Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Oops, she did it

Britney Spears' 16-year-old sister, Jamie Lynn, is pregnant. I think the Spears family is engaged in a grand, albeit probably unintentional, scheme to push celebrity news right up to, and then past, the line between titillating and depressing.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

TomKat: I Kinda Called It

It was just this March when I predicted that TomKat was entering a period of image rehabilitation which would end in their seeming like another harmless Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones. Save the unflattering genius-hat for somebody else, though, because I thought it would take years and lots of charitable works. It turns out, all it took was a couple of months, a baby in Burberry outfits, and an "it" haircut.

One must admit, very cute baby and hair.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Krazee-Eyez Killah

Tonight Mr. T&A was trying to figure out which of his eyes is dominant so as to improve his skills at trap shooting,* as follows: you point your finger at a distant object, then close one eye at a time. Your finger is supposed to keep pointing at the object when one of your eyes is closed, and presto, the open one is the dominant one.

I tried it too, not wanting to neglect my trap shooting game. I pointed at a sign outside the window, but which of the two images of my finger was I supposed to be focusing on? So I asked Mr. T&A, "Which finger are you pointing with?"

So, it turns out Mr. T&A does not see two images of his finger when he points at something far away. A marathon of Googling ensued, and for about 15 minutes I thought (1) I have had double vision my entire life and never realized it, (2) maybe that concussion in second grade was worse than I thought, and (3) probably this is why I'm bad at sports.

However, the tide turned when I found this, explaining that "We all (those of us with 2 healthy eyes) have a type of diplopia called physiologic diplopia. To demonstrate this phenomenon, hold a pencil vertically about 6 inches from your face and look directly at it. Then, hold your thumb out directly behind it at arm’s length. As you maintain focus on the pencil, you will see two thumbs. This is normal." Normal! That's me! But when Mr. T&A tried it, focusing on the pencil gave him a headache. Now I think (1) Mr. T&A's eyesight is even worse than he thought, (2) my brain is fine. Fine!, and (3) yet again there is no excuse for how bad I am at sports.

But just to check, can you confirm for me that I am not the one with the crazy eyes? When you point your finger at something far away and focus on the far-away thing, do you see two of your finger, or just one?

*Trap shooting is fun! You can do it at the PG County Trap & Skeet Center. You get to yell "Pull!" and a clay pigeon flies out of this machine, and you shoot it with a shotgun. No pigeons were harmed in the creation of this blog post.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Non-chart: Optimism edition

Not sure why I'm feeling so bloggy today after weeks of radio silence, but there you are. Here's a non-chart (you're supposed to pretend like it's in a 3x3 chart, see):

In: Enjoying the weather
Five Minutes Ago: Worrying about global warming
Out: Snow days

In: Obama in '08!
Five Minutes Ago: Kerry in '04!
Out: Bush

In: Friends with babies
Five Minutes Ago: Friends with kittens
Out: Friends with driver's licenses

Catalog tipping point

Even though I know that the flood of catalogs that arrives before Christmas is like a million dead trees in my mailbox, I secretly don't mind them that much, because I like the pretty pictures.  But I just hit catalog overload, and have sworn to start asking them not to send them to me anymore, and here's why:  Hidden Message Collar Stays from Red Envelope.  "Why settle for tucking love notes into his lunch or suitcase when you can deliver a message of love from a much closer range? Our 12 silver-plated collar stays feature 12 different reasons why you love him messaged right into the stay. So, each morning, you can send him off looking sharp while letting him know "you're so handsome" or "you make me laugh" and "you have a big heart." The sentiment will remain with him through the day, but only he will know."

Maybe it's not too late to start hand-making presents for Christmas.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Julie Myers, blackface, Halloween, and me

Julie Myers, the head of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, has gotten in a wee spot of trouble for giving a costume award to a Halloween guest at her party whose costume entailed a striped prison outfit, dredlocks and blackface. (The award was for "originality.")

I had a weird and legitimately ironic encounter with the THE SAME GUY! (Or another guy in an identical costume.) We attended a friend's Halloween/birthday party at the Mansion on O Street, a bizarre bed & breakfast/restaurant/club apparently decorated by somebody's crazy/fabulous aunt, which featured a Halloween buffet dinner involving lots and lots of olives, a make-your-own PB&J stand, and zillions of cakes. I wore a costume consisting of my wedding dress, my pink fake-fur hat with ear flaps, and stamps and mailing labels affixed to my person, hence: Russian mail-order bride. (Pretty good given that I came up with it at midnight the night before, no?)

As we were about to leave, this very tall guy in a striped prison costume approached me and said his friends wanted to see my costume. I went and talked to his friends, who had accents of some Russian/Eastern European type, so I got nervous and kind of apologetic about the "Russian" element of my costume, and said I hoped it was not offensive. I was apparently so nervous that I did not notice that the GUY WHO HAD APPROACHED ME WAS IN BLACKFACE. Mr. T&A pointed it out to me after the fact.

Is it reasonable to think that this is the same guy? Or is it more likely that multiple people chose to wear blackface, dreadlocks and a prison outfit to Halloween parties in DC? What are the chances that I should apologize to a dude in blackface for the potential offensiveness of MY Halloween costume?

Update: A friend found the above picture showing the guy in question in the background. When Mr. T&A asked our friends if anybody remembered the guy in blackface at the party, everyone did, so it seems that my not noticing was aberrational. Also, in my defense, I am pretty sure I would have noticed if I had been, for instance, examining his costume so as to judge it.

Critical Mass, where's my car?

My lack of blogging for the last 50 years is a symptom of my having been working way too much. Par example, and because my brain feels fried and cannot think of anything else interesting to write about, I shall tell you what happened last Friday. I'd been at work since about 7:30 a.m., and it was one of those excessively intense days such that by the time I left at 7 p.m. I felt like I'd been there for 3 days. I got on my bike and started riding home, feeling glad to be outside and engaging in some amount of physical activity.

At about 16th and W Streets, I saw a clump of what appeared to be Critical Mass bikers. I'd never seen this in DC before, so I was intruiged, and since I was on a bike I felt I was in a good position to investigate further. I biked closer, very casual-like, and observed that the "self-organized, non-commercial and non-competitive" group was blocking, not 16th Street but W Street, which is like the Minuteman Project going near the Mexico border and then blocking passage between two neighborhoods in Laredo. They were also yelling things like "Fuck you cars for being ... cars!" Genius.

The "fuck you cars" comment then sent me on a quick mental detour, as such: I have a car. I like my car. Where's my car? I drove my car to work this morning.

So, thanks for that, anyway, Critical Mass. I turned around, biked back to work and into the parking garage, put the bike on the bike rack, and drove home. By the time I got back to 16th and W there were no more bikers.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Learn something new every day

I was just perusing the District of Columbia Municipal Regulations, Title 18 (Vehicles and Traffic), and learned that the DC DMV is not supposed to issue a driver's license to any person who is a "habitual drunkard." Just thought you should know.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Car demands further haiku

Flexcar's service sucks.
That's good news for the old car
and the body shop.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Ranking the candidates

The process of carefully considering who to vote for in EW's Ultimate Hotties contest has led to me consider which candidates to support in other areas of my life.

For a long time, my Celebrity Crush List stood as follows:

1. Marky Mark
2. George Clooney
3. Bill Clinton
4. Snoop Dogg
5. (blank--so as to allow for flexibility)

Loyalty is all well and good, but the CCL is one area in which it does nobody any good, because if you hang on to old choices out of sentiment, inevitably you will find yourself being propositioned by Clive Owen in some smoky club, only to realize you're shit out of luck because Clive's spot on the list is being occupied by Marky Mark because of Three Kings, but that was in 1999, for Chrissakes.

(One of the major rules of the CCL is that it must consist only of the current incarnations of actual people--so no 1999 Marky Mark, no Paul Newman in Cool Hand Luke, and no Tim Riggins from Friday Night Lights, unless you want the actor who plays him, whose name is Taylor Kitsch and who used to be an Abercrombie model, tragically.)

So, yes, Marky Mark, I'm afraid it's time for you to go. I'm happy for you that you're becoming a respectable actor, but to the underwear models go the spoils, my dear.

Similarly, when did Bill Clinton get so old?

Snoop Dogg . . . I don't know, at one point I found you Oddly Alluring, but now you seem to have passed over into Mostly Disturbing.

OK, so here is my revised list:

1. George Clooney
2. Clive Owen (If you haven't seen Children of Men, you should. I do like me a good depressive antihero in a dystopian setting.)
3. Rahm Emmanuel. (See reason from #2).
4. Prince Harry. (This is my first foray into younger men. What can I say, I'm 30.)
5. (blank--don't want to tie myself down)

Perhaps next week I will think about those other candidates.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Pants Off Cook Off

I have to admit that I have been cheating on this blog with my new blog. It's actually a group blog--kinky, I know. It's called Pants Off Cook Off, and it's about cooking. Check it out.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Yet more health care woes

I decided to be all responsible and go get a physical since I haven't had one since the last millenium.

Serious mistake. First: my issues with needles have apparently not abated with time or with my new yogic breathing skills. I thought I was doing well--looking the other way, thinking about other things, breathing--only to wake up slumped over (that's why the chairs they use have a padded safety bar thing in front, it seems) with the whole staff of Quest Diagnostics looking at me worriedly and putting wet paper towels on my neck. It was a surprise pass-out, much more reminiscient of the Reading a Book In Which a Character Has an Uncontrollable Nosebleed incident in the laundromat in 1999 than the Attempting to Give Blood episodes of 1995 and 2000. So that's disturbing, because at least you want to have some forewarning of when you're going to pass out, you know?

Second: CIGNA will not pay for me to have a tetanus vaccine. This is very close to hilarious. Apparently vaccines are only covered under "medical" insurance and not "pharmacy" insurance, so when doctors do not stock the vaccine themselves (because they don't have the storage and it's more expensive to buy smaller quantities, apparently), but instead send you to a pharmacy to get it, the insurance company will not cover it. I spent 30 minutes on the phone with CIGNA and spoke to 4 different people, and they all said the only thing I can do is go to a different doctor who stocks vaccines.

Dealing with the medical system is enough to make me want to throw myself off a building in despair, and I'm totally healthy.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Gossip girl, mmmmmm

I only watched the premier of Gossip Girls last night because Kristen Bell (the erstwhile Veronica Mars, RIP) is the narrator. This is somewhat less than satisfying, because you don't get to look at her. And look how preposterously cute she is:

Ahhhh. But Gossip Girl was pretty awesome anyway. The premise is that Kristen, Gossip Girl, is an anonymous blogger who writes about the tomfoolery of the insanely good-looking, rich, jaded, ridiculously-named kids at a schmancy private Manhattan high school, as follows:

Serena van der Woodsen: Lovely, possibly sad, possibly bad blonde who would look like a Hitchcock heroine if she weren't falling over drunk a lot of the time (falling over gracefully, though); disappeared to boarding school in Connecticut last year under mysterious, possibly sad, possibly bad circumstances.

Blake Waldorf: The feisty brunette who used to be Serena's best friend, but resents her mysterious disappearance and re-appearance, and considers her a threat to the social power Blake has consolidated over the last year.

Nate Archibald: Blake's boring boyfriend who (SPOILER!) did it (yes, IT!) with Serena last year, unbeknownst to Blake until ~40 minutes into the premier.

Chuck Bass: Bad, date-rape-attempt-prone boy. You can tell he's evil because he combs his hair forward, wears ridiculous things like ascots, and uses the phrases "seal the deal" and "tap that ass" both in the same scene. That and the date-rape attempts (two in one hour!).

Dan & Jenny Humphrey: The Brandon and Brenda Walsh of this show--they're sweet, innocent, not rich, and from a frumpy, faraway land (Brooklyn). Dan's in love with Serena, and Jenny wants to be popular and is Chuck Date Rape Attempt # 2.

There are also an Asian girl and a black girl who I don't think got names yet. And some parental characters who, very much unlike the Walshes, are busy having illicit affairs and directing their children to sleep with their classmates so as to advance their business interests.

One could point out that Veronica Mars would hate these people and would spend her time finding out what crimes they're guilty of rather than writing "Gossip Girl loves parties" on a blog devoted to the minutiae of their lives, but who wants to be such a negative Nelly when you could just watch the teevee?

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Status as home-improvement guru soon to be reinstated!

So we had the guy who previously built us new walls after we got air conditioning installed come over to look at the somewhat-destroyed-bathroom-walls situation. He said he'd come over and TEACH us how to fix it ourselves. He told us that he taught a guy (the son of Sen. Pryor of Arkansas, he said) to plaster his walls and he went on to become a professional plasterer. Mr. T&A would prefer that he just do it himself, but I am very psyched about learning how to do it, and perhaps becoming a professional plasterer myself. Yahh!

Wherein I use interior design principles in lieu of a lead dust test kit

DC seems to be entirely bereft of lead paint test kits,* so instead of using science, I put my powers of deduction to work. 

The layers we scraped off our bathroom were as follows:  top coat of off-white paint, almost certainly applied by Previous Owners in the 1999-2006 period. Then, wallpaper border, navy with teal and pinkish flowers in a kind of diamond pattern. Then, mauve/dusty pink paint which came off largely stuck to the wallpaper.  Underneath that was a kind of greige paint which stayed in place, and below that were bright pink and teal paint layers which we only saw fleeting glimpses of through the greige. 

I feel that the mauve paint must have gone up pretty much around the same time as the wallpaper border, both because they stuck together so much and because they coordinate.  And (drum roll), the mauve/navy/teal scheme MUST be from the '80s.  Yes?  And thus must not contain lead, because only paint from before 1978 has lead.  Yahhh!  All the vacuuming and 3-bucket stuff was thus hopefully just an unnecessary lark.

*The Home Depot on Rhode Island Ave. said they never have them although people ask for them all the time (which, then, why don't they order some?  but who am I to judge the wisdom of the Depot), and Logan Hardware says they usually have them but they don't now, or else they got some in on Monday but they can't find them, but they should get some more on Thursday.  They were very nice about it, though.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Plaster repair despair

Several weeks ago Mr. T&A and I embarked on the project of painting our bathroom. We were fresh off a smashing success in painting our office ("Plantain," a very nice yellowish green), and the bathroom is teensy, so it seemed like it should be relatively painless.

Ahh, the folly. We've spent eons chipping off layers of wallpaper and paint (the bastards who painted over a wallpaper border should be condemned to an eternity of trying to remove it). This has resulted in a disaster zone of cracked, holey plaster with random patches of paint. Tonight I attempted to patch some of it with spackle, but it was like trying to smooth out a 90-year-old's face with frosting.

To add to the problem, the other day, weeks after we started, we realized that our house is old so some of the paint we're chipping off probably contains lead. And we're having a baby shower here next weekend. (For somebody else, not me!) Pregnant ladies are not supposed to inhale lead dust. So now we need to clean the house using an EPA-approved method involving a HEPA vacuum cleaner and 3 separate buckets, and even so I feel like the worst baby shower hostess ever. (Plus maybe we've already lead-poisoned ourselves.)

Anyway, I have now officially hit bottom on the bathroom, and have acquiesced to Mr. T&A's plan to hire somebody else to do it. I now realize that I had been harboring visions of myself as a budding home-improvement guru, but now those dreams are dashed. Maybe I'll try gardening instead.

Monday, August 20, 2007

LinkedIn is freaking me out

I recently signed up for LinkedIn, the "career-networking" site that's like the tragic New Thing for those of us who were barely in the right demographic to have used Friendster in 2002 and are now too old for Facebook and MySpace. 

This thing HAS A TERRIFYING BRAIN.  It's like how the government is in movies--all-knowing and competent.  (Don't we wish!)  I signed up for it because 2 people from unconnected parts of my life--a childhood friend and Andrea of St. Scobie's Mock Whiskey--invited me to join, and I never turn down invitations unless I'm on death's door (afraid I might miss something, dontcha know).  So I get on there, and it suggests to me that I might know . . . 5 other people who I TOTALLY know, and who are (1) not connected to Childhood Friend or Andrea at all, (2) who I don't work with, (3) who I didn't go to school with, (4) who are not even all lawyers (so it's not like they're just asking if I know other 30-year-old lawyers, which would be a good guess), and (5) who don't all live in DC. 

How did it do that?  Normally I am either not surprised or not impressed by the mind-reading powers of the Internets.  Like, Netflix suggests you might want to to watch stuff that other people with similar rental histories have rented.  Or, why did Gmail put an ad for "Fat Bastard Talking Plush" ( next to my email?  I don't know, but it was not a good guess, so whatever.  But the LinkedIn thing is both inexplicable and impressive.  Can we put it in charge of fighting terrorism?

Friday, August 17, 2007

Karl Rove implements Stage II: Jenna

Karl Rove resigns to "spend time with his family" (several years after his son has left for college), and then days later one of his former lackeys gets engaged to Jenna Bush. Coincidence? In the parlance of our time, LMAOROF. I predict that Operation KarlJennaMeld will be subtle at first: Jenna will start a whisper campaign about Hilary's affair with Rosie O'Donnell, maybe. Then the new Mrs. Henry Hager will take a job as a consultant to Fred Thompson's campaign, and her hair will start thinning. As Rove disappears from the scene--presumably into life as a private citizen, although few will ever see him--people will start calling Jenna "Boy Wonder" without knowing why.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Another haiku to my car

Hood flying open
On highway--pretty scary
This may be it, car

Monday, August 13, 2007

Metro grits teeth, smiles passive-aggressively at tourists

I love tourists in DC, especially the ones with fanny packs who look lost--they could be someone from my hometown! perhaps even my parents! I always ask them if they need directions, and smile so as to counteract the rudeness they have surely encountered in The Big City.

But I HATE HATE them on the metro. They don't know you're not supposed to stand on the left, so they block the whole escalator and inevitably make you miss your train. Not their fault, but enough to inspire medium-to-intense misanthropy (or perhaps touranthropy?)

Metro has instituted announcements ostensibly aimed at this problem, which are masterpieces of passive-aggression:
"Hi. Welcome to Metro. We have a lot of escalators in our system. You'll notice that most people stand on the right side. And while you're riding, hold the handrail for your safety. Enjoy your trip, and thank you for riding Metro."

It's all, "Hi, how was your day? Oh, that's great! Yeah, mine was good too. Hey, do you mind doing your dishes instead of leaving them in the sink because I just hate that when people live their dishes in the sink so the food dries on and it attracts mice it's really a pet peeve of mine like what do you think I'm your mother or something? OK, great talking to you! Have a nice night!"

I would like to think this is a mad genius attempt to communicate in terms Midwestern tourists understand, but some tourists are actually not Midwesterners, it turns out. Now the Metro will be populated by DC residents in ugly, sensible work shoes trying to shove their way up the left side past the Germans and Californians, on whom passive-aggressiveness is lost, while Midwesterners in sneakers and fanny packs cling to the right, terrified for their lives and worrying about what they did to make everybody mad at them. Tragic.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007


I'm 30 today. (!!!!!) I do not seem to have any new wrinkles or grey hairs, but I also do not feel a notably increased sense of inner calm. I guess there's still time for that, yes?

Thursday, August 02, 2007

J. Scott Jennings had me hating him at "Odysseus"

I was prepared to almost feel sorry for J. Scott Jennings, the 29-year-old assistant to Karl Rove who got torn a new one by the Senate Judiciary Committee today when his boss refused to show up.  But then his prepared testimony said that the situation he was in "makes Odysseus's voyage between Scylla and Charybdis seem like a pleasure cruise."  Now I am back in my comfort zone of hating all things related to Karl Rove.  Ahhhhh. 

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

The 50 most relatively allegedly beautiful

The Hill has published its annual 50 Most Beautiful People on Capitol Hill article. As per usual, it's not very encouraging. See, e.g., :

(Charlie Hurt, one of the unranked bottom 40.) Perhaps realizing this drawback, this year the photographers employed the technique of standing very far away from their subjects, so many of the pictures convey only the fact that the alleged beauty in question has the standard number of limbs, and hair growing from the correct extremity:
(#3, Kathleen O'Neill, "The Jewel of the Hill.")

I find the 50 Most Beautiful very comforting because I can call the political party with 95% accuracy based on pictures alone. (Also because if I can't guiltlessly snark at these people, I might as well cancel my subscription to the internets and join an ashram right this second.) But a few of them evaded my Republicandar, which was highly unsettling. To wit:

Kathleen Taylor, DEMOCRAT! Why did this information not get through to her highlights, her eyeshadow, and her posture? It's like one of those neurological disorders where there's no connection between the left and right brain, so the person can see a key and use it to open the door, but can only call it a piano.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

I am afraid of the Future Farmers of America

Today on my way back from buying lunch my path was blocked by a procession of kids in Future Farmers of America State Chapter President jackets. If you did not grow up in the Midwest, you may not be familiar with the Future Farmers of America (FFA) jacket. Here it is:

Cute and wholesome on one big-eared kid, but on 50 teenagers, blocking the sidewalk, all dressed alike, all with their jackets zipped all the way up despite the 90 degree weather--it sent a chill down the spine.

The internets have given me answers, but have not calmed my nerves. This power point presentation, courtesy (for some reason) of the Cleveland County, North Carolina school district website, explains the outfits. The FFA Official Dress involves an FFA jacket "zipped to the top." For women ("females,") it also consists of a "black skirt of appropriate length," a white collared blouse, an "official FFA scarf," and black shoes. (The State Chapter Presidents seemed to have added black hose to the mix.)

Also, the FFA crest consists of The Ear of Corn, The Eagle, The Rising Sun, The Plow, and The Owl. Who needs that many things in a crest? Suspicious.

Also, they were walking in the direction of the White House. Watch out, Illuminati.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

The Preview is Sucking

Long before Harry Potter and His Dark Materials, I loved me some The Dark Is Rising. It's a five-book series that has everything you could want in a timeless fantasy story: British children with supernatural destinies, battles between good and evil, King Arthur mythology up the wazoo.

So my horror was very intense when, during the previews before the Harry Potter movie, I saw a preview for The. Worst. Possible. Movie. Version. Ever. I didn't even realize what it was for the first 30 seconds or so of the preview. It featured a pointy-faced blonde American kid who appeared to be liberally employing both lip color and cheek-contouring powder, and who looked like a 14-year-old Sebastian Bach,* except in a an upsetting rather than a sexy way. There was some clangy electric guitar music, and that guy who does the voiceovers of those slapsticky Christmas movies featuring Tim Allen saying, "Everything about Will Stanton's wife seemed pretty ordinary," and some other boy-actor calling Will "Bro." I thought to myself, "Why is this preview for one of those slapsticky Christmas movies showing in July, and where is Tim Allen?"

But after several scenes of boy-has-crush-on-girl, boy-goes-to-mall, all of a sudden the preview busted out the real actors and the portentous music, and it all became clear that it was The Dark Is Rising, except with an American instead of a Britsh kid, set in what looks like California but is apparently really Romania, and without any King Arthur mythology.

This is an easier casting do-over than All the King's Men:

Will Stanton: Modest British child who wakes up on his 11th birthday to find the rest of the world is in a magical sleep, and who finds out from a mysterious wizard-like figure that he is the last of the Old Ones, the Seeker who must collect Signs that will help the Light defeat the Dark. Does not have crushes on girls. Theirs: The aforementioned mini-Sebastian Bach, all with the iPod buds and the crushes on girls. Redo: Freddie Highmore! From Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Finding Neverland! Obviously!!

The Whole Point: Arthurian mythology, good vs. evil, British children. Theirs: The mall, American children with iPod buds. Redo: Read the books instead.

*I also love me some Sebastian Bach, both in his incarnations as the alluringly womanish front man for Skid Row and as the hilarious sandwich shop owner and guitar player on Gilmore Girls, but 14-year-old versions of him do very little for me or, I suspect, for anyone who is not a 12-year-old girl.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Harry Potter self-control

The f*^#king New York Times has POSTED A REVIEW OF THE HARRY POTTER BOOK. I'm not going to link to it lest I encourage their bastardishness. Apparently they bought it at some soon-to-be-smote-by-lightning bookstore that's ignoring the embargo.

Normally I do not avoid spoilers; I'll read reviews of anything, and will even go to spoiler sites for TV shows and such. I generally feel that if a movie/TV show/book is really good, then knowing how it ends won't ruin it for me. Also, I have an unusual ability to suspend disbelief and to be shocked by an ending even if I had already read about it.

But the end of the Harry Potter series, and all the anxiety about such matters as who dies, who's really a bad guy, and whether good or evil will eventually triumph in the world, is such a huge cultural phenomenon that I feel like knowing what happens ahead of time would totally screw it up. How could I go to Kramerbooks on Friday at midnight, and be near all those nerdy hyperactive children, if I'd read a review that alluded to the ending? What if my non-innocence infected all those little wizard-costumed chimps?

The problem is that I have absolutely no practice in avoiding spoilers. I wasn't tempted to go looking for the supposed photographs of the pages of the book, because it would take a long time to read them--but the NYT! It's right there, staring me in the face! Even the intro sentence, starting with: "J.K. Rowling's spell-binding epic ends . . ." BASTARDS!

Monday, July 16, 2007

Update: not so sicko

So I went to the opthamologist (sans referral) and she said I don't have pink eye. Logically this is a good thing, but now I am kind of embarassed (and want a refund on the 5 hours I spent calling doctors' offices and waiting in them).



I seem to have pink eye. Gross, yes? Trying to be a responsible human being by sparing others from bizarre infectious childhood ailments, I stayed home from work today with the intention of going to the doctor. I have a supposedly good health insurance plan (with Cigna).

I have spent THREE HOURS on the phone trying to get an appointment with a doctor. I finally found one who will try to squeeze me in this afternoon, but it is unclear whether my insurance will pay for it. My ostensible primary care physician (whom I have not met because I haven't been sick since I got this insurance policy) said she could not see me UNTIL AUGUST, infected eyeball or no. I called dozens of other doctors' offices from the Cigna list of primary care physicians accepting new patients, and they all either (1) never answered their phone, (2) were not actually accepting new patients, or (3) said they couldn't see me until at least next week. I finally called Cigna, who suggested I might try getting an appointment with an opthamologist instead; one at Howard University finally took pity on me. Then I had to call my PCP back to get them to fax a referral form to Cigna, but they said they wouldn't do it since I have not seen that doctor before. I explained my saga to them in non-calm tones, and said if the doctor wants to see me, that's great, I would come there right away, but if not she would just have to give me a referral, since I have to go to work before August and would rather not give all of my coworkers gross oozing eyes. We'll see what happens with that.

Having not been need-to-see-a-doctor sick in a long time, I really had no idea that this was how it worked. I thought that the reason people go to the emergency room for non-emergency treatments was that they were uninsured--but it would appear that, in fact, that may be the only way to see a doctor at all.

I feel like I could be a character in that new Michael Moore movie, and that makes me very unhappy because I hate Michael Moore. :(

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Five random things

Ooh ooh, Andrea tagged me to tell 5 random things about myself! I don't really understand what this "tagging" is, but she said she was doing it, and since I am flattered to be included and like to talk about myself, I accept the tagging with gusto.

1. I am currently re-reading the extant Harry Potter books in anticipation of the last one coming out on July 21, and I am totally obsessed, to the point that I am doing things like reading while in the bathroom at work and while I walk to and from the bus, thus causing myself to trip a lot. The experience is making me feel like I'm back in elementary school, when I was always wandering around thinking about Narnia or Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory or Sweet Valley Junior High instead of, say, participating in elementary school. Now I wonder: was this really a mechanism to cope with the ennui of elementary school, as I always assumed, or was it just a natural reaction to reading really engrossing children's books?

2. Probably the reason I wanted to move to DC, both after college and after law school, was that I really liked DC as a kid. In particular, I liked the high ceilings in Union Station and the waterfront and cobblestone-street areas of Georgetown. Now I rarely go to those places. But I still like DC.

3. I am allergic to penecillin, cephlosporin, dairy, pollen, probably cats, and possibly alcohol, but not to poison ivy.

4. During a couple of summers, growing up, I did farm work--detasseling corn, to be precise. However, I feel like I am basically lying when I say that, because (1) I did it purely because I thought it was kind of cool, not out of any need for money, (2) I did it for probably less than a week each summer--it was the kind of thing where you just showed up at the park at 6 a.m. if you wanted to go, and I got tired of it quite rapidly and just quit going, and (3) I was very, very bad at detasseling corn; I definitely caused many, many corn plants to be pollinated by the wrong kind of corn (resulting in bad-seed bastard corn plants!) because I missed a tassel, or ripped it in half instead of pulling it out. So I was really engaged more in "walking through the rows of corn for minimum wage" than in "detasseling corn."

5. In 6th grade I got knocked out of the spelling bee on the first round, which crushed my fragile, obnoxious I'm-the-smartest-kid-in-the-room spirit, and the word I misspelled was "lawyer." (I spelled it "lawer.") Now I am a lawyer. I wonder if that is ironic, but I am not sure because I have been very unsure about the meaning of "irony" since seeing Reality Bites and realizing I could not define it, and thus being unsure whether I do, in fact, know it when I see it.

That was weirdly challenging. I tag Blonde Justice, Mr. 14 Empty Mountain Dew Cans, Laurie "Kitchen Cabinet" Barber, and Jake Mohan. (M, I'd tag you, but Andrea already did it, and I don't know what ill effects might result from double-tagging.)

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

My Dog Day

For one day last week we had a dog. I came home from work and there she was on the porch, a little hot dog with big eyes and floppy ears, hiding behind a chair. She had me at "I'm a tiny, furry, scared creature who doesn't bark or drool much, and look, I will climb right up into your lap."

The next day we found her owners. I know it was a good thing--the dog's decision to pee in our office while we were at work was a testament to how poorly equipped we are to handle an animal that doesn't go in a litter box, and also our cats would have killed themselves if we'd kept her--but still, as we sat there waiting for owners to come get her, I felt like a pitiful teenaged girl waiting to give up her baby for adoption, and wondering if it was too late to flee the hospital with the kid if the adoptive parents turned out to be meanies.

They were not meanies--in fact, the woman was British, which, what is more reassuring than that?, and they gave us a bottle of champagne which, for all I know, is fancy. I'm sure Maddy (that's her name, it turns out, short for Madison) is better off with them, but still, sigh. A haiku seems in order:

Daschund Madison
My favorite living hot dog
Vist any time!

Friday, June 08, 2007

Paris and the hoosgaw, and George Clooney and organic food

I am not yet sure what I think about the Paris Hilton kerfluffle, but there's no reason that should stop me from blogging about it, right? Here are my possibly internally inconsistent thoughts.

1. If Paris was let out of jail because of some serious medical condition, I am Monica Goodling. (Hint: I'm not.) Dudes get all kinds of hideous diseases and go entirely batshit crazy in jail all the time, and nobody lets them out.

2. At the same time, I did feel kind of sorry for Paris, what with all the crying and looking hideous--nobody wants pictures of that to be plastered all over the Internets.

3. On the other hand, maybe she DOES want pictures of herself bawling all over the internets. It would have been a lot less publicity-garnering to just serve her time rather than paying off the sheriff or whatever she did to try to get out. Also, presumably she could have suppressed the urge to scream and such. Unless she really is flipping out. Who can tell?

Those are my deep thoughts for today.

Other than: I really want to see Ocean's 13. I lurve me some George Clooney. Brad Pitt, I could kind of take or leave--if you look at hime closely, he has a weirdly huge head, and is not really aging well, whereas George is like a hotter Humphrey Bogart and will only get better with wrinkles.

I feel slightly guilty that I much more likely to go see huge blockbustery movies when they first open than I am to see small movies ever (i.e.: I saw Spider-Man 3 and Knocked Up on opening day, but still have not seen The Namesake, Waitress, or even Hot Fuzz). But what are you gonna do--I like the opening-day excitement. It's kind of like how I just read The Omnivoire's Dilemma and know that we should do more shopping at the farmer's market so as to not contribute to the doomedness of the world, but we're having a BBQ this weekend and will probably do most of our shopping at CostCo. Kind of like, I suppose, how I should be following the immigration bill or some such like today, but instead am updating Google News every 5 minutes for info about Paris. As my brother often used to say, quoting, I believe, Bart Simpson: You ask me, I blame society.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

From the D.C. Office of Tax and Revenue's Lips to God's Ears

Realizing that here it is June and I have not yet received my "state"* tax refund from the D.C. Tax Man, I called said Man's Customer Service Number to ask where it is.  The Man's helpful Customer Service Agent told me I should get it in 5-7 days, and I asked why it had taken so long. 

He said:  "It looks like the computer just went crazy, ma'am." 

I love me some D.C. Tax Man. 

*The whole crappy "All The Taxes, None of the Congressional Representation" thing continues apace.

Monday, June 04, 2007

I Heart Leslie Mann

I saw Knocked Up on Friday, and as the reviews say, it's spectacular, nay, miraculous. In the course of telling the story of how Katherine Heigl got drunk, put on beer-goggles, did the deed with Seth Rogen, got preggers, decided to have the baby, made it work with said schlubby babydaddy, and gave birth in an extremely realistic, terrifying, and very touching scene, it will make you laugh, cry, wish you were a stoner geek, wish you were a beautiful Type-A television personality, plan to have a baby as soon as possible, swear off sex forever, decide Seth Rogen is the beautiful love child of Will Ferrell and Tina Fey, and respect Ryan Seacrest.

But mostly it gave me a new love: Leslie Mann. She plays Katherine Heigl's unhappily married sister, and she is a revelation. (The picture at left is from The 40 Year Old Virgin, wherein she also stole scenes as the drunk girl who puked on Steve Carrell). She's beautiful in that blond, small, delicate-featured, fake-looking way, like Holly Madison, Hugh Hefner's main girlfriend (who is also bizarrely fascinating in that she's fairly smart and the whole thing seems beneath her, but she seems to really believe she's in love with Hugh, not that I watch Girls Next Door or whatever, you know, I hear things), and has a teeny little high-pitched girl voice like Joey Lauren Adam's, but she's as funny as Julianne Moore in Big Lebowski and Sarah Silverman in whatever rolled into one. The hilarity is slaps you in the face even more pleasingly coming from such a Barbie-looking person.

Possibly the best scene in the movie is when Leslie and a very pregnant Katherine Heigl get shot down by the cute-girl-assessing bouncer at a club, and Leslie unleashes a long, profane tirade at him which she then winds down into "Doorman. DOORMAN!! Doorman. Doorman! DOORMAN! doorman." The bouncer takes her aside and tells her it's all true, that he can't stand the stress of judging people based on their looks, and that the reason he can't her in is because she's old as shit,* but even so she's totally fine and he would tap that ass if he could. As he pays her this thoroughly obscene compliment, her face relaxes into a look of pure, beatific joy, and I want to pee my pants.

The fact that Leslie is the wife of director Judd Apatow and that their two kids are also in the movie, and are also hilarious, is about enough to turn my actress crush into a full-blown stalkerfest for the whole family. (There they are, minus the littler girl, who they presumably left at home because they are also responsible like Mother Theresa and observe bedtimes.) Holy God, how can they muster the energy to dress themselves, given how much time they must spend rolling on the floor, quaking with laughter at each others' uproariousness, and/or gazing into a mirror and drooling over their unparalleled cuteness?

*IMDB says she's five years older than me, so if she's old as shit, I'm at least old as a fart. But if that means I can be more like Leslie Mann, I'm OK with it.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Curse you, Sprint M1, iTunes, and all consumer electronics

My old cell phone got rained on and died, the poor delicate flower, so I decided it was time to upgrade to a fancy one with a camera and a music player. I got this phone, the Sprint M1, which I think is kind of retro-cute like something out of the movie Tron, and which has the aforementioned camera and music player.

All good, except I WANT TO KILL THE DESIGNERS OF THIS PHONE, AND WHOEVER IS IN CHARGE OF ITUNES WHILE I'M AT IT. In the last 23 hours, I have discovered the following things:

1. The only way to put music purchased from iTunes onto a non-Apple device, like my fancy new phone, is to burn the music to a CD in mp3 format and then re-load it onto iTunes, or else download some kind of illegal-seeming software (note to The Man: I did not download any such software). This is because the files you buy from iTunes are in m4p format, or something, rather than mp3, ostensibly to prevent piracy or improve sound quality, but really so that you can only listen to them on an iPod or other Apple product.

2. You can load music you bought on CD onto the phone, but if you put it in the Music folder, which seems the logical place for it, you don't access it by going to "Music" or "Media Player," but through Tools --> File Manager --> Music. Then you can't play a whole album, just one song at a time, and you can't use the cute little "Play" button that's on the outside of the phone, you have to go in through these menus to pick a new song after each song is done playing.

IT SHOULD NOT BE THIS COMPLICATED TO USE A PHONE. I refuse to accept any blame for my problems using this thing, because I know I'm not an idiot. The problem is that somewhere along the line our society decided that Computers Are Hard And Complicated, and thus we have come to accept that you may need to spend hours reading a 300-page manual in order to use a phone, and also that there is any rational reason why you cannot play music you have purchased on a music-playing device manufactured by another company.

It's as if you bought a shirt, but it had 47 holes in it, so before you could put it on you'd have to read a treatise on which one is for your head and which ones are for your arms, and then also the shirt would self-destruct if you tried to wear it with pants you bought from a different store.

The problem is, what am I going to do about it? Do I return the phone to Sprint out of spite, which would hurt Sprint hardly at all but leave me, again, music-less and phone-less? And which might possibly just lead me to buy an iPhone when they come out because I know it will work with iTunes, thus perpetuating the iTunes copyright monopoly? Or should I just grit my teeth and figure out how to use it?

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Monica Goodling is in da House. Of Representatives.

First impressions: Monica seems to have gotten a makeover from Ann Coulter before her testimony. She's bleached the crap out of her previously dishwater-blonde hair, but she hasn't cut off the unprofessional lenghth. She's curled the ends under in a girlish-tendrilly kind of look that I recall sporting circa 1992. Altogether, she looks fairly attractive in a mundane and unchallenging way, and older than her 33 years (bad skin); in other words, very Republican.

My genie has not granted my wish today--she has not cried--but other than that, the testimony is pretty riveting. Her voice sounds like a little chipmunk's, or a 15-year-old's. She starts off by reading a prepared statement which says: Deputy AG Paul McNulty misled Congress about the US Attorney firings (snap!), she may have asked excessively political questions of non-political career job applicants (way to take the sting out! somebody prepared her for this testimony), and she is a sweet little girl who went to public school (puke! not the going to public school, but the need to point it out) and then to Christian universities because she liked their emphasis on service (whatever), and she's really a quiet person who doesn't like to speak ill of anyone, but she will if she has to.

Whew, she really packed a lot in there.

Among the other highlights of her testimony so far: when she was asked about whether it was true that she blocked the promotion of an experienced criminal prosecutor because Monica thought the woman was a Democrat who couldn't be trusted, Monica said that she had had tension with the prosecutor, but attributed it to "two Type A women" working together. Oh. My. God. Monica: Throwing one Deputy AG under the bus wasn't enough, you had to drag all women down with you, too? Attributing your mistakes to the problems that are bound to arise when women (those catty, irrational creatures) are allowed to work outside the home does not do you any favors in the long run. And also, to whichever Representative let her get away with that: How was that an answer? Did you get nervous she might mention her period, and decide it was time to move on to other subjects?

Monica totally cops to blocking the hiring of a man who she assumed was a liberal because he went to Howard. Girlfriend just handed him a Title VII suit wrapped up in a nice shiny bow.

All in all, she comes off as much less of an incompetent idiot than Gonzales did--for instance, she can remember some events that occurred last year. Of course, this just means she refrained from getting lobotomized before her testimony, and also that she has immunity from prosecution, so she can admit mistakes 'til the cows come home.

They're supposed to be reconvening at 2, and I will be all over the live feeds.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Rehab needs to go to rehab

If I were Rehab, I think I'd be really pissed that I was getting a reputation as the go-to solution for people whose problems are mostly that they're an asshole

Sunday, May 13, 2007

MonicaGate II

I am very psyched about the prospect that Monica Goodling, the former Alberto Gonzales aide who has so far refused to testify to Congress about the firings of the U.S. Attorneys, has been granted immunity and will probably be forced to testify. I will totally watch with glee as a 31-year-old with no qualifications other than a degree from Regent University Law School (founded: 1986, Pat Robertson; accredited: 1996; motto: "Christian leadership to Change the World"; alums hired by the Bush Administration since 2001: over 150) squirms uncomfortably about what role she played in firing 8+ U.S. Attorneys for not prosecuting Democrats.

I also hope they also ask her if she was really the one who suggested to Ashcroft that he cover up the ta-tas of statues the Justice Department.

I also kind of want to see evidence that, as rumored, she's a crier. Is that evil of me? Mwahh hahahahaha!

However, I was perturbed by a recent NYT article about how Monica was also in charge of refusing to hire career attorneys if she thought they might be Democrats. Not just by the anecdote that she decided someone was a "liberal Democrat" because he "graduated from Howard University Law School, and then worked at the Environmental Protection Agency" (translation: "because he was black.")

The surprising thing is that the NYT portrayed all of this as Monica's own devious plan, which shocked! Shocked! all those who found out about it. They refer to the hire-only-rabid-Republicans plan as "Ms. Goodling’s strategy," and say she "insisted" she be given final approval in hiring assistant United States attorneys when there was an interim U.S. Attorney.

Dudes. One. The fact that the Justice Department weeds out lefties in hiring for career positions is as much breaking news as is Britney's loss of her virginity. And, Two. How does it sound vaguely plausible that this 31-year-old was coming up with a hiring strategy for the entire DOJ on her own?

If this is a sign that Monica is going to let herself get thrown to the wolves in order to protect the people who were really making the decisions, that is going to totally blow my schadenfreude about her testimony.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Book Smart, Common-Sense Dumb

So, I fracked something up at work. I didn't commingle funds, or run off with a Senator's wife, or kill a man, so that's good, but I did fail to research somthing thoroughly enough, so I gave some bad advice.

This has sent me into a major spiral, like a Britney Spears visiting a barber shop, Rosie O'Donnell doing anything-level spiral.* I am worried that this is the confirmation I have long been awaiting that I am Book Smart, Common-Sense Dumb.

I started to worry about possibly being BS/CSD (sounds like an STD, dosen't it?) in high school, in part because people would often say to me, "T&A, you're book smart, common-sense dumb." My dumbness largely manifested itself in my wee driving problem. Between the ages of 16 and 18 I got into somewhere between 5 and 10 car accidents. With only one arguable exception, they were all the result of my failing to pay attention, and hence doing things like backing up in a driveway even though another car was parked behind me, or hitting the side of the garage while pulling the car out of it. Whoopsie.

I harbor no illusions that BS/CSD is a charming attribute. It was maybe funny when Reese Witherspoon did it in Legally Blonde, but by Legally Blonde 2 it had gotten quite old. And darlings, life is one long sequel.

Plus, really you could say that my Work Whoopsie is not so much common-sense dumb as it is book dumb, being as how it did involve looking (or not looking so much) at books. Which, then where does that leave me? Dumb/Dumb. Wahhh.

I can still congratulate myself that I'm not as dumb as Brooke on the Real World. In case you missed it, in the most recent episode she thought a jellyfish stung her foot, and she remembered that you should pee on it (which I guess is at least pamphlet-smart), but then she MADE HER ROOMMATES PEE ON HER FOOT. Which, dude, you can pee on YOUR OWN FOOT without trying AT ALL. But being less dumb than that is what they call cold comfort.

*Not really. Don't worry, Mom.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Overheard in the Gap* (Pentagon City)

First Girl:  I think the last time I bought anything at the Gap was, like, 5 years ago when I bought a sweatsuit for my grandma.  She only wears white, it's really weird.

Second Girl:  White's not flattering.

First Girl:  Well, my grandma weighs, like, 80 pounds.

Second Girl:  Sarah, your grandma's dead.

*Yes, I was in the Gap.  And I bought stuff, too.  I will not be ashamed! 

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

You wanna see my talent?

Apparently noting the lack of non-fictional hottie girl superheroes in the world, Miss Americas are trying to fill the void. Let's make like it's a pageant and score them.

Miss Making the Internet Safe for Children: The current Miss America helped nab a bunch of would-be kiddie touchers by acting as the "bait" in an internet-pedophilia sting. They posted pictures of her when she was 13 online, then detectives posed as a 14-year-old girl, engaged in sexually explicit chats with some dudes, and they busted a bunch of them. Miss America was also involved in the actual sting: she waved some guys into a house, where they got arrested. She told reporters: "I got to chat online with the predators and made phone calls, too. The Suffolk County Police Department was there the whole time."
I'm the judge: Saucy! But also random and seemingly quite unnecessary; did the cops think the baby-rapists would not be interested enough if they posted pictures of someone less glam than Miss America? And why did she have to chat online with the "predators," or be there for the arrests? Presumably the real winners here are the cops who dreamed up a way to make Miss America hang out with them.

Miss Screw You, Gun Control Advocates: Also today, the 84-year-old Miss America of 1944 shot the tires of two trespasser/intruders and held them at gunpoint until the police arrived. The article says she had to "balance on her walker as she pulled out her snub-nosed 38-caliber revolver and aimed at the tires on the men's SUV, but she didn't think twice about shooting twice." About the incident, she said: "If they'd even dared come close to me, they'd be 6 feet under by now."
I'm the Judge: I am totally terrified of Miss America 1944, and thus declare her the winner. Congratulations!!!

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Russell Simmons takes out his relationship problems on hip-hop

Russell Simmons called on the recording industry to bleep "ho," "bitch," and the n-bomb out of hip-hop songs, because they're as obscene as "extreme curse words" (ooh, what are those?). That seems more Tipper Gore-y than you'd expect from the founder of Def Jam, but arguably the whole Imus thing made him realize just how bad those words really are.

Or maybe he actually had this realization at some point during the 8 years he was married to Kimora Lee Simmons? Kimora, the model/designer/talk show host/whatever who's the momma of his 2 daughters, gave a uniquely bizarre interview to Vanity Fair in 2005 in which every other sentence out of her mouth was, "I will beat a bitch's ass." I'm going from memory here, but I'm pretty sure she said it multiple times in a row in a syncopated fashion, like: "I will beat a bitch's ass. I will BEAT a bitch's ASS! I WILL beat a bitch's ass."*

So, Russell Simmons: Paul on the road to an obscene musical Damascus, or just a dude with a grudge against his ex-honey and her pottymouth ways?

*Ahh, Kimora. Thinking about that interview is plunging me into a confusing nostalgia spiral of giggles and moral approbation. If you missed it, or have since devoted the Kimora Lee Simmons portion of your brain to something else, like who Paul Wolfowitz is, shame on you! Luckily, the internets will refresh your memory: here's an awesome Top 10 Kimora Lee Simmons quotes list from PopSugar.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Carrie Nation 'n me

In response to my last post on the topic of my turning-30 freakout, and my mom's joke? confirmation? that I will end up looking like the toothless babushka I found on Google Images, my dad sent me the following picture in an attempt to give me a more accurate image of what I should expect to look like when I'm old:

This is Carrie Nation, 1846-1911, known to history as a temperance movement activist who expressed her antipathy to alcohol by smashing up bars with a hatchet. Lore has it that we are related to Carrie Nation on my dad's side of the family. In the interests of being fully informed, I have done a bit of research on my possible ancestor (by which I mean I read the Wikipedia entry).

It turns out I disagree with Carrie on a couple of her major life decisions, namely: her belief that God told her to smash up bars, her dislike of alcohol, her scowl, her lady-necktie, and her dislike of alcohol.

But! All in all I am finding my possible Carrie Nation-ish fate a fairly inspiring development. Say what you will about the crazy religiousness and the liquor-smashing, the lady did her own thing, and was ahead of her times in many ways. To wit: after God told her to smash up bars, a tornado hit eastern Kansas, and she took it as . . . divine confirmation that she was doing the right thing. Confident! And: she paid the fines that resulted from her law-breakin' by selling souvenir hatchets. Clever! Post-modern, even!

One could say that I am absolutely nothing like Carrie, what with the godlessness, the beer, and the fairly conventional life choices (see earlier post re: married lawyer with mortgage). But I am going with the more positive interpretation, that I, like her, am doing pretty much what I want to do.

And more to the point, she didn't even become Carrie Nation until she was 31.* :)

*That's when she married David Nation. The vision from God came when she was 32. I've got plenty of time!

Taxation without representation blows

Today is both DC Emancipation Day and the big Voting Rights March.  It's cold and rainy with predicted wind gusts up to 60 mph, which seems appropriate given what a ridiculously uphill battle it continues to be to get voting representation in Congress for the 600,000 people who live in DC.

Here's why I'm gonna be there despite the tornado-like conditions:  I wanna be able to do those "email your Senator" things without getting an error message or putting in a fake zip code!  I want my city to have someone to speak for it the next time some Congressman from Texas decides to name all our streets after Ronald Reagan, or to get rid of our gun-control laws

If you live in DC, you should come to the march too.  If you don't, take advantage of your lucky represented-ness and email your Senators to tell them they should support voting rights for DC. 

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Voter Fraud is the New Global Warming

Or rather, "voter fraud exists" is the new "global warming doesn't exist." This article in the NYT is about how this federal panel, the Election Assistance Commission, "revised" a report on voter fraud and voter intimidation, like so:

  • Out: "There is widespread but not unanimous agreement that there is little polling place fraud."
  • In: "There is a great deal of debate on the pervasiveness of fraud."

  • Out: Found "evidence of some continued outright intimidation and suppression" of voters by local officials, especially in some American Indian communities.
  • In: "Intimidation is also a topic of some debate because there is little agreement concerning what constitutes actionable voter intimidation."
It would be amusingly meta if it weren't so straight-up undemocratic.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Turning 30: Top 10 Freakout Topics

Sometime this year I will turn 30. In preparation for this event, I have started to freak out. Here is a highlight reel:
  1. I have a mortgage.
  2. I am reading Gardening for Dummies.
  3. My cat, who I adopted the same day I got my wisdom teeth out, is 58 in cat years.
  4. I am married.
  5. It's too late to become a gymnast or a wunderkind of any type.
  6. I am closer to too old to have kids than to too young to have kids.
  7. I have started to receive Lands End catalogs.
  8. I'm a lawyer, and I no longer feel like an imposter when I say "I'm a lawyer."
  9. If I were a character in Logan's Run I would [SPOILER] be killed soon.
  10. What do I want to be when I grow up?
Just thought I'd share.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Fred Thompson is skinny grey jeans

I went shopping the other weekend and found myself inexplicably drawn to skinny grey jeans. This was surprising because I clearly remember myself thinking a year or so ago that the skinny-jeans trend was something that I was way too smart to fall for, and also that grey jeans were an annoying fake-ironic 80s throwback look for girls who were not actually born until the late mid- to late-80s.

What changed my mind? Why, looking at lots of pictures of people looking awesome in skinny grey jeans, of course. Here, try it:

Starting to grow on you, aren't they? One could get freaked out that it's so easy to get brainwashed by pretty pictures, but that's what fashion is about--a kind of group addiction that makes you want things mainly because other people want them. As group addictions go, it's much healthier than, say, religion.

Except it seems that the same logic has made Fred Thompson the skinny grey jeans of the Republican presidential candidate world. He's totally gonna be the next candidate, entirely because people have seen a lot of (relatively) pretty pictures (talkies, even!) of him as a tough prosecutor on Law & Order. He didn't even play the President! (I would definitely vote for President Bartlett, btw, if you're looking for work, Mr. Sheen.)

I submit that this is something people should be too smart to fall for, as it is an annoying should-be-ironic throwback idea for people who think they miss Ronald Reagan and the '80s, but don't really know why. I'm boycotting Law & Order (and possibly grey jeans, just to be safe.)

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

I wanna be like Lorne Michaels when I'm old

I was surprised to read about the large number of people Lorne Michaels has banned from Saturday Night Live. I knew about Sinead O'Connor being banned for ripping up the picture of the Pope, but I kind of figured that was just evidence that the Vatican controls the world (in cahoots with the Trilateral commission, the United Nations, Jewish bankers, the Illuminati, and Satan, of course). But it appears that Lorne himself is a banning machine, and most of the offenders haven't challenged the powers that be, they've just been drunk (The Replacements), difficult (Steven Seagal, Robert Blake, Chevy Case), or guilty of "mugging for the cameras" (Frank Zappa, Milton Berle).

The thing is, I totally want to be like Lorne Michaels someday. Not when I'm a regular adult, because acting like a huge diva is just annoying unless you're Naomi Campbell, but when I'm reaalllly old--I want to look like Miss Havisham and act like a petty, melodramatic despot. So watch out--if you get on my bad side now, in 60 years I will totally ban you from my nursing home!!

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Ryan Phillipe and Ashlee Simpson are the poor man's TomKat

Best Week Ever Blog reports that Ryan Phillipe may have recently gotten "dishevelled" with Ashlee Simpson.  I think it's fair to call this the weirdest celebrity couple that has come along for awhile (Mandy Moore and DJ A.M. was inexplicable, but short-lived).  In addition to the age difference (10 years, by my calculations) they seem to be attempting to move in opposite directions on the Celebrity Quality Continuum--Ryan is a Justin Timberlake look-alike who wishes he was Leonardo DiCaprio, while Ashlee is a Jessica Simpson lookalike who wishes she was, um, Jessica Simpson. 

But, and I never thought I would say this:  I miss the early days of TomKat.  Ryshlee might be odd, but they inspire only a short head-scratching, whereas TomKat provoked an intense, multi-stage response:  disbelief, intense Googling, indignation, more disbelief, horror, amusement at the misfortune of others, obsession, attempted burning of Dawson's Creek DVDs, opening windows to air out smell of singed metal, disillusionment, forgetting about it most of the time.  It was a feast of relationship train-wreckage, with a side of Scientology! 

Was TomKat a once-in-a-lifetime event, like a comet?  Maybe not:  that same Best Week Ever entry suggests a future couple that could--is it possible?--blow the socks off TomKat:  Ryan Phillipe and Dakota Fanning. 

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Turn out the lights if you like the the planet and/or weekends

When I work late, as tragically sometimes happens even at Ye Olde Do-Gooder Law Firm, I notice that almost everybody in my office leaves their office lights on when they leave. Seeing An Inconvenient Truth and Children of Men within a short period of time made me feel slightly environmental, so this strikes me as a waste of electricity (and a sign of humanity’s impending doom).

I think I know the reason: people want to create the illusion that they might still be at work, even after they have left. But all this does it push Leaving Work farther and farther into the closet. Going Home For the Night becomes the Love the Dare Not Speak its Name.

So this is a call to arms. Stop covering the fact that you have a life outside of work! Bonus: while you're at it, you might also delay humanity's inevitable self-destruction! Turn out the lights!*

*The quasi-anonymity of my blog means that nobody at work reads it, which may somewhat dampen the effectiveness of this particular call to arms. Ah, the conundrums.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Alberto Gonzales: Live by the not very plausible deniability, die by the arguably slightly more plausible deniability

Ah, time, how you do fly. It seems like only yesterday that I was writing about how the new Attorney General, Alberto Gonzales, had twisted himself into a tasty pretzel of nonsensical post-hoc justification to explain why he had dissed Priscilla Owen when they were on the Texas Supreme Court together.

(Review: He said that when he labelled her dissenting opinion "judicial activism" for essentially imposing a Just Make The Dumb Slut Have the Kid Already rule in abortion judicial-bypass cases, he wasn't saying she was an judicial activist, but that if he had written the same thing it would be activism for him. For reals, read it and weep.)

Flash-forward today, when that same kind of preposterous non-explanation is a maybe-firing offense! Gonzales' explanation for the role he was playing while his chief of staff masterminded the firings of a bunch of U.S. Attorneys was a classic:

"I was not involved in seeing any memos, was not involved in any discussions about what was going on . . . That's basically what I knew as the attorney general."

Really, I think the first one was worse.

Monday, March 12, 2007

NCAA whaa?

I'm not gonna join any NCAA pools this year. This is clearly at least antisocial and possibly misanthropic behavior--St. Scobie's pool is its First! Ever! Community! Event!, and the emails about my office pool are the only cheerful, non-work-related "To Everybody" emails that are sent all year.

But despite all the good cheer, taking part in these things just serves to emphasize what a moron I am about basketball, and, you know, I don't like feeling like a moron. I know so little about basketball that I just had to google to confirm that it is, in fact, the sport to which the NCAA pools relate.*

You could say that I might feel less like a moron if I learned a teeny bit about basketball. But no! I'm at that point in my life (almost 30!) when I no longer feel the need to attempt to correct my ignorance. Instead, I'm going to celebrate it as an eccentricity, like those old guys who refuse to learn how to use email and instead have their secretaries print it out for them.

*I realize you can do the pools without knowing anything about the sport, but in the past I've picked teams on the basis of personal affection for certain schools or states, and have thus been personally hurt when, say, Wisconsin (which I love! because people from Wisconsin are so nice!) has done poorly, and Texas Tech (which I hate! for reasons that are a whole nother story which I can tell you another day!) has done well.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Scooter Libby goes to the hoosegow for chauvinist beliefs

One of the more disturbing things about the whole Scooter Libby/Valerie Wilson thing is that it apparently seemed reasonable to the Bush administration to attack Joe Wilson by suggesting that his wife was the person who suggested he should go to Africa.

There are a bunch of reasonable ways you could think of to discredit a political adversary who's said something you don't like: Did he benefit financially from the trip? Was he unqualified to look into Nigerian uranium sales to Iraq? Did he have a book deal, and was just trying to make controversial statements to increase the buzz about it? Did he have an unseemly affection for teenage girls?

Fine, fine. But the information that his wife gave him the assignment? It could be a charge of nepotism, IF it weren't coming from a President whose main qualification for office is that he has the same name as his daddy.

Logically, it only works as "rebuttal" of Wilson's findings claims if you believe:

1. That any man who has to get job references from his wife is a big wuss.
2. That big wusses cannot be trusted to accurately investigate purchases of uranium.

If only Scooter had had the foresight to say, Dudes, this strategy is stoopit and sexist to boot, and I'm not going to be part of it. Alas, poor Scooter!

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

First non-chart of 2007!

The non-chart is baaaack! Last year I got into kind of a thing about "In/Five Minutes Ago/Out" charts, which idea I ripped off from Entertainment Weekly. Despite its various new upgrades, Blogger will still not let me make an actual chart, so use your imagination to put this into a 3x3 spreadsheet format:

In: Hilarious Alec Baldwin
Five Minutes Ago: Washed-up Alec Baldwin
Out: Hot Alec Baldwin

In: Decrying real-life torture
Five Minutes Ago: Enjoying TV torture
Out: Torturing bugs

In: Discretion
Five Minutes Ago: Confession
Out: Repression

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Ode to Lauren Graham

I wish that Lauren Graham could play every role in every TV show and movie that is ever made, like Eddie Murphy in Norbit except good. In the meantime, I will always have Gilmore Girls.

Despite having a name that reminds you of teacozies, Gilmore Girls is one of the best shows on TV. It's about a 30-something woman, Lorelei Gilmore (Graham) who got pregnant when she was 16, moved to an eccentric-packed small town to get away from her rich, judgmental parents, and raised her daughter Rory into an adorable, fast-talking overachiever who is also her best friend. She's also got major romantic angst--the classic dilemma of Luke the gruff diner owner who's been her friend for years obvious soulmate versus Christopher, her unreliable first love and babydaddy big mistake.

At the end of last season SPOILER ALERT, IF YOU LIVE 6 MONTHS IN THE PAST Lorelei broke off her engagement to Luke due to his closing her out of his life after he found out he had a 12-year-old daughter named I'm A Shark, Please Jump Over Me. Lorelei went to Christopher for comfort and, in a Katie Holmesish move, ran away to Paris and married him, but then blessedly experienced a belated realization that it wasn't meant to be, and now is single again.

Which leads us to the moment in this week's episode ("Will You Be My Lorelei Gilmore?") that made me melt into a puddle of Lauren Graham love and write "LG + TA" all over my folders. Luke showed up at the baby shower Lorelei was throwing for Rory's childhood friend, and told Lorelei that he had finally sold the boat his dead father left to him, after keeping it in an emotional storage facility for 20 years. Lorelei said she'd thought he'd never get rid of the boat. "Well," Luke said, "Things change."

Lorelei didn't even answer, just looked at Luke with a slightly wistful, nostalgic, but not unhappy look which exactly distilled the essence of what it means to be 39 and to watch your daughter's friend become a mother and to talk to your ex-fiance and realize that that part of your life might be gone forever but to also know that your life would still change in ways you couldn't predict, but knew you would be pretty great, although not the same as what came before. Which, who even knew that such a thing needed to be distilled, or could be? Lauren Graham did, is who.

So, anyway, watch Gilmore Girls. If you absolutely can't bring yourself to watch something that sounds like Golden Girls but is missing Bea Arthur, you can start your Lauren Graham education with Bad Santa, where she plays Mrs. Santa's Sister as exactly the strumpety-barmaid-with-a-fetish-for-Santa that you never knew you needed as a mother figure. Thank me later.

Oscars: TomKat rehab?

I had various thoughts while I was watching the Oscars, but I can't liveblog because our laptop was stolen in the Great Home Burglary of 2006, and then over the last four days my thoughts have melted together into a big shiny ball of gold and taupe goddess dresses studded with penguin-shaped interpretive dancers and Jack Nicholson's bald head.

All except this one: I have an ominous premonition that Tom Cruise's fairly innocuous appearance as the presenter of a humanitarian award will, in retrospect, be the beginning of an image rehabilitation. In 5 years we'll think of TomKat as just another Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones, and the whole couch-jumping, Brooke Shields-bashing, Stepford Katie reality we all recognize now will be swept under a plush rug of talented publicists and charitable work. Terrifying. Eternal vigilance, people!

Friday, February 23, 2007

Planet of the Bloodthirsty Chimps

Chimps have been observed making spears out of sticks and then using them to kill bushbabies.


Wait, and let me explain in more detail. First, a female chimpanzee (apparently the females are more "innovative") finds a deep hollow of a tree of the type where bush babies--"small, monkeylike mammals"--sleep during the day. Then she finds a long, straight stick, and uses her hands and teeth to tear off the side branches. She peels off the bark, and makes one end into a point. Then, holding the spear in a "power grip," she jabs the spear into the hollow repeatedly "at a rate of about one or two jabs per second." After every few jabs she "sniffs or licks" the end of the stick to see if she's jabbing a bush baby or not. Then she smashes the hollow tree branch, exposing the dead (or possibly just horribly injured) bush baby, and eats it.

One of the researchers who observed this said that it reminded her of the shower scene in "Psycho."

So, OK, we're doomed. The chimpanzees are going to organize, surprise us with the ferocity of their spear-jabbing warmongering, and take over the world. We'll become the subjugated species, kept around as pets, zoo exhibits, or pack animals for the ruling ape class, and by the time Charleton Heston comes from the future to find the Statute of Liberty crumbling in the ocean, we will have become mute and forgotten the time before the chimps ruled.

Looking on the bright side, though, maybe that's not such a bad way to go, given the other options. A year ago I thought the world was going to end in a dramatic firey apocalyptic nightmare initiated by TomKat and its army of Scientologist alien minions. A few months ago I was thinking more along the lines of drowning or slow dehydration caused by global warming. Planet of the Apes is actually fairly fun and campy, and the loincloths are more flattering than you might suspect.

OK, I'm in! Chimps, if you need me, I'll be under my desk.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

I curse thee, o poet blouse

I know from poet blouses. I owned one in 1993. It was teal, and made of very shiny silk, and I got it at the Limited. Because it was silk, it was my fancy shirt--I wore it to important events such as varsity basketball games. Many other girls in my high school had the same shirt (albeit in other colors, like hot pink, eggplant, or forest green), so sometimes when I wore it I would feel slightly disappointed because I was predictable, although also somewhat reassured, for the same reason.

But eventually I realized: the poet blouse is a blight on all human clothing. Something called a "poet blouse" should be romantic and lovely, but in fact it is large and baggy and made to be tucked in, creating the look of a muumuu crammed into bike shorts. The rest of the world must have come to a similar realization at around the same time, because the poet blouse disappeared from civilized life (or at least from malls).

Apparently everybody except Banana Republic, because this is currently featured on their website:

Apparently 14 years is long enough for us to forget what history has taught us. Based on this, I'm calling it now: by 2009 we will see the return of the kilt-with-long-wool-vest combo that I wore to my senior high school Homecoming.

Democratic Rule: Bennett Barrington III slums it at Potbelly's

I went to Potbelly's for lunch today. If you haven't been there, Potbelly's is this chain sandwich place that has the type of "quirkly" atmosphere that is signified by mass-produced kitschy decor and enforced by uniform corporate policies, like Chotchkie’s in Office Space. Instead of a 19-pieces-of-flair requirement, though, Potbelly's has musicians sitting on platforms above your heads singing Dylan songs. (See image at left.) The musicians are always slightly grungy-looking dudes, generally with white-person dreadlocks, which all seems in keeping with the natural order of things.

Today, though, the Potbelly's musician was an extremely preppy-looking guy in blue-and-white-striped button-down shirt, khaki pants, and--I kid you not--a braided brown leather belt.

Could it be that this guy was my first real live sighting of that rumored species, the umemployed former Republican staffer? I read about this phenomenon in this article, which contained this priceless quote from a 23-year-old about why he didn't want to take a job at the Department of Labor, even though it paid more than his erstwhile phone-answering gig on the Hill:

"It's simply that I don't want to have labor issues stamped on my resume."

Awesome. I may go again tomorrow.