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Homing in on the H&G Show


So, it's come to this.

Some of my close friends are publishing books and fighting the good fight against celebrity hubris, having sex on transatlantic flights or working on multi-part Angels in America-length plays.

What am I doing?

I'm going to the Austin Home and Garden Show.

The 4th Annual Spring Texas Home and Garden Show, to be exact. Not one of those cheap-ass knockoff Home and Garden Shows. This is the Official One for this month. Until next month when an even nicer Home and Garden Show rolls into town.

This is what happens when you live in the suburbs and own a house and have a day job. If I were white and had children, I'd be Lester Burnham.

Nevertheless, what scares me is not the Home and Garden Show; (which, if you're not a home owner is understandably scary. I remember hearing about Home and Garden Shows and regarding them in the same way I'd regard a traveling seminar show about positive thinking or aura management. I thought Home and Garden shows were for Those People. The ones that had fat asses and fat-assed cars that they parked at Wal-Mart.) what scares me was my reaction when I got the mass voice mail at work that free tickets were available for the Home and Garden Show. I leapt out of my office chair and ran down to human resources to get tickets. Before I realized what had happened, before some semblance of my younger self, the one who is not yet 30 and who does not yet listen to Phil Collins for pleasure, I had already made plans. I was going to the Home and Garden Show. And I was excited.

The H&G Show (quick quiz for you on-the-fencers -- do you know what HGTV is? Do you watch it? If so, you are old and lame like me. Let's talk about laminate flooring!) was at the huge Austin Convention Center. I walked into that cavernous building and I saw people carrying around these huge dictionary-sized guidebooks. I thought, "Holy shit! This thing is HUGE!"

I saw groups of intense looking people sitting around tables, huddled over their books as if seeking interior design Nirvana. It took a few minutes to figure, but there was another convention being held in the same building. It was for the APS: The American Physical Society. Now, before you start thinking these are active folks who like to engage in a bit of the old jumpin' jackin', I must tell you it's quite the opposite. These are smart physicists. The ones who drill holes in their heads so the government won't take their secret knowledge of how the stock market is a living organism. Wait, maybe I'm thinking of math geeks, not physics geeks. Whatever. Geeks, man. By the hundreds! Looking intense, brow furrowed, probably right on the verge of figuring out how to time travel and save the expense of the trip by traveling back with knowledge they would have just gained and somehow eliminating their paradoxical former self.

Exactly the kind of froofy shit they try to sell you at the H&G Show.

The great thing was this was a very clear distinction. The H&G people wore T-shirts that said things like, "Let's Roll -- For America!" and carried children in round-the-neck slings. The APS people simply frowned all the time and gathered in unattractive clumps.

Once inside the actual H&G show, I got the familiar buzz in my tummy. For better or for worse, these are my people now. I speak their language. I know the difference between aluminum and vinyl siding. I know what escrow means. Higher property taxes for education outrage me. I'm part of the problem.

Here's what was at the H&G Show:

Hot tubs. Suburbanites love their fucking hot tubs. There were hot tubs of all sizes, colors and textures. Some people will even build you an entire outdoor house just for your hot tub, with a deck, a minibar, windows. There were also hot tubs with stereo systems and outdoor speakers, and one with a TV build into it. Hey, come on. Suburbanites can't go out and have fun like you. They have to do it all at home.

Pools. Same as above, only for people with more children than perversions and wife-swapping cliques.

Windows. Remember when you were a kid and windows were things that came with houses and that sometimes you broke one that belonged to a neighbor and got whupped for it? You never thought windows were something you had to buy apart from the houses, did you, or that you had to have replaced in another situation than a stray baseball, right? Windows are big business. And not just glass and a pane. We're talking vinyl-backed windows with stuff in them to keep out the heat and to open up in all kinds of entertaining ways. I would make fun of this, but I actually had a guy from Sears come to my home a few months ago to try to sell me windows. It's sick. I know.

Pottery and froofery. Pottery and little fountains are big in the suburbs. The froofier and more exotic, the better. Some people have pots in their backyard that are bigger than they are. Also big are oversized frog statues and wicker. Wicker! You'd think that we, as a species, could evolve beyond wicker. Have we not built alloys that far surpass wicker in comfort and durability? What's this Gilligan's Island bullshit?

Massage aids and chili. Suburbanites get really stressed out. There was a booth that sold nothing but heating pads, massagers and a knockoff version of The Tingler, which I'd already been hearing about from Heather. And she was right. It was like having a really skilled spider fuck your scalp. And not in bad way, either. There was also a huge truck that was giving out tiny samples of chili. Not selling chili or telling you how to make your own or offering franchise rights. Just giving out tiny little samples. That one I can't explain.

Your usual trade show bullshit. Chiropractors, concessions, the booth that wants to sell you copper wire strippers, the booth with the women with huge breasts selling the least interesting product imaginable.

The broom/squeegee thingie. There was a booth selling a hybrid plastic broom/rake/squeegee thing that was guaranteed to clean up tile, cat hair from carpet, you name it. It had bristles on one side and a squeegee thing on the other. We actually waited for the demonstrator to show up since his assistant couldn't handle the monumental task of demonstrating what was essentially a fancy broom. The demonstration was suitably impressing, and I was ready to buy one. I'd seen people walking around with these and thought this must be the hit product of the H&G Show. Then the guy tells me they're $19.95. Now, look. I already own a carpet/floor shampooer thing I got for Christmas. I own a regular broom and mop as well as a Clorox mop/sweeper. If I own more broom and mop-related products than porn videos, they throw me out of the men's club. So I politely declined. $19.95!?! Honestly. That's just crazy.


And that was the H&G show. I was a little disappointed, frankly, and I managed to buy not a single thing. Still... affordable wood laminate flooring... mmm... For that I'd brave the broom and squeegee demonstration.



Big pimpin'

New Smallville recap for the Christopher Reeve episode, which was surprisingly and pleasingly good. It's the last recap for a few weeks, so go check it out.

Short reviews of Music Tote, a not all that fantastic gadget for music, and "War of the Monsters" very fantastic game for PlayStation2.

If you're in Austin, go check out Adrian Villegas' one-man show, "Barrio Daze" this weekend I saw it about two years ago, but will probably go check it out again and see what kind of revisions and changes Adrian has made over time.

Oh, and my brother turned me on to this: If you like DDR, check out Flash Flash Revolution.


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