sick of words!
I get words all day through;

“Show Me” from My Fair Lady, Music by Frederick Loewe, Lyrics by Alan Jay Lerner.


Unlike Eliza Doolittle, I have no problem with words.  In fact, I frickin’ adore words.  I’m so enamored of words that The Dude calls me a “Jargon Monkey.” 

I am not at all offended by this.  However, if he started calling me “Monkey Face” like Cary Grant does to Joan Fontaine in Suspicion, I might be less than thrilled.  (On the other hand, if he said it using a Cary Grant accent… but I digress.)

What got me started on the whole, “I love words,” thing, was catching a promo for some movie the other day and one of the characters used the word “shenanigans.”  I was gob-smacked with delight. (Gob-smacked is another word I like.  Okay, maybe it’s more of a phrase, but work with me here, people.)

How often do you hear “shenanigans” used?  Not very.  But it’s a fantastic word.  It rolls off the tongue — rich, full, polysyllabic, completely evocative of what it’s describing.  Damn, that’s some fine word there.  

Later that same day, I was in the pharmacy waiting for a prescription.  At the end of one aisle was an entire end-cap full of “curatives.”  “When did y’all start carrying nostrums?” I asked the pharmacist.  “What are nostrums?” he replied.  I pointed at the end-cap and said, “Palliatives. Potions of questionable efficacy.  Nostrums.”  He nodded.  “Good word.”

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My Fun Saturday Night . . .

I had a swell blog post planned for this week, but I was thwarted.  Instead of regaling y’all with my fantastic wit, I was spending my Saturday night at the emergency room, which isn’t as much fun as it sounds.

I was prescribed Cipro on Thursday.  Saturday night my shins started itching to beat the band.  A few minutes later I started coughing.  It felt like I had a cat hair caught in my throat — which wouldn’t be all that unlikely at Casa Spector — except the coughing wouldn’t stop.

I called the urgent care nurse and she said to go to the ER.

On the drive to the ER, I keep thinking, “Okay, how long does it take to die from asphyxiation?  Two, maybe three, minutes?  How long before there’s irrepairable brain damage?”  Okay, so perhaps I was getting a little melodramatic.  

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Oh, fine…

This week is a semi-kinda-sorta-annual-bi-monthly-whenever-I-feel-like-it column about whatever is interesting/pissing me off this week.

Let’s get started.

First the fun stuff:


Apparently, there’s a cupcake zeitgeist out there.  Who knew. There was all that hubbub about cupcakes on Sex and the City. And The Dude informs me that there was a cupcake-centric storyline on some show called What About Brian.  Again, I say: Who knew.

I was on AOL today and they had an entire list of cupcake bakeries and their “specialties.”  Honestly, I almost got up to bake, but I took a few deep breaths until it passed.

There was also a link to what happens when cupcakes meet knitting.   Some people really need to get out more.

On to more serious matters:

Scott McClellan Finds Reality 

It was attached to his ass all along.

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Making a List, Checking It Twice…

Yeah, yeah, I know, I missed my post for last week and I’m late this week.  And I’m so freaking lazy that I’m stealing my blog idea for this week from The Dude.

Yes, I am THAT lame.

(In my defense, I have a very good reason for last week’s crapping out. And as for this week, it’s early Thanksgiving — at my house.)

The Dude is an inveterate list maker.  He makes lists of his favorite books, movies, and actresses he’s got a crush on who were born no later than 1910.  I make lists that involve groceries, errands, and bill paying.

Obviously, his lists are more fun.

So, I’m embracing my inner Dude and going to leave you with a couple of lists of my own — though the items on said lists are not in order of preference or importance.

Things not to say to your wife/girlfriend:

1. What did you do to your hair?
2. Actually, that does make you look fat.
3. I think you’re overreacting.
4. Yes, “X” is prettier than you.
5. The house looks fine.  My mother won’t notice if the place isn’t clean.
6. Is it right before your period?
7. Did you lose weight?
8. Did you gain weight?
9. Oh my God, Edyta Sliwinska has a smoking hot bod.  (Which is true, but must it be commented on every time she appears on TV?)

10. Are you sure you’re not on your period?

Things not to say when you’re in a band:

1. This is my girlfriend, Yoko.
2. You’ve been playing it in E? I thought we were playing it in F# minor.
3. Let’s make “Cocaine” our ten-minute jam song. (In all fairness, only the bass player will want to kill you.)
4. I think you’re turned up too loud.
5. You’re not turned up enough.
6. You know what would really make our sound?  An accordion.
7. Well, she’s not a good singer, but she’s HOT!
8. I think we should go for a combination of Led Zeppelin and Maurice Chevalier.
9. Let’s cover “My Heart Will Go On.”
10. This is my girlfriend, Yoko.

The Short List:

The “Go To” books when I need something wonderful to read:

Brittle Innings by Michael Bishop
Queen’s Gambit by Walter Tevis
Geek Love by Katherine Dunne

A Hard Rain is Gonna Fall . . .

 A few months ago, I was talking to Mom.  The conversation ambled around, as most of our conversations do given how similar I am to the tree I fell from, when out of the blue Mom said, darkly, “Well, some people don’t turn off the water when they brush their teeth.  They just leave it running.  It’s wasting water.”

Now this is a potentially big minefield for a myriad of reasons, so I said, “Well, Mom, not everyone lived in San Antonio during bad drought years.  Some people don’t understand drought on that kind of level.”

You see, from 1949 to roughly 1956, the eastern part of the Edwards Plateau (a region in Texas where my mother grew up) had a drought about as bad as the one in the Great Plains during the 1930s.

I got to thinking about this conversation when we were in Chapel Hill, N.C. a few weeks ago.  Marilyn, one of The Dude’s relatives, said to me, “You’ve been getting all the rain this year.  We need it here.  Everything is drying up and dying.”

I could understand her frustration.  Here in Central Texas, we struggle with drought.  A lot.  Austin seems especially prone to it.  I’ve seen months when every county around ours is getting rain and we’re the big dry spot in the middle. 

What I didn’t tell Marilyn is that she and everyone else in the Southeast better gird their loins and get used to drought.  Odds are they’re going to be seeing a lot more of it.

Atlanta, shockingly enough, is almost out of water — as in down to about a 90-day supply.  And now the governor is a battle with the Army Corps of Engineers over whether there’s a water  emergency at all. 

We’re so used to drought here in Austin that they print up the lawn-water rotation days and include them with electric statements.  And residents of California are plenty familiar with water shortages.  Those of us in traditional drought-prone states are the lucky ones.  We already know – on a baby level – what it is to deal with a lack of water.

Water scarcity is going to be the next big oil crisis.  (Along with, you know, the next big oil crisis.)

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I wish I could laugh

but that joke isn’t funny anymore

it’s too close to home

and it’s too near the bone

it’s close to home

and it’s too near the bone

          . . . more than you’ll ever know . . . 

“That Joke Isn’t Funny Anymore” The Smiths (Morrissey and Marr)

                            *    *   *

I’m supposed to be snarky here, I know.  But I’m fresh out of snark.

See, the ridiculous circus that the U.S.A. has become in the last six years has just about wrung out every ounce of laughter in me.  And the past week has turned me into a full-fledged, chuckle-free zone.

What did me in was the culmination of the events of last week with this morning’s headline in the Austin American-Statesman: U.S. to Monitor Blackwater.

“What the f–?!”  I said.  The Dude was reading the front page and it was the first thing that caught my eye.

“Yeah,” he said.  “Our troops are going to be sent along with Blackwater security details.”

Color me confused,” I said.  “But why haven’t we FIRED THEIR ASSES!”

“This is why you shouldn’t read the paper first thing in the morning.  It makes you yell.”

                                *   *   *

Blackwater has been operating in Iraq with almost complete immunity from any of their actions.  Please explain to me the freaking insane clown-logic the legislature and Bush administration used to make the decision NOT to pull every one of Blackwater’s contracts, but decided instead to send our soldiers along with these asshats to keep an eye on them? 

(Blackwater has been so successful in no small part because it’s a killer-for-hire outfit cloaking itself in right-wing-Christian mufti.  The founder of Blackwater is Erik Prince, a fundamentalist millionaire who is butthole buddies with Gary Bauer.  Lovely.  ‘Cause nothing says “Love Thy Neighbor” quite like putting a bullet between his eyes.)

 Blackwater USA

But let’s not be coy about this anymore.  Part of the reason there’s a need for outfits like Blackwater in Iraq is that the recruitment levels are down and our forces are stretched to the breaking point.  And the reason that military recruitment is down is that it has finally gotten bad enough in Iraq that no one can even pretend it’s anything other than a cluster fuck. (For those of you with a more sensitive bent, insert: quagmire.)

But let’s be honest here.  Blackwater is in Iraq just like Halliburton is in Iraq.  Because Uncle Sam’s money spigot is on and it’s time to fill up before the faucet gets shut off.  (Blackwater was even in New Orleans post-Katrina.  Please tell me why we had hired mercenaries policing United States citizens.  Oh never mind, there’s no good answer to that.  No, don’t even try.)

We have come to a sorry pass in 2007 when our cowardly legislators and BushCo will send under-paid, under-armed, over-extended soldiers to babysit thugs-for-hire rather than take on those well-connected thugs’ bosses.  We might as well be pissing on the heads of those under-paid, under-armed, over-extended soldiers.

Yeah, and those of us who want to bring our troops home are the anti-soldier ones.

Oh, and Captain Bunnypants vetoed the SCHIP bill on Thursday.  ‘Cause as if treating our soldiers like ass isn’t enough, we should make certain that poor children don’t get medical insurance.  Because, you know, if poor children have medical insurance, the terrorists win.    

It’s Only A Game…

When I was still a dewy-eyed young thing, I moved to Austin.  (This was a looong time ago.) I’d recently rediscovered comic books, and one of my first outings upon getting settled was a trip to Austin Books to pick up my weekly fix of funny books.

When I returned the next week, Ron Tatar, the manager, offered me a job.

One afternoon, about a month after I started working, two guys came into the store.  One was a tall, thin job and the other was a shorter guy with a beard.  They were buying their weekly fix of funny books and we struck up a conversation.

This is how I met The Dude.

Now I didn’t know he was going to be The Dude when we met.  There were many complicating factors in the way of our eventual romance, none of which I’m going to detail here. (Oh, I know you’d like me to, but, no, I’m taking the high road.  Which will leave most of you who know me completely baffled, I know.)

Flash forward to a year or so later.  I’m still working at Austin Books, when one day I get offered a job working at Steve Jackson Games as Assistant Marketing Director.  (The title is so they don’t have to pay me as much as they would a secretary.)  I take the job.  I show up for work, and who should be there but The Dude.  Turns out he’s Editor-in-Chief.  

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Eat it…


I made food for the sometime Two-Headed Baby band last weekend.  Now normally, we get barbeque when we play at Barb and Brad’s.  And now that we jam at Bob and Maureen’s every other week, Maureen cooks.

And that’s how I came to realize the Not Maureen-ness of me.

You see, Maureen approaches cooking like a conductor approaches a new score.  If you’ve been reading EOB, you know that she also writes about cooking in an elegy-like way.  (Some examples are here.  Go.  Read.  I can wait.)

Okay, so now you know just how lyrically she writes about food (and cooks for that matter).

It’s just a little daunting for the likes of me, because this is how I approach cooking: 


1)      Get Brisket from store.  Spend ten minutes in front of open cooler debating what size brisket to get.  Get uncomfortably cold. Choose brisket you’re currently holding when you realize you’re too nippley to be out in public. Hold brisket in front of chest until you’re out of cold section.

2)      Take brisket home.  Open packaging and torment dog with bloody wrapper.  Throw wrapper into garbage.  Dog worships at the altar of the garbage can for the rest of the afternoon.

3)      Put brisket into pan.  Curse when you realize brisket is too big for current pan and requires the larger pan which currently lives in the most inconvenient spot in the house. Open closet where pan lives and Fibber McGee your way inside.  Locate pan and then spend the next two hours putting closet back together.

4)      Put brisket into new larger pan.  Pour beer over brisket until it comes half-way up the side of brisket.  Drink rest of beer. Decide the brisket needs just a touch more beer.  Add another dollop of beer from new bottle.  Drink rest of second beer.  Continue reading

What It’s Really About

Maureen worked like crazy on our lovely Board of Directors dinner and she said, “It was perfect. Everytime I looked up hands were waving and people were talking and laughing and having a wonderful time.” She later confessed if we hadn’t, Plan B was to get us all totally shitfaced.


Still, I think the picture below really shows the evening.

Saturday’s Child Has Far to Go…

So, I’m at Armadillocon this past weekend, and I’m on the “Group Blogging” panel with fellow Brainiacs Steve Gould, Maureen McHugh, and Brad Denton.  (Rory Harper and Madeleine Robins were in the audience and refused to come up and sit on the panel.  Ya damn cowards!) 

Also on the panel were three of the contributors to the No Fear of the Future group blog.  I knew I was seriously boned because not only was I surrounded by my far smarter EOB wankers (Okay, they’re all smarter than me.  Happy now?), but the guys from NFotF were Jayme Lynn Blaschke, Chris Nakashima-Brown, and Jess Nivens.

Ye gods.  Chris is one of the funniest people on the planet.  Really.  I’ve involuntarily horked up god-only-knows-what while reading him.  Jayme has a freakish and encyclopedic knowledge of The Green Arrow.  He’s done loads of other work, but after that Green Arrow thing, I think y’all should be plenty impressed.  And then there’s Jess, who wrote The Encyclopedia of Fantastic Victoriana.  And if you don’t know why that’s intimidating, well, harrumph.

So there I am surrounded by talent and intellect like Custer at Little Big Horn.  And I’m supposed to write my blog post the next day.  How the hell am I supposed to write anything after that?  I couldn’t even raise up a good snark. Hence the lateness of this week’s post.

So I’m going to write about getting my landscaping done this week and seal my fate as lamest group blogger evah… 

*    *   *

The Dude and I finally broke down and did some landscaping at The Gecko House this past week.  We didn’t do it because we love the outdoors and felt a burning need to be out there all the time.  No, we did it for the dog. 


Maggie came up lame a few weeks ago, and at first, the vet thought she had torn her ACL.  After the x-ray showed no tear, she spent a week on pain meds.  That and short walks cleared the problem up.  But the vet said the rocky nature of our back yard probably wasn’t helping things.  So I did what I said I would never do: I replaced the river rock in the backyard with grass.   Continue reading