Sunday, December 30, 2007


I saw this minivan the other day in Rockville:

And all I could think was, "No. Really? Someone named their energy bar 'Smack'??? And got an NFL player to endorse it?"

It's true. I'm sure I'm way behind the curve on this and other people have wondered at the wisdom of naming anything they want you to crave "Smack" but, jeezus. Maybe it's a "hip" name. Am I just so old that heroin has a new, improved nickname these days?

I'd love to know what marketing genius decided that was a good name. I wonder if it actually sells.

Who knows? Maybe it is an act of marketing genius.

Perhaps I've missed the boat. Maybe I should be selling my mom's oatmeal chocolate chip cookies at Metro entrances under the name "Choco-Crack." I can wear a t-shirt reading "Crack is whack!" with a big happy cookie image on the back.

But then again, I don't have a spiffy minivan. (Or an NFL contract.)

I would love to know what agency copywriter crafted the text for the Smack website. Pleeeease give it a read. Seriously, it'll make you slightly crazy. Someone got paid to write that (I assume.) And yet I couldn't get a gig writing commercial stuff... Go figure.

Hmm... do you think "Meth" would be a good name for a snack cracker? Quick! Somebody get me the number for Nabisco!!

Friday, December 28, 2007

Thanks for the advice

Just wanted to say thank you to the folks who left comments on my last post. I think, in the end, I will just run my wee laptop into the ground while I save up for a new one. Hopefully, at least part of the screen will hold out until I can get a new (or new to me) guy to tote around.

Like I said before, it could be worse. And maybe writing longhand and keeping eyeballs off the screen in the coffee shop will be good for me -- I'll think of it as some sort of Zen therapy.

Hope you are all having a fine and restful holiday time. I'm resting a bit too much, honestly. Need to get motivated and focused again. I'm drinking a big cup of jet fuel coffee to inspire me to do some writing today. We shall see if the spirit moves me or if my muse is still lying in a gutter somewhere, cradling an empty bottle of Boone's Farm wine...

Wednesday, December 26, 2007


Okay, as if it wasn't bad enough that I tripped over my vacuum cleaner last night and slammed the handle right into my mouth - saw stars, heard the buzzing bees that always herald me fainting, and my mouth blew up like a pufferfish - but today brings a new and distressing element to My Craptacular Life: the LCD screen on my long-suffering Gateway laptop decided to die. Admittedly, by laptop standards, Old Paint is just that - old. I bought it in 2000 and it has been my constant companion at the coffee shop. This has been my tool for pounding out radio commentaries, blog entries, resumes, and just about everything else.

I've found some place in Texas that will ship a replacement screen for $300 + $22 shipping, but I'm just not sure. First, it would be months before I could have $300 saved up to buy it, but more than that -- is it worth it to invest $300+ on a new screen for a laptop this old, or does it make more sense to just run this into the ground (as long as possible and I have any screen I can see/use) and save up money very slowly to get a new laptop altogether?

I'm torn. And, frankly, buying new sneakers and underwear is a higher priority right now. (That was probably more information than you needed. Sorry.) It just means that, if the screen goes totally black, there's no more typing from the coffee shop until I can procure a new one.


Seriously, any realistic advice or recommendations will be gratefully accepted.

And, hey - honestly, there are much worse challenges to have in this life. All things considered, this is minor. It's a "first world problem" I should count myself lucky to have.

I can see through the big black spiderweb for now. It's as if my laptop is experiencing it's own vision crisis, mimicking my adventure in partial blindness.

Strangely, it makes me love the computer a little more.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Christmas Lights

It's a quiet Christmas Eve here. Very quiet. Blissfully, Angry Indian Doctor and his woman aren't making the beast with two backs upstairs - a first for a major holiday this year - so I'm doing my Depeche Mode impression and enjoying the silence.

Truth is, it's a little lonely, but I have a tiny cold I'm still trying to beat into submission with a combination of brothy soups, diet ginger ale and OJ. So, it's all the better I'm on my own tonight. Tomorrow is Jewish Christmas with the Artist Formerly Known as the Atomic Editor and Mrs. Former Atomic Editor. They are taking yours truly, lapsed Catholic, for Brazilian BBQ and a movie. (If you've never had the Brazilian BBQ experience, it's basically an opportunity to eat grilled meat until you explode.)

If I weren't a solo act tonight, I'd go up to see the Christmas lights in Seneca Creek State Park. Sure, they're a little cheesy, but aren't some of the best holiday traditions a little cheesy and steeped in a warm bowl of mental carbohydrates? If I were back in Illinois (and the weather wasn't vile like it currently is in the Midwest) I'd probably be out on the Clark Griswold tour of hideous holiday home lighting with one of my sisters. There are people in my hometown who, year after year, decorate their homes like some nativity whorehouse cum casino. It's terrifying and yet, in some white trash way, so... beautiful.

Then again, y'all know I'm a total sucker for neon, so a ludicrous number of twinkle lights is okay in my book, too.

I'm sure most of you have seen the video of the house that was decked out in lights, choreographed to "Wizards in Winter" by the Trans Siberian Orchestra back in 2004. In case you are one of the three people left on the planet who missed it, here it is:

That dude got a deal with a beer company that used his light show in a TV ad the next year. Of course, now, every geek with an engineering degree (and yes, that dude was an engineer) or access to one of those Light-O-Rama control sets is turning his house into a musical holiday extravaganza, complete with over the top screaming guiiiitars and lots of drums. It starts reminding me of a Spinal Tap concert after I've watched one or two on YouTube.

Somewhere, right now, some guy is in his basement, trying to figure out how he can light up his house next year, all choreographed to Rush music. And somewhere, his wife is spiking her eggnog and praying they'll have to move shortly thereafter.

Of coure, it's not just the guys in the basement of the science building giving everyone holiday seizures. Not be outdone, a town in Texas has choreographed a whole city block of lights to the Carol of the Bells:

But it's the homegrown, "done it myself, Hoss" gee-whiz kids that warm my heart. Aaaand, because this here's Amur'ca, y'all, land of the residential and recreational trailer, I invite you to view the Wizards in Winter Airstream trailer winter light display, complete with pink flamingos:

Every time a trailer lights up for Christmas, an angel gets his wings.

Or one of the Spears girls gets knocked up...

(I get confused sometimes.)

But really, folks, it's all one grandly ridiculous electric cheese log of silliness, but it's fun, too. As long as you're not living next door. Or paying the electric bill. =)

Merry Christmas, friends. May you be blessed with good health, prosperity, and love.

God bless us, everyone, y'all!

Saturday, December 22, 2007


The shortest day, the longest night.

I'm not sure we're actually going to see much of the sun at all today, as drizzly rain heads our way to wash away what little color there will be before early night sets in.

The air was already heavy this morning when I got up at 6:00 to go to physical therapy. I headed out the door with my coat over my arm, hobbling to the car as fast as I could in the dark chill. Cake was playing on the radio as I drove the four miles or so to my appointment. I turned the volume and the bass up and cruised on the silent suburban streets over to northbound 270.

It was a wonderful counterpoint to last night's drive home, when all the roads to my neighborhood were choked with holiday shoppers and travelers headed out of town. I left work at 4:45, but didn't get home - 16 miles away - until 7 o'clock.


When I hit the area around our local cathedral of conspicuous consumption, Mazza Gallerie, the streets were overflowing with cars and pedestrians throwing caution to the wind, skittering through backed-up traffic like mindless rodents. (Albeit rodents toting backs from Needless Markup and other pricey stores.) Usually, the bright lights of the store windows put me in a holiday mood, but not when the traffic is bumper to bumper and drivers are behaving badly. I just wanted to grab a bowl of soup from the Chinese carry-out up the road and hie myself home to the comfort and safety of my sofa. With no funds to participate in the annual festival of overextended credit, I find myself mostly an observer in the material aspects of American Christmas.

I'm just not in a holiday frame of mind. Not yet, at least. I'm trying, though.

Before getting caught in the snarl of traffic on Wisconsin yesterday, I took a slow open-windowed drive down M Street from my office over on 16th down into Georgetown. The air was cold and still, so the uniquely urban smell of the season hung heavy and unmoving around me -- the distinctive, clinging, slightly nauseating odor of spent Sterno from a hundred office party buffets.

But a quick turn down 23rd Street brought me the intoxicating smell of wood fire from cozy, overpriced, brick homes, decked in Victorian evergreen and tiny, tasteful white lights. I breathed deep and filled my lungs and my head with the scent memory of a dozen Christmases at my parents' house in Illinois, wrapped up in a warm blanket by our fireplace, with a dog at my feet (or a cat smothering my head with affection), waiting for The Little Drummer Boy to come on TV. Do they even show it any more? I have a feeling it's too dark for our current PC "protect the kiddies from everything/increasingly nanny state" culture. I always loved the sound of Greer Garson's voice as the narrator. The voice of another generation.

It's almost 11 now, and the sun is up, but barely creeping through the blinds in my living room. I'm listening to Pink Martini's CD "Hang On Little Tomato." It's good music for a day like today - jazzy, a little exotic, but also a little wistful. It feels a million miles away from where I am right now. I have a big cup of coffee, a couple of old movies to watch, and the glow of old school, very American, red and green twinkle lights on my balcony.

Maybe I'll pull my little fake tree out of the basement.

Maybe the spirit will find me.

For right now, it's just a short, gray day here. But the evening brings a gathering at a home of a friend - a lovely friend I met through blogging here in DC. Proof that the Internet can be a Good Thing.

And then, after the curtailed light of this solstice, the days grow longer again.

Tomorrow, I get to see one of my best friends for the first time in several years. I adore her. She is a gem. We've known each other since we were kids, creative geeks, living a couple of blocks away from each other in Illinois. Her daughter must be getting ready to graduate from high school soon, which astounds me. When did everyone around me become real grown-ups, with kids and mortgages and honest responsibilities?

Will I ever be one?

Jury's still out.

Happy Solstice to my pagan friends from the resident lapsed Catholic girl. May this day find you blessed!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Merujo's Kitchen has been resurrected!

Many moons ago, I started a cooking/baking/recipe spot/domestic rambling blog, Merujo's Kitchen. I had it here on Blogspot, but through some problems during a transfer to Wordpress as a back-up, my merujoskitchen ID here was sucked up by some scummy blogsquatting spam monster.

The old entries still reside over in Wordpress, so I've decided to re-open the kitchen. I've already sent out a couple of invitations for people to participate in posting, but my memory is like Swiss cheese lately. If you were a member of the Kitchen previously and you'd like to be able to post again, please drop me a line or leave a comment!

We can make it a fun place for storytellers who happen to have good recipes to share and amusing domestic stories to tell. And I promise not to suddenly shut it down again.

Again, the URL is

Looking forward to seeing you there!


As a subscriber to Writer's Digest, I get the occasional e-mail from them with writing tips, information on events, and announcements about contests. This morning, they sent out an announcement and link to holiday writing contests on a website called You'll notice I didn't offer a link with that site name.

I went to see what the holiday story and poetry contests were about. Under the holiday poetry heading there were only two posts from "premier author" members of the site. Let me share one of the two posts:

"hmmm..I don't know if mine could be included for this style?? My poem is about of a gift for the holidays..But it's not saying about the X'mas celebrations..and it's an adult type it means a bared it all But it's for holiday's!! I promised!! hmmm..I really wanted to share it to all of you!! But I don't want to be disqualified if I post it without asking if I could??"

Oh my. Now, being an openminded girl, I really don't care if someone writes a holiday poem about a dick in a box. After all, Justin Timberlake did really well with that last year. (And it still makes me smile inappropriately.) It's just that... well... if this is an example of the mad writin' skillz of the "premier" participants on this site, I think I'd rather shoot myself that become a member of this community.

Yeah, you can think of me as a snob, but, c'mon. If you can't proofread your post about your desire to enter porn in a holiday poetry contest, it's just sad. Aspire to be the quality pornster!

Methinks I'll pass on this fabulous contest opportunity, but gosh, thanks, Writer's Digest for introducing me to yet another forum I don't want to visit again!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007


...the scent of smoke from the fire at the Old Executive Office Building that has wafted up the street to my office smells like a tray of burnt fish sticks. In the cold air, it's hanging and unpleasant. Nauseatingly fishy. Very ichthy.

I'm glad no one was injured. Considering the proximity of the fire to Dick Cheney's ceremonial office, there are so many punchlines about Hell at the back of my mind.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Singing of a satellite

I'm smiling this morning. See Point #2 here to see why. :)

The lovely song in question can be seen below - start around the four minute mark to see/hear it, but I highly, highly recommend listening to the whole performance, which is all available in four parts on YouTube and also broken into segments as QT movies on Thomas Dolby's blog here.

For my friends who understand Russian, our fearless non-Russian-speaking duet heroes do pretty darn well, don't you think? There is a consonant that vexed one of them in the bridge, and a vowel or two that needed to be shorter or longer, but I'm really proud of them! It's hard enough to sing in Russian when you actually understand the language, but when you're doing this from someone's e-mailed phonetic transliteration with almost no rehearsal time, well, that's really damn impressive! Good going, Thomas and Bruce!!

For the handful of you who govorit' po-russki, here are my original lyrics - read them out loud like an overblown, crazy-haired, 50s avant garde Soviet poet, and they sound pretty freakin' cool:

О! звезда улетела
Наша родина пела
Шар серебра!
Мечта наша!

Мы слышали ваш сигнал
Музыку ангел играл
Великий дар!
Небесный царь!

Ученые нашей страны нашли ответ
Наша гордость горела как радостный свет

О! звезда улетела
Наша родина пела
Шар серебра!
Мечта наша!

Мечта наша!

I think my mother would be delighted to know that I'm still using my college education for a good purpose. Most Russian I've used in three years.

If anyone out here knows a venue/event that would be interested in a performance of the Sputnik and Beyond concert, Thomas is pondering the possibility of a university/art circuit/museum tour. You can leave suggestions/recommendations/contacts on his blog!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

A Final Auld Lang Syne

Dan Fogelberg died. I had no idea that he'd been battling prostate cancer. This morning, he lost that battle.

Fogelberg was among the first singer-songwriter storytellers whose music moved me. I think I discovered his music around the same time I discovered Joni Mitchell by going through my sisters' vinyl. I know some of my friends will roll their eyes at my affection for Fogelberg's music, but there was a sweet sadness to so much of it - a gentleness to the stories and a romanticism lacking in my real world.

I'm sorry to hear he's gone. 56 is far too young to leave this world. I visited his website, where he had posted a letter to his fans before he died, urging all the guys to get annual DRE (Digital Rectal Exam) and PSA (Prostate Specific Antigen) tests. And so, guys, I'll urge you, too. Get yourself tested. I think it's well worth a moment of discomfort.

Goodbye, Dan. Thanks for all the lovely songs.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Waking up the dead

Oh man.

I just woke up at 1:42 in the morning, not quite sure where/when/how I was.

I'm that tired.

I submitted The Proposal That Ate My Brain yesterday afternoon. I've been working on this project since August and the last few weeks have been killing me. On Wednesday night, I went home so stressed about it (and a personal creative matter I hope to have resolved soon) that I couldn't sleep until 4:30 Thursday morning. I was a disaster yesterday after only two hours of sleep. And I was a bitch on wheels - very focused and very direct with folks who still owed me stuff for the submission.

But the monster is done. Finito. A very, very, very nice bottle of merlot was broken out to celebrate, which was very, very, very kind and much appreciated. And after two glasses of merlot and a sudden realization of just how exhausted I was, I came home and curled up on the sofa. Last thing I remember, it was 8:08 p.m. And now, it's 2:03 a.m. Friday. And, for one brief, shining moment, I am a free woman.

A free woman who has to be back up at 6:30 for an appointment with the back doctor.

So, back to bed with me, but I'll be back to write later today. The coffee shop calls!

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Booty Call

I had to call Walmart (yes, the evil Germantown Walmart) to do a favor for a friend. I asked for the "Health and Beauty" department and waited. And waited. And waited.

I was on hold for TWENTY-ONE minutes. Yes, twenty-one minutes. To be honest, I didn't really notice because I was working on The Proposal That Ate My Brain, so it didn't bother me. Plus they had weirdly fascinating ska Xmas music on hold. I don't think "O Holy Night" was really meant to be a skanking dance number. Then again, your mileage may vary.

When one of the associates finally returned to the phone, she said, obviously not really thinking straight, "You still holdin' for health and booty?" I burst out laughing.

She started giggling and said, "Looooord, we ALL waitin' for that!"

Amen, my friends. Amen to that.

May the season bring you all health and booty.

Lots and lots of health and booty.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Sorry, guys!

I have a huge, brain-eating proposal that's due next Thursday. Until this baby is submitted, I'm mentally single-tracking, and unable to really write much out here.

Unless you want to talk about how much it costs to rent a herd of wildebeest for a film production, I'll be lousy company up to about 5 p.m. on the 13th.

After that, I will sleep one whole day and return to normal.

Well, as close as I will ever come to normal.

(Which ain't that close.)

Monday, December 03, 2007

Hooray for The Linguists!

A film featuring the amazing work of my friend David Harrison and his colleague Greg Anderson - linguists studying dying languages across the planet - has been chosen for the Sundance Festival in 2008! The film, called (unsurprisingly) "The Linguists" follows David and Greg as they travel to extremely remote areas of the world, documenting languages facing extinction. Currently, there 7,000 languages on our planet. However, we lose a language approximately every two weeks, and, within a hundred years, half of the world's languages will have died. As the last speakers, elderly and isolated, pass away, their languages - and so many elements of their knowledge systems - will simply cease to exist. David, Greg, and other concerned linguists are working hard to document these tongues before they vanish. It's fascinating and tragic and, in our shrinking world, probably inevitable.

If you will be at Sundance, I encourage you to try to get a ticket! It will be shown four times during the festival, and David and Greg will be there for Q&A.