31 May 2008

It's my potty and I'll cry if I want to

Speaking of standards... Pardon my indelicacy but why are there differently shaped toilet seats?

Are butts that dramatically different?

Evolutionarily speaking, at what point did we try to make the leap from this:to this:
And since both exist, did some make the leap and some fail?

In Hollywood, do they have a best selling anorexic version that is even more elongated?

Why do we need a full seat at home but a split seat in public? No, really, why??

These are the questions that keep me up at night. Educate me, somebody, please!

And why do people feel the need for "decorative" toilet seats? Do you really want to see this when you go to the bathroom?


And yet (I am not making this up) it is listed under the title: Primary Child Toilet Seat. The child that uses this is going to need a lot of therapy.

And for your viewing pleasure, some of the ugliest toilet seats I've ever seen:
Now if they could some how make it glow like a candle, ahhhhh.

How manly do you need to be in order to require one of these:

Those are either fishing lures or enlarged images of parasites. Either way, Ew, right?

Now, here's a beauty:

Is this to help the hunter feel more, um, inspired? By the way, those are antlers "dripping" over the seat.

How about a toilet seat that looks like it's growing mold even before you use it?

"Clean it?! No, that's just the design!!"

Somebody is buying these. Is it you? Fess up.

29 May 2008

The Not So Universal Interconnectedness of Remotes

In Urban Bohemian's latest post, he mentions giving his cousin a mini-tutorial on how to use his universal remote.

I totally get this. The universal remote is anything but.

We have one. It's different from my sister's. It's different from my friend's. In fact, I'm not sure I've ever encountered two that look or work the same outside of a store display for universal remotes. I swear my brother-in-law's is controlling the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. I have yet to successfully navigate it. (The remote or the orbiter. Shhh, don't tell NASA.)

When my mother, a talking-head-aholic, comes to visit, I am on standby at all times, because she'll want to switch between the MSNBC political wonks and the CNN political wonks* and the TV will either go to fuzz or the "Are you sure you want to purchase Naughty Minxes?" screen the minute she touches the remote.

Even people trained to use their universal remote occasionally hit the wrong button causing others** to go into endless gnashing of teeth and the wailing, good god, the wailing. ALLLLLRIGHT, already with the wailing!

There's just no reason this has to be so hard. We need a standards committee. We need someone to invent a universal universal remote. I'd do it but I gotta go--I inadvertently ordered "Mandy Does McKeesport" and, you know, if you miss the beginning it's impossible to follow the plot.

* And, really, shouldn't they just merge and call it Wonkavision?

** You know who you are.

28 May 2008

Cloning, Tights, and the Q du Jour

We saw him again. We were at Jackson 20 Monday night and there he was. Unlike last time, he was with the missus and their daughters. He was slumped so low in his seat that he looked to be about my height (5'3") instead of his usual 6'2". I guess all that stickin' can wear a man down.

Me: "That's James Carville."
Hubby: "I believe you're right."
Me: "It is! It's him. It's them," I hiss, not letting the fact that Hubby has already agreed with me stop me from arguing, because when you are married to an extremely reasonable, well-adjusted, easy-going man, you have to pick up the slack on the crazy meter. I accept this burden. I knew what he was like when I married him.

As the Ragin' Cajun* was less than 10 feet away, I considered taking out my camera phone but didn't. After all, it wouldn't have been polite and I didn't want to pester him when he looked so weary.**

That's twice in a year he's shown up where we are. Coinkydink? Is he following us? Is he cloning himself so he can be omnipresent? I think I read about him doing that. Creepy. Is that so he can be "stickin" to everybody? And is it only a matter of time before Billy Mays will be SHOUTING about a CARVILLE REMOVER? It's like that episode of the Flintstones where there are multiple Freds. Very disturbing.

A better encounter: Cous, pronounced like Cousin, the bartender at Jackson 20 was very friendly and knowledgeable. I tried one of their specialty cocktails--it was a concoction of some fancy gin and Finlandia Grapefruit Vodka and Lillet. Quite smooth and tasty but it leads to...

Today's panel discussion topic:
Is $15 too much to spend for a single (albeit 3-liquor) cocktail in Old Town? Discuss.

* I think if you're going to have a nickname like the "Ragin' Cajun" you have to show up in a pro wrestler's outfit once in a while. Red tights, the works. Otherwise, you're just not owning it.

** Okay, AND the lighting was set really low in there and the picture wouldn't have come out well. There. Hmph. ...Okay, AND after that comment he--a vocal Hillary supporter--made about Hillary's three testicles, I didn't think it was wise to provoke him.

Getting in Touch with our Inner Taigan*

It is so gorgeous Monday that we can not stay home. So, agreeing to avoid sneezing on anybody (isn't sneezing on others everybody's secret hobby? no??), we venture out into the super-summery weather.

We do our part to stimulate the economy by taking advantage of a sale or two and then try to go to Indigo Landing. I say "try" because we wind up slowly circling the packed parking lot six, seven, eight times before we give up. Apparently everyone else is of the opinion that watching sailboats bob at Indigo Landing is the perfect way to spend the afternoon, too, and they're five minutes ahead of us and not about to give up their perch.

Dejected, we leave Indigo Landing but it is not long before we remember Le Gaulois, on King Street, and their courtyard. We get a fantastic al fresco table close to the street (great for gawking) and next to flower boxes that are brimming with color. We nibble on oysters, lightly dressed Caesar salad, garlic toast and sip wonderfully crisp white wine.

As we sit, talking for hours, we coo at the dogs that pass. "Ooo, look how sweet. What kind is he?" Because Old Town is all about the dogs. High-fallutin, special-breed dogs that are things I've never heard of and can't pronounce and were born with hair that lays much better than mine. Alexandria has a 1 to 3 dog to person ratio.** And dogs know how to absolutely bask in a sunny day. We learn much about seizing and appreciating the day from them.

Truly relaxed, we linger, talking for hours. Every five minutes the Old Town Trolley goes by with a load of tourists. I wave at every trolley. Enthusiastically. Who says the locals here aren't friendly?! I take it upon myself to singlehandedly change this perception.

Most of the tourists just stare through me but occasionally one catches my eye and grins and waves back. This is all the encouragement I need. Now I am waving like I'm 10 years old and meeting up with summer camp friends. I am waving like they are Ed McMahon and I've spotted my name on the giant, cardboard check under their arm. They are laughing. We are laughing. It is a good day.

* Yes, this is a real breed of dog.
** Source: Totally Made Up But Plausible Statistics, Cochran, et. al., 2006.

26 May 2008

A Not So Fine Romance

Today's rant--er, thoughtful discourse, is on romance.

I'm not what you'd call a touchy-feely type. Once, when it was announced that a guy, who'd been working with us for about a year, was leaving town, I blurted out, "Who's gonna do his work?"

This was met with an open-mouthed stare. "Wow, L.A., that's cold! Not 'Gee, I'm gonna miss him.' Not 'He's been a great person to know.'"

*blink* "Um, yeah, all that."

I am one of those cold, heartless people that, by default, think more about task than people. Sue me.

This makes me productive. This makes me practical. This makes me Cruella Deville.

Whatever. I barely knew the guy. He wasn't dead; he was just leaving town. Eventually, they were going to get around to the work, I just got there a little faster.

So, it should come as no surprise to you that I don't put much stock in romance. Yeah, I like chocolates, picnics in the park, snuggling next to a fire, candlelight dinners. And I am most fortunate to have someone wonderful with which to enjoy these things. I like all the trappings of romance, I just don't buy into romance as a concept. Here's why...

I think romance is a made up thing. Made up by a confluence of marketers: Hollywood, Disney, Hallmark, FTD, all telling us we should have romance in our lives and what their particular definition is. Feeding us story lines that tell us we are somehow less if we don't have these things as defined by the official arbiters of romance.

Don't even get me started on the flower delivery competition at work on Valentine's Day. You're going to see your honey at home tonight, right? So, the whole purpose of getting flowers at work, on the one day of the year when the price is jacked up 300% and the quality is guaranteed to be horrendous, is to rub other people's faces in your happiness, right? Yeah, that's romance.

And it isn't enough that the prince dances with Cinderella. He has to carry her stinkin' shoe around and annoy everybody in town. All Cindy has to do is say "Woo, hoo, Princey, I'm over here." But does she bring herself to do it? No. She's too busy waiting to be rescued from her life of misery.

How about a little personal responsibility, Cindy?

How about being the captain of your own flippin' destiny?

How about going back to the castle and giving that big door a knock?

How about not falling in love with the first guy that dances with you?

How about getting out from a life of drudgery without being aided and abetted by a prince?

How about developing your own self so that you begin to enjoy your own company and find that lots of princes start to see you as a catch?

How about appreciating the fine qualities of life/others without putting Disney-specific expectations on it?

I know, just call me Cruella. Tomorrow's topic: Why I hate puppies.

25 May 2008

We pause for Tag

It is a warm summer evening and the fireflies are just starting to appear as we run, laughing and shrieking, in crazy, dodgy circles. The grass is springy beneath our bare feet and the scent of honeysuckle tickles our noses. Moms call for us to come in but we plead, "One more game?!"

There's always time for a game of tag, right? So, as per pal, Washwords, I am playing by the rules...

1. Write the title to your memoir using 6 words:

Lucky, lucky, lucky, irritated, lucky, grateful

2. Link to the person that tagged you:


3. Tag five more blogs:

Swapping Tales

Judith HeartSong

Urban Bohemian

Green Canary

Bilbo's Random Thought Collection

*tag* You're IT!!!

24 May 2008

I don't want to smell like Mariah Carey

I don't care how emancipated she is, I don't want to smell like Mimi. Sound like her, sure! Look like her, couldn't hurt. But Macy's thinks I should want to smell like Mimi. Does she smell like puppies and bendy straws?

They also think I should want to buy ties because they've got Donald Trump's name on the label. Donald "I invented obnoxious" Trump, fergawdssake. And I should desire to slip my feet into shoes from Jessica "can you believe I'm the smart one in the family?" Simpson.

Macy's ad campaign is: "Bringing the stars together ...that's the magic of Macy's." To which I say: Huh?

Yes, the stars appear in the commercials and get profits when items from their lines sell. I guess that's pretty magical... for them. Knowing that as they lounge by their pools, some shlub in Schenectady is comparing himself to Usher, buying his cologne and making Usher a little richer. Yeah, Usher's hurting.

But they're not bringing the stars to me. It's not like the stars are in the store signing autographs or having pictures taken much less doing anything actually useful.

It's sure not like they're getting my parking stub validated (oh, thanks, Pentagon City for this extra insult) or telling the woman in line in front of me to get off her damn cell phone and finish the transaction. They're not keeping track of the fact that I parked on the blue level in the fourth row by the urine-festooned stairwell in the only spot available which means I will probably get mightily dinged by the behemoth vehicle parked considerably on the diagonal next to me. It's not like that at all!

Where's my bendy straw?? Huh?! WHERE'S MY BENDY STRAW?!?

Magic? Pfffft.

22 May 2008

Hillary Quits!

You heard it here first!

I analyzed the political situation and I'm ready to make my prediction:

Hillary will absolutely put an end to her campaign

...in the third year of Obama's second term.

Any time earlier would just be... foolish?


I'm often amazed at what people will spend their money on.

Yesterday afternoon, I am behind this Cadillac SUV, which is amazing in itself, when I notice the license plate: 1GR8WMN.

I wonder what kind of person feels the need to pay extra bucks to put this on her license plate? I eventually drive past her so I can peer in and see this GR8 WMN but I fail to see what all the fuss is about. She looks pretty generic to me.

Hence, the need for the plate...??

I think she took that "vanity plate" thing a little too seriously.

21 May 2008

Blues Clues News

I have long had a My Yahoo page and on it I've got, among other things, Reuters: Top Stories and AP: Top Stories.

This, you might say, is redundant. Sure, I could get The Guardian: Top Stories, or something else that offers a broader context than our US-centric news wires but, hey, I'm a true Amurican: I barely get through a few headlines much less read whole stories about distant lands!

Besides, I often find it interesting to compare Reuters and AP. There are subtle differences in the way they deliver their stories. You have to be a detective to pick up on it but put your Blues Clues magic flea collar in place (or whatever Blue uses [okay, I've never watched the show I just liked the rhyme]) and see if you can suss out what I'm talking about.

For example, as I write this the top two stories for both of these are: 1) Obama's status as of yesterday's voting and 2) Ted Kennedy's medical crisis.

Here's how they cover these...

Obama takes big step, focuses on McCain
Obama inching ever closer to nomination

Sen. Kennedy exits hospital, family legacy discussed
Kennedy leaves hospital and returns to Cape Cod

See that?? AP has Obama "inching" while Reuters has him taking a "big step". In Reuters' version, the words/ideas Kennedy and legacy are linked. To AP, Kennedy could be Amy Winehouse.

Which just confirms my belief that there is no unbiased press. Right, left, take your pick. There are righter and lefter and righterer and lefterer news organizations but there is no unbiased reporting.

What's so great about old?

What's so great about old?

I know I am probably going to get a lot of flack on this one but I'm going there*.

I also know that I just announced that I'm going to see the new Indiana Jones. But that's not because I agree with Indie's love of relics. That's because of my love of a certain relic. Yeah, that's me: smitten kitten. And it certainly ain't because he's old. But, sigh, let's face it, he is.

Anyhoo... I don't get what the big deal is with historical-type museums. Oh, I love (or "lurve" as Celine Dion would sing) art museums. And I very much like seeing unusual things like the Hope Diamond or the Foucault Pendulum but the mere fact that something is old does not add value to my assessment of it.

My typical museum experience:

Museum: Behold! Here's this broken, faded piece of a jug from 12 A.D. Oooaaahhhhh.

Me: Yeah? *blink* And??

Even if I was WAY into jugs**, why does it matter that this tired, incomplete piece of crockery survived way longer than all the other tired, incomplete pieces of crockery from that time? Is someone, 3,000 years from now, going to dig up a piece of my tired, incomplete $4.75 Target ceramic pitcher and think that it is somehow significant? Will it supposedly tell them something about the (likely presumed) cheap, tasteless society that is 2008 Washington, DC?

Man, I hope not. I don't want to represent.

* Do people still say "don't go there"?? It's still in the Urban Dictionary
but no one has said it directly to me since 2001, and then it was by someone who wasn't all that, um, fly. Do people still say "fly"?? Okay, I am way too suburban and old to use the term "fly" but it, too, is still in the Urban Dictionary. , §

The Urban Dictionary is the ish.

Maybe the Urban Dictionary isn't the ish.

§ You ever notice how when us old codgers use the hep cat slang we just sound tired?

** Maybe I should have rephrased that.

20 May 2008

Have you ever seen them in the same room together? Alright, then.

It's Albert Einstein. But stand 15 feet away, it's Marilyn Monroe.

Check it!

18 May 2008

Let's all go to the lobby and get ourselves a treat

There's no choice. I have to go back to the movies. The latest (last?) Indiana Jones is coming out and I have to see it on the big screen while I and, more importantly, Harrison can still stumble through it.

We almost never go to the movies. Don't believe it? The last two films I saw on the big screen (they call 'em "talkies", right?) were animation: Ratatouille (2007) and Curse of the Were-Rabbit (2005).

Why so long between events, you ask?*

  • The temperature in most theaters is set to the correct temperature at which to serve Stoli.
  • The cost of a ticket could feed little starving Guillermo and his entire village for 6 months. It's true, I am one of those old fogeys who still remembers when picture shows were $4 a pop. (Yeahyeah, and milk was a quarter and I walked to school uphill both ways carrying all my brothers and sisters on my back. Ahhh, good times.)
  • The sound is blaring. Okay, I actually like it that they blare the sound, though it hurts my widdle ears, because it sometimes blocks out the noisy people around me. But, it sometimes distorts pretty badly, too.
    And, of course...
  • The people.
    • *cue Barbra* People who need people... and prove it by initiating cell phone calls in the middle of movies. People who answer cell phone calls in the middle of movies. People who don't answer their cell phones but don't turn off the ringer either.
    • People in the seat in front of you who move around as much as a Tina Turner back-up dancer.
    • Kids who decide the back of your seat is a good place to practice their DDR moves (or the Lindy or whatever the heck those young whippersnappers are doing these days.)
    • People who sit on the inside of my row and insist on drinking a vat of soda, thereby requiring me to get up and out of their oh-so-urgent way 50 times during the movie.
    • People who explain the movie loudly to the person next to them. "He's just leaving the ransom note! Now... oh, look, now, he's getting into a cab." Did I wander into "movies for the visually impaired"?

On the flip side:
  • How exciting is that initial moment when the lights dim and they start to play the feature film?
  • What better way to see an intricate action sequence or a visually stunning panorama than on the big screen?
  • How fun is it to hear not just your own laughter, but a roar of laughter all around you?
And now for quality entertainment at the movies, may I present the classic: Hare Do.

* You're really good that way. Great questions. Really. It's a wonder your 3rd grade teacher didn't see your potential.

17 May 2008

What's a matta, Hockey Puck?

In co-housing, when you sit on your front porch it means you are open to company and when you sit on your back porch it means you want to be left in peace.

Apparently, my neighborhood has adopted this philosophy, without so much as a vote in the (nonexistent) "common house", even though we are NOT co-housers, we are independent owners.

Well, not everybody in the neighborhood has adopted this philosophy.

Okay, one neighbor.

One neighbor, in particular, is a self-appointed neighborhood watch. He is ALWAYS on his front porch and the minute anyone else on the court steps out their front door he has something to say. You know, some delightfully pithy comment at top volume from his porch, like "I see you're washing your car. You want to wash mine, too? I'll let you do it for a reasonable price!"


He is an equal opportunity shouter. No one escapes his notice.

Another couple living on the court is expecting and the male portion of the pair was the recipient of a "daddy shower" today. As I make my way out my front door to get a little of that rare commodity: sun(!) and hopefully see the affectionate neighborhood cat, who often approaches me on the front porch but almost never finds me when I am on the back porch, I notice that the party next door is breaking up. Mr. Neighborhood Watch shouts--and I quote-- "Hey, ____, that wasn't much of a party! It's over already?!" Party guests, who were leaving, stop and stare.


What does one say to this type of loudmouth?

Mind you, this is the same guy who will run to help you haul a 50-pound bag of soil, or clear your driveway of snow with his snow blower before you even realize he's done it. And, in more ways than the way I've listed, he really is our neighborhood watch. Since he insists on talking to everyone, he effectively challenges any stranger who comes by so we're less likely to get robbed. Overall, he's a good neighbor.

But I could do with a little less of the unrequested attention. Every time I head out the front door, I feel like I have stumbled into one of those insult comic shows and I am dreading the moment when the spotlight will be trained on me.

Thoughts on The Tender Trap

Watched The Tender Trap on Turner Classic Movies the other night.

It's from 1955 but I still feel compelled to say: *Spoiler alert!* As if, maybe, you're privately working your way through the TCM comprehensive list of films, which you've decided is preferable to just watching TCM, and are just about to get to this one. It's in your Netflix queue, I know. Seriously, if you're thinking you might ever see this film and somehow can't divine what's going to happen by looking at the movie poster there on the left, um, don't read this post. And don't operate heavy machinery. Really. Sit down.

It stars Frank Sinatra, Debbie Reynolds, Celeste Holm, David Wayne and TCM gives it a 3-star rating, so it has to be pretty good, right? Weeeeeeeeeeellll, ... Okay, I've see worse. It was mildly amusing. But it's no Pillow Talk.

A couple thoughts:

  • Frank Sinatra's character, a swinging bachelor who is constantly pursued by women, ultimately struggles between two of the many: Sylvia (Holm) and Julie (Reynolds). What we learn about Sylvia: he's know her a long time and she's a great and supportive friend as well as an accommodating girlfriend. She's attractive, intelligent, articulate, talented and self-supporting: she plays violin, as the only woman in the NBC orchestra. That's right, she's on television every week. What we know about Julie: she wants to get married. That's it. That's all she cares about. Marriage first, everything else a distant second. Guess which one Romeo picks to marry? I'll give you a hint: it's 1955.
  • Martini glasses in 1955 were teeny.
  • Frank Sinatra was really quite skinny. Where did the heartthrob thing come from?
  • What did Debbie Reynolds have? A 16" waist? Maybe 15"?? Did she just sometimes fold in on herself like a mobius strip?

15 May 2008

At a different RPM

Thoughts on morning of Day 1 of being sick at home:

* Got to find someone who will cover presentation shquig. Jeez, that's gonna be rough.
* Got to print out and review documents blah, and blip and bloop.
* Got to check my voice-mail messages 20 times an hour.
* Got to check my email messages every 30 seconds. Gahhh, why is it taking so long to refresh?
* Got to check in with boss at least twice a day.
* Got to call someone to get the information from the two meetings I'm missing today.
* Got to send out e-mail to distribution with promised data related to action shnerk.
* Got to provide boss with valuable insights that only I am genius enough to see prior to his blerk meeting.
* Got to write down oh so clever idea on flipits.
* Wonder if, despite what the doctor said, I can drag myself in to work just to be at important shmerz meeting.
* Man, I feel guilty leaving the work for everyone else.
* Maybe while I'm resting I can at least get some laundry done.
* Dang, I forgot I promised to get X the spinkus report!

Thoughts on Day 13 of being sick at home:

* ...
* ...
* ... look... a robin.
* ...
* ...
*[insert Stewie Griffin voice here] ... oh, hey mr. robin...
* ...
* ... ya got a worm there?

14 May 2008


Alright. I admit it. I'm cranky.

Things that especially torque me lately:

1) Telemarketers can not be bothered to call you anymore. Apparently, you just weren't doing your part. And, so, why would they call you, really? What a waste of time for them. Instead, they have a recording call you telling you how important it is that you call them.

Um, TelemarketingPookie? I ain't calling you back. I ain't even listening to the recorded pitch, no matter how many times your perky actor inserts the word "urgent" into it. [In my best 'Dana Carvey does Bush the elder' voice]: Not gonna happen.

I barely call the people I like back, this is how much I dislike being on the telephone. Why the heck would I call you?!

Similarly, the television commercials which end with "Nowwhat.com". Does anyone really go to this web-site to find out what this is about? Was "YeahIgiveash*t.com" already taken?

2) The number of conservative radio hosts that have taken to describing themselves as "independent thinkers"--not conservative, not liberal, but "truly open-minded", as if this will somehow draw them a larger listening base. Chyeah. All one has to do is listen to their rants for two minutes to know which side of the political spectrum they firmly land on. And I do. I listen sometimes for half-an-hour at a time. And then I react like anyone would who has been the recipient of an earwig.

Some of the people I love the most in this world are conservatives. But the difference is, they own it. Fergawdssake, be who you are. Embrace it! Have a little backbone! I can respect people whose opinions are different from mine but not if they cloak them in the guise of "impartiality."

3) Billy Mays. Or perhaps I should say BILLY MAYS!!! I am amazed at how many different advertisers have hired this guy. Are there really sheep listening to this guy who think, "Well, if he's yelling that loudly, it must be good!" Do they yell back at the television "OKAY, BILLY!! I'LL GET IT RIGHT AWAY!!!!"?

13 May 2008

Food & Wine Festival at the National Harbor

Huh. Looks like there's about to be a tony food and wine festival up the road in Baltimore. Check out the considerable talent and the far-flung topics. Wish there was more of a local DC flavor (there is some: Michel Richard, David Guas, Jeff Tunks) but you gotta applaud any show that features entertainment like this:

Rocky Fino
Lecture: Will Mix for Sex: Classic Cocktails to Set the Mood

Rocky Fino is a nationally recognized, award-winning author of Will Cook for Sex—A Guy’s Guide to Cooking and Will Mix for Sex—21 Classic Cocktails to Set the Mood. Although not a trained chef, Rocky has made his impact showing everyday people that they can improve their relationship and their lives with a little effort in the kitchen. Rocky says his simple approach to food preparation is designed to get people into the kitchen where they can discover their cooking talents, then use them to rev up romance.

I doubt I'll be getting to the festival as I am still waiting to be declared something besides Typhoid Mary but I hope somebody will let me know the greatness or suckitude of it.

Elementary School Moments

The previous post's stroll down memory lane put me in mind of some other strange moments in my early life. It's funny how we just sort of accept things in the moment and then years later we think back on them and go "whaaaaaaa...?"

Long before I hung out with Randi [and got to attend her way cool boy-girl party where I danced very poorly in her overheated rec room (read: basement)], I was a quiet kid in elementary school. Once in a while, a kid from school would suggest I come over to her house. I went.

Two of these visits come to mind:

Sharon: What I remember about spending the afternoon with Sharon was that she was very proud of the way she didn't blow her nose. Rather than apply a tissue to her nose and honk, she would suck the snot down into her mouth and then spit it into the tissue. She demonstrated this methodology to me, beaming.

Elisa: When I arrived at Elisa's house she handed me one of two steak knives she was carrying and suggested we play "thieves". This consisted of lurking around the house wielding our steak knives and eluding capture--not a difficult thing since we were the only ones who knew we were "thieves", having a mock knife fight with the real steak knives, and me watching Elisa lift real money from her mom's real purse.

I don't really know what to say about either of these episodes. Except they were weird, right? It's not just me, right? Those were weird.

They were.


12 May 2008

The California Beep Line

In the summer of 1975, I was 13. Let me take you back...

It was a strange time. We had ugly clothes and hair. Very ugly. It was past the free love '60s but not yet the narcissistic '80s.

Here's some of what was on TV:

Meanwhile, on the radio, Eric Carmen was complaining about being all by himself, Paul Simon was listing 50 ways to leave a lover, Pure Prairie League was crooning to Amie, John Denver was singing about Jacques Cousteau's boat, Morris Albert was going on about feelings, the Spinners were lamenting the games people play, Olivia Newton-John was wondering if you'd never been mellow, The O'Jays were loving music--any kind of music, and so on.

I believe 1975 was the summer I hung out with Randi. Randi, who not only spelled her name with an "i" but dotted it with a circle, a heart, or, most often, a smiley-face, was a bubbly person. Aside from both of us being 13-year-old girls who went to the same Junior High (because in 1975, it was a Junior High not a Middle School), Randi and I didn't really have a lot in common. Where I had mad crushes on boys at school, Randi flirted with boys at school. We had very different ways of being but mostly we had proximity. We lived a few houses away from each other and so it didn't require parental transportation to hang out--a huge plus!

I can remember clearly when Randi introduced me to the California Beep Line. I'd never heard of it before and I've never met anyone since that time who's heard of it. Randi told me she'd gotten hold of this toll free number for the California Beep Line. You called it and you'd hear a couple beeps and then there'd be about a minute of no beeps and then back to the beeps and then another minute of no beeps and so on. The idea was that there were all kinds of people calling in to the California Beep Line and you communicated on this free, national, shared phone line by talking in between the beeps.

We called the California Beep Line every day for about a week. We waited for the beeps to end and then we called into the phone "Hello? Hello?" and you know what? One day we actually talked to someone else on the California Beep Line. We were freaking out! We were so nervous we didn't know what to say. I remember he asked us our names and Randi, clever girl, without a pause, gave out fake names for both of us. She advanced our ages a few years, too. He wanted a phone number to call us directly but I don't think we gave him one. We weren't that gutsy.

This was long before social networking sites, before texting, before chat rooms, before usenet groups. If we wanted to communicate with strangers, we called the California Beep Line.

Now, Google Analytics tells me when I've said "Hello? Hello?" on this blog, in the last month alone it's been heard by people in Poland, Uruguay, Australia, India, Singapore, the Netherlands, France, Canada, Mexico, Portugal, Sweden, the UK, Switzerland, Italy, Germany, Venezuela, Peru, and, of course, the good ol' US of A. I don't have to wait for the beeps to stop. I can send out a "Hello" any time and see what comes back.

Powitanie Świat!
¡Hola Mundo!
विश्व नमस्कार !
Hallå världen!
Bonjour tout le monde!
well, you get the idea.

11 May 2008

Happy Burns

I know there are some people that have pleasant associations with burns. This is not that kind of true confession. This is about food.

There are some foods that are delicious and, when prepared properly, not only become molten-hot but can maintain their moltenicity longer than other foods. You probably have your own list*, but here's my top 3 molten foods for which I will happily singe the roof of my mouth:

1) Creamed corn

There is something about the viscosity of creamed corn that allows it, once hot, to stay hot. Searingly, singeingly, molten, hot. Like corn lava. I can't get enough of the stuff.

2) Pizza (New York style, preferably)

I will certainly eat cold pizza but it is a very different experience from fresh, hot pizza. How many happy moments have I spent burning the heck out of my mouth on stretchy mozzarella when it tops a slice from a pie that's right out of the pizza oven? [Insert sound of Homer Simpson drool here]

3) Pepperidge Farm Apple Turnovers:

The quintessential happy burn! I grew up with these in the freezer. Dad and I loved them. If you bake them long enough for the flaky puff pastry to rise properly, the apple and raisin goo-filling becomes the hottest thing on god's green earth. If you wait for the apple-raisin magma to cool, the puff pastry becomes stiff and unappealing. You pretty much have to: nibble-sear, nibble-sear, nibble-sear. Totally worthy of a Snuffles, the cartoon dog, happy dance!

* Because that's how you spend your time. **

** If that really is how you spend your time, feel free to share your list!

10 May 2008

Favorite Quote of the Day

From Chip Kidd's snarkily funny and occasionally disturbing novel "The Cheese Monkeys":

"I'm an alcofrolic, there's a difference!"

09 May 2008

Isn't that Pia Zadora with spinach in her teeth?

Now that everyone carries a cell phone and 99.9999% of cell phones have a camera, what is appropriate camera etiquette when you encounter a celeb?

I'm not talking about skeevy snaps in locker rooms. Everybody's clear on that: Bad photographer! Bad!! Bad!!

What I mean is, DC is a city that always has famous and semi-famous people wandering around. And if they're in a parade or at a protest, sure, you snap their picture. But what if they're standing in a shop or enjoying a quiet dinner? Is it okay to snap them browsing or with Alfredo on their chin?

As someone who has actually practiced creating a pleasant visage in the mirror prior to events where I know I'll likely have my picture taken formally or candidly (weddings, bar mitzvahs,... ), I can appreciate that not every moment is an ideal photo op. Often I think I look just fine and then the photo comes back and there's the inevitable questions/comments: "What were you doing?", "Were you nauseous?", and, most recently, "Maybe you shouldn't have leaned in like that in that dress". I'm usually disappointed with photos of me. And if I'm going to be a photobomber I want to be intentional about it.*

So I guess my question is: Do you give up all rights to even a modicum of privacy when you sign the "Yes, I want to be a celebrity" papers?

*At our wedding, the photobomber was my youngest nephew. He was 6 at the time and in every single formal shot everyone is smiling except him--he's busy making a monkey face. My sister claims he was at that age when he didn't know what to do when the photographer said "smile!" I claim, at 6 you know the difference between a smile and a monkey face.

08 May 2008

Important fashion tips from What Not to Wear

Things I have learned from watching TLC's What Not to Wear:

  • No matter what your body shape and how pregnant you'll look by doing this, you must wear tops with an empire waist because that's what's in style and you will automatically look better. Even if you look worse.
  • Matching is out. If you wear a brown suit jacket, you can not wear the matching brown suit pants. You must wear deep blue jeans with said jacket and a cream shell and--this is important, too--bright red or lime green shoes for the all important "color pop". You must wear the brown suit pants on a separate occasion with a red print, empire waist top but not with the bright red shoes you bought to go--and I use the word "go" loosely here--with the brown jacket and blue jeans.
  • You must buy and sport at least one butt ugly purse. You get extra points if the purse description includes the word "metallic" or "hobo".
  • No matter what you wear, you will never look as good as Stacy or Clinton.

A Peculiar Grace

I just finished A Peculiar Grace by Jeffrey Lent. I liked it a lot. The title could certainly describe Lent's ability to capture a moment. He has a sparse, deceptively simple style of description that is very evocative. Here are a few examples:

"Empty soup bowls with a membrane of pale greenish white dried on the inner edges, small plates with darkened crumbs of toast. Hewitt had considered the small candelabra of white porcelain decorated with tea roses and fragile petals but rejected it for fear of appearing romantic and settled on the frosted fixture above the sink with its forty-watt bulb that threw a soft slantwise light over the room."


"The woods were perfect. After the night and day of steady easy rain everything growing was a bit pressed down and back, opened. And all things, trees, lichen, brush, berry canes and stones, especially stones, were sharpened in outline, brighter in their color, more distinct. Revealed."

By themselves they may generate a "so what" from you but, trust me, you read hundreds of pages of nuanced snippets like this and the effect is dramatic. Lent's been compared to Cormac McCarthy, Pat Conroy, and William Faulkner. The story starts off with a good hook and draws you deep in before you even turn around. And then it's like you're in the house living with these characters for multiple seasons.

You want more than just description? How about this bit from a heated exchange:

"I grew up with God as frightening and spooky as Boo Radley. But you know what? God is either a long-ago fragment of history's fucked-up imagination or plain sick of us and taken up with new, more interesting projects. He's sidelined us for good but I have to wonder Hewitt if we all stopped doing things the way we do and started doing it some other way altogether then maybe way off in the far beyond place of the universe He'd stop what He's up to now and lift up His head and shake it thinking something's missing--there's an old old sound I don't hear anymore and after a while maybe remember us and come a bit closer than He seems to be now and see we've stopped doing all those things we do over and over to each other and maybe then there would be a God."

Like I said, he's good.

06 May 2008

Just gotta have _______

"You are going to be stranded on an island. Choose the one item you would bring."

Sounds like the kind of question/challenge Rantings of a Creole Princess* would posit. I came across it when I set up an online account. It's a security question and they ask you to respond with one of the following selections:

Toilet Paper

Cooking Pot






Eye Glasses


Suntan Lotion

So which would you pick?

Would you choose based on what might help you get rescued?

Or what might help you survive?

Or what might make you more comfortable?

Or some other reason entirely?

I could make a pretty good argument for most of these, which I guess is why it makes a decent security question. You have to admit it's a lot more interesting than "Mother's maiden name" and/or "make of first car".

I expect this could also serve as a psychological exam because it probably says a lot about you if you pick one type of answer instead of another. But since it isn't a psychological exam and I don't have a key to pick apart your deep-seated neuroses, you don't need to worry.

Pity the list doesn't include the one thing you'd really need: coconuts. On Gilligan's island, they pulled magic that would have made MacGyver proud**, by making everything out of coconuts. And if their dinky coconut radio could pick up stations, how far from civilization could they really be?

* Great site. JoeBob says "Check it out!"

** If the space-time continuum didn't exist and MacGyver pre-dated or coexisted with Gilligan's Island. Or something.

05 May 2008

McCain/The real reason we went to war

Did you catch the McCain blunder??

From ABC News:

“And I just want to promise you this: My friends, I will have an energy policy, that we will be talking about, which will eliminate our dependence on oil from the Middle East,” McCain said. “That will prevent us from having ever to send our young men and women into conflict again in the Middle East.”

After landing in Phoenix later in the day, McCain told reporters that he was not saying that the conflict is about oil.

“We went to Iraq because we believed that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction and he was going to use them,” McCain said, reiterating what he has said before on numerous occasions.

He said that he was actually referring to the first Gulf War when he talked about how a new energy policy would allow the Untied States never to have to “send our young men and women into conflict again in the Middle East.”

“I was talking about that we had fought the first Gulf War for several reasons,” McCain said, noting primarily that Iraq had invaded its neighbor Kuwait.

“But also we didn’t want them to have control over the oil, and that part of the world is critical to us because of our dependency on foreign oil. And it’s more important than in any other part of the world.”

But he did not mention the first Gulf War during his town hall meeting in Denver. His comments then came in the context of a conversation about the latest Iraq struggle, and how his plans for Iraq differ from that of his Democratic opponents, who want to begin withdrawing troops quickly from Iraq.

We know what you meant, John. No need to explain further. It's like a Homer Simpson moment when he mistakenly says what he's thinking out loud instead of keeping it just in his head.

No matter how many times W says it, it's not about "spreading democracy" and it never was.

But why go there? Was it just a "Doh!" moment? Unlike Homer, you're a bright man, John.

Who are you playing to?

Not the conservative base that wants a strong hawk, will see this as a blunder and already thinks you're too liberal in many ways.

Not the liberals who never believed the W rhetoric and won't go for the warmonger image you've put forward up until now.

Are you going for the independent vote? Hoping people will believe that you know the truth and, given the opportunity, will say it without retracting it?

...but you retracted it. Or is it retracted with a wink to the jury a la "When did you stop beating your wife?" "Objection!" "I retract the question."*wink*

03 May 2008

Save Hotel Babylon!

Why is it that if I like something, it goes away?!

Oh, to be the target demographic. Someone's target demographic.

Wondering what the delay was in bringing the third season* of Hotel Babylon to BBC America, I wrote to them and requested they bring it. Forthwith.

Their response

Thank you for taking the time to contact us. Unfortunately, we regret to inform you at this time, there are no plans to air "Hotel Babylon" on BBC America in the immediate future. However, please rest assured that BBC America takes the opinions of viewers such as yourself very seriously and, as such, we will forward your suggestion on to the appropriate department.

Well that sucks. They're showing it on BBC, why not BBC America?! We can get Gordon Ramsey reruns 23 hours a day but no Hotel Babylon?


  • you agree that this is a miscarriage of justice,
  • you're still ticked off about that Boston Tea Party/American Revolution thingy and just feel like pestering BBC America on principle,
  • and/or you haven't joined any causes lately and want to -- and this one takes a lot less face time than becoming an Amway seller or a Greenpeace activist
please take 30 seconds to go to the contact page at BBCAmerica.com and petition for more Hotel Babylon. This show has a brilliant cast, good production values and engaging story lines. No wonder they've decided to get rid of it, right? Sigh. Don't let this happen! Write in now!

In the words of Bartles and James, we thank you for your support.

*The Brits refer to it as the third "series".

02 May 2008

Helen Thomas doesn't want me breathing on her

I am weary. Been weary for months. Trudged on. Played it down. Like maybe I should just suck it up/walk it off/rub dirt in it.

Now that the blood tests are back and I know I have mono I feel particularly weary. Like I've earned the right to be weary. Like maybe it's time I embrace my weariness and just sleep. Sleepy-sleep-sssss.

Life is about to get much more simple:

  1. Cancel everything on calendar.
  2. Sleep.

Irritating parts of mono besides the obvious:
#1: Having people talk about "the kissing disease." Oh, grow up people. Doctor says you can get it if some mono-laden person just sneezes or coughs in your vicinity.

#2: Apparently 46 is way too old to get mono. Most people get it in their high school years or early twenties. Well, excuse me for being a late bloomer.

Surprising part of mono:
I'm amazed at how many people have had this. Admitting I have it (for their safety as well as an explanation for why I'm dropping out of my own life) has opened a floodgate of true confessions.

This leads to irritating part of mono
The horror stories. Why is it that when you tell somebody something bad has happened to you, they feel a need to share their worse experience? "You got a hangnail? Oh, let me tell you about the time I got a hangnail and it turned into gangrene and I had to have my arm removed..." "Oh, would you?? Please?? Was there pus? OOOooo, tell me about the pus."