Candle in the Short Stack

Yesterday Dar took me out for a birthday lunch.  It's an endearing custom of hers — she bequeaths birthday lunches upon her friends.  She'd also invited three other friends of mine (well, that I know of), but because it was a Thursday afternoon, no one else could make it.  The two of use met at Cascabel on S. St. Marys in my neighborhood.  It's interior Mexican cuisine.  I had the enmoladas.  They're basically enchiladas with mole sauce.  It's a more literal nomenclature.  En-chil-ada, is a corn tortillas dipped “en” CHILe sauce … and then usually rolled around some filling.  With enmoladas, the CHILe has been replaced by the MOLe sauce.  Also, they serve their nopalitos (diced prickly pear cactus pads) cooked, but cold, like a salad. Also, if you go to Cascabel Mexican Patio, don't overlook the coffee — ask for their cafe de olla.

Dar had to get back to work, but because I'm a gentleman a leisure (or, one might say, unemployed) I was able to saunter over to the downtown library where representatives from Humanities Texas (formerly Texas Council on the Humanities) were giving a free two-hour grant writing seminar.

I entered the auditorium and took a seat.  They had rows of tables set up with packets of literature set out.  It was quite a turn-out.  I saw Kellen from Bihl Haus Arts.  Marisela Barrera from La Colectiva.  Pete was there.  Also Lee.  The guy from Ruta Maya coffee shop whose name alludes me.  Pedro with the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center.  And I even saw Lisa McWilliams from the Mobile Film School — I guess she'd come down from Austin.  And just before the seminar begun, a voice behind me asked if “any one is sitting here, young man?”  It was Catherine Cisneros from Urban-15.  She took a seat beside me.  Great.  Someone to exchange sarcastic notes if the afternoon took a pompous nose-dive.

But it was very informative and enlightening.  There were not only heavy-hitters from the offices of Humanities Texas, but also a central figure down from Washington from the National Institute of the Humanities.  We also had the head of the Texas Commission on the Arts.  They all seemed thoughtful and approachable.  Well, as much as you can expect from a bunch of middle-aged white guys.  They all might want to think of placing into key positions women and those not melanin-deficient.

Before the program began I had the opportunity to speak for a few minutes with Eric Lupfer, Director of Grants & Education with Humanities Texas.  He asked me what I did and who I was with.  I jumped right in and explained that I had submitted a grant to his offices two years ago.  I didn't get it — and I let him know it was no hard feelings, feller.  But I did remembered his name from some emails.  He asked me the name of the project.  I replied that it was a documentary called “Dia de Los Locos,” and how it was about a cultural and religious parade down in San Miguel de Allende.  Eric looked up thoughtfully.  And then he looked down with a smile.  “It was with Ramon Vasquez y Sanchez and Deborah Keller-Rihn, right?”

Maybe the guy has a photographic memory, but at that moment he slipped into hero status for me.


I went home, and because I had received a phone call way back on Monday night from Christina from the 48 Hour Film Project, I knew I had to return the call.  The problem was — did I really want to do it again?  I still don't know the answer.  So putting aside the “want” element, I called her up and said I'd do it again.  So, I guess I've committed myself.

And then I headed back downtown to Ruta Maya coffee shop, just two blocks from where I'd been a couple hours earlier at the library.  It was the first Thursday monthly film gathering that AJ Garces has been orchestrating.  The turnout was quite a bit more meager than last month.  However, just as some guy was about to take the stage with the acoustic guitar, Nikki Young leaped up, grabbed the microphone, and began pitching something.  Maybe it was about TXMPA — Texas Motion Picture Alliance — but the acoustics in the place are execrable, so the only thing I understood was when she got around to singing me happy birthday.  That was very sweet of her.  And I had to explain to the well-wishers that my birthday was actually coming up on Saturday, but thank you thank you.  However … now that I reflect on the evening, it has occurred to me that no one offered to buy me one single measly fucking drink.  Friends?!?!  I wonder!

Well, I'll get over it.

The weird thing about last night at Ruta Maya was that there was a small film crew scurrying about.  They had nothing to do with our group.  And I couldn't help but think that the man with the camera resembled Travis Pettty, a fellow student of mine from the film department at UTA — we're talking maybe six years ago.  I didn't want to bother him because he was working.  But eventually he came up to me.  “Erik?”  And, yeah, it was Travis.  He's still working production in the Dallas area, but he was down in San Antonio working on some sort of auction show for TV — cable I believe.  Something about auctioning off dates.  A reality show?  I didn't have enough time with him to figure it out.  It hardly mattered.  Nothing that would interest me.  But I was glad to see Travis who seemed to be working quite comfortably and successfully in the industry where he wants to work.

Nikki mentioned something about calling me up on my birthday proper (Saturday) and singing happy birthday to me a la Marilyn Monroe to JFK.  Me, I think the girl's all talk.  Breathy and sexy to me, on the phone?  She's blushing just reading this.  Or maybe that's me blushing….


Yesterday it was a birthday lunch.  Today it was a birthday breakfast.  Deborah invited me out.  I suggested Farolitos on South Presa.  The place is just a little unpresumptuous family-run Mexican diner.  But today they had some sort of on-site transmission with a big truck from one of the local Spanish language radio stations.  Thankfully they kept that business outside.

It's always good to see Deborah.  But she was suffering a cold or seasonal allergies.  Poor thing.  But is was a good chance for us to get up to speed on one another's projects.

Apparently our waitress had overheard Deborah making a comment about my birthday, because after we had finished eating, I looked up to see two of the waitresses heading our way with something on a plate with a lit candle sticking out of it.

The plate was placed in front of me.  The two waitresses began singing Happy Birthday.  The other patrons thought what the hell, and they joined in.  After the singing stopped, the dozen or so people in the restaurant applauded.  I blew out my candle.  It was stuck in a short stack of two tiny pancakes with a piping of cake frosting making a spiral.  It was, in a word, adorable.

(Really, this is how it is, living on the southside of San Antonio.  This is the sort of stuff that makes me pause when thoughts of leaving rise up.)

And because it was the perfect day, I took a bike ride down to Mission Espada.  It was at least 83 today, with hardly a cloud in the sky.  A bit of wind from the south.  Down at Espada, the end of the Mission Trail, I set down my bike and sprawled out on the levee slope.  I think I fell asleep for about half an hour there, lounging in the sunshine.  I complain about a lot of things.  And I've already been heard to say that 2008 is a miserable year.  But if I can just look at everything in my life through the lens of my afternoon spent sprawled out on a hill overlooking the San Antonio river, maybe there's hope yet.


Back home I took a shower and headed over to Urban-15.  I met with George and Catherine and we talked about strategies for this year's Josiah Youth Media Festival.  One of the things I want to do is to get some known movie-makers involved in the judging and/or our day of workshops.  If anyone reading this blog knows how I can contact Bill Wittliff, please let me know.  I rather assume he lives in a world removed from email (and don't snub the Luddites, 'cause come the insurrection, they'll be the ones pulling out hand-presses and trays of type so the samizdat can roll on out).  Anyway, if anyone knows of a Texas film giant (and there are at least a dozen current drawing breath), and if that guy or gal might wanna reach out to the young folk, please let me know.


A package arrived the other day.  And because I had already received an email from my sister explaining the under no circumstance should I open the package until my birthday, I waited.  And waited.  I told myself that I would open it tonight at midnight.  I weakened and opened it around 10:30.  It was a Celestron SkyMaster 15×70 pair of binoculars.  Clearly my sister had paid attention to my blogs about astronomy and my jonesing over a basic entry-level pair of star-gazing binoculars.

Okay.  So as I'm trying to figure out how to attached the tripod adapter attachment, the phone rings.  I look at the display on my cell phone.  It's my sister.  Busted!  And I almost didn't answer it.  But I can't not.  You know how that is.  When I answer the phone, she wants to know if I'd like to go ahead and open the package early.  I could have lied.  You know, pretend to walk my way through the procedure, pretend to be surprised, blah blah blah.  But, no.  I let her know I'd weakened.

She was okay with it.  She said the present was from her, our mother, and our aunt.  And I had her on the phone for awhile as I took the binoculars and a tripod down to the back of my driveway … so that the neighbors wouldn't see me roaming around with a pair of huge fucking binoculars (cue the sound of half a dozen mini-blinds closing at once).

They do appear to be the perfect entry level star-gazing binoculars, but I need to get this tripod adapter figured out first.

Anyway, it's now officially after midnight.  And I'm even older.  I guess it never ends.  I never expected to see the other side of 40, and yet it keeps dragging along.

I guess I'll go ahead and accept this year forty-fucking-five.

Cheers, y'all.


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