This was a genteel little neighborhood party, the kind where a woman could remark how God had provided such a wonderful day for a party and not mean it ironically. And the musical entertainment was what you might expect in such a venue: a strolling guitarist, a woman singing show tunes a capella (for those of you who don't speak Italian, that means singing with a mouthful of capers. It creates a kind of warbly tone while at the same time encouraging guests not to sit too close to the stage.) With the exception of a band which may have been playing together for the very first time, but their eccentric musicianship is not what captures the forefront here, even though the harmonica player has achieved a tone that causes in the listener a desire to convert all his or her assets to cash and buy a plane ticket to Nepal, hire a handful of Sherpas, climb the highest mountain, and enter the monastery that perches on top of said mountain, never again to descend to altitudes which might nurture similar sounds as emitted by that harmonica player. No, it was the songwriting prowess of the lead singer, who uttered the above lyrics repeatedly and loudly while the ladies present fanned their bosoms and pretended to examine the magnolia trees surrounding them. It was a memorable performance, and I was moved to hold up my lighter toward the end of the set. Aside from that slight dissonance, it was a genteel and neighborly evening, the kind you still encounter in southern towns. I hope such gatherings continue to thrive, and I don't even mean that ironically.



This event was billed as "Clash of the Comics", and it was interesting to see which of the ten or so contestants showed a real spark of originality and comic timing. I wrote off half of them from the get-go for assuming that the mere mention of "fat chicks" rated a guaranteed belly laugh. Douglas was good; so were a couple of others. The headliner, Quincy Carr, knew how to handle the crowd and had some inspired moments. It was a beautiful evening on the fountain plaza outside, but after a few more steps it became painfully clear we were in the middle of Virginia Beach. 


This is Ron Neale, a fellow art director/illustrator from the glory days at Lawler Ballard many years ago. Ron likes to dismantle and pack up his big-ass telescope and reassemble it on Colley Avenue in front of the Naro, to give people a look at whatever's on the bill up in the sky. Last night it was a blow-you-away version of the surface of the moon in amazing detail, plus as a second feature, a view of Saturn that I didn't get a chance to see, being shouldered out of the way by moviegoers pouring out of the theater, yearning to ooh and ahh over the celestial show after urghing and arghing over The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. Ron doesn't make a cent on this non-entrepreneurial venture, he just wants other people to see what he sees. After a day of dealing with banker types who looked at me and saw only profit, loss and risk, it did me good to run into Ron again. Thanks, pal.


I'm not going to say anything bad about people who like to paint pictures of barns. More power to them, I say. Well, a little more power to them, not unlimited power to them. I wouldn't want to be told which side of the street I could park on on Tuesdays by a person who likes to paint pictures of barns. For one thing, I don't own a car, so what would I park? They might suggest a tractor or a combine, and I don't have either of those, either. So you see my problem.

By the way, just to head off scurrilous comments by certain readers, and you know who you are (well, you all know who you are, but especially you scurrilous-comment-makers know who you are), that's not a naughty bit hanging out of the man's pantleg, it's one of the poles holding up the painting wall. So just behave yourself and say something nice.


They do so at their own peril. Peril, in this case, consists of pinching and scratching, but still. I guess standing around talking to friends is more important to some people than taking notice of strangers with striking good looks and brimming over with talent. That last statement is meant to be sarcastic, by the way. I certainly wouldn't stand around talking to friends if there was the chance of spotting a famous artist in our midst.* I mean, this is an arts festival, right?

*Note to self: get some friends, if only to support my thesis.


It was kinda fun seeing the old farts of advertising blathering their usual blather. And the movie was pretty good too. Ah ha ha ha ha ha ha. Seriously, the rocket launch metaphor was a bit over the top. Would have been funny if George Lois had popped back in and said, "this isn't fucking rocket science, folks." But no, they were sincere, apparently. 


I've been trying to swear off the ranting, I really have. It's just that Fox News has a way of twanging my very last Vestibulocochlear nerve. And I don't even watch them. Little sound bytes from that godforsaken enterprise just seem to ooze through the cracks. Now they're trumpeting the news that the recent blizzards are proof that global warming is a hoax. Jumpin' Jesus on a pogo stick! Where does one start? We're accused by our conservative brethren of being condescending and disdainful, but is there any other sane response to this claptrap? It's our solemn duty to be disdainful of this shit! How could anyone who made it out of third grade believe that a blizzard means global warming is fraudulent? Okay. Deep breath. Serenity now. Think calming thoughts. Think about Sean Hannity out in a blizzard in his onesie. Ahhhhhh.


I have one of these little laser pen things. We got it to play with Bernice, but she just looks away with disdain. Most disappointing, though, is its inability to burn holes through stuff. I aimed it at a woman at the supermarket for a good three minutes, and all I got was a little smoldering on her puffy down jacket. What about the ability to zip one across someone's midsection, and they just stand there for a moment and then their top half topples off? I know they have those, I've seen them in the movies.


Pennsylvanians wouldn't have given it a second thought. Minnesotans would have said, "Finally! A break in the weather!" But when Hampton Roadsians heard there might be snow tonight, they hopped into their SUVs and headed for the store to stock up on provisions for the few hours they may be housebound. From the looks of us, though, it wouldn't have hurt any of us to miss a meal. As for me, I was there on an emergency mission: I had waited until the last possible moment to change Bernice's litter. Some of my cattier and olfactory-sensitiver neighbors might have opined that I had waited quite a bit longer than that, but I've had it with their opining, if you want to know the truth. Anyway, when I removed the lid to her litter box (the lidded box was the gift of a houseguest--kind of a strange gift, isn't it? Don't know what was up with that), I discovered a cat-poop Mount Rushmore in there. I think I even made out John Boehner's craggy profile, although the day he makes it onto Mount Rushmore is the day I hop a freighter for East Timor. As for making it through the blizzard, I just checked the larder. Two bottles of 120-minute IPA. I'm good.

Click here to see the hatching in all its glory.


I chose not to depict the background here, because it mainly consisted of a giant overwrought sculpture of Neptune festooned with disgusting sea creatures (and is there any other kind?) in some sort of bizarre symbiotic relationship into which I care not to delve. As a cruel, derisive, arrogant joke, the sculptor has placed a giant sea turtle in such a fashion as to suggest that Neptune is greatly moved by all this seafood hanging off his body, if you get my drift. Those darned artists!


I try to immerse myself in the beachy milieu, I really do. Well, not enough to remove my long pants and Members Only jacket, or to wear sunglasses, which I consider twin discs of hostility--Cool Hand Luke, hello?--or to remove my shoes and socks, which would run the risk of promoting stampedance among the crowds of water buffalo within eyeshot of the unleashed multi-colored horn-like growths protruding from the ends of my toes, which a podiatrist with decades of experience might recognize as toenails, and by the way, that felicitous "multi-colored" descriptor comes from my pal Wayne, who, residing in the same age bracket, knows whereof he speaks. And it's true, I wisely refrain from shuffling out onto the burning sands and collapsing on the hardpan, roasting in my own juices, slowly lapsing into a coma, until I'm aroused by an overzealous nearsighted whale rescue volunteer. Think about it: if it weren't for the presence of the toxic brew of sodium somethingtrate lapping against the shore, teeming with nightmarish creatures whose only goal in life is to sting you and die, or perhaps lay their eggs in you and die, then we'd be stranded in a desert, and crying piteously for rescue, iinstead of basting ourselves with noxious ointments and listening to the worst music in recorded history. So, as I believe I've adequately demonstrated, I try, I really try, but I remain unpersuaded.