Tuesday, January 30, 2007

One Dozen Questions with Jay Maynard, the Tron Guy

There are a handful of people out here on the World Wide Web who have gained a measure of notoriety - by accident or design - through quirky, funny, or simply unusual circumstances. They are the "Internet Phenomenon" people, and they walk among us. You know who these folks are - Gary Brolsma the "Numa Numa kid", Ghyslain Raza the "Star Wars kid", Mahir Cagri the "I Kiss You" dude... they are legion.

Back in 2004, an IT professional from Fairmont, Minnesota joined the ranks of the Internet Phenomenon elite when photos of him wearing his handcrafted electroluminiscent Tron costume hit the Web. By sharing those photos with the world, Jay Maynard became an online celebrity - and the butt of more than a few jokes thanks to his formfitting gear and non-catwalk model physique. His geek prestige garnered him a series of appearances on the late night show Jimmy Kimmel Live!, where Jimmy set the "Tron Guy" up on a number of dates with eligible ladies. My sister, Nurse Rachet, and I found Jay's appearances on Kimmel's show really engaging and funny (there's a sweet moment when some guy on the street hugs the Tron guy.) We thought it was very genuine and gutsy to appear on national television in body-hugging Lycra pimped out to look like a character from a slightly cheesy (but innovative) 1982 science fiction film. That really takes a degree of confidence that many folks simply don't possess.

A few days ago, I posted an entry/rant where I talked about the new guy's fashion "must have" from the catwalks of Milan: "man leggings." In a snarky rebuttal to this breaking style news, I posted a photo of Jay Maynard, noting that this is what a Real Guy - as opposed to the fashion elves in Milan - would look like in "man leggings."

Jay Maynard discovered my blog.

And, very reasonably, Jay commented.


I pondered this. Here, I'd been Madame Snark, and Jay was very nice in return. So, I decided this was the right time to revive "One Dozen Questions." Very kindly, Jay Maynard agreed to answer one dozen questions for the readers of the Church of the Big Sky. Here they are, with Jay's answers. Enjoy!

You are a genuine Internet phenomenon – has the response from people on the Web generally been positive? As an IT specialist, has being “the Tron Guy” worked to your advantage professionally? Socially?

By and large, the response from people on the Web these days is quite positive. That wasn’t always the case, though: the first couple of weeks were pretty rough, along the lines of “AUGH! Fat guy in spandex! Why didn’t you warn me? The goggles, they do nothing!” In retrospect, I should have expected nothing better from the denizens of Fark and Slashdot and Something Awful.

The folks I work with think the whole thing is pretty neat, but it hasn’t really done more than that professionally. There are a few folks I’ve become friends with because of it all, though. The most notable of those is Cindy Morgan, the actress who played Yori in Tron. She’s a really nice lady…and still babe-a-licious.

Has your Internet notoriety led to any strange requests or really odd messages? Has most of your correspondence come from the U.S. or abroad?

Most of my correspondence comes from the US, though I’ve gotten quite a bit from Europe. I can’t really say that there have been odd requests that have come from it.

Lots of folks enjoyed your appearances on Jimmy Kimmel’s late night show. Jimmy was working to find you some romance. Did anything pan out, or are you still looking for the woman of your dreams? Was the whole TV experience fun, or a pain?

I still keep in touch with a couple of the ladies I’ve met. It didn’t really turn into more than that, though. I had a lot of fun doing Jimmy Kimmel Live!. If they called me back, I’d go in a minute. They really were good folks: they’d fly me to LA, send a chauffeured limo to pick me up from the airport, put me up in a nice hotel a couple of blocks from the studio, and generally treat me like I was someone important. Make no mistake: it was definitely work… but I enjoyed it quite a bit.

I understand you strip down to a unitard for going through airport security. Do you do this when you’re traveling with clients or colleagues, or only when you’re traveling solo? I’m dying to know what traveling companions – and TSA – think about it.

I don’t travel with clients, but my colleagues, on the few occasions where I’ve been with them, have thought it was amusing. The TSA’s reactions have been all over the map. Screeners in Newark thought it was great and that all travelers should dress like that. The screening manager in Greensboro, North Carolina was personally offended to the point that he told me he would not allow me to fly at his airport if I did it again – after one of his screeners told me that she thought it was neat. The folks at Baltimore-Washington International thought I needed to be taught a lesson, so they did the pat-down search anyway (despite it being obvious that I wasn’t carrying anything on my person) and then did the explosive residue test on every singe piece of electronics equipment I was carrying. The whole process took 45 minutes. Most TSA people either just shake their heads or get mildly offended that I would dare question their methods in that manner.

Seriously – many women worry about the dreaded “visible panty line” or VSL. How does a man in tights – or a unitard, for that matter – handle that quandary?

Not trying to get too personal, but how does one, uh, keep all the “fiddly bits” from swinging in the breeze? (Now that “man leggings” are making their debut on the male fashion scene, this could become an issue for urban guys by springtime!)

These two get the same answer. It’s called a dance belt. It’s a cross between a thong and a jock strap, and is designed to be invisible under tights, while still providing support and (for most men) a bit of concealment.

In the pictures on the original page that made me (in)famous, I wasn’t wearing one. That’s why everything’s so prominent. I made the decision not to wear a dance belt originally because I’d thought that the actors in Tron weren’t wearing them, either. When I got the 20th Anniversary Edition of the DVD, and watched the “making of” video, I found out that I was wrong: not only did they wear them, but they were a running joke on the set. Properly sized and worn, a dance belt is quite comfortable; from the comments Jeff Bridges and Bruce Boxleitner made in the video, theirs apparently weren’t.

From visiting your website, I know that you’re an NRA member – have you ever worn the Tron suit out to the shooting range? What is your weapon of choice?

I haven’t worn the costume out shooting but in one Jimmy Kimmel Live! segment (the third date). I had a hard time washing the powder residue out of the gloves after that. In general, I don’t wear the costume unless I’m making an appearance in it. It’s seen a lot more use, and a lot more wear, than I’d ever expected it to, and it’s beginning to show.

I’m a handgun shooter, and a fan of the .40 S&W caliber. When Minnesota adopted a concealed carry law that required issuance of a permit to anyone who met the requirements, I got one. My carry weapon is a Glock 27 pistol. I’ve got a few other pistols for other kinds of shooting.

I went to college in Minnesota, and I know Fairmont, where you live, is a relatively rural location – are your neighbors amused by your notoriety, or do they even know about it?

Not many of them seem to know about it. I’ve made a few appearances at local events, and the Fairmont Sentinel did an article on me – in November 2004, well after things started happening – but, for the most part, it never comes up.

What does the Tron Guy do on a swingin’ Saturday night in Fairmont?

There’s no such thing as a swingin’ Saturday night in Fairmont. In general, though, I spend my evenings quietly at home, poking at a computer or talking with friends, on the radio or IRC.

Back in 2004, for the Jimmy Kimmel dating introduction video, you mentioned having 46 computers in your single-family house. I recognize you’re an IT guy, but isn’t 46 just a little over the top?

That number includes both my computers and my roommate’s. It’s up to 57, though…Over the top? Well, it would be if they were all the same. They’re not. We’ve got stuff from Apple ][s to PCs to different kinds of minicomputers all the way up to a small IBM mainframe. They run different operating systems, and generally do things differently.

Hillary or Barack in 2008?

Neither. I haven’t decided who I’m supporting yet, but it’s much more likely to be John McCain or Rudy Giuliani or Mitt Romney than either of those two.

Have any advice for the next Internet Phenomenon out there?

You’ve got two choices: either try to make it go away, or else jump on the bandwagon and ride it for all it’s worth. Once it starts, there’s not a thing in the world you can do about it, so trying to make it go away won’t work and will just fan the flames. If you ride it, you may well find that you get to do things and meet people you wouldn’t have a chance to any other way. You may not have as much fun as I did, but trying to make it go away will be no fun at all.

I'd like to thank Jay Maynard for answering one dozen questions for me. Jay's website is TronGuy.net. Swing by and give him a shout-out!

Monday, January 29, 2007

I would like to thank...

...the person or persons unknown who dumped bleach into my freshly laundered work clothes today. I hope, hope, hope it was an accident because I really don't want to think so very ill of the individual(s) responsible. But I have a funny feeling it may have been deliberate. See, my clothes weren't in the washer, they were in my laundry basket, waiting for one of the two dryers to be available. It would be a pretty big stretch to accidentally spill bleach all over a basket of clothes sitting on a dryer.

I may have been a mistaken target. Someone in the building has been making a number of complaints lately - not me - but they may have assumed it was me, Ms. Security Representative. Frankly, I've been too tired and too busy to notice much of anything, let alone even find time to do my laundry.

So, what damage was done?

3 pairs of fabulously comfy, very work appropriate funky pants from Says Who?, a boutique clothing store in California. $58/pair. (Fortunately, I had one pair not in the laundry, so I could mend them.) = $174 + $15 shipping = $189

6 pairs of winter weight tights. $8/pair = $48

1 Ulla Popken washable wool zippered sweater jacket. $70 (no longer available.) + $10 shipping (if they still made it) = $80

2 brand new bras in my tough-to-find size. $30/each. =$60 +$8 shipping =$68

1 Ralph Lauren Polo big men's 1/4 zip fleece mock turtle sweatshirt. $65. (I bought it at 75%, mind you. Good luck me finding that baby in my size on that sale again!)

1 Nautica long-sleeved big men's t-shirt. $40. (Another bargain found by Princess Deal Finder. Again, good luck finding that again!)

Total damage done: $490.

No witnesses. No way to prove who did it. A management office that says "We'll send around flyers to the building about this." (Great.)

And I don't have the money to replace this stuff. No way. No how.

If it was an accident, why not leave a note? Why not say, "Let me know how I can make this right?" Oy, that takes me right back to my previous entry, doesn't it? Death of civility, lack of responsibility, yadda yadda yadda...

And if it wasn't an accident? Well, miscreant, if you're reading this, may angry birds with red berry diarrhea poop on all your clothes for the next couple of years. Try getting that stuff out of yer clothes, buckaroo.


Saturday, January 27, 2007

What will Hell look like for the indulgent parents of Montgomery County?

Sometimes I wonder. Because, if my experience with their children is any indication, Yuppie MoCo Parents should have a pretty awful time in Hades.

"Hellfire" by Patrick Dunne

Warning: this will be long, and this may offend the tender sensibilities of some of my neighbors in this and adjoining tony zip codes. So be it. I'm angry tonight, and I'm going to vent. Welcome to my nightmare.

Are there plenty of decent, normal parents in this largely wealthy county? I'd like to think so. But, by and large, in the Chevy Chase-Potomac-Bethesda corridor, I encounter young people who are being raised to believe they really are better than most other people on the planet, by virtue of wealth. Children who act like they've never heard the words "humility" or "decency" let alone "humbleness" or "equality." It begins at an early age here, where mommies and daddies, many of them likely working for firms that bear their own names, start the kids off with screaming and yelling and running in cafes and stores - behavior that would have brought the hammer down from my parents back in the day.

But here in Bethesda, where the median household income is more than $99,000 a year, Jason/Joshua/Becca/Brittany is a Child Who Can Do No Wrong. Despite the shattered eardrums of others nearby, these UberKinder will not be disciplined or removed from the premises. Bad behavior is coddled. "It's all an experience for my perfect child in his $500 toddler ensemble from Ralph Lauren Polo. Other people be damned! Don't bother mommy now, Ethan/Ashley, she's on her cell, making an appointment at the Red Door for a chemical peel and a massage. Go pull merchandise off the shelves - the clerks are there to clean up after you!"

You think I'm kidding? I'm not. I've actually seen and heard crap like this. Any wonder why, by the time they're 15 or 16, a lot of these kids have been turned into soulless shopping/screwing party machines? I couldn't give a damn where your kid attends prep school - if he doesn't know how to treat another human being outside of his allowance range with a degree of decency, you haven't raised him to be worth much as a human, frankly.

Tonight, I took a short break with the Sasquatch - I needed to run a quick errand, as did he. Neither one of us is fond of mall shopping, as it brings out the worst in humanity. From gangsta wannabes to the rich poseurs, it's a mass of ugliness. But, at least, the suburban gangsta kids will just ignore you at the mall. DJ Jazzy Trevor and his posse will blow you off as not being cool enough to warrant a second look. And that's fine with me. The rich kids, though, are another story altogether.

This evening, I really wanted to hit Bruce Variety - the one store in Bethesda where you can find anything you need, from needles and thread to school supplies to pirate eye patches and shepherd's crooks. Seriously. I love this place. I needed a new change purse, as the zipper was shot on mine, spilling nickels and pennies throughout my purse. Bruce would be the place! The Squatch dude needed to hit Radio Shack. Unfortunately, as we planned our surgical strike, we realized that both the Radio Shack by his place and Bruce Variety were closed. Our last, best option? Hit Montgomery Mall. Close by, with a Radio Shack and the Body Shop (where I wanted to get much needed foot stuff) inside, along with a Chick-fil-A, where we could get their fabulous nuggets o' joy for dinner. (I swear they coat those suckers with crack, to keep us hooked.)

Now, for the uninitiated, Montgomery Mall is a Hellmouth. This is a well-established fact. There are the occasional knifings, carjackings, and guys exposing themselves in front of the maternity clothes store. Yep, it's a reeeeally great place. I hate it. But even mall haters sometimes have to buy things from brick and mortar stores. Woman cannot live through online shopping alone. And now that I have no credit cards, it's a necessity for many things.

The Sasquatch made his speedy trip to Radio Shack, and I squinted my way through the Body Shop to get my "happy foot goodies." A quick dinner of chicken-y goodness, and we'd be back to our respective homes for a quiet Saturday evening. Sounded just fine.

And it was.

Until dinner was over.

And, as we left the food court, populated by tired parents and clutches of bored teenagers, it happened.

It's not an unfamiliar scenario for me. Fat woman walks somewhere. Someone who thinks a fat person is human garbage decides to point this out to friends. Hilarity ensues.

But tonight, the three rich, bored, asshole Bethesda teenagers decided to mock the wrong fat woman. Oh yes, they did.

As we approached their table, one of the trio pointed me out to her two friends, their heads spun around, and they all pointed, laughed, and the two girls high-fived each other. Little jerks. Usually, I try, oh lord I try, to ignore it. But tonight I didn't.

I have been working hard to keep my head attached to my body. But between the eye, work stress, filing for bankruptcy, family stress, the creeps upstairs from me, and the general wear of life, the last thing I need is a threesome of idiots mocking me for BEING ME.

I told Teenager #1 she was a creep. Straight out. She gave me the blank "Oh shit, I got caught" look that is followed by the "Uh, uhm, heh heh, I dunno what you're talking about..." speech. I started to walk away, but the Sasquatch had stopped. I told him what had transpired. He paused, turned, and confronted them. The one girl gave him the same crap. The two girls laughed as he calmly dressed them down. Teenager #2 wouldn't even look him - or me - in the eye. She just kept laughing while she flipped through songs on her iPod, as if we did not exist. Teenager #3, the one boy, got up, totally ignoring my friend, and walked to the trash can to dump his rubbish, and I confronted him. Before I could even get a word out, he put his hands up and said, "Hey, look. I didn't actually say anything."

"So, pointing and laughing is okay, then?" He didn't respond. The teens just blew my friend off. He wasn't one of them. He wasn't wearing labels. He wasn't some golden Bethesda youth with $10,000 of orthodontia and overpriced clothes. "It's not funny," he said to them. iPod girl continued to giggle like a fucking idiot. I looked at them and said, "Stupid rich Bethesda pieces of shit."

Usually, when it's teenagers, I try to keep it clean. I really do. But I'm tired. I'm tired of having to fight back against People Who Should Know Better.

People who are old enough to be on their own at the mall.

People who have been raised with every advantage.

People who know they are privileged.

People who don't even have the decency, when caught being assholes, to say, "I'm sorry."

"That was wrong."

"I'm sorry."

No, these kids have been raised to believe they don't have to say sorry to people who aren't as good as they are. People who they think are beneath them.

Well, screw you. I've hit my limit with your overpriced trash. A designer trash bag still contains trash, kids.

And I blame the parents.

Let me tell you, Yuppie Parents of Montgomery County, I think you're doing a pretty crappy job. What do I see in your children? When I look at the Abercrombie & Fitch bags they clutch like religious icons? When I see their greedy little dull dolls eyes glazed over as they chat on their cellphones? When I feel the cold fronts they generate as they walk by?

I see a lack of things that you didn't see fit to give them:

There is no civility. There is discourtesy and a sense of entitlement.

There is no dignity. There is a cult of dirty materialism and hedonism.

There is no decency. There is rudeness, cruelty and shameless self-absorption.

Yep, I blame you, Yupster parents. (I also blame the media you allow your kids to "enjoy." That's a whole different post. Bottom line? You can control the TV and computer, hons.)

Indulging your child's every whim, investing them with a sense of self-importance at an early age? It does not help them in this life, unless you are grooming them to be the next Paris Hilton. And you know what? Paris Hilton has a lot of money, but she has no class. We've all seen her vagina. Most of us have seen her give some guy a blow job. She's been pulled over for driving while intoxicated. She gets rid of pets when they're too big for her purse. She's not bright. She thinks "hot" is spelled with three "t's"... She is a human punchline to a panoply of sad, pathetic jokes. Do you really want your kid to admire and emulate that? No? Well, then, start parenting!

Figure 1: Fictional vampires with souls

Figure 2: Actual vampires without souls

Oh, and hey, teens of Bethesda! Here are some super fun facts for you!

Fact #1: I know I am physically unattractive. I'm really fat. Get over it. My lack of traditional beauty is not worthy of comment by people rendered even uglier by a lack of a soul.

Fact #2: Yes, you have more money than I have. In fact, you are currently wearing more money than I have. You have probably spent more on booze, weed, DKNY and text messaging this month than I'll make this year. But that doesn't make you better than me. In fact, it makes you a moron. Part of me wishes carpal tunnel and cancer on you for all the time you're spending with your Sidekick or Crackberry Pearl or whatever.

Fact #3: You ain't always gonna be young and pretty. And if all you can remember is the price list at Armani Exchange and that ugly people are fun to mock, your life is gonna be crap.

MoCo Parents, try though I might to find some reason to like your children, I cannot. Where did they learn to be such jerks? They say that charity begins at home. I think cruelty does, too. You're raising bullies with pocket change.

If I could have, I would have done a Vulcan mind meld on one of those rich little trolls tonight at Montgomery Mall. It actually would have pleased me to see one of them weep to understand what I've been through in the past two years and watch them melt from volcanic heat and pressure they could never withstand. They haven't been raised with enough fortitude to hack it.

I've never looked for sympathy out here. I've never looked for anyone to pat me on the back. But life hasn't been great in recent times. I am worn down. I am weary. And I have so much going in my very, very real life, I cannot hack bullshit from slimey little rich brats right now. And I shouldn't have to deal with it. I know why suicide rates are higher for people who are overweight. I know why depression is such a problem for fat people. And I know why people become hermits. Experiences like tonight make me want to stay at home. Why go out and deal with this crap? Why not just go to work and come directly home and just not deal with the evil behavior that is taken for granted in the community where I live? Behavior that is ignored, condoned, and encouraged by mentally absent and criminally indulgent parenting?

Yeah, I need to lose a lot of weight. Yeah, I could probably use some therapy.

But what's your excuse, Yuppie Mommies and Daddies?

Get your kids out of the damn mall if you're not there to supervise them. Get them off frigging MySpace. Expose them to the world outside Potomac and Bethesda. And I don't mean by summering in the Hamptons. Most of the world isn't one big super sweet 16 party.

There's a world outside this goddamn yuppie bubble. And guess what, kids? It's populated more by people like me than by people like you. And we aren't afraid to stare you in the face and call you on your arrogance and stupidity.

Someday, Yuppie Mommy and Daddy, your kid is going to mock the wrong low-class fat chick, and instead of just calling your creepy kid a "rich Bethesda piece of shit", someone with less restraint is going to smack your kid or put your kid in the hospital.

And you know what? Your kid is probably going to deserve it.

Get with the program. Wake up and smell the latte. Grow up so your kids can, too.

Blogger forcing my hand?

I haven't made the switch to "new Blogger." I've heard some nightmare stories from folks, so I figured, why bother? However, when I logged in this morning to post, I was hit twice with reminders about "new Blogger" and this ominous message in response to my old school log-in: "YOU MAY ONLY DO THIS ONCE!"

Huh. So, does that mean, if I log-out today at any time and get the itch to post again, I'm screwed and have no choice but to migrate? We shall see. I don't like being forced into anything. Change isn't always good. Read the mostly-ignored-by-Blogger/Google "help" group on Google Groups, and you'll see how many folks are unhappy with "new Blogger"...


UPDATE: Yup. No choice. I'm migrated. Grrrr x2.

Objects in mirror may be much closer than they appear...

I've had a rough eye week. The icepick through my head has been turning and poking and generally making thing less enjoyable than usual. I had a date with the Eye Guy on Wednesday - visits there are always long and horribly delayed, which makes the anticipation of any procedures more miserable. I have photos of my eye to share with you, but I still need to scan them in. Sometime this weekend, I'll share them. Viewer discretion advised.

Each time I go in, they have to inject me with a contrast dye to do an angiogram of my eyeball. The dye is an unpleasant bright reddish substance of the isocyanine family. It smacks your kidneys around and makes you pee flourescent green for days afterward. Also, if the technician misses the vein, it burns like a sonufabitch. The new tech at the office had a hard time getting the needle into my left arm this time. She poked and poked at the crook of my elbow, but finally, she thought she had it in. She started to squeeze the dye in, saying, "If it burns, let me know." Within 10 seconds, I was yelling, "Oh, god, it's burning! Oh my god!"

She took the needle out.

So, she moved to the top of my right hand. My poor writing hand. This she got in fairly successfully, although it left a painful welt for a couple of days.

Wanna see what happens when that dye gets outside of a vein, though? Here's my left arm today, Saturday, four days after:

Youch. It still hurts, too.

Everything about this particular appointment was painful. It's the first time in a long time that I had tears flowing during my time there. The icepick feeling remains - the pressure behind my eye is high. It could be because I haven't shaken the bronchitis yet (and, in fact, I woke up this morning with one horribly sore ear, a sore throat, and all the accompanying signs of acute illness. Again.) Regardless of the reason, it stinks.

I had to go into work very early yesterday, so I left before the sun came up. My driving skills, as you know, aren't so hot now when there's limited light. Fortunately, at 6:30 in the morning, Wisconsin Avenue is fairly quiet. I did fine until I reached the parking garage on M Street. I got in and found a spot, only to have the garage attendant ask me to move to another space. The garage only had ambient light on this first level, and, backing up, I miscalculated the distance between me and the big cement pillar behind me. In the mirror, all looked well.

Until I smacked into the damn thing. I bumped it hard enough to make me jump in my seat and feel my neck snap a bit. Fortunately, no damage to the pillar. Maybe another scratch to the bumper (which is already covered in supermarket parking lot/valet parking bumps and bruises.) The biggest victim was my pride as the attendant watched me, smirking as I removed myself from the pillar and manovered to a new spot. Great way to start the day.

When Mr. Eye is acting up, it's challenging to remain upbeat at work. There is so much work on my desk, I get a little freaked out by my inability to clean the stacks of paper piling up. I had a slight mental meltdown at about 8:15 yesterday morning when my computer refused to print anything on plain paper. Everything was on letterhead. And I developed what I'm going to call petite stress-related Tourettes. I'm better now. Honest. I made it through the day with without screaming, so that's a victory, right there.

A short, but decadent dinner with the Sasquatch at Five Guys remedied some of what ailed me. His company can do that. If you get a chance, leave the Sasquatch a comment over on his blog. He rarely posts these days because he's working on an online MFA with SCAD, the Savannah College of Art & Design. He's doing pretty darn well, but, as many folks know, it's tough to balance grad school with a demanding, full-time job. Wish him well - I'm sure he'll appreciate it!

I dreamed last night that he and I had gone to Thailand. Just for dinner. (That's a helluva drive.) I scouted out a likely neighborhood to get a really great meal, only to discover that there were two warring, knife- and axe-wielding gang factions duking it out there. The streets were awash in blood virtually every day at 6 p.m. But the food was so good! I had to get my hairy, arboreal companion to a table before the bloodshed started. So, at 5:45 p.m., I'm dragging him down this street while angry, armed gangs stared at each other from opposite sides. The whole street looked like a wild west town, complete with muddy road and wooden walkways, but with bright neon signs in Thai fronting warm, cheery 21st century cafe windows. It was a little "Bladerunner meets Deadwood."

We picked a place, and the maitre 'd at the door grabbed me by the elbow, politely, but firmly saying, "Ah, yes - a table for two... at the back... in the basement... this way... quickly!" Our waiter, an enormous man with a wide smile said, "Don't worry - we never get broken glass down here." Without ever seeing a menu, the Sasquatch ordered something rapidly in Thai (which amazed me), but I could only order "Thai spring rolls" while I waited to see an actual listing of options. I looked around and realized it looked just like the aquarium section of a pet store, the walls lined with bubbling tanks. Long story short? We'd stumbled into some creepy seafood restaurant where everything had to be consumed raw, and all the food had the possibility of being deadly if not prepared correctly.

In real life, I cannot eat sushi for medical reasons. In the dream, I was freaking out. The waiter's grin left his face when I asked for something cooked, "preferably chicken, please." I'd found a menu, which he stole from my hands, saying, "You insult me! I shall choose!" I finally settled on something crawling in a tank that resembled a giant prawn. Except, this was apparently a "giant thawn" - a prawn with poison sacs. One miscalculation and I was dead. Across the table, the Sasquatch smiled. "Isn't this cool?!?" He was bubbling with enthusiasm, oblivious to my discomfort. My eyes narrowed. I turned to the waiter, pointed to the Sasquatch and hissed, "It's his birthday." The smile fell away from the Sasquatch's face as someone approached and put a party hat on his head. He growled at me. "You totally suck."

I woke up at that point. I'm still chuckling about the party hat. So true, so true. That would be a hanging offense in the eyes of my hirsute woodland friend.

Here's hoping the sore throat fades. Here's hoping the eye won't pound and ache today. And here's to, hopefully, a quiet, work-free Saturday.


Monday, January 22, 2007

A red letter day on a blue Monday

So, today was supposedly the unhappiest day of the year. Huh. Could have fooled me.

Sure, I was having some bad-ass eye problems today. (More on that after I see the eye guy again on Wednesday.) But that's the norm now.

One of my huge work projects was put to bed, thankya jeeezus! My blog got a quickie mention in the Express paper edition (re: Henry Rollins), and I actually found street parking for my car directly outside my office. A banner day for me, by any accounting.

But the day's wrap-up was the real highlight. Just as I was pondering staying late and digging through the K2-sized pile of crap on my desk, an e-mail popped up with an invite to a sneak preview at the Regal in Chinatown: "RENO 911! Miami!" Oh heck yeah! The trailer had cracked me up, and I love the series on Comedy Central. Lt. Jim Dangle and his hotty-hot-hot criminally awful uniform hot pants? Too freaking funny. So, I hit the road for Chinatown. Free validated three-hour parking at Gallery Place for moviegoers is probably one of the best deals in the whole area.

Also, I had a birthday certificate from the Aveda Institute around the corner on 7th for a free custom-blended "pure-fume" spray - and who is Ms. Broke-Ass Cheapskate 2007 to turn down a lovely, free, $20-value perfume spray??? I parked, I hobbled to Aveda and closed my eyes for five minutes while a member of my favorite beauty cult offered up scents for me to test drive (with a nice cleansing whiff of coffee beans between each one.) I ended up with "Water #6" which is a clean, earthy scent that makes me pretty happy and calm. I dig it. I think it'll stay in my purse for use on high stress days.

Scent in hand, I hobbled back into Gallery Place and headed up to the Regal Cinemas on the third floor. There was already a sizeable line of sneak preview goers when I arrived - mostly folks in their 20s and 30s. A young guy with a British accent (who was either with the marketing firm or 20th Century Fox) collected glossy tickets from some of the folks in line. I got to hold onto my crumpled e-mail. Just as the line started to move, a woman announced that cameraphones and cameras would not be allowed inside. Nice. A little late for that, don't you think? I got the impression that every other person in line had a camera phone. Some folks got grumpy, and a bargain was brokered. One of the screeners was given a sheet of red stickers. As we entered the theater, we turned in our cameraphones and were given a corresponding numbered sticker. I stuck mine firmly at the bottom of my Aveda bag, as I had this vision of coming out of the film sans sticker, unable to reclaim my phone.

One brilliant advantage to this situation? A full theater and not a single annoying ringtone for the whole show. Fantastic.

Just before the movie started, whoops and hollers erupted from the audience behind me. Coming down to the front of the theater were Thomas Lennon, Ben Garant, and Niecy Nash, better known to TV viewers as Lt. Jim Dangle, Deputy Travis Junior, and Deputy Raineesha Williams. They were all in their gear - Dangle in his hideous hot pants, Junior in his bulletproof vest, and Raineesha with her makeup and hair to the nines. They were hilarious. And Raineesha, having drawn the short straw to give the introduction speech instead quoted 50 Cent. The audience was delighted. Lennon and Garant are two of the creators/writers of "Reno 911!" - both the series and the movie. Lennon, along with "Reno" co-creator Kerri Kenney, starred in one of my very first Comedy Central addictions, "Viva Variety!" with Michael Ian Black. (Why so many links? Because these people are incredibly talented, but just don't get enough credit!!)

Of course, I ended up with Couple Who Couldn't Shut Up sitting next to me, but I managed to ignore them for most of the movie. Plus, the film was just fun, which made it easier to blow off the talkers.

Silly fun. Sometimes grotesque. Great little cameos by Patton Oswalt, Danny DeVito, The Rock, PeeWee Herman, series regular Nick Swardson, and others. It's not exactly high comedy. There are sex laughs and drug laughs and general silliness. If you are a fan of the show, you'll get a kick out of it. I laughed for 90 minutes. A good cleansing laugh.

And then, I sat in my car on H Street and ate a Five Guys burger while reading Entertainment Weekly. Yeah, I'm lame. Yeah, I have no social life. But if you're going to spend a night on your own "out on the town", there's something to be said for free perfume, a free movie, free parking, getting to laugh yourself silly, and then just eatin' a burger in your car in Chinatown in winter at 10 o' clock on a Monday night.

Blue Monday my ass. If today was blue, I'll take a gallon of that color, please!

Sunday, January 21, 2007


Neil Finn is getting the band back together and taking 'em on the road. I will finally get to see Crowded House. Ahhhh...

I may have to sell an organ to get a ticket, but, hey, you only live once, right?

Into Temptation

No drummer they find will replace Paul Hester, but hopefully his spirit will inspire the guys.

A few observations from a challenging week

I'm still working on this humongous project - to be followed immediately by another humongous work project - and one of my own, of the "dealing with financial disaster" variety.

But, before I go down to my office on a Sunday afternoon, a few things to get you caught up...

1. I saw Henry Rollins at work this week. That tripped me out. I don't know who he was there to meet, but it was cool to see him. His hair is all grey into really white now. Many celebrity-type folks come through my place of employment, and you just don't bug 'em, but it was hard to not stop and say, "Dude, I still love 'TV Party'!" Or, just yell "QUINCY!" (This is only funny if you've heard "TV Party.") But I gave him a friendly "I know who you are, and you're f-ing cool" smile and head nod, and I got the nice, silent head nod in return. Good enough.

2. Continuing coughing jags are screwing with my eye big time. Thursday night, I had so much pain, I literally didn't sleep at all. I watched more Adult Swim than I have since my unemployment extravaganza in 2005. Oof. I made up for this sleep deficit by sleeping until 12:25 on Saturday afternoon, which was problematic, as I had an appointment at 1 p.m. and was supposed to have reviewed and edited some docs for work that morning. Off and on, it feels like I have an ice pick lodged in my head. Throughout the week, I had pain from my fingertips to my toes on the left side of my body - it all radiated out of my eye. My neck and shoulder hurt so much, I kept spraying arthritis pain reliever on that area - I smell like an old folks' home. Amusingly, at my reflexology foot massage yesterday (alas, I have officially run out of paid up massages as of now - SOB!!!) I had a new masseuse, unfamiliar with my recent history. As she tended to my feet, she said, "You seem to have real tension in spots relating to the neck, shoulders, eyes, and lungs. Are you having any particular problems?" Hahahaha! Believe in reflexology or think it's bunk - they're always right with me!

3. Suburban yuppie mommies: if there are several empty tables in the coffee shop, don't plant yourself and your coughing, hacking offspring at my little table. (Without asking, no less.) Then, when your coughing, hacking offspring dumps a large drink all over the table with my laptop on it, don't even think of turning to me and saying, "Go get me some napkins?" as your child smacks his hands repeatedly in the drink mess, splashing crap on my screen. Seriously. DON'T DO IT. It may take a village to raise a child, but it only takes you 3 seconds to turn your lazy yuppie ass around and pick up napkins to clean up after your own child.

Sorry. If that sounds bitchy, then so be it. Plenty of lovely folks came in the coffee shop yesterday with their kiddos in tow and behaved like normal people. But there's always got to be one of the Entitled Bethesda Mommies in the room. I cannot imagine for one second my mother telling some stranger in a cafe to go get stuff to clean up after one of us - especially without even saying "Excuse me/help/please"... Of course, my mom wouldn't have brought an obviously sick kid out to a coffee shop or put said sick kid down at a table with a total stranger when there were a bunch of empty tables. My mom also wouldn't have opened up a cell phone at a table with a stranger and had a screamfest, speakerphone conversation with my father, as this woman did with her spouse. "IS RACHEL UP? GET RACHEL UP FROM HER NAP! NO, I STILL NEED TO GO TO SAFEWAY. WHADDYA WANT FOR DINNER? STOP PLAYING IN THE SPILLED DRINK!"


After they finally left, I got some water and cleaned off the sticky gunk on my computer and the table. And I revelled in the sudden silence. I swear to god, if I get sick again from the hacking child, I may have to hunt that mommy down and smack her.

4. Driving home from work far, far too late on a very cold Friday evening, I got to see a naked guy on Connecticut Avenue. I was stopped at a light in that area of tallish apartment buildings north of the Van Ness metro station. As I'm waiting, the door opens on one of the buildings and a completely naked guy runs out - he had to be in his 20s - and he had to be Very Cold. I rolled down my window and heard him screaming, "Ooooh shit! Oooooh shit!" as he raced across Connecticut and back. Another guy, fully clothed, stood at the door of the building, laughing and yelling, "Duuuude! You win! You're fucking insane!" I laughed my ass off. I can only wonder what bet was worth that! I called the Sasquatch and told him about it. I said I would have, at least, kept my shoes on. The 'Squatch figured that being shoeless was probably part of the deal. I bet he's right. I imagine the Naked Dude of Connecticut Avenue is still trying to warm back up as I write...

5. Apparently, "man leggings" are the new fashion "must-have" from Milan. Man Leggings. Dear god. Let's face it: most men should not wear leggings. (Many women shouldn't either - if you ever see me in leggings in public, please shoot me. And be kind. Shoot to kill.) Leggings are simply tights without feet. And honestly, unless you are taking ballet, juggling at the renaissance faire or in a remake of Robin Hood, tights are a Bad Idea for Guys. First, how many men really want to wear leggings in public? (Other than, perhaps, this gent.) Visible panty line issues be damned! This will rapidly become a case of visible "fiddly bits", shifting and chafing and swaying in the breeze! No secrets can be contained in Man Leggings. (Unless they come with an optional cup or codpiece, and that makes it all so much worse.)

Most guys wearing Man Leggings will not look like this:

You see, that creature is a wood sprite. An elf. A tiny man-pixie. Beyond metrosexual. Probably completely depilated, moisturized, and smelling better than I ever will in my life. He is, ladies and gentleman, A Model. He is not A Real Dude. What will Real Dudes look like wearing Man Leggings? Well, they won't look like Master Julian Cheekbones Saint-Slip-of-a-Boy up there.

Instead, they will look like this:

Or, quite frankly, this:

And, bless Jay Maynard's Tron-suit-wearing self... but who needs that?

Outside of Manhattan (and maybe West Hollywood) what American male is going to run to Home Depot or grab the never-ending pasta bowl at The Olive Garden in a pair of footless, microfiber tights? If you find one (who isn't doing it on a dare or a bet), let me know.

I don't care what Godfrey Deeny sez. (Yes, that fashion reporter digging the leggings in Milan really is named Godfrey Deeny.) Men: keep the leggings at home. (Or better, at the store, unpurchased!) If you must slip on something fast to grab a six-pack at the convenience store, go with sweats. Nice, thick sweats. And a t-shirt that covers your crotch. Silently, the world will thank you.

And now, it's time to hit the road for some office time downtown. Broad daylight likely means no naked guys on Connecticut Avenue for my trek today. And hopefully, no men in tights, too.

Later, gators!

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

When bloggers meet

First, a handy hint: if you're going to meet up with folks in Chinatown here in DC, it's a good idea to see what's going on at the Verizon Center before you get in your car. Trying to find street parking/affordable parking near the arena when the Wizards are playing the Knicks is not really possible. That said, I had a very nice time, indeed, at the DC Blogger Meet-Up. Friendly peeps, as always, and, for the first time ever, I got to enjoy a pub in DC without coughing up a lung from cigarette smoke! (No offense to my smoking friends - I just have really weak lungs and loads of allergies!) And I had some mighty tasty beer-battered cod and chips with loads of vinegar. Split some outrageously rich dark chocolate cake with my friend Janet. Life was good. It was nice to get out for a couple of hours tonight. Blow off some steam. Laugh. Just talk.

I'm in the middle of a huge mutha of a project at work right now, hence the lack of substantive posts here at the Church of the Big Sky. All the words in my head are going directly into that monster. Once this is finished, I'll be able to spare some thoughts for the blog. Right now, though, unless you want to hear about Afghan antiquities, I'm running on empty.

More words soon, soon...

Sunday, January 14, 2007

I'm the one who reads your mind

I'm in a springtime frame of mind, thanks to Mother Nature's strange turn here in DC. It's far too warm and rainy for January. And my body and my brain are already feeling like February, March, April... a time of renewal for many people. For me, it's a reminder that I am by myself. There is no Valentine's Day, there is no frisky flinging, no flirty clothes to venture into, no heart to impress. And sometimes, in springtime, the very songs that I adore start to turn my mind all melancholy and painfully wistful.

Case in point, this afternoon, when I found myself listening to one of my very favorite Neil Finn tracks, "Wherever You Are." If you're not a Neil Finn fan... well, heck, kids, why not? I love his voice. I love his turn of phrase. And sometimes, his beautiful songs break my heart. And I sat in my car and listened to the words again and again. And I wished there was someone who felt this way about me, across the miles, across the days and nights. And I felt a loss.

Wherever you are
It's 3 a.m. and I'm awake
Imagine the light
Upon your blue transparent face
Through coloured glass
It filters down to warmest red
I'm the one who reads your mind

See my life in your design
True companion at your side
Gracious and good
When all around is turning bad
Restless and brave
When laid upon suburban grass
Your timing is right
Remove the sad persistent thought
Hold the course
I'm the one who reads your mind
Sees my life in your design
True companion at your side
I'll give you something
For when I'm not around
To make you smile
And if you think it then it must be true
If only I could make it through
Climb into my bed
Wherever you are
Wherever you are
Your timing is good
Remove the sad persistent thought
Hold the course
I'm the one who reads your mind
Sees my life in your design
True companion at your side
I'll leave you something for when I'm not around
To make you smile
Outside that wasteland
And if only I could make it through
If you think it then it must be true
Wherever you are

But it's not springtime yet, and I want to hold onto a little winter in my heart yet. Before the loneliness of spring really comes, bearing down with its unbearableness.

I could be a true companion. I would love to see my life in someone else's design. Unfortunately, I think I am destined to be my own designer.

But I don't know the software.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Brain temporarily full

My ears are itching, but my throat feels better-ish, at last, so I guess I'm on the mend. Hooray. It's been an insanely busy week, punctuated by bouts of nastiness with the Captain Trips strain of bronchitis I managed to get. Yesterday, the entire day was focused on a specific project at work. I had about 10 minutes for lunch, and then, back to the project. When I finally got home, I just wanted to veg out with some "edjamacational" television and I flipped to PBS...

...which was showing a re-run of a documentary from my employers specifically about the project I'd been working on all day. I had to laugh.

But I didn't change the channel. I watched. And I was inspired.

I love my job.

Today, though, I'm off the clock. I have non-job, real-life stuff to attend to. Serious stuff. Health. Money. Trying to stay sane.

Wish me luck.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Just another morning at the parking garage...

I parked in a different garage than usual this morning. Waiting outside my car to get a receipt, I could not help but overhear the 30-something dude standing next to the Lexus in front of my crapmobile. He was having a loud, animated conversation with someone on his cell phone. The prim, 50-ish blond woman behind me smiled and we exchanged one of those "Oy, this guy needs to shut up!" looks.

Said the guy to his invisible friend: "Man, I remember that girl! Hotttt! Those Scandanavian chicks give insane head, man! Insane!"

I popped one hand over my mouth, trying not to laugh. The blonde woman smirked. We both stared at the dude who finally noticed there were other people there.

Said he to us: "Well, they do! Just ask around!"

I replied: "Uh, I think I'll pass."

Said the blonde: "I don't have to ask. I'm from Iceland."

HA! Brilliant! I have no idea if she was from Iceland, but it was a marvelous reply.

Phone dude paused for a moment, laughed, and just turned away, continuing on his chat as if nothing had transpired.

City livin'. Helluva thing.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

New PostSecret Book Out 1/9/07

Frank Warren very kindly offered me an advance copy of his latest PostSecret book, The Secret Lives of Men and Women. This new volume, Frank's third compilation of post card secrets, makes for a very compelling read. In contrast with the second book, which focused on the secrets of young people, the artwork and stories that spill from these pages come from the hands and minds of adults. Although at times, the secrets are as childlike as any youngsters. From the first day I found PostSecret online, I was addicted. I've written and mailed postcards of my own, but I've never seen them on the site or in a book.

But that doesn't really matter. The cards tell universal stories of love and hate and triumph and loss. (Okay, with the exception of that one about the civil war soldiers. I mean, wtf was that about?) Toward the end of this new book there is a card with a big pink heart at the center. In the heart is a wheelchair symbol and the words "This heart is wheelchair accessible." Around the heart are written these words: "They think I stayed out of guilt & pity, but I did it because he's still as strong, smart & funny sitting as he was standing ...it's also why I asked him to marry me."

It made me cry. It was the end of the emotional wave that you feel when you read one of these books. You laugh, you catch your breath in amazement or shock, you "awww"... and you cry.

Each postcard is a window into another life, and each is beautiful and sad and wonderful. Congratulations, Frank, on choosing another fine group of cards to share with us.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Rigor Ramen

Momofuku Ando, inventor of ramen noodles, has died at age 95. College students, the functional poor, and stoners across America weep.

Beef, chicken, or UFO?

No word on whether he'll be dried, heavily salted, and wrapped in a small styrofoam bowl and cellophane for future rehydration.

Hmm... Soylent Ramen... Step aside, Norman Borlaug! I see a Nobel Prize in my future! (Yes, yes, just one more stepping stone on my path to Hell...)

All joking aside, Mr. Ando, I salute you! Your salty carbs kept me going through my whole last semester of college (along with bottomless pots of coffee from the St. Clair Broiler) - and your noodly goodness has served as lunch for me many, many times in recent, financially challenging months.

May your journey into the next life be peaceful. And low in sodium.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Another radio piece to air on Saturday!

One of the commentaries on books/reading that I wrote and recorded for WVIK, the public radio station back in my hometown, will air tomorrow (Saturday) on the About Books show. My piece will be on around 1:20 p.m. EST. You can listen online at wvik.org. When the show is archived, I will have a link to it on the blog.

As always, thanks for listening!!

A weather report from the comfy sofa

I've slept almost three whole days. Damn. Missed a whole week of work (taking New Year's Day and the Ford funeral into account.) I woke up around 4 this morning so feverish that my hair was wet, my face was bathed in sweat, and my clothes were soaked through. Nice way to start the day, no? I was so dehydrated, I think I was rustling like a mummy in a corn field. (No, I've never seen a mummy in a corn field. I was just looking for a more colorful way to say "desiccated husk.") Worst part is, every time I cough, my damn crazy eye feels like it's gonna pop out of my head - and there's no way I'm pulling a Raul Julia today, thanks.*

One $25 co-pay to the doc and $60 in Rx drugs later, I'm still feeling pretty limp, but at least I'll be better-ish by Monday. Hooray for the wonders of the Zithromax "Z-Pack"!! I came out of the pharmacy and turned on the car radio just as the last 15 seconds of my radio commentary played. They played "God Save the Queen" at the conclusion (it makes sense when you hear the piece.) This made me laugh. Far too much. Enough, in fact, that I had a coughing fit and had to whip out the inhaler I'd just picked up.

Yes, it couldn't be a year at Chez Merde without a bang-up start to it, eh?

Back to the sofa with me...

*Raul Julia once told a story on the David Letterman show about pressure building up behind his eyes to the point where they popped out and had to be reinserted. I might find this wholly unbelieveable except that my eye doctor, the wonderful Dr. David Wanicur, told me about such a case where a very nervous, hypertensive patient's left eye popped out during an examination, and Dr. Wanicur had to relax the guy to the point where he could pop the sucker back in. Hope you had dinner before you read that!

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Radio, Radio: the "annus horribilis" edition!

I'm crawling off the sofa long enough to simply post this reminder.

I'm on WAMU's Metro Connection show tomorrow (Friday), with a piece wrapping up 2006, otherwise known as "my decent into Hell." My commentary will be on the last few minutes of the show, around 1:50 p.m. EST. As usual, if you're in the DC area, you can listen live at 88.5 FM, or y'all can listen online at WAMU.org. The show will be archived and my commentary available online - I'll put a link to it over on the right hand side of this here blog.

The bronchitis has now officially sucked my voice out of me. Glad I'm not recording any radio stuff this week. I'd sound like Bea Arthur and Brenda Vaccaro on a bender.

Bea Arthur and Brenda Vaccaro? Christ, just how old am I? All I needed was to reference Merv Griffin (with special guests Waylon Flowers and Madame!) and that would pretty much put the last nails in my coffin...

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

I feel like death, how 'bout you?

Well, my stomach bug is back, and, now, to make things more fun, I've pulled a muscle in my back and - wait for it - I have a sinus infection creeping into bronchitis! Yes, my nose and my lungs are about to engage in a steel cage death match for respiratory supremacy! Oh, the excitement. I woke up so feverish, I wanted to die right there.

Eh, it'll get better. At least my eye isn't throbbing like it did over the entire holiday break. I spent hunks of time at my sister's house with a microwaved rice pack over my eye, doing cleansing breaths to stop the nausea. Over Christmas, I also discovered that, after 2 1/2 hours of pyrotechnics, lasers, and screamin' guiiiiitars, the Trans-Siberian Orchestra can induce eye nausea, too. (But hey - don't let anybody tell ya otherwise - the concert, to which my sister got free tickets, was fun. And the musicians are damn talented. Holiday cheese on an epic level!)

Time to steam my sinuses and curl back up in a fetal ball... whoo-hoo!

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Year End Photos

I took no photos when I was home in Illinois this time. I'd planned on a photo safari in Chicago, but that didn't pan out. So, just a couple of photos for you...

Gonzomantis and the Sasquatch at the Thomas Dolby/BT gig at Sonar in Baltimore, 12-20-06. Yes, my friends are big dorks. That's part of their charm!

My friend Lunesse, glass artist extraordinaire and tour goddess, dishes out the merchandise at the Dolby/BT gig. This woman has the patience of a saint. Seriously. And she makes rockin' cool beads!

New Year's Eve at the Jefferson Memorial. I was out and about with my friend Keith, in from Denver. Keith is an accomplished photographer. I, on the other hand, am not. In particular, I have no skill with nighttime photography. However, I decided I liked this fuzzy photo - the lights reminded me of swans landing.

And this fuzzy one made the "light swans" look like they were arching their necks as they floated along the Tidal Basin. (Hey, lemonade out of lemons, what can I tell you!)

This was just a wicked-looking tree near the memorial. I liked it.

My picture postcard image of the Washington Memorial. Proof positive that even the most inept photographers can get a good shot (after twenty tries!)

Monday, January 01, 2007

Geriatric Jones!

I'll be damned. Lucas and Spielberg have finally gotten a script they want. Indiana Jones 4 is gonna shoot this year.

Holy crow.

But, it's more than 20 years later... who will the big baddies be? Nazis in hiding in South America? The North Koreans? Stalin? (Wait, he was dead already by '53...)

And how much abuse can Dr. Jones' body take before he breaks a hip?

You throw me the idol, I throw you the cane!

Perhaps he'll find a terrifying cult that rips pulsing pacemakers from the chests of its victims.

Raiders of the Early Bird Dinner Special?

"It's not the years, honey, it's the mileage... No, wait. It is the years. The painful, painful march of the years... And who are you? Somebody get me some macaroni and cheese and Jell-o."


Well, all I can say is, George Lucas - you screw this up like you screwed up the last three Star Wars movies, I may have to come kick yer ass! (And considering my depth perception issues and bad balance, it might take some real effort. And he'll have to stand really, really still.)