Sunday, February 25, 2007

Neither here nor there...

But, dear lord, is this the slowest, most miserable, most self-congratulatory Oscars telecast ever? I'm ready to scream. I hope the seat-fillers were all given Valium or Vicodin before the show started...

Just give out the damn awards already!!

Saturday, February 24, 2007

How the hell have I missed this guy?

Go to your iTunes store and look up Richard Cheese. Listen to some samples of his lounge versions of your favorite tunes, like Radiohead's "Creep" or Metallica's "Enter Sandman."

Holy crap, some of these tracks are hilarious.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

The Mile High Flub

"Would you sleep with Ralph Fiennes?"
"Dunno... 'English Patient' Ralph Fiennes or 'fat Nazi' Ralph Fiennes?"

- Ellen and a friend discuss the actor in question, The Ellen Show
(when Ellen's character was still straight, back in the dark ages)

Sure, I can understand that moment when the heat of passion overtakes you. You lose control. You do things you might not normally do.

Heck, you might do something that causes you to get fired.

A few jobs back, one of my colleagues was found bent over her desk, getting a "special delivery" from the young dude freshly hired for the mail room. At 10 in the morning. She was late for a meeting, the boss stopped by to see if she could join the group in the conference room, and... BAM. She did not get fired, but the new dude from the mail room did. I know that the boss, a very conservative guy, really wanted to can her, but she was disabled, a minority, and a legacy for the organization. Firing her would have been even messier than that mid-morning screw over a paper-littered desk.

But after the episode, she was shunned by management - and most of the staff. Eventually she quit. The office had become a hostile work environment, but, admittedly, that was mostly of her own doing.

According to a 2006 Harris Interactive survey, 16% of U.S. men and 7% of U.S. women reported having sex in the office. Of course, this statistic doesn't say if they were having that sex alone or with a partner. I don't think I want to speculate. I would hope that most of those folks had at least a private office or a conference room to get down and get funky. "Hey, Bob, heh heh... uh... sometimes it's tough to share a cubicle wall, huh? Heh heh... uh... could you turn down your radio? I'm not really into WASH FM... and, uh, while you're at it, heh heh, maybe you could thrust a little less aggressively? You guys keep knocking over my coffee... Maybe stifle Mary's screams, too???"

So, that begs the question: what if you're horny and don't have much private space at work? Say, if you're a flight attendant?

Yeah, yeah, we all know about the mile high club. But, c'mon - how many people actually indulge in the fantasy of sex in mid-air on a commercial jet? A few years back, there was a "mile high" airline called Fly Key West. Their slogan was "We fly at 5,280 feet, give or take six inches." Crass, but funny. For a fee, they would take an amorous couple up in a Piper Cub decked out with a bed in the back, so they could go at it in the very friendly skies. Patrons had the option of having their session filmed, and, if they chose, the video would be made available on the airline's website for paying members to view. They had quite the array of screenshots on their website, trust me. But, just a month before 9/11, Fly Key West had a bizarre tragedy on board one of their planes. A 60-something Cuban couple booked a flight, ostensibly to make whoopie over the lovely waters of the Florida Keys. In fact, they were would-be hijackers, and they wanted that plane to fly to Cuba. In the end, the plane crashed and the couple died, but miraculously, the pilot survived.

But there are other airlines dotting the (artificial) horizon that still serve up hot sex in mid-air, like Mile High Atlanta, where $299 gets you a bottle of champagne, an hour in a Piper Cub, and your souvenir sheets to take home after you've pumped some airborne rump. (Probably because the pilot doesn't want to have to handle your dirty linens after you're done.)

Aero-Tech, Inc. in Lexington, Kentucky offers the same type of service. You'll see the link to the $250 mile high offering on this "scenic flights" page - it's under the Kid's Flight and the Father's Day Flight (both of which may occur after the Mile High Flight.)

I'm sure there's a whole lotta lovin' goin' down on board private jets, too. Lord only knows what happens on John Travolta's Boeing 707. Sorry, that should be "Xenu only knows." My bad.

But what about commercial jets? How many people really go off to an airline lavatory and have sex? First, the couple would have to be small enough to get both parties inside one of those freakishly claustrophobic toilets. Second... well, dear god... most people would have be utterly drunk to do it there. I mean, have you really looked around an airplane toilet after you've been in flight for a short time? YUCK! I bring throw-away toothbrushes when I fly long-haul trips, just so I don't have to re-use one that's been in an airplane lavatory.

Sure, I can think of worse toilets in which to have sex: a row of porta-potties at the Renaissance Faire (or a NASCAR event)... a Central Asian open hole (holy crap, you'd have to have outstanding balance - and no sense of smell)... and, of course, the loo on a Russian train comes to mind. True story: on a business trip to rural Russian back in 1995, I went into a Russian overnight train bathroom and accidentally brushed up against the pee-covered edge of the toilet. The fluid touched my leg and - as god is my witness - it BURNED THROUGH MY TROUSERS. I can only image what kind of terrifying, homemade jet fuel hooch my fellow travelers were drinking through the night to create that level of toxicity.

But still, I cannot imagine what level of passion - or stupidity - would drive anyone to attempt sex in an airplane toilet. The yuckiness. The claustrophobia. The bruising.

Unless, I guess, it's Ralph Fiennes who wants to bang you.

I'm sure you've all heard by now of the former Qantas flight attendant that fell prey to Mr. Fiennes' charm while on board a flight to India recently. At first, the woman, Lisa Robertson, denied the episode despite, apparently, half the plane knowing something was going down inside that ocupado cubicle. Then, suddenly, she sang a different tune (probably when approached by tabloids bearing cash.) Yes, they had sex - unprotected - on board the plane, and then had a day of crazy lovemaking in a Mumbai hotel. Ralph, a UNICEF UK ambassador, was on his way to India on an HIV/AIDS awareness trip. (Nice going with the unprotected sex there, Mr. Ambassador!) Fiennes' publicist now says that Ralphie boy was the victim here, seduced by the feminine wiles of Ms. Robertson. Yeaaaah. Whatever.

Eh, who knows what really goes on behind closed doors when the bolt is pulled tight and the folding door is locked in place? Watch out for that smoke detector, baby, cuz this lavatory is smokin'!

Sure, if you can handle the "yuck factor", the potential injuries, the post-coital walk of shame back to your seat, the disgust and/or envious resentment of your fellow passengers, and the possibility of arrest (or diversion of the plane, if folks get a little overzealous), and you are a "nobody" on the flight, well, hell, I guess you should go for it. Just, when you're done, pleeeeeease wipe everything down for the next customer, okay?

But if you're WORKING the flight, why do it? And if you are a UNICEF ambassador, traveling on an HIV/AIDS project, why engage in unprotected sex with a stranger - one who might make this all public? Is a few minutes of uncomfortable intimacy worth your job and your reputation? I think that's pretty damn stupid.

In truth, Ralph Fiennes will come out of this relatively unscathed. After all, he's doing a film with Colin Farrell right now, so he's probably still looking good in comparison to his coworker! But Lisa Robertson - a former cop, suffering from depression, and struggling financially? She's been fired by Qantas, and any tabloid money she got will quickly run out. Robertson will be left a sad, broke joke, a punchline for a Hollywood actor's next Tonight Show appearance, a la Hugh Grant.

"Jeez, Ralph - what were you thinking?" Har har har har har!

I think it would be classy for Fiennes to announce that he's stepping down from his ambassadorial position. Or, at the very least, for him to say that he clearly has much yet to learn about the spread of HIV/AIDS himself. Then, he could actively participate in some of the seminars that are being offered to folks in rural India who haven't had the advantages and access to sex education that he has.

Not trying to sound high and mighty here. Just thinking that, rather than proclaiming himself to be a victim in this silly sex romp, Fiennes could do something positive and humble.

But I have a strong hunch I'll win Powerball before that happens. Hell, I'll be having sex in an airplane lavatory myself before that happens! (And yes, for the record, that will be never, thank you very much.)

Seriously, somebody, get me some Purell!

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Ouch, the Sequel

Well, my car is still stuck. I managed to get some of the ice chunked out, but the wheels continue to just impotently spin. Too much of the rock hard stuff remains behind each tire and deep under my car for me to reach. Trust me, I tried. And tried. And tried. Aaaaand fell trying to get some of it. I managed to smack my left elbow firmly into some of it as I went down. My elbow - and my shoulder - took the brunt of the fall before I hit my knee.

Mother Nature 1, Merujo 0.

Now, I'm just sore and angry. My whole left arm up to my jaw hurts.


I'm done for the day, thanks. If this shit doesn't thaw before work on Tuesday, I will be ready to scream. (And smack around the hosebeast who owns the Jetta parked in front of me. If those dumbasses would move - even a couple of feet - I could probably get out.)

Where's a Vicodin when you need one?

Thursday, February 15, 2007


I've been out four times today, trying to dig my car out of the ice that has captured the tires. This last time, I dislocated my left thumb. I've popped it back in, but my hand hurts like hell. Back in 2002, when I fell and broke my leg in the parking garage at Job X, I also sprained my left wrist and dislocated that thumb. Since then, I think I've developed some arthritis in the joint where the thumb meets the hand. But I've also become quite adept at typing without using/moving that digit.

Still, this sucks. I need to be at my office. I have a pile of things I need to do that require my physical presence in the office. Dang it.

Earlier, I heard all these kids laughing and zooming down the frozen hill by my apartment. I remember how much I used to love being outside for hours and hours and hours in the freezing cold, doing the same stuff. Now, I can't stand the cold. Apparently, I'm never moving back to Minnesota!

Hot tub. Coral reef. Sofa by a fireplace. Now, those options sound really good.

If my hand turns purple, of course I'll take a photo!

Wednesday, February 14, 2007


As in, my damn car is stuck in ice. The ice is so solid, I could not chunk it out with a shovel. I tried to get the car unstuck long enough that my glove-encased hands lost sensation and were bright red when I got back inside. Yeesh!

It looks like someone dug their car out this morning and dumped all their icy slush directly behind my crapmobile, and the whole mess solidified as the temperatures dropped again this afternoon. Now, I have two feet of ice encasing my back tires and the underside of my car. I have no idea how the hell I'm going to get to work tomorrow.

Moving the car forward isn't an option unless the unknown bonehead who parked directly on my front bumper moves. And that won't be a guarantee of motion, considering the lock on my rear tires. I think I'm really glad I brought the work laptop home with me on Tuesday...


Snow Day!

My employer had a policy reversal this morning, based on the lousy condition of the streets in the District and the anticipated drop in temperatures this afternoon/evening. So, what was to be a two-hour delay to the start of the day is now a day off. I've just loaded my crockpot with borscht ingredients, and I look forward to the smell of beef and beets and cabbage and onions and garlic filling the apartment throughout the day. Ms. Cheapskate here is glad to have the palate of a peasant! Borscht and other "serf food" makes for a good meal, freezes well, and when stew meat's on sale, a bargain to boot. Perfect for a day like today.

Oh crap. I forgot sour cream at the grocery store the other night. Damnation!

Can't have borscht without smetana. Guess I'll have to venture out at some point, preferably before the streets ice over...

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Blissful Silence

I don't like the thought of losing electricity during an ice storm. I don't like the thought of frozen pipes or broken bones or food turning bad in a powerless fridge.

But I adore the silence. No one is out on the super-slick back road to my building. It's a dead end, which means the county will be slow to clear it tomorrow. If work isn't called altogether in the morning, I will be very, very late to the office, for sure.

But right now, there is just this pleasant calm that only seems to come during winter storms. I haven't spoken to another living being all evening. I napped right after getting home early today. Woke up around 6:30, a little discombobulated, but rested. I suppose I could have done some cleaning or laundry, but I just sat and soaked up the peacefulness. It's a rare commodity right now. A few hours without thinking "Is that check gonna bounce? Did I send that e-mail before I left today?"... what an amazing thing in its delicious simplicity.

No worries. No worries. No stress. No worries. Instead, I had a nice warm Midwestern dinner and decadently lounged in front of the boob tube. Got to see one of my big swoony crush actors camp it up as a mob lawyer (sans, alas, his lovely British accent) and entertained a handful of fantasies I've had since the mid-80s. Wondered briefly why I never sent him a fan letter back in the day. And laughed. I have this reputation for "reaching out and touching" folks via the Internet these days to express admiration and appreciation. And I've found that, if they figure you're not a loon - and you're well-spoken - a lot of folks will touch back, if just to be cordial and polite. Maybe he has e-mail...

Maybe not.

The local news is full of storm tracking mania. I turned it off. I can look outside and see the weather, thanks. Nearly midnight now, and the upstairs neighbors have quieted down. I'm in comfy jammies and fuzzy socks. Teeth are brushed and I should go to bed. But instead, I'm writing and listening to Michael Penn sing "Bunker Hill" through my earphones.

But you can't hide
You're lit from the inside
And all I've got to do is
Keep my eyes above the ground
To see you move around

Do I wish I had someone else in my household? Sure I do. But there are some nights when being completely alone is a fine thing. And this is one of those nights.

Later, I will pull back the blinds on the balcony and watch the freezing rain and snow come down on the silent street. A measure of peace in chaos is a blessing.

Here's to you, Mother Nature. Thanks for tonight.

Who knew Blogspot was the new Algonquin Round Table?

I post the vast majority of comments I get on this blog (when Blogspot actually forwards them to me for moderation, that is.) Every once in a while, I get a few that are outright spam or cries for attention from strangers who want people to: 1)boost the hit count on their hot pink photo page of pretty puppies; 2)look at their genitals; or 3)sign up for their super-duper oh-its-not-a-pyramid-scheme scheme.

These get slam-dunked directly into the great online trash basket. Sorry, no time to suffer fools or look at some dude's junk or get involved in some real estate or vitamin supplements boondoogle. But thanks, anyway. Seriously. I have coffee to drink and diatribes to craft.

Back in 2005, when I was unemployed, scared, depressed, and wondered if I should just take a long walk out into the Atlantic, I got a lot of really cruel and vicious comments from anonymous posters. Some of them really rattled me - like the ones that suggested I should have been aborted or I should "just die already." That was pretty freaky. The craptacular apartment where I have lived for more than a decade in glorious, unrepaired housing mediocrity is a condo. For some people, the word "condo" means well-appointed digs at the Dakota. For me, it's a crappy one-bedroom rented dwelling with a phone line that doesn't work well and mice in the kitchen.

I wrote a post about my problem with the mice back in 2005, when I was scared to leave home or complain, for fear of losing what passes for my home. I said something about needing to call the condo office, and, holy crow, did that ever open a can of worms for some readers. "You talk about how poor you are, yet you live in a condo? Go to hell!" read one comment. "Condo? Condo?!? Go fuck yourself and your pity party!" was another.

At that point, I was ready to call it quits with the blogging. I was a shell of a human anyway. Pretty damn miserable all around. But I got a handful of comments - from Magazine Man and A.J. Gentile, I remember in particular - telling me not to give up and to keep posting. And I did.

My skin has gotten thicker about the comments, and sometimes I even laugh when I get an angry critic or some tool who just has to tell me how much I suck. This morning, I logged on to find two comments that had popped up overnight. Each made me laugh. Instead of moderating them, I've decided to share them with you here. Enjoy.

This one, offered up in response to my Valentine's Day screed, starts off in a complimentary mood, but goes downhill rapidly:

"There are a lot of guys who would love to have a girlfriend or wife who only expected a burrito and cut rate flowers for Valentines Day. That would be a real dream. But the reality is that the quality women expect more. If you were attractive, you would know this."

Why thank you, anonymous guy! I'll consider this. Of course, it might be difficult for a woman lacking quality to fathom your philosophy. Perhaps if I were attractive, I'd still like burritos and cut rate flowers. What a bargain! Then, I could spend all that money you saved on food and flowers and blow it on travel to Thailand and foot massages instead.

That would be my real dream, quality guy.

And then, there was this comment, left early this morning on one of my serious posts from back in 2005:

"Merujo, you could be a great writer, but you are only a good writer now. You lack consistency in your posting. Your good pieces are somewhat negated by the fluff you post like Spiders On Drugs. Yes, that was cute, but it does nothing to advance your endeavours. Good luck. I hope to see more outstanding writing in future."

Wow, I am grateful for your concern. I had no idea Spiders on Drugs would be so detrimental to my blog offerings. I actually appreciate the critique, but no one is offering me a book deal based on what I write here, I'm afraid. If someone does decide to give me an advance and a contract, I'll control the urge to post more crack spider videos, I promise. Until then, I'm not John Cheever, and these are laughing quadruplets. Enjoy.

Okay. I promise, anonymous commenters: I will aim higher. I will struggle to advance my endeavours. I will work hard to be both a quality writer and a quality woman.


As for today? I'll just revel in my non-quality non-greatness. Maybe I'll watch the drug-addled spiders again. (And laugh.) Ill watch the snow fall outside the office, plow through some paperwork, ponder if we're getting tomorrow off due to "wintry mix" and get ready to watch Cary Elwes be all hot and middle-aged and English on L&O: SVU tonight.

Ahhh, Cary Elwes. That's another post altogether...

Yours, drooling and lacking in quality,


P.S. Tonight, Cary Elwes was showing a bit of a potbelly, his hair was kinda limp and his face much wider than I recall from his youth. And, as usual, I found him absolutely adorably hot. Love that man. Always will.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Spiders on Drugs

I'm sure many of you have already seen this, courtesy of forwards from friends. But, for those who haven't seen it, enjoy "Spiders On Drugs"...

My thanks to the lovely Caseystay for sharing this with me.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

The Black Hole of Blog-cutta

Hey - if you've left comments for me and I've never posted them, don't be offended. The Sasquatch left me a comment today, yet it's never shown up for me to moderate/post. Never fear, I still love you all. :)

By the way, a big thumbs down to the spamalicious Blogspot vultures who attempted to post their crappy commercial comments to my Valentine's Day rant. Five slimeballs tried to use my blog as advertising space for their crap blog pages full of holiday junk. Shame on y'all! Bad bloggers! Bad, bad bloggers!

And now, back to being a weekend slug.

Grammy Awards are on tonight. Worth it just to see The Police play. Oh yes!

Friday, February 09, 2007

When the postman don't call on Valentine's Day...

A kvetch, a rant, a ramble, and some suggestions for the demented, the cheap, and the loveless among us.

(And a prize if you recognize the musical reference in the title.)

So, kids... Valentine's Day is right around the corner again.


First things first. I'm not exactly a big fan of Valentine's Day. I know, I know. I'm a broken record. I kvetch about this every year. But the truth is, it wasn't just as a loveless grownup that this "holiday" got under my skin. I hated Valentine's Day back in grade school, when your popularity was defined by the number of pointless glossy throw-aways you received in your handmade classroom box. There's something utterly pathetic about having your value as a loveable human measured in the number of CHiPs and Sigmund the Sea Monster valentines you have clutched in your hands at the end of the day. Seriously.

Painstakingly, I would craft a red and pink "mailbox" to tape to my desk and await a wee handful of cards - one here, one there, almost all from the kids whose parents wisely and generously operated under the "bring something for everyone" rule. But mostly, my mailbox was a waste of space. I think I would have gotten more out of eating the paste I used to put that sucker together.

I'd watch as some kids, popular and cute, smiled away smarmily as their little boxes and envelopes fattened with each passing child. And, me, the overweight kid in the homemade patchwork smock top and the bad haircut? I felt my self-esteem plummet with each classmate who walked past without making a delivery. I remember one really foul third grade teacher (who was pretty young at the time) who made her students all count their cards and announce the total to the whole class. She told a friend of mine, another kid with a low count, "Well, looks like someone has to try harder to make some friends, huh?" A-hole. Stuff like that sticks with you.

It was a lame exercise then, and it still is now. Only when you're older, along with getting your heart slammed around, you get your pockets picked, too. Feh!

I can be a very romantic soul when I want to, but having greeting card and candy companies tell me when I am to be loved or not loved? That's a load of crapola, kids. Who needs that kind of pressure, especially when you are alone?

Well, hell, for that matter, who needs that kind of pressure when you're not alone, either?!?

Breaking the bank to prove to someone you love them (when, in theory, they should already know that) with an overpriced meal and fancy gift is pretty pointless. Of course, I think that gauging your love for someone in how much diamond you can buy with three months salary is fairly horrible, so you see where I part ways with how Our Material Culture defines romance.

Oh - if you are looking for a diamond and have a recently deceased loved one? The Sasquatch reminded me tonight of the ultimate gift o' love: the dead person gemstone. For only about $8K, you can wear that loved one all the time. I think I'll pass on this opportunity, myself. But hey, when I win the lottery, who knows? I'll be doing that right about the same time I settle in for a tasty Soylent Green Hungry Man dinner. Which would pretty much be never, thanks all the same.

Wow. Grandma has never looked better!

Keeping on a somewhat macabre theme of romance... if you know you must succumb to the pressure of getting a heart of chocolate for your amorata, why not go with the anatomically correct chocolate heart?

Nothing says, "I love you, Morticia!" like a 1 lb. milk chocolate heart. So authentic, you'd think Mel Gibson had ripped it, still beating, from the heart of an Apocalypto extra. This tasty treat is only $15.95 and comes from a website called "Pushin Daisies" - a mortuary novelty shop.

Yeah, I didn't know there was such a thing, either. Not until tonight.

You can also get a chocolate brain. Or a "Do It Yourself Embalming Kit." I'm not sure what holiday those are appropriate for, but I'll leave that decision to you.

But seriously, kids, no one should need a contrived holiday like Valentine's Day to remember to tell folks they are loved. The cool gifts are those that are unexpected and just from the (non-chocolate) heart. (The coolest ones are simply the words "I love you.") But if you're going with the material stuff, don't kill yourself to impress someone who shouldn't need impressing.

I'm lower-than-dirt, broke-ass broke these days. And I have no one from whom I would have any expectations of receiving gifts, a dinner invitation, or flowers. (It's not as if I'd turn any of that down, of course! And, if you want to send me flowers, you can do so care of the National Geographic Society. Just kidding!!) And the truth of the matter is, if you want things, you should just buckle down, decide what you can afford, and get the stuff for your own damn self.

For those of us in the DC area who are broke or alone or both, may I offer a few cheapskate recommendations?

First: buy your own roses. There. I said it. You love flowers? You want flowers? Go get them yourself. Don't wait for someone else to be inspired or guilted into getting you nice stems! (That suggestion isn't limited to the DC area, of course. That's for all y'all out there.) Here in MoCo, there are budget options. When I've got a spare eight bucks, I buy a dozen roses at my local Shoppers Food Warehouse. Lovely blooms. Dirt cheap. Keep 'em trimmed, watered, fed, and you're golden. I've brought flowers in to my office sometimes. Makes you feel like a million bucks, even on days when work is kicking your ass.

I love java, nice and hot. You love java, too? You've heard this from me before, but if you live in Silver Spring or the Shady Grove area, you should get yo' lovebunny self a Mayorga Coffee gift/customer loyalty card and load it up with $25 worth of caffeinated affection. Mayorga has a very friendly customer loyalty program, and a card loaded with $25 or more of credit gets an automatic boost of points towards free coffee/tea/chai. Each purchase you then make off that $25 keeps your points building up quite fast for big freebie drinks. And, damn, it's good coffee - and Mayorga's locations feature free wi-fi, comfy chairs, and a nice atmosphere for chillin', surfin' and getting wired on your favorite bev-or-age. I like being able to sink into a comfy leather chair, nurse a freebie drink, and enjoy the Internet gratis. Very nice.

"I don't know if it's me or that last mocha latte talking, Gertrude...
But, damn, baby - you look hot tonight!"

If you're a "dinner and movie" person, consider the great combo that Regal Cinemas in Rockville has with Potbelly Sandwich Works and California Tortilla. Sunday through Monday, grab dinner at one of these cafes next door to the Regal, and ask for the dinner/movie combo. You'll pay $10.99 for dinner and movie admission. A short walk from the Rockville Metro, and with a spacious $1 parking lot, too. I've taken advantage of this offer many times. During the week, the theaters are relatively quiet - few talkers and cellphone dorks -and having a weekday evening escape is a wonderful thing.

Regal offers this same deal with CalTort and Potbelly down in Chinatown, Sunday through Monday. Ask for the same deal as Rockville (I think it may be $1 more downtown) and eat at one of these spots, right across the street from the Regal in the Gallery Place complex. The Metro station is right there, or, if you drive, free three hours of parking in the big, clean, safe Gallery Place garage (with validation at the theater.) Can't beat that with a stick, huh?

Speaking of great Chinatown deals... Want a spa day, but your wallet is too thin? Consider letting the students at the Aveda Institute on 7th Street do the work for you! Supervised by professional educators/estheticians, the students at Aveda can give you wonderful aromatherapy spa treatments - from facials and waxing to manicures and pedicures - and hair cuts and color, all at a fraction of the regular spa/salon price. The Institute has the same calming feel as an Aveda salon/spa elsewhere. But your students are being graded and observed, and services will take a bit longer. Eh, who cares? An Aveda aromatherapy facial for only $40? C'mon!

"Mmm... someone smells like rosemary mint!"
"And someone else has his hand down his pants... yeesh."

Plus, while you're there, you can join the Aveda Pure Privilege rewards program for $10. It's so worth it. Your $10 fee nets you a canvas travel bag with TSA-sized Aveda shampoo, conditioner, hand relief lotion, and (my much adored) foot relief lotion. (Jesus, that stuff is like crack for my tired tootsies!) The value of the set is $30+, and, at least twice a year, you'll end up getting certificates in the mail for freebie, custom-blended body sprays (a $20 value) and coupons, to boot. A fine deal by any measure.

And afterwards, you can catch a quick bite at one of Chinatown's many cafes. Oh hell, walk the three blocks over to Five Guys and get the world's best hamburger for a song. Seriously, Five Guys rocks, it's cheap, delicious and probably horrible for you. But, hell, kids, you aren't going to hamburger joint for ambiance and health food! Eat some free peanuts and chill while you wait for your glorious meat. Ah, the joy of an unrefined, penniless palate!

"Albert, that little bacon cheeseburger was divine!
Take me! Take me now!"

Then again, as I've mentioned before, I'm a cheap date. I don't need fancy restaurants - I don't even own the right clothes for a fancy restaurant. My idea of absolute fine dining is splurging on the shrimp to go with my steak at Outback. (Damn, that sounds really good right now. I may have to sell something on eBay and take myself out for some red meat at some point.) And sure, if I had the cash, I'd prefer to go to my wonderful little Elaj Aveda spa for foot massages and facials rather than go to the Institute. (Elaj really kicks ass - if you go there, tell them I sent you!) But when your well is dry, and you can have fun and a little toned down luxury on the cheap, why weep for the stuff you can't have - and that no one else is going to hand to you?

Maybe I was raised to have fairly simple expectations. Heck, I'm the kind of girl who wouldn't be offended by a loved one saying, "I got you a spa day at the school!" Or, "We're going out for a burrito and a movie!" To me, that sounds awesome. That would be my kind of Valentine's treat - and I would be so tickled to get such an invite. I could wear jeans and not worry about my hair or a dry cleaning bill or what the snooty folks around me were thinking. I know there are a lot of upwardly mobile folks in the DC area who would find a cheap date night insulting or demeaning for Valentine's Day. I think I'm very glad I'm not one of those folks - nor will I ever be, thank heavens. What's wrong in appreciating what you can afford rather than what is expected?

And, for that matter, why wait for someone else to get it for you?

Buy your own roses. Be your own Valentine. Show yourself a little love. Screw those memories of empty construction paper mailboxes and bad dates and lonely February 14ths!

And if you are fortunate enough to have a loved one around who can only afford to buy you a burrito and a movie ticket? Enjoy it. Have a helluva good time. Revel in the fact that you have someone who loves you and just wants to be with you. And hey, with a bargain night like that, you'll be able to stop at Ben & Jerry's afterwards.

That sounds worth some good lovin' right there.

Crime Scene

I have a day off on Friday. Thank you, Jeezus! My brain is sucked dry, and I need to recharge. I got home tonight and had a plate of chips & salsa with a glass of milk for dinner. (Sounds disgusting, no? But it's what I had in the kitchen. The cupboard - she is bare.) Frat boy dinner finished, I closed my eyes for a second.


Suddenly it was 10:48 p.m. and my phone was ringing. A college friend was calling from Minnesota - we talked for a good 45 minutes before my phone battery died. I'm glad she called. I was curled up on the sofa, TV on, eyeglasses on, snoring like a freight train (hell, I was probably drooling, too) and fully dressed in work clothes when I heard the phone. It wasn't pretty.

I think I just need a solid night's sleep and a little time to play catch up with myself. At this point, I've been working seven days a week for the past couple of weeks. My two big projects have been put to bed, and finally, I can focus a little bit on getting my own crapola in order. Sleep. Right now, I just need sleep.

This light pole is just outside my office. I snapped this the other day with my cell phone. My life has felt a little bit like a crime scene lately - I think I murdered my personal life this past month. But I get a three-day weekend to try to resurrect it.

Here's to some downtime!

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Thankee sai!

A word of appreciation for Joel at Big Planet Comics in downtown Bethesda. Tonight, about 100 comic book stores around the country opened at midnight to sell the first issue of the Marvel limited "Dark Tower" series. I'm not usually one to go shopping for comic books at midnight in Bethesda, but ah loves me mah Gunslinger. And, as I'd only left my office at 11:30 tonight (big project - done tomorrow by 5!) I figured, what the hell.

It was a gorgeous, if a little slick ride from downtown back to Maryland. There weren't many cars on the road, and the precipitation was of the "pretty snow globe" variety - so beautiful, I just wanted to sit and watch it for a while (which I did when I finally got home.) I pulled up in front of Big Planet, and I saw a couple of folks inside. I wasn't sure what to expect, as I'd only been there once before, when a surly, plump, young Goth woman gave me a goodly measure of attitude for asking if they carried Viper Comics. (I was looking for The Middleman by the fanschmabulous Javi.) Walking in tonight, though, I got the friendliest greeting from Joel, the proprietor, who told me it was my lucky night.

Joel had decided that anyone who showed up in the middle of the night in our first inclement weather of the season got their Gunslinger comic book for free. How 'bout that? After a 14.5-hour workday, that was pretty sweet. (Sorry, Sasquatch - couldn't get a freebie for you - we'll have to swing by after work and grab one for you!)

We talked for a bit - he has a customer whose wife works where I do. (More interestingly, said customer works at the medical museum at Walter Reed, one of the funkiest places in all of DC! They have an exhibit running now called, I swear to god, "Scarred for Life"...) I think I rambled a bit - I was suddenly too tired to function, but still had to get home. With well wishes for my four mile trek to Chez Merde, I was out the door, clutching a bag of Gunslingery goodness and walking carefully to the car.

When I reached my building, I turned the car off and just sat for a while with the door open, listening to the nothingness and watching the snow float in the beams of light from the streetlamps. So silent. So peaceful.

I had this pleasant habit before the eye went all wrong. I would come home in the evening and just watch the sky from the open window of my car. My place is just far enough away from city lights that I can see the stars well and clear beyond the pine trees that line the street. I would just enjoy the simplicity of the sky turning from blue to warm purple to the deepest midnight hues, and watch as the stars burned in the darkening heavens. It reminded me of being a kid - camping with my family. It reminded me of being in the middle of nowhere with my mom, just having the kind of fun only a couple of cheap dates can, with books and flashlights and some Triscuits and cheese, and the sound of crickets and slow-running streams.

But, for a long time now, I've been afraid to really look at the sky. Afraid to see that it doesn't look the same anymore.

Maybe it's time for me to get over that. The sky is the sky is the sky is the sky. And how I see it is, well, how I see it. Maybe the stars will look a bit different. Maybe they won't seem quite so bright or clear. But they are the same stars. It's only the vision that's changed. I need to reclaim that pleasant habit.

Whoa. How the hell did I get here from a free comic book?

Man, I need some sleep. I have to be back up in 5 hours. Oof.

Tomorrow, by five, this monster project will be put to bed, and I'll be able to breathe a little easier. If you see a rather large woman with dark circles around her eyes, swigging out of a champagne bottle around 16th & M at 5:15 on Wednesday, be sure to say hi.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Houston, we have a problem

Whoa. Generally, you just don't picture astronauts as people with fatal attraction issues. When a married mother of three dons adult diapers so she doesn't have to take potty breaks on her 900-mile obsessive trek to attack/kidnap/harrass/scare the bejeezus out of a romantic rival... well... the words "space shuttle veteran" aren't the first ones to pop into your mind.

Fortunately, we now have Lisa Marie Nowak to, uh... expand... our perspective on the space program. My idealized view of NASA now includes crazed obsessives carrying wigs, trenchcoats, and rubber tubing, and messed up love triangles between astronauts and engineers. (Come to think of it, engineers don't usually come to mind either in screwed up romantic nightmares...) I think I liked it better when my image of the space program was just moon rocks and space walks and dehydrated ice cream and Fisher space pens.

Oh, and inspirational moments of courage and achievement. Yeah. Can't forget that, right?

Strange world we live in. I hope this woman gets the help she clearly so desperately needs. But, damn, it's so strange!

This post brought to you by Tang and Depends.

(I'll let you make your our tasteless Tang jokes and puns...)

Monday, February 05, 2007

Diet Crack Now Available in Fruity Variety

I stopped at the non-Hellmouth Bethesda 7-11 tonight to grab a bottle of water. I'll be damned if I didn't find something marvelous in the fridge next to the giant water bottles:

Yes, Diet Crack (aka Coke Zero) is now available as Cherry Zero. Just what I needed. Crap. And here I was, working myself off the caffeine. I'm screwed now.

Great googly moogly. If the Coca-Cola Corporation ever pulls Zero off the shelves, I'm going to have to start attending a support group...

Okay, so I lied

I was planning on doing some substantive writing this weekend.

Didn't happen.

Bupkis, kids.

Sorry about that.

I was in the office on both Saturday and Sunday, trying to play catch up after one big project and getting ready to complete another humongous project this week. I don't mind being in my office over the weekend -it's quiet and I can motor through tasks that might take ages to complete on a normal workday. Today I brought my old, beat-up, well-traveled Radio Shack noise canceling headphones with me, and I listened to a bit of the Super Bowl tonight over the live broadcast from Sirius/Westwood One. But most of the time, I jammed out to some really pretty freaking good music on iTunes radio - I decided to try a station I hadn't sampled before:

Damn, that was good! Check out their playlist for recent hours to get a feel for what's spinning there. I finally had to start taking notes on tracks I was digging on and bands I was amazed to hear for the first time. Apparently, according to the Sasquatch, I've been living under a rock, and I should have known about this station ages ago. Well, I kinda do live under a rock lately, so I guess I'll just own that one, eh?

Speaking of new radio experiences - DC peeps, have you heard the new WARW yet? 94.7 is no longer "The Arrow" - now it's "The Globe", sort of an Al Gore-eco-friendly-alternative-energy-powered adult alternative station. The spiel from management says you should "think WHFS circa 1985." Well, I don't know about that (since I was in college in Minnesota then), but I'm diggin' on what they're playing so far. They tossed out a musical hook with bait for left-of-center 40-somethings, and I bit.

I'm a sucker for music, plain and simple. It doesn't just sit in the background of my life. It sustains me. I'm not kidding there. Without music, my life would lack much of its color. And who needs to live in greyscale?

Speaking of music and color (or, in this case, off-color)... anyone remember the short-lived Canadian comedy show "The Vacant Lot"? I loved those guys. Very funny, very weird, and they did the occasional music video. One was called "He Slept On His Arms Last Night" and another, supposedly the work of a (very fake) Norwegian band called Porridge and Biscuits. Their song "Knee Slap" is the band's tribute to American culture and documents their tour of the United States. Absolutely ridiculous stuff from our friends to the North, and, many years later, it still makes me laugh. God bless Canadian comedy. What the hell would we do without it? (And now, the Sasquatch has me watching Kids in the Hall clips on YouTube. Jeez - I'll never sleep tonight!)

On a totally different note - I didn't even check my mailbox on Saturday. I got home from the office around 10 p.m., and just walked right past the box. This afternoon, I gathered up all the mail and took it with me to work. Around 7, I remembered it was in the bottom of my bag and I started to sort. Junk, junk, angry credit card letter, junk, junk, junk... and two envelopes from Says Who, the cool little Bay Area boutique that makes and sells the wonderfully comfy trousers I wear to work (and were thrashed with bleach.) One envelope had a gift certificate from my super cool friend the Alasko-American (who starts a new job tomorrow with a great non-profit - congrats to her!) and the other envelope had another gift certificate - from a mystery person. It was simply noted as being from "A Good Friend."

And I can only agree. With humbleness and tears in my eyes, I can only agree.

Thank you, Alasko-American. And thank you, mystery good friend.

I'm sending you all sorts of good energy and hugs and all the appreciation in the world. You guys make this world better. Like music, my friends bring color to my life. I live in a well of gratitude, and I am swimming in your kindness. I thank you all.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Only a Teardrop

Ladies and gentlemen, meet my eye:

At long last you get to see my actual left eye. I figured it was about time you got a good look at the real deal. This is the standard sheet of photos that Dr. Eye Guy looks at to determine when I next need a shot of Avastin and how well those pesky weedy blood vessels are holding up. I get a bunch of blinding photos snapped at point blank range before and after the isocyanine dye is injected, and what you see above is sort of a time lapse line of my eye during the process.

The blind spot I've circled? That's the first thing I notice when I wake up in the morning, and the last thing I "see" at night, the large, jagged circle of nothing that is burned, quite literally, into my vision.

Here's a close-up:

The teardrop in the center? That's the clump of nasty blood vessels. Bastards. When you compare the size of the blind spot to the overall size of my center of vision, you can see why my sight has become so impaired and why there is so much distortion in what I see. This teardrop in a circle is why everyone looks like a stroke victim to me. And why, when I have a sinus infection now, it feels like I have an icepick embedded in my skull. And why I sometimes cannot get my eyes to focus on the same spot at the same time some days... I'm not quite a chameleon with eyes whirring in separate directions, but it feels close some days.

Just a teardrop. So tiny in reality. So huge to me.

I hope injections I'm going through - and the financial distress I'm experiencing as a result - will eventually mean that millions of people will keep their vision. That this drug will be FDA-approved. And people won't have to make a choice between functioning eyes and financial stability.

Only a teardrop. But to me, it's like an ocean.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

For those who watch "Top Chef" on Bravo...

Is it just me, or does Marcel have "Wolverine" hair? I swear to god, I wanted to shave off his enormous sideburns and give him a high and tight buzzcut by the finale.

Sam should have been in the finale, frankly. Can Ilan cook anything that doesn't have "Spanish flair"?? And what is Marcel's obsession with foam?

Apologies to those of you for whom this means nothing. Just had to kvetch. More substantive posting over the weekend, I promise!

Boston Legal

A Boston judge has pointed out to the Assistant Attorney General of Massachusetts that the Mooninite Two would have to have INTENDED to cause panic in order to be charged with placing "hoax devices." Very smart judge.

Heh. This is available on a t-shirt on eBay tonight,
along with actual
Mooninite LED signs.

When you give in to Mooninism, the Mooninites win!

Okay, public officials of Boston: get a grip.


Generally speaking, sneaky-ass terrorists aren't going to make their bombs to look like Lite Brite figures giving you the finger.

I love the fact that many news shows blurred out the middle finger on the Mooninite. I think that says so much about what a complete mess our country is right now - our media outlets blur middle fingers on cartoons. Not only cartoons, but cartoons designed to look like video game figures from the 1980s. It's a square with a line on it, for god's sake!

This just in: Super power nation terrified by Lite Brite and offended by cartoon finger. Film at 10, 11, and 12:30!!!

How moronic is that?

This was a dumb stunt, for sure. It wasn't even good "guerilla marketing." But was it the placing of "hoax bombs" that the city of Boston wants to smack these guys and Turner Broadcasting for?


And, again, no.

They weren't hoax bombs. They weren't hoax anything, for that matter. There was no intent to frighten people. There was no intent to cause panic or harm. They were advertising a cartoon about talking food. Often belligerent talking food. In New Jersey. These lightboards had been up for as long as two weeks in Boston and several other major cities, including, might I point out, NEW YORK. Hello, Boston? New York apparently can take a joke. You, instead, spend half a mil blowing up Mooninites.

Get. A. Grip.

I bet Adult Swim gets killer ratings now. If only to counter the vast stupidity shown by panicky public officials - and even if it completely sucks ass - I now consider it my duty to go see the Aqua Teen Hunger Force movie next month.

Thus endeth my tirade.