Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Here It Goes Again

I just wanted to post this because it makes me happy.

The downside is that, on the rare occasions when I actually get to run on the treadmill, all I can think about is this dance.

Violent crime in Pentagon City

Today, there was another incident of violent crime in my neighborhood:

At least one gunman, and possibly two, attacked an armored car guard at the Pentagon City mall in Arlington this afternoon and got away with an undisclosed amount of money, police said.

No one was injured in the robbery, during which shots were fired.


In the corridor behind the bank, there was a struggle with one or two suspects during which a bag of money was taken from one of the guards and a weapon fired. The other guard was still in the armored vehicle, police said.

At least no one got shot like last time.

Dream v. Reality

Maybe Justin is right and my ghost really was a dream. But if so, what did it mean?

Too bad I didn't have the Post to help back then. But today, I found this helpful guidance:

Ask any professional with dream experience, and their message is clear: Ignore quick-fix dream "doctors" on TV and the Internet. Toss your conventional dream dictionaries to the curb -- they are too strict, too patrician.

And their meanings? Meaningless.

It's common sense, really. Many people dream about cats, but not all dream that cats are manifestations of one's mother, as Freud suggested.

"After all, a dream about a house must mean different things to a carpenter and an arsonist," says Karen Shanor, a clinical psychologist who runs a private practice in Northwest Washington.

Dreams should be worked rather than cut and dried into categories, Shanor, Delaney and others say. No book -- and no one -- can tell you what your dreams mean, since one's dreaming life can be understood only in the context of one's waking life.

Riiiight. I guess that's what Richard Linklater meant with that weird movie.

Ghost story

Scientists keep trying to prove that vampires, ghosts, and other supernatural entities aren't real, but so far, all either side has managed to yield are logical reasons why such entities can't exist. But as much as I respect rationality, some things just defy logic.

As mentioned in my 100 things post, I once thought that I might have seen a ghost (#72). In the spirit of Halloween, I thought I'd elaborate.

Note that (1) this is, indeed, a true story; (2) I haven't told all that many people about it; and (3) last time I checked, I'm not certifiably insane.

First I should issue a little disclaimer: Pretty much my entire life, I've lived in new -- or relatively new places. The exceptions were my college dorms and the flat I lived in during my study abroad program in London. So, assuming that ghosts are tied to places of emotional significance for them, there was pretty much no chance of me running into one.

Anyway, during the summer of '97 -- midway through my law school career -- my brother and I spent part of the summer in New York City, celebrating his graduation from high school. For one week of this trip, we stayed in my aunt's friend's pre-war apartment on the Upper West Side, essentially as housesitters while she was on vacation. Only the back bedroom -- the guest room -- was air conditioned. My brother slept there.

I slept in the master bedroom in the front of the apartment. Since it didn't have air conditioning, to be able to sleep, I needed to turn on a fan and open the window. Generally, with the window open, I heard some traffic noise, but no discernable conversations. Mostly, they were masked by the sound of the fan, but the fact that my brother and I tended to keep pretty late hours didn't hurt.

On these hot summer nights, it usually took me a while to fall asleep. So, I'd toss and turn for a while, in the room full of white noise, trying to find a cool, comfortable position. One of these nights, in that gray area between awake and asleep, I had a conversation with a soldier.

I don't recall the specifics of the conversation. What I do remember is the feeling that he belonged in Gail's apartment more than I did.

Anyway, the rest is equally vague. What I remember is that eventually, I figured out that it wasn't normal, and I sat up, wide awake -- but by then, it was over and he was gone. I somehow convinced myself that it was just a dream, and managed to fall back to sleep.

So there you have it. My ghost story. It could have been anything, or nothing -- and indeed, it probably was nothing. But there's this teensy little part of me that likes to believe that there's something out there more than what we see, more than can be easily explained. And that little corner of my mind isn't completely convinced that I was dreaming.

Update: In keeping with the holiday, try some virtual pumpkin carving. Here's mine:

Monday, October 30, 2006

Celebrity marriage watch

I am completely devastated by Reese & Ryan's break up. I might not be able to function for a while.

Real life pirate tale

Pirates are a recurring theme on this blog -- but usually it has nothing to do with real life. So, for an interesting change, read all about the recovery of Blackbeard's ship off the coast of North Carolina.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

What should I be for Halloween?

Justin & I have been talking about dressing up like Devo since last year -- when we went as Slash & Axl. But we haven't followed through on it. So, if I'm going out for Halloween tonight -- or on Tuesday -- I need to figure out a costume. I took this quiz to figure it out:

Your Halloween Costume Should Be

Candy Corn

It's gotta be wrong though, since I absolutely hate candy corn.

Maybe I should consider the Project Runway contestants' ideas instead.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Today in law

Today, in my former home state, it was determined that Wiccans lack standing to sue to protest a sales tax exemption on religious items. Plus, they don't get to claim the exemption on things that they sell because they don't own a place of worship. Seems to me that this legislation discriminates against renters, not Wiccans.

Be careful, kids: Naomi Campbell's at it again! This time, though, she didn't attack her maid -- it was her drug counselor. Too bad no one paid attention when I warned everyone to stay away from her months ago.

And, since Above the Law gave us a shout-out yesterday, I thought I'd return the favor. Check out their story on the lawsuit filed against Green Day claiming that somebody else wrote American Idiot. (And no, this didn't just catch my eye because of the U2 reference in the title.)

In all seriousness

Warning: This post might piss people off. So, if you can't at least try to have a civil and intelligent debate about political issues -- and respect people with opposing viewpoints -- I suggest you read something else.

Everyone else is talking about stem cells this week, and, even though I mentioned it previously, I didn't really provide any commentary. But I've decided to get serious for a minute here, and then go back to my regularly scheduled nonsense.

Anyway, this might sound dismissive, but I think the stem cell issue is really quite simple: Michael J. Fox is right, Jeff Suppan and his ilk are uninformed (and wrong), and Rush Limbaugh is a blathering idiot.

Full disclosure: As noted in prior comments, I am pro-stem cell research. And yes, I've had family members suffering from Parkinson's disease -- not to mention diabetes, which is another disease that might benefit from stem cell research.

Stem cell research is, unquestionably, a good thing. It's the stem cells themselves that cause all the ruckus. Or, more accurately, the ethics of obtaining the stem cells.

Opponents argue that life begins at conception -- blah, blah, blah. But even if you accept that as gospel, it's a red herring. The Missouri amendment at the heart of all the controversy is intended to provide guidelines for stem cell research while prohibititing ethically questionable practices such as forming embryos for the mere purpose of research, selling embryos, harvesting stem cells from actual fetuses and -- surprise, surprise -- human cloning.

So, if the embryonic stem cells in question are not coming from embryos that are going to be implanted -- and therefore, there is no chance whatsoever that they could become a person -- what's the problem? It boils down to a question of whether unused embryos from fertility clinics should be discarded or used for very important scientific research.

Garbage or research? Hmmm. Tough decision. No wonder the Republicans are so worried about it.

And, as an aside, Michael J. Fox is now campaigning against George Allen for Jim Webb. Hopefully this will make up for the fact that, due to some "bizarre glitch," Webb's last name isn't appearing on some ballots.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Why is grammar so very important?

Time to grab your copy of Strunk & White and ponder this for a bit:

A contract dispute in Canada centers on what's being called a million-dollar comma. Canada's telecommunications regulator has decided that a misplaced comma in a contract concerning telephone poles will allow a company to save an estimated 2 million dollars (Canadian).


The contract between cable company Rogers Communications and telephone company Bell Aliant allowed Rogers to use Bell Aliant's telephone polls. Bell Aliant sought to get out of the deal.

Canada's telecommunications regulator said the case hinged on the placement of the second comma in this clause:

"This agreement shall be effective from the date it is made and shall continue in force for a period of five (5) years from the date it is made, and thereafter for successive five (5) year terms, unless and until terminated by one year prior notice in writing by either party."

Rogers had insisted the contract was good for at least five years; Aliant said the comma denotes that the deal can be terminated at five years -- or before, as long as one year's notice is given.

The devil is always in the details.

Many thanks to Nicole for sending me the link.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

TV crisis!

Damn you, broadcast networks!

Most of the television that I watch is concentrated on Thursday. Right now, at 8/8:30 I watch My Name is Earl and The Office, and record Smallville. At 9, I watch Grey's Anatomy and record Supernatural. And at 10, I record ER and watch Six Degrees (although that might stop soon).

On November 2, The O.C. returns, in the 9pm slot. And, according to TV Guide, beginning November 30, Scrubs and 30 Rock will be airing on NBC at 9 and 9:30, respectively.

So, now that over half of the shows that I watch in any given week will be airing on Thursdays, I'm either going to have to drop some shows or get another DVR.

Update: In the comments below, Sweet suggested that I watch some shows via the internet. Strangely enough, TVgasm must have been reading her mind, since they decided to rank the availabilty (and quality) of the internet TV offered by the major broadcasters. Check it out here.

Lunchtime random behavior

Picture this: Lunchtime, recently. A smallish girl with dark hair in a ponytail walks into a neighborhood eatery wearing jeans, black Converse sneakers, a gray zip-front hooded sweatshirt, and this t-shirt:

How old would you think she was? And what kind of job would you think she had?

Apparently, the answers are neither "30" nor "lawyer."

So yeah, earlier this week, I had this experience. I went to go get lunch -- and paid with exact change, from my pocket. Clearly, I must have looked my youngest, poorest, and most forlorn, because the cashier, seemingly feeling sorry for me, threw me a giant chocolate chip cookie while I was waiting for my to-go order.

On second thought, maybe he recognized me because I pick up lunch or dinner from this establishment at least once a week.

Still, it makes me wonder -- exactly what kind of vibe do I give off?

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Why bother?

I was going to write a whole tirade about what a douchebag Rush Limbaugh is for claiming that Michael J. Fox is acting to exaggerate the effects of his Parkinson's disease for political gain.

But, why bother? Everyone already knows that Rush Limbaugh is a hypocritical jackass.

Update: For more info, read CNN's take on the controversy.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Revenge of the Nerd!

In a Q&A session in Time, Tina Fey had the following exchange about Maxim ranking her as the third least-appealing female on TV:

Q: How 'bout Maxim magazine listing you as one of TV's 10 least appealing ladies?

A: Maxim talks a good game, but if Maxim and I were alone, and Maxim was drunk, they'd sleep with me.
Point, Tina.

And, no, Nancy Grace can't say the same.

On music, culture, and the amazing iPod

Today, Salon ran an article commemorating the 5-year anniversary of the iPod. I found it quite interesting, even though I do not have an actual iPod.

Let me explain first: What I do have is the latest in a line of .mp3 players, which started with a 256MB sports one about 5 years ago, followed by a 1.5 GB Rio -- which I gave to Inbal about a year-and-a-half ago when I upgraded to the current 5 GB Rio Carbon that holds about 1500 songs. I also have my fancy little cellphone that holds 100 songs from iTunes. I keep thinking about getting the new 80-GB iPod so that I can digitize -- and transport -- my entire CD collection.

But as usual, I digress.

Salon's article discusses a number of things about the i-Pod -- and even mentions one author's claim that the gadget helped people to get over 9/11:

In the subway one day shortly after the launch, "I plugged in the iPod and the world filled up with the Byrds singing 'My Back Pages,'" Levy writes. "The faces around me suddenly became characters in a movie centered around my own memories and emotions. A black-and-white moment of existence had sprung into Technicolor. I held my iPod a bit tighter." He adds, "I wasn't exactly forgetting about 9/11, but I was getting excited -- once more -- about technology and its power to transform our world."
Hmmm. Really?

Anyway, there are parts of the article that I really agreed with -- most notably the part about how the i-Pod -- or in my case, similar technology -- seemingly transforms everything into a movie soundtrack:

Levy writes that when this happens, the music becomes a "soundtrack" for the scenery, which is a good way to put it. The iPod turns ordinary life -- riding the bus, waiting in line at the post office, staring at a spreadsheet for 12 hours a day -- into cinema. Levy describes the work of sociologist Michael Bull, who, when studying the habits of fans of the iPod's great ancestor the Sony Walkman, found that people liked to think of themselves "as imaginary movie stars" playing out scenes dictated by the music in their ears. . . . The iPod, with its greater capacity, alters perception even more profoundly; when the right song comes on, the world actually feels different.

There's a strain of oldster, Luddite criticism out there that goes after iPod listeners for cutting themselves off from the sounds of the everyday world. But, as Levy points out, "escaping" the real world is only part of the reason that people insert their earbuds in public places. The main jag isn't escape, but, instead, enhancement. There are moments when you're out in the world and circumstances seem to demand a certain particular song -- nothing else will do. . . . This is what Levy means when he describes the iPod as enhancing your world: It lets you use music to polish up an otherwise inadequate existence. When it works, the iPod seems to confirm Arthur C. Clarke's third law of prediction: Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. The iPod puts a spell on you.

I have to admit that I do that. I mean, why else have I been walking around with my SLVR listening to Neko Case's "Hold On, Hold On" over and over again? Still, sometimes I get the same feeling when I'm driving in my car with the radio on. (And for a movie with that exact vibe, check out Cameron Crowe's Elizabethtown.)

Still, I'm not sure how I feel about the author's main conclusion -- that the iPod is ruining the way we listen to music:

The plethora of choice makes taking in something completely new particularly difficult. Listening to an album you've never heard before is work; it requires time, patience, and attention. You can't do it half-assed. But when you play your new album on your iPod, there's always the lure of all those other tracks, and your mind drifts to all that familiar music, all that stuff you know and don't need to work to appreciate. So you inevitably start playing the same stuff over and over. The numbers seem to bear this out -- though iPods can store thousands of songs, the average iPod user's library numbers just about 500 well-worn tracks.

To a large extent, I disagree. Apparently, I'm unusual because I do listen to all of the songs on my player, not just a select 500-or-so. In fact, I usually keep my .mp3 player on random -- so that fate can decide which random song of 1500 is appropriate. It sort-of helps with the soundtrack vibe -- and in that way, I often let it dictate my mood for the day.

And, for the record (pun intended), I still listen to complete albums, from the first track through to the last. I love the artistry involved in song placement -- how do the songs fit with each other? (And for those who haven't done it before -- or in a long time -- start with The Joshua Tree. It is absolutely perfect in its entirety.)

Still, so many people just listen to songs, and have no idea about albums. But I don't think we can blame the iPod for that. I mean, it's not like they play entire albums on the radio.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

A day at the fair

Here's a little photo essay from my trip to the always amusing Maryland Renaissance Festival:

It was a beautiful day in the historically-accurate 16th Century English village.
Complete with baby strollers and $4.00 beers.

Despite rumors to the contrary, the technology back then was quite advanced.
And the cell phone really coordinated with this woman's carefully-selected wench ensemble.

Clearly, empanadas and chili were the cuisine of choice in 16th Century England. Mmmmm, delightful!

Bonus picture

In keeping with a theme:

I'm a happy clam! Please don't eat me!

UPDATE: Here's an even more surreal picture of the same clam:

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Wesley Snipes and Michelle Williams's dad

What do Wesley Snipes and Michelle Williams's dad have in common? They're both allegedly tax cheats.

From yesterday's Post:
The U.S. Internal Revenue Service wants to question Williams _ a resident of the Virgin Islands _ about a possible $1.5 million in unpaid taxes from book royalties and earnings from international seminars he conducted between 1990 and 2001.

And from Tuesday's edition:
The indictment said Snipes conspired with American Rights Litigators' founder Eddie Ray Kahn and tax preparer Douglas P. Rosile Sr. to file false refund claims based on a bogus argument that only income from foreign sources was subject to taxation.
Check out The Smoking Gun to read the entire indictment.

Folks, to clarify, this is not even close to the weirdest anti-tax argument that I've seen. There are whole websites devoted to them -- heck, the IRS even publishes some of them on their website. But the one consistent thing about all these arguments is that they're dumb. And people should know better.

If it looks too good to be true, it probably is.

Vacation over, back to the real world -- with caffeine.

This morning, in the foggy time between asleep and fully awake, I had thought of the perfect thing to write about today. A little over six hours later, and I can't remember a damned thing. But trust me, it would have been witty.

Clearly, coming back from a week-long vacation -- even if it was only to my parents' house -- is way too harsh on my system. I think I need to wean myself back on to it.

On a somewhat related note, I thought it important to note that, with the exception of one gulp of my sister's soda, I did not have ANY caffeine for the entire time I was in Florida. And I lived! No Diet Coke, no coffee, not even any green tea. And you know what? I didn't yell at anyone, I wasn't grumpy in the mornings,* and I didn't even have any headaches.

My mom agreed that if I could give it up for that long, I could probably quit altogether. But it was in that "Yes, sweetie, you can do anything" tone of voice, so I'm not sure if she was just placating me.

Of course, I proceeded to drink an entire can of Diet Coke on the plane** around 6:30, which is probably why I had such a hard time falling asleep last night.

So, as of today, I have a new rule: No caffeine after 2 pm. And I mean it, really.

*This might actually be a side effect of sleeping in. But still. I'm always grumpy in the mornings, even when well-rested. It's one of my loveliest and most charming peccadilloes.

**They give you full cans of soda in First Class! And free booze! But for some reason, I never take them up on that.

Inexplicably, they don't have anything more than cookies and nuts for food. And on a flight from 5:45-8:15, dinner wouldn't be such a bad thing.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

WTF? TV Moments of the week

I got off the plane and made it home just in time to see Lost and Project Runway.

This just added to my confusion about this week's TV, at least to the extent that I've been able to watch. Below are some questions for your perusal:
  1. What is up with Desmond? That is just too weird. And Locke living on a marijuana-growing commune? I never would have guessed. And should I bother watching the bonus stuff for AmEx cardholders? Has anyone else tried it yet?

  2. Jeffrey was over budget, accused of cheating, and the judges criticized his dresses, while complimenting Uli and Laura. Yet he won. I have to admit, I loved his collection. I thought it was the most interesting, artistic, and innovative, hands down. But would anyone buy any of it? So I guess my confusion stems from trying to figure out the exact criteria that the judges are going by. Because if they're looking for something that will sell . . . then Jeffrey is most certainly not their guy.

  3. I just read Scarlet's blog on Gilmore Girls. Let me be clear: Even though I didn't think it was in character for Lorelai to run off and sleep with him right after breaking up with Luke, I am a Christopher fan. But I'm realistic: there's no way they're going to wind up together. But since he's Rory's father, I'm confused about why the writers have to use him as the wrench between Lorelai and Luke. Like everyone keeps saying, he and Lorelai should know better than to potentially screw that up.

  4. On the same note, why are they playing the same push them together-pull them apart with Veronica and Logan on Veronica Mars? Just. Stop.

  5. What About Brian? Seriously. He looks like he needs a haircut and a shower. I never would have run out on my wedding to the hot lawyery dude (who was absolutely charming and adorable on tonight's Jimmy Kimmel) because of the guy from 7th Heaven.

  6. Why is Nightline wasting bandwith by airing a segment on the Left Behind books? Everyone should paying less attention to KC and his ilk, not more.

I'm sure I'll eventually have more, but I'm too tired right now to think of any.

Back to work tomorrow.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Why Florida Sucks

So, on Saturday, my mom threw herself a 60th birthday party.

You see, for years, my mom hads been complaining that no one does anything special for her for her birthday. So, several months ago, I innocently suggested to my father that someone ought to throw her a birthday party. He rolled his eyes. But apparently, he said something to her, because the next thing I knew, she was planning her party.

They decided to have the party in the house and invite their closest friends from God's waiting room their neighborhood. My mother sent out actual invitations. They ordered party trays, pastries, birthday cake. My dad spent two days cooking stuff. He even made a tuna mold in the shape of a fish.

Then I got in. For the next two days, I much moved furniture, picked up food from stores, and arranged things on the tables.

This is why I hate coming home. There's always something going on, and inevitably, I become my mother's maid. I want to relax, but sometimes, I work as hard when I come down here on my so-called vacation than I do when I'm at home.

I did get some time off for good behavior -- Friday night my mom made me go to dinner and a movie with some of her old people friends. I got to sit at the end of the table at the restaurant with my dad, listening to everyone yell at each other because they can't hear, and then I got to go watch Inside Man at the clubhouse. Of course, my mom wanted to sit in the front row.

When I told my sister, she and I agreed -- living in this place has turned my mom into an old lady.

Anyway, back to the party. My grandparents, sister, and uncle were the first to arrive. (My sister's husband had to work that night.) But my mom's friends arrived promptly on time for dinner. They pretty much ignored me and my sister -- when they weren't treating us like servants. One lady spilled red wine on the floor, and then yelled at my sister to "Get a mop!" My sister just gave her the evil eye. I mean, it's not like she was there to be the help, she was also an invited guest.

My sister was pissed off for the rest of the night -- and I can't say that I blame her. She did mellow out when her sister-in-law and baby niece stopped by, giving us and the dog someone to play with.

I've concluded that old people come to Florida after retiring and immediately develop a sense of entitlement. This is why they bump into me in grocery stores and never say "Excuse me." This is why they swarmed around the food we put out at the buffet without allowing my Nana any room to put together a plate for my grandfather, who wasn't feeling well.

This is why they picked the cannolis off of the pastry tray first.

Anyway, since the party, I've pretty much been hanging out with my family. I've done a little bit of reading, and a little bit of napping. I've watched some TV. I even played with the dog a bit. Of course, most of this has to do with the fact that there is nothing to do here. If I ever had to move back to Florida, I most certainly wouldn't live around here.

The worst part of the whole vacation, though, was my Nana. She's done nothing but give me a hard time about not being married. She gave me a whole spiel about how I work too much, and need to take time to find a husband, blah blah blah. She even talked about how my cousin found his last two girlfriends -- one is now his fiancee -- on the computer.

Until that moment, I had never really wanted to punch an 81 year old before. I turned to my grandfather and asked, "Are you going to let this woman talk to your granddaughter like this?" He laughed, but refused to intervene. I told my Nana that if she didn't stop, I wasn't going to come visit anymore -- and then she'd have to deal with my mom.

I know the woman means well -- but still. Back the fuck off. It's my life. As far as I'm concerned, she should still be encouraging me to be the first woman president or something. Nowadays, we tell girls from birth that they can do anything a man can do -- well, except play in the NFL -- but all of a sudden, I'm 30 and all of that should change? I mean, I might not have gotten married at 20 and had my first kid at 21, but I like to think that I've been successful in my own way. And if she wants more great-grandchildren (she has one), maybe she should be talking to my married cousin, or even my married sister.

So, this is why I hate Florida.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Guest post, of a sort

I'm on vacation, which means I ought to let someone else do the heavy lifting around these parts -- at least for the day.

So, my sister just forwarded this e-mail. Blame her.

With all the sadness and trauma going on in the world at the moment, it is worth reflecting on the death of a very important person, which almost went unnoticed last week.

Larry LaPrise, the man that wrote "The Hokey Pokey" died peacefully at the age of 93. The most traumatic part for his family was getting him into the coffin.

They put his left leg in. And then the trouble started.

Shut up. You know it's funny.

I'm off to meet her for dinner. Tomorrow, I'll be back with two posts: First, a post all about my mom's birthday party, and second, an exploration of why I hate taking vacations. Actually, they might really be the same post, but we'll talk more about that tomorrow.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Sounds like the plot of a bad horror movie

Per Yahoo! Sports:

A private jet, carrying Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez and six others, overran a runway at Bob Hope Airport on Friday . . . .
Friday's incident came just two days after Yankees pitcher Cory Lidle's plane failed to execute a U-turn and slammed into the side of a high-rise in Manhattan, killing Lidle and his flight instructor.

If I were one of the Yankees, I think I'd be avoiding private airplanes for the time being.

Friday, October 13, 2006


Reporting live from sunny South Florida . . . .

The weather here is amazing today. Nothing but blue skies and sun. Sheer perfection. But I digress . . . .

I was down here for about half an hour when my mom got in a car accident. No, nothing major. She just backed out of a parking spot at exactly the same time as the woman behind her in a giant Lexus SUV -- and then, CRUNCH!

But really, I'm not sure what happened, since I wasn't in the car at the time. You see, my mom doesn't do the airport thing. So no matter what, my dad always picks me up. Usually, that means that we just go straight back to their house, drop off my crap, and then go do whatever -- which, since we're Jewish, usually involves food or shopping.

This trip, however, we had to meet my mom at the strip mall near their house, and then go for lunch. Which meant that, since my stuff was in my dad's car, I opted to ride with him.* So, my dad and I got to miss the scene. We were out of the parking lot, halfway to the lunch restaurant, when my cell phone rang. I looked down at it, saw that it was my mom, and answered. "I was just in an accident," she stated, matter-of-factly.

"Whaaa? Does that mean you want us to drive back?"

"Yeah, since we just called the police."

I hung up, and told my dad. He seemed annoyed. Then again, he's always pissed when something happens involving the cars. Like the time that my brother borrowed his old car for a semester at college and drove it into a truck. Or the time I borrowed his car to go to work and got a flat tire. Or the other time I borrowed his car to go to Miami, and the battery died. Or the time I hit a pole in the parking lot. Or the time that the pregnant lady in the minivan rolled backwards at the stop sign into my car . . . .

Oh yeah, what were we talking about here?

So, we got back to the parking lot, to find my mom and the Lexus lady standing on opposite sides of the lot, with their cars left exactly where they were, blocking others in their spots. The Lexus lady seemed to be in her late 30's or early 40's -- skinny, with a handbag and sunglasses that looked to be designer. Her friend looked about the same. Neither one was all that comfortable taking pictures with their cell phones.

There was no damage to the Lexus. My mom's car has a gash about a foot long in her bumper. Nothing too serious, though.

Both my mom and the Lexus lady seemed angry. Both insisted that it was the other one's fault, and that they were out of the spot first. Now, we know that we left the store right before the Lexus lady -- we saw her there -- and, while waiting for the cops, we heard her say to her friend that she was in a rush. Honestly, though, my mom is no longer the greatest driver, and she can take forever to back out of a parking spot. I do think that the Lexus lady didn't see my mom because her car was up so high. But honestly, I don't think that either of them saw the other.

To a small extent, it looked like my mom was slightly further out of the spot than the Lexus lady because she had straightened out already. But I didn't see it happen, and frankly, I'm not unbiased.

So, anyway, I got to spend the next half hour or so standing out in the very hot Florida midday sun, waiting for the Palm Beach County Sherriff, who told my mom what I knew already -- no independent witnesses, no fault. Just report it to your insurance companies and be done with it.

Now I have a sunburn on my face, and nothing to show for it.

* I have a longstanding policy of "leave with the one you came with." Oh, and I didn't want to hear my mom say anything else about how bad my skin looks.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Tickle What?

Today, I made every effort to try to post serious, topical, discussion-oriented material, but then I saw this and had to share.

I will never look at my Tickle-Me-Elmo the same.

Crazy Christians

Yes, I am stealing the title from the fictional Studio 60 skit that originally got Matthew Perry and Bradley Whitford's* characters fired from the show. But ignore my lack of originality and hear me out. . . .

Let's start with a joke: What does Stephen Baldwin have in common with Justin's favorite actor, Kirk Cameron?

Apparently, they're both intolerant right-wing born-again douchebags.

{sound of drum and cymbal crash}

{dead silence}

{crickets chirping}

Seriously, though. From Salon:

To plenty of passersby strolling on the mall that day, Baldwin's nouveau Bible-thumping to the kids and parents gathered before him may have seemed like a desperate attempt by a B-list movie star to attract an audience. But, in fact, Baldwin's youth ministry has gathered tens of thousands of decision cards -- and faith-professing e-mails -- in the past couple of years. These days, Baldwin not only has the ear of young boys who cleave to his fundamentalist reading of the Bible, and whatever skein of celebrity still clings to his Jesus T-shirts. He has been named a cultural advisor to President Bush, a formidable follow-up to his invitation to speak at the Republican National Convention, where he announced proudly from the podium, "I'm here because of my faith."

Now Baldwin has released a memoir, "The Unusual Suspect," a reference to the one critically acclaimed film for which he's known. The book, the "Gospel according to Stevie B.," is part testimonial and part evangelical manifesto, a cocktail of anti-intellectualism and a biblical interpretation that would have Jesus spinning in his grave, had he stayed there. Baldwin preaches that free will is a lie of Satan -- we must shut off our brains, he says, and be led by what God tells our hearts. Furthermore, he writes, efforts to end global poverty and violence are just the sort of "stupid arrogance" that incur God's wrath, which we'll be feeling any day now in the coming apocalypse. I suppose when the star of "Bio-Dome" is advising the president and converting kids by the thousands to his gnarly brand of faith, the end is, indeed, nigh.


For Dobson, Baldwin and young Americans the nation over who yearn for the certainty this brand of Christianity pitches, the personal is political. Absolutism reigns in the new evangelical youth movement, shining through the chaos of modernity, global terror, media bombardment and glorious moral relativism. Baldwin pitches the ultimate dumbed-down fundamentalism, offering reductive, brainless theology. "I sleep good at night because I am totally content in the knowledge that God is in control," he writes, a conviction glittered up with the fact that it sprung from the mind of an honest-to-God celebrity.

But you know the worst** part? The idiot who starred in Threesome attacking Bono:

"The Unusual Suspect" features an open letter to Bono, lambasting him for lobbying for debt relief for developing countries instead of preaching the gospel on MTV. Bono must be in league with Satan, whom Baldwin spends a lot of time thinking about. "I am smart enough to know that Satan is alive and well today," he writes. "Satan has all kinds of power, and he is able to control the minds of anyone whose mind isn't controlled by God." Baldwin's theology -- and criticism of secularists and Christian poseurs like Bono -- is written with remarkable confidence for someone who can only recite six of the Ten Commandments and four of the Twelve Apostles.

Seriously. Attacking Bono because he focuses on charitable work? That's gotta be about the least Christian thing I can think of.

*It's always a bad sign when you can't remeber the character's names, right? I mean, aren't you supposed to think of them as their character?

**"Worst" as in "bizarro," or "wacko" -- or maybe just "WTF?" You know what I mean.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

To nap, perchance to dream

I am cranky and grouchy, and I have this pain on the right side of my neck that I only get when I'm sitting in front of the computer at work trying really hard to think through something that's plaguing me. Not to mention how I keep rubbing at my eyes, which are already irritated from my allergies, but will probably just get worse until I get home.

I think I need a nap.

But not a cat nap, or even one of those mythical 20-minute power naps -- those are for suckers. Anyone who's ever really tried one of those would attest that they'll just make you more tired and irritable.

No, what I need is an honest-to-God hour long sleep -- maybe two -- just like when I was in college and/or law school. Something just long enough for some rapid eye movement. Maybe even a dream (hopefully a good one).

Back then, I could take an hour long nap at 4 in the afternoon (you know, after General Hospital), wake up, and be raring to go until 4 am. It was always just enough to refresh me and get me back on track to study -- or party, or, occasionally watch a movie marathon of Top Gun and Real Genius.

Now I miss being able to skip out on inconsequential stuff to go home and sleep. That might actually be what I miss most about being in school.

Mom's birthday and other stuff

Don't take it personally if I don't write a lot for the next little while -- I've got a lot of stuff going on.

This weekend is my mom's birthday. As disclosed previously, it's a round number, so it's pretty serious -- serious enough that I am flying home (or whatever) to Florida for her birthday party, instead of attending my friend's memorial.

It's also a serious enough birthday that I'm still completely stumped for a birthday gift.* And I'm pretty much running out of time. I'll probably have to wing it when I get home.

And no, I'm not getting her a picture of my brother.

On the phone, my brother suggested that maybe I should just go home and see if my mom is just happy enough with the fact that I bought a plane ticket. I wonder if the boy might have a good point. I mean, I live a thousand miles away; shouldn't my presence be enough?

Yeah, I didn't think so either.

*I did get her a funny birthday card. And a refrigerator magnet that says "A Mom is a friend who gets on your nerves more than most." Yeah, it's only sort-of funny. But in a way that she likes.

Mom, if you read this and it ruined your surprise, it serves you right.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Make up your minds already!

Last night, I stumbled across this very enlightening article about how researchers in Britian found that drivers don't pay attention to traffic signals because they are thinking about other things -- primarily sex.

Needless to say, this totally contradicts everything I've come to believe in. I mean, weren't we just told that talking on a cell phone is the problem?

Those silly scientists need to get their stories straight.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Grey's Anatomy

Is it just me, or were the Batman and Robin comments in tonight's Grey's Anatomy especially apropos -- you know, considering Chris O'Donnell was in the episode?

And, speaking of the Boy Wonder, when did he get so hot? I mean, he was always cute, but he is currently way better looking than he was 10 years ago. If I were Meredith, I'd have a hard time choosing between him and Patrick Dempsey, too. But I'm sure I'd allow myself to get just the teensiest bit distracted by Eric Dane -- you know, while he was hanging around the hospital.

Finally, that line, early in the episode, about snacks and dating, was friggin' hilarious.

Now I remember why I watch this show.

It distracts from Florida State losing to NC State. Bastards.

This is your brain on drugs. Any questions?

Bad news for the anti-marijuana folks out there: Marijuana use may prevent Alzheimer's.

Points of Order

  1. Other than Peter, no one is commenting today. I feel very unloved. Just sayin'.

  2. Yesterday, I almost broke my rule prohibiting me from writing about work in all but the vaguest of manners, by posting pictures of my lovely and clean new office -- recently improved with diplomas actually hung up on the walls. Then I realized that all I needed to do was send the pictures to my mom, since they were really just for her anyway.

  3. Today, Jason (of the always amusing Oxymoron: Hipster Dork) posted about his blog persona. I just left a comment about mine, but then I was thinking about whether it was accurate. For those of you that know me in the meatspace, is this true?

    In terms of my 'persona,' I guess that means that my blog is mostly the outside-of-work me -- but in my funnier moments -- and without really exposing the depth and breadth of my mean streak.

  4. Does anyone have any idea of something I should get for my mom for her 60th birthday next weekend?

  5. I'm going to have to revise my baseball playoff predictions. I'm so over the Twins. Actually, I think it's more accurate to state that the Twins are so over.

  6. Project Runway reunion episode: Sucked. Well, except for the fact that Keith Michael is apparently a lying, cheating, whiny, baby. Blaming the producers and insinuating that he was set up? What a crock.

  7. Any one else see last night's Lost? Despite some answers, the mystery keeps on getting weirder and weirder.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

The Big Time, take 2

Today, I was in Express again -- but unlike last time, it was for something I actually wrote, not something I was just quoting and commenting on.

Here it is, in all its glory:

Of course, it sort of mischaracterizes what I was really writing about. And they left out some of my text without any indication.

Most significantly, it's so close to the picture of Condi Rice that you might think I managed to come up with something witty about her:

I guess there's always next time.

Pictures of Food

So, is it wrong to take pictures of your food in a restaurant? Some people seem to think so.

I think it's fine -- especially if the pictures are funny. For example, inadvertent smiley faces:

Or when your sister eats a giant tiramisu with two giant spoons*:

I just wish I had kept the picture documenting the mysteriously yellow pancakes at the Metro 29 Diner.

Seriously, people. Relax, have a good time. Have some tiramisu.

*I know that I originally said I wasn't going to post this picture because she might kill me. But honestly, she lives 1000 miles away. Plus, it's funny. And I really don't care anymore.

Most importantly, I don't think she's reading my blog. So it's not like she'll see it. Unless, of course, my brother tells her about it. Which he won't. Right?

Wegmans (Or, How I Stopped Kvetching and Learned to Love the Suburbs)

After spending most of Saturday afternoon at Eastern Market, I made a trip out to the Wegmans in Fairfax to buy Jewish-y food for Monday's break-fast.

I am now just the teensiest bit in love with Wegmans.

Conclusion: It is the ultimate suburban grocery shopping experience. (Check out Sweet's picture and you'll see why.)

First of all, let me state that this was not my first time. There's a Wegmans in Manalapan, NJ, right near where my family lives. (Yeah, my family lives in Jersey. Just deal with it.) Every time I go up to visit -- which is not as often as it used to be -- someone inevitably winds up having to go there. And you wander around and around, marveling in all the gourmet and specialty food items, right alongside your run-of-the-mill groceries.

On Saturday, they had round challah, black and white cookies, hamentashen, knishes, whitefish salad, lox (actually nova), all in the same aisle. Then I got to the deli, the beer, the halloween candy, the produce . . . . I managed to get everything but the bagels, but it's not like they didn't have bagels there. I just wanted to buy them fresh on Monday.

Inbal even got a bunch of her weird Israeli foods there. (One of them is some kind of chip-like concoction named Bissli, which she says translates to "Bite for me," and which I refer to as "Bite me," 'cause I'm funny.) She now wants to go back there every couple of weeks.

They even have Go-Tarts. (But that's an inside joke that's apparently not funny to anyone but me or Dan.)

Harris Teeter is so last year -- well, except for the fact that I live upstairs from one.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Through the looking glass

Let's get this straight: Despite war profiteering, lobbying scandals, bribery, and sexual misconduct involving minors* -- and let's not forget the poorly executed war, domestic spying, and prisoner abuse -- President Bush is saying that the Democrats can't be trusted to run Congress?

I'm sorry, I must have forgotten moving to backwardsland.

I really hope that the American electorate is not that stupid.

*You know it's gotta be pretty gosh darn bad when the Washington Times thinks the Speaker should resign over the scandal.

BlackBerry, crackberry

Are you addicted to your crackberry? Maybe you can sue your employer for that:

Professor Nada Kakabadse, joint author of the study, said that lawsuits were a growing issue for employers who were being sued for failing in their duty of care to staff and in following health and safety guidelines. In one case in the US, a female business consultant claimed that her marriage fell apart because she was constantly checking messages. She ended up losing custody of her children and sued her employer for damages.

These people are clearly jackasses.

I'm on the opposite end of the spectrum -- I wish they'd take my BlackBerry away.

At my last job, we weren't forced to get the BlackBerries right away -- for a while they were optional. (They're not anymore.) I volunteered, because I'm generally good with technology, and hey, I thought it would be good to have instantaneous access to my e-mail and calendar while on travel and in court. It was great for the first few days.

Of course, then I wound up going down to Florida to see my grandmother in the hospital. The damn thing didn't stop. For hours. Every five minutes, the purportedly urgent email would roll in. I thought about chucking it out the window.

And then there was that time when I was sitting in court while one of the ECF servers in one of the districts I practiced in got a virus. I was getting approximately 2 pieces of spam per minute. Then, of course, all of the dipshits on the distribution list were responding -- to all -- with e-mails saying to take them off the the list.

Fucktards, all.

So, every once in a while, I dream of a life without my BlackBerry. It's like a leash -- or better yet, one of those electronic ankle monitors -- keeping you from straying too far from your office.


It's been suggested that, when I'm not at my desk, I should check it every 15 minutes.

I'd rather not, thank you. I mean, I still like to pretend that I have a life outside of my job.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Things that are cool

What looks like your average vintage copy of The Cat in the Hat . . .

. . . is actually my new handbag.

Isn't it cool? I found it at Eastern Market on Saturday, courtesy of Caitlin at Rebound Designs.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

100 Things

A lot of people post these lists of 100 things about them. (Mad's actually trying for a million, which is pretty darn ambitious if you ask me!)

Anyway, here's my list. You might have figured some of these out already; others are new. some of them are even new to me.

1. I wore black for my entire 10th grade year. I still wear a lot of black. But mostly because it matches everything.
2. My sister and I were both born on major holidays. My brother was not, and I feel kind of bad about that.
3. Almost everyone in my extended family is a Mets fan, but, for some weird reason, both of my parents are Yankees fans and my sister is a Braves fan. I consider myself a Nationals fan.
4. I am cold almost all the time.
5. When my friend Alli and I were in high school, we used to get drunk and play Going to California. She played piano, I sang (badly).
6. Around that time, Alli was “friends” with Marilyn Manson. We used to go to bars to watch them play.
7. I only learned calculus to impress a boy.
8. While watching a college football game, I have gotten nervous enough to vomit. Sober.
9. I am horrible at keeping in touch with people when I don’t see them all the time.
10. My favorite U2 song is Bad.
11. I sing in the car. LOUD.
12. I used to think that I looked hot in mini skirts and knee-high boots.
13. I can’t function with a messy desk.
14. One of my biggest fears is that one day, I’ll actually be diagnosed with OCD and will have to take meds.
15. I was in a sorority. It helped me decide to graduate college early.
16. I am jealous of my sister’s hair.
17. Every time I get a haircut, I swear that I’ll wear it neat and styled, but inevitably, it always winds up in a ponytail, clip, or bun.
18. I once dyed my hair jet black, sort-of on purpose. I then called my friend and told her that it “looked like Trent Fucking Reznor.”
19. I think I’d have a lot of grey hair if I didn’t color it, but I’m not entirely sure.
20. When I told my father that people at work said I was mean, he said “You’re not mean -- you have an edge. Your sister is mean.”
21. When I was in law school, my mother once paid me $50 to clean my brother’s apartment. It was the most disgusting thing I ever did.
22. If I were rich and didn’t have to worry about supporting myself, I would have gotten a Ph. D. in Art History or Literature instead of going to law school.
23. My college degree was in communications.
24. Some woman on the metro once told me that I had the prettiest hands that she’d ever seen.
25. I think my hands are freakishly small.
26. I usually have very long fingernails.
27. I’m not really sure whether my eyes are blue or green.
28. I think I look smarter when I’m wearing my glasses.
29. I think I look better when I’m wearing dark eyeliner.
30. I have horrible taste in boyfriends.
31. Women often annoy me.
32. More than once, I have had secret (and not-so-secret) crushes on boys that I referred to as “my best friend.”
33. I occasionally say that people are “my best friend” when they’re really not.
34. I get along better with guys than girls. Most of my good friends are male.
35. My real best friends are female.
36. I once dated my sister’s roommate.
37. The second worst thing that I have ever done was make out with a male friend on his couch in his living room while his girlfriend was taking care of a sick (read: drunk) friend across the street.
38. The worst thing that I have ever done is so horrible that I can’t bring myself to write it.
39. I am allergic to cats.
40. I was scared of dogs until my family got one. I was in college at the time. Now I want a puppy.
41. When I was in law school, my roommate and I adopted a dog from the pound and named her after the Hale-Bopp comet. She was completely nuts. Sometimes I think it was because of the name.
42. I have a sort-of photographic memory: I remember where things are on the page. It’s a really useful skill for open-book tests.
43. I collect things. Right now, it’s CDs, DVDs, clothing, shoes, handbags, and wine.
44. I have an extraordinarily large number of PEZ dispensers.
45. I have, on occasion, thought about getting rid of everything I own and starting from scratch. However, my ties to my material possessions are such that I will never be able to do it.
46. If I had to leave my apartment and could only save one memento, it would be a letter that my dad sent to me when I was 12.
47. I have, on occasion, had enough alcohol that I blacked out.
48. One time, when I was in college, I drank enough that I had to be carried out of the dorm during a fire drill.
49. Another time, after the UF-FSU game right before my 23rd birthday, I passed out in front of the Gumby’s pizza on Tennessee Street.
50. I was proposed to while watching the UF-FSU game on my 18th birthday.
51. I am usually glad that I have not gotten married.
52. I love cheese.
53. Until this summer, I never had a cheeseburger. Not for any religious or dietary reason. I just didn’t think it was worth it.
54. I have a $150 bottle of champagne in my refrigerator. For no good reason.
55. My sister and I almost never fought growing up. The only actual physical confrontation that I remember was over a Def Leppard tape. But we both fought with our brother all the time.
56. I used to think that my family was hopelessly crazy; now I think that they’re embarrassingly normal.
57. I generally like controversial people.
58. I am chronically unable to stick to a budget.
59. I can read at least two foreign languages well enough to get by. I get too nervous to really speak in any of them.
60. I am seriously convinced that people do not understand me at all.
61. My parents flipped out when I got my ears double-pierced.
62. I used to have a navel piercing. My sister’s piercings are worse than that.
63. I drew the art that is now one of my sister’s tattoos. I was going to get it too, but I chickened out. I regret that decision.
64. For the past several years -- including this one -- I'm the only one in my immediate family that went to services for the high holy days.
65. Tonight, for the first time, I asked both of my parents if they believed in God. They surprised me when they both said yes.
66. I am not sure if I really believe in God. My mother was surprised when I told her that.
67. I do, however, believe in a sort of karmic balance – that good things happen to people who do good things, and vice-versa. My mother disagrees.
68. I think it would be hypocritical of me to keep kosher.
69. I’m not sure if I believe in hell, but if there is one, I am absolutely convinced that I am going.
70. I occasionally have predictive dreams.
71. When I told my mom about the dreams, she said that she has the same thing. She thinks it means that we’re witches. I think that is a little silly. I did, however, buy a book on witchcraft. I haven’t done anything with it, though.
72. I once thought I saw a ghost. I’m still not entirely convinced otherwise.
73. I hate dressing up for work.
74. I wish I was more artistic and creative.
75. I am late to work almost every day.
76. I say that I wish I spent more time at the gym.
77. I really wish I had more time to sleep and watch tv.
78. I watch way too much tv as it is. I should read more books instead.
79. Generally, the angrier I get, the quieter I get.
80. I have only yelled at an unrelated person one time in my entire life. I regret it, but only because it ultimately proved pointless.
81. My mother loves to play cards. I often worry that she has a problem.
82. I occasionally think that my brother might be the smartest person I know.
83. I often make fun of people reading chick lit, but I occasionally read it too.
84. Something happened that caused me to laugh in the movie theater when Macaulay Culkin’s character died in My Girl. People turned around and glared. It only made me laugh harder.
85. The first thing I ever bought on e-Bay was a set of limited edition X-Files Barbies. It was also the first thing I bought with my first lawyer paycheck.
86. I hate it when guys wear those t-shirts with fish on them. (You know the ones.)
87. I’ve never had the chicken pox.
88. I am not sure whether I am really smart or just stupid enough to think that I’m smart. I’m becoming more and more convinced that it’s the latter.
89. I had a high school teacher try to get me taken out of the gifted program.
90. I swear a lot – and always have. When I first started practicing law, I was convinced that at some point, I would get in trouble for swearing in open court.
91. I’m trying to swear less, so I use the word “poop” a lot.
92. I have never watched a porno flick. I have, however, seen Ron Jeremy in person. (And I did go to a goth bar in New Orleans that was showing a goth porn on on the tvs at the bar.)
93. I am much more maternal than people think.
94. I have a pink haired troll doll on my computer desk.
95. I had pink bedroom furniture as a teenager.
96. The most expensive thing that I ever bought was a piece of jewelry.
97. I am very easily distractible.
98. I think that, as a litmus test for dating, a guy should, at a minimum, be able to change the oil in my car and replace my wiper blades.
99. My car is blue. I wish I had gotten it in silver instead, with the leather interior. Other than that, it’s perfect.
100. Coming up with 100 things was way more difficult than I anticipated.