Saturday, April 30, 2005

Beware the Horny Guy at Free State Gas

There aren't many places to buy reasonably-priced gasoline here in Montgomery County. We're one of the single weathiest counties in the United States, although I personally do not contribute to that fact. Many of the DC-based network news anchors live here, as do Supreme Court justices and an army of lawyers, lobbyists, Lockheed-Martin execs, gene splicers and high-level NIH scientific researchers, well-fed by kick-backs from pharmaceutical companies. Oh, we have the world headquarters of Marriott, too.

I, on the other hand, am an unemployed "Eurasian affairs specialist" who just wants to be a writer. And, thanks to blogspot, I get to live the fantasy of writing (crap) as much as I want. However, it doesn't pay the rent. And, as moolah is very tight right now, I drive up the Pike to Free State Gas to buy my $2.19/gallon gas for the Crapmobile. It's about 8 miles to Free State. I could drive 4 miles to the Shell station in Kensington, where the gas is cheap because the customers are few. But, like many others, I still can't erase the image of the young woman dying there, bleeding out under the big Shell sign, after the DC sniper gunned her down.

So, there I was, the only customer at Free State tonight, as a light rain came down. Free State is a "cash-only" business, which keeps the costs lower. I sometimes wonder if my unleaded is also half water, but so far, so good. The cashier tonight was a large man with a lilting African accent and a massive tooth gap when he smiled. He looked like a more approachable Yaphet Kotto. I paid $12 through the glass window and left to pump the gas.

I heard the intercom crackle and a voice said, "How are you tonight, lovely lady?"

"Fine," said I. "Thanks."

"It is a shame that I must sit in here tonight, otherwise I would pump your gas for you."

"Oh," I answered, "that's okay. I'm fine, really."

"Where is your umbrella. You are getting wet."

"It's okay," I replied, not really wanting to engage in conversation. "I'm fine. Really."

"I bet you like to get wet. Mmmmm..."

"What?" Now, I'm wondering just where the hell this is going. "Excuse me?" The guy is smiling broadly from his window and narrowing his eyes. I think this must be his "seductive gas station attendant" look.

"I said, I bet you like getting wet. Mmmm? I would like to get wet with you... heh heh heh..."

OKAY. Conversation over. Fortunately, another customer arrived at this point, and $12 doesn't buy much, even at $2.19/gallon, so I was able to beat a hasty retreat to the safety of my car. At that point, I was wishing for a shower of Purell, but I settled for a quick peel out of the Free State lot.

I called the Sasquatch to share my ooginess. It may be worth the extra 8 or 9 cents a gallon to pump in peace at Texaco in Bethesda. Ugh.

SNL is a repeat. Time to take a shower, read a few pages of The Nanny Diaries and get some shut eye.

I noted tonight that I write better and more interesting entries as comments in other people's blogs than I do as real entries in my own. I have to work on this...

Adios, Miracle Fish!

A local DC news 'n' talk radio station, WMAL (home of my former boss, Fred "Gopher" Grandy) has a reporter on staff with the wonderful name of Milagros Ardin (pronouned ar-DEEN.) But, from the very first time I heard her name, I thought it was Milagro Sardine. I've thought of her as the "Miracle Fish" ever since then.

Sadly, the Miracle Fish has left our little pond. She took a job with an African aid organization and left WMAL yesterday to do Good Things.

So long, farewell, Miracle Fish. Hope you do well and save some lives.

Whatever you do, don't forget to pack your aerating frogman and treasure chest! (Even a Miracle Fish needs a fresh tank, you know.)

Tom Cruise Grows a New Beard, Film at 11

Katie Holmes? Oh, give me a brrreak!

This is much silliness. I think the New York Post has it spot on. And I love the bit about the CBS News interview with Kermit the Frog about his relationship with the youthful, but less than Sirius Ms. Holmes. I can see the headlines: Kermit the Frog, up Dawson's Creek...

Just as plausible as Tom and Katie, frankly. And pretty hilarious.

Tomchik, seriously - the closet door is wide open. Get out from behind that old suitcase and come out, come out!

Below: notorious womanizer and closet Scientologist, Kermit the Frog

"Hi ho! My canisters are clear!"

Mmm... Lizard Spit!

A new drug may help Type II diabetics better control blood sugar. Called Byetta, it's derived from the saliva of Gila monsters and may prove a great boon to those taking oral medications, keeping them off injected insulin when diet and exercise doesn't work.

Emilio Lizardo uses his venomous spit for peaceful purposes.

Don't get too close, Monkey Boy!

Another note about Mental Girl's (non) wedding

14 bridesmaids and 14 groomsmen?!? 600 guests?!?

What the hell were these people thinking?!?

Personally (and maybe this is because I'm getting older) I like the thought of the tiny wedding with backyard BBQ reception. Fire up the Weber, bubba! We is gonna get hitched!

Hello, I am mental

When I first saw this woman's face on the "MISSING" posters her terrified family and fiance had tacked to trees all around Duluth, Georgia, I thought to myself, "Wow, she doesn't look completely right." Hey, guess I win the prize!

This is Jennifer Wilbanks:

Jennifer got cold feet about her upcoming wedding. Instead of calling it off, postponing it, or going for counseling, Jennifer did what any normal, 32-year-old, Muppet-ish looking American woman would. She ran away from home. She whacked off her hair and left a huge clump of it a short distance from her Georgia home. And then, she boarded a bus for Las Vegas, so she could have some alone time. She needed to think some things out.

Apparently, she'd seen one too many "what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas" tv commercials.

You know, when I need time for quiet contemplation, the first place I consider as my Fortress of Solitude is The Strip. 10,000,000 slot machines, screaming drunks, and big-budget shows - it's all white noise, right? Maybe she was making a pilgrimage to the Oracle of Vegas, Celine Dion. Who the F knows? (Suddenly, and uncharitably, I have this image of the “Zoltar Speaks” machine from the movie "Big". Except that Zoltar has Celine Dion’s head, resplendent in it’s terrifyingly over the top wedding tiara/crown/trainwreck. Rene stands next to the machine. “Bonjour, mes amis! Put your quarter in zee slot an’ Celine, she will anzer your kes-ti-ons and divine your fee-yoo-cher. S’il vous plait!”)

Meanwhile, her family is bereft. They think she has been abducted. Her fiance takes a polygraph. Is he another Scott Peterson?!? People are mobilized. There is much sobbing and candle-lighting. Eventually, a search in Georgia is called off. Jennifer's Saturday wedding is being refocused as a prayer vigil.

Our girl has reboarded a bus and headed to Albuquerque, where she calls her traumatized fiance from a pay phone. She relates a story of abduction by two men in a blue van who release her, miraculously, in New Mexico. The Albuquerque police race to retrieve her from a 7-11. Faced with genuinely concerned law enforcement personnel and a mounting stack of inconsistencies, Jennifer's lies collapse in in a handful of hours.

Cold feet. She puts her family through a week of hell over cold feet.

The family had made a joyful statement to the press as soon as her fiance let them know she'd been released by "her captors." A half an hour later, they were shoo'ing the press off their lawn and closing the blinds. Jennifer's fiance left the house a few minutes later, stone-faced and silent.

Nothing better than finding out your fiancee would rather have her family think she's dead than marry you.

Oh wait - yes there is.

Having all of America find that out, too. On Fox News.


Not surprisingly, he did not fly down to New Mexico to be reunited with her.

Dude, they should let you keep all the gifts.

The Jerks Next Door

They left their teen daughters at home alone tonight, and they had a drunken party. One that sprawled out into the street, punctuated by loud screaming from, oh, 8 p.m. until 11:45 when they realized that at least four neighbors had called the police.

"OH SH@T! THEY'VE CALLED THE COPS!" went the screams all over the street, as stumbling teens gathered beer bottles. One of my neighbors stood in the street, yelling at them. She couldn't get any of her kids to bed because these creeps were shrieking. She was probably my age, around 40, and one of the boys screamed at her "GO LIVE IN AN OLD AGE HOME, YOU BITCH!"

Sadly, the police have still not arrived and the girls knocked it off when they realized the cops had been called. One of the kids, still yelling, clearly too drunk to remember to whisper, said, "You guys are so lucky. You got all the bottles hid before the cops got here..." So, there will be no punishment. I can only hope the girls' breath still reeks of booze when the cops knock on the door. But teens are good at hiding the smell of booze. A quick t-shirt change and a mouth full of Listermint...

Were I a big guy, I would go over there tomorrow and talk to the parents, but they're such toads, it would do no good. I wonder if the parents understand that if any of those kids smacks into a tree driving home, they'll be responsible.

Man, those people stink.

Friday, April 29, 2005

Home, home on the...

Just another suburban Baltimore morning... Posted by Hello

Chemical Warfare

Back in the days of the first Gulf War, the Brits developed some nifty inventions to save their soldiers from Saddam's chemical weapons, including a material to protect against nerve gas and other toxic fumes. As happens with many military inventions, these ingenious items were adapted for the general public.

But, Merujo, you may ask - just how could these materials serve the civilian good?

Glad you asked.

General public, meet the fart guard:

You can fart all you want or need, but no one needs to smell it! God bless absorbant charcoal. This will not cover noise, however. You'll have to keep 'em SBD, folks.

Learn more about the miraculous properties of Flat-D (flatulence deodorizer) products here.

I met some Japanese golfers on my last trip back from Thailand who really, really could have used these babies. I never thought five small men could contain such a quantity of putrescent gas... I swear it was almost visible. Nine hour flight. A lifetime of farts.

Movies That Better Not Suck

Star Wars
Hitchhiker's Guide
The Brothers Grimm (Terry Gilliam!!)
The War of the Worlds
Batman Begins

Have I missed one?

I just won a free pass to see The Aristocrats at the Landmark E Street Cinemas down in Chinatown on Wednesday. I'd take the Sasquatch, but it's at 1:30 in the afternoon, and he is gainfully employed. Long lunch, Mr. Squatch?

Don't know what The Aristocrats is? Click here. You might find it funny. You might find it repulsive. We shall see what I think Wednesday afternoon...

No Soup For You!

Al Yeganeh, immortalized as "The Soup Nazi" on Seinfeld, will be expanding his soup domination of America this year, with 123 planned outlets across the country. Within seven years, the plan is to have 1,000 soup stands in malls and airports. That's pretty ambitious. This year, the invasion begins in the hometown of the Atomic Editor, Ridgewood, New Jersey. For $10, you'll get 8 oz. of soup, bread, a drink, fresh fruit and a chocolate. I think that's pretty fair.

I have to admit, I've always wondered if the soup was really that good. Then I saw this shot of the line for his goods in NYC. Holy macaroni! That must be liquid gold.

Here in DC, the food court at the Reagan Building features a low-rent rip-off called "Soup Nutsy" with an Al Yeganeh-nish angry cook as the logo. Not so good, this soup. I remember getting a bowl of minestrone, only to discover an enormous fly floating at the top when I opened it at my desk. Now, after some of the stuff I ate in Russia, this should not be a big deal, but dammit, this is DC. I brought the bowl back, but there was no one on staff in Nutsy-ville who spoke functional English. And, sadly, I do not know the Spanish word for fly. I finally had to fish it out with a spoon to show them, which pretty much reduced their line of customers to nil. They kept trying to offer me a fresh bowl from the same pot.

I finally just walked away in digust. No lunch, no money back. Arrrrg.

Not as bad as the rat in the dining area the Sasquatch and I saw at some Chinese place on K Street, but still, not pretty.

A Flair for the Dramatic

I am painfully well aware of the fact that I sometimes demonstrate a flair for the dramatic. That’s old news. It’s probably why I won a theater scholarship back in 1984 (which I then squandered on a Russian Studies degree. Go figure.) It’s also what makes me a persuasive writer and speaker. I inherited it from my father. Sometimes, when used to advantage in professional situations (like dealing with scenery-gnawing drama queens former Soviet Union), I call it "channeling my father." Sometimes, that bothers me to see him in myself. My father didn't like me very much, and he let me know it.

I also have a lot more crap that goes on in my life than the average person has to deal with, I’ll bet you dollars to donuts. It’s challenging to get through a single day without some ignorant creep treating me like garbage for my physical appearance. (See my post from April 27th to get an idea.) So, there’s more drama going on in my life than the “normal” person might expect. As a result of being denigrated a whole lot, I tend to get very impassioned when I have to defend myself. And I’m good at it. I've had a lot of experience.

Also, I'm a "Weirdness Magnet." I attract strange people and strange events. And, on occasion, I encounter celebrities. If I'm in the right mood, I will go up and interact with said celebrities. (It's kinda like a dolphin encounter... well... minus the exhorbitant fee, the handfuls of fish, and the possibility of being drowned by Flipper excitedly wrapping his penis around you...) Up until a month ago, I was a member of a Yahoo group, populated mostly with folks in the Los Angeles area. People liked to post their brushes with celebrity - the more mundane or silly, the better. I started sharing my goofy tales, and a couple of people started calling me Forrest Gump for my plethora of pointless celebrity encounters - all lame, all the time.

Lots of celebrities came through Moscow. I saw three presidents - Reagan, Bush the Elder, and, shortly before he died, Nixon. I met boxers and actors and writers and painters. Al Gore had lunch with me and some friends one day - he took notes on our lives as contractors at the embassy. He scored mucho bonus points with me for that. My friends and I "danced" to heavy metal with Tipper Gore (and her good sense of humor) in the embassy bar.

Recently, some unhappy stranger on this Yahoo group decided to suggest that I was being less than truthful based upon my silly stories of brushes with B-, C-, and D-level fame. It’s all true, let me assure you - totally dumb stuff and totally verifiable, with witnesses and everything. And for Pete's sake, who really gives a flying whoopdee-doo if I used to work for Fred “Gopher from The Love Boat” Grandy or that I once had Easter brunch in Moscow with a still-drunk-from-the-night-before Hollywood has-been? BFD, man. But, it makes for entertaining stories in the right circles. (And the stories I told there were the tip of the iceberg, I tell ya. I hadn’t even gotten to being locked in the refrigerator with the corpse and the Passover seder food at the Moscow airport or my telephonic lovefest with Robert F’ing Mondavi… By the way, that was his choice of middle name, not mine.)

I think what bugged me most was that this individual - someone whose real name I'll never know - decided to be underhanded and call me a liar only once I was gone from the group. I wasn’t around to defend myself, so she was able to conjure up a coward’s courage. Lame, frankly, and I think she thought she was being very witty and catty, the strategy of choice for a lot of insecure folks online. In my book, unless you are a drag queen - and are witty and catty naturally on a cellular level, it’s a fairly transparent – and fairly annoying – strategy. A friend forwarded me the message about my supposed lack of veracity. Why, exactly, I don’t know, but there you have it. I guess he felt I needed to know what was being written about me in my absence.

So, I defended myself to this person - and most vigorously, too. I did it privately and directly and I didn't spare the words or the feelings. When my dander is up, I will admit, I can swear like a drunken stevedore on payday. I gave her witnesses by name and even offered to fax her some documentation on some of my encounters (it’s amazing what people will put in job reference letters...) She didn’t investigate further. That would have required an acknowledgement that I wasn’t fibbing about my silly tales.


Instead of taking me up on my offer, the snarkcritter opted to forward me a private message she received from a friend of mine on the group - a friend I’ve known for several years, but have only met twice in person. It was from several months ago and made light of my “flair for the dramatic.” I’m sure she never expected me to see it. It was not particularly complimentary.

But once you put words out in the ether, they’re there. You can't snatch them back once you hit "enter." In a split second, you’ve handed over your words, your thoughts to someone else who may use them as a weapon or an olive branch. The snarkcritter used my friend's words as a weapon, but she didn’t just hit me. She hit a friendship – a tenuous one, for sure, held together in the ether – and that friendship is damaged now. And, in truth, I have bigger fish to fry these days than trying to suss out the psychology of people I guess I don’t really know. It's challenging enough to attempt that psychic feat with my family most of the time... I gave up on trying to prove the truth with the snarkette, for it really doesn't matter in the end. And, honestly, I haven't had a thing to say to my old Internet friend since then. I haven't asked her why she dissed me. I'm not sure I even need to know.

I harp sometimes about the brutal murder of civility, and I think the Internet is a tool of that particular felony. People can hide in anonymous covers of cruelty or dismiss people as lessers without a single deep thought of the consequences. A few years ago, I thought it wasn't a problem - the Internet is like a cocktail party! - you can stroll, chat, ignore, engage, gossip. But it seems less cute when you're a bit older. I don't like how casually people turn mean to strangers or that sociopathic children haunt chat rooms and gaming sessions, spouting hate speech and the frustration of the tiny mind. All without consequences. As far as they know. As far as they care.

I guess my original point was, once words leave your hands, your mouth, your computer… well, they’re no longer just yours and they can and do affect other people. They can educate and illuminate and entertain and charm and inflame and anger and incense. But they also can be manipulated, misinterpreted, and used against you like a scalpel or a hammer, depending on the minds reached. If I didn’t want to share my words, I wouldn’t have this blog, I suppose. (Although there are only a handful of people reading it, in truth. It’s a writing tool and an exercise in vanity, more or less.) But I understand that there can be consequences. I wish more people felt the same way.

God, I feel like the last five minutes of an Afterschool Special.

One more demon exorcised. If only this worked on kitchen mice.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Getting Your C-Legs

Ever seen a C-Leg? It's a state-of-the-art prosthetic limb, run with a microprocessor. It's the leg of choice for amputee soldiers coming home from Iraq. I don't even want to think about how large the DoD budget line is for C-Legs. I'm sure it's depressing as hell. Walter Reed is far too full of young men and women being fitted for these things. B.D. in "Doonesbury" got a C-Leg. The U.S. Army Medical Museum has original Doonesbury strips that Gary Trudeau donated when he came to visit soldiers recuperating at the facility.

I'm at Mayorga Coffee right now, doing the job hunt thing, courtesy of their free wi-fi. A young man sat down at the table next to me a few minutes ago. He's fidgeting with his latte and trying to read the newspaper, but he keeps setting it down. He's clearly distracted by something unseen. The cafe is quiet today, and most of the tables are empty. He's handsome, with a short military hair cut and chiseled features. He's wearing a green t-shirt, baggy khaki shorts, and a nice new pair of Nikes. One athletic leg taps the floor in time to the Al Green track playing in the background. The other leg is still. It's all shining metal and bright blue plastic. It's a C-Leg. And I'm willing to bet that it's a "gift" from Uncle Sam. Yes, sirree, bub. Join the army, see the world, kill some people at the pleasure of the U.S. prez-ee-dent, and come home missing a limb... or two... or in a pine box.

Part of me wants to go over and talk to this guy. He seems so restless. I want to ask him about his experiences. I want to ask him about his leg. But I have no idea what the etiquette is. I'm not a journalist. I have no credentials or reason to bother him, other than curiosity, sympathy, and a desire to let him tell his story. Finally, his cell phone rings. He has a brief, heated sotto voce exchange with someone and smacks the phone down to the table. His frustration radiates down his remaining leg into his tapping foot. He sighs, pulls himself up from his seat and awkwardly hobbles to the door. The leg is still new to him, clearly, and it hurts. Lexus of limbs, maybe. But it's not the real thing.

A van pulls up outside. Government plates. Another young man with hair high and tight sits behind the wheel. The amputee angles himself painfully in the passenger seat and they're gone. Back to Bethesda Naval Medical, I suppose.

I wonder if the trip to the coffee shop was just a try at something normal. Something everyone does. Just sit in a coffee shop, with a smiling young woman serving you a cup. Not care-package coffee warmed in a battered stainless steel coffee press on the engine block of an Abrams while you wait to be maimed or die or kill someone. No pain. No fear.

Just coffee.

A Very Special Request

From me to the Atomic Editor:

BEHOLD the glory of the terrible Cosby Cat!!!

I cannot explain it (and I'm loathe to try), yet I know that, right now, 1,000 miles away, there is a very, very smart man looking at this and laughing himself utterly, horribly sick.

And my thanks to Argo, the Prince of Hamncheez for digging through his bizarre photo archive for me late on a Wednesday night! Argo, you rock!

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Delo v svyazi

It's all in the connections. It's who you know.

The wife of one of the undersecretaries was at the networking event tonight. Specifically, her husband is the honcho for the division where my old office resides. It was a great struggle to not tell her about the "axe issue" and just let her know my thoughts on what a giant gaping a-hole my old office director is. But, I didn't. I was a good kid, even if I didn't want to play nice.

I was massively out of place at this event. I was one of only two people not dressed in a navy blue or black suit (lots of pinstripes - yeesh.) I immediately felt this was the wrong event for me. There were tables for people interested in legal careers, a government table (no thanks), and a table for women interested in accounting and such. Ugh. I called the Sasquatch and told him what a goat rope this had turned out to be. As I was quietly speaking to him on my cellphone in lobby outside this small gathering, two young, smartly dressed women took a peek at me from the conference room - one of them pointed at me and the other made a pig snout gesture. I was blown away.

There's a special place in hell for idiots like that.

At that point, I had decided to leave. But, then I realized, I wanted my $20 worth out of this crap. I stood in line for half an hour to have my resume analyzed. Two women from the Elliott School of International Studies were providing in-depth commentary and advice to job seekers, with a red pen in hand. When I got up to them, though, they told me my resume was the best looking one they'd seen all night. This is thanks to the Sasquatch, and his tremendous design talent (thanks, Mr. Squatch.) I asked if a functional resume would work better for me, but they really seemed to like what I already had. Now, if it would only get me an actual job. Also, they told me I should have followed up with e-mail questions to each of the people with whom I interviewed at the last job. Apparently, that's becoming de rigeur now in DC. I still think it's crap, but that's just me.

When I stopped to pick up a can of diet Pepsi for the road home, I saw pointy and pig snout again, staring at me and smirking. I smiled and gave them the finger as I pushed my glasses up my nose. One of them turned tail immediately and took her friend with her. Losers. I could clearly see how these two were in junior high because they hadn't changed a bit. Loo-sers.

Stuff like that reminds me of "Fried Green Tomatoes" when the two obnoxious young chicks steal the parking space from Kathy Bates' character, Evelyn:

Evelyn: Hey! I was waiting for that spot!

Girl 1: Face it lady, we're younger and faster!

[Evelyn rear-ends the other car six times.]

Girl 1: What are you DOING?

Girl 2: Are you CRAZY?

Evelyn: Face it, I'm older and I have more insurance.

I left and drove back to Maryland. En route home, I recalled a conversation with I'd had with the Atomic Editor last night, about the dearth of foods that are truly kosher for Passover. AE and his spouse had just returned to their Midwestern Batcave after a down home southern Passover in Georgia. Rather cruelly, I, the lapsed Catholic, taunted him with the thought of an utterly unkosher, but delicious meal at a pancake house, complete with tasty pork products.

Faced with the possibility of opening a can of soup at home for dinner (no cooking around mousies, thanks), I drove up the Pike to IHOP (aka the Prison IHOP - that requires it's own story, and the Sasquatch would tell it well) and supped there, in a virtually empty restaurant. My server's name, by the way, was Danish. Pronounced exactly as you would imagine. He himself was not Danish. More like Sub-continentalish. I admit I wondered if the other section was being served by Cruller, or, perhaps, Bear Claw.

But, I digress...

So, Mr. Atomic Editor, in your honor, Shiksa Girl here had a Rooty Tooty Fresh 'n' Fruity meal: two eggs over easy, two links of pork sausage, two strips of bacon (holy crap, was that tasty!), and two buttermilk pancakes, covered in strawberries. Oh, and a glass of milk. Wish you could have been there. ;-)

And then I ran for the car to take my drugs to counteract the carbohydrate-laden pancakes.

But, damn, it sure beat Campbell's low-sodium broccoli and cheese soup to hell and gone.

And now, to bed.

(Dys)functional Resume

I'm trying to create a functional resume for myself today. One of my biggest problems is that I have no personal economy of words. I like all them there words. They's my friends.

I need to go somewhere else to do this. If I stay at the apartment, I will end up watching tv. I think the coffee shop calls.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Will Write for Food

It's been six weeks of unemployment. I feel like I'm losing ground. In the past few days, I've received a flurry of rejection letters, and that's very disheartening. It would be one thing were I in my early 20's and had a cornucopia of choices ahead, but that's not the case.

Because I do not have a family of my own (and no pets, unless you uncharitably count the kitchen mice), it's important to me that this next job be something fulfilling. Something that I won't hate and won't make me very sad to be merely alive and just slogging along on my own personal Bataan Death March.

I don't think some of my family and friends understand this. They just want me to find A job. I don't think they understand that hearing about their lives and homes and kids and spouses is not a replacement for those missing elements in my own life. And I don't think they have a firm grasp on the skills and abilities I have - and more importantly - on the ones I don't have . I'm a good writer, and, honestly, I would like to be writing for a living. Regrettably, I have nothing published and no real editing experience, which is usually part and parcel of writing jobs available in this area. Plus, people who read my stuff tell me I am in desperate need of an editor, myself, so I don't think I have particularly shining skills in that area...

I'm living off of credit now, and I feel very bad when I leave the apartment to get food (try getting excited about making a meal in a room with rodents) or go to water aerobics because gas is so expensive. And I feel that I'm being self-indulgent just writing this entry considering the state of the world.

I paid $20 to attend a networking meeting tomorrow evening in downtown DC. It's sponsored by Women In International Trade (WIIT). There will be reps there from the the federal agency where I previously toiled. I sincerely hope none of the women who caused me so much misery at Job X will be there. I still have to fight the urge to spit on them or ream them out (which would feel great, but most likely would be counterproductive at a networking event...)

I'm trying to figure out how low I can go on salary and still afford rent. I think I'm looking at a dramatic reduction in my lifestyle. I never figured I would be downwardly mobile at this point in my life, but that looks like the path I'm taking. It's very frustrating. I see my friends excel and make progress, and I'm not even treading water anymore.

Foreign Accent Syndrome

How's this for a bizarre medical condition?

It may be frustrating, but at least she's better off than the Norwegian woman mentioned in the closing paragraphs. Damn. Nothing like waking up sounding like the enemy... Now, of course, I wonder what a German accent sounds like in Norwegian.

I've been told that, when I attempt to speak any words in Spanish, my Russian overcomes it, and I sound like "a Cuban military advisor." Can't help it. 20 years of speaking Russian has screwed with my synapses.

Essential Oils as Weapon of Choice

mentha peperita

Peppermint. Apparently, rodents hate peppermint. Amen, mah bruthas and sistahs!

I procured a vial of pure peppermint essential oil today. I went to the Vitamin Shoppe, where the clerk spoke to all the customers in a near-reverential whisper. It seemed out of place as he sold an enormous bucket of "Mega Bulk-U-Up" to a stringbean teenager in a black Metallica t-shirt. The clerk directed me to their small stock of essential oils, and, of course, the only one they were missing was peppermint. I did buy a box of stevia before I left. I've never used it before, but I've heard really good stuff about it as a sugar replacement. We shall see.

I ended up back at M.O.M. - My Organic Market, which had been out of peppermint oil the previous week. This time, however, they had it. $8 for a tiny vial. It's like crack, apparently. The bottle notes that, as a pick-me-up, you should open the bottle below your nostrils and take a deep breath. Holy crapito, Batman! That's some powerful stink! A good stink, but a stink, nonetheless.

I don't know if you've ever taken a whiff of pure peppermint. It's not exactly the McCormick spices extract version. It's earthier and richer. I liked it, but I can see where rodentia might take offense. I have to mix it in a spray bottle with a small amount of water and then go to town on the kitchen. Hopefully, it will keep the critters away.

There's a whole cottage industry on making peppermint mouse repellent, believe it or not. (Hey, if there's a market for car testicles, there's a market for homemade mouse ass-kicker.) We shall see if it works...

Monday, April 25, 2005


Ever just visit random blogs and suddenly find yourself in territory so alien it freaks you out? I just did.

I have no intention of offering a URL for this freakfest. Let's just say our esteemed writer is a perky all-American 20-something who likes to post cute kitty pictures, use lots of smileys, and enjoys drafting massively inflammatory racist and homophobic rants.

I have to admit, I kept going back to the cute, fresh-scrubbed, rosy-cheeked 23-year-old face on her profile and tried to match that with the hatefilled bile she spits out.

Scary. Really. Damn. Scary.

In the middle of her most recent hatefest, she stops to point out a prophecy that Benedict XVI will be the next to last pope, and that she's really stoked about meeting Jesus soon. Yay, Jesus!

I'm adding her to my list of "people I will not be surprised to see on America's Most Wanted someday."

Hey, chiquita - I bet Jesus is really stoked about meeting you, too. He may have some fascinating thoughts on decency and equality to share with you.

Genital Insecurity

I've just seen something that takes the concept of the "Penismobile" to a whole new level.

Picture this: new, silver Mercedes "sports coupe" style car, DC vanity plates, and testicles.

Yep. Testicles. Big, black testicles.

This car had a scrotum hanging from the back end, swinging in the wind, with a big pair nestled inside. As I was parked directly behind the "boys", I could not help but sit and stare for a while. Were they latex or leather? How does one affix a scrotum to a car?

This moment reminds me of something I heard Viggo Mortensen say in some interview once: "Always carry a camera with you. You never know what you might see." Not that I cling to every word of the wisdom of Viggo Mortensen (and it's not like it's advice that hasn't been given out for years by moms and insurance claims adjusters), but he's got something there. I have to start carrying the damn Nikon with me when I go out.

I am pleased to say that it was very easy to find car testicles via Google. I typed in "testicles for your car" et voilĂ !

Ladies and gentlemen, meet Bumper Nuts.

Aluminum. Huh. Go figure. (And, if you have suffered some sort of self-inflicted brain injury and want to buy a set, pass on the fleshtone ones, please. They're pretty nasty.)

Bring on the Flying Monkeys

This disappoints me. He deserves better than crappy venues, competing with cafe and kitchen noises. Now, I'm even more glad we made the trek to Philly. Even if Mapquest is the Evil Dead.

Florida: What's Your Damage, Yo?

Between the tasered children, the handcuffed children, the arrested childen, and this atrocity, I'm starting to think of Disneyworld as merely a ruse, a giant venus flytrap, to get kids down to JebBushLand before they are consumed whole and their bones spit out into souvenir shops.

I loved my trip to Key West - a two day fevered drive from DC, spurred by a desire to crush grief and simply forget the nightmare of the months before - but the Keys ain't Florida. It's something quite different. Leave the mainland, leave the insanity.

As for the rest of the state, I think eventually it's going to be sucked into the enormous Hellmouth on which it clearly stands.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Art, Memory, and Regret

I have a few paintings at home. They were all purchased in Russia (well, some of them in the Soviet Union, if you want to be technical.) This is the heart of my favorite painting. It's untitled, and it was painted by a young woman - an art student from Azerbaijan. I found it in a tiny khudozhestvenniy salon in Moscow, on a side street off the Arbat, close to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, behind what is now a McDonald's. (Back then, it was a grocery store with a really good bakery.)

I used to go to that salon all the time. It felt more like a museum than a store, and the patrons were always silent and reverential as they looked over the goods. I was young and living a tax-free lifestyle back then. It was wild to be flush with money and be able to point to an exquisite object and say, "I'll take that, please." Those days are long gone, I can tell you.

I remember having to drill through the concrete wall in my living room to anchor a hook for this painting. My brother brought his old Black and Decker drill to me from Germany on one of the Lufthansa flights he worked between Frankfurt and Moscow. (He also made me blackout curtains to shade my bedroom from the endless Russian summer sun.)

When time came for me to leave Moscow - something I was glad for, leaving a lot of urban instability and an unwelcome French "houseguest" behind - the embassy had a German moving company collect my things. I wasn't worried about getting my art and carpets out of the country. I was, after all, the customs expeditor. The Russian Customs agents I knew so well didn't even inspect my personal effects. They let me close the truck myself, twisting wires and pressing a Russian seal into a lead pellet.

However, shortly after my effects were packed and shipped to a warehouse in Germany, I uncovered criminal activity on the part of the shipping company. My discovery cost them their lucrative contract with our embassy, and, I'm sure, angered more than a few people in Germany.

They had their revenge on me, though. When my boxes arrived in the United States, some of my stuff was outright missing, including my multisystem VCR and my dual voltage boombox. My multisystem tv appeared to have been lifted out of the box and dropped from a decent height and then reboxed, utterly ruined. Small cartons of highly recognizable German animal crackers had been opened and dumped in the box of textiles, which showed damage by warehouse rodents. My crate of paintings had been wrenched open and drenched with cans of German-labeled Pepsi; the sticky, empty cans were left inside. It was devastating. I felt violated, and I knew it was a giant fuck you from the movers to me.

This painting suffered from the Pepsi attack. Brownish pools of cola had seeped through the paper protecting the canvas, leaving dark patches throughout. Some patches faded and others didn't. You'll see one washing across the yellow wrist of the musician on the left and another below it, a bit more to the left. I felt especially bad that this painting, which spoke to me in its soft autumnal colors and simple images, took the brunt of the vengence. And yet, even damaged, I felt it's beauty was not diminished.

I do not have a sophisticated eye for art. I never have. Not to sound like a wretched cliché, but I simply know what I like. After trying to clean the stains off, I put the painting up over the fireplace in my mother's livingroom, so I could see it and be reminded of my independence, even as I sat in my old family home, unemployed and directionless after nearly five years abroad.

My mother's vision was almost gone by this point, yet she could see the basic outlines in the painting and she understood how beautiful it was to me. When I was finally ready to leave, moving a thousand miles away from her for the last time, she asked me to leave the painting with her. I think I may have said something callous, not meaning to, noting that she couldn't really see it. And, I took the painting with me. In retrospect, I think she wanted to have something that was meaningful to me stay with her, as a connection. I think it made her happy. I wonder now how I could have been so mean and obtuse back then.

I regret not leaving the painting with her. Her final years were mostly painful and dark, and I regret not being there more for her. That's a deep, unsettling feeling that never leaves me. I regret that I was selfish and didn't leave her this simple, stained canvas. She could have enjoyed it for the mere handful of years she was yet granted. And I could have then brought it home to DC, knowing how much it had pleased her to have it.

Now, the painting is above the tv in my living room. I live in a small apartment that doesn't lend itself to the display of art. I have odd bits and pieces all over my walls - some of it represents the music I love, some of it, my travels. But the canvas painted by a nameless art student is the piece I love most.

I wish I could carry it back a dozen years and give it to my mom. I really do.

So true.

From Posted by Hello

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Philadelphia Story

Yesterday, the Sasquatch and I drove to Philly to hear one of our favorite musicians, Michael Penn. (We also wanted to see the Mutter Museum, a trippy place with a retro feel reminiscent of a wacky old professor's closet of curios. I imagine the Sasquatch will be blogging about that, and he can do greater justice to the mysteries of the museum than I can.) DC to Philly should take, more or less, two - two and a half hours, tops. We aimed to leave the DC burbs, where we both live, around 9:30 in the morning.

Well, scratch that.

Thanks to rainy weather, the already wretched DC rush hour was considerably extended. Despite living only three miles from the Sasquatch, it took me about 40 minutes to reach him (the weather problem was complicated by some sort of "police action" en route, with multiple cars on scene and officers tearing apart some suspect minivan.) By the time I reached the lair of the Sasquatch, it was nearly 10 a.m. and we were ravenous, which necessitated a stop at Mickey D's. Not the healthiest of breakfasts, but we figured it would hold us until a good lunch in Philly.

Yeah. Right.

I'll cut to the chase. Between my need to stop and buy a new pair of socks, thanks to an untimely laundry shrinkage issue (that I didn't notice, oddly, until I'd already left home), the continuing rain, insane amounts of stop-and-start I-95 traffic, and outrageously bad directions from Mapquest that appear to have been divined by a crack-addled ferret, we didn't get into Philly until 3 p.m. What a nightmare!!

By the time we reached downtown, via an eyeopening trek through urban decay, I was working on a massive blood sugar low and we were both pretty hungry. But we wanted to see the dang museum, and we'd made it this far. The Sasquatch was willing to forgo the museum, but generations of pigheaded Irish ancestors wouldn't let me do that. We were there, dammit. We were going. (Actually, I was willing to wait in the car while he visited the museum, if need be, but he noted that the point of this was sharing the experience.)

Parking near the Mutter Museum, once we found it, was problematic. I ended up having a bit of a meltdown (the Sasquatch might upgrade the level of that meltdown to "semi-toxic" from his perspective, poor guy) and he paid $23 for parking. TWENTY-THREE DOLLARS FOR AN HOUR AND A HALF!! City of Brotherly Love, my ass! It makes DC parking look incredibly cheap at $14 for the day. A Twix and a Snickers shared with the bigfoot in the buttondown improved my view of the world, but, in order to see the museum before it closed at 5, we couldn't stop to get any real nutritive lunch. My dumb arthritic back was killing me and even with the short walk to the museum, I was starting to think that death was an okay option.

Despite the logistical hangups, the museum was very, very cool and very, very bizarre. Like I said, the Sasquatch will surely blog a entry about the wonders of the Mutter, but let's just say I think I've seen enough diseased penises and gangrenous limbs for this year. Yes, indeedy, I bagged my limit, Mr. Ranger sir!

At 5, we left Chang & Eng's conjoined livers, and, after popping a few ibuprofen, we headed for The Point in Bryn Mawr, to hear the marvelous Michael Penn. According to Mapquest, it's 8.5 miles from the museum to The Point. Long story short: I hate Philly traffic worse than I hate DC traffic. We arrived at The Point at 6:30.

If you haven't been to The Point and you live near Philly, let me recommend going to hear some music there. What an awesome little place! First off, I'm a freak for the American Arts & Crafts movement, and, between the Dard Hunter-esque font used on their storefront to the Arts & Crafts sconces by the stage and the handful of Mission style chairs scattered amongst the tables, I was feeling pretty happy from a design standpoint. (I'm pathetic, you know - I think I'm the only straight woman in America who's interested in Brad Pitt for his original Craftsman bungalow.) But more happiness was to come.

At the recommendation of a fellow PennList'er, I had mailed a request to The Point for reserved seating. For $10 a head, you can make sure you have a seat for the festivities - and, even better - the money is returned to you in the form of a food voucher (good thing, as I believe I was prepared to chew on The Sasquatch's leg by this point, and he, mine.) I believe I asked for "the best seating for two you have at the time you receive this money order."

Well, I think we did okay.

The friendly woman at the door handed me an envelope with our vouchers and pointed to a cluster of small tables near the stage. (I realized on the way home, she didn't ask me for ID to collect our voucher/tickets - wow, that's now some faith in the customers!) As we wound our way toward our table, I couldn't hold back my amazement. We were literally as close to the stage as you could possibly be. I believe the Sasquatch said, "If we were any closer, he'd be breathing on us." Too damn cool!!

We were seated next to two folks from the PennList - a married couple who seemed very cool and whose posts I enjoy reading. (I was glad to meet someone else who'd witnessed Elvis Costello's "Spinning Songbook" tour!) I think they were pretty darn pleased with the vantage point, too. Right behind us was the extremely nice guy who runs the PennList and does a lot of work on Michael's behalf. He was the best-dressed man in the room and it was really great to finally put a face to the name and the Internet "voice." I also introduced myself to the woman who runs Aimee Mann's mailing list. (Aimee is Michael Penn's wife.) She, too, was very nice - and she's the kind soul who told the list about the reserved seating option. I owe her dinner somewhere!

We ate our paninis while Jim Boggia, a very talented singer-songwriter, played a few songs. We felt guilty dining while he performed. The Sasquatch politely ate between songs - I have to admit to being less couth. Before Boggia began, we both commented to him that we felt bad, eating while he was performing. He laughed and pointed to a stool with an iced chai and a styrofoam cup of salad. "It's okay, " he said, "I have table service." Nice guy. He's got good musical sensibilities - and his interpretation of "Live and Let Die" gave the whole room a smile. It's rare for me to enjoy an opening act as much as I enjoyed his set. (The Beautiful South opening for the Barenaked Ladies and They Might Be Giants opening for themselves are two of the only other occasions that come to mind.) I've been listening to Boggia's stuff for the past month, and I think I'll buy his new cd when I have an income again.

A few minutes after Boggia left the stage, Michael Penn came out and played an absolutely fantastic set of songs both old and new. He's talented, he's funny, and, damn, he was in fine voice. I've never before been to a gig where I was basically sitting right next to the performer. I didn't even want to whisper anything to the Sasquatch between songs because I was afraid of derailing MP's train of thought. It was the most respectful audience I've ever encountered at a gig, too. I think the people there were all such fans and knew how rare it was to have a chance to hear him live, no one wanted to screw with a good thing.

I took a few photos at the gig. There was a polite request for no flash photography, so these guys have a sepia quality to them (actually, sepia is pretty appropriate for MP - it's very "cover of Resigned-ish"). I've never taken indoor pics w/o the flash on this camera, so this was an experiment. (Also, I'm not the world's best photographer, so chalk up the lameness to my lack of skill.)

The Sasquatch enjoys a fine creme soda at The Point. Note that he has streams of track lighting eminating from his head, like a space age saint on an Orthodox icon. Simply amazing.

This is Jim Boggia. And his iced chocolate chai. Both are good. Jim's pic is clearer than those of MP. The sun (what sun there was with the drizzle) was still out and the lighting was generally brighter than for our headliner.

Michael Penn is a compulsive tuner. He described himself as having a "co-dependent relationship with tuning." Hey, no problem here! The music was brilliant, and if constant tuning and fiddling is the key, I'm all for it! Sorry for the diet Pepsi lid in the foreground. This should show you just how close we were, though. (And, hey - I got a free iTunes song on that bottlecap - I'm using it to get a Jim Boggia track today.)

Looks like he's doing "Eentsy Weentsy Spider", doesn't it? He's not, though. I think he's making a wee dig at George Dubya. Something about people "who think they can talk to god." Despite Michael believing he's not good at banter between songs, he was pretty dang good. And he told a story of his television obsession, "The Dog Whisperer" on the National Geographic Channel. I have to check this out after his fairly hilarious story about it (and his theory about applying subtle, but effective canine discipline to the U.S. president.)

I like the fact that this is a little blurry. It's kinda impressionistic. Yeah, that's the ticket. It's not bad photography, it's art!

Here he is, playing one of my all time favorite songs, "Me Around." Oh yeah, most excellent. Wait. I think he's playing "Me Around." Then again, it might have been "High Time." Damn. Doesn't matter. It was all fantastic. He deserves much more attention that he's received. Don't own any of his music? For shame! Go and buy some right now!!

Yep, the show was great. It made dealing with all the traffic and me losing my cool all worth it. We took an alternate route home, down a less-traveled and beautifully clear road. My feet were swollen and I was walking like I was 80 by the time we hit DC, but it didn't matter. I had a good day with my bud and we came as close as we are ever likely to having our own private concert by one of the finest and most underrated musicians around.

I learned a few things, too:

1. Always check that your socks are big enough for your feet before you leave the house.
2. If you have blood sugar problems, stop for lunch at lunchtime, even if you have not reached your travel objective. Otherwise, you may turn into an emotionally overwrought rabid weasel.
3. When behind the wheel of your car, don't start the lines to a classic rhyming poem in the presence of the Sasquatch. It will likely get finished with a new and hilariously pornographic ending that might make you drive off the road.
4. If your abdomen is hideously distended and you doctor tells you not to worry about it, see another doctor, asap. (Ask the Sasquatch about the mega colon at the museum. That's all I'm sayin'...)
5. Never, ever trust Mapquest. It's evil. Potentially Satanic.
6. Know your Fender guitar picks. Apparently, the celluloid ones start to serrate after a while.

I slept until noon today. I feel like an utter slug, but a fairly contented slug.

Friday, April 22, 2005


Well, the theme of rodentia stays with me, it seems. I ran to 7-11 briefly tonight, and, as I stepped out of the car, this enormous rat blazed out from under my door, causing me to nearly fall flat on my face in the parking lot. This was housecat-sized, dammit. And it stopped to shriek at me, like it was all pissed off at me.

Actually, it probably was all pissed off at me.

There were three very upscale teenage boys standing nearby, trying to convince people to buy them smokes. They looked very Georgetown Prep, and they had a Volvo stationwagon with the windows down, pouring out some nameless teen angst pop tuneage.

I pointed out the rat and they moved like they were on fire. Georgetown Prep track team.

There's a documentary about the vast rat population in DC. I think it's simply called something like "Rats." There's a terrifying number of rats in this area. Really terrifying. I heard once that, in Lafayette Park, across from the White House, there are 17 rats for each person who walks through the park on any given day.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Philly Bound!

Tomorrow, it's a day away from DC, thank you Jeeezus.

I can't tell you how much I'm looking forward to this little trip. I'm hoping a little travel will not only broaden the mind, but improve my perspective on the world. Lunch may be the traditional Philly cheesesteak "wit' wiz" (meaning, with onions and cheese whiz, apparently) or a trip to an Uzbek place in a strip mall in the Russian neighborhood. God, I would kill for some plov right now.

There's a great Uzbek place in L.A. - I went there with my friend Rachel and a couple of colleagues maybe three years back. It was great. The food kicked ass. I think we would have had music, too, but they'd had an Uzbek Jewish funeral party in right before us, and it just wasn't the right vibe for wild and crazy Central Asian dance music.

If you're in L.A. and want some good Uzbek eats, go to Uzbekistan - it's in a tiny strip mall (7077 Sunset Boulevard -by Sunset and LaBrea), but it still rocks. We feasted on all sorts of stuff that Rachel and I hadn't eaten in ages. We took our first trip to Uzbekistan together back in 1989, and we had a great time. That's the trip when some guy tried to buy me from Rachel, no joke. I figured they would have gone for her, California girl with long blonde hair, but no - they wanted the dumpy fat chick with the dark, shaggy head. At least we didn't get arrested - that would have to wait for the Uzbek trip with Katherine a year later.

Sigh. Now I really want some plov. Yum.

You want to be in reality tv? You get what you deserve.

Wow, these people are really screwing with reality tv wannabes out in L.A. It's cruel. I love it.

Here, Kitty Kitty

When I first saw the photograph accompanying this article, I thought it was actually Jocelyne Wildenstein gone totally mad. But, instead, it is another totally insane person. Try to imagine staff meetings at that software company... How long can you keep a $100K+ programming job when you have fur and whiskers grafted to your body?

Then again, it's California. Go figure.

Clowns to the Left of Me, Jokers to the Right... I am, stuck in the middle with you.

Stealers Wheel kicked ass, albeit briefly. I loved "Stuck in the Middle with You" before it became fodder for a Quentin Tarantino film. Gerry Rafferty was the lead vocalist and guitarist for Stealers Wheel before going solo. I am a Gerry Rafferty fan - I fell in love with his first major solo effort "City to City" when I heard it on one of those late Sunday night "we play a whole lp for ya" radio shows back in 1978. (Damn, that was seventh grade - yikes!) Surely you remember Gerry "Baker Street" Rafferty? "City to City" is a great album. Yes, I said ALBUM. I still own it on vinyl. I know every song on that lp sooo well.

Some of my musical tastes, I have come to realize, match those of a Midwestern man pushing 50. Alan Parsons Project, Gerry Rafferty, all those 70's greatest hits cds I secretly own and cherish... It's all good. You know, I just realized that I discovered Alan Parsons Project in 1980 through that same "we play a whole lp for ya" radio show. It was "The Turn of Friendly Card" which is one of those great 'n' goofy progressive rock concept albums. Sooo late 70's.

I went to see the Alan Parsons Project with the Sasquatch a couple of years ago in an odd suburban club outside of Baltimore. As we stood in line outside the club, we realized we were younger than most of the folks there by about a decade. Several people wore homemade Alan Parsons Project fan t-shirts. Genuine eyesores, but clearly from the heart. We overhead snippets of conversation from the Uber-fans about their undying love for All Things APP. When we finally got inside the club, the Sasquatch and I grabbed two of the only seats available in the whole space, and we spent the evening hugging a wall near the bar.

A small table stretched out nearby, covered in a big, smelly Maryland crab feast. 8 or 9 people were chowing down on crabs and drinking beer. Don't know if you've ever eaten crabs, particularly Maryland-style covered in Old Bay seasoning, but take it from me - it's messy and smelly. One of the seafood chowhounds was a bearded, portly man in a polo shirt, shorts, and old boat shoes. "Dude," I said to the Sasquatch, "that's Alan Parsons." The Sasquatch did not believe me. The Uber-fans had passed the feasting group without a second glance. Again I asserted that the crabman was, indeed, Alan Parsons. For a brief moment, I thought that I maybe was totally wrong, but then the guy got up, wiped his hands on his shorts, strolled to the stage and started playing the synthesizer. Oh yeah, it was Alan Parsons. Crusty Old Bay fingers crankin' out some first-class synth rock opera "I've got a lot of Tolkien on my shelves" kick ass tuneage.

It was great. I thought the Uber-fans were going to crap themselves that they'd been milling around Parsons before the show and yet had no idea what the man looked like, apparently. D'oh!

Oh wait - I forgot the whole reason I started this post (ramble, ramble.) I just heard an abominable rip-off of "Stuck in the Middle with You" used to advertise "Malcolm in the Middle" in syndication. It was so painful, I had to bitch about it. Plus, when you have a perfectly good theme song by They Might Be Giants, why do you need to torture an old classic?!?!

Okay, gotta get some sleep. It's still hot in here, but thank god, it's cooling down tomorrow. Yee-haw!

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

20% Yankee and 5% Dixie?!?

Frankly, I was appalled at my score, noting me as 0% Midwestern, especially after 20 years in Illinois. Then again, I guess my linguistic base is New Jersey (but don't tell anyone, ok?)

So, what kind of American English do you speak?

Your Linguistic Profile:

65% General American English
20% Yankee
10% Upper Midwestern
5% Dixie
0% Midwestern

Portrait of the Artist as a Miserable Government Worker

Me at my former place of employment. May I never have to wear a guv'ment ID ever again! Note the mannish digital Timex watch juxtaposed with the floral doodad t-shirt and lavender sweater jacket. I am fashion confused, for sure. I've never noticed before just how huge my hands are. Yikes! Posted by Hello

Hotter Than Hades

It's 85 degrees outside right now. If you're at the beach or in an air-conditioned coffee bar (may I recommend, by the way, Mayorga Coffee), it's just peachy keen. But, if you're in a small, overstuffed apartment where the A/C doesn't get turned on until mid-May, it's HELL ON EARTH.

This is the time of year that helps me truly understand equatorial and Mediterranean siesta cultures and why corseted Southern women used to do nothing but swoon on the veranda, drinking their mint juleps. Ugh.

A friend has just suggested that I hie myself away to Mayorga Coffee and retreat into surely air conditioned and heavily caffeinated bliss. I think I may just do that. I've been trying to conserve money by not going to the $3.50 coffee place, but it's just too damn hot in here. Time to pack up the laptop and go. Free WiFi, good iced coffee, and time to consider my professional fate.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

That Soul-Sucking Job Hunt

I seem to have hit a dry spell. There are 8 gazillion jobs out there, but, apparently, none for which I am skilled and appropriate. I'm either undereducated or overqualified, depending on the position. This stinks. It's evil.

So, to cleanse my brain of the thought that I'll never have a job again, I've stopped briefly to hit the "next blog" button a few times on Blogspot. There are a LOT of blogs here in Spanish and Italian. I just came upon a pocket of Norwegian ones. Useless to me, but fun, I'm sure, for the Sasquatch if he wants to know whazzup with the Norsk teen scene.

I think my favorite today, though, is the cheerfully pink and floral one from the perky teen in South Carolina who just wanted "to give a big shout out to the new pope! Rock on, Benedict XVI!" She then says, "I'm not Catholic or anything, but it's cool. I think my dad's family is kinda Catholic or Methodist."

Dear Perky One: biiiiig difference between "kinda Catholic" and "kinda Methodist." Good luck with that one, honey.

- Merujo, kinda unemployed

Monday, April 18, 2005

No, Mr. Bond... I expect you to die...

Roger Moore's Dancing Eyebrows

The First of the Gang With a Gun in His Hand

Since I'm on this musical tangent, may I just say that, 20 years on, I still have a major thing for Morrissey. I have no idea what it is about him that grabs me in such a stupidly animal female hormone way. It's kinda weird, but it feels good.

I'm making a mix cd for the car on Friday - taking a trip with the Sasquatch to Philly to go hear Michael Penn and visit the Mutter Museum, both of which will be most excellent events. (May I say that the museum has a dreadful website - they need design help in a big way!) I'm including some cuts from Morrissey's Live at Earl's Court cd. It's pretty damn good. I would LOVE to have seen the man on this tour, but the tickets were bizarrely expensive. I will have to swoon at home with my headset on.

Teeth flossed and brushed. Time for bed. A job to be found in the morning, I hope...

Saturday, April 16, 2005

Musical Abortion

Ever hear of t.A.T.u.? It's the crap Russian pseudo-lesbians-for-pop-consumption "band" whose greatest hit, to my knowledge, was wearing t-shirts on Leno that read "Go fuck yourself" in Russian. ("Na khui" - which literally is a directional statement "on dick"...) They're really dreadful, and tonight I discovered that, sadly, they were allowed to do a remake of "How Soon Is Now."

Now, kids, there are only two people who should be allowed to sing this: Morrissey, and that guy from the Psychedelic Furs. Actually, Morrissey is the ONLY one who should really be allowed to sing it, but that guy from the Psychedelic Furs sang it with his other band (Love Spit Love?) and it was used as the theme to Charmed, a show that isn't very good, but, if you're unemployed and catch a lot of "Primetime in the Daytime" on TNT, you see too much of and... oh wait, I derailed my train of thought. What was my point? Oh yeah - it becomes terribly familiar when sung by Pretty in Pink man. Whether it should or not. Whether it sucks or not.

Anyway, t.A.T.u. covered "How Soon Is Now" and, while I would beg you not to buy it, I recommend you listen to the free snippet on iTunes and see just how awful it is. Musical freakin' train wreck. But I'm sure Russia adores them. Fine. Let them stay there, please. I'd rather listen to the white boy rap of Boghdan Titomir for hours on end than see these critters on American tv again. (And if you know Boghdan Titomir - and for your sake, I hope you don't - you know the pain I'm willing to endure to avoid t.A.T.u....)

Friday, April 15, 2005

If you happen by here... may I recommend...

...the music of Michael Penn.

Michael is the older brother of Sean "Lost my sense of humor somewhere around 'Shanghai Surprise'" Penn and Chris "Let's Hear It For The Boy" Penn. This also makes him the former bro-in-law of Madonna and current bro-in-law of the Princess Bride herself, Robin Wright Penn. (And so, for those playing along at home, that puts him two Kevin Bacon degrees away from the Dread Pirate Roberts, aka the always edible Carey Elwes.)

But I digress...

Michael Penn is a rather brilliant singer/songwriter/composer of soundtrack-ish things. He has four cds out to date, with a fifth on the way this year. You may remember him as the man who sang "No Myth" (aka "that Romeo in black jeans" song.) Yep, "No Myth" is a great little pop song, but the rest of MP's stuff is much, much better. MP has had lots of trouble with major labels and it's a great shame, really. He's one of the finest songwriters out there, and his music is fun and thoughtful and has great hooks that will grab you and just not let go.

May I recommend his third cd, Resigned, as a great way to get into his music. If you don't like the song "Try" or "Me Around", I will gladly eat one of my hats (with the exception of my great Austrian boiled wool hat. That one doesn't get consumed. No way.) From there, I'd recommend MP4. (Really excellent stuff.)

If you like those two, go back in time to his first two cds, March and Free-For-All. All of it is good. Seriously.

If you want a taste of the upcoming cd, Mr. Hollywood Jr. 1947 (yes, it's a quirky title) go here and listen to the first track, Walter Reed.

Thank you. I now return you to your regularly scheduled web-surfing.

You Gotti Be Kidding

Ever watch Growing Up Gotti on A&E? It's foul. These people are AWFUL. Just bloody awful. The children are a New Jersey nightmare of utter embarrassment, and the mother?? Oh, dear lord, I don't know who did her plastic surgery, but damn... I hope she sued. Growing Up Gotti is a prime example of why most reality tv blows - otherwise useless and/or talentless people doing uninteresting things.

And now, awful - meet even worse.

Oh, and while I'm briefly ranting about reality tv... Moira on Showdog Moms & Dads - your kid is going to need years of therapy. You should lose your Mom License, lady. Ugh. And the gay couple in Washington State? Ryan and Brandon. Oh... mah... god... they are the most hideously stereotyped queenie boys I've ever seen. (And growing up with a gay flight attendant sibling, honey, trust me - I've met some major queens!) Brandon makes Carson Kressley look positively macho. They make me want to bury my head in my sofa cushions out of sheer embarrassment for them every single time they're on screen.

I'd love to know what your average American gay folk think of them. I hope it's just the editing and that they aren't that consistently awful in real life. I find them utterly embarrassing.

Now that I've tangentially mentioned Queer Eye, though, may I say - can I have a Ted of my own? He's adorable and I would *love* for him to come and teach me to cook.

Selective Silence

It's weird. Other than saying "Thank you" and "Where is the ___..." to store clerks, the only person I've spoken with all week is my sister Betsi, and that has been in small, 5 or 10 minute increments, once a day. It's been very zen, and yet, very disjointed. I feel very separated from the rest of the world right now.

Last night, I tried desparately to sleep, but couldn't. Amazingly, the Ambien didn't help at all. And, after the mouse woke me up, I was awake, stuck watching that vile Scarlet Letter abomination with Demi Moore until 4:30 or so. It's already midnight and I'm tired, yet very fully awake. I have to stop letting myself take a short nap in the afternoon. Maybe that will help me get tired enough to really sleep at night.

I think I may aim to stay awake and away from the computer all day tomorrow. I have two freebie movie tickets that expire next week. Maybe I'll go see something mindless tomorrow, like Sahara. I won a pass to see Kung Fu Hustle tonight, but, strangely, my printer died in the middle of printing the pass and thus ended my chop sockey comedy dreams for the evening. Just as well, perhaps. Taking recent events into consideration, maybe a comedy featuring a whole lotta axes would have just brought on flashbacks...

Dang - one of the neighbors has some horribly croupy cough. Poor bastard. Sounds like he has the plague. (Aaaaarg - maybe he DOES have the plague. Everything comes back to the flippin' rodents, doesn't it???)

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Oh, and speaking of trash...

Mr. Mousie #1 went into a Hefty bag this morning. But he certainly gave me one hell of a scare. Blasted thing still wasn't dead. I went to reach for the tray, and Mickey tried to jump at me. Amazing how fast I can move when I want to. Mickey was unceremoniously wrapped in newspapers and deposited in a nearly full trash bag. Cruel? Yes. But he was going to die anyway. He was mostly glued to the trap and... well, enough said.

The mice have invaded my space. They're unsanitary. I have a compromised immune system. And I have access to a Target store with traps and poison. This time, I win.

Apple Pits

I needed to buy that fabulous staple antiperspirant/deodorant yesterday during my Target foray. My usual brand (and god knows why I have such brand loyalty) is for the Lady Speed Stick gel. However, I get the impression that Mennen (sing it, now: byyyy MEN-nen!) is phasing the gel out, as is it harder and harder to find. And, alas, Target, Home of Every Friggin' Thing Available, did not have the much-prized gel.

So, I spent a whole 30 seconds or so perusing the other options. Being unemployed, cheap, and a total ho for a bargain, my eyes stopped on a special deal - $2.99 for two Lady Speed Stick "invisible dry" wrapped up with a free travel size shower gel. I'm sold! Well, here I am this morning, opening the packaging. I had assumed the scent would be something fairly normal - you know, Shower Fresh or Baby Powder.


Appears I have Orchard Blossom. It smells like apples. Really really powerfully scented apples.

Now, who decided that women would want their armpits to smell like apples? Jesus, it smells like I glued a handful of Jolly Ranchers to my pits! I'll stick with this today, but the first time someone asks me if I have any watermelon Jolly Ranchers to share, this junk goes in the trash.

Target Glue Traps 1, Mice Nil

Kudos to the makers of the Tom Cat discount glue trap. Very effective.

And mad props to the mouse who refuses to die and has been dragging the shit out of the glue trap all around the kitchen. Goddamn, that's one tough little bastard. Part of me wants to go grab the damn trap and bag the bugger and, frankly, end him in a trash bag and stop the flapping and dragging in the kitchen. But the girly part of me does not want to touch the fucking thing until all movement has stopped. (And even then, I have to figure out how to get rid of the trap without coming close - the old bbq tongs from the old apartment got dumped after their last mouse duty.)

And it's 2:55 in the a.m. You know this mouse is fierce when it's loud enough to wake me up two rooms away.

Bleech. I don't like killing critters, but rodents are a special class. And Hugh Laurie isn't here to name this sucker Stuart and buy him cute clothes.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Fisher Space Pens

I have two Fisher Space Pens. One is a Star Wars pen, purchased at the Air and Space Museum back when I was a volunteer at the Star Wars exhibit there. I love that pen. It was brilliantly designed to resemble something that an Imperial officer would have sticking out of a uniform shirt pocket. Really, really cool.

The other Fisher I have also came from the the Air and Space Museum. It's a "bullet" pen that my mom bought for me on a visit to Washington, DC in 1974, shortly before Nixon left the White House and we relocated from New Jersey to Illinois. Mom and I toured DC while my father was at meetings at the Pentagon.

I love that little bullet pen. It reminds me of my mom, her transference to me of love of flight and space exploration and science, and it still looks brand new, 30+ years later. I still have the little blue Smithsonian box it came in. And it works like a dream. Best damn souvenir ever. It's cooler than the Star Wars pen because my mom bought it for me.

That morning, back in 1974, we saw Nixon getting into Marine One on the White House lawn. I waved at him. He waved back. Really vivid memory - man, you could get really damn close to the Prez back then, come to think of it. Different time, different country, eh? Later that day, mom got a parking ticket on Connecticut Avenue, in front of the National Zoo (we went to see the pandas), and I got to hear her swear for the first time and learned just how much she loathed Washington, DC.

Scored a great pen, saw pandas, saw Nixon (I would see him again in Moscow, years later, shortly before he died), and heard Mom swear. What a day.

Everyone should have a Fisher Space Pen, by the way. They rock.

Mouse Hunter

Fucking rodents.

And, even more emphatically, FUCKING NEIGHBORS who don't properly bag their trash! Just last night I dropped a bag of trash off and saw that some dumbass had left four huge open bags of food-y garbage in the trash room, and I thought, "Well, hey, thanks, developing world neighbors! Thanks a buttload for ringing the rodent dinner bell!"

And, no, I don't say make the developing world comment without cause - the culprits on the open bag o' garbage phenomenon in the building are from India and Uzbekistan. The shocking part about the Indian neighbor is that he's a physician!! You'd think he would have a clear vision of what unbagged trash can lead to, but apparently he doesn't give a crap. If you see him in the hallway (a very rare thing) and say "Hello," he will look down, look away, slam the door. Nice guy. At least he doesn't lock his naked, genitally shaven wife out in the hallway like one of my Indian ex-neighbors.

The uncleanliness from the Uzbek bachelor does not surprise me at all. I once stayed at a friend's apartment in Tashkent, Uzbekistan. She was gone for the week and left me the keys. She failed to mention that the upstairs neighbors disposed of their trash by throwing it down onto her balcony. She had a fucking colony of rats living on her balcony. I had to learn the Uzbek terms for rat trap and rat poison and go to the market to get stuff. Just laying it out, I was terrified of being bitten. (Then again, if you go to the Uptown Theater in Cleveland Park, you can run the same risk. Nice, huh?)

And yes, end result of the unclean neighbors... I have mice in my kitchen again. Goddammit. Nothing like opening the storage drawer on the stove today only to find a pile of mouse turds. Did I say "Goddammit" already? Yes? Well, hell, let me say it again:

GODDAMMIT. Muthafuckin' rodentia.

I have a call in to the exterminator, but, for now, I've made a trip to Target, where, much to my delight, glue traps and mouse poison were both on clearance. (So was bleach. I'm bleaching the crap out of everything.)

Here I come, mousie, mousie. Prepare to die.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Welcome to West Virginny!

Last week, I found out that, of California, New York, Maryland, and West Virginia, only West Virginia prohibits first cousins from legally marrying. Now, this.

Congratulations, West Va. You have quietly achieved what would have created riots and chaos in Florida or California.

Water Flailing and Good Sleep

I went to Monday night water aerobics yesterday evening. I was toying with skipping the class - not because I don't want to do the exercise. No, in fact, I love it. It's just that the very young woman (barely out of high school, if not still in high school) who teaches Monday nights seems to think she's teaching a teenage dance troupe to perform in the community theater version of "Li'l Abner." Lots of moves that work fine on land, but leave one flailing in the water. I'm asking her name next week, so I can make sure to not sign up for any of her future classes. I still got a workout, but I ache badly rather than feel virtuous.

Interestingly, this is the only class I take that has men in it. It's not a surprise, I guess. Susie Cutesy is the only instructor under 40 and in the "perky 'n' petite" mold. Five 50-something dumpy gents stop jogging and jumping and only bob gently in the water when the teacher is demonstrating high kicks and pelvic thrusts, giving them quite the "crotch action" view. Even with shrinkage and the color water, I think there's a wee bit of water weenie magic going on out there. One of the guys, as god is my witness, was drooling. He even came up and asked me if she taught the other classes I took. When I said, "No, it's a middle-aged woman on Tuesday, and a large African-American woman on Wednesday, but man, their workouts will kick your butt - it's great," he looked depressed. "Oh," he said, "uh, nevermind."

Yucky. Thank god for chlorine.

This same man spends thousands of dollars each year to take cruises to the Caribbean because he likes to "see the fish" but he doesn't know how to swim, so he can only do the "stand in knee deep water while we force a ray to come over here" thing with the kids. I told him to take the adult swim class here. "Seriously," I told him, "you won't regret it. If you continue to go on those trips and don't get in the water to see what's really there, you will regret that."

I have a feeling that, unless nubile perklette is teaching adult swim, he'll be standing in the wading pond for the rest of his life. I'm still cranky that I'm not allowed to learn SCUBA. Dang it.

Ah well. Snorkeling will have to do for me.

Finally got some decent sleep last night, courtesy of Ambien. I woke up with a smile on my face, I swear to god. And, considering the weird ass dreams I had, that's a miracle. I should have woken up screaming and running!

Monday, April 11, 2005

Class Distinctions

I took a class at a local rubber stamp store today. Yeah. It was a single, fat, middle-aged woman thing to do, I know. But, I'm a single, fat, middle-aged woman. So, sure me.

The class was on making vintage-style cards. The truth of the matter is, learning and experimenting on my own, I already knew most of this stuff, but the class was beneficial to see and test drive some media with which I hadn't worked in the past. That was cool. I learned about this color wash spray that gives paper this mottled, aged look. I ended up buying a bottle of "terra cotta" to use.

I learned that the $1.99 tiny double-sided glue strip dispenser I bought was a piece of crap, and I was astounded to see all the women whip out these fucking enormous 3M Scotch adhesive tape dispensers to zap all their projects together. (James, this is what you needed for your mom's scrapbook project.) I suddenly felt underendowed, craftswise. All the women were like, "Oh, you're kidding? You don't have a Scotch ATG700? But how do you possibly do any scrapbooking or multi-layered cards?"

Oy vey! These bastards retail for like $50. (I have found one on eBay for $20, new. I may buy it.)

I was frustrated by the class, as the teacher is not particularly gifted in the art of, well... teaching. We had two hours allotted for the class. She had some kids' party to attend, so she whipped through the five card projects in one hour. I fought with my $1.99 glue tape dispenser throughout, finally dismantling it and throwing it away. I was always two or three steps behind the other ladies there, but I also wasn't following the directions completely. Some of the ladies wanted their cards to look EXACTLY like the teacher's examples. I didn't. I have very particular taste, and anyone who knows me understands that I did not develop the feminine cute chromosome or gene or whatever in utero. I tend to make stuff that's slightly more masculine-looking, or, at least, follow my own tune.

The very Florida Jewish grandmama sitting next to me kept wailing about trying to follow what I was doing because I was "doing it all wrong!" Welcome to my world, bubbaleh! In her defense, the unteacherly teacher defended me by trying to explain that no one had to completely match the sample and my creativity was a good thing. Bubbaleh, though, was having none of that. She seemed to think it was poor form on my part - especially when I was sitting next to her and she expected to be able to copy what I was doing.

I got tired of hearing her bitch about me diverting from the form and finally fixed her with such a withering stare that she stopped yammering about my work. She left class in a huff when the last card was to be stamped with a really cool, unconventional stone angel image. She was offended that "an overtly Christian image" was being used in the class. I silently cheered.

I doubt I'll be going to another class for a long time. It gave me faith in my own abilities and the knowledge that there's no right or wrong in this hobby. It's all about what you like. I just wanna see new stuff at work, so I know how to use it properly without my work becoming one big smear.

I think I'm going to make a postcard to send to postsecrets. If you haven't visited it, you should:

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Amazing Race Envy

Tonight I found out that one of the women in my water aerobics class will be on the next Amazing Race. This is going to be a "family team" show, and she'll be doing the race with her husband and two kids.

Damn, man.

Feeeeel the envy? I think it's rippling off me in big green waves...

Monday, April 04, 2005

Sleep, where art thou?

I actually got 8 sweet hours of sleep last night. That's been a rare thing in recent months. I started with the insomnia about two months before the job went belly up, and it's become the norm for me to only sleep three or four hours a night.

NOT healthy.

But, last night, I did sleep. I think the sound of the high winds zonked me out. But, no such luck tonight. And, of course, there's jack squat on tv at 1 a.m. on a Monday morning. I supposed I could check to to see what "Compost On Demand" is offering. (I'm still liking that whole "" thing.) I should probably give up and take an Ambien tonight, but, at this point, it would mean sleeping until 9 a.m., which seems just plain wrong for a Monday morning, even when I don't have a job to go to.

I'd like to be up at 6:30 or 7 to go to the gym, but I needs mah sleep. We shall see.

On another note, I'm starting to get oog'ed out by all the footage of the Pope's lifeless body. I shouldn't be. After all, I did stand in line to go see Lenin's body. But that oog'ed me out, too. (Actually, I saw a whole lotta corpses in Russia. Run over people, burned to death people, dead drunk people, and just dead-in-an-open-casket-in-random-church people. A lot more dead people than I reckon I will ever see again in my life, as a matter of fact. "No, no. I'm passing on the visitation. I hit my lifetime limit on bodies over in Russia, you see. I have a 'get out of funeral free for life' card...")

I read something last night about the family that has embalmed the last three popes. According to this article, the man who embalmed Pius XII in 1958 did a horrendous job and several cardinals apparently fainted from the "stench" of the body at the funeral. Here's more on this, courtesy of

"Pius was dogged with ill health later in life, largely due to a charlatan, Riccardo Galeazzi-Lisi, who posed as a medical doctor and won Pius's trust. His treatments for Pius gave the Holy Father chronic hiccups and rotting teeth. Though eventually dismissed from the Papal Household, this man gained admittance as the pope lay dying and took photographs of Pius which he tried, unsuccessfully, to sell to magazines.

When Pius died, the Galeazzi-Lisi turned embalmer. Rather than slow the process of decay, the doctor-mortician's self-made technique speeded it up, leading the Holy Father's corpse to disintegrate rapidly, turning purple, with the corpse's nose falling off. The stench caused by the decay was such that guards had to be rotated every 15 minutes, otherwise they would collapse from the stench. The condition of the body became so bad that the remains were secretly removed at one point for further treatments before being returned in the morning.

The farce over the Pope's health and treatment in death caused considerable embarrassment to the Vatican, but in the 1950s was not reported, though widely rumoured among those in Rome who had witnessed the body's decay as it lay in state, as well as being captured in photographs. One of the first acts of Pius' successor, Pope John XXIII, was to ban the charlatan from Vatican City for life."

I found one of those photos. His head was, indeed, purple. Not good.

Can't sleep. Clowns will kill me. Can't sleep. Clowns will kill me...