Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Best/Worst of the '00s!

The end of the decade feels much more salient for me right now than the end of the year.  The end of 1999 seems, in that cliched way, like just yesterday--didn't we just fill up the tub with water in A&E's apartment in Inwood so we'd have drinking water when the world ended, then head out in our chunky heels and matte lipstick for Times Square, although we'd get sidetracked by some bar containing pool tables and questionable gentlemen?  Ahh, good times.  So here are some assorted Top 5 lists for the Zeros:
Personal Top 5
1.  Meeting Mr. TA (aww)
2.  Regular vacations with friends from college
3.  Formation of cult/urban tribe (whatever you want to call it) in DC
4.  Evolution from boring jobs to stressful jobs
5.  Getting into law school  (for law school itself, see below)
Top 5 Moving Pictures on Screen
1.  Buffy the Vampire Slayer
2.  The Wire
3.  The Big Lebowski
4.  Bridget Jones' Diary
5.  DVD commentary tracks (as a genre)
Top 5 Things I Hope I'll Never Have to do Again
1.  Having random roommates
2.  any Bush presidency (I'm looking at you, George P. and Jenna)
3.  Moving without paid assistance
4.  Going to Lubbock
5.  Law school
See you in the Tens!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Twilight, a very bad movie

I took everybody's advice and did not read the Twilight books, but my curiosity about the phenomenon got the better of me, so yesterday I watched the (first) movie. 
Oh.My.God. it was bad.  Luckily, I found it literally laugh-out-loud bad, rather than just annoying bad.  Here is the movie:  Bella, a shy, pretty girl, moves to small town in Washington state.  She speaks only in monosyllables and generally looks surly or nauseous, but everybody immediately loves her, and she acquires a group of nice, funny friends.  All the boys in her group of friends ask her to prom, and she acts irritated and says no.  This does not upset the group dynamic, and instead the boys ask the other girls in the friend group.  Bella goes prom dress shopping with the girls but makes it clear she is uninterested in their whole silly prom thing.  She really only wanted to go so she could buy a book about Native American myths, because ...
Edward is a pale, cute boy who acts like he is going to vomit when Bella's in his vicinity.  She stares back, also looking like she's going to throw up.  They do not flirt; instead they act angry at each other.  He does stuff like follow her around all the time, save her life repeatedly from various perils but act pissy about it, and have very cold fingers.  She does some detective work using the aforementioned book, as follows:  she opens it to a random page, reads one caption ("The Cold One"), then Googles that, and discovers--Edward's a vampire!   She confronts him--angrily, nauseously--and he angrily and nauseously admits that he IS a vampire.  Further, for several months he's been sneaking into her bedroom at night to watch her sleep, and he has a very strong urge to kill her because her hair (or her blood? unclear) smells delicious. 
Now--ta da!--they're totally in love!   
Uh oh, now another vampire wants to follow Bella around and has a strong urge to kill her, but this is not OK because Bella is already Edward's special tasty ladyfriend.  Then more peril for Bella ensues, Edward saves her again, and Bella and Edward go to prom.  Ta da! 
I may spend the rest of my leisure period rewatching Buffy, to get Twilight out of my system.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Beaucoup vacation haiku

Toolstein commented on my two-day absence, and flattery will get you everywhere, so here I am. I am on Day 2 of my Lady of Leisure interlude, and so far it's pretty great. Let me tell you about it in haiku, shall I?

Getting up at ten
Is better than getting up
At seven, no doubt

Daytime yoga class
Do these people not have jobs?
Who knows. Must be nice.

DVD player
Died during first Mad Men show
It is a cruel world

Researching Blu-Ray
Is not what I want to do
But I am selfless

Maybe I should clean
Whoa, where'd the afternoon go?
It gets dark early

Tomorrow I will
Make dessert for a party
And watch Gossip Girl

Want to play hooky?
We could drink Bloody Marys
Let me know, I'm free!

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Last day of work!

Today is my last day of my current job!  Which I have been at longer than I was in high school!  So far it's like any other day, except with less work to do and more papercuts from packing up boxes.  Cleaning out my office has been a little disconcerting.  I like to think of myself as an organized person--so being faced with incontrovertible evidence that, in actuality, I am a person who leaves an invoice sitting in my in-box unopened for months because I assumed it was just a copy of something I'd gotten by email, and who has dirty socks I dont even remember owning in my filing cabinet, is making me reassess my self-image a bit. 

In other news, if you are in charge of organizing an office holiday party to which you are inviting the new employees who have not yet started, please do not send an email to everyone in the department, including the new people, suggesting that the new people "reply all" with information about their favorite books, movies, etc. so that whoever has them in the "Secret Santa" exchange will know what to get for them.  Holy god.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Bad tipping will out

Many years ago I read someplace that Tiger Woods was a bad tipper.  There is a special place in hell reserved for rich people who tip poorly.  It could be that that place looks something like the inside of a fancy house in a gated community where you watch your reputation slip through your fingers on TV while you wait for the the mysterious scratches on your face heal and hope no more of your girlfriends leak voicemails to the press, and that your wife doesn't decide to use your golf clubs to "rescue" you again anytime soon. 

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Math would help you win The Amazing Race

SPOILER ALERT:  In The Amazing Race this week, the only team in which the players are always kind to each other -- Harlem Globetrotters "Flight Time" and "Big Easy" -- got eliminated because Big Easy didn't know math.  Here's why you should pay attention in math class, kids! 

Technically he did not need to know math--he needed to figure out how to unscramble the letters N, A, R, F, Z in a "Kafkaesque" challenge involving a bureaucratic nightmare in Prague (dozens of ringing phones, repeated filling out of forms, etc.)  (So, absent math,  you could have figured it out if you'd recognized that "Franz" is a word, but I could see not noticing that because of the whole it-might-be-in-a-different-language thing.)  The more annoying brother in the Evil Gay Brothers team told Big Easy they'd work together, but when Annoying One figured it out, he would only tell Big that the word started with an F. 

What a douchebag!  But, OK, a word that starts with an F, and has four other unique letters.  Combinatorics, my favorite branch of math from my olden days as a math major, teaches us if there are 4 options for the second letter, then there are 3 for the third letter, 2 for the fourth letter, and only 1 for the last letter, the number of possible words is 4 x 3 x 2 x 1 = 24.  Twenty-four words!  Even if it took 2 minutes to fill out the rest of the Kafkaesque bureaucratic form, it would only take 48 minutes to go through all the possibilities.  Instead, Big Easy got totally flustered and the Globe Trotters took the 4-hour penalty rather than complete the challenge.  The HUMANITY!  The LACK OF MATH SKILLS!

Now The Amazing Race is left with the aforementioned Evil Gay Brothers, the Whiny Miss America and her Excessively Patient Husband (accompanied by their unofficial sidekick, Their Interracial Relationship), and the Two Boring Blond Ones.  I guess I am rooting for the boring blondes out of a lack of options.  So sad!  Globe Trotters, I hated to see you go. 

Monday, November 30, 2009

Thanksgiving! (and Star Wars)

Looks like my "posting every day in November" thing has fallen apart a bit.  I blame it on the sleepy chemicals in turkey.  And,  the anticipatory laziness that gripped me before actually eating any turkey in the days before Thanksgiving.  In fact, I was so anticipatorially lazy that I did not help AT ALL on Thanksgiving, either with cooking or cleaning up.  Instead I busied myself by "entertaining" my 9- and 11-year-old cousins by watching Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back back-to-back.  Great babysitting, self!   

I was surprised to find that I didn't remember the plot of the Star Wars movies in that much detail, or the amount of cheesy acting and technical nonsense dialogue.  As the Phantom Menace and those other Whiny Anakin movies demonstrated by way of contrast, George Lucas was lucky Harrison Ford et al were so good in the first few.  Also:  the version we were watching was the "remastered" one released 5 or 10 years ago, and the stuff that was changed from the original was HIDEOUS.  In the scene when Han Solo shoots the bounty hunter in the bar, they've changed it so the bounty hunter shoots first.  The whole point is that Han is a badass and not particularly burdened by moral considerations!  Also, why would the bounty hunter miss at nearly point-blank range?  Then in the very next scene, when Han goes to get his ship to take Luke and Obi Wan to Alderan, who shows up but Jabba the Hut, looking shiny, computer-generated, and nonthreatening, to tell him "oh, ok, you can pay me later."  This totally dilutes the threat of the unseen, offscreen Jabba who sends bounty hunters after Han. 

So George Lucas produced awesome movies despite himself.  Good lesson for us all.  Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Fact-free breast cancer discussion

The kerfluffle over the new mammogram and pap smear guidelines has emphasized for me the remarkable lack of facts in the public discussion about most things.  Before deciding whether to be pissed off about these guidelines, I think there are lots of things you'd have to know:  Is there some kind of standard way for assessing whether a screening test is worthwhile?  Was that used here?  Are there actual health risks to getting a biopsy that turns out to be a false positive?  It seems weird that they would say unnecessary "anxiety" was a reason not to screen people, because in weighing anxiety vs. death, anxiety seems like not a biggie; does "anxiety" always factor into recommendations about health screenings?  How is it weighed?  (1000 anxious people > 1 dead person?)  There was a lot of attention paid to the fact that these new guidelines didn't consider cost; but (while they're at it with considering anxiety) shouldn't they throw in money too? 
Admittedly I did not spend all weekend looking for the answers to these questions, but I didn't see the answers to ANY of them in anything I read.  Instead there were hours of Sunday talk shows with people yelling crap at each other about rationing, their family members who got breast cancer, and the general idea of "science," but nothing about what that means. 
Of course, when I have to make a decision about something like at what age I will start getting mammograms, I will probably make the decision in a totally impressionistic way, and will actually limit the amount of information I try to find out because the more information, the more confusing it will be.  But I would like to think that somebody would know that information.  Perhaps this is one of those disillusioning things about becoming a grownup.  :( 

Friday, November 20, 2009

Glee problem

I have been watching Glee faithfully, like any lover of musicals, high school dramas, and gayness is obliged to. 

But lately I gotta say my dedication is slipping a bit.  Recent episodes have displayed tell-tale symptoms of both After School Special-itis and Dialogue and Action Inconsistent With Previously Established Character Trait-iosis.  Both were strongly evident two weeks ago in "The One About How You Should Be Understanding Towards People With Disabilities." 

Of course a TV show can convey a message about how society discriminates against people with disabilities and that is wrong, see Friday Night Lights, but I not enjoy being pummeled over the head with that message to the point that humor and consistency suffer.  Like, I absolutely do not buy that Sue, whose character is the best one on the show because she is so hilariously amoral and without human feeling, all of a sudden has a disabled sister who turns her into a soft-focus, patiently reading-aloud person. 

And frequently, the show seems to have the problem of knowing what emotional arc it wanted the characters to go on -- these two should have a touching moment but then have a tiff and break up, etc. -- but not bother to think of a way to get them to that place that is believable within the context of the show.  For instance, just a few weeks ago Curt did the Beyonce Single Ladies dance on the football field in front of the whole school.  But now he's worried that his dad won't be able to handle the homophobic backlash that would result from him singing a girl's part at a glee club competition?  Umm, no. 

Tragically, this problem reminded me of that seemingly promising but now dead-to-me show, Heroes.  At the end of season 1, SPOILER ALERT IF YOU ARE REALLY BEHIND they had the idea that the one brother should sacrifice himself by flying up into outer space, carrying his brother who was about to explode like a nuclear bomb, thereby saving the world.  Good idea!  Except it made NO SENSE because the nuclear-bomb brother could fly all by himself.  God help me, Glee, if you go that way I am going to ... be sad.  Very sad.  :(   

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Direct democracy, OMG

Last night Mr. TA and I attended a meeting for residents who live on our block and the few surrounding blocks, to discuss a proposed Mt. Pleasant "day parking pass" pilot program. My feeling on the issue: Sure! Our mini-area of the 'hood is mostly residential and there's lots of parking during the day. Until recently anybody could park on the street at any time on our block, so employees of the nearby elementary school and nursing home used to park there when they were at work.

Six months ago or so some residents circulated a petition to change our street from "anybody can park here" to "you can only park here for two hours unless you have a residential parking pass." I signed it so people on our block would be able to park on nearby blocks without getting ticketed, and also based on the understanding that they were going to start this "day pass" program, so the school and nursing home employees could buy a daily parking pass for $2.50 or so a day (approximately the cost of a round-trip bus trip).

Well, they started the residential parking pass thing but somehow the day parking pass thing went to shit, so now the school and nursing home employees get ticketed if they park on the street. I had vaguely understood that the going-to-shit was due to the employees having shot themselves in the foot by complaining about the fact the passes were going to cost anything at all.

But this community meeting suggested that, in fact, what has bolluxed up the day parking pass plan may be an smallish contingent of people who are going all NIMBY ape-shit about ... nurses and teachers parking in front of their houses during the day? Or, being pissed off at the idea of other people parking for cheapish while they have to pay a lot to park where they work. Or, having a self-righteous environmental reaction of wanting to deter other people from driving (although presumably most of these people wouldn't care about parking at all if they didn't have a car, plus they can afford to live in our lovely, fairly central D.C. neighborhood from where it is easy to get downtown, whereas if you live in a cheaper outlying suburb, getting to Mt. Pleasant on public transportation would be a major PIA.) (I of course did not mention at the meeting that we don't have a car, figuring that might invalidate my opinion.) Or, they were against it for some other reason I could not entirely discern even after they talked about it in a pissed-off-but-not-very-coherent way for several minutes.

The upshot was that the general idea of the day parking pass program was "approved" on a straw poll vote of 8-7. It would have been 7-6 against if Mr. TA and I had not randomly decided to go to the meeting. Direct democracy, dude, I don't know.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Curate this

In general I think pet peeves are not a good thing to have. Sure, lots of shit is annoying, but when you elevate an annoyance into a pet peeve, you really are making it into your pet--it becomes a pampered little possession which you have to nurture and protect from the outside world, i.e., from any attack on your maintaining it as a pet peeve. So I have tried to, as they hippy-dippily say in yoga class, "let go" of various pet peeves I once possessed, including ... look, I let them go so successfully I can't even remember them!*

But there is an annoyance so significant, and on such a horrifyingly dramatic uptick in popularity, that it has entirely taken over the previously depopulated pet peeve center in my brain: the word "curated." On Apartment Therapy, which I generally lurve, "curated" has become this hideous all-purpose word meaning "picked out or decorated, but by people with really good minimalist taste, so, like, on a totally different plane from the tacky type of picking out or decorating done by ordinary people." As in: A Carefully Curated Chelsea Duplex. Or: The Pink Project, curated by Brad Pitt. I don't even think "curated" should really be a verb, except in the narrow meaning of "to act as a curator," where "curator" is somebody in charge of a museum exhibit, not just a person with a nice apartment. Otherwise anybody could take any word that describes a skill or profession they do not possess or practice, and make it into a verb to try to make their own everyday activities sound fancy. As in, I cheffed some dinner. Or, I need to accountant these bills. Annoying!

Maybe I can just keep this one pet peeve. It's such a good one.

*I can probably remember if I try. Oh yes: the incorrect use of "myself" instead of "me," braided leather belts, people who are proud of their ignorance of all things Midwestern, unleashed large dogs.

Monday, November 16, 2009

A TomKat Education

I saw An Education this weekend, and it did the schoolgirl-with-older-man thing in a non-cliched way, which is quite an accomplishment. It even manages to make you at least somewhat sympathize with all the characters, including the very smart 16-year-old who falls in love with a much older man, her normally overprotective parents who let themselves get conned into letting their school-aged daughter go to Paris with a grown man, and even the man himself, who seems to con himself into falling in love with a 16-year-old. Also, Emma Thompson is delicious as a cold, stern school headmistress.
However, that the 16-year-old character, Jenny, looked so much like a young Katie Holmes -- the round face, cute nose, surprisingly intense stare -- that watching her be seduced by a dashing older man I felt I was watching a documentary about TomKat's romance. Viewed in that way, ewwww.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Prejan 2040

Carrie Prejean -- former Miss California, anti-gay marriage hero, and solo sex tape star -- just recently put in a weirdo but, I think, freakishly savvy performance on Larry King. Larry asked her why she decided to settle her religious discrimination lawsuit against the pageant after they fired her for missing appearances.

Carrie responded, in the tone a kindergarten teacher might use with a kid who's eating the fingerpaint again, that Larry was being "inappropriate" and that she couldn't talk about the settlement. She said "inappropriate" about 5 times. Larry backed down and took a phone call. As the caller started to identify himself as a gay man, Carrie took off her microphone and seemed to be talking to someone offstage, but then continued to sit there, giving her beauty-pageant smile to the camera. She didn't answer the caller's question (what would you tell a gay friend who wanted to get married) because, she said, she couldn't hear. (Because she'd taken her microphone off.)

An ability to get affronted by reasonable questions, combined with a plastic perma-smile and homophobia expressed ungrammatically ... just add a persecution complex and you've got the next Sarah Palin! And what do you know, right before the weird outburst, Carrie had been talking about how the liberal media is so unfair to women like Palin (a personal hero of hers) and Michelle Bachman. You heard it here first, she is totally running for office.

Water cooler triumph

Crap on a log, it appears I forgot to post yesterday.  (Actually, I realized this at about 12:15 last night, but it was already today, so what was the point in getting out of bed?) 

So here's yesterday's post: 

I would like to announce that in the last two weeks, i.e. my last month and a half at this job, I have reversed my long-standing policy of not changing the water jug thing on the water cooler machine in the kitchen.  My reasoning for this stance was that I was likely to drop the thing on the floor and spill water everywhere, so I might as well just leave it empty and wait for somebody stronger to do it.  But one day I was gripped with the knowledge that I would not spill it.  And I have not!  I feel good about this.  Maybe not as good as I would if I had run the NYC Marathon (way to go, Amy and Arie!) but still pretty good.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


It's 8:04 pm and I have not posted yet today, and have no plan for a topic, so I am just writing this off the top of my head.  It's funny how you can talk (or type) something before you know what you're going to say--presumably your brain actually does know what you're going to say, because it can think faster than you can talk or type, but the other part of your brain that reports to you on what your brain is doing has not yet transcribed the thought, or is doing so in real time.  Like the bad instant closed captioning on live events.  I wonder if being a translator requires you to disengage that "reporting" part of your brain and just let your lizard comprehending brain hook up directly to your talking/signing/communicating part.  Maybe that's what I'm doing now.

OK, that counts as a post!  Wow.  (That is what Carolyn Hax suggests saying when someone says something really offensive or inappropriate:  Wow.  I wish I had said that in response to the douchey email I got from some douchey lawyer today.)  Tomorrow I will try to plan ahead more. 

Monday, November 09, 2009

Should I read the Twilight books?

I am spending a lot of mental energy planning for the few weeks in which I will be between jobs and thus a lady of leisure. One big dilemma is: should I read the Twilight books, or not?

Apparently they are very hot right now, which leads me to feel left out of a big pop culture phenomenon, and also I understand they are a big guilty pleasure. (A 13-year-old girl who went to the Inauguration with us was reading one of them the ENTIRE DAY, and she seemed quite engrossed, which was a good ad for them.)

On the other hand, I kind of think I will not like them as much as all the teen girls do, because, hey! I am 32. Also, the book series I get obsessed with tend to be the younger children, whole-fantasy-world variety (Harry Potter, obvs.; His Dark Materials; The Dark is Rising; Narnia) and not the young luv type. And what I understand to be the concept -- that this high school girl falls in lurve with a vampire but they have a very chaste relationship because METAPHOR ALERT he might kill her if they messed around -- sounds fairly heinous.

On the other hand, maybe I am sort of patting myself on the back for not liking the books even though I haven't read them, so I don't know if I would actually not like them, and so avoiding reading them is kind of a cowardly way to make myself feel superior, based on no information. So I should just read them and deal with it if I do like them.

On the other hand, as my friend Amy said, I would be contributing to the dumb-ification of the world if I read them. But I already watch a whole lotta reality TV, so it's pretty much too late for that.

What think you, reader(s)? (And, if you have them already, can I borrow them?)

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Bench-sitting/fashion resolution

It was a beautiful day out today, and I went and sat in Dupont Circle, enjoying the sun, eating pizza and drinking Diet Coke, and people-watching. It was just lovely, and I resolved that I would like to spend a lot of time like that when I'm old. It really seemed a classic old-person bench-sitting opportunity, and I felt bad for the old people of DC that they were not there (with the exception of a few older gentlemen who were shirtless, which, not a good look.)
I will begin practicing for being an old person bench-sitter people-watcher now by feeling alienated by the clothing the young people are wearing these days. Specifically, leggings. Now, I have worn me some leggings, yes indeed. In about 4th grade, I had a pair of stirrup leggings that I used to wear with, I believe, a large grey sweatshirt, for a vaguely Flashdance kind of moment. Then in 9th grade, I had several leggings-based outfits: a pair of light blue fake-denim ones that came with a striped kind of trapeze sleeveless shirt, and a black pair that I wore with rugby shirts and, I am pretty sure, flats. So I can't really begrudge the youngsters their leggings, but it is very apparent to me that that is a merry-go-round one can only ride once, and I've already had my turn.
Bring me another diet Coke and my cane, please, Missy.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Blogging for the third day in a row, non-chart edition

As Andrea noted, blogging is hard. My mom is participating in that write-a-novel-in-one-month thing this month, so it's pretty embarassing that I am having a hard time writing a blog post on this, my third straight day of blogging. But that's why the glib chart form was invented:
In: The health care floor debate
Five Minutes Ago: Election coverage
Out: People sawing their own limbs off
In: Preachy vegan yoga instructors
Five Minutes Ago: Doctors who specialize in "spirituality and health"
Out: Evangelicals
In: Blogging every day
Five Minutes Ago: Watching less TV
Out: Regular exercise

Friday, November 06, 2009

Whence cometh the popularity of "douchebag"?

A few years ago I met my friend T's husband, G, who is a good guy and who uses the word "douchebag" a lot. That was a word I had not heard since middle school, but I thought G pulled it off quite well; it sounded so dated it was fresh again--like babies named Sadie or Otis.

G's use of "douchebag" was immortalized in a fictionalized version of G who appeared in a book written by a friend of G's from college. While I think the fictional portrayal was supposed to be kind of negative, the G character was my favorite one in the book. "Douchebag" set him apart from the angsty self-absorption of the other characters.

I started using "douchebag" and its variants now and again after meeting G and reading about Fictional G, but I thought of it as a quirk I was stealing from him. (I figured he wouldn't know because he lives elsewhere.) It has a lot of good applications: you can use it in the way you once would have used other middle-school insults, like "gay" or "retarded," which themselves should not come back into circulation. It's less harsh than "dumbass" or "dickhead," and can be used as an adjective ("douchey.") I think of it as connoting the culture of the dumb, pretentious but not evil, probably drunk, aging frat boy.

Now all of a sudden it's everywhere. There's a video about douchebags reclaiming the word on BoingBoing, and a response on DoubleX critiquing the imprecise use of the term in the video. Can I give credit to G? Fictional G? Me and others who stole it from G and Fictional G? Or is this one of those things, like the popularity of names like Sadie and Otis, that everybody thinks up together and then is annoyed that other people thought of it too?

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Big news!

Since I missed Nov. 1-4, might as well make up for it now. I am squeaking in under the wire on accomplishing my major New Year's Resolution for this year: I got a new job! Aww, yeah. Here are the highlights of the new job, phrased vaguely:

1. I will not have to bill my time anymore. (FREEDOM!)
2. It's new! (YAY!)
3. I already know at least some of the people I will work with, and like them. (Can't beat that, right?)
4. I BELIEVE the hours will be fairly reasonable. (JOY!)
5. I think the organizational culture and the types of work will be more to my liking. (INTERESTING!)
6. Better lunch options in that 'hood. (LUNCH!)

Where the Wild Things Are: Liked it!

St. Scobie's Mock Whiskey has alerted me to the fact that November is, apparently, Blog Posting Month. It seems apt that I should start a month of posting every day by not posting for 4 days, so here I am! Gonna post every day!

Might as well start with my follow-up to my last post, nearly two weeks ago, in which I optimistically said I would post again after I had seen Where the Wild Things Are.

Happily, my nervousness about the potential for book ruination was for naught: I thought Where the Wild Things Are was awesome. It's certainly quite different from the book, but that was true to such an extent that it almost seemed like an entirely different story, which sometimes reminded me of Where the Wild Things Are (the book). The movie captured the nearly bipolar feeling of being a pre-teen: one moment running around like a joyful maniac, the next moment collapsing in world-ending tears. Many of the negative reviews I've read have said it was too psychoanalysis-ish, but I didn't find that jarring. Maybe it's just me, but I spent a lot of time as a kid thinking about my relationships with people--maybe more so than I do now, even, because when you're younger, other peoples' motivations are more mysterious. (Like the motivations of monsters, maybe.)

I don't know if this is another compliment or a caveat, but I think watching the movie made me regress a bit. After it was over I had a near tantrum about the prospect of, like, biking home. Which is not really that bad. Consider yourself warned.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Where the Wild Things Are pre-review

I'm going to see Where the Wild Things Are tonight and I'm NERVOUS. This is an unusual feeling to have before a movie (normally I'm just psyched to get to eat candy), but the stakes here are high: I fear that if I don't like the movie it might ruin one of the greatest children's books of all time for me. In fact, when I first saw previews for the movie I swore I would not see it for this very reason. But the other week I went to see The September Issue (worthwhile, btw) and got there insanely early, and watched the programming they put on for people who get there insanely early. It was an interview with Maurice Sendak about how much he liked the movie, maybe even MORE than the book, he said. So, I felt like, if Maurice Sendak likes it then I should give it a try. But still ... nervous. Will report back later.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Dear DoubleX, Hire me as your advice columnist

Friend or Foe, the advice column on Slate's lady-centric spinoff, DoubleX, is the worst advice column I can recall reading. This is saying something, because I am a junkie; I consume advice columns in bulk. (In case you were wondering, thet best ones are, in this order: Carolyn Hax, Miss Manners, Cary Tennis (Since You Asked on Salon), Dear Prudence, Savage Love, The Name Lady (ParentDish), and Dear Amy).

The idea behind the column, focusing on friendships rather than romantic relationships, is great--it fills a niche that I dont think any other column focuses on, and it makes sense on a website for chicks. But there are two major problems, one surmountable, one not.

The fixable: the author (Lucinda Rosenfeld) bases her answers on HUGE unstated assumptions about the letters she's responding to. Recently she got into a kerfluffle with commenters after she insinuated that a woman who said she'd been roofied at a bar had screwed up somehow, and said that she should not have expected her friends to come pick her up from the hospital. She admitted in a response to the pissed-off readers that she had assumed, based on the fact that the letter-writer said her friends were "angry" at her the next day, that the woman must have asked unreasonable favors of them before. But in the answer itself she didn't say that; instead she said that the friends "must think you're lying" about having been drugged, and snidely commented "Only you know the truth."

If the author thought maybe the woman was lying, presumably that would be an important fact to note and discuss in the column. Relegating it to a parenthetical snark is just bizarre, unless the point is to sound a edgily bitchy, in which case I think that's just a deranged approach to advice column-writing. (For an excellent example of how to write a column that points out the holes in the letter-writer's story and talks about them intelligently, see this recent Carolyn Hax masterpiece.)

Which brings me to the problem I dont think can be solved: the answer the author gives to "Friend or Foe?" is basically always "Foe." (Or maybe "Friend, but keep in mind that men are more important than your female friends.") In the roofie column, she said that it would be a boyfriend's responsibility to come get the drugged woman from the hospital, but not a friend's. This makes me quite sad for Ms. Rosenfeld (and her friends). Why write a column about friendship if you think it's basically a bankrupt institution?

DoubleX editors: If you decide to flip the script, I would be overjoyed to write an advice column about friendship that does not assume friendship is a big farce.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Modern-day dilemma

Should I "hide" updates from my few conservative Facebook "friends" because it raises my blood pressure to have the parade of baby pictures interrupted by "Why would I want the Government to take over healthcare? What will we do when they bankrupt it? Oh, that's right, just print more Obama bucks!"? Or should I keep responding with half-snarky-half-trying-to-convince-them-of-the-error-of-their-ways comments because I live in an insular little bubble of lefties and Facebook is one of my few connections to those Sarah Palin would call "real Americans"?

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

I am not a cool biker so I might as well get a kickstand

I never really tried to be a cool biker, anyway. My commuter bike (both versions, pre- and post-Bike Theft of 2009) has thickish tires, a very upright stance, and a rack on the back to which I affix my purse or grocery bags or whatever. And I bike in my work clothes, or a skirt, and flip-flops, not form-fitting spandex. So, biking, I look basically like Elmira Gulch, the mean neighbor/Wicked Witch in the Wizard of Oz (except less intimidating).

But when I bought my new commuter bike, post-theft, I made one little gesture towards coolness--I didn't get a kickstand. NOBODY except tiny children has a kickstand as far as I can tell, so I figured I could hack it without one, and get one or two cool points while I was at it.

Well, not having a kickstand blows. As far as I'm concerned the people who don't have them (i.e., everybody) are doing the equivalent of that crazy "diaper-free baby" movement. The no-diaper people apparently pay so much intense, constant attention to their babies that they can read their "tells" for when they need to go, and they go hold them over the toilet, or their compost pile or something, at those key moments.

Likewise, apparently everybody else is able to get in tune with their bike enough to know whether they have leaned it up against something in a secure fashion, or whether it is about to fall down.

Great for them, but I am the bad parent/biker who forgets to pay close enough attention, or has has not bonded with the baby/bike enough to understand its moods. Hence, my bike is constantly falling over, causing me to curse at it and probably stunt its emotional growth for life. (At least it does not poop on me.) Well no more! Kickstand it is. And, while I'm at it, I may also get a basket with which to steal small dogs.

Monday, October 05, 2009

John and Kate plus the end of the world

The " latest news" thing on my Google homepage has been totally overrun by John and Kate--he threatened to sue TLC if they keep filming the show, she took off her wedding ring, he withdrew $200,000 from their account without telling her, he says she's stealing money, she says their kids are miserable and it's his fault. Ick, meh, good lord, yuck, depressing.

Many moons ago I thought the world was ending because Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes were breeding, but I now think that was probably wishful thinking, in terms of the excitement level we can expect from eschatological events. (Watch me use my thesaurus!) It will probably be not so much one big exciting occurrence as a long downward slide of individually discouraging events which, taken collectively, will add up to the doom of civilization. Congrats, John & Kate, you're my new Signs of the End Times!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

I have decided what I think about the Roman Polanski situation

I went back and forth on this one because there are so many angles. He raped a 13-year-old! But--he had a plea deal for no jail time, but then the judge had an ex parte communication with a prosecutor and decided to throw him in the hoosgaw anyway! But--that doesn't justify fleeing the jurisdiction! But--his wife was murdered when she was pregnant! But--he thinks he can get away with anything just because he's famous! But--his mother died in the Holocaust! But--he raped a child! But--the now grown-up victim doesn't want him to go to jail!

I decided that I think the last thing is the most important: the woman who was the 13-year-old victim has forgiven him and moved on with her life, thinks he understands that what he did was wrong, and doesn't want him to go to jail. The response to this is that crimes are committed not just against the victim but against society/the state, and that it's up to society/the state, not the victim, to decide the appropriate punishment. But the criminal justice system does, at least sometimes, take victims' positions into account--that's the point of the "victims' rights movement," which allows victims of crimes (or their families) to speak at sentencings and parole hearings. It's true that there is also a movement towards prosecuting domestic violence even when the victim does not cooperate. I think that's a generally good development, because it makes the statement that domestic violence is wrong and will be punished regardless of whether the abuser is able to pressure the victim into recanting or changing her story.

Bringing charges when the victim doesn't want them brought is, in some ways, paternalistic--it's basically premised on the idea that the victim is not able to decide what's in her best interests. But I think that is an ickiness worth dealing with, in fairly limited circumstances. It is reasonable to say that domestic violence should be prosecuted without victim cooperation because domestic violence victims are likely to systematically support underprosecution of their abusers, and that underprosecution is bad for society as a whole.

I do not think this same rationale applies to Roman Polanski's rape victim. She is not in some kind of long-term abusive relationship with Polanski such that he is able to pressure her into blaming herself rather than him. She's a well-adjusted grown-up with 3 kids of her own who hasn't seen Polanski in 30+ years. If she doesn't want him to go to jail, I dont think everybody else should second-guess her.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Committing to living life in the present by watching TV

You know that magical-thinking sensation you sometimes get when cleaning the house that once you finish you will be done with for good and won't ever have to do it again? When I read Entertainment Weekly's Fall TV Preview a few weeks ago, I had that feeling, about work--I was looking forward to the time when I would be done with work and could really focus on other things, like TV, exercise, and blogging.

In the real world, I probably won't be done with work until at least 2042, and by then TV and the internet will be obsolete. Exercise will probably still be around, so I can hold off on that for now, but I should probably get on the TV and blogging while there's still time.

In that vein, I watched the new episodes of Gossip Girl, Dollhouse, and Bored to Death this weekend. Scripted TV, how I have missed you!

Of the three, I surprisngly found Gossip Girl to be the most affecting. The kids all headed off to college, and as difficult as you might think it would be to create convincing First Day of School nervous excitement for characters who act like alcoholic 37-year-olds, they basically pulled it off. Blair moved into the dorms at NYU (instead of her gajillionaire boyfriend Chuck's love nest) so that she could establish herself as the Queen Bee of the freshmen. But the plan backfired when B's Upper East Side culture clashed with college-kid crunchiness: nobody came to her sushi and saketini party because they were watching Vanessa's documentary about her organic community garden. And, Dan (Dan! the one from Brooklyn!) vetoed her signature accessory, telling her, "No headbands in college." Ow! The pain of being the reject is not dulled by having a catered cocktail party all to yourself.

Dollhouse was full of sexy mysteriousness, as usual, but I found that I could barely keep up with the ongoing plot arcs because I hadn't thought about them since last year. I do love Joss Whedon's refusal to dumb down his plots for people who aren't paying attention, but it sure does make you feel dumb then you are not paying attention.

Bored to Death, which stars Jason Schwartzman, Ted Danson, and Zach Galifianakis (the cousin of my idol Carolyn Hax's ex-husband Nick, if you were wondering), is about a writer (Schwartzman) who poses as a private detective in order to combat his ennui, or something. It was funny, but the most impressive thing about it was that it was the only show set in New York I've ever seen that really felt like it was in New York. New York kind of freaks me out, so that may not be a good thing in the end, but it was impressive nonetheless.

So that was a productive weekend! I am now going to direct my newfound energies towards watching The Amazing Race.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Thanks, Julie/Julia

If you are a loyal reader (Mom), you may recall that several that a few months ago I discovered that The Devil Wears Prada is a terrible movie to watch if you are experiencing job angst. Well, Meryl Streep and Stanley Tucci heard my cry, and made Julie & Julia to soothe me.

Background (WHINE ALERT! ): I have not had a great week. I found out that I didn't get a job that I really wanted and kind of thought I might get. They said they liked me, which was nice, but that they got applications from many people with way more experience, on account of the economy apparently. So. Also, I turned 32, which is not 95 and I would way rather be 32 than dead, or 22, for that matter, and I had a great birthday (thanks, ladies!). BUT, 32 is the age Sally is in When Harry Met Sally when she says "I'm going to be 40" and Harry says "In 8 years," and in my youthful folly I always thought of Sally at that point in the movie as being Pretty Old. In any case the combination of things was Not.Great.

So I went to see Julie & Julia, and It.Was.Great! Notwithstanding all the cooking, it is about two ladies in their 30s who are floundering about, trying to figure out what to do with themselves. Meryl Streep's Julia Child is a crazy tall, crazy-talking American who loves Paris but sludges through hat-making and bridge lessons before discovering her true calling at cooking school (at 36!) Amy Adams, as Julie Powell, is totally relatable as a lost 30ish cubicle dweller with a half-written novel and a sense she might never amount to anything, who starts a blog about cooking her way through The Art of French Cooking to give herself a project to complete. The movie makes you empathize (so slap me, Justice Sotomayor!) with them both so much that you want to applaud when Julia's cookbook finally gets a publisher, and don't resent Julie at all when her blog becomes a huge success and she gets a book and movie deal.

So I feel fortified. I have several more years in which to figure out how to turn my passion for eating Tombstone pizza on the couch and talking back to the television into a resoundingly successful career. Bon apetit!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Freaky message from Congressman Gohmert

Once in a fit of pique I sent Congressman Louie Gohmert an email as a "constituent" after he was quoted saying DC residents didnt need representation because all the members of Congress represented them. (Of course his online comment-submission form did not accept DC zip codes, so I had to find a Texas one to use.) So I sometimes get these messages from him. This one is especially bizarre format-wise--it comes from an unknown email address and has no subject line. More freaky is its content, which seems to have been written by a tin-foil-hat-wearing staffer who pounded it out after an exhausting all-night stint reading birther websites and stockpiling fuel for the coming invasion of the UN black helicopters:

"Furthermore, once the government controls, rations, and pays for healthcare, it will then have the right to monitor everything you purchase, eat, and physically do to see if it approves or if you should be punished for causing additional health risks."

Good Christ, this country is doomed.

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: <>
Date: Wed, Jul 29, 2009 at 10:52 AM

If you are having trouble viewing this E-newsletter, please visit [] for the Web Version.
US Congressman Louie Gohmert, Proudly Serving the First District of Texas


The Administration and liberal leadership in Congress are ramming through nation-ending, liberty-usurping, and economically-bankrupting policies that violate the fundamental values on which this country was built. Now, they are at it again with their plan for government takeover of healthcare, which is nothing less than a declaration of war on American families, seniors, businesses, and taxpayers.

*Government takeover of healthcare will require rationing services, denying lifesaving treatments, wait-lists for necessary care spanning months and even years, a loss in medical specialization, and stifling the innovation that makes our healthcare the best in the world.* This takeover is estimated to cost our country more than $1 TRILLION, and even the director of the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) Douglas Elmendorf stated that rather than curbing expenses, the Majority's health care proposal "significantly expands the federal responsibility for health care costs." Additionally, an independent study conducted by the Lewin Group predicts that 114 million Americans will be forced out of their current healthcare coverage, and more than 4.7 million jobs could be lost as a result of taxes on businesses that cannot afford to provide health insurance coverage.

Furthermore, once the government controls, rations, and pays for healthcare, it will then have the right to monitor everything you purchase, eat, and physically do to see if it approves or if you should be punished for causing additional health risks. For the sake of this country's future and progress, we cannot afford to go down this road. *It is imperative that we seek true healthcare reform that re-establishes and protects the vital patient-doctor relationship,* *leaving healthcare decisions up to YOU and YOUR physician*, *and lets you keep the money you need to pay for it.*

Please be assured that as you fight to make the voice of reason heard, I will continue to fight to preserve the liberty and free enterprise in Washington, D.C. *Here are just a few ways that I am making known in our nation's capital the common sense of East Texas residents like yourself:*

· *Cosponsor of H.R. 615 [link 1] -* If Congress insists on forcing this healthcare abomination onto American citizens, then those who vote in favor of it should be required to step up and become the first customers of the disastrous government program they have created.

· *Signer of Let Freedom Ring's *Responsible Healthcare Reform Pledge* [link 2]* - I refuse to vote in favor of a health care reform bill that has not been given an appropriate amount of time for personal review by both Members of Congress and American citizens. I will oppose any legislation that lets the federal government snatch power and control away from patients and their doctors.

· *Promoting Better Solutions through my *Patient-controlled Healthcare Protection* Plan: *The healthcare plan that I recently unveiled empowers patients and gives you access to quality, timely, and affordable healthcare coverage you need, deserve, and control. It also ensures that seniors have complete control over their healthcare decisions and the costs are covered.

· *Speaking Out in Congress and on National TV: *Here are videos of just a few statements I've made on the House floor and to national audiences via CSPAN:

- *VIDEO: Gohmert: Government Takeover of Health Care is War on Small Businesses and Workers* [link 3]

- *VIDEO: Gohmert: Let Patients Control Health Care, Not Government [link 4]*

If you'd like to make sure Washington gets the message that you don't want government bureaucrats and insurance companies taking over your healthcare, you can:

· *Call Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid through the Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121 *or *call President Obama at (202) 456-1111 *to tell them you want the government to stay out of decisions that should be made between you and your doctor. You can also send emails, letters, and faxes.

· *Get friends, family, and your local community involved *by encouraging them to contact their Representatives and Senators. Organize local events or petitions to raise public awareness.

· *Contact media outlets, like talk radio, newspapers, or TV stations,* and pressure them to talk about the threat government-takeover poses to individual control of healthcare.

· *Encourage support for opponents of elected officials who vote for socialized healthcare. *

We must persevere and stand up against this threat that quite literally affects the lives of every American. Keep the faith, and keep fighting, writing, and calling until all of Washington gets the message, and a majority there, once again, represents the principles on which this great nation was founded.

May God bless you, and may God continue to bless America.

With Kindest Regards,

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Wednesday, July 08, 2009

10 years later

I first moved to DC 10 years ago this week. (I did not remain here for the entire intervening 10 years, but still.) When I realized this today I did not feel surprised, in a "how time flies" kind of way: it does seem like it's been a long time. And really, despite my current dissatisfaction with some things in my life (my seemingly neverending job search), I feel pretty good about my situation compared to my 21-year-old self's situation. I'll put it in a quasi-chart form!
Then: Boyfriend who made me feel bad about myself. Not necessarily on purpose, but in lurve there is a heightened standard of care. (Yeah I made a law joke. So sue me. That was another one! HiLAWrious! Will stop.)
Now: Mr. TA--makes me happy to be around him. (Aww.)
Then: Knew nobody in DC; would go to coffee shops and look wistfully at other young people, wondering if it would be weird if I just introduced myself. (Answer: Yes.)
Now: Have lots of lovely friends. Would like more time to see them, but that is a much better problem to have.
Then: Lived with near-stranger who turned out to be a bigot and kind of an asshole, and who got a new roommate to replace me a month before I moved out, I mean not just found a roommate but let the new roommate stay in my bed when I was out of town with the plan that the new roommate would crash on the couch for the next month, all without asking or telling me, and then turned against the new roommate and kicked her out, leaving me in the middle because the new roommate was actually nice. And also, she ate only protein, and our apartment had no windows that opened, so it always smelled like meat, mixed with the fumes from the nail salon downstairs. (Also with Josie the cat, who sometimes went to the bathroom inappropriately outside the litter box, annoying my roommate to no end.)
Now: Live with Mr. TA! Who is great! (And with Josie, who has kept up the inappropriate bathroom thing.)
Then: Gotta say, DC, you were non-ideal. I mean there is something to be said for a combination of gritty/dangerous and frumpy, but. Actually, is there?
Now: OK gentrification is bad, and all, but there are way better food options now, and people dress better, which is nice on the eyeballs. But people still do not look as nice as in NY, which I appreciate because it makes me feel cuter.
Then: Mind-numbingly boring 9 to 5 job. Applied to law school basically to have something with which to occupy myself.
Now: Stressful job with long hours. Obviously there must be a balance there somewhere, still working on that.
Then: Clinton
Now: Obama
So one can feel pretty good about most of that.

Monday, June 22, 2009

The Devil Wears Pin-Striped Suits

Note to self: after working all weekend in a haze of work-related angst, do not try to unwind by watching The Devil Wears Prada. From that perspective, instead of being about pretty clothes and a hilarious/terrifying performance by Meryl Streep, it is an hour and a half of awful messages about work/life balance, such as: You must choose between being good at your job and having outside relationships. If you are really dedicated to being successful and impressive at work, you will always wear highly fashionable, very expensive clothes, and also will not eat very much so you can fit into them. You can quit your job, but only once you have proven to your asshole boss that you are awesome at it and that you are quitting because you are too good for it, not just because you want to live a reasonable life outside of work. Wahh.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Post Hunt VICTORY! (Atonement for Peeps Diorama travesty)

MY TEAM WON THE POST HUNT!* Mr. TA and I only decided to participate in this scavenger hunt/brainteaser game last night. I thought I would be useless because I'm crappy at crosswords. But the stars aligned, (and one of our team members had done a similar puzzle race in Miami 6 or 7 times), and we came in first! I even contributed on several of the legs (by knowing that you can send a text message to a 5-digit number, and noticing that R2D2 and C3PO are map coordinates.)
This is now my third major life victory, following the Care Bears coloring contest in 2nd grade (prize: a large Pizza Hut pizza), and the quasi-militaristic drill competition at dance team camp (prize: a ribbon, and Tiger Paws glory). The award here was definitely better ($2000 split six ways!), and it was also probably the only time I will be photographed with one of those huge checks. Yayyyy!! I now officially forgive the Washington Post for the miscarriage of justice that was the Peeps Diorama contest.
*This news is much too awesome to worry about destroying what remains of my moth-eaten fake anonymity.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

I am happy to buy you a going-away beer at a non-glittery DC location, Justice Souter

I am happy for Justice Souter that he's retiring so he can go hiking.  I would not mind doing that myself.  But why must the articles about him always say how he dislikes DC's "glittery social scene" as though it's self-evident that that is what DC is all about?  It is certainly possible to live here without constantly going to cocktail parties, appearing on Sunday talk shows, and schmoozing with elected officials.  For example, I have managed to avoid all those things for the last 6 years without even trying very hard.  (Without trying at all.)  (If anybody wants to drag me to a fancy cocktail party, or have me appear on a Sunday talk show, I would probably not object.)  In fact, you can even go hiking in DC.  I have gotten lost in the woods behind my house on more than one occasion.  There are even deer back there! 

Indeed, I have been having a resurgence of DC pride lately.  This is partly because our house has probably lost so much value that we can never leave so we might as well look on the bright side, and partly because we saw State of Play last weekend.  Yes, that's the movie more widely known as The Movie In Which Russell Crowe Lives In Mount Pleasant!  And while parts of the movie had very sketchy DC geography--a girl walks down the street in Adams Morgan and then gets on the metro in Virginia, come now--the Mt. Pleasant parts were right on.  Russell lives above Pfeiffer's Hardware and Heller's Bakery, and they really filmed in that apartment, so you can see the Heller's sign both in the establishing shots and from the inside-the-apartment shots.  And, he meets a shadowy Blackwater-type informant in the bus stop across the street, and it's really the bus stop! 

Anyway, I think Justice Souter might have liked DC better if he'd lived in Mt. Pleasant, is all.  If you are a secret self-Googler and are reading this, Justice, I am happy to have you over for a beer, or meet you at Wonderland or something.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Rage, rage against the announcement of the Peep Diorama semifinalists

The Washington Post has announced the semifinalists of the Peep Diorama contest, and our Peeple Tunnel of Doom is nowhere to be found.

Did they not get the reference? Apparently they did, because a Purple Tunnel of Peeps is semifinalist # 34. Which, no offense to Sarah Cochran of College Park and Peter Rothschild of Washington, but ours has dozens of individual peeps with googly eyeballs, tiny purple tickets, and hand-crotched peep scarves and hats. And tunnel lighting. And a peep on a ladder posting a "PEEP" poster with Obama's Face on a Peep Body. And an entirely separate inauguration scene above the tunnel, featuring a peep-bodied Roberts flubbing the oath for a peep-bodied Obama on a Peepbotron. And the image of the Capitol which they sent to actual purple ticket holders in their consolation package.

Both my belief in journalistic integrity and my dream of abandoning the law for a career in peep art are shattered. At least we still have the diorama.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009


I went to yoga at lunch today.  This is a bigger operation than you would think.  Getting ready to go and leaving the office made me feel like one of the guys in this article (which is about solitary confinement, which I could NOT handle and would definitely turn psychotic, as many do apparently).  Not the solitary part, though (my office may not be very social but that comparison would be a touch overboard)--I felt like the guy who escaped from prison, thus precipitating his stay in solitary.  He successfully implemented a very elaborate escape plan:  he stole a manual about the prison's "microwave-detection" security system, studied it for months and then returned it, got someone else to create a diversion in the yard, turned a picnic table on its side to scale the fence, cut through razor wire using a tool he'd fashioned, used his research about the security system to follow an "invisible path" through the lasers or whatever, and presto!  got out, and called a cab. (Someone turned him in a month later.) Likewise, I changed clothes in the corner of my office, resulting in an outfit of yoga pants, boots with no socks (forgot to bring any), a tank top and my wool turtleneck (forgot a sweatshirt), a helmet and a yoga bag, then left rapidly, trying to look normal so no-one would think, Why is she leaving in the middle of the day with a helmet and yoga bag?  (Upon reflection, I was less prepared than the escape guy.) 

Then when I got to yoga I switched drastically into feeling like one of the blank "dolls" in Joss Whedon's new show Dollhouse (which is improving, you should give it a chance).  The "dolls" get implanted with other peoples' personalities for "engagements" like being hot dates or infiltrating religious cults, but when they're not working they live in a blank, personality-less, very Duh state in a kind of spa-like environment, and what do they do all day?  Yoga.  Constant yoga.  They wear yoga clothes, too.  It totally makes sense, that is what you would do if your brain had been wiped clean--in fact, that is the state yoga is sort of supposed to help you achieve, I think.   

Monday, March 16, 2009

Peeple Tunnel of Doom (aka the best frakking peep diorama ever)

My friends and I created a masterpiece for the Washington Post's Peep Diorama contest. It's called the Peeple Tunnel of Doom, after the peeps (ha!) who never got to the inauguration because they were stuck in line in the I-395 tunnel under the Capitol. We made the tunnel with the crazy-eyed peeps wearing hand-crotched scarves and hats, and holding peeple tickets; the trampled peep on the left side; the ceiling lights that actually light up; the exit signs (I made those!); and the peep on a ladder putting up a PEEP poster. Then we went crazy and also made an inauguration scene on the top of the shoebox, complete with a packed Silver Ticket area, a nearly-empty Peeple Ticket area, a Peepbotron with images of Obama and Roberts (and closed-captioning of the flubbed oath), and a picture of the Capitol which is one of the ones they sent to the (human) purple ticketholders to apologize for the whole tunnel of doom thing. The above-ground scene is not meant to be an accurate rendering, but rather the inauguration as the peeps in the tunnel imagined it, in their desperate fever-dream state.

Do you think there's an untapped market for disgruntled lawyers who make DRASTICALLY AWESOME peep dioramas?

Saturday, March 07, 2009

This Movie Is Just Not That Into Having a Point

He's Just Not That Into You has the structure of an dialectic between passionate, but very drunk, people: the Realist and the Cynic.

The Realist starts out with a heartfelt tirade about how women are so willing to make excuses for men when they act like assholes, when in fact men are dogs who all just want to sleep with Scarlett Johannsen. The movie demonstrates this point by having its main female characters make cringe-inducing excuses for the assholes in their lives. The adorable GiGi (Ginnifer Goodwin) becomes an adorable quasi-stalker after going out on a single date with a blah real estate agent named Colin (Matt Dillon's brother, I think) who actually likes Scarlett Johannsen, while Beth (Jennifer Anniston), who wants to get married, stays with her boyfriend Neil (Ben Affleck) even though he's made totally clear that he's going to marry her, and Janine (Jennifer Connolly) obsesses over her home renovations while the college boyfriend she forced into marrying her, Ben (Bradley Cooper) lusts after, of course, Scarlett Johnansen. The Realist belches loudly and rests her case.

The Romantic cannot bear this, however; she feels that the Realist is being not only one-sided, but fairly sexist. Swaying slightly, she stands up, forgets to mention the sexism issue, and gives a rousing, if incoherent, speech about how if women are fooling themselves into thinking there's a chance with some asshole, at least they're maintaining hope rather than being cynical and treating the opposite sex like objects, man. On the movie plane, Gigi delivers this speech to Alex (not sure who this actor is), the bartender who had been channeling the Realist by explaining how if a man wants to see a woman he'll make it happen and is thus rejecting Gigi.

The Realist cracks another beer and counters that, yeah, but still men are definitely dogs because they definitely all want to sleep with Scarlett Johannsen, because she has boobs the size of planets and acts so vapid she seems to be sedated. Whaddaya say to that, huh, Romantic? Ben sleeps with Scarlett. Then, in order to really make the Realist's point, he tells his wife that he slept with someone but that he doesn't want to get a divorce, but then he starts to get it on with Scarlett again, in his office, then sticks her in the closet when his wife arrives to try to save their marriage, and then gets it on with his wife instead while Scarlett hides. Scarlett wears Little Bo Peep-type dresses and undergarmets in order to emphasize her planet-boobs, and acts vapid to the point of being sexily comatose.

The Romantic makes huge dismissive gestures with her arms and raises her voice to make her point: Yeah, planet-boobs, etc., OK but Scarlett is hurt in this scenario too, what with the hiding in the closet! And, it's just not realistic to think that women will stand for this kind of crap forever! Whereupon Scarlett huffs out of the closet, Beth breaks up with Neil because he won't marry her, Janine throws out Ben for being a lying sack of shit, and Gigi moves on from Alex.

The Romantic isn't done yet, though. Pounding her fist on the table and knocking her drink over for emphasis, she says that true love really does exist! Sometimes men who have seemed like assholes really just needed that one special woman to unlock their inner teddy bear, just like in the movies! The Realist tries to interrupt--Scarlett Johannsen! Perpetuating unrealistic--but she is no match for the Romantic's sheer volume. In a whirlwind, Beth and Neil get back together and he reverses course on his heretofore consistently held no-marriage philosophy; Janine kicks Ben out but she still believes in love and is starting to date again; and Alex, the cool cynic, realizes that he's head-over-heels in lurve with Gigi. Swept up in it all, some peripheral characters--Connor the real-estate agent and Drew Barrymore, who has been hanging out around the edges of the movie, get together, and Scarlett Johnannsen goes to India on a yoga retreat (good riddance)!

The Realist gives up and goes to the bathroom, and the Romantic declares victory, ends the movie, and passes out on the couch.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Late-breaking revelation re: The Real World

I was watching The Real World this week, and had a mind-blowing revelation.  They haven't changed the tagline since the show aired in 1992 (either that or they've come back around to it because now it has retro charm):   

This is the true story
of seven strangers
picked to live in a house
and have their lives taped
Find out what happens
when people stop being polite
and start getting real

"Stop being polite and start getting real"?*   Let's diagram it: 

Real = not polite
Not polite = rude 
Thus, Rude = Real

I only just realized that The Real World may have originated the false dichotomy that has turned society* into a bunch of assholes. 

*Also weird because nobody has started off by being polite on that show since Season 1--now they get to the house, strip naked and get in the hot tub, and introduce themselves to the other roommates with racial epithets.

**By "society" I mean "the people who are cast in reality TV shows."

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

You should really watch Battlestar Galactica

I am mulling over the reasons for the infrequency of my blogging, and when I come to any conclusions I will share them with you.  (I'm sure the problem is contained in that very sentence, actually, but I still can't put my finger on it.) 

But in the meantime, a public service announcement:  You absolutely must watch Battlestar Galactica.  In case you haven't seen it, it's a post-apocolyptic outer-space show about the remnant of humanity left over after humanoid-looking robots, the Cylons, nuke their planets.  So it's not super cheerful, but it's got some of the best storytelling and acting out there, especially Mary McDonnell (the mom in Donnie Darko), as the totally relatable and also terrifyingly unitary-executivish President, who may also be the prophesied "dying leader" fated to bring her people to a new home, and Edward James Olmos as the gruff, possibly alcoholic Admiral-with-a-heart-of-gold.  Right now the last half-dozen or so episodes are airing, and I'm pretty sure they're going to reveal the actual fate of humanity.  Which, again, I'm not promising it will be cheerful, but at least we'll know what we're in for.