Tuesday, January 31, 2006

The Law of Gravity is Racist

My favorite web site of recent times is simply a list of actual quotes from DC Councilman Marion Barry.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Hooray for Growing Up!

Last Friday, we celebrated the 250th anniversary of the birth of Mozart.

What? You didn't bake a cake? You find it odd that one would? You find it strange that when I was in eighth grade, I had and imaginary boyfriend, Tom Mozart? And that I was in a twisted love triangle with my other imaginary boyfriend, Vladimir?

It's hard being surrounded by Philistines.

In any case, I made good on a promise I made in eighth grade, that wherever I was in the world, on Mozart's 250th birthday, I would call my old music teacher, Karen Wilberg, who was influential in my life in that kumbayah-I-wouldn't-be-here-without-her way. It was so good to hear her voice and tell her I'm all grown-up and doing just peachy. It's just so cliche, but it's a feeling warmer and fuzzier than a one day-old duckling. In fact, I dedicate today as Karen Wilberg Day in Poofygooland. To celebrate I recommend that everyone call someone up who made a great big impact on their lives and let them know how much they meant to you. I promise, it'll be more rewarding than sitting at home, watching Mr. Holland's Opus. Unless you're kinda fucked up, in which case, you should probably just stay in bed, listening to Laura Veirs.

I [Heart] Colin.... Meloy, that is

Last Saturday night, the Decemberist came to the Birchmere. Yep, Colin Meloy came back to DC to play a solo show with opening act Laura Veirs.

Sorry to say, I am not a fan of Ms. Veirs. I lost all confidence in her songwriting ability when she rhymed "raft for one" with "bum, bum, bum." It went downhill from there. She had a peculiar way of swaying from side to side very quickly and nervously- coupled with her black stockings and maryjanes, her mannerisms and timid "thanks" caused her to come off as a nervous seven year-old giving a concert for Mommy and Daddy's dinnerguests. Luckily, the Object of My Affection was with me and saved the opening act by having brought a flask filled to the brim with vodka. He did complain that watching Ms. Veirs was only slightly more exciting than watching old oatmeal congeal. In High Fidelity, Rob Gordon ponders "which came first, the music or the misery?" Listening to Ms. Veirs wail in a fashion reminiscent of singing that her "parents helped us" for three minutes, I think we have a clear answer of which came first.

And then... Colin Meloy came out! Yay! He asked us to imagine we were just hanging out around the campfire, which was fine by me (why yes, that's me shouting "kumbayah!" on the NPR webcast. ), and then sang to us- from the treacly maudlin song about having a baby, to the cheerfully suicidal, to the mourning song for a bicycle (which all of us DCists can commiserate with). Meloy imbues his shows with a sense of the theatrical, and Saturday was no exception; he intoduced him to his compatriots for the evening- a series of props including a skull named Cheryl and a boat named Maya Angelou. Generally Decemberists songs have a historical sea-shanty feel to them, but for his solo show, Meloy stayed closer to the present with some of songs that audiences may be less familiar with- The Gymnast and Here I Dreamt I was an Architect (revealing at the end that the song is secretly Fleetwood Mac's Dreams in disguise). He couldn't stay away from the history for long; much to my delight, he premiered a song about the Shankhill Butchers. Although the song was reminiscent of A Cautionary Tale from the Decemberists first full length album, he can be forgiven since no other artist today can evoke horror stories in quite the insouciantly mischievous manner that Meloy can. In The Engine Driver, Meloy sings that he is a "writer of fictions"; as a listener, you will give him whatever it takes to keep telling his stories.

For his last song, he gave us the sublime- oh, yes, that's right, California One/Youth and Beauty Brigade, a ten-minute song that goes from lazy meandering along the California coast to championing a society for bed-wetters and ambulance chasers. When the Decemberists last rolled into town last September at the 9:30 Club, I begged them to play the song. It's not like they were having a problem playing long songs... they played both the 17 minute Tain (a heavy metal epic based on an Eighth-century Celtic folktale) and the nine or so minute Mariner's Revenge Song. I swear, and people who attended the concert will back me up, that Colin Meloy looked at me and shook his head, no. After crying for a few days, I swore I would never talk to Colin Meloy again. I'm sure he lost a lot of sleep. Well, this time I begged, (again, I'm ashamed to say, that's me with the piteously cracking voice on the webcast) rather pitifully and Mr. Meloy kindly acquiesced with a dramatically beautiful solo rendition. Then, he came out for an encore and played my other favorite Decemberists song, Red Right Ankle. And so Colin Meloy can sleep soundly, knowing he is back in my good graces. And yes, I did send him a thank you e-mail in which I noted that, forthwith, I will behave at his concerts. So he should come back very, very soon, and you should all go.

By the way, for the record, I was not the one who called for Freebird. I will actually countenance Mr. Meloy's proposed group, Musicians Against the Calling of Freebird.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Panda Porn...

Too Many Cats! Too Much Ice Cream!

So last night, I had more dental work. I think a few of you out there in blogoland are confused about all the dental work- I hadn't gone to the dentist for a very loooong time, but realized my dream of my teeth getting better on their own just wasn't happening. Now I have lots of work to be done. I'm trying really, really hard not to turn into one of those dentist-proselytizing types who hakes her finger and scolds how it's just gonna get worse. Eh, I probably will- even more fun than being self-righteous is being hypocritically self-righteous!

Sorry to slow you down.

I had a tooth extracted last night. Not fun. The Object of My Affection found me and patted my back, then took me to get a big tub of ice cream and butterscotch. He took me home, settled me in with movies, plied me with codeine, made sure I was comfy and left me to simmer.

A little while later, I decided to get up and grab some ice cream with butterscotch on top. Yummmmmm. In my codeine-induced stupor, I left the ice cream and the butterscotch out when I went to bed. As I wandered into the kitchen this morning, I noticed sticky white pawprints on the ground. I turned on the light to see three VERY happy kitties with orange and white whiskers.

That's a lot of ice cream for three kitties. I've been very excited to go home all day, but now I've reached the end of my day and realized that I have to go home and clean up again (yes, I cleaned up this morning, but that much ice cream is bound to rear its ugly head again) after the kitties' night of debauchery. Sigh.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

SuDoKu: Bringing the Peoples Together

I woke up this morning early, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, as my mom used to say. It always annoyed the crap out of me. I'm more bleary-eyed and waking-up-is-bullshit-tailed in the morning. I puttered around the house being productive, and then came to work, where I actually started working right away. On database stuff. Miracles never cease.

All my productivity seemed to be for naught when the COO came by and saw the SuDoKu printed out that I'm planning on doing during lunch. This could have looked really, really bad. Or so I thought. However, instead of raising an eyebrow at the non-work blatantly displayed on my desk, he commended me for doing SuDoKu and told me about his triumph with last week's Washington Post contest- apparently, if you did all the SuDoKus, you'd be entered for a chance to win fabulous prizes. I can only do the easy/medium (sometimes that's pushing it) ones; he can do them all, which is, I guess why he's the COO of a major medical society and I'm simply a coordinator. At last, I know how to climb the non-profit ladder.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Let the Little Children Come Unto Butterstick

One of my co-workers told her daughter, Sophie, about my affinity for the Stick- apprently her five-year-old and I have the same interests. Well, in Sophie's class, they're studying the Stick (or, "Tai Shan" as they call him- where do the tykes come up with this stuff?), and her teacher gave each student a book about his growth and development. Well, Sophie, who has never met me, asked for an extra copy for me, which her mother delivered to me. This is the smartest child ever.

How is This Not a Major News Item????? (I Swear It's Not About Butterstick)

As many of you know, my bestest friend, Anahita, recently moved to India. She gets a little homesick, so I try and send her all the important news items (factoids, if you will) from out great land. In researching a news story wherein "truthiness", a word first coined by Stephen Colbert of the Colbert Report, is the American Dialect Society's Word of the Year for 2005, I discovered some shocking news:

The newsletter for the American Dialect Society is called NADS.

Seriously. Check the sidebar.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

More Pandamonium

Look, that's Butterstick in Chinese! So pretty! Or is it??? As my friend Ben points out, "What does the Chinese translate to? 'Cute fuzzy offspring of undersexed species, born the size of decadent Western stick of butter'?" If this is true, what will become of the Stick when he has to move back to China?


I thought I was fine after my pancake incident between the SUV and the city bus- just a little shaken up, but nothing that wasn't cured by a little red wine and the Object's cooking.

Alas, I woke up at 2:27 am on Wednesday morning thinking one of the kitties was stabbing me. You never know- Kat, my roommate and owner of 2 out of 3 kitties in my house, was out of town; maybe the kitties were pissed off. In my bleary-eyed state, other possibilities crossed my mind- the Object spent a lot of money on very sharp knives last weekend- maybe he had cracked and finally realized his folly and was taking it out on me.

But no, I woke up, alone and being stabbed only by my own body.

After the smooshing incident, I continued running, so I was all endorphin high and adreneline-pumped that I didn't notice the pain. That was Monday. Tuesday, I woke up and felt achy all over, but was too busy prepping for a workshop on Project Management to care. But my body got its revenge in the middle of the night. Sigh.

So, now, after the doctor's appointment, I know that the stabbing is the pain of two cracked ribs and a bruised kidney. Pretty minor injuries, but annoying ones... I feel like if I take a full breath, I will be stabbed in the back. Et tu Brute?

In any case, I went back to the garage yesterday morning to try and hunt down the woman and her car- no luck, the guard was very huffy. I'm def. going to try again.

So the lesson, kids? When you get smooshed, deal with it right away, and kick the person doing the smooshing, too, not just the car.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Almost every day after work, I go for a run. It's the perfect way to end the productive part of my day. I love my job and feel really satisfied when I get a lot done, and the best complement to a mentally taxing day is to take my body to its limits. I have the privilege of working right near the National Mall. For those of you non-DCists, The Mall is the gravelled stretch of two miles between the Lincoln Memorial that showcases the Smithsonian museums, The Washington Monument, The WWII Memorial and lovely expanses of green to play frisbee and picnic on. I don't generally wear my patriotism on my sleeve, but a run across the Mall gives me a sense of identity as an American. I take great pleasure in my quotidian jog, having the space to let my mind wander, listening to music as loud as I want to and demanding nothing more of myself than to put one foot in front of the other.

The Gethsemane of my run is the mile or so running from 19th Street, where my office building is, to The Mall. The streets are crowded with suburbanites in their oversized cars- one per car- talking on their cell phones and generally not paying attention to the fact that they're surrounded my other people and this crazy "society" thing.

I'm at the end of my pedestrian rope about DC drivers. Tonight, I kid you not, I got smacked by an SUV. A really big one- the Escalade.

Into the side of a bus.


This truck had come out of the parking garage, and was taking up the entire sidewalk and about half of the driveway- but the driver had stopped. Since a steady stream of traffic was cruising past her and there was nowhere for her to go, I figured it was ok to go around her. Then she inched up, right into me, knocking me into a city bus., effectively sandwiching me in between the two. Then, I ricocheted between the two for a bit.

A fellow pedestrian saw the whole thing, made sure I was ok (I was, and still am) and then started to ream out this woman. She refused to take any responsibility, so I joined in. In fact, the biggest injury I sustained from this whole ridiculous ordeal was that I stubbed my toe kicking a great big dent in the side of her car. In retrospect, I probably should have called the police and gotten her a ticket or something, but I really just wanted to be running. It can't be cheap to fix a dent on a car that expensive.

By the way, I know you're all wondering, yes, she was talking on her cell phone.

I looked up some stats:
Weight of a City Bus (without passengers): 38,500 lbs
Weight of a Cadillac Escalade: 6800 lbs

Needless to say, I'm in neither of those weight ranges. So the fact that I survived intact is impressive, in my humble opinion. This means I am living proof of Darwinism. Which means that woman had better watch out, because some day I will see her, when she doesn't have her SUV and cell phone to hide behind. Muahahaha.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

How in the Hell Do You Play Chess?

Chess is among the many games that I have never quite grasped the rules to. Not for their complexity or difficulty to grasp, but because, like most games I played growing up, my brother cheated and taught me the rules wrong so that they would win. I still can't play checkers without swiping the pieces from the board and crying, "I HATE this game, and I HATE YOU!!!!!."

I still hold out hope for chess, though, which is how I found myself at Tryst last night, drinking watery Rioja and trying to hold my own against The Object, another self-professed chess loser. In a stunning upset, where I was clearly winning (I had eight of his pieces- pretty significant ones, too, and he had four of mine) and would checkmate him in three moves, he called checkmate. It was true. So I swiped the pieces from the board and, tears running down my cheeks, cried, "I HATE this game and I HATE YOU!!!!" I'm lucky The Object is as magnanimous and understanding as he is. He took me home, made Annie mac (the whole wheat kind that I can eat!) and put me to bed.

So my question to all of you out there in blogland is, seriously, how the hell do you play chess. Here's what I know about the game: how the pieces move, and that you should control the center of the board. I don't necessarily know what you do to fully control the center, other than moving a lot of pieces there, or what you do after that. So bring on the strategy and hints. I lost to The Object at Risk last week, and my reputation is going down the drain. Help!

Panda vs. Snow Leopards... Let the Cute-Off Begin

A certain blogger out there (Dynoness!) has claimed that the Sydney Zoo's Snow Leopard's are cuter than Butterstick. You be the judge.

Those cubs are damn cute. But if I wanted to see a bunch of cats, I'd just go home. Maybe this is Dynoness' way of telling me she misses Julius The Cat hiding behing her toilet, waiting to swipe at her husband's genitals. It's a long story, but you get the gist.

Having seen Butterstick in person yesterday, I'm going to go with him as cutest. When we arrived, he was sleeping in a ball in his food bowl. After a few minutes of sleeping (but cute sleeping), he must have used his pandasense to realize that I, his soul-mate until he's grown and not so cute, was there. He let out a big, pink mouthed yawn and got up to play. I swear, he came right over to where I was standing. I'm not making this up. Granted, there was glass between us, and you could tell it made him heartsick to be playing with his box so far away from me- two whole feet! The zookeepers ushered my group out so the next Biggest Butterstick Fan Ever could lay her own claim to fame. I went and had an obligatory look at the parents, Mei Xiang and Tian Tian, who are locked away from the cub during the day so that the viewing public can enjoy His Supreme Adorableness unfettered. Then, in true American style, I went to go buy stuff- actually, a bribe for my boss so that she wouldn't make me take personal time for taking a two hour lunch- I think it worked- that panda is cute enough to soothe even the most hardened heart, which is good, since my boss is actually way cool.

The National Zoo is actually a pretty depressing place. To be fair, I've only been there on dreary DC drizzly winter days. But the whole place seems to be eternally under construction, a phenomenon I thought was unique to O'Hare airport. Butterstick's lair is concrete, and while the zoo touts its panda toys as state-of-the-art, they seem to be lacking a certain je ne sais quoi- namely, real technology- apparently, one of the main toys is a garbage can filled with honey. I'm sure that's part of their natural habitat. Gotta appreciate the authenticity.

Alright, as soon as I remember to bring the USB cable for my digital camera to work, where my computer lives, I'll upload the Stick Pics.

By the way, for the latest and greatest in adorable animal competition, visit kittenwar.com. Seriously, it's what gets me through these dark winter days where it's too warm to snow and be pretty but too cold and damp to be considered warm.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Happy Panda Day!

I'm leaving in two minutes to go see Butterstick- I'll have the full report later!

In Stick-related news, my vitriolic comments about Su Lin, San Diego's baby panda were quoted on wonkette- I'm officially a DC A-lister. Woohoo!