31 January 2008

Does Buying These Books Make Us Romantic or Indicate a Lack of Romance?

Data from Amazon which is subject to interpretation...

Love Is in the Air as Amazon.com Announces the Top 20 Most Romantic Cities in America

Sales data of romance novels, relationship and sex books reveals Alexandria, Va. as the most romantic city

SEATTLE, Jan 28, 2008 (BUSINESS WIRE) -- With Valentine's Day just around the corner, Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN) today announced its list of the Top 20 Most Romantic Cities in America. After compiling sales data of romance novels, relationship and sex books since Jan. 1, 2008, on a per capita basis in cities with over 100,000 residents, the top 20 most romantic cities in the United States are:

1. Alexandria, Va.         11. Washington, D.C.
2. Cambridge, Mass. 12. Pasadena, Calif.
3. Miami, Fla. 13. Bellevue, Wash.
4. Irvine, Calif. 14. Seattle, Wash
5. Ann Arbor, Mich. 15. San Francisco, Calif.
6. Orlando, Fla. 16. Columbia, S.C.
7. Berkeley, Calif. 17. Tallahassee, Fla.
8. Scottsdale, Ariz. 18. Austin, Texas
9. Arlington, Va. 19. Richmond, Va.
10. Atlanta, Ga. 20. Knoxville, Tenn.

In taking a closer look at Amazon.com's "romantic" data, the company also unveiled that:

-- Virginia really is for lovers, with three cities -- Alexandria, Arlington and Richmond -- ranked amongst the top 20 Most Romantic Cities.

Well, regardless of interpretation, at least we're working on it. ;)

A Whole Different Kind of Hair Experience

I'm not what you'd call patient. I walked out on my old hair stylist, who I won't mention by name here, when I realized that my making an appointment had absolutely no bearing whatsoever on when I actually got my hair cut.

I know they're busy but how freakin' long do I have to wait?! At least this time I was just sitting there waiting to be taken back for a shampoo when I'd had enough. The time before, I got shampooed and then sat with water dripping down my neck and back for half an hour while he dealt with the backlog. Yeesh.

This time, after a 1/2 hour of not being called I went back to the receptionist. She said "All set?" I said "What do you mean?! I haven't been seen yet." She checked and it turned out that he still had people that he was planning to see ahead of me. So WHY was I told I had an appointment at a particular time? We'll never know.

I'd been going to him for years and he was good! But he wasn't all that.

And so I had the angst of finding a new stylist.

I went to "PR at Partners" on King Street in Alexandria because it was in the neighborhood and I'm delighted that I did.

Note: This is an unabashed and unreserved endorsement of this place.

The "PR" in the title stands for "Perfect Relationship" and that's truly what they aim for. Not only did my stylist, Christina, see me on time but she did a great job and the experience was fantastic.

They have you fill out a short form before you start with a variety of pertinent questions along the lines of "How often do you wash and condition your hair?" and "Would you like your free scalp massage to be relaxing or reinvigorating?" In this way, they get a clear understanding of your likes, dislikes, desires, concerns, etc. Then they consult and then they listen!

Wacky, no?

If anyone wants a $10 off coupon for this place (I have two) let me know and I'll get it to you.

I am not associated with the salon and this is not a paid endorsement. I'm simply delighted to promote businesses that provide outstanding service.

30 January 2008

The VCR is Dead, Long Live the VCR

I am the last person in America using a VCR.

At least, that's how it sounded when I went to Radio Shack to try to work out my VCR issues. The woman working there looked at me askance and said something along the lines of "You know they're disappearing... you can't really find a VCR these days..." as if to imply there was something deeply troubling about my trying to use a VCR at this point in time.

Now, mind you, I didn't go to Circuit City and I didn't go to Best Buy. I went to Radio Shack. Remember Radio Shack? Where the geeks went to get additional parts for their Commodore 64? The company isn't exactly cutting edge--they still have RADIO in their name!

When she realized I wasn't going to hop on the DVR or Tivo bandwagon until such time that I was sure the VCR (of which we have 2) was a no-go, she and another colleague worked out the issue and I am now, once again, able to use my antique as I please.

I was tempted to buy out all the blank videotapes at the grocery store, just in case they stopped making them, but there didn't seem to be any shortage. So maybe I'm not the sole VCR user in America. How long do I have? I'd say the "clock is ticking" but since we're talking VCRs, how about the "clock is blinking 12:00"...

24 January 2008

Movie Review: Simpsons Movie

How's this for a to-the-point review:
We rented the Simpsons Movie on Pay Per View for $3.99. I'm glad we didn't spend more. There were funny parts and clever parts but mostly it ran like a long episode. It held my interest but it was mostly "eh." I give it 1 out of 4 jujubees.

23 January 2008

The Updated Version of Foster Brooks?

In the 70s, Foster Brooks made a career of pretending to be the "lovable lush"--the raging alcoholic at whatever venue in which he happens to find himself.

The other day, I'm watching "Two and a Half Men" and thinking about the character of Charlie Harper--the raging alcoholic at whatever venue in which he happens to find himself.

And I posited that Charlie Harper is this decade's updated Foster Brooks.

We would no longer laugh at Foster Brooks, the belching, stumbling, boorish, out-of-control drunk because clearly he has a serious problem--a disease, fergawdssake--and there's nothing funny about that. It wouldn't be politically correct. Or even kind.

But it's okay to laugh at Charlie who is a high-functioning alcoholic. He always has a drink--often straight from the bottle, frequently passes out, periodically wakes up in strange places--like the neighbor's dog house, sometimes suffers from memory loss, admits that he is an alcoholic and that he uses alcohol to deal with most situations.

So what's the difference?

Charlie is still a fairly tightly controlled presence... and therefore it's all in good fun, yes?

Alcohol is funny if we remain in control of it or allow it to control us but only as we choose?

Foster's character doesn't know how he's coming across but Charlie's does know or doesn't care?

That's the only difference I can see... that we commiserate with Charlie but we distance ourselves from Foster's character because Charlie remains "cool" most of the time and Foster never is. So, the lesson is: it's okay to be an alcoholic if you remain cool?

Dunno. I invite other theories.

18 January 2008

Live to Work? No. Work to Live.


It's been one of those weeks with periods of light and relatively unimportant work interspersed with intense periods of urgent and critical work. Job security is nice but I don't need to be THAT needed.

With any luck, I can put to bed a project that is consuming large chunks of brain and heart by the end of this month. Then, maybe, I can focus on the more important things in life... you know, like blogging. ;) I've been lucky in that this project required a team effort and this is one of those rare teams where we all wound up respecting and hearing each other all the way through the process and everybody pitched in! How rare and nice is that?! It was still buckets full of work and our interactions weren't perfect but at least I didn't wind up ticked off at anybody. How great when everybody works to the same standard and is pleasant and thoughtful! Yowza!

Happy loooooooooooong weekend to all!

15 January 2008

Restaurant Review: Stardust

We went to the Stardust Restaurant and Lounge in Alexandria for dinner about a month ago. I am just getting a chance to review it so the details are a little fuzzy but I didn't want to pass on mentioning this unusual place.

Ambiance: Several rooms, including several fireside dining options. Mannequins. Yeah, its true. But what's really unusual is that the owner has collected all kinds of things from years gone by and has them on display. In the room we were in, there were probably seven vintage electric fans, vintage metal bread boxes, vintage lamps, a dozen vintage coffee percolators and so on. If you are of a certain age, it will provide ready conversation... "We had one that looked just like that when I was little!" Plus the standard low lighting and white tablecloths. 28/30.

Service: Very good. Knowledgeable. Efficient. 25/30.

Food: Imagine an intersection of Thai, comfort, and quirky. Unusual combinations that work. For example I had the salmon in lemon dill sauce. It was layered over macaroni lasagna. That was layered over spinach. Quite good! The chef is talented. 25/30.

Vegetarian: Three entrees that are vegetarian including one that looked to be vegan. 20/30.

Cost: Not cheap but not ridiculous, either. 18/30.

Bonus: On street parking and great drink options with fun names. I tried the "You look soooo familiar..." which was a mix of vodka, parna, grand marnier and pomegranate juice and came with a take home, plastic charm hanging onto the glass. +4.

Overall: 27/30. Check out this funky, one-of-a-kind neighborhood place!

14 January 2008

Boo Hoo (Golden Globes, People's Choice,...)

Oh, boo, hoo, hoo. Now the People's Choice and the Golden Globes have turned lame and people aren't happy because the writer's strike is going on and FINALLY someone is noticing because there are events that can't be covered by showing reruns (although the People's Choice show did their best to dredge up every piece of old footage they could find to fill the dead air.)

Isn't that the whole point of a strike?? To get people's attention? To impact others financially and emotionally because that's how you're being impacted? Perhaps it's time to settle the strike before the Grammys roll around next month... or before they don't.

11 January 2008

A Few Days in Nashville

I spent a few days at a conference in downtown Nashville.

The people: friendly.

The food: ranged from okay to pretty good and was generally more reasonably priced than DC. Got to try a few clubs where people came more for the music than the food and they offered standard pub grub. Plus, we got to The Spaghetti Factory which had reasonably good food (not great) but was an amazing space! Also got to Virago which was a hip sushi bar and lounge.

The pace: slower than DC.

The architecture: a funky mix.

The music: lots of live country!

We stayed very close to Broadway, which is Nashville's strip of dozens of clubs that have live music every night. Almost all of it is country or western or bluegrass or such. I went by a few of these but actually went to hear a live blues band at BB King's. Quite good!

Forks At the Ready!

From Post Points Tip of the Week:

D.C. Restaurant Week is always a good chance to try new places — this round starts Monday and ends Jan. 20, with three-course lunches for $20.08 and dinners for $30.08 — but it’s also a reminder that all good things come to an end.

For a list of establishments participating in Restaurant Week, visit www.washington.org.

— Eve Zibart, Weekend section

08 January 2008

Plane Karma

A few weeks ago, hubby and I had seats on a plane to Atlanta but not together. We discussed this in line. The woman behind us heard us and offered to switch seats so that we could sit together. We did. It was nice of her. She didn't have to do it. She didn't lose anything as she went from a window seat to another window seat but it was nice of her all the same.

Yesterday, I am on a tiny plane to Nashville. I'd say 15 row. There are two seats on each side of the aisle. I have checked in early and traded my row 7 aisle seat for a row 1 aisle seat. Easy on. Easy off. I get into my seat. Two children settle in across the aisle. Their father has the window seat next to me. If I were a decent human being, I'd have offered this 6'4" guy the aisle seat so he could get closer to his kids. What can I tell you? I wanted the aisle seat. I like the aisle seat. Even though I'm only 5'4", I like to stretch out my legs, too. And I don't like to look out the window or have the scenery jumping suddenly next to me when there's turbulence. Makes me sick. Can you hear the rationalization here? How about in this, then: This guy could have gotten to the airport earlier than me and gotten the seat I switched into. It's his own damn fault.

So I let him fold himself into the window seat and I read my book. Or try to. His kids were not wild by any means but there was still a lot of communication going on across me.

"Dad, are we almost there yet?"
"No, we are not almost there yet."
"God, we've been on this plane forEVER!" [Ed. note: this, after 1/2 an hour]
"Keep your voice down."
*no response*
"She's touching me."
"Are you two going to behave?!"

and on and on it went. I guess I should have paid the karma forward. At least it was a short flight and nobody actually screamed or cried. Not even me.

04 January 2008

Viridian Closed!

According to:


Viridian restaurant is gone!

I'm surprised. I thought they had a strong foothold there. Sigh.

On the Road Again...

Unlike Willie Nelson, I can wait to get on the road again.

In the last year, I have been to Langley, Virginia; Shephardstown, West Virginia; Huntsville, Alabama; New York, New York; and Denver, Colorado. All for work. Monday, again, for work, I leave for Nashville, Tennessee. Even when I was on an international assignment and got to travel to Europe I didn't travel as much as I have this year.

Generally, I like traveling. Even for work. You get to eat in decent restaurants most of the time and stay in plush hotel rooms and aside from the meetings and the "mandated socializing", you get peace and quiet and you get to do what you want.

But this is getting old.

Now, if they want to send me to Hawaii, say, I'm there.

I've never been to Nashville. Nothing against the fine folks who live there but I'm not psyched. I'm not an Opry buff. Plus, I'll be traveling with my boss and his boss. That'll limit the bar-top dancing, for sure.

Well, if I can get my wireless to operate while I'm away, I'll let you, faithful reader, know if Nashville turns out to be fabulous.


02 January 2008

Plumbing, Doubling, and Panning

And so we enter the new year with paper plates and cups as we are experiencing a problem with the kitchen sink, and by extension, the dishwasher. Happily, the plumber is due today. I have lived without a dishwasher. I owned a house for eleven years where I was the dishwasher and I do not want to repeat it.

All that said, we brought out the flutes for the champagne. Champagne from a paper cup just doesn't work.

Meanwhile, I notice that every commercial, offering some cheap gizmo that we supposedly can't live without, insists on doubling our order. You know, Billy Mays yelling "BUT WAIT! ORDER NOW AND WE'LL DOUBLE YOUR ORDER! THAT'S RIGHT, WE'LL SEND YOU TWO..." What's up with that, anyway?? Here's a thought: cut the mark up and sell one. Better yet, keep your cheap gizmo.

It's my own fault for watching so much television. I am in a Biggest Loser haze. Bravo ran a marathon of Season 2 episodes--you know the season with Suzy, the adorable but constantly crying and squeaking woman? She made sounds only porpoises could pick up. This went on all day yesterday leading up to the NBC two-hour premiere of Biggest Loser: Couples. So much crying. So much inspirational music. So much panning of reaction shots. So much recapping of the recapping. So much weight lost! The least amount lost in a week was 7 pounds. I can only imagine what these people go through. I'm curious as to why there isn't more diversity on this show. It's pretty dang white. Aside from that, it's pretty good. JoeBob says "Check it out!"