Tuesday, January 31, 2006

A Great Forty-Eight (Part 2, kinda)

T-minus... well, hell... I don't remember at this point...

I have to admit, my last entry about the trip to L.A. was not my finest hour. It was fairly boring. It took a long time to read, and, hell, I didn't even get us to our hotel room by the end. That's sad. The Sasquatch managed to get through all of Friday in a single post. Damn him and his concise writing and stoic efficiency!

Sadly, the cold that I was wishing away last week has smacked me down with a vengence tonight, and my sinuses hurt like a sonufabitch. So, Part 2 of this tale will have to wait until tomorrow night, alas.

But I'll leave you with these L.A. images to ponder:

Catch up with y'all tomorrow. Now, it's time for time release Vitamin C and some quality time in a steamy shower...

(You can read Part One of this unintential epic here.)

(Just a side note, re: Oscar noms)

This morning, E! messed up and kept running a screen showing that Charlize Theron had been nominated in the best actress category for her performance in (you'll love this) "Aeon Flux" rather than the Silkwood-esque "North Country." I wonder if an intern is now interning elsewhere...

And, forgive me, but, William Hurt got nominated for his awful, awful over the top performance in "A History of Violence"? Puh-leeze! He wasn't just chewing on the scenery, he was devouring it whole! I sincerely was embarrassed for him. I know that "Violence" is based on a graphic novel, but, jeez, Hurt was way over the top. (And his facial hair was awful, too.) Note to Mr. Hurt: go rent Road to Perdition and see how graphic novel baddies translate beautifully to the big screen.

Ah well. Perhaps it's just me. Very simply, either I have no taste, or the members of the academy were smoking crack when they cast those ballots.

Maybe they got their ballots from Florida.

(Yeah, nothing like a really old election joke to show my finger's right on the pulse of the American psyche!)

Aeon Flux. Heh heh heh. That cracked me up.

Monday, January 30, 2006

A Great Forty-Eight (Part 1)

T minus 48 hours and counting...

Anyone who's visited this blog knows that, unless I'm taking pictures of neon signs at night, I'm not a gifted photographer. So, I have to apologize for both the quality and dearth of photos in these posts. The Sasquatch and Gonzomantis took some excellent photos with the 'Squatch's camera, so be looking for some quality stuff on his blog.

Here goes.

Meet our Intrepid Travelers:

Three people insane (or stupid) enough to travel across country for 48 hours in Los Angeles. Yeah, we are nuts. Most people would not want to take a six-hour flight anywhere just for a 40-minute music set, but we are clearly not most people. Did I mention, we are nuts?

Thursday was an insane day for me at work. I was a human ping-pong ball, running from building to building, meeting to meeting. I had an appointment at 5 p.m. to finally get the vast tracts of grey covered on my head. It was bad, folks. I looked like a 50-year-old trailer park princess. Fortunately, the guy who cuts my hair is just one block away from my office. I hope he never leaves. Within an hour, he had taken 10 years off my head (if only he could do that for my body, too!) and, frankly, my hair was glamorous - silky, straight, shimmering. It was awesome.

Then, of course, I walked out into high winds and it was all over. I had five minutes of good hair for the weekend, and then, once again, I was Frizz Queen. I give up on looking glamorous for more than a split second.

Hats are, I think, a good option for me.

I got home, hashed out a departure time & plan with the Sasquatch (up at 4 a.m., at the airport by 5:30...), packed my bag, and then attempted to sleep. And failed miserably. I found myself watching Iconoclasts on Sundance at midnight - it was Mario Batali interviewing Michael Stipe, and I was strangely fascinated. Eventually I dozed off around 2, feeling overtired and cold. My phone rang at 4, with the Sasquatch wake-up call. We both must have been talking with our eyes closed, hoping that this was just a bad dream. Nevertheless, I got my carcass up, dressed and dragged my luggage to the car. The windchill was something around 25 degrees, and I thought death was a good option as I got into the car. Somehow, I'd managed to forget my little $1.50 stretchy gloves inside the apartment, but I was too damn tired to walk back for them. (This is utterly pathetic, as my car was directly in front of my building, but, seriously, I was not awake.)

I retrieved the Sasquatch and we motored out to Dulles. It was a fairly quiet trip. We are Not Morning People. Although, Squatchito noted that it was still officially NIGHT at this point. We found a spot in the Gold economy lot at Dulles (this is important - it will play a role in our return trip) not far from a numbered shuttle stop. Much to our joy - mine in particular, as I was freezing my ass off - there was a shuttle waiting to take us to the terminal.

Our only company on board the bus was a family headed for, we guessed, a weekend in the islands. However, somewhere between home and the shuttle bus, Mom had managed to smack her head into something and her brow was bleeding profusely. Grandma kept saying, "Just keep pressure on it. It's only bleeding that much because it's so close to you eye!" Wonderful. Nothing makes a trip to the Bahamas more fun that a bleeding head wound!

Meanwhile, the Sasquatch and I just rolled along, barely awake.

The elusive Sasquatch, not awake. (Will kill me when he sees I posted this.)

Check-in and security was, for once, not a hassle. JetBlue has a very user-friendly automated check-in system that worked well for us. And the TSA folks were friendly. Well, as friendly as TSA folks get. I guess the key is traveling at the crack of doom. Although, at 6 a.m., Dulles was already hopping.

We had to make the Bataan Airport Death March to our gate, theoretically in the B Concourse. (It was more like the Ass End of Hell Concourse.) Our wait was minimal (I've never timed my arrival at an airport quite so well before - it was pretty cool), boarding was a breeze, and the Sasquatch and I had a row to ourselves. 36 channels of DirecTV, tasty snacks, and seven hours of music on my crappy mp3 player, and we were set. Of course, we'd both hoped to sleep on the plane, but that did not happen. No problem, we figured - we'll nap in the hotel before the gig that night. (Ha, bloody ha!)

We got to the Long Beach airport right on time, and I had my demi-semi-kinda celebrity sighting in the arrivals area - Tim Gunn, from the Parsons School of Design. (If you watch Project Runway on Bravo, you know who Tim is.) He was walking with another dapper middle-aged man. No one else seemed to notice him - apparently Long Beach isn't rife with Project Runway fans.

A note about the Long Beach airport: it's small (which is very nice), but has bathrooms in serious need of remodeling and better ventilation. 'Nuff said. I do love an airport with an outdoor luggage claim and a 2-minute walk to the rental cars. That was great. We got our boat of a rental (a lumbering Chevy Impala) and hit the road to fetch Gonzomantis at LAX. His flight from the Twin Cities was due in an hour after ours, and we figured we'd be right on time to collect him. Turns out, his flight was 45 minutes late, so we parked (after I got lost and circled the airport 1 1/2 times) near his terminal. The Sasquatch left him voicemail on his cell, and, having discovered that the seats in the Impala reclined all the way, we figured we could take a nap.

Again, we were unsuccessful. Instead, we ate chocolate and listened to a pretty brilliant mix CD the 'Squatch had agonized over for the trip. (Honest to god, he spent more time mixing two CDs for us than we probably spent in L.A. all weekend. But I appreciated the mood-enhancing effort.) Eventually, Gonzomantis appeared in the garage, and we were off to Hollywood!

(God, is this narrative like paint drying or what? Do I need to start paying people to read this?)

Handy hint, non-LA people: the 405 is overloaded with traffic no matter what day or time you attempt to drive on it. Seek other routes into the city! We got on the 405 at LAX only to find it simply was not moving. A mile or so (and probably 20 minutes) up the road, we saw a huge line of emergency vehicles (and saw some amazing auto ballet going between lanes and over median strips.) We made a command decision to get the hell off the freeway and take La Cienega the whole way up to Sunset Boulevard.

This was wise.

Fortunately, the whole ride to the hotel was basically "go north on La Cienega, turn right on Sunset, and left on La Brea." That's my kind of travel in an unfamiliar city.

We passed typical suburban homes, hillsides covered with working oil pumps, grand houses, strip malls, people in beaters, people in Bentleys, big box stores, and boutiques that probably wouldn't let me in the door. It was a weird amalgam of poverty, middle-class normality, and the trappings of wealth, all on one road. Here, a bail bonds office and a dilapidated motel... the next block, a trendy spa and a Ducati dealership.

Slightly surreal. Totally L.A.

(Be back with more tomorrow night...)

Update: to read more of this tale, click here for Part 2, here for Part 2.5, and here for Part 3.)

Sunday, January 29, 2006

48 Hours in L.A.

I'm back! 6,000 miles, 48 hours, and 1 Uzbek lunch later, I'm in DC, the surliest city in America.

I have much to tell, but I'm totally wiped right now. My feet are still recovering from 6 hours of standing at House of Blues, and my brain is still dealing with being on the Pacific yesterday and the Potomac today.

Some highlights of the trip:
  • Thomas Dolby - the gig was awesome, Thomas was a delight, and it was great to see some friends for the first time in years, and, in some cases, for the first time at all

  • Breakfast with Javi! (Javi, you are pretty dang cool - and thanks for breakfast and the great conversation!!)

  • Gonzomantis spots a celebrity (who then scowled at me), film at 11!

  • Watching the goopy bubbles rise and pop at the La Brea Tar Pits

  • Venice Beach in January - and the nut who, of course, decides to converse with me on the pier

  • Our attempt to visit the Griffith Park Observatory (helps to read the website in advance...)

  • The "Real or Fake" game

  • The couple in the hotel room next door to mine, debating who got to carry the gun on their day in L.A.
There's much more to be said, but I'm a tuckered puppy right now. It's 9:48, and my goal is to be in bed by 10.

It was a great weekend. Lots of laughing. Lots of fun. There are so many things I wanted to see and do, but there simply wasn't the time.

Next time. Yes, indeedy.

Meaty post to come...

Thursday, January 26, 2006

What is up this weekend?

The Sasquatch knows! Go see what he says.

Just down the street, about a mile from our temporary quarters...

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Sense of Humor Reboot

It’s not that I don’t have a sense of humor.

I do.

For certain.

You can ask the people who hear me cackle from the down the hall at work.

But, I am the first to admit, I can be humor-impaired from time to time. If you were to ask my closest friends, they’d likely tell you that I really have mellowed in recent times. I think the events of the past year helped to strengthen my psyche (although, strangely, I do cry much easier now at sappy things on TV. Go figure.) But sometimes, I can still get a stick planted somewhere in my anatomy, and it takes me a while to dislodge it.

Last weekend, the proprietor of a humor website decided to post my blog profile picture with a critique of my appearance and a slam of my blog. In particular, he took a swipe at a post where I’d discussed the failing health of a family member. It was weird. Creepy actually. I have no issue with him reposting my profile picture, which was just me in my winter hat. (He even mocked my hat. WTF?) Fair Use laws support his right to post my photo with “commentary.” It wasn’t as if my photo was a secret. And I know I’m not exactly gorgeous. I’m just a fat 40-year-old woman with glasses and, periodically, a limp. BFD. Why and how this stranger came across my blog, I have no idea. I can only assume someone found me somehow and decided that I was unattractive and that, for some reason, was worthy of comment. The only reason I found out about this was that I followed an unfamiliar link off of StatCounter.

The photo - and hat - in question. The hat was really expensive, by the way. $65. (It's boiled wool from Austria.) I bought it for myself when I got a promotion about 8 years ago...

It did bug me that this person would direct folks to that specific blog entry on my site, especially as it touched on something sadly personal, but again, that’s his deal. I guess if I’m on the steam train to Hell, he’s likely on the bullet train. I chose to respond to him with a fairly upbeat comment. Free speech is free speech. Whatever. All I can do, in demonstrating that I'm not a humorless troll, is to kill 'em with kindness. But when I posted that response, I saw something that bummed me out. Someone else had left a comment, noting that all the blogs mocked were crap – uninteresting and rambling garbage. Usually, I wouldn’t have blinked, but the commenter was someone who shares a “blog friend” in common with me. I'd seen her name on my friend's blogroll. I would have figured that she might have seen mine. (Apparently not.) And so, I wrote to her. Why, pray tell, did she think my blog sucked so very much?

A day later, I got a rambling response. Oh, I didn’t mean your blog! I meant the others. And, uh, actually, I never even went to your blog. I’m not a hater…

Uh, okay. So, just for your entertainment, you dis a pile of strangers? That’s weird. I did not respond to her. (For the record, I did visit her blog – I especially enjoyed the entries that were just photos of her yellow lunch bag and her kitty cat. Wow! Now, that’s entertainment!)

In response to all this, I pulled my friendly welcome post to the new readers who visited after my most recent WAMU commentary. (I had received a handful of “Hey, you suck!” e-mails by then.) I replaced my cheerful message (complete with welcome mat images) with a fairly terse one, with a link to the post I wrote about my mother. I’ll take any opportunity to share my mom’s story with people, but I’ll admit, it was also sort of a preemptive “F U” message to anyone coming to my blog from the "humor" site. I was daring them to say my mother’s story was uninteresting, rambling crap. I’m not about to win any prizes, but I’m not that bad a writer, either. And, screw them all, I totally dig my winter hat.

So, along with feeling a wee bit under the weather, I’ve also simply been annoyed for the past few days. Figured it was worth explaining my absence. I’ll get my sense of humor back in place, and all will be well.



Monday, January 23, 2006

Okay. So I lied.

There was no new content this weekend. Sorry about that. I spent part of my weekend at work, and the rest trying to play catch up with my life - seeing old friends, doing laundry, all that non-Internet stuff.

I was going to write this evening, but, instead, the powers that be have decided that I would like a migraine, please. A huge, nasty mule kick to the head. Now, with extra nausea!

So, it's time for a hot shower and warm bed. The words will come later.

Back soon...

Saturday, January 21, 2006

History, Revisited

There are a lot of new visitors to this blog tonight, some of them courtesy of WAMU - and I thank those of you who listen to my radio commentaries - and some via another link. For all the new arrivals, I invite you to read an archived entry that's also a history lesson. Meet my mother.

I'll be back this weekend with more content.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Dispatches from the Front

Yeah, I know. I haven't exactly been a writing machine of late. Truth be told, I haven't been feeling massively creative lately. (With the exception of trying to craft the perfect "sex weasel" image. Oh, and don't look up the phrase "sex weasel" on Google. There are some seriously screwed up people out there.) I think that nasty bug I had a wee bit back really put a cramp in my style. I'm better now, but still feeling a little wussy.

Plus, I've been dealing with Matters Financial when I'm not at work, and when I'm at work, I'm just pretty dang busy. (But in a very good way.) I get home and I just want to crash and burn. I jump in the shower, brush and floss, and then, I'm all about the shut-eye. I'm aiming for some additional sack time on Saturday which I hope will help rejuvenate me.

Fingers, toes, and eyes crossed.

Today is my brother Ed's birthday. He's 53. His health isn't great, and he spent his birthday in the hospital, hooked up to all sorts of unpleasant devices. I felt really, really horrible that his day was spent without any of us being able to be around him, if just for a few minutes. The hospital staff sang "Happy Birthday" to him, but that's not really the same thing, is it?

I was feeling a little melancholy on my birthday this past year. It's not that I expected a big surprise party or some huge, great gift, but I felt like it was a milestone that really wasn't marked in any significant way. I went out for dinner with a friend. He gave me a new cd. I went home. I probably put too much emphasis on birthdays, but at heart, I'm someone for whom the symbolism of milestones and birthdays is important. I am, sometimes, a very primitive being with an emotional, small brain, and I've seen too many TV shows and Lifetime movies with those big, boisterous 40th birthday parties, with tons of people cheering on the birthday girl/guy. And I guess, selfishly, I just wanted my 40th birthday to be a Big Deal for someone. Anyone, other than myself. Marked with something out of the ordinary - a wee fuss on my behalf. I was, frankly, having a really crappy year, and I wanted to feel special in some way. Is that so abnormal or churlish?

And yet, now, I feel like a cad for ever thinking so self-centeredly.

And besides, how can I possibly complain?

I had the company of one of the finest friends I will ever have in my life. A wonderful person. That, in of itself, is a tremendous thing, with a value beyond gems. In a lifetime, many people will not have a single friend whom they truly cherish. I am lucky. I am blessed.

And my greedy retrospection seems so shallow when my brother spent his birthday alone, hooked to machines to aid his failing kidneys. Makes me feel pretty damn low and childish.

All of my petty gripes and wants diminish in light of the fragility of another life. Despite being stretched thin over the past year, my life still has some elasticity left, while my brother's has grown brittle and delicate. And I would trade any fine gift to grant him fresh life.

But I don't think, short of a deal with that imaginary bastard, the Devil, I can do that.

So, instead, I'll sing "Happy Birthday" a second time into my brother's answering machine and just think every good thought I can. And then go to sleep and hope tomorrow to hear a voice a thousand miles away again.

Good night.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Radio, Radio: A Whole New Year of Crankiness!

Yeehaw! I'm on the radio again this Friday! So, if you want to hear me get cranky about why I don't take the Metro to work, I invite you to listen in.

As usual, I'll be on WAMU's Metro Connection show, which runs from 1-2 p.m. EST. Listen live at 88.5 FM here in the DC area or online at wamu.org. The show will be archived online shortly after broadcast, so you can download my rant to listen at your leisure.

It'll also be available as a podcast. Who knew public radio was so high tech, eh?

Thanks for listening, and thanks for supporting WAMU!

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

SF Bay Area Thomas Dolby Fans, Listen Up!

You have the rarest of chances right now. Thomas Dolby is doing a "warm up" gig on Saturday night at the Red Devil Lounge. It's $10 for 35-40 minutes of solo Dolby. You lucky, lucky bastards. $10?!? Dammit, I'm envious.

Go now and buy tickets!!!

New T-Shirt Design

Okay, now someone has to design the appropriately creepy (yet sultry) small carnivorous mammal image to go along with this:

Small carnivorous mammal on the front, inscrutable text on the back. Yeah. I like that.

Be the first on your block to have an inscrutable sex weasel t-shirt! Straight from my twisted subconscious to your chest!

I really need some sleep.

Seacrest, out!

Monday, January 16, 2006

Life imitates art (in a very disturbing way)

Remember the man who was sucked into the still turning engine of the crashed plane in the premiere of "LOST"? (Yes, Javier, you can put your hand down.) That was one of those brilliant jump-out-of-your-seat moments that comes back to me periodically. I've actually found myself replaying that image in my head, pondering, pondering... (Usually in rush hour traffic. Go figure.)

Does that sort of thing really happen, Mr. Science?!?

Apparently, yes, kids. It does. At least it did today, down in the West Texas town of El Paso.

Oceanic Flight 815, meet Continental Flight 1515. Today, a mechanic standing too close to the right engine of a Boeing 737 about to take off for Houston was sucked in and killed. What a bizarre way to die. I can only imagine the trauma for his family, his colleagues, and the passengers who saw his very alarming final seconds.

At least he left with a great story for the Afterlife Happy Hour...

"It was a helluva thing, guys. I mean, one minute, I'm standin' there on the tarmac - everything's five by five. The next - WHAM! I'm flying through the air, right into the freaking engine. Helluva thing. I. Was. Flyin'! Could someone pass the Chex mix?"

RIP, Mechanic Guy.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

You know how I said...

...I was digging today's weather?

Let me revise that.

My cheerful appreciation for a gloomy, windy day ends when I come home to power surges and tree branches cracking off all around my car. 4o MPH gusts? Okay. 55-60 MPH gusts? Not so great.

And it's freaking cold.

Logging off before Mutha Nature does it for me...

Figure A. Vegetative indicator of high wind.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

A Lovely, Gloomy Saturday

It finally feels like a Washington winter day again today, thank you Mutha Nature.

I woke up late, still feeling somewhat foul, hacking and coughing. My brother had called from Germany at 7:30, but I slept right through it. I'm not a morning person. Never have been. And when I'm feeling under the weather, I'm even less of one.

For the record, I slept horribly, and, at 4:15 this morning, I woke up and yelled, "Damn you, sex weasel!" Unfortunately, I cannot remember just who or what the "sex weasel" was. (But "Sex Weasel" would be a good band name, wouldn't it?) I must have, in my sex weasel stupor, turned the TV on, because when I finally opened one fuzzy eye, "Chariots of Fire" was on. I heard "Jerusalem" playing and started quietly singing along, most of my head still under my green $3 Target Christmas clearance polarfleece blanket. (Target has the bestest Christmas clearances ever. I also got one of those little plug-in coolers to keep food cold - or warm - in your car for $7.)

It's probably a good thing the apartment upstairs is still vacant. Otherwise, I'd probably be known as "Annoying, Singing Sex Weasel Girl" as of today.

And who needs that?

When I finally got my carcass up and outside, it was cold and windy and simply grey. My kind of winter day. We have gusts up to 44 MPH and the wind chill has brought the temperature down to 26 F. Excellent!

Now, seriously, I loved the last two days of brilliant 60-degree joy. But I like a little winter in my winter. So, this is cool by me. I get to wear fuzzy fleece and jeans with warm socks. It's nice. (Yeah, I am a pretty cheap date. What can I say?)

It's also a good day to get work done, if you have to. A good day to be in your office, listening to excellent music, pounding away at work it's impossible to get done during the busy work week. It's an especially good day to be in your office in DC, with the Redskins playing Seattle right now. Downtown is dead as a door nail.

And so, here goes. I have some good tunes with me: Joe Jackson's brilliant, but incredibly underrated "Heaven & Hell", Morrissey's "Live at Earl's Court", REM's "Document", Michael Penn's "Mr. Hollywood Jr. 1947", and Anne Dudley & Jaz Coleman's "Songs From the Victorious City." It's an odd collection, but good for pounding out text, and I highly recommend each of them. And now, to work.

Somebody let me know if the Redskins win.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Nobody Walks in LA

I'm thinking ahead to Los Angeles...

I'm going to assume that the rental car we'll pick up at the airport in Long Beach will have a CD player in it. (I'm hoping it will.) I think this upcoming trek deserves a good, upbeat soundtrack, and I'm soliciting tracks from y'all to include on a mix for driving around Los Angeles.

It *will* have some Thomas Dolby on it.
It *will* have some Michael Penn on it. (I think "On Automatic" would be a great track to start off.)
It *will* have a little English Beat and General Public.
It *will* have Morrissey singing "First of the Gang To Die".

If you have some suggestions for good urban, SoCal drivin' tuneage, let me know.

I'm excited - our little hotel/motel/place to sleep is right next to the crazy stripmall Uzbek restaurant at Sunset and La Brea! (Across the street from Charlie Chaplin's original studio, that became A&M Records, and is now Henson Productions.) Who wants to meet up for Uzbek lunch?!? (Yeah, I'm an idiot - I'm excited about Central Asian food in California. So sue me.)

Check it out - a cool Muppet homage to Charlie Chaplin. Neat, huh?
(But do they have a Muppet dressed up as Herb Alpert, too?)

Sasquatch, Gonzomantis? We are gonna have a helluva 48 hours! (If only we weren't going to miss Michael Penn at Largo by two dang days. Alas!)

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Primum non nocere

"Character is who you are in the dark."
- The Rev. Dwight L. Moody (and Dr. Emilio Lizardo)

I sent a comment to a blogger yesterday. She had written about the commonplace abuse that overweight people are subjected to in our super-fun 'n' tolerant society. I shared one of my unpleasant and humiliating stories with her, and I've just decided to repost the meat of my comment here. I think it's important for people to see and reflect on how theoretically decent humans treat other people when they think no one's looking.

This is what I wrote:

A few years ago, I was in Georgetown with a friend visiting from overseas. It just happened to be graduation day for Georgetown Medical School. I'm fat. Very fat, for the record.

A friend and I were getting out of my car to go have lunch somewhere right off of M Street. As I was locking my car door, a carload of freshly minted physicians drove past, hooting and screaming. They slowed down as they passed us, and the hooting turned to oinks and moos. One of the new doctors reached out one of the car windows and grabbed at my ass, yelling "CHECK OUT THAT FAT! WHOOOO!" Another threw an empty beer bottle at me and screamed, "F#@KING FATASS!"

First, do no harm.

Yeah, right.

To this day, I refuse to be voluntarily treated by any physician who graduated from Georgetown Medical School. Apparently, they skip ethics in their curriculum. (I ended up in the Georgetown ER when I broke my leg a couple of years ago - that was not by choice. In DC, if you're picked up by an ambulance, you're taken to whatever ER has space available. Plus, the ER doc at Georgetown kept refusing to believe me that I had intense pain near my knee. He was certain I'd just twisted my ankle - WRONG - and he kept applying a cold pack to my foot. I kept moving it up my calf when he wasn't looking...)

In my last post, I mentioned that next Friday (January 20), I have a short commentary on WAMU. This commentary touches on why I don't take the Metro - because of the verbal abuse I take from other passengers as a fat woman. I once had a very ugly e-mail exchange with Bob "I think I'm a local legend" Levey of the Washington Post over the treatment of fat people on the Metro. He had a feature in his simpering column called something like "Metro Court" where he'd let his holier-than-thou readers whine about things that bothered them. One reader bitched that she hated having to be on the Metro with fat riders. They take up too much space. They're awful. I'm sure they all smell bad. Why should I have to sit next to a fat person? (Gee, honey, I dunno. Maybe because THEY HAVE TO GO TO WORK, TOO?!? My response: why do I have to sit next to a stinking bigot?)

Bob Levey fully supported his reader's complaint and his verdict was for fat people riding the Metro to all give up their seats and stand. Fat people should be ashamed for taking a seat. Get to the back of the bus, fatties! Bob Levey made me sick. Just about physically ill. I kept our e-mail correspondence somewhere. Smarmy cretin. Sorry if I sound really harsh here, but I really do hate ignorance and bigotry.

My commentary for next week's radio show was originally very dark and talked very frankly about the abuse I've personally taken from assholes on the Metro (professional people, well-educated people, self-righteous and superior people.) But, after much reflection, I toned it down. A lot. I may post my original piece here. We shall see...

Okay, I'm going to catch a little hot cable documentary action (probably something about an ancient civilization, I'm so predictable) and go to bed.

G'night, all.

I have mellowed

I just spent a few minutes reviewing my old blog. The Ur-blog. From the before time. Man, I was mean, catty, and really abrasive. I think it reflected how I was feeling abou the world right then - particularly about the craptacular federal office where I was toiling. I stopped writing in that blog in February 2004, but I almost don't recognize the person who was writing all those snarky diatribes. I'm damn glad I mellowed out a wee bit (and that I work in a sane, wonderful place now!)

I may have to go and completely erase that old blog from existence - it would not be a great creative loss. (Although it did herald the first public appearance of the Hideous Carpet.) Eh, maybe I'll keep it around. It serves to remind me of what a dark place I was in, and how much better my world is now.

On a completely unrelated note, it was 60 degrees today. SIXTY. WTF, man? This is simply not normal for DC in January. Yeah, we have wussy winters, but not shirt-sleeve wussy. Don't get me wrong - I was totally digging the spring-like thang, but I had no idea how to dress for work. Was Mother Nature's bipolar, off-his-meds Cousin Weather going to knock the temps down massively by the end of the workday, or would I be sweltering in my jacket? (For the record, I was sweltering in my damn jacket. I chose poorly.)

Plus, my neighborhood (like much of the DC area) was blanketed in bizarrely dense fog when I got up. My street looked like the set from a John Carpenter movie. I was waiting for the homicidal pirates and Adrienne Barbeau to show up. And, apparently, we get even more fog tomorrow! Yee-haw!

This was the only picture of Adrienne Barbeau I could find from "The Fog" (which was an awful, awful movie.) She was a DJ in some podunk coastal town before the fog rolled in and the evil hook-y homicidal pirate zombie/ghost/whatevers showed up on the scene. This does remind me - I'll be on the radio again next Friday, January 20th. I'll post a note about that next week.

I'm still feeling a bit under the weather, and I'm annoyed that I'm not feeling more perky and creative. Sorry to say, you guys lose out to a hot shower, the sofa, and whatever I just got from Netflix.

If anyone has any good suggestions for returning my perk to its rightful place, let me know. I hate being a bland lump.

I'll post something more interesting soon...

Sorry, guys. I've been in recovery mode this week, after a nasty bout with some stomach bug that totally knocked me out for a couple of days. (I actually got so sick at work last Thursday that I slid down a wall in the ladies room - rather inconveniently, this was after just about everyone else in my office had gone home for the day.) So, I'm afraid I've been so tired lately, when I get home from work, I just hit the sack (and then toss and turn, thanks to Mr. Insomnia.) Nothing like being in bed at a ridiculously early hour, yet still getting up with big raccoon circles under your eyes! Yippee!

Needless to say, this saps one's creativity. I'm hoping that a three-day weekend will help kill the remainders of the bug, smack the muse in the head, and get me writing again. Hope, hope, hope.

Back shortly...

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Ummm... I don't think the bitch set him up this time.

Looks like Marion Barry didn't quite kick the crack habit. Mandatory drug testing in the fall (connected to a pending federal tax case against him) showed Barry had cocaine in his system.

You know, the saddest thing about the Marion Barry phenomenon is that voters in DC keep wanting him to represent them in some capacity. I just don't get it. I saw people on TV just before the most recent election that got him back on the D.C. Council saying, "He's one of us!" I hope that's not true. He's not one of you, decent citizens of the District! He's a politician, a criminal, and a pretty screwed up druggie who used to do crack with in seedy hotel rooms WHEN HE WAS YOUR MAYOR.

I remember back in 2002, he was found with a bag of crack and some pot, sitting in his Jaguar, at a DC park. (I remember him claiming that the Park Police planted it on him. Riiiiight.) That year, he withdrew from the DC Council race. And yet, DC voters still embraced him and put him back on the Council in 2004.

Listen up, Ward 8 residents: he is not one of you. (Unless you drive a Jag, don't pay your taxes, and do crack. Then, hey, go ahead and claim him.)

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Fun, yet shameless self-promotion

A few months back, I discovered a pile of blank business cards left over from some half-baked venture of mine. When I worked as a contractor for the federal government, I traveled a great deal, representing the office for which I worked. Despite going forth and saying that I was with X Agency, I was forbidden to have real business cards from X Agency. The Sasquatch (who is a kick-ass designer), eventually designed really cool cards for me (thanks, buddy!) But, before that, I just printed up my own at home with all the basic info on them. Practical, but ugly.

I ended up with a big bunch of blank cards left over, and, for a while, I just printed up some to give to friends or acquaintances with my name and e-mail addy on them. Some of them just said:

Merujo likes e-mail!


It was cute, but after a while I just forgot about them. Then, during the Great Employment Drought of '05, I rediscovered the blank heap o' cards. I was spending a lot of time in coffee shops back then - job hunting, blogging, overcaffeinating... So I printed up a bunch of guys with my little off-kilter devil horn photo and the URL for the Church of the Big Sky. I pinned them up on coffee shop bulletin boards all over the place and then watched to see if I got any increase in hits. Amazingly, I did. It was a hoot. I mean, heck, I'm always checking the info boards at coffee shops. If I saw someone advertising their blog, I'd go check it out. Why not? And hey, if you're trying to build readership, at least on a local basis, it's a fun little experiment to try. I might do it again, just for kicks.

You can get freebie business cards from VistaPrint.com (you just pay the postage for 250 cards) and have some fun. Actually, I could have used them at the two Blogger Meet-ups I've attended. I had to pull random scraps of paper out of my wallet to write down my URL for folks. Maybe it's a little over the top or egotistical, but it's fun and it saves you the trouble of repeating your URL over and over again when people say, "Oh you have a blog? What is it?" And, if you do pin yourself up on a bulletin board somewhere, let me know! I'll be looking for you!

He blinded me with live performances!

Did you know Thomas Dolby is playing a few songs at three gigs in California this month? Did you entirely miss him in the 80s like I foolishly did? Well then, if you're in Southern California and you dig Dolby, you should go get yourself a ticket to one of his House of Blues appearances in San Diego, West Hollywood, or Anaheim. He'll be playing some songs solo and likely playing along for a few songs with his friend Dave Wakeling and the English Beat.

It's gonna be cool.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Cherchez "Chez Lachey"

When I lived in the UK, I always thought about going to Rolls-Royce or Bentley dealer and asking for a test drive. After all, I was 21 (well, half-way through my time there), I had an international drivers license and a clean record. I thought it would have been a hoot to take a spin around central London in a damn nice car. Of course, they probably check your credit before you do something like that, and having a bank account balance of $0 would probably put the big kibosh on youthful stupidity.

Now I'm much older and, through the wonders of unemployment, I still have a bank balance of $0. And frankly, considering the cost of car insurance in the DC area, the thought of a Rolls-Royce test drive holds less intrigue. (Also, I'm periodically cut off in Bethesda traffic by the local horsey Potomac gentry in their own Rolls and Bentleys, and I don't want to be mistaken for one of the wealthy weasels driving a $100K boat down the center line on Woodmont Avenue.)

Now my little fantasies have shifted, and I dream of owning a house. Folks who know me well know my dream house is just a simple, modest Craftsman bungalow. Of course, a real-deal Craftsman bungalow goes for a small fortune here in the DC area. Wait. It's not a small fortune. Just a fortune, plain and simple. I don't even go to open houses for fear of deep depression setting in. Better to just stay here at Chez Merde and not see how the other half lives (in mortgaged debt.)

My dream house. (Sigh.)

So, if I'm going to visit an open house, why not just go whole hog and visit a property so far out of my league I can't possibly get bummed out about it? I'm going out to Los Angeles in a few weeks for a quick trip, and this place is up on the block. It's the former home of MTV's Newlyweds, Jessica and Nick, soon to be D-I-V-O-R-C-E'ed. Now, wouldn't that be a fun stop?

Come to think of it, it would be kind of depressing to pay a visit there. Not from the "I will never be able to afford this sort of celebrity debauchery" standpoint, but from these aspects:

1. It has 5 bedrooms, 6 1/2 bathrooms, is nearly 6500 square feet and was occupied by TWO PEOPLE. Two people, folks.

Nick, Jessica, and Jessica's boobs.

2. One of them was the "Chicken of the Sea" chick, for the love of God.

3. And Daisy Duke. {{shudder}}

4. This couple was rich as Croesus, yet their "screening room" still looks like a Trading Spaces two-day crap slap.

5. Ashlee Simpson probably sang in at least one of the showers. The psychic residue remains. (Just a warning to potential buyers - she may have "hootenanny danced" in the shower, too.)

I think I'll pass. Bad juju there. And, uh, Nick? Frankly, hon, I think you dodged a bullet. You can stop the subscription to "Highlights for Children" now. Find a nice girl who can at least read the stuff between the ads in Vogue. Good luck.

And to the Los Angeles people who might swing past here - can you recommend a really good breakfast place in the WeHo area? Muchas gracias for the information!!

Friday, January 06, 2006


Much has been made here in DC this week of Ana Marie Cox leaving her post as resident Wonkette to take up the writing of novels and nonfiction books full-time. Go with God, lady. I am not tuned in to the Washington Power Thing. I have never given a crap about the fools on Capital Hill, so I've never been a big Wonkette reader. No offense to Ms. Cox, it simply reflects my lack of interest in most things connected to the pond scum floating around official Washington.

Which makes me think of this picture:

That's "Wonkette", Ana Marie Cox, on the left, with her erstwhile good buddy Jessica "Hill Skank" Cutler, the so-called "Washingtonienne" who banged a bunch of Capital Hill morons (who gratefully "subsidized" her living expenses - that's her choice of verb, folks.) Ms. Cutler eventually waved her sleaze flag high in a really bad book while the scuzzy guys involved in this scenario tried to dig their heads deeper and deeper in the sand. (Of course, there's a tremendously rich history of disgustingly sleazy guys on Capital Hill, so I don't know why they ever bothered.)

Back to the picture...

This image is everywhere this week. Look! Wonkette and Washingtonienne together! The raunchy, witty blog writer shoulder to shoulder with the person least deserving of being a DC "celebrity." Ooooh!

I saw this photo at least five times today on different websites, and something kept bothering me. What was it???

And then, suddenly, I knew...

Washington skank Jessica Cutler is actually....


The resemblance is quite remarkable. Look again.

Capital Hill Sleaze


At least I now know that Skeletor is hiding long, lustrous locks under his hood... who knew he was so horny for married political hacks? But you do have to appreciate the outstanding bone structure (what cheeks!) skin or no.

Congratulations, Skeletorienne, on keeping your true identity hidden for so long!

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Now with extra Slurm!

Please oh please oh please let this come to pass! Futurama may get a new lease on life!


Okay, hands up: who cried at the end of the episode about Fry's dog?

(Oh, come on. You know it made you cry.)

Oh no, he di'nt!

Oh yes, he did.

Pat Robertson has suggested that Ariel Sharon was struck down by the Almighty himself.


Can someone please pull the Ark of the Covenant out of government storage and let Pat open it? Pat needs a fresh start, folks, and I say let his slate be wiped clean by the wrath of God. (Since he's such a fan.)

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Willingly, below the earth

"Our blood has stained the coal
We tunneled deep inside the nation's soul..."*

I thought about the West Virginia miners driving home from work yesterday. I couldn't imagine that any would have survived by then, so many hours in dangerous air. How could they survive the carbon monoxide when each only had one hour of clean air in reserve?

And yet, at midnight, a bout of insomnia keeping me awake, I heard the news - only one was dead. The others had survived! How miraculous! How gracious the higher powers that had spared this community so much grief. I went to sleep amazed.

And I woke to the cruel news.

How sad. How bitter. What unbelievable torture for those families. For that entire community. How could those who knew not come forward earlier, if just to say, "Look - we're getting mixed signals. We're not sure what's going on. Let's hold off on the celebration." A moment of truth could have stopped so much anguish, which is now doubled, at the very least.

Mothers and daughters and wives. Brothers and fathers and sons. People of humble means and strong family traditions. People who know the risks of this way of life. But people who are still rocked and devastated when the earth swallows their loved ones, spitting out hollow shells. We take them for granted. We don't think much about coal mining towns. We don't think much about the families who work the mines generation after generation. We don't think much about the injuries and the diseases and the poverty. Except when something really bad happens and Fox News is there!

And yet, they feed our need for power and light and heat. And put their lives on the line to do it.

And we take them for granted.

Pray for them tonight. Think a good thought for the men who go deep in the dirty earth and breath poison for our needs and to feed their families.

"We walk through ancient forest lands
And light a thousand cities with our hands..."*

A few years ago, I traveled to Vladivostok, a sad city in Russia's Far East. It is a shabby place now - a decayed port city not far from Russia's borders with both China and North Korea. When I flew in, there was a cholera outbreak in the city. It was also, as my host told me at the airport, traffic safety week. He proudly told me only 9 children had been stuck by cars during traffic safety week so far. Terrifying.

As we left the airport, far from the central city, we drove at a snail's pace. All the cars barely moved along the road. When I asked why we were driving so slowly, my host quietly said, "There has been a mine collapse. Many miners are trapped. The mine is below us here. We don't want to cause additional collapses and kill the miners... or ourselves..."

I sat in my hotel room that night, heating bottled Japanese spring water in a hot pot to make tea and soup and brush my teeth. (I held my breath when I showered, to avoid getting any local water in my mouth.) I wondered if the miners knew about the cholera outbreak. I wondered if they were worried about their children getting sick or dying while they themselves waited for near certain death far below the tarnished landscape of Vladivostok.

In the end, some of the miners perished. Some were saved. On the local news, I saw rescuers filling big glasses of water from a large basin and handing them to the miners to drink as they exited the mine. Dirty faces and weary eyes blinking into the sunlight, they slugged down the diseased water. I wondered if they knew the water might make them ill. But these men had just come from the edge of death, nearly consumed by dark, deep hell. Coal is mined with water, poisoned with the same dust that poisons their lungs. Why should drinking water frighten them?

The next day, the news reported that the survivors had reported for work at another mine, carving out both power for the fading city of Vladivostok and a meager existence for their families.

"We work the black seam together..."*

Pray for them, indeed, who go willingly below the earth so we might have light and heat and all the luxuries of this good life. They deserve that from us.

*Sting, "We Work The Black Seam" from Dream of the Blue Turtles


I had to remove one of my t-shirt slogans because... well... I never proofread and I wrote up one of them with the most bizarre and incorrect grammar ever. I was appalled. Good thing I squandered my English Department scholarship on a Russian Studies degree, huh?

It's one thing to leave a typo in a post. It's another to have turned the typo into a JPEG and posted it. What a dork!

Hanging my head in linguistic shame...

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

What to put on the back of my t-shirts on CafePress...

So many ideas...


How did I miss this?!?

Peter Weller is teaching ancient history courses at Syracuse University?!? I just saw him as one of the talking heads on a Discovery Channel documentary about engineering in ancient Rome. (And, may I say, Buckaroo Banzai was looking very dapper in a really nice suit.) At first, I thought I'd had a brain fart, misreading the text, but, indeed, it said, "Peter Weller, Syracuse University." I went online, and sho' nuff, RoboCop got a Masters at Syracuse in 2004 and apparently, they gave him a teaching gig. Too weird.

No matter where you go (for your higher education), there you are.

Every Single Day's a Holiday for the Florists from Hell!

The lovely Gina left me a comment re: 1-800-flowers.com that got me thinking. Gina said that "everyday is a holiday" for the fine people at 1-800-flowers.com. Indeed, I think she's got something there.

Which led me to start thinking about special arrangements they could add to their website, like:

The Bris Bouquet: celebrate a fresh cut organ with some fresh cut orchids!

The Colon Lilly Corsage: there's nothing like a lovely calla lilly spray on your lapel to say, "Hey, world! I just had a colonoscopy, and my pipes are clean!"

The Van Gogh: A brilliant blue vase full of sunflowers with a boxed chocolate ear is the perfect way to say, "I'm insanely in love with you! No, really. I think I am insane."

Okay, you guys are next - what other special occasion arrangements should our time travelin' florists add? Extra points for creativity and tastelessness. I think I've started us in that direction, for sure...

Monday, January 02, 2006

Time Traveling Florists

Amazing! That which has eluded scientists for hundreds of years has been mastered by 1-800-flowers.com!

For, you see, today, January 2, 2006, 1-800-flowers.com - apparently a clandestine powerhouse of quantum mechanics - sent me the following message:

I must know their secrets!!

On a related note, I got yet another time travel movie from Netflix: "Primer." Small independent film. As in, so independent, their special effects/props budget consisted of some wires, digital timers, and a sheet of aluminum siding from Lowes plus rental fees for a couple of oxygen tanks from a medical supply place and a storage unit from U-Haul. I don't like dissing independent film in general, but, good god, I lost the thread -and interest - about halfway through.

I'm done with the time travel stuff. I have three volumes of "Reilly, Ace of Spies" (with a very young Sam Neill) to get through. Sounds good to me.