Monday, October 31, 2005

Happy Halloween, kiddies!

From the chief weenie here at the Church of the Big Sky to all the creatures of the night. Go forth and have some fun! (And somebody eat a 100 Grand bar for me, okay?)



Sunday, October 30, 2005

I am but a slow-moving slug

It's true. I have been quite the slug of late. My apologies. I had a heck of a nerve jangling few days, with my third interview for a nonprofit job. (I should know my fate early this week.) And being a giant, shrieking stress monkey just takes it out of me. I was feeling system-wide distress before the interview, and then fell into this "I could sleep all day" de-stressing slump once it was over. I simply became coma girl, and the creativity drained straight out my toes.

However, I'm getting my second wind now. I had to write something tonight, as the Sasquatch gave me good-natured crap about my last post merely being a lame "estro-fest" of drooling over Hot Gondorian Sex Machine Aragorn, Son of Arathorn. (I pointed out to him it was really a post about getting weepy over hobbits, but he ignored that aspect.) So sue me. I'm a chick. A straight chick. I'm gonna get all goofy over the hot, filthy fantasy guys now and then.

And now, the portion of the entry that will bore people who dislike the "what I did today" type of blog entry...

Today, I escaped DC for the afternoon with the Sasquatch and the Alasko-American. We hit the road for Baltimore, America's leader in: 1) teen pregnancy; 2) condom sales - apparently, somebody needs some instruction on the proper use of said items; 3) adult illiteracy; and 4)VD! Yes, it's a happy place, that little city where, at the twilight's last gleaming, our flag was still there, inspiring the rewriting of a badass drinking song.

Our first stop was the grotty, but hip Hampden neighborhood, home to all sorts of little funky junk, antique, and furniture shops, a few cafes, and the fringe-y, funky, freaky Atomic Books. If you want a book about a fetish, a medical oddity, pierced things, or any other odd topic, you're likely to find it here (or available from their equally odd distributors.) John Waters likes this joint, as evidenced by years of signed holiday greetings (some of them pretty grotesque) that festoon one wall of the store. I was excited to see a small basket of fortune-telling Miracle Fish next to the cash register. Remember Miracle Fish? They're little pieces of flat, red cello plastic, shaped like fish. You place the fishie in the palm of your hand and it moves (through the wonder of your body heat), giving you a shape that you must match up against the chart to determine your fortune.

I loved these things when I was a kid. My fish always completely rolled up in my hand. I guess I was a hot and sweaty little kidlet. Now, I'm just a hot and sweaty adult. (Not as cute.)

But, in my continuing efforts to be frugal in the face of utter financial failure, I passed on the fishy oracle. The Sasquatch and the Alasko-American both purchased books both interesting and odd. (The Sasquatch once purchased an L.A. detective's crime scene book - vintage "L.A. Confidential" era Los Angeles - at this store. That particular volume has the unique reputation of being the only book to ever make me queasy enough to faint. Looking at the gruesome pictures one evening, I almost passed out face-first into the back of Mr. Squatch's futon sofa. Unsurprisingly, I haven't asked to borrow that book from him...)

We strolled down the block to Cafe Hon, a Baltimore landmark that is supposed to have all the kitschy warmth and good home cooking of a Baltimore home. Our experience there, sadly, was sub-optimal. In our party of three, I was the only person who actually got what she ordered. We all wanted their brunch egg casserole, which was to come with potatoes, fresh fruit, and a muffin. First, they ran out of muffins - would we be willing to take bagels? Fine by us. Then, they ran out of the egg casserole with ham. Would the Sasquatch be willing to take the vegetarian option? Sure.

Wait. They ran out of bagels. How about English muffins? FINE. WHATEVER. BRING THE DAMN FOOD.

The waitress appears with food for me and the Alasko-American, but not the Sasquatch, who meanwhile has been quietly drooling over the creamed chipped beef served to the next table. Again the waitress returns, with an English muffin for me, and two plates of cold white toast. Sorry, they ran out of English muffins. Will toast do? (We really did feel sorry for the waitress. It wasn't her fault.) At this point, ready to chew off his foot, the Sasquatch asks for some chipped beef, since it appears they may have run out of eggs in the damn kitchen.

End result - we ate. But we won't be returning to Cafe Hon for any Baltimore hospitality anytime soon.

We wrapped up the afternoon with a visit to the American Visionary Art Museum (AVAM.) What is "visionary art" you ask? Well, according to the museum's website, visionary art is: "art produced by self-taught individuals, usually without formal training, whose works arise from an innate personal vision that revels foremost in the creative act itself." Outsider Art.

The museum itself is compact, but the galleries are spacious and the art is sometimes funny and whimsical and sometimes deeply sad and disturbing. One artist, haunted by the deaths of beloved relatives in a trailer fire (the door expanded with the heat and could not be opened), paints and decorates old doors. Another spilled out stories of his hateful, racist neighbors in large, bold words splashed in black on stark white canvas. Each of his pieces was accompanied by a spindly wooden devil, a thin red figure inexplicably swathed in a bright blue scarf. Apparently, the devil wears pashmina. Learn me somethin' new every day.

I was really taken by the room filled with pipe cleaner figures, fashioned by former lawyer Linda St. John, a woman who has created words and paintings and thousands of tiny pipe cleaner women as a way to exorcise the demons of an abusive, impoverished childhood. I want to read her memoir, Even Dogs Go Home To Die, but I'm afraid it will be too intense for me at this point. I'll wait a while before I tackle that one.

These ladies, by the way, are some of St. John's 100 Dirt Yard Girls, the centerpiece of her room at AVAM. The girls are crafted from pipe cleaners, cloth, plastic, lint, sticks, burlap, string, and paper. I wish the museum store had sold a poster for her exhibit. I would have loved to have a wall of her "girls."

By the way, the museum store was a total trip. It's a mix of original art, traditional museum shop goodies (books, cool paper products, neat-o branded souvenirs), and, more or less, as the Sasquatch put it, the contents of the Archie McPhee catalog. It was pretty awesome. I should have bought some of those bacon bandaids. (They had them at Atomic Books, too.)

And, wouldn't you know it, they had Miracle Fish, too, right at the cash register. I think I should have bought one. I think someone was trying to send me a message.

But the very best part of the museum? They have a working photobooth in the basement! I am a total sucker for photobooths. I especially love b&w booths, but the color ones, with their tendency to produce oddly tinted results, are a riot, too. The Sasquatch, the Alasko-American, and I each took our turn in the booth. I look white trashy, the Alasko-American was caught off guard as she tried to lower the seat in the booth, and the Sasquatch looks alternatively like he's been drugged and he's being goosed. Hopefully, all this silliness will be scanned in for online humiliation.

At the end of our visit, a wedding party was arriving for a reception in the museum's stylish 3rd floor cafe. The bride looked clam-happy in a retro, cocktail-length gown with a big crinoline. She wore bulky cat glasses and had her hair in a dipty-doodle, flip-at-the-chin style. The groom matched his lovely lady in retro hipness as they took photos in the museum's garden. As the bridal party assembled, my companions headed to the museum's second building while I, slightly gimpy and walking with my cane today (lower back pain is eeeeevil), hobbled to the ladies room, down past the photobooth.

While I was staring at my makeup-less face and less-than-lovely locks in the bathroom mirror, I was unfortunately privy to an ugly argument between a woman and her boyfriend out in the hall. He was cruel and cold, he wanted no part of her anymore, and he abandoned her there, in the museum basement, as her sobs echoed in the hallway.

I found her crying in the photobooth.

She was dressed to the nines and quite lovely, even with her red eyes and blotchy face. I talked to her for a few minutes as her tears dried and her hiccupy breathing slowed. Finally, she said that photobooths cheered her up. I told her I felt the same way and said I'd taken some awful pictures in that very booth just a few minutes before. She smiled and pulled some dollars from her little purse. "Then, try it again!" She fed the machine two singles and snapped a panel of herself and then she insisted I go again - her treat. We waited for the machine to cough up our our jaundiced portraits, and we both got a good laugh out of them. When I last saw her, the abandoned girlfriend was headed for the staircase, cupping her strip of still-damp photos in her hands - a cheerful talisman to keep her spirits up as she walked away, a single woman.

From what I heard of her toady ex, I think she's better off. She may not think that, just yet. But I'm willing to bet she will tomorrow morning.

Good luck, hon, wherever you are. And thanks for the pictures.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

More to be said soon...

Sorry - I've had a lot going on this week, including me being a wretched, mostly ill ball of stress. I should be back with some interesting news early next week.

Until then, let me just say this: I am a massively wussy geek. I've seen Return of the King eight gazillion times, and yet I still cry like a baby when the hobbits have to say farewell at the Grey Havens. (Wuss, wuss, wussy!) I'm still destressing over some recent events, and, so Ms. Insomnia 2005 once again is unable to sleep tonight. And, what's on Encore at 1 a.m.? Why, it's Return of the King - just in time for me to get all weepy all over again. (Dammit.)

Oh, and ladies - is it just me, or is Viggo Mortensen much hotter with the long straggly hair, beard, and cinematic filth of Middle Earth? Hell, maybe it is just me. Generally, I'm not into guys with visible dirt layers and hair that screams "Led Zeppelin Roadie", but in Middle Earth, it's quite nice.

Hot. (In a cinematically unclean way.)

In a completely unrelated note here at Non Sequitor Blog Theater, Marvel Comics announced today that Stephen King will be telling more tales of Roland Deschain, the Gunslinger, in comic form, starting next April. I swear to god, hearing this was like winning the lottery. Last night, the Sasquatch told me this (news had leaked prior to the official announcement) and, once I determined that my bigfoot bubba buddy wasn't pulling my leg, I had the biggest grin on my face.

Antihero, schmantihero - Roland Deschain rocks my world.

If you read my blog early on, you know that I took a very emotional journey reading all 36 bazillion pages of the Dark Tower books over, basically, a two-week period this spring. I was totally wiped out when I finished the last book (which had me blubbering like a idiot at least four times), and I still find that the Gunslinger haunts the back of my mind. Damn you, Stephen King!

What is it with "guy" things making me lose it? The Lord of the Rings? The Dark Tower? Apparently, I flunked out of Girly Girl 101 a long time ago.

By the way, I just found this weirdass nightmare thing via Google Images. WTF, man? WTF?

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

And now, a movie review from the Sasquatch

I know it's shocking, but the Sasquatch speaks from time to time. Now is one of those times:

this is an audio post - click to play

This is only the second movie I've willingly walked out of. The first was "Shanghai Surprise"... "Mirrormask" was pretty, but, great googly moogly, it was going nowhere fast.

Bad career moves: the sequel

Yeah, sure, you don't get voted off this island.
But, damn! You shouldn't get on AMC, either!

this is an audio post - click to play

The ancient killer piñata in question.

He looks like he's in intense intestinal distress, doesn't he? Clearly, this is him asking Jaime Pressly for some Imodium. He kills because he's suffering the ill effects of five centuries' steady diet of burritos and Coronas, and no one can understand his crazy ancient killer piñata language.

Poor bastard. I'd kill the drunken island party kids, too.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Font Boo-Boo - My Apologies

In an effort to make my very short post about the passing of Rosa Parks more attractive, I apparently changed the fonts for all the posts in my blog. This rendered the blog absolutely unreadable for some Mac users.

Sorry about that!

The blog has been restored to its original level of legibility. If anyone is still having problems viewing posts (if they're appearing all scripty), please let me know.

I'd like to thank the wonderful Sasquatch for pointing this out to me. Today's a really crappy day for him, so he gets a big virtual hug from me for taking the time to help me not look like an idiot. He could have just ignored my web boobery and let me look dumb for a day or two, but he didn't. Thanks, bubba. I owe you one.

Here - have some Sasquatch Content (it's like Canadian Content, only with more hair) on me:

Apparently, this was a Sid & Marty Krofft show in 1978.
The tagline for the show is "THEY BATTLE FOR JUSTICE!"
How the hell did I miss this one?!?
Is it me or does Bigfoot look a lot like Nick Nolte on a bender?
And Wildboy has that Mark Hamill pre-car accident look.
This caption is getting too long.
I'll stop now.

Monday, October 24, 2005

A life ends

"Each person must live their life as a model for others."

Rosa Parks

Thursday, October 20, 2005

A post about Matthew Lesko's suit goes way off track (like that's a big surprise here...)

I saw him again today at the coffee shop. He wasn't there when I arrived. I had walked in from the cold rain after getting my flu shot at the Kentlands Giant store (where I must have been the only needle victim under 70) and headed straight for the ladies room. Not that you needed to know that, but it serves to prove the fact that I spend too much time there. When I walked out, having not yet ordered anything, the barista had a large mocha latte ready for me.

Apparently, I am a creature of habit. I'm also living on deficit spending now, so I'm glad I have frequent caffeine addict's loyalty points to cover my Mayorga addiction. I settled into a big leather chair at the back of the cafe, nursed my coffee, and tried to focus on the coverage of Tom and Katie's Scientology space clam monster fetus in People Magazine. But, alas, I was too distracted by other stuff going on in my skull to worry much about whether or not Katie screams throughout her drug-free labor. I had my cell phone out, willing it to ring with a job offer.

No such luck.

Finally, I hauled my ass out of the comfy chair to hit the road. And that's when I saw him. The Lesko. In his favorite spot - the leather couch & chair corner up front by the door. Today, his bright colors were replaced with something a little more low-key for him: a black suit with hot pink question marks, a hot pink shirt & tie, and truly hideous hot pink duck-type shoes. I guess this is what the Riddler would wear to a funeral. He was having an animated cell phone conversation, hands waving in the air.

I opted to not wave hello this time. I just got in my car and started the drive home, watching the gas gauge and considering buying another lottery ticket. I understand why the poor buy lottery tickets. It's a little thrill of hope. I bought a scratcher. I lost on all 15 possible wins. Hopefully, tomorrow will bring a fruitful phonecall. That'd be better than a lottery ticket any old day, and I could use some good news before this month is out.

In 12 days, on November 1st, I turn 40. It would be nice to be re-employed by then. (It would also be nice to have a million dollars and Julian McMahon as my cabana boy.)

Most of y'all who read my blog are younger than I am. What do you want to do for your 40th birthday? What do you hope to have done by that date?

I've been to 27 countries. Lived in three (well, four if you count Russia and the Soviet Union as separate entities.)

I've seen Mt. Ararat and touched the Rosetta Stone (I'm lucky I didn't get my ass kicked by museum security), crossed the Nile in a felucca, and put my hand in the Boca della Verita.

I've been held at gunpoint multiple times in Russia. I've been mugged at knifepoint in Thailand. I've been arrested for disturbing the peace in Uzbekistan and smuggled into Kazakhstan without proper papers.

I've stood at the foot of Air Force One as the president deplaned for a summit, with the lights of the world press illuminating us. (Which was incredibly thrilling.)

I've been in the same room with 7 U.S. presidents (spoken to two - Nixon in person, Clinton over the phone) and I've stood at the podium in the White House Press Room and sat in the president's chair in the West Wing situation room. (Silly, sure - but cool to do!)

I was offered a job by a music industry executive at the bar in the Hard Rock Cafe in London on my 21st birthday in 1986. (I turned him down. That's one of the great "what-if" moments of my life.)

I worked for Gopher from "The Love Boat." (He's one of my employment references.)

I've written for the radio, but I've never been published in a real magazine or written a book.

I saw the Soviet Union fall, incredibly up close and in person.

I witnessed a murder so close my shoes were spattered with the victim's blood.

I held my father's hand as he died.

I missed my mother's death by an hour.

I've seen and heard things I can't explain scientifically. (Sorry, Penn & Teller.)

I've done a lot of stupid things, and a few smart ones.

I've been in love, but no one has ever been in love with me.

I have regrets, fears, and a lot of challenges in my life. Right now, I'm in a pretty dark place, but I hope things get better. Regardless of what the future holds, I cannot say I have not lived in these 40 years. I have the scars to prove it all.

Make sure you have some scars, too, before you turn 40. Don't live in a bubble. Get dirty. Love someone - even if they don't love you back (just don't go into restraining order territory, okay?) Have an adventure or two or three. Take pictures. Write about it. And treat people with decency whenever possible.

And remember...

It's not the years, honey - it's the mileage.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Drug Deal, Columbia Road NW, 8:10 p.m.

FYI, I drop the S bomb a couple of times here, just in case you listen at work. Here's to the stupid-ass guy buyin' drugs at the 7-11 right by Columbia & 19th tonight. You're a serious brainiac. And so's yer dealer.

this is an audio post - click to play

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Armed Forces Radio: Keepin' It Conservative!

Allison Barber! C'mon down! You're the next contestant on "The Government Weasel is Right!"

Waaay right, apparently.

Allison Barber, in case you missed recent embarrassing events here in Washington, is the Pentagon's deputy assistant secretary for internal communications - she's the one you saw coaching soldiers in Iraq for their oh-so spontaneous and unscripted (har dee har har) teleconference with the president.

She's taken a drubbing in the liberal press for her coaching duties. And yesterday, she did something to a liberal talk radio host that reeks of revenge.

Meet Ed Schultz:

Ed is a liberal radio pundit. He is a large, opinionated man and, honestly, I can barely tell the difference between his voice and that of Rush Limbaugh. (Until the words start spilling forth.)

A month ago, Ed was informed that his syndicated radio show would be featured on the Armed Forces Radio network, providing a liberal voice to the troops, to counter Limbaugh's pill-filtered view of the world. This would be a good thing - it's important for the troops to have access to a full spectrum of opinion - let them retain their freedom of thought and not have their brains completely monopolized by the limited world view of Limbaugh and his self-proclaimed EIB Network. (According to Limbaugh, EIB stands for "Excellence in Broadcasting" - personally, I prefer "Ears I Buggered", but that's just me.)

The start date for Schultz's show on Armed Forces Radio was one day ago, October 17th. But at 7 a.m. yesterday morning, Ed got a phone call from Allison Barber. The same Allison Barber Ed & Co. have been skewering for the past few days. And Allison told Ed the deal was off. No explanations. No nothing. But Schultz was no longer welcome with the Armed Forces Radio family.

Nice one, Madame Barber. Nice one, Department of Defense. Apparently, we know who can't stand the heat. How about getting the hell out of the kitchen, lady.

Look, I'm not here to tell you which direction is correct. However, be you right, left, or firmly stuck with the fencepost up your kazoo, you should support the airing of opposing viewpoints. How can anyone make up their own mind with only half the story on anything? Especially men and women, far from home, isolated in a very hostile place? Allison Barber just denied our troops that important option. No freedom of thought for you, soldier! How about a tasty MRE instead?

The Washington Post reports that, last year, when Congress urged AFR to provide greater political balance in its broadcasting, Rush Limbaugh got pissed off. Said Limbaugh, "I am the political balance." (Suddenly, I am reminded of Sly Stallone howling "I am the law!")

Only in Bizarro World would Rush Limbaugh be considered the political balance of the world. Seriously, folks.

Oh, what's that? Armed Forces Radio has moved its studios to the heart of Bizarro World?


Nothing to see here. Move along, move along...

Someone get me some lithium.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Denny's Tattoo Update

The marvelous Alaskan has provided me this fascinating glimpse into prison culture - and the dude at Denny's wanting a unicorn on his back. Apparently, according to the survey noted here, unicorns are a rather popular tattoo subject among the incarcerated.

Me and my magic horse, dawg. We gonna cut you!

Unicorns behind bars. Huh. Go figure.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

A Weasel Went Down To Woodbridge

UPDATE!! (Or, holy crow, I'm getting a pile of hits on this post.)

ATTENTION HOMESCHOOLING PARENTS WHO HAVE ARRIVED HERE VIA SOME OTHER WEBSITE: Just to clarify - this is not a homeschooling website, nor is it an anti-homeschooling website. This is my personal blog. If you would like to engage in a debate or discussion about homeschooling parents getting involved in the policies, activities, or other aspects of the local school systems they have rejected for their own children, I would highly recommend you start the discussion on the appropriate website, not mine. I'm not a homeschooler. I'm not a parent. I am however an American with an opinion as valid as yours, which is what makes this country great and vibrant. All are welcome here, but it would be much more effective to take any debate to a venue where the issues can be better served. You may disagree with me or be offended, but, just as I uphold your right to think I'm a total doofus, I expect you to uphold my right to be one on my own blog. Thanks. And, please, if you've come here, visit my "selected posts" links on the side of this page - you may find that I'm not the evil death troll you think I am for not being an ardent supporter of homeschooling. May I suggest, specifically, "My Mother Had Wings" as interesting reading. It might make the basis for a good American history lesson for your children. Thanks for dropping by.

So, you homeschool your kids, yet you yourself attend the local high school's football game. A little odd, isn't it, that you enjoy one of the extracurriculars from which you exclude your own kidlets by keeping them out of the school system? Hey, whatever floats your boat, I guess. At the game, you hear the school's marching band perform "The Devil Went Down To Georgia," a number they have been rehearsing and rehearsing over and over again. Heck, the band even went to camp to polish their performance, as they were scheduled to do the Charlie Daniels tune as a guest band at the Peach Bowl in Atlanta. One of the kids even procured an electric fiddle and learned how to play it for this. How cool is that? Huge deal for a high school marching band.

But you, you self-righteous prat, decided that it's inappropriate for the band at a school you rejected for your kids to play a song that references the Devil. (Despite the fact that it's a song about Satan musically getting his ass handed to him.) You write an obnoxious letter to the local paper and end up screwing up the happy plans of a nice group of band geeks. Just because you could.

You can read about the whole mess here. My favorite part? It's when this massive dorkwad claims that his letter "was meant to start a philosophical debate, not to wreck any student's marching band experience. Besides, he said, he loves 'Devil.'

'It was one of the first 45s I had as a kid,' he said."

I think this guy's a real a-hole. I bet his kids are embarrassed. I would be. You can take your philosophical debate, bubba, and cram it where the sun don't shine. Save it for one of your homeschooling lessons. Grrr. I know homeschooling can be a great experience for some, but I have the feeling this jerk's kids are going to be lacking the Common Sense Factor when they graduate to the world outside Daddy's Rarified Air Bubble.

What a shame. Damn busybody.

Bad career moves

this is an audio post - click to play

Caro dio! Questa pellicola era horrible.

Neon = Happy

I like neon signs - I've had a fascination with them since I was a little kid. In the 80s, I really loved the movies and the ads where the hipster loner single guy, perpetually clad in Levis and Raybans Wayfarers, lived in a minimalist apartment - dark rooms, nice stereo, and a neon sign on the wall in one lightly furnished room. I wanted that look.

Of course, I wasn't a single hipster guy in the 80s. Heck, I wasn't a single hipster girl in the 80s. I was just Single Lumpy Girl with Really Short Hair in the 80s. Now I am just Single Lumpy Woman with Longer Hair. But I still love neon signs.

I've been pretty down lately. It goes well beyond the "no work" thing. It's more the "no life" thing. I am genuinely happy for my friends who have found love and success. I really am. But is it selfish to want some of both for myself? Or even a little of one? (Frankly, I'd take the love over the job any day, but love won't pay the rent. Unless you're a hooker... and I'm derailing my train of thought.)

Is it really selfish? Maybe so. But I do so want it for myself. And it kills me a little to keep smiling for my friends while my own life is vanishing. I smile over the phone. I smile in person. And then I go home and sit quietly in my shadow life. I've discovered I get nasty headaches now whenever I cry. I try to keep a bottle of water and some aspirin with me at all times, just in case. It's nothing I want to talk to my family about, and my friends are, well, they're happy, contented, you name it. And who the hell wants to be Eeyore or the Charlie-in-the-Box, pissing in everyone's cornflakes? The easiest thing to do is not talk to anyone. That's what the blog is for.

So, lame and pathetic and self-indulgent as it seems, I'm hurting right now. And I can't express it properly to my friends without appearing weak or jealous or envious (and I am all those things, although I'd give my last dime and what's left of my pride to get a big, bonecrushing hug tonight.) And I can't sleep. And so, I'm looking for things to cheer me up.

Sleep not being on the menu, I decided to go out tonight and take a few pictures of suburban neon. Remember, I'm a crappy photographer, so these ain't exactly Scavullo. Enjoy.

Actually, not-so-fine Mexican food, but a great sign.

Kabobi! Sounds so friendly.
Smells great from the outside, but I've never tried their food.

I am the anti-Hooters girl, you know. It's not that I have anything against Hooters.
I just simply am the polar opposite of a Hooters girl.

These are the bastards who ruined every item I brought to them for dry cleaning.
They seriously suck. Doesn't matter if they do everything for $1.85 a piece.
If you have to buy a replacement each time, it ain't exactly a bargain service...

The Regal Rockville 13. Pretty comfy stadium cinemas.
Plus they have a weekend dinner & a movie deal with the restaurants
in the stripmall, Potbelly Sandwiches & California Tortilla. Yum.

I stopped to get a money order here once. They're really friendly and gracious.
And the money orders are "no-fee" which kicks ass when your eBay seller doesn't take PayPal.

This is the flickering, lifesize orange palm tree outside a dry cleaner in Rockville. I have no idea why it's there. But it's cool. It reminds me of Thailand, where everything is lit up at at night like the biggest Christmas display on the planet.

The cigar-smokin', beer drinkin' pig above the door at the Cuban Corner in Rockville. They make an awesome pork sandwich here. The decor inside is pretty bizarre.

The Caribbean joint next door to the Cuban Corner.
The manager thought I was nuts for taking a picture.

'Cuz there's nothing that goes better with fried rice than a hot cup of joe!

Okay, it's not neon. This is the church next to the Catholic cemetery where
F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald are buried.

I dig this. It's so Blade Runner.
Outside a vegetarian Chinese cafe.

Sam Woo's Chinese BBQ and Sushi Bar.

Sam has a lunch special, apparently.

You've gotta dig the wigs!

Bagel City - try the fabulous party platters!

This is the "HomeGoods" store at White Flint.
They're having some problems.

There are so many jokes waiting here.
I'll just leave you to your own thoughts.
Just keep your "Home Goo" to yourself, please.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Scenes from a Family Restaurant, 12:06 a.m.

What you are about to read is true. Even the unicorn part. The names have been changed to protect the random people of Gaithersburg, Maryland...

Around 11:30 last night I realized that I hadn't had dinner, and I had no food in the apartment. So, pathetic wretch that I am, I decided to join the glitterati at IHOP. I opted for the Gaithersburg outlet, as the Rockville IHOP garners a less-than-savory crowd late in the evening. I think I've mentioned before that the Rockville IHOP is not far from the Montgomery County pokey, and it's a big hit with peeps who have just been released from the drunk tank or made bail after a bad bustup with the live-in whatever.

We think it would be a great marketing coup if the Rockville IHOP started making a goodie bag for people just getting released. A discount coupon, a sample of Purell or baby wipes, and a t-shirt with the IHOP logo, with "IHOPped outta jail!" on the back.

I have dubbed this lovely locale the "Incarcerated House of Pancakes" and I only go there on Christmas morning when the crowd is more friendly, and I am in the company of the Atomic Editor and his lovely spouse. As I am a lapsed cafeteria Catholic and they are God's Chosen People®, it's an excellent spot for Jewish Christmas Brunch before a movie at the multiplex up the street. (Sadly, as the Atomic Couple have moved to the Windy City, I'm afraid my days of celebrating Christmukah are behind me.)

So, Gaithersburg it was.

It was drizzly and foul outside, and people were driving like loons on I-270, one of the big commuter roads up here in Montgomery County. This is not a surprise, as most people on 270 drive like they're on the track at Daytona. I think most of them have forgotten that their vehicles could easily be turned into their own personal Number 3 deathbox car if they keep it up.

Jesus. I made a Nascar reference. Someone kill me now.

[smacks self upside head.]


I'm better now.

Sadly, the Gaithersburg IHOP was closed by the time I got up there. I forgot they shut down at the witching hour on weekdays. I had only two choices left: the drive thru at Mickey D's (yuck) or, God help me... Denny's.

Not the finest of choices, but, with an eye toward a meal with non-fried vegetables and the possibility of fresh fruit, I opted for Denny's. Now, back in the day, one of my brothers was a short order cook at the Denny's in lovely Moline, Illinois (Farm Implement Capital of the World.) And, while it probably pained him to have to cook for us at home, he could make a helluva diner breakfast for you. So, I figure, at the very least, Denny's cooks know their way around a grill, so I can get an omelet, a glass of milk, whatever passes for the "fresh fruit cup" and be on my way.

But then, I forgot what a freaking Twilight Zone the Gaithersburg Denny's is 'round midnight. No one there is normal, unless you're a little... different... and you equate "normal" with the characters from "OZ."

I miss Augustus Hill.

Last night was no exception. One small wing of the restaurant was jam-packed with a colorful assortment of customers, but the rest of the place was empty. While I waited to be seated, I had a few minutes to scan the room and get a feel for the little dramas playing out among the shadow people holding court there.

There was a couple clearly on on a blind date - I'm guessing Internet-inspired. She was tiny and well dressed and looked horribly uncomfortable. He was enormous and unkempt and swathed in baggy painter's jeans and a too-tight t-shirt. I watched the discomfort when they went to pay the bill, and, waiting by the register for a table, I had no choice but to listen to their tentative chat.

She: "This wasn't exactly what I expected."
He: "Well, I figured Denny's would be a good public location for a first meeting."
She: "No. That isn't what I'm talking about... This is bad... This... is... uh... not good... Can you pay? I've gotta go."

Yikes. Sounds like someone maybe wasn't completely up front in his personal ad. And even if he was, Denny's, dirty hair, and painter's paints = not a good choice.

A booth of four hard-looking women were cackling loudly. I caught the word "meth" a couple of times. That was all I needed to hear.

The table in the far corner was occupied by a young man with a predatory look. He wore an oversized black leather Avirex jacket and a stretchy black cap pulled tight over his head. A weighty gold chain draped down his chest over a black t-shirt. A nervous peroxide blonde, her hair teased into a bad 1980s Texas cheerleader 'do, cleaved to his side, picking at the wooly Avirex logo that ran down his right jacket sleeve. She was thin. Too thin. Heroin thin. Chain smoker thin. And she had trashy dark smudges of liner circling her eyes. Cleopatra of the Trailer Park. He shot angry glances at anyone who looked their way. I briefly caught his eye and I attempted a disarming smile, but it was met with more of his icy look. He won. I turned away.

Anita, my waitress, finally fetched me from the entryway and took me to a table on the empty side. "You look like you could use a quiet meal," she said, smiling at me. "I wouldn't wanna sit with all them people." I agreed. The only other occupied table was right across from me, where two young men, one black, one Latino, held court, taking cell phone calls and greeting more young men of color who came through briefly, offering offered handshakes and loud greetings. "Dawg" was the word of the night.

"Whazzup, dawg? Whatcha doin' here? You ain't workin' tonight, are ya? Dawg, I wouldn't hang here when I'm not workin'! Shiiiit."

The Latino table king vanished for a couple of minutes and returned with a large plate of scrambled eggs and breakfast meats and another stacked with pancakes. He ate with one hand and sketched out something on a napkin with the other.

Another waitress appeared. "That was my dinner! Shit, Juan, you gotta buy me some dinner now!"

Juan smiled, "Awww, Marisa, c'mon. It's no biggie!" She gave him the finger and some rapid fire Spanish shot between him and the angry waitress. He laughed and she turned away, pounding across the floor in search of the other waitress.

"Shit! Anita! Juan ate my motherfucking slam! Bastard!"

I couldn't see the booths around the corner, but the level of conversational buzz never dipped. It was as if no one had even heard the outburst, which was bellowed at full volume. Apparently, no one cared.

The "motherfucking slam" in question

Juan continued to sketch, immune to the waitron's rants. The black guy across from him finally spoke. "You know, if I were the manager here, I'd fire her ass. Screaming and shit and using fucking obscenities in front of the customers..." (Apparently, he didn't notice me sitting right across from him.) He had an African accent, but it was hard to place. His tone was staccato, not lilting like the voices of most of the Africans I meet in the DC area.

"But you're not," Juan replied, not looking up from his sketching. "Me, I don't care. I mean, I come here, I do my job, I go home. I'm gonna be an artist, dawg. I'm gonna open my tattoo shop."

"You're really gonna do my ink, man?" The African stood up, excited.

"Yeah, sure I will. I told you not to get them done in prison. I would do it for you. But what do you want?"

The African held his hands out before him, envisioning his inky dream. "I want a lion and the Lord Jesus Christ on my left shoulder, okay?"

Juan nodded and started sketching on a fresh napkin. "Okay, dawg. I got it."

"And then," the African said, standing up. "I want the man I shot across my back, down low. Like this." He got down on the carpeted floor between our tables, stretched out. "This is what he looked like after I shot him. Just like this." The African played dead, or at least bleeding, on the floor, slack-jawed.

I was totally captivated, in a really creepy way. Plus, this man was lying on the frigging carpet at a not-so-clean Denny's, his head near my feet. WTF? Suddenly, my Denver omelet didn't seem so intriguing.

Juan nodded again and sketched madly. The African stood up and continued.

"And, in the middle of my back, I want me, walking away from him, like this." He turned his back to Juan, his hand at his side, mimicking a handgun. "I want it to look exactly like it was after I shot that fucker."

"You know, this is getting a little complex," Juan said slowly. "I'm just starting my business, dawg..."

The African dropped to his knees in front of Juan. "And you know those Muslim women, how they wear those scarves on their heads? I want a woman on my right shoulder. She's wearing one of those scarves, and she's kneeling, and in front of her, there is a child, kneeling, too, and he has his hands cupped, like he's praying, right? And he's looking up at her and--"

"Daaaawg. This is getting really complex. Let's go back to the lion and the lord, okay man?"

The African stood up again, all fired up. "And in the middle? Next to me? I want a unicorn!"

I think that's when I heard the crickets start chirping.

Juan stopped sketching. "Awww, dawg. No."

The African tilted his head. "Why not?"

Juan looked appalled. "Dawg, c'mon. I'm an artist, and you are a proud African man. You've done time in prison, daaaawg. I'm not gonna put a unicorn on your back! Let's focus on the lion and the lord, okay?"

"But I want a unicorn! What's wrong with a unicorn?"

And then, both their cell phones rang. One conversation started up in fast Spanish, the other in French.

My dinner of runny eggs (minus the advertised cheddar cheese) and crappy crucifried hash browns was done. I finished my glass of milk and walked the few steps to the register. Neither waitress had been in sight since the "Slam Incident." Finally one woman arrived to take care of me. As she counted my change, a new couple came through the doors. Another anxious-looking, rail thin, peroxide blonde in the shadow of a tall brother in a stylish Nautica jacket. He had a stern look and a cell phone to his ear.

I gathered my money and turned to go. The couple waiting to be seated looked at each other. Her harsh features melted and his iron features morphed into the goofiest, broadest grin ever seen. "You are so cute when you smile," she said, giggling like a fifteen-year-old. "You too," he answered, tapping her nose with one finger. The smiles were unmistakable - they were those ridiculously stupid grins only seen on the faces of people so much in love, they've totally blocked out the rest of the world.

I couldn't help but smile in response. Even in the middle of the Denny's Twilight Zone, there's a little normalcy after all.

God bless us, everyone. And Juan, buy Marisa a new motherfucking slam, okay?

Really cool NYC photo blog recommendation

I just discovered Native Eye, a photographer's blog, courtesy of the "next blog" button. I think the photos are really beautiful. The artist's name is Gil Rondan.


Happy Birthday, TMDR!

Today is the birthday of musician, web/mobile music tech god, savvy businessman, and just generally all-around nice human being Thomas Dolby Robertson.

TMDR was my musical icon in college. My friend HoyaMEB first gave me a copy of The Golden Age of Wireless back in high school. She was much, much more musically aware than I was back then. But how she discovered Dolby in Moline, Illinois is beyond me, frankly. We were in a musical black hole, more or less. Local radio sucked like an open chest wound. Guess it must have been MTV. Lord knows, regardless of how she found Dolby, I thank the MEB all the time for hooking me up with the tuneage.

The poster of this album cover hangs right over my shoulder as I type.
My good luck charm and one of my favorite images of the 1980s.

Over the years, my appreciation for both Thomas' music and Thomas the person has grown. While he has not released a large number of recordings, the paucity of actual disc-age is more than made up for with the quality of the tunes. Plus, Thomas has been extremely busy helping to pioneer key technology for music on the web as well as for ringtones. He's not done too badly for himself, indeed.

I love these fab old black & white publicity shots. Most excellent.
They make me feel all fangirlish and swoon-y.

The first time I met Thomas was here in Washington, many moons ago now. I still have the answering machine recording that he left me, telling me how to be in touch with him. We arranged to meet up for a cup of coffee/bottle of fizzy water at the bar in his hotel (the swanky Willard right by the White House) and I brought the Sasquatch with me. After all, The Golden Age of Wireless was the soundtrack to the beginning of our friendship.

We had a great time talking - he was in DC for a conference, so his free time was limited, but still we yakked for nearly an hour. He told us some great stories and before we parted ways, I got a photo of the three of us. This was pre-digital camera, and, unfortunately, I'm scannerless right now, otherwise I'd share it with you. (Sasquatch - do you have that photo scanned in anywhere?) Thomas was kind and funny and witty and very generous to share his time with a couple of doofuses he'd only previously encountered through the glory of e-mail.

Since then, I've seen the fabulous Mr. Dolby a couple of times - once at a tech conference, where I had a pile of Russians in tow, and once at his old office in the San Francisco Bay area - actually in the old suburb where my parents lived shortly after WWII. Both times, he greeted me with a big smile, radiating warmth and optimism. This guy is a real gentleman, and I defy you to not feel positive in his presence.

Hell, when my old car died, he even offered to sell me the car he used to haul his windsurfing equipment - great price, easy terms, flexible payment plan. Sure was better than the deal I ended up with at the local Ford dealership. Had I been able to take the time off work to get my carcass out to California to pick it up, he would have had a deal on his hands, no question! I would have driven the DolbyMobile with pride.

I keep hoping that he'll put out a new recording, and I occasionally send a diplomatically prodding e-mail asking when he'll do a "smoky little club date" somewhere. Last time, I laughed my ass off when he wrote back, reminding me that you can't smoke in clubs in California anymore, so the "smoky little club date" will never happen now.

Well, hey - I'd be happy with a smokeless little club date, Thomas. I'd just like to hear you perform live, in person, and everything.

A more recent shot of the Dolby.
And what a handsome man, eh?

Wherever you are and whatever you're doing - happy birthday, TMDR! 10,000 years to Our Fearless Leader!

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Radio, Radio: Volume 3

Yes, kids! It's that time again! Yippee ki-yay!

The voices in my head... why... won't... they... stop?!?!?!

Can't get enough of my snarky rants? Of course not! You know you love it. Courtesy of the amazingly talented David Furst, producer of WAMU's Metro Connection show (every Friday at 1 p.m. EST and forever on the Internet!), you can hear me tomorrow talking about the peculiarities of Montgomery County geography and my apparent exclusion from the tony enclave of Bethesda, Maryland.

Because you know that you want to know all about it. Oh yes, you do.

If the sound of my voice coming through your car radio or your nice little Logitech headset brings on nausea, ear pain or any sort of nervous tic, blame this man!

Plus, my four minutes of griping will touch on an issue that is much dearer to my heart than my own zip code snobbery: the possible loss of home for my friend, my bestest buddy, the Sasquatch. Listen to my less-than-dulcet tones and then I'll have more to grumble about the continued Stepford-Wife-i-zation of downtown Bethesda in another post. (Grrr.)

So, please listen in - WAMU is at 88.5 on your FM dial in the Washington, DC area. You can also listen live at WAMU's website. Metro Connection runs from 1-2 p.m. EST, and my four minutes of glory will be at the conclusion of the show. If you miss it live, you can always catch at at your leisure on the Metro Connection website - the show will be archived and available about an hour after the conclusion of the initial broadcast.

Hopefully, this won't be my last commentary from DC, but, if it is, thanks for listening. I appreciate it. And keep listening to Metro Connection. It's a pretty cool show.