Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Radio Silence

Ever have one of those days when, no matter what you say, you stick your foot in your mouth so many times you're surprised it hasn't come through the back of your head?

That's the way I feel tonight. And I'm confused and really bummed out about it because I deal in words all day. Usually I'm pretty good at it.

But not today. I started to cry in the office around 7:30 tonight, but had to pull it together to go home. Sometimes, when the words are broken, I wish I could just mindmeld with people so they could get a better feel for what I'm experiencing. But I can't, regrettably. Not being Vulcan. Or an old guy who likes to take photos of nude chicks. (And those last two words, Mr. Wizard, are why this entry will pop up on Google searches by young, horny guys the world 'round for the next six months.)

So, what do I do tonight?

I cried again when I got home, just kinda flipping out over the lack of control I currently feel in my life. I stopped myself from welling up, and just tried to breathe. Now, my entire body hurts and I feel nauseated: eye + stress + frustration = Mr. Toad's Wild Nausea Ride. I would give just about anything to feel more together right now.

What do I do?

I'm spending tonight in silence. I feel like it will benefit me just to be calm and quiet. No TV, no radio. Simply me and the dishes in the kitchen. And then bed. Maybe I'll try to read myself to sleep - something I haven't attempted since the eye went all wonky.

Perhaps, tomorrow, my words will return in a way that won't cause me or anyone else any stress or grief. It's so frustrating to not be understood clearly.

I should be better at This Thing Called Life.

I just feel like a total flop tonight.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

If you buy yourself one Xmas track on iTunes this year...

...make it "Mr. Heat Miser" by Big Bad Voodoo Daddy. If you're down in the dumps, suffering from early holiday overload, if you just need to cheer up a little, this is the song to turn things around. Quite possibly the best cover of a Rank & Bass holiday kids show tune ever.

I defy you to not dance around once you've downloaded this sucker.

"I'm too much!"

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Care for some gravy with that stuffin'?

I knew today was going to be a non-traditional Thanksgiving here at Chez Merde. No one was around to cook for. My closest family is a good 4.5 hours away in good weather and non-holiday traffic, and today it was still very chilly and drizzly. I'm not great driving in "weather" now, considering my depth perception/double vision driving paranoia, anyway.

So, I'd determined a few days ago that I would hunt for food out and about and catch a movie.

But it was sooo warm and nice in bed today, I just couldn't get motivated. Cold outside, warm in bed. Screw getting up and going out. I made a vaguely continental brunch of Black Forest ham and cheddar cheese, with some wee little mini dill pickles and a glass of milk. Yeah, it's a weird combo. So sue me.

I watched a couple of episodes of "The Closer" on TNT and pondered my dwindling options for the day. Stay at home? Do some writing? Or hit the road? I was completely weighed down with indecision.

But then, Angry Indian Doctor and Submissive Girl very helpfully made up my mind for me.

Around 2 p.m., my fine upstairs neighbors decided to embark on a new holiday tradition... the, uh, stuffing of her cavity with his giblets... on the living room floor. As Kyra Sedgwick "Thank yew'ed" her way through some Los Angeles crime, the neighbors got it on above, no holds barred. Yes, there's nothing that says "wholesome Norman Rockwell family holiday" like people going at it like rabid bunnies overhead. As usual, Submissive Girl began to wail and bark just as the, uh, Reddi-Wip* hit the pumpkin pie...

Things quieted down, as things tend to do, but, after a relatively brief pause, our revelers went back for seconds. Determined to make an escape before things really started to rock, I headed for the door. Alas, the shrieking had already begun by the time I hit the hallway. There, stock still like deer in headlights, stood the elderly parents of another neighbor. Dad stood poised to knock on a door, hand stuck in mid-air. Mom just looked horrified, her faced turned toward the stairwell, from whence came the cries of our panting Pilgrims, at least one of whom uttered a twisted Thanksgiving grace: "OH GOOOOD! OH MY GOOOOOD! OH JESUS! YES, GOD!"

(Well, hey, at least they had not forgotten their Lord and Savior before digging in for another heapin' helpin' of lovin'.)

The smell of turkey floating through the corridor couldn't shake the creepy feeling that we were unwilling voyeurs. I wished the old folks a happy holiday and split.

I ended up driving in the rain, listening to music on my iPod, reading the Washington Post outside the Hellmouth 7-11 (yes, I know better than to go there), and then taking in a showing of "Stranger Than Fiction." I read a review tonight on Rotten Tomatoes that sums up my feelings about it: "Finally, a Charlie Kaufman movie for people who are too stupid to understand Charlie Kaufman movies." Yep, that about does it. Not bad, really, but not particularly good, either.

By the time I got out of the theater, virtually everything was closed except for one Chinese restaurant. So, I slapped down a little cash for some carryout, and headed home to watch "Ugly Betty" and eat my lo mein in blissful silence. I think that Angry Doc got enough breasts and thighs for today before I got back to my place. And for that, I am truly thankful this evening.

Dear god, what happens if the people upstairs want leftovers tomorrow? They do say that those Thankgiving goodies are always better the second day.

Think I'll hit the coffee shop tomorrow a.m. and never look back...

*For my friends outside of the United States, Reddi-wip is a spray whipped cream generally only seen on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Girls Gone Wild videos...

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Cold Turkey

A coastal storm, coming in from the Atlantic, has covered us in a bone-chilling rain today. I'm not fond of cold downpours - I have trouble staying warm in this weather, and, hours after being out and about, my hands and feet are still icy. But it was worth heading out today. I had a very nice lunch hour, indeed, with the Lovely Scandahoovian, right hand woman of the Sasquatch. After a brief stop at the Royal Norwegian Embassy (right across from the U.S. Naval Observatory, temporary home of Satan's Little Minion), we had an excellent late lunch at 2 Amys. If you haven't tried 2 Amys, you should. The Neopolitan-style pizza is damn tasty, with wonderful chewy crust. I had the "Norcia" pizza with thin slices of salami, sweet red pepper and yummy mozzarella. Nice. We split this wonderful appetizer called suppli a telefono - deep fried risotto balls filled with fresh buffalo mozzarella. Mighty fine on a cold November afternoon.

Along with treating me to this lovely lunch - and some fine conversation - my Norwegian connection gave me a rockin' gift - a live Röyksopp CD, fresh off the plane from Norway, complete with a really funky version of "Remind Me" (aka, the GEICO Caveman Song - and, holy crow, I get a pile of hits every day lately with folks looking for that tune! I think I know just about every variation of search for it at this point.)

Röyksopp in da house! Yeah, we bad!
Straight outta Bergen, yo!

And now, it's already 1:15 in the morning on Thanksgiving. I have no plans for the holiday, other than maybe taking in a movie. There is no turkey in the fridge, no stuffing or green bean casserole to be cooked. I will see what reasonably priced cafes might be open along the Pike and find a quiet meal for myself. But that stuff really doesn't matter in the big picture.

What matters is that I am grateful this year.

Grateful for continued vision.

Grateful to be employed.

Grateful for the support of family.

Grateful for the love of friends.

Grateful for each and every one of you out here.

I cannot but with good thoughts and warmth repay you all for your kind words and contributions and bolstering through a difficult season.

I am, simply, grateful.

May you have a fine holiday.

And, because I am a massive juvenile at heart... have a hand turkey:

Peace out.

I'll be a total laugh riot when I'm old

Sometimes, the Big Bad Eye brings entertainment value to the table. Like yesterday, when I stopped at the Caribou Coffee by my office. (I know - heresy for a Mayorga Coffee drinker - but there is no Mayorga downtown, dammit!)

As I waited for my mocha latte, I pondered a sign advertising holiday drinks. For nearly a minute I wondered why the hell they were selling a "Ho Chi Minh Latte" for Christmas.

Then I realized it read "Ho Ho Mint."

I'd say I need my eyes checked, but... well, you know the drill...

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Crack on Tap!

Dear god, Wendy's now has Coke Zero available as a fountain drink. Screw you, tasteless Diet Coke! No-calorie nirvana has reached fast food land! Sugar-free smack on lovely, lovely ice to chase down your buck-ninety-nine chili.

Hell, yeah.

Wendy, you little red-braided freak child, I love you.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Nymph, nymph, what are your beads?

When I was in grade school, my sister Nurse Rachet handcrafted a gorgeous, fully illustrated book of 20th Century poetry. One of the poems was "Overheard On a Saltmarsh" by British poet Harold Monro:

Nymph, nymph, what are your beads?

Green glass, goblin. Why do you stare at them?

Give them me.

Give them me. Give them me.

Then I will howl all night in the reeds,
Lie in the mud and howl for them.

Goblin, why do you love them so?

They are better than stars or water,
Better than voices of winds that sing,
Better than any man's fair daughter,
Your green glass beads on a silver ring.

Hush, I stole them out of the moon.

Give me your beads, I want them.

I will howl in the deep lagoon
For your green glass beads, I love them so.
Give them me. Give them.

I read the poems my sister illustrated over and over again. This is one of my favorites, and I loved the grotesque and envious goblin she drew, eyeing the nymph's moon beads with avarice.

Give me your beads, I want them.

This poem came to mind today as I was looking at my friend Lunesse's website, juiceglass. Lunesse is a very talented glass artist, crafting unique glass beads and jewelry that she sells on her site (and a growing number of locations worldwide.) She's also a gifted writer, as well as Thomas Dolby's webmistress and tour manager, so look for her along the road over the next month if you're going to one of the gigs!

When she's not behind the scenes of the great music machine, Lunesse also entertains commissions for one-of-a-kind glass pieces. One of my friends received an exquisite piece of Lunesse's work earlier this year as a Mother's Day gift, and she adores it.

Today, while pondering the gorgeous jewelry that Lunesse creates, I couldn't help but feel like that goblin, wanting all the lovely things.

They are better than stars or water,
Better than voices of winds that sing,
Better than any man's fair daughter,
Your green glass beads on a silver ring.

There's something about glass that has been carefully manipulated by design at the hands of an expert. Smooth and cool and utterly unique in its finished form, but born of fire and the vision of the artist who can see how the swirls and dots and colors will mesh together before the cooling chemistry decrees that movement must stop.

That's pretty damn amazing. In an old school, ancient world, real-deal artisan kind of way.

If you have a chance, visit Lunesse's site. The woman has got some major talent, seriously. When my finances are healthy again, I'll be adding some of her lovely glass to my jewelry box, no doubt there! I've added juiceglass to a new category on the right side of my blog - links to things material and cultural and healthful (and caffeinated) that I recommend, both in the DC area and online.

It's so very cool to have friends who are able to make their way in this world doing Things Creative. It's a genuine inspiration. I hope to take that path someday, too.

Until then, I will be an appreciative goblin, eyeing the nymph's beads with envy...

Rupert Murdoch has a soul, after all

Astoundingly, Uncle Rupert has demonstrated a measure of good sense, if after the fact: the utterly tasteless O.J. Simpson book and TV special have been cancelled by News Corp. About flippin' time.

I guarantee you, press copies of that damn book will be up on eBay in minutes...

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Support PostSecret

Frank Warren of PostSecret is calling on folks for support - buy one of his PostSecret books to keep the website free of advertising. Every Sunday, there's at least one postcard that grabs me in a significant way. Today, this is the one:

I know this feeling. I really, really do.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Seen the Doctor

Yesterday was Festival of Medical Care Day - dentist, eye guy, pick up repaired eyeglasses, drink a ton of water to wash out the dye from my system... (The dye they inject to do photos of my eye is very hard on the kidneys, and it makes you pee neon colors for days. This morning, I have achy kidneys. Yuck. Ouch.)

The technician at the eye clinic burned me a disc of photos of my eye. Unfortunately, he saved them in "standard format" which he thought was .jpg, but, in fact, is some proprietory software format that can only be opened if you have the uber expensive program they use at the clinic. :-( So much for that!

However, I did find someone else's photo online that really does a very good job of showing you what my eye looks like:
"CNV" stands for "choroidal neovascularization" which is the problem I have. See that black, cloudy space in the eye? That's the center of vision. The white spot in it with the bright outline? That's a clump of weedlike blood vessels, strangling the center of vision, cutting off sight. And that is pretty much what my eye photos look like, except that my clump of blood vessels have a strange tear drop shape in the middle.

Funky, huh?

My doctor says I'm doing really well. He called me a "superstar" with this drug treatment. Best results he's ever seen. And that's a Good Thing.

So, I'll keep stumbling forward, folks!

Oh - and America? I beg of you - please, oh please, oh please - do not watch that wretched OJ thing. Do not buy the book. Do not put another penny in that guy's pocket. Thank you.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Javi alert!

Tonight is the season premiere of "Medium" on NBC. My friend, the incredibly talented, very funny, and generally just really decent human being (and Geek God) Javier Grillo-Marxuach, co-wrote tonight's episode with Glenn Gordon Caron. Javi has moved from "Lost" to "Medium", and it'll be a real pleasure to see how his unique voice will bring innovation to this third season of his new TV home.

Via Javi's LiveJournal, I think we already have an inkling of what he's bringing to the table:

Who is that dashing, skinny, bespectacled dude??

You'll have to watch tonight to understand where the grinning monkeys come in. Yep. Primetime NBC drama... with animated monkeys!!

Does it get any better than that?

By the way, along with being an awfully talented TV scribe/producer type, Javi is also a comic book super genius. Along with his own (very cool) creation, Viper Comics' The Middleman, Javi's penned a very well-received Super-Skrull mini-series for Marvel and - ready for this - a classic Battlestar Galactica series. Old school Battlestar Galactica! Look for that in February 2007.

Man, that takes me back. Waaay back to Sunday nights in 1978, watchin' Richard Hatch and Dirk Benedict on my parents' Curtis Mathes with my friend Linnea... Junior high geek girls in paradise... Ahhhh...

But I digress (as usual.)

Watch "Medium" tonight! Enjoy your Grillo-Marxuach content. (It's like "Canadian content": good, and good for you!) And if you want more Javi goodness, start reading The Middleman, available at fine comics vendors everywhere.

Except that really snooty, obnoxious place in downtown Bethesda. (Screw them.)


Your mileage may vary, but in my book, this guy's just a big turd.

His kids are going to be in therapy for decades...

Not quite orgasmic, but pretty damn good banana bread

Pretty Damn Good Banana Bread

(modified from an recipe, which came from an old 4H recipe from the 1950s…)

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 2 eggs (the original recipe calls for 1 egg, but comments suggested two to keep the loaf from crumbling - I doubled this recipe, and used 3 eggs for the double batch – your mileage may vary…)
  • 5 tablespoons milk
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup margarine
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice (or just nutmeg – your choice)
  • 1 cup mashed bananas (more or less two good-sized overripe bananas)
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
  • 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon and 1/2 teaspoon sugar mixed (optional)

  1. Mix together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and pumpkin pie spice.
  2. In a large bowl, cream sugar and butter or margarine (I used sweet cream butter and I melted it before mixing it in.) Beat the egg slightly, and mix into the creamed mixture with the bananas. Mix in dry ingredients until just combined. Stir in milk.
  3. If you are feeling really decadent, you can add nuts or chocolate chips. Frankly, I’d make it plain once, first, to see how you dig it.
  4. Spread batter into one greased and floured 9x5 inch loaf pan (or just pour it straight into one of those fabulous silicone baking pans – man, they rock!)
  5. Again, if you’re feeling decadent and want to raise your sugar high, take a tiny mix of cinnamon and sugar and sprinkle over the top of the batter in the pan.
  6. Bake in preheated oven for approximately 45 minutes, until a knife inserted into center of the loaf comes out clean. (The top should be brown with cracks along the top.)
  7. When done, take from oven and let it cool for a couple of minutes, then flip loaf out onto rack.
  8. Eat. Plain. Hot. Cold. With butter. With Nutella. With ice cream. With coffee. With a big, ice-cold glass of milk. Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

What Would Jesus Do(nate)?

Hi-diddley-ho, neighbors! This is what happens when Ned Flanders decides to donate to Toys for Tots.


Monday, November 13, 2006

The hungry pavement & the mourning tracks

I live on a back street in what I've long thought of as "Barely Bethesda." It's a downwardly mobile corner of one of the nation's wealthiest enclaves. The apartment I rent is in an aging condo community with thin walls and crappy insulation that drives me crazy with the neighbors' noise and drives me to sleep in the living room in winter, when the bedroom turns into an ice palace.

I slept on my sofa for months and months after I broke my leg a couple of years back. I slipped in oil on the floor of the parking garage of my old job, and, as I turned and fell, I heard my fibula snap like a flimsy chicken bone. Because the break was so close to the knee, it could not be cast, and I was a virtual prisoner in my home for weeks. Late at night, when I turned even the slightest bit, I could hear the broken ends of bone tap against each other deep in my leg. I would try to focus on other noises - the neighbor's yippy dogs, the fox that barked under the crabapple tree by my balcony, snowplows coming to dig out the street filled with late winter snow.

And the trains.

I grew up in Moline, Illinois, next door to Rock Island, home of the Rock Island Lines, the venerable rail system - now mostly defunct - that carried freight across the country on our sadly neglected train tracks. Late at night, I would fall asleep to the sound of train cars coupling and uncoupling in the Rock Island Lines freight yard. I could hear trains clacking along their steady path, and the sorrowful whistle of engines, dopplering from downtown a couple of miles away, along the Mississippi River. It's a peaceful sound to me, and when I go back to Illinois, it's still a lullaby that quiets my mind and my heart and sends me to sleep with such ease.

Before they became a nexus of violent crime and shameless thievery (for Western foreigners, at the very least), I loved traveling by overnight train in Russia. The smell of the expended fuel - which reminded me of roasted chestnuts on winter London streets, the hot tea provided by the dezhurnaya, and the rumbling bunks that rocked you to sleep. And throughout, the whistle, calling you to rest.

But then, I moved to Barely Bethesda.

Just three-tenths of a mile past my crackerbox apartment lie the train tracks. Amtrak, CSX, people, freight, commuters and commodities... they all pass by my home. And when the night is quiet, and there are no trucks humming along the Beltway just a mile to the south, I can hear the click and clack of the night trains and the whistles that announce and farewell them. The trains run through the tiny town of Garrett Park, a mix of small post-war brick box houses, colorful Victorians, bungalows, and the occasional House Beautiful creation, like the rambling manse next door to my building, home to the Stupid Rich Neighbors.

A few years ago, an odd phenomenon began down at the tracks where they cross Montrose Road, a modest commuter street just past my place a few more blocks: people began using the tracks as a suicide spot. It wasn't just one case. It happened again, and again, and again. It was mostly women, mostly Latinas, mostly illegal immigrants. And most of them carried this out with children in tow. Onlookers, waiting behind crossing bars for the approaching train, initially did not know what the women intended. They would wander along the tracks, seemingly lost in though, somewhat confused. By the time the witnesses knew what was afoot, it was too late. Most of the women quietly knelt on the tracks, sometimes gathering children to them, just as the freight engines bore down upon them.

I would come home to the news of a suicide on the tracks and the strange silence from down the road. No click. No clack. Just silence. Trains were diverted. The track was a crime scene. The track was a gravesite.

And then, a couple of days later, I would hear a train whistle again. But then, the whistle did not seem peaceful to me. It screamed. It cried. It wept as it passed by. I know it may sound foolish, but it would raise goosebumps on my arms, and I would not be able to sleep until the train passed by and the banshee cries ceased.

Over the years, the tracks - and the pavement on Montrose Road - has soaked up more than its fair share of blood. I cannot help but thing of it as somewhat unhallowed ground. Too many years of reading Stephen King books, I guess. But it feels like the pavement is hungry.

Tonight, I came home to silence again. It was palpable - cut only by the lousy louts upstairs, pounding around and yelling to each other. I watched "Heroes" and then turned on the local news. Just behind my apartment, on the dark street between me and the train tracks, a twelve-year-old boy bolted out into traffic between cars. He was struck and killed. One of our local TV stations reported that neighbors can't help but wonder if the boy would still be alive had PEPCO and the Maryland State Highway Administration resolved a dispute that has kept the streetlights dark on Strathmore Avenue.

I heard police cars for a while. And still, the accident investigation goes on, three plus hours after the death. But the neighbors are shuttered indoors, on a rainy, tragic Monday night. No one is out walking. Even the Stupid Rich Neighbors have brought the dogs in. No cars out. No trains.


But they'll come.

The hungry pavement behind my home took another portion tonight. Another loss that will bring the weeping trains. It's so quiet now. I know the trains will come, and I won't sleep until they pass.

Come. Cry. And let me sleep.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

If only this blog were scratch and sniff!

I've just made a big batch of banana bread - it's in the oven right now, and holy crow, does it ever smell fabulous. It's chilly, windy, and rainy out, and I had four big, overripe 'nanners, so it seemed like the right thing to do.

I couldn't find my family recipe, so I modified one I found on - this one has milk in it, to make the bread more moist. I added pumpkin pie spice and another good shake of cinnamon, as well as vanilla. Honest, this smells fabulous. If it's good, I'll put my modified recipe up here for y'all.

I said "screw the carbs, screw all that!" and this baby is made with real sugar.

Sometimes, real, honest food is the Right Thing To Do.

Later today, once the laundry is perking and I feel a bit better about the budget work I brought home, I'm making a chicken casserole to eat/freeze, too.

Damn. I'm just Dolly Domestic today! If only this virtuous feeling would last!

(Also, being Dolly Domestic = not buying lunch at work, which also = saving that confederate money!)

Mmmm... bananas...

Saturday, November 11, 2006

It's, ummm, like, too much

I'm more human today than I've been in many days. I got a decent night's sleep, my hair loss seems to have slowed, I finally got my hair trimmed (thank god), it's 75 degrees outside, and I'm in the coffee shop with a killer iced mocha latte (thank you, customer loyalty point freebies!) and free wifi.

All is - for one brief shining moment - good.

Except for the Gen-X/Y/Z valley girl behind me. "Ummm, like, my dad was all, 'You can't go out dressed like that.' And I was, ummm like, all 'You, like, totally suck, Dad.' And, ummm like, he was all in my face. And - ewww, like, your ringtone, like, it sucks. What is that? Rap? Ummm, like rap sucks!"

She's a tiny thing in the tightest black jeans I've ever seen in my whole life and a red spandex belly tank top, decorated in glitter and the word "Hottt." It's possible that her clothing is so tight it's squeezing all other words out of her vocabulary while giving her a full-body yeast infection at the same time.

Okay. That was mean. Sorry.

Oh hell, wait. I'm on a roll. For the record, "Hottt" isn't a word, unless you are Paris Hilton. And, since no genitalia has been exposed yet here in Fab Java Central, I doubt that, ummm like, this chick is Paris Hilton. (And I'm grateful for that - I think there's a requirement to close down and spray the place after an infestation of Hilton.)

I may never use the word "like" ever again after today. I may no longer be able to say, "I like that." I will have to say things akin to "that pleases me" or "I enjoy your company" just to avoid using "like."

Ummm, like, I'm just kidding. But seriously, could someone come duct tape this chickie's mouth shut? I think she's making the milk in my latte curdle.

I think I'm channeling the anti-Mary Tyler Moore today:

She can shut your world down with a sneer
She can take an upbeat place, and suddenly fill it with real fear
And it's you girl, and you should know it
With your "ummm likes" and little belly red shirt you show it
Loathing's all around, no need to fake it
You're making me go nuts, my sanity - you take it
I wish you'd leave here, after all
You're gonna make me crawl the wall

(And if you're old enough to be able to put the music to those words, I applaud you!)

I think I need a coffee refill. That will fix things.

And earphones. Yep. That'll do it...

Apparently, is in on the joke

This is the title of an auto-bot message I received from this morning:

" recommends Easy Spanish Phrase Book: Over 770 Basic Phrases for Everyday Use (Dover Easy Phrase) and more"

I'm starting to think this is a message from the Great Beyond...

Friday, November 10, 2006

Update to Caveman Tuneage

If you, like me, now find that dang Norsk beat stuck in your head, here's the scoop - the original, slower, mellower version of "Remind Me" as heard in the caveman ad is available on iTunes as "Remind Me (Radio Edit)" and that cool, faster, synth-y version is also out there as "Remind Me (Someone Else's Radio Edit)". They both appeal to me. Ka-ching, iTunes store credit!

Ah yes, iTunes gift cards: a little delight for music freaks with empty pockets. :-)

Anyone else diggin' the "caveman music"?

I love the GEICO "caveman" commercials. There's a new one running now, where one of the cavemen is on a moving walkway in an airport. He's just headed for his plane, checkin' his ticket, his tennis racket in his carry-on bag... As he moves along, he passes a GEICO ad on the wall, proclaiming, "So easy a caveman can do it." (See the commercial here.)

I've been diggin' on the music in the background, and, courtesy of the GEICO website, I now know it's "Remind Me" by Norway's Röyksopp. There's a link to the video for the song on the GEICO site here. Guess I will be using some of my iTunes credit that the Sasquatch gave me for my birthday (thanks, Squatch-dude!) and download some Norwegian musical goodness.

And if you haven't seen the GEICO caveman commercials, you can find them out on YouTube, including some weird fake movie trailer that cracks me up with how strangely serious it is.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Go, Norge!

Congratulations to my friends in Norway. Per the UN, you continue to live in the best spot on the planet. So, gratulerer, kids! Someday, I will get to see Norway with my own eyes. (Well, at least with one eye!)

Until then, I will just have to imagine Norway this way: the world's most magnificent (and livable!) refrigerator magnet.

(God bless Google - I'd never seen a Norwegian refrigerator magnet before today...)

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Holy crap, my mother was right!

Leaving work this evening, I encountered a dapper Latino man at the corner of 16th and M. I could see he was a bit lost. He kept looking down toward the White House, three blocks away, and then would look at an envelope in his hands. Just as I was about to cross the street, he spoke to me in heavily accented English: "Excuse me, where is Madison Hotel?"

He showed me the envelope that was marked MADISON HOTEL - 15th and M Streets, NW.

"Oh," I said cheerfully, "That's just a block down this way." He smiled and said, "No English." Then he pointed down to the White House. He pointed at his chest. "From Mexico. My presidente, Felipe Calderón, at White House. I..." He struggled for a moment, "Official photographer for my presidente." Cool.

I said, "C'mon on, I'll show you to the hotel." It was just half a block past my parking garage. He smiled and said again, "No English." Crap. As someone who does speak a second language, I find it utterly frustrating to meet someone in need with whom I cannot communicate. I didn't think my photographer friend would be amused or interested to know that the only Spanish I know is: 1)about dangerous Peruvian llamas; 2)a request for cold water; or 3)pretty obscene. Surely frustrated, the Mexican gentleman rattled off an extremely speedy set of sentences en español, and I was clueless.

I patted him on the wrist and gestured for him to come with me. Foreign cities can be pretty freaky, no matter what. And when it's dark and rainy and you don't speak the language, that increases the scary factor exponentially. I'm always happy to help someone out in unfamiliar surroundings.

15th Street - and the Madison Hotel - spotted, the presidente's photographer gave me a big "¡Gracias!" and headed for his temporary home. As we parted ways, a linguist with whom I'd been working all day caught up to me on the street. He and I have a common second tongue, Russian, and I told him about my encounter and how troubling it was to not be able to adequately help a visitor because I didn't speak his language.

And then, I remembered that damn dream from a few nights ago.

I could see my mother again, chiding me, "See? I told you, you should have taken Spanish."

I could only laugh. She was right. :-)

Halfway to 80!

No, that's not the lesser-known follow-up to "Stairway To Heaven"... Rather, it is the age of my friend the Atomic Editor, who joins the "Not Quite Ready for the Early Bird Dinner Club" today by turning 40.

Lucky man. Now you are a distinguished journalist. (Not that you weren't one before, but now you have the years to back it all up.)

I hope you are having a splendid day (hopefully with no pressing magazine deadlines) and that you and Mrs. Atomic Editor have a lovely time together.

10,000 years to the Editor!

Have a good one, my friend.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Just do it.

If you don't, then you really have no right to complain.

When really big hypocrites fall...

...move out of the way.

Cast a big shadow, crush a lot of folks on the way down.

Shame Ted Haggard never figured out it was okay to be gay... He might have been able to use his charisma to open some hearts and minds to decency and equality.


Oh well.

For very interesting coverage of the Haggard situation - and the impending U.S. elections - visit Andrew Sullivan's blog. I'm not particularly political, but I find his blog fascinating. A gay, emigre Republican urging Americans to vote for Democrats to save the country.

Meanwhile, you'll find me (if you want me), left of center, off of the strip,

Merujo (with apologies to Suzanne Vega for the cribbed lyrics...)

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Russkaya Kukhnya!

It's a quiet Sunday evening, I'm home after being out in the chilly air, and it's time to make a pot of borscht. Yum.

I got my mom hooked on borscht, and I haven't made it since she passed away in 2001. I guess it's about time, eh? If you're broke (like me) and in need of a good, hot inexpensive meal, this is a killer soup - and damn easy to make. So, I'm off to get that distinctively Russian smell going in my kitchen. Beets and onions and and cabbage and carrots and $2.19 worth of beef stew meat. (And some light sour cream to top the bowl.)

That will keep me warm tonight - and for a few more nights to come...

Yum, indeed.


To folks who sent me comments in recent days but never saw them posted here. Looks like Blogger had a hiccup somewhere along the line, and about 10 comments were never mailed to me to moderate. Hmmm. (And I never bothered to go to the moderation page and check, for I assumed everything was coming to my Gmail inbox...) I'll be more vigilant in future.

Again, sorry to anyone who might have thought I was blowing them off! (Embarrassingly, this included birthday greetings from some of my dearest friends. Oopsie.)

Do you think Blogger actually pays its staff?

Priorities, priorities

This is a good time to remind you fine folks that Frank "PostSecret" Warren has published a second book of postcard confessions. The new book, "My Secret" features postcards from young people. I think I mentioned this before, but when I went to one of Frank's talks at the Barnes & Noble in Rockville, Maryland, the majority of folks there were teens. And they treated Frank like he was a rock star. Some of these kids were so nervous their hands shook as they approached him. PostSecret may very well save some fragile teenage lives - if sending a postcard to a stranger stops a kid from considering suicide, that's an amazing thing. Absolutely amazing.

I just went for my weekly PostSecret fix, and my jaw hit the floor when I saw this one:

Now, there's one for the Lost writers' room wall...

(Damn smoke monster.)

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Very Nice Evening

I'll let the Sasquatch wax over in his blog about just how good the gig was last night. I'll just say - it was great.

In case you're not familiar with The Beautiful South, here's a little introduction - the video for their very first single (and one of their biggest UK chart hits) back in 1990. I love this one. These guys deserve a bigger following in the United States.

There's a BBC documentary about The Beautiful South out on YouTube, too. The band is remarkably popular in the UK. As the narrator in the documentary says, Paul Heaton & The Beautiful South have sold as many CDs in the UK as Noel Gallagher - people know Oasis in the U.S., but just about no one knows The Beautiful South. Yet, 1 in 5 homes in Britain has a copy of their greatest hits. That's quite something.

Doing my part to increase musical literacy. One blog entry at a time. ;-)

Friday, November 03, 2006

Beautiful Barenaked South

Tonight, I'm going to go hear The Beautiful South with the Sasquatch. TBS is one of Mr. Squatch's favorite bands ever, and I'm a fan, too. My fondness for the tuneage goes back to the pre-Beautiful South days of The Housemartins, whose UK rise to fame happened while I was a student at the LSE. I even got to see them perform at the taping of a TV show one evening. Loved it.

The Beautiful South is largely unknown in the United States, but is one of the best-selling bands ever in Great Britain. TBS has a fondness for Barenaked Ladies and vice versa. The Ladies aren't as popular in the UK as they are in North America, and so, when TBS toured the UK a few years ago, BNL opened for them. When BNL toured the US later that same year, TBS opened for them. Neat arrangement, eh?

So, tonight The Beautiful South plays the 9:30 Club here in DC. Interestingly, BNL is on tour and tonight is their night off before playing a DC-area concert tomorrow evening. See what I'm thinking/hoping, here? I would LOVE to see BNL drop in on TBS tonight. That would be quite mahvelous.

Here's hoping!

Thank you!

To everyone who sent me birthday wishes and greetings. I appreciate every one of your lovely messages. There are some truly cool people out here, and I'm grateful to have met you all, if even only in the ether. Here's to meeting in the flesh someday!

And if I could, I'd give you all a nice chocolate thank you.
And a hug or two or three. :-)

Waaaah, waaaaah, waaaaah!

Diaper change for Kanye West, please!

This just in from the AP:

"Rap star Kanye West was named Best Hip Hop artist but still came off as a sore loser at the MTV Europe Music Awards.

Kanye apparently was so disappointed at not winning for Best Video that he crashed the stage Thursday in Copenhagen when the award was being presented to Justice and Simian for "We Are Your Friends."

In a tirade riddled with expletives, Kanye said he should have won the prize for his video "Touch The Sky," because it 'cost a million dollars, Pamela Anderson was in it. I was jumping across canyons.'

'If I don't win, the awards show loses credibility,' Kanye said."

Puh-leeze. It's MTV. MTV lost any form of credibility it had when it pretty much stopped showing music videos. I mean, an award given out by a network that features a show of "Yo Mamma" jokes? Unless this was a joke, Kanye wins this week's Big Damn Baby award. How about that for credibility?

In other news, the actual world continues to spin on its axis...

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Pirate Twin Birthdays

Today is my birthday (#41) and it's also the birthday of my friend E, The Desert Dweller. E and I met via the old Thomas Dolby mailing list Alloy over ten years ago. (Let's hear it for the Internet, eh?) Turns out, at the time we first "met" online, we were living not only in the same time zone, but also working in the same metropolitan area, here in DC. But, alas, we didn't actually become friends until she had moved with her husband to a spot thousands of miles away. And then it was one of those Homer Simpson "D'oh!" moments.

"Wait? You mean you were just a few miles away?"


We found out we shared a birthday and started to quietly refer to ourselves as the "Pirate Twins", a reference to the Dolby song "Europa and the Pirate Twins." Silly? Sure. But pretty amusing to two relatively quiet women who forged a friendship on a music mailing list.

Over the years, we've managed to meet up a couple of times. Once, we took her kids to Disneyland when I was swinging through California on a short trip, and another time we met up at a bookstore out here when she was swinging through the East Coast. I think the bookstore was actually our first meeting - a big hug in the parking lot of the local Barnes & Noble and a few minutes to chat before having to race away.

When we were at Disneyland, we had pirate hats embroidered with the words "Pirate Twin" and took a very silly photo (which I can't find, dang it.) Most recently, we met up for one of Thomas Dolby's concerts in Los Angeles in January - an appropriate meeting spot for the Pirate Twins. We were even able to engineer a Chesapeake Bay sailing outing for Dolby in Annapolis during his spring tour earlier this year, via e-mail and E's wonderful network of friends along the ocean. Pretty cool, eh?

She's incredibly busy with her family, and I've been sucked up into my bad "Lifetime Television for Women" personal drama, so we haven't been in touch much over the past few months. I think it's all part of the ebb and flow of life - kids, health, money, family, general chaos - and things will eventually get back to their karmic center.

So, Happy Birthday, E. - one Pirate Twin to the other. :-)