Tegan and Sara Just Might Be the New Best Thing

This duo caught my ear on the work commute a few months back on Sirius Radio’s 108 (OutQ).  I don’t know all that much about Tegan and Sara except they’re twin lesbians originally from Canada (more here).  The single that really gave a yank to my ear is “I’m Not Your Hero” (check out the Eo3 remix below).  It’s a piece of ear candy that I want to listen to over and over again.

However, after trying out a number of of their other songs on youtube, I found most of them just kind of unpolished, though that sound may be a draw for some of their fans.  This past Monday night Tegan and Sarah were one of the groups performing on Logo‘s NewNowNext award show.  That live performance, too, left me wanting something.  The energy they give off is akin to that of a graduate student in a professional writing program.

That last analogy hits you as over-harsh, but should this pair keep on with the sound, on what I take is their latest single, “I Was a Fool,” Tegan and Sara may just be the new best thing.  This new one is clean and the lyrics pull you in.  Hope you take a listen.

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On the Road Home: You Know You’re Getting Old When . . .

I can hardly wait till March 10th when Daylight Savings Time returns.  I live for evenings when there’s still enough daylight that I don’t feel like bedtime comes right after I arrive home.

These days when I leave the parking garage at work, it’s still sunny, but on days like today when I have extra things to do and don’t get out there on the freeway like usual, the sun has gotten beyond the horizon by the time I’m slogging my way those last miles home.  Thus, I generally flick on the headlights before I head out on my evening commute.

Since it was about a half hour later than usual when I looped off 290 to W. Little York, dusk had already settled in, but I noticed that a number of cars had yet to turn on their headlights.  Just to be sure, I reached to the dashboard to check.  Yep, I had already flicked my little Fiesta’s lights on.

With my mind still on tomorrow’s work, I accelerated and braked almost in sync with all the other drivers just trying to get home.  After only a few more stop signs and turns, I pulled my car into the garage and grabbed the back door key out of my pocket.

Once in the house, as always, I flipped on the light switch over the cooktop.  What ‘s up with that florescent light?  Dim.  I guess I  need to head to Lowe’s for a replacement.  Oh, well.  And so I reached for the switch at the back hallway.  What?  Dim too.  What happened to the electricity today?

Then.  Ahaa.   

I was still wearing my sunglasses.

The First Ripe Tomatoes Do Make for a Good Monday

There's no better find than the first tomatoes of the spring!

As Mondays go, this one wasn’t all that bad.  Work was nothing other than ordinary, even for the first day of the work week.  Getting home was probably the worst part of the whole day, with a number of slow spots on my route.  I take most longer-than-usual commutes pretty much in stride.  I do like my SiriusXM radio, and though I normally stick with OutQ’s Derek & Romaine Show, I don’t mind hittin’ Channel 51 for some electronic dance music, when the talk radio goes astray.  Why the last three miles of my tree-lined suburban drive got into bumper-to-bumper mode tonight, I have no idea, but the satellite radio and knowing that I was inching nearer to my home got me through it.

With the car in the garage and the dog properly picked up and hugged, I headed out to check on the garden, just to see what effect last evening’s soaking from the sprinkler might have had.  First glimpse showed peeking sprouts of the yellow beans that I had planted about eight days ago.  Other plants seemed to have stretched a few more inches.  When I headed around the corner to check on the four tomato plants in containers, I spied a bit of red among the velvety green leaves.  Though I knew that there were already cherry tomatoes on that plant, I had no idea that some would be ripe before the end of March!  Yet, there they were: one nearly ripe and another already turning yellow.    There are other small ones on that same plant, and other plants have blooms, but I know that it will be awhile before I can stop hitting the produce section at the supermarket for tomatoes for salads.

On the Road Home: Shut Up and Hang Up, or Why Don’t You Just Stop for a Psychic Reading?

They should pass a law that mini-vans always stay to the right.  The people (I’ll avoid stereotyping, but we all know who they are) that drive them are never going to drive anywhere near the speed limit.  With SUVs, though, it’s unpredictable.  Some of those drivers are the bullies of the highway and will never give the right-of-way to another vehicle.  On the other hand, sometimes, you’ll get stuck behind an SUV barely moving down the road, and you can almost predict who’s driving it–a soccer mom jawing away, waving her hands talking on the cell phone, oblivious to everything else happening on the road.

Tonight on my commute home, I wondered if there haven’t been surveys made that deal with the effect of cell phone drivers on the overall speed of the traffic.

Just in the middle of that thought, I had to stop at a red light, and noticed a business I had never seen before.  Right there in a semi-industrial area sits a Psychic Reader/Fortune Teller.  It’s close to a very busy intersection, but how many pull over in the middle of the morning or evening commute to get scammed out of few bucks to hear some fairy tale about their future?

I’m sure it’s mostly people for whom the $10 or $25 would be better spent on groceries or some other necessity.

But I went to a reader once, one time when I was feeling poor and low.  I didn’t feel any better after I had heard my fortune and was on my way home.  Nope, not better, just had even less money in my pocket.

Seeing that Palm Reader place tonight made me think of two other things that I’ve tried, and after a bit, decided that like fortune telling, they too have a lot of  hocus pocus involved:  gambling and religion.  Though others might not put them in the same category, both seem to make a lot of promises without any proof, and left me with less money in my pocket.

If others feel good for getting all the hocus pocus and pocket-fleecing, more power to them, but I’ll take a little dog’s lick on the ear to these any time.

And, yes, there have been surveys.  They say drivers using cell phones make our commute about 5-10% longer.  So all you yappers:  shut up and drive!

On the Road Home: Aladin and Gays Cause the End of Humanity

I really know better than to go to the super market on Sunday afternoon.

If you’re intrigued by the title of this post, I’ve succeeded.  Not long ago, I decided to start a new series of posts called “On the Road Home.”  I had been having trouble writing posts, so I wanted to put down some of the thoughts of the days, especially during my evening commute.

I know today is Sunday; actually, I’m on vacation; therefore, maybe I’m stretching to make this work, but Sunday as it was, I had some errands to run and so I’m gathering here some of the pieces of the day.

I like eating at home (now that I have my own house), but I’ve decided I need to try some places in my new part of town.  A couple of months ago, a new place opened about a mile or so up the road.  It’s called Aladin, and the sign said, Mediterranean and Indo/Pak Buffet and Grill.  Today I had had no breakfast, so by noontime, I was ready for almost anything.  As I drove up the road, I decided to try the place out.  Just a couple of cars were in the parking lot, and when I got inside, I found that I was the only customer.

However, the place smelled good, and everything at the buffet tables looked appetizing.  Some of the Arabic foods, I knew, but I assume quite a few of the hot dishes are of the Indo/Pak cuisine.  I tried a bit of many things.  The salads, the hummus, and some kind of eggy squares were especially good.  The best, though, was the gyro, filled with tender, tasty meat, which they made and brought out, after I had already filled my plate.  If you’re in the Houston area out near 529 and Highway 6, try this place.  The food and the service are very good.

After I had eaten I decided to pick up some groceries.  I know if I go on a Sunday, I’m just a glutton for punishment.  The HEB I went to on Barker-Cypress was jam-packed.

Getting used to shopping out in the suburbs hasn’t been easy.  Everybody out here seems to have kids, and they have to bring them along when they go to the super market, which only adds to the traffic congestion in the store aisles.

One of the arguments that some of those against gay marriage is that if gay marriage is legalized, it will be the end of humanity.  They surely have to hold their own noses to their own “stinkin’ lyin'” when they say that.  As if gay people getting married would stop opposite-sex couples from having kids.

Gay marriage is already legal in a number of U.S. states, several European countries, South Africa, and now Argentina.  All I can say is that so far it hasn’t had any effect on all those people with kids at the HEB that I went to today.

Usually, when I’m waiting to check out, there is a family in front of me with at least one kid screaming, “I want this,” while pulling at the innumerable candy bars and other baubles on either side of the checkout aisle.

The little girl in front today had a bit more game.  Picking up a plastic package with a glittery brush inside, she looked at her mother, and coyly asked, “Would this work on my hair?’  Her mother barely shook her head without even looking at her.

Then the girl pointed at another item hanging from the many hooks, “Would this work to sharpen pencils?”  Her mother shook her head again.  At that moment, the girl looked back at me, and we both knew that she needed to try some new tactics, because obviously, Mom had already heard “Would this work?’ too many times, and that line definitely wasn’t going to work.

After crossing the scorching parking lot and packing away my groceries, I was glad to be inside the quiet of my car even if I did have to wait for the AC to start blasting out some cool air.

View from the Suburbs: Saturday Haircut and Feeling Like an Alien

Driving back into town this morning, I was wondering whether I was ready to give up my regular haircut place.  In fact, I’ve been going to Visible Changes in the Galleria for more than 25 years, with a few detours here and there, when my haircutter had left or I had heard there were greener pastures in some other salon.

It’s a long trip in on a Saturday, when I could sleep in and just head to one of the places that I’ve seen out here in the strip centers, rather than retracing the better part of my Monday through Friday commute to work.  This morning, though, with the weekend morning’s light traffic,  from the gas station just down the road, where I had to fill up, to the corner of Westheimer and Post Oak, only took 15 minutes.  That meant I had extra time to spare.

That meant extra time to wait.  Unless I’m the first cut of the day, waiting is generally par for the course at the salon.  For a long time, I hated the wait, felt I was being cheated out of my time.  The past couple of years, though, I have come to embrace the time I spend waiting for my cutter to be ready.  Time just isn’t so urgent any more;  savoring the moment is more enjoyable than worrying about hurrying on to some other task on the “to do” list.

Sunk down into the comfortable give of the salon’s sofas, I can take in what is to me a metropolitan atmosphere, the edgy look of some of the haircutters, the even-on-a-sleepy-Saturday-morning, casual sense of style of the customers, the tracks of new and old club music playing, and, in particular, a painting of a tree, that I want, some day, to mimic in a quilt.

There’s a feeling of homecoming for me, a return to the old stomping grounds.  I’m one of these people.

I’m comfortable now in my house out here 25 miles from the Galleria.  I have no regrets about buying it, and I’ve met nice, welcoming neighbors, but I have to admit when I go to my neighborhood Kroger or HEB for groceries or Home Depot or Lowe’s for items for the house and yard, I generally feel like I’m in alien territory.  After living in the suburbs for 6 months, I can’t say I feel like I am one of these people.

Maybe, though, like my feelings about time and waiting, this too will change.

View from Suburbia: Thrustmaster, the Yellow Gate, and Garage Culture

One of the signs along my way home, photoshopped, the way my imagination does it every day.

Fifteen minutes was about all that it used to take for me to get home from work, and after checking the mail and changing clothes, Annie and I’d take our walk, sometimes making a circuit to the edges of Memorial Park, but more often than not, just to “our” little Camp Logan Park, where we’d meet up with friends of both the human and canine kind.  I’d often drop my little digital camera into my pocket and take shots of flowers or interesting bits of architecture, signs, or anything else that caught my eye along the way.  The yellow metal gate at a house just down the street was one of my favorite points of interest.

Yeah, so? Maybe the commute does make my mind go a bit far afield. But what really goes on inside a place called "Thrustmaster"?

Now, most of the first hour after I head out my office is spent wending my way home on a mish-mash of freeways and roads in front of, behind, and alongside the thousands of other Houston commuters performing that same daily ritual.  As I get closer to home, the  small, mostly petroleum-related industries along 529  help stimulate my imagination, because the radio certainly doesn’t.  I have thought for a long time that Houston has the worst selection of radio stations anywhere in the U.S. and my drive home has only proven it.

Once home, I’m greeted by Annie, she runs out to the backyard to perform some of her daily rituals, and then we’re off for our evening walk.  First, we’re off to the communal mailbox around the corner to see what bills and advertisements there are (some expected some not, but there are sure to be some every day).

Once we see that nothing too unexpected has arrived in the mail, we start off on our walk around the neighborhood, sub-division, I guess some would say.  I like my neighborhood, especially my little cul-de-sac street and the next couple of ones which have large, mature trees and a nice homey feel.  But soon after we leave our street, the houses become newer and the large trees fewer.  Unlike in the old neighborhood in town, there’s no real park to head for; there is a kids’ play area on the far side of the sub-division, which can serve as a destination, but nothing much that would be worth taking photos of.

In reality, our neighborhood feels like it’s surrounded by a moat.  Driving out of it is no problem, but walking is another matter because the major streets on either side have big ditches next to them with no sidewalks, and the other two sides have high wooden security fences.  I suppose this is the way the developers designed this sub-division (and when I start paying attention, I realize it’s the same for many others), so even though there’s a Walgreen’s and other small businesses and services no more than a quarter of a mile away, it’s not that easy to get there on foot.  Adjacent to the sub-division are an elementary school, a junior high, and a parochial school, but because of the ditches, kids can’t really walk to them.

Likewise, when Annie and I continue on our evening walk, we’re limited.  Consequently, we take almost the same one or two paths every night, and while the houses aren’t as cookie-cutter as in some suburbs, there aren’t many interesting features like yellow gates.  Our walk, though, does give us some exercise and time to smell and think.  She does more of the smelling than I do.  Hopefully, I do more of the thinking.

Suburbia definitely has a different lifestyle.  One thing I’ve noticed here is people and their garages.  When I lived near Memorial Park, though I lived in an apartment, the people I met at the dog park generally lived in the surrounding townhouses, which, of course, had garages.  I’d hear stories about how someone had left a garage door open for a few minutes, and during that short time, bicycles or other items had been stolen.  Therefore, most of time, unless a car was going in or out or perhaps was being washed in the driveway, garage doors were kept closed.  Even when they were open, what I noticed, but hadn’t given much thought too before, was that aside from cars and maybe a few stored boxes and other items, the garages in my old neighborhood basically were used for keeping the cars.

And that was one of the big reasons I wanted a house–to have a garage to keep my car out of the elements and in a more secure place.

But here in suburbia, the garage is part of the life.  It seems as if there is almost a garage culture.  For one thing, people here must feel much safer.  When Annie and I walk, we see many garages left wide open, sometimes with cars inside but more often not.  These garages appear to be used not primarily for car storage, but as some type of game room or party room.  What struck me the most is how many of these open garages have TVs–big TVs– in them, which are almost always turned on, whether anybody is around or not.  Not that it’s just the TVs.  There are bars and recliners and other such items that add to this party room element.  One garage has a glass door into the rest of the house and another has an entire dining room set up.  Perhaps some of these garages are being used as “the man room”.  I have to laugh at that.  I’m wondering if any gay guys have ever felt the need to have a “man room”.  I mean whether you’re single or attached, if you’re gay, every room in your apartment or house is yours, you don’t have to escape, so is there any need to have a “man room”?  And then again,  if there were a need, what would be in it?  I’m just saying.

All of this “garage culture” has been a sort of revelation to me, a former apartment dweller, who only wanted a garage for a place to keep the car and as a place to putter and paint.  I had to ask myself if I was being nosy giving so much attention to what people in my neighborhood have in their garages, but in the end, I decided that I was just noticing what there was to notice, because when the neighborhood “moats” limit how far you can walk and when there aren’t any attractions like yellow metal gates, you notice what there is to notice.