Her Ladyship

Notes from the gutter.

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Rolling Thunder

DC was invaded this past weekend by thousands and thousands of vets on Harleys. They make quite an impressive sight...and sound, for that matter. When they come rolling across the Potomac in honor of their lost war-time buddies, it's very touching.

No one messes with them, either. La Bomba reported that she saw a bunch of bikes left unattended with very expensive-looking leather jackets wrapped up on the handlebars. At first, she thought that the bikers were being very trusting; then she realized, who exactly would mess with a biker? No matter how nice the jacket is, that pretty much is guaranteeing you a big ole can of whup-ass.

And burn on the WashPost. They accidentally - or at least, I'm assuming it wasn't on purpose - printed, on the cover of Saturday's Metro section, this photo: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/photo/2005/05/27/PH2005052701575.html. In case they've taken the picture down, it's of a fierce-looking member of Rolling Thunder with a little drop-kick dog perched on his knee. Obviously, the photographer was focusing on the disconnect between the big, burly man and the twee pet. What's funny is that the motorcycle guy was wearing a leather jacket on which you could clearly read a patch that said, "Asshole." Shocking. Won't someone please think of the children?

I've never been on a Harley. Growing up, my mom had a ban on motorcycle rides as one of the absolute, cross-this-and-die restrictions for us (another one was: do not skip school. She assured us that if we did, and we got caught, she would hold our hands and walk us to classes. I had no doubt that she would and consequently never, ever missed a day).

As an adult, I did manage to get on a small motorcycle though. A few years ago, I was visiting FrequentFlyer in Athens for Thanksgiving. He had to work most days, so I spent my time out seeing the sights and tooling around various tourist destinations. At one museum, I got to chatting with a guard who was very friendly. He ended up asking me out for coffee, and I figured, what the hell - FrequentFlyer was going to have to work late that day anyways. So the museum guard (MG) arranged to pick me up by a metro. I thought that we'd walk to a local cafe. MG had different plans. He wanted to drive me, on his motorcycle, to the top of a local hill so that I could see Athens in twilight. I realized that I was in for a trip to Athens' version of Makeout Point, but I thought I would cross that bridge when I came to it. I put on his spare helmet and off we went.

MG went zipping up these very windy, wet roads (it had rained earlier that day). Which didn't make me that nervous. What had me shitting bricks was his driving on the wrong side of the road around blind turns and passing more sane motorists in the process. All I could think was that I was going to die on that hilltop and, when I met up with my mom in the afterlife, I would have the biggest "I told you so" coming. By the time we made it to the peak, my legs were shaking. I very firmly told MG that if we didn't go slower on the way back down, there would be hell to pay. We put-putted back down the hill, much to my great relief. And it pretty much cured me of ever wanting to ride a motorcycle again.

Friday, May 27, 2005

Free for all y'all

Last night, I went to the Shakespeare Free for All at Carter Barron. I'd never been to either of those events and both of them surpassed my expectations. Carter Barron is an outdoor ampitheater on the fringe of DC's border with Maryland. It's surrounded by a lot of trees, which makes you feel like you've hiked into the middle of the woods, instead of being a few miles from downtown DC. Even better: they allow you to bring in booze, just as long as it's not in glass bottles. So we had a great picnic dinner before the play. I washed back three kinds of cheese and garlic-stuffed olives with lots of red wine, so I was happy.

The play, “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” was the same one I’d gone to see at the Shakespeare theater last year. Had the same cast, staging, everything. It was interesting to see how it translated from an indoor to an outdoor setting. I thought it did very well, particularly as the play takes place in the woods and the ampitheater makes you feel like you're in the middle of a forest. Very appropriate.

It was a really fantastic evening, particularly because of the spectacular weather and the relative absence of bugs. DC peeps, hustle down there because the Free for All lasts only through next weekend. And ladies, according to RUMINT, the fairy king is on the market. Hubba hubba. You don't want to miss that opportunity.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Am I going crazy?

Don't be so quick to answer that. Last night, I had a lengthy phone convo that kept me up past 1AM. Then, mind still a-buzzing, I read the paper for a few minutes while I waited for my mental synapses to slow down a bit. I started dropping off after about half an hour or so and was just about to sink all the way into sleep when the bed started rocking. Not the fun kind, either.

It took a few seconds for my half-conscious mind to make the connection, but then my southern California conditioning kicked in. Yup, that was an earthquake all right. It was a longish one, too, with a gentle rolling motion. I checked the clock and it was 1:42 AM. My cat startled up, looked at me with wide blackened eyes, and hid under the bed. So I know it wasn't just me.

I lay there in bed, waiting for it to stop. Growing up, we'd always been taught to get in a doorway during an earthquake under the theory that it had been strengthened and thus was the safest place in the house. Then, a few years ago, that school of thought shifted as practioners realized that doorways very often have doors attached - doors which can swing back and forth and smash you in the face. So now, I think the advice is just to get away from glass and anything that could fall over on you. My bedroom is pretty good, as far as earthquake safety is concerned, since I don't have anything heavier than styrofoam-mounted posters above my bed (no true Angelino ever puts anything weighty over their bed, no matter where they live).

It felt like a fairly long earthquake - under a minute - but it wasn't that big, I'd say somewhere in the mid-4 range of the Richter scale. When it finally stopped, it took a few minutes for my heartbeat to slow down so I could go to sleep. We'd been raised under the mantra that California was due for "The Big One" and so every time an earthquake hit - roughly once a year or so - always on the edge of your mind was the question of whether that might finally be The Big One. Old habits die hard and I found myself wondering if Big Ones could hit east of the Mississippi.

Part of the whole earthquake experience in southern California is immediately turning on the TV news to find out what happened. The poor news anchors would be stuck there for the first hour or so, fielding phone calls and basically buying time until the scientists at Cal Tech could venture as guess as to the size and epicenter of the quake. One guy is still known as Kent "Aftershock"-nik, since he had the misfortune of actually being on air when the earth started rumbling. He understandably dove under the anchor desk - can't say as I blame him when you consider all the lights and cameras that are in the vicinity when you're being filmed - but it still made for an amusing reel clip afterwards.

I didn't get up last night to check out what was known about the earthquake, but I figured the WashPost's online edition would have something on their homepage today. No dice - nothing. I've asked around and no one else seems to have felt it either. The hell? If it were just me, I'd think I'd experienced a brain fart, but my cat definitely felt it too. DC residents, if you could just weigh in on this, my sanity would greatly appreciate it. Thanks.

Shut it, you sanctimonious prat

Am I the only one not on the Bright Eyes bandwagon? I mean, some of his songs are okay, but most of them bug the ever-loving crap out of me. For example, the latest of his pieces to be overplayed, "When the President Talks to God," is so incredibly annoying. Yes, we get it: Baby Bush is being hypocritical. Yes, we get that you get that. You're very smart. Gold star for you. Now go away.

And why is Juliana Hatfield still getting airtime? Talk about your blast from the past. Whenever I hear her, I always think of "Reality Bites." Was one of her songs even in that, or is she simply tightly tied to that grunge era in my brain? I'd look up the soundtrack, but I can't be bothered.

I sound peeved, but actually Radio@Netscape's "New Indie First" has been playing some great music this morning. I'm happy to see the Russian Futurists popping back up again. Last I'd heard them was the summer of 2001, and I'd completely forgotten about them. And I'm really liking The Bravery and Beck's new work too. It's that some media darlings - aHEM, Conor Oberst - need to take a step or two back before they start believing their own press.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005


For a Pisces, I am having a very bad water-related week. Now, it's hit me at my work. They took away the nice bottled water jugs for some unknown reason. Now we have to drink out of the tap. Call me a spoiled asshole but this shit is awful. It's all pipe-y tasting. And I drink tons of the stuff, too - I easily go through 64 ounces a day. (Don't ask me how often I visit the bathroom. Let's just say I'm well-hydrated.)

I'm not sure how I'm going to stomach this. Pinching my nose doesn't work, as it has a very marked after-taste. Maybe I could bring lemon juice and squirt it in my cup? I'd hate to have to start buying water, seeing as I'm so cheap and all. Plus it would be heavy to have to haul back and forth.

Actually, I'm very seriously considering bringing it up this nasty water situation with the bigwigs. It's hurting *my* morale, which can't be good for the company. I understand needing to cut back on necessary expenses, but this in my mind is not one.

Meanwhile, my friends who work for the gubmint are reading this and shaking their heads. I've heard tell of "water clubs," where you have to chip in for the water deliveries or go thirsty. I'm thinking that might not be such a bad idea.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005


Well well well, look who's back. Washingtonienne, aka Jessica Cutler, just released her "book" that is based on her real-life experience here in Washington as an intern who sleeps with powerful men on Capitol Hill and accepts money from them. But she's not a prostitute, nosirree, she's just an intern struggling to get by on the paltry sums Hill types are paid.

Last summer, this all blew up when she posted on her blog tawdry details about the deals, including, gasp! anal sex with an uptight conservative type. Wonkette picked it up and for a day, all of work in DC stopped as emails raced around and people tried to figure out who the blogger was. Soon enough, her real name came out, as well as the office that she worked for (a Republican. HAH).

The thing was funny at the time because of the salacious details.

However, it did bug me then and it continues to bug me now.

Washingtonienne - let's continue to dehumanize her with this nickname, since she had no problem in turning herself into a stereotype - used her (so-called) good looks and sexuality to get ahead. How is this different from Hollywood starlets or NY actresses? In my mind, the crucial difference is that DC's work is supposedly mental. In theory, it's your brain power and hard work that will take you places here. Yes, I know, nepotism and connections are important in DC as well as everywhere else, but at least it's your intelligence that gives you your primary leg up.

Not for Washingtonienne, though. Her blog - haven't read the book, don't intend to - showed a complete disdain for doing any real work in DC. I have had a plethora of crappy internships, so I feel well-placed to criticize this attitude of entitlement. While not every internship I've had was that great, I really and truly was so happy to be here and part of a team that it made it acceptable. So as a former intern, I think that her mentality makes us all look bad.

But what even is more troublesome for me is that it's a young woman who's doing this. As a female who's been working in a male-dominated field for, christ, seven years, I can attest to how difficult it is to be taken seriously. The glass ceiling does still exist, even if it's more pliable than it used to be. I - and every other woman who's worked in my field - could tell stories of overt and subconscious slams against my professionalism and capabilities. When you have someone like Washingtonienne who doesn't even pretend to have a brain - and don't give me "the prostitution is empowerment, I am the puppetmaster" argument she used to say that she was manipulating the men and therefore stronger than them - then she really hurts the rest of us XX chromosomers. Not that I'm saying she and she alone has set back women's advancement in Washington, but things like this certainly don't help.

It does bring to mind (yet another) pet peeve of mine. Women here are discouraged from being feminine and attractive. It's almost like you can be that, or you can be respected and considered competent: you can't be both. There's a reason why Washington women are atrociously bad dressers. You can often see women on the Metro wearing those floppy bow ties and shoulder pad shirts that hearken back to the days of Mr. T. And don't get me started on how many times I've seen flowsy, unconditioned hair on passer-bys. It's almost like it's saying one is shallow to have opened a magazine in the past two decades, and for this I do blame the women themselves. Ladies, fight the power! Don't let The Man keep us down any more!

Monday, May 23, 2005

File this under "no shit"

You never realize how important water is until it's gone. Saturday morning, my houseguest and I woke up to a mere trickle coming out of the taps that quickly dried up. I was pissed because I had no idea how I was supposed to fix it. Would this be something a plumber would do? Could my condo association take care of it? A phone call to the management company clarified the situation: a water main had blown up on 13th and Florida and knocked out the water supply for a good chunk of Adams-Morgan. We were told we had to sit tight and hope that the city services had its act in gear. Not bloody likely.

Anyways, not to get too graphic, but you know how I joke about using the cat's litter box in emergencies? Well, this was a situation where I came uncomfortably close to actually doing so. And my whole grooming cycle was thrown wildly off-course. Wash your hands? Forget about it. Get rid of the mascara that's bleared under your eyes? Not in this lifetime. And I hope that you like that stamp from the club you were in last night on your hand, 'cause it ain't going nowhere.

I ended up pushing my poor houseguest out the door a couple of hours earlier than she'd probably anticipated getting up on a Saturday morning. I had to come into my office to take a shower - luckily, Dupont's water supply seemed fairly stable - and it was all gravy after that. At least, until I realized that I'd forgotten to bring a towel with me and had to use the chintzy paper towels that are supposed to be used to dry your hands. I must say that their absorbency leaves something to be desired.

Friday, May 20, 2005

Manna from heaven

It is frrrrreezing outside - icy rain and wind conspiring to soak every item of your clothing. Despite my umbrella, I got drenched on the way into work. After moderately drying out, I left a few hours later for my doctor's appointment.

[Quick PSA: Kids, make sure that you wear lots of SPF and check every year for new moles. Growing up fish-belly white in southern California meant that mine was an unwinnable yet constant battle to get some sun. My skin is not happy with me. I am now the proud owner of two blue stitches and one gaping hole where a funny-looking mole used to live. Endeth the PSA]

Anyways, trudging back to my office, I passed by a pho place that I've been meaning to try out. Oh my god, I think I'm in love. It may just be because I am shivering and wet, but this is the best goddamn soup I've ever had. And that includes the time when I got my appendix out and wasn't able to eat anything until I was introduced to the glory of cream of celery Campbell's. This pho has a nice savory broth, good cuts of meat, tons of cilantro, and a zingy hot sauce. I have a new BFF. Even better: they take AmEx. I envision many a lunch-time trek down to this pho place. Plus, the more I go there, the better my chances are of running into someone while carrying the soup and getting to work in "pho" somehow into the conversation. Today I spent the walk back to my office coming up with various conversational gambits that would allow me to say "pho sure", but sadly for me, luckily for everyone else, I didn't see anyone I knew.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

An exercise in ego massage

In line with this blog's policy of hard-hitting analysis of issues when they're well past their sell-by date, there were a few Candorville comic strips last week that got me ruminating. Now, keep in mind, I like Candorville - I think it's a consistently entertaining strip and I commend the Washington Post for bringing on a comic that doesn't meet the Cathy or Garfield demographic.

Anyways, maybe this isn't a criticism but more an acknowledgement of a shot that hit its mark. The lead character is a struggling writer who decided that he was going to give up trying to get published by outside sources, but would instead create a blog where he was guaranteed to get published. Ahem. I have no idea of who would have that kind of mindset.

The thing is, I write professionally, but on very dry and serious sorts of things. This blog, which I am very careful to keep separate from my work persona, is a way in which I can express myself in a manner that's very different from my everyday style. It's a venting of pent-up creativity (work with me on this).

It also allows me to practice my writing where I'm telling a story (again, humor me on this) or at least a unified vignette. This is as opposed to my journal, which I free-form write in most nights before I go to bed. I started it years ago when I went through a rough spell, grades-wise, in college. Suddenly I was getting reamed on my written assignments, so I figured that practicing getting my thoughts on paper could only help. I've kept one more or less consistently ever since. I try and write for ten minutes every night, "try" being the operative words. Some nights I am simply not in the mood, while others I have nothing to say. Then there are the nights where I come home completely sloshed and worked up over a trivial incident. Those are a lot of fun to read the next day. I also am fairly secure that their secrets will go to the grave with me, as few people can decipher my handwriting when I'm at my best.

Ideally, I'd like to write personal non-fiction and sign my real name to it someday, and so for now I practice writing something for public consumption daily. I do realize that blogs are the 21st century version of vanity publishing. At least I'm not forcing friends and family to buy sloppily-bound copies of my latest masterpiece, right?

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Not the sharpest knife in the drawer

Monday night, before the Built to Spill concert at the 9:30 club, I met up with a friend at the Velvet Lounge for a pre-show drink. Or rather, I would have, had the Velvet Lounge not been mysteriously closed. No problem, we'll just walk a little further down U Street to the Saloon. A drink shall yet be had! Except, no. It was closed too (but at least we know why - their sign said they're closed Mondays. Still unclear on why the Velvet Lounge wasn't open to rake in the big bucks).

Getting a trifle annoyed, we walked even further down the street. I knew of a new Thai place that'd just opened up as part of the whole gentrification thing going on at the U Street Corridor, and I figured their bar would suffice. It did. We got seats near the friendly bartender and put in our drink orders.

The bartender asked us, since we weren't eating, if we wanted any chips and salsa. That's kind of a weird thing for a Thai place to offer, I thought, but hey - you never know with all these fusion places these days, it might be the next new thing, right? Maybe it's like corn mango salsa and rice cake chips. I dunno. I never turn down chips and salsa, so I said sure.

Then, after more chitchat with the bartender, he started to tell us about their drink specials. "But the real thing we're known for, of course, is our tequila," he informed us. Which is a REALLY weird thing for a Thai restaurant to be famous for.

But, as it turned out, not so weird for a Mexican restaurant named Alero to have on hand. I'm still fairly certain that there is some sort of Thai restaurant along that strip, but I have yet to find it. I can, however, speak quite knowledgeably about good sippin' tequila and pomegranate margaritas now.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Running out of ideas here

I have this mind-numbingly boring task to do for work - type up 19 pages of notes from a conference I attended last week - and while it cannot be avoided, I think I have reached saturation on the job at hand. Which is unfortunate, as the work day still has quite a few hours left in it. I'm quickly running out of ways to occupy my time. I just paid my bills (you KNOW you don't feel like working when that looks like an attractive alternative), eaten all my cough drops, and cleaned out the "sent" folder of my email in-box.

Maybe I'll go look at the JPEG my dad sent me again. In case anyone still needs proof that it does, indeed, rain in southern California, I have photographic evidence of the havoc that it can wreak. The Sunday paper arrived soaking wet from a cloudburst, so my mom decided that it would be faster to dry it off in the microwave instead of the oven. Guess how long she set the microwave for? 9 minutes! Unbelievable. I mean, a frozen turkey wouldn't require that amount of time in the microwave. Surprise surprise, the whole thing caught on fire, rendering the microwave unusable (and covering a good chunk of the kitchen with ashes). Of course, this has made my dad exceedingly happy, as now he has a legitimate excuse to go run some errands. We have no idea what our dad does all day - the man is retired, so it's not like he has a very pressing schedule - but he's always off running some errand or another. And he's a slow driver, too, so I'm sure he's responsible for a good chunk of LA's gridlock. Nice to have a hobby, I guess.

Monday, May 16, 2005


I made it through my stage debut Saturday, but it was a loooong day. We got to the theater at 8:30 AM and left at 10:30 PM. In the meantime, we had a tech rehearsal (where we did our routine to see how it worked with the lights), three performances, and a LOT of down-time backstage. As far as I know, I didn't screw anything up too badly. It was scary, but not as scary as I'd anticipated. I think what made it easier was that the lights are so bright, you can't really see anything off stage. So as long as you didn't think too much about the critical eyes of the audience, it was okay. I’ll wait to see it on the DVD (the studio's putting one together) before I give my final assessment.

Overall, though, I was really impressed with how well Sahara Dance had organized everything. They'd brought us high-energy snacks for the morning, divided up the dressing room so that there weren't any catfights over mirror space, and even catered a dinner for us after the 1st show. There was one problem, though, that they couldn't have planned for. The theater’s bathrooms gave out half an hour before our final performance, which meant that if you had to go to the bathroom, you had to have the theater manager walk you to a place that was five minutes away. They had to delay the show for about 20 minutes as some of the dancers in the first act could. Not. Wait.

The absolute best part, though, was that one of the women in my class ordered little dolls off the internet and made bellydance versions of everyone in the veil routine. Mine has long brown hair that’s up (because I wore my hair up) and green eyes (well, mine are hazel. Close enough). And she has on an outfit that is *identical* to what we wore. This is as close as I’m ever going to get to having my own action figure. Seriously, coolest thing ever. As I said before, we had quite a bit of down-time, so we taped the whole group up in a V formation and took lots of pictures. That was the hottest commodity in the dressing room - everyone was coming by to check them out and snap some shots of them. I love my dolly and have brought her to my office so she can be with me always.

Actually, I lied. The real best part of the performance was having friends in the audience at all three shows. I really appreciated their support and willingness to cough up money for a ticket. Knowing that there was someone in the audience rooting for you and who could reassure you afterwards really made a difference. Thanks a million, you guys. I owe you.

Friday, May 13, 2005

Inhale. Exhale. Repeat as needed

So tomorrow, I'm in the mood for doing something a bit different and fun. I figure I'll get up really early, pile on all the makeup I have in the house, put on an uncomfortably skimpy outfit, and then make a fool out of myself in front of a crowded theater. Where could I do that sort of thing...let me go google around for a suitable opportunity...

Hey! Here's an option: http://saharadance.com/performances.html#desertmoon.

Yup, I am making my stage debut in my studio's annual big-ass performance, "Under the Desert Moon."

I've been studying bellydance - Egyptian-style, not that wannabe Turkish-style stuff - for three years now. Before this year, I'd always shied away from signing up for a performance class because, you know, the lack of my dancing skills made it seem like a bad idea.

Not that I've gotten all professional or anything lately, but I figured that it's been long enough and I should put up or shut up. Sadly for my friends, I opted not to shut up and have been babbling about this performance almost non-stop for the past five months. I think that they will be more relieved than I am when the final curtain comes down, if only that means I'll finally have a new topic of conversation.

[God. The Amazing Race AND my performance class end this week. What will I have to talk about now? There's always that cute thing my cat did, I guess.]

Anyways, I chose to belong to a group that's doing a veil routine. I figured that it would be easier to have a prop to distract people's eyes away from my actual dancing. That kind of worked out, and it kind of didn't, as now I have to worry about dropping/tripping on the veil. It's HUGE.

In addition to stressing about the novelty of dancing on-stage, I also am just a tad nervous about the costume. I don't want to crush you guys, as I know you idolize me and my picture-perfect, glamorous life, and this may shock you to read this, but, um, not a 100 percent perfect body. In fact, let's just say it falls quite short of perfection. On a good day, I strive for mediocrity. I keep telling myself that traditional bellydancers have lots to shake, but I'm not sure I'm buying it. And the costume is a typical bellydancer costume, with a top that looks like a fancified sports bra, bare midruff, low-hanging skirt with a slit up to here, and pounds of coin belts. One of my fellow dancers (there are eight of us, not nearly enough to hide in) was disappointed that we weren't showing *more* cleavage. Me, I'll be happy to get on and off the stage with just a modicum of my dignity intact.

And my tuberculosis/walking pneumonia/bronchitis/cold (something of a hypochondriac here) has continued to bother me. I'm not sure of the protocol, but I'm fairly certain it breaks character to cough up phlegm on-stage. I'm bringing every cough drop Safeway has to offer.

Finally, the two shows that the studio had initially scheduled sold out so quickly that they added a third show. I really think they're trying to kill us.

To sum: fear of performing + self-consciousness in costume + mobile phlegm factory + more performances that you can shake a stick at = good times. Can't wait!

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Always the professional

I spent this morning at various events on the Hill: an Air Force breakfast, followed by a Senate hearing. Since I went straight from my apartment, I brought everything I'd need for the day with me. Including my Hello Kitty gym bag.

And I wonder why I seem to lack credibility amongst my peers.

It could be worse. The gym bag is black, with Hello Kitty's cute lil face embroidered on it in white. It was a gift from my sister, BeachBunny. She said that when she was buying it for me, it was a toss-up between the black bag and a hot pink version. While I do love most things pink, the black version is somewhat easier to camouflage. Somewhat.

Not that you can go wrong with Hello Kitty. When I was visiting a friend in Seoul a few years back, I thought I'd died and gone to heaven. It was like Hello Kitty threw up all over the country - you couldn't go two steps without running into her ubiquitous face. I think the best Hello Kitty paraphernalia I bought was a steering wheel cover that was clearly meant for a big rig. Everyone loves Hello Kitty. Even truckers!

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Chillin' and illin'

All of DC seems to have been struck by the flu, it would seem, myself included. In fact, last night, my medicine-affected REM brain came up with this blog title. Yup, it's just about as lame as I'd thought when I first woke up this morning. Oh well.

I was able to stagger into work today, but just couldn't face coming in yesterday. I know this seemed a highly suspect absence to my office, as it was an absolutely lovely spring day and a Monday, but what are you going to do. Today I brought in my cough medicine in a little care package and have been quietly tossing it back as needed. Wah wah wah, world's littlest violins are playing in sympathy. I'll shut it now.

Except for this: TAR season finale tonight! Yessss!!!! I think I would rise from the dead in order not to miss it. The handsome host, Phil Keoghan, was on DC101 this morning. So very exciting! He also said that they'll start filming TAR8 this summer - that's the one with the families of four - and it'll be broadcast by the end of this year, and that TAR 9 - which will go back to the original formula of teams of 2 - will start filming by the end of this year. Nice to know that it'll be around for at least another year or so.

Friday, May 06, 2005


Richard Cohen's op-ed in today's Washington Post (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/05/05/AR2005050501682.html) is one of the most brutally honest things I've read about the whole Lynndie England saga. He talks about her being an "odd, unlikely puppet on the strings of fate," noting that "[s]he is that rare genuine article, the cliche, the stereotype that turns out upon investigation to be true."

But it's the final paragraph that hits the hardest:

"How sad, how ironic, that this wee woman should have become the personification of supposed American arrogance. Like all those convicted for the abuses of Abu Ghraib, she is one of America's little people -- not an officer, not even regular Army, but one of a collection of nobodies just trying to get somewhere better. Lynndie England was one of them, and she is suffering for that -- officially for abusing prisoners, actually for being a loser. Whatever the outcome of her trial, the sentence will be life."


Not a whole lot to add to that. Except to wonder what in god's name does Charles Graner exude to make himself so irresistible to women? He knocked England up, and while she was bringing their baby to full-term, he got his groove on with another woman in that unit. They got married last month, leaving England SOL. I've seen pictures of the guy. Not with a ten-foot pole. And to read about him, he seems like - to put it nicely - something of a bully. I'm just not seeing what the charm is there.

Of course, that isn't the most perplexing thing about all this. What is most incomprehensible is how none of the upper management types were found to be at all responsible, and none of the people in the Taguba report are going to have to answer for any of this. But that's a whole other story.


I just finished off one of those free sheets of return address labels.

It's a small victory, but a victory nonetheless.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

And so ends the deluge

For now, at least. Tonight I head to the Black Cat (www.blackcatdc.com) for the third time in seven days. I need to give it a rest after this, lest they take out an injunction against me. Also because they don't accept credit cards and the bar tabs I'm running up there are really eating through my liquid assets.

This all started last Friday. The official headliner was Ivy, but I was there to see the Stars. I'm a huge fan of the latter. Someone made me a burned copy of their penultimate CD, which I loved so much, I went out and bought a copy at full-price so that the band could get the royalties. Ivy was good, but I'd already seen them. My friend Frequent Flyer has a non-sexual crush on the lead singer and brought me to one of their shows. Friday evening was slightly marred by the presence of my ex-boyfriend, who was there with a date. Not that I caused a scene or anything. Largely because I'm much prettier than she is. Just saying.

Sunday I was back at the Black Cat for the Wedding Present. We got there in time for the first opening band, which gave us ample opportunity to gawk at lead singer David Gedge lurking about the t-shirt racks. Apparently he likes to hang out there before his band goes on and talk with the crowd, which is actually very decent of him. Plus he came up right next to me to order a drink, and he is quite the doll. They were good, but I must admit I was lagging by the end. As always, there was a group of superfans who were about pissing themselves during the show. Their enthusiasm, while touching, was also not a little scary.

Tonight I finish my concert jag with the Wonder Stuff. I brought clothes to change into because I'm most likely going to head over there straight from a work happy hour. I hate wearing suits to shows because I always feel like such a narc. I'm not, I swear! But the conservative wardrobe plus the ear plugs (hey, do YOU want to hear when you're 40? Thought so) add up to something of a buzz-kill. Gotsta keep my street cred goin', yo.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Mayday memories

(I realize that the 1st of May has come and gone. Indulge me.)

1. I did my year-abroad in Bologna, Italy. At first, I'd wished I'd gotten to go somewhere a little more historic/famous, like Florence or Venice. But soon, I realized what a swell deal I'd gotten. Bologna is a fairly large city with a sizable student population - oldest university in the Western hemisphere, as any Bolognesi will tell you - but is off the beaten path of most tourists. If you're an American, you may remember Bologna only as the train station you went through going to somewhere in your guidebooks. Which was fine with the rest of us. The first thing an American does once you cross its borders is develop an immediate and intense hatred for all other Americans. (Yes yes, I know, join the rest of the world.)

Bologna, besides being practically American-free, is also a beautiful walled medieval city with a large central plaza. It is known by Italians for its "portici" (vaulted pathways) and for having the best food in all of Italy.

It also is known lovingly as "Bologna the Red" for its leftist leanings. I'd say they were all in the past, but not quite. Yard sales regularly turned up detritus from the Soviet Union's glory days. Its walls were littered with anti-capitalist sentiments. And every year, on May 1, they'd have a huge May Day parade. No giant missiles or tanks, but red banners and sickles as far as the eye could see.

While in Bologna, I took French from an Italian woman who was awesome. She was vivacious, super-intelligent, and married to a hippie professor at the local university who went around in banged-up old sandals and unkempt hair (for an Italian, the latter is practically blasphemy). Since we were an American school, we followed the American holidays and made everyone come on the Italian ones. This caused some grumbling amongst the staff. During one tutoring session, I asked my uber-cool professor if she minded working those days. She said, "No. But there is one day I WILL NOT come to work." Raises a finger and an eyebrow. "That is, May Day!"

2. In Girl Scouts, we were always looking for public service activities so to get badges. You're thinking, this is LA, god knows a lot of people could use a helping hand, right? Plenty of options out there. So what do we do, one spring? Create a maypole and learn a dance that involves spinning around it with ribbons, which we performed at the local and very depressing retirement home. How this qualified as public service, I'm still unclear. It was fun though. And if you think about it, given little girls' obsessions with braiding things, it is rather appropriate.

3. When I was six, someone foolishly gave me a book called "Scat Cat!" It involved a be-yoo-tiful white cat with blue eyes who was being shooed out of every refuge, but eventually found sanctuary with a little girl. Talk about adding gasoline to a flame. I'd wanted a cat anyways, and this just gave me a storyline to work toward. I hounded my hapless parents relentlessly, causing them to spend a good chunk of their spare time alternating between calling pet stores and cursing me under their breaths. Finally, a white cat with blue eyes was located, and off we went to get her. She technically wasn't all white - she had a few black and tan spots - but it was love at first sight. Of course, she immediately was named, but that wasn't enough. We wanted to know exactly when she was born so that birthday parties could be planned. My mom, undoubtedly ruing the day I learned how to read, came up with May 1, unleashing a storm of parties every spring to celebrate the clueless' cat's arrival to this world.


After much trial and error, I have made a great discovery. If you want to get credit for bringing your office candy and yet not actually have to share any of it, I strenuously suggest you avoid the entire chocolate family. Instead, show up with red hots - Texas-sized (which means roughly the size of your thumb) - and watch as people take one bite and then immediately spit the rest in the garbage. Suckers. More for me.

Monday, May 02, 2005

Mouse tales

1) When it's nice outside and I have some free time, I like to go sit in my apartment's courtyard with my cat. He's an indoor cat, but I do feel kinda guilty about it (not that guilty, as city cats who go outside have a lifespan of about thirty seconds), so this is my way of compensation. Shrapnel is very good about staying on the bricks and to date hasn't made a run for the street, although he has made some feints at some of my neighbors' dogs (he's a big yet not very bright cat).

Anyways, so yesterday I'm enjoying the balmy spring weather. I've got a soda, the Washington Post, and my cell phone out with me - truly all the essentials of life. Shrapnel's off doing whatever investigation he feels like doing. Probably eating grass so he can throw it up in my apartment later.

I keep an eye on him, just to make sure he doesn't disappear on me. During one check-up, I notice that he's running back and forth in front of a planter. He seems to want to be able to jump up on it but can't. Bless his poor little elderly heart, I think, he can't move as quickly as he used to. I'll just go over and give him a lift. So I do.

A few minutes later, I catch a glimpse of something out of my peripheral vision. Shrapnel's in front of me now, batting something around. I try to puzzle out what it is. A stick? No. A leaf? No. Oh please, let it be a snake? Nope. It's a mouse. A live piece of vermin that he is obviously quite delighted over and wishes to toss around before giving the death blow. While I'm not necessarily against the circle of life - I do realize that cats chase mice, it's one of the first thing you learn from nursery rhymes - there is no way I want him near that nasty thing. So I distract him, long enough for still-nimble mouse to make its escape into the brush, and then spirit Shrapnel back inside.

And nice to know I live surrounded by vermin. DC has a huge rat problem, and I sadly accept that it probably was more of a baby rat than an adult mouse. Ick.

2) My computer mouse is squeaking. No, I'm not kidding, it really is, and it's driving me nuts. I'm trying to hold off on asking our network admin for a new one, as I am already on thin ice with this guy and stupid requests aren't going to help my cause. But I'm not sure how much longer I can take this.

3) Not a mouse tale, but sort of animal-related: http://nytimesweddings.blogspot.com/2005/02/mule-variations.html. This author of this website rips apart New York Times' wedding announcements, which is entertaining in and of itself. But when you bring in Festus the Mule...I had tears running down my face while laughing at this entry.

I leave you with that (vastly superior) website to keep yourself entertained. I head out in a couple of hours for Tejas. I understand you're not supposed to mess with it. I certainly don't intend to. All I want is a good Mexican meal - not that Tex-Mex shite - and to get in and out with the least amount of damage possible. See you on Wednesday.