Thursday, August 30, 2007

Artist's rendition

So, on Pop Candy, they posted a link to this nifty little program that alters your photo in various ways.

I've been playing with it for a while. This version of me as a Botticelli is my favorite:

I also like this Modigliani:

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Proof that you can still be mean after death

How much does someone have to dislike her grandchildren to disinherit them -- while leaving $12 million to her dog?

I wonder what the grandkids did to deserve this.

The Hipster Olympics

"Empanadas are the new cupcakes." 'Nuff said.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

On further reflection

I finally watched the last episode of The Two Coreys. It was anticlimactic. They fight, Haim leaves, and Feldman and his wife breathe a sigh of relief. All is right with the world, blah blah blah. Especially since both Coreys really are making a sequel to The Lost Boys.

I've been an apologist for this stupid reality show. Admittedly, I enjoyed it. I love the idea of two former child stars -- both of whom have survived substance abuse and are now trying to resurrect their careers -- living together in a house. Especially since they're both complete disasters: Haim is messy, disorganized human chaos with no guidelines, no respect, and no clue -- but Feldman is an overly meek and mild mannered vegetarian, somewhat delusional as to the current state of his career, and incessantly and increasingly bossed around by his wife. It's The Odd Couple meets The Real World meets schadenfreude.

. . . Only Feldman already did that on The Surreal Life. And no matter how needy he is, as a 35 year old, Haim probably shouldn't have been staying indefinitely in his best friend's house in the first place. But I guess there's not enough drama if Haim is just the annoying neighbor who drops in uninvited all the time.

Oh well. I was wrong. It's not a great reality show. It's a good idea for a reality show that just didn't live up to its potential. But at least their advice column is funny.

Monday, August 27, 2007

F*cking Monday, F*cking Metro

Today started so innocently. The clerk at Firehook gave me the wrong kind of tea. And then the very important package was delayed due to security, and my co-counsel was VERY CONCERNED. But I tracked it down, triumphantly.

Work was busy, and I got distracted with drafting a motion. It was going well. So well that I didn't even think to take lunch until well after 2. I quickly ate my crappy lunch, and then went back to work on the brief.

Sometime after 4, my mom called, upset, due to difficulties with her uncle, who has dementia, and who she's pretty much taking care of with very little help from anyone else in the family. So, I stopped to talk to her, and forgot to save my brief.

When I was getting ready to leave -- at a normal hour -- I printed it out. But I noticed a typo, so I went to reopen it and fix it.

It wasn't there, surprise, surprise.

But at least I had a hard copy. So I spent the next couple of hours reconstructing it from the hard copy (read: retyping every word and every single legal citation). All this while my next-door office neighbor entertained his very young son. It was, well, distracting.

Finally, at around 8 pm, I finished. I made sure to save my work this time. And then I painstakingly assembled the motion, brief, exhibits, and proposed order to be filed tomorrow morning. I recycled my last Diet Coke can, and headed out the door.

Of course, that meant heading out to Metro, which, unbeknownst to me, was pretty much shut down -- again. First they said it was just green and yellow lines. But that's easy for me: I can take blue. So, I went to Metro Center, and hopped on a blue line train.

That was the worst decision I made all day. I should have taken a cab. You see, the blue line trains were all stopping at Arlington Cemetery -- which, in the dark, is not an easy walk to my apartment.

But Metro was running shuttle buses, right? Well, yes -- at least that's what they were announcing. Too bad the station manager had no idea what we were talking about, or any clue where to direct us. So there we were, hundreds of people waiting around at Arlington Cemetery. The crowd was insane, and enraged.

Finally, two buses pulled up -- on what was, logically speaking, the wrong side of the street (i.e. heading back towards D.C.). All of a sudden, people ran across four lanes of traffic, and were pushing and shoving to get on the buses. Some small kid almost got trampled. And the bus drivers weren't sure where they were supposed to go at first. So the buses just sat there, full of people.

The crowd was getting restless. People were yelling. The touristy girls near me were amused, they kept taking pictures with their cell phone cameras. I actually said to them to not take a picture of me, because my day had been bad enough. (I did, however, quietly suggest that they take a picture of the crazy guy in the ill-fitting suit who was kneeling on his bus seat pretending that the window was a piano, playing along to whatever crazy music he was listening to on his headphones. I'm not sure if they took my advice.)

Later, much later, the shuttle bus pulled up to Pentagon City. There were firetrucks everywhere, and the traffic was busy for this time of night. Once I got into the mall, pretty much everything except McDonald's was already closed.

I walked the rest of the way home, and got in my apartment about 15 minutes ago. Just long enough to have flipped open the computer and written this. I haven't eaten, and I'm in need of a shower from the whole experience. But instead, I'm going to sleep early, just to make sure that today can't get any worse.

Thank god for Tuesdays.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Once more, with feeling

Because I had the second crust in the fridge, I decided to try the whole pizza thing over again with a couple of changed. The most major difference: I used a pizza stone.

For the record, I have some kitchen gadgets -- popcorn popper, espresso maker, who knows what else. They're buried in the back of the cabinets, and usually I'm too lazy to find them -- so I just use the basics. But after the last pizza, I figured it was worth it to use the pizza stone.

Here's what happened:

  1. Start by preheating the oven and the pizza stone to 500°:

  2. Remove the low-carb whole wheat pizza crust from the fridge:

    Note the satisfaction guarantee:

  3. Cover the pizza crust with garlic and a little bit of melted butter:

  4. As suggested, coat with a thin layer of the shredded cheese:

  5. Layer on thinly sliced heirloom tomatoes:

    Note: To slice the three medium-sized tomatoes this thinly, I placed them in an egg-slicer, and used its guidelines to cut them, using a very sharp kitchen knife. When I was finished, the slices were about 1/8 of an inch thick -- practically sheer.

  6. Add thinly sliced fresh mozzarella:

    I used a similar technique to slice the mozzarella.

  7. Add some chopped fresh basil:

  8. And some parmigiano-reggiano and a dash of sea salt, and place on the pizza stone to bake for 8 minutes at 425°:

Tonight's result:

The fresh tomatoes and mozzarella still gave up some water, but almost all of it was absorbed by the initial layer of cheese. And because of the pizza stone, instead of being like soggy cardboard, the underside of the crust got very crispy.

All in all, despite the low-carb crust, it was a pretty good pizza -- mostly because of everyone who chimed in with pizza advice.

My stomach thanks you.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

The Great Pizza Experiment

After this weekend, I wound up with a house full of heirloom tomatoes. I've been eating insalata caprese all week, but sometimes a girl needs a little variety. So yesterday, I had this brilliant idea -- heirloom tomato pizza margherita.

It was so simple.

  1. Start with a low-carb whole wheat pizza crust, and preheat the oven to 450°.

  2. Cover the pizza crust with garlic and a little bit of melted butter:

  3. Layer on thinly sliced heirloom tomatoes:

  4. Add sliced fresh mozzarella:

  5. Add some chopped fresh basil:

  6. And some parmigiano-reggiano and a dash of sea salt:

  7. And finally, add a couple ounces of a shredded Italian cheese blend, to ensure consistent melting:

  8. Cook for 10 minutes.

The result:

Looks beautiful, right?

Alas, it was virtually inedible. The low-carb pizza crust was not absorbent, and with all the fresh tomatoes, the result was a disgusting, watery mess.

So, other than using a better crust and perhaps cooking the tomatoes first to remove some of the liquid, what could I have done to improve the result?

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

A new understanding of prior events, courtesy of an offhand Julie Delpy comment

I was reading this interview with Julie Delpy (disclaimer: I absolutely adore Before Sunrise) about her new movie, and she said something I found quite profound, probably quite by accident:

What happened? For one, a chance meeting with a former beau. Instead of giving Delpy the what-ifs, the reunion helped her realize she'd made the guy into "a fantasy." "Some people live like that. They move on and get married but always in the back of their minds is the one that got away. It's in our making to always be longing for something else. I'm trying to change my attitude. I'm not longing for anything other than the ability to live in the moment."

I think this is a fitting epilogue to last year's Chicago story. Now I know what it meant.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Forgive my outrage

I already twittered about this, but then I got to thinking, and I needed to vent . . . .

One in four adults read no books at all in the past year, according to an Associated Press-Ipsos poll released Tuesday.


The survey reveals a nation whose book readers, on the whole, can hardly be called ravenous. The typical person claimed to have read four books in the last year — half read more and half read fewer. Excluding those who hadn't read any, the usual number read was seven.

No wonder why the rest of the world thinks Americans are dumb. We are not well-read.

Some of the article cracks me up, though:

Among those who said they had read books, the median figure — with half reading more, half fewer — was nine books for women and five for men. The figures also indicated that those with college degrees read the most, and people aged 50 and up read more than those who are younger.


People from the West and Midwest are more likely to have read at least one book in the past year. Southerners who do read, however, tend to read more books, mostly religious books and romance novels, than people from other regions. Whites read more than blacks and Hispanics, and those who said they never attend religious services read nearly twice as many as those who attend frequently.

There was even some political variety evident, with Democrats and liberals typically reading slightly more books than Republicans and conservatives.

So, old white female atheist college professors probably read the most, right?

(For the record, I've finished three books so far -- IN AUGUST. I've lost track of how many I've read in total in the past year, but suffice it to say, it's in double digits.)

Like MacGyver, only girlier

Because it was cold and gray and rainy this morning, I wore my favorite black Gap pants to work, with a bright turquoise sweater and cute little black kitten heels. Unfortunately, my favorite pants are a smidge too long for me, and are starting to look, well, worn. Not that it's unexpected; I wear them every week.

What I didn't count on was getting the heel of my cute little shoe caught in my pants cuff, and ripping the hem out.

In the office, this wasn't a problem. I mean, who cares if one leg of my pants was dragging on the floor? But when I was getting ready to go home, I realized that if I left it alone, the bottom of my pants leg was going to drag along the wet ground.

I thought and thought, and came up with this:

Yep, paper clips and binder clips. Eat your heart out, MacGyver!

Monday, August 20, 2007


On some level, I don't disagree with the basic concept behind "All I Really Need to Know I Learned In Kindergarten." I mean, it's a gross oversimplification, but yeah, people should share and play fair and stick together, yadda yadda yadda. Unfortunately for us, it's aspirational at best. It's a great thought, but even if you somehow manage to unflinchingly live by these rules, or take yoga or prozac or whatever it is that keeps you sane, at some point the big bad world is going to kick you in the ass. You need more than kindergarten to survive.

High school helps. You learn important things like reading, writing and arithmetic, you learn how to socialize, and eventually, you learn to function as an adult -- at least as much as any of us ever learn enough to master that particular skill.

Over the weekend, I ran across this article in the New York Times about a high school in New Jersey -- coincidentally, my aunt's alma mater -- where they're having the students declare a major -- in the ninth grade.

Now, don't get me wrong -- I'm not entirely opposed to the idea of some kind of tracking. If you're the kind of student that likes english and history, and doesn't perform well in math and science, you shouldn't have to take electives in those subjects, and vice-versa. And don't get me started on how beneficial gifted, honors, and AP/IB programs are.

But the thought of forcing students to choose a major that young? That's disturbing. Especially where "they are expected to stick with their major through four years unless they have a compelling reason to change."

As Adelai Stevenson once said, "If we value the pursuit of knowledge, we must be free to follow wherever that search may lead us." This holds true, even for teenagers.

Making serious life decisions as a freshman in high school? Yikes. At that point, kids only see the present -- they have no real appreciation of the past, and no real concept of the future -- or how the choices that they make are what gets them there. How can you possibly expect them to understand the consequences of their decisions when you haven't yet taught them that -- when you're only just starting to give them the proper tools to make the decisions?

An example:

Nicole Hutchison, 14, starting at Dwight Morrow next month, likes to make people feel better, so she imagines herself becoming a doctor, nurse or cosmetologist. But she picked performing arts because she loves to dance — and, she said, because she had not given much thought to the other options. “I think I’m too young to make a decision because I might change my mind later on,” she said.

Is that a cop out? Maybe. But at least it's better than her classmate:

Two years ago, Akelia applied to the magnet program’s law and public safety academy because she wanted to be a lawyer. But after finding many of the legal cases boring and hard to relate to, she was unable to take classes in other fields because she was locked into her specialization.

“Now I wish I had probably gone to another academy because I like computers,” said Akelia, who is 16 and starting her junior year. “When you’re 13, you don’t realize how much work you have to put in to be a lawyer. It’s not like you just go to court, and win or lose, you make a lot of money.”

Maybe it's the lawyer thing, but this struck a chord with me.

When I started high school, I was thirteen. I thought I knew everything, but in actuality, I knew nothing. True story: That year, when my mother asked me to cook something, I didn't quite comprehend the difference between using a pot versus a pan. Of course, this was just one of many reasons that my mother feared for me.

Most importantly, at thirteen, I didn't know who I was, nor who I was becoming. Two years later, it was completely different -- I was different -- but it took time. And ten years later, I had already graduated from law school. But I didn't know that then, and no one would have guessed.

If I was asked me to pick a major at thirteen, maybe -- if I thought about it seriously and didn't make the decision based on what my friends were doing -- I would have chosen journalism or creative writing. It's more likely that I would have chosen dance or art -- anything to get out of math, even though I was in honors and gifted (and later AP) classes. (My mother, half-jokingly, says that I would have majored in boys.) But no matter what, I never ever in a million years would have placed myself on a pre-law track. Heck, I might not have even put myself on a pre-college path. And I wouldn't have known any better.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Fresh from the farm

. . . or in this case, heirloom tomatoes, fresh from the Farmer's Market:

I think I'm going to do this more often.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

You say tomato, I say mmmm

Last week, at Willow, I had a phenomenal salad with heirloom tomatoes. And this afternoon, I thought that a caprese salad would be nice today. So, instead of going to my normal ordinary Harris Teeter, I decided to drive out to a nearby organic market to try to get my hands on some heirloom tomatoes.

Sadly, there weren't that many to choose from. The bin was almost empty, and most of the ones that were left felt too squishy. But I somehow managed to find three tomatoes -- one was a large dark orange marbled with a little yellow and green, and two were smaller and more red colored. I also picked up a pint of sweet orange cherry tomatoes, and some farm fresh mozzarella. And, while the tomatoes were a little pricey -- $4.99/lb -- the fresh cheese was cheaper than what I pay for it at the regular grocery store.

The organic tomatoes and mozzarella made for a pretty good salad. But now I'm thinking that to do it right, I'm going to have to get up early some weekend and go to a farmer's market. I'm sure I could find something fantastic that way.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

New theory

Today, in the ladies' room, I somehow managed to get liquid soap all over my silk blouse. I think I just pressed on the lever too hard, but I'm not entirely sure. All I really know is that, all of a sudden, I was covered in soap, and I wound up pretty much hand-washing my blouse while I was still wearing it.

Luckily, it was about 100 degrees outside, so it dried pretty quickly, and I only looked dumb for a few minutes.

Anyway, while I was washing my shirt, I caught one of the secretaries in my office exit the ladies' room without washing her hands. To me, this is exceptionally gross.

You see, I wash my hands a lot -- probably 10 times a day. I also use antibacterial hand sanitizers and hand lotion. It's one of my germaphobic quasi-OCD quirks.

But today I realized that, despite the obsessive cleanliness, I get sick more often than I would like -- more often than a lot of my coworkers.

So maybe my cleanliness prevents me from developing the appropriate resistance to germs. Kind of like the allergy theory -- kids that are not exposed to allergens are more likely to have allergies and asthma.

It's almost reverse logic.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

The New York Times stole my joke!

I have said this before, on many occasions:

“The thing I most want in life is a wife. I’m not kidding,” said Joyce Lustbader, a research scientist at Columbia University, who has been married for 29 years. “I work all day, sometimes seven days a week, and still have to go home and make dinner and have all those things to do around the house.”

(Thanks, Dan.)

Monday, August 13, 2007

I hope Matt Damon's a good sport

In between visiting restaurants and being sick, I managed to see The Bourne Ultimatum last week. For the record, I liked the first two, and this one was pretty much the same. (Which is probably why they can make a game of Bourne Mad Libs.)

Then I got home and read this:

The multimillion-dollar marketing campaign for "The Bourne Ultimatum" is so extensive that Universal Studios has actually placed a towering billboard for the hit spy movie on the side of the small Manhattan coop where the film's star, Matt Damon, lives with his family.

But it's not just the ad placement. The language employed makes it even better:

As seen in the below photo, the advertisement-which is about 15 feet wide and 50 feet high--notes that on August 3 (the day the film opened), "Bourne Comes Home."

Now that's funny.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Grumpy Bear

Even on a good day, I'm filled with enough vitriol for someone at least twice my size -- but I possess enough self-control that, other than a select group of friends (you should feel honored folks!) very few people get to experience it firsthand.

When I'm not feeling well, I magically lose the ability to keep it to myself.

So, today, pretty much everyone was the subject of my wrath. In no particular order, here are the out-of-character things that I said and did:

  • Said, "Uh, whatever" in a scornful voice to the woman who attempted to cut in front of me at the place where I get my morning tea.
  • Pushed the purse of the girl who sat next to me on Metro off my lap in a not-so-gentle manner.
  • Lost my patience and told employee of client that he was looking at the wrong document in a completely annoyed tone of voice.
  • Told my mother that I had a very complicated life, and then told her she was mean when she laughed at me. I then proceeded to blame her for the fact that I'm a whiny spoiled princess.
  • Used the f-word in front of a bunch of touristy small children when their mother refused to move to the right side of the Metro escalator (after I said "Excuse me" no fewer than 2 times), causing me to miss my train.
  • Muttered "pick up your pants" to some wannabe hoodlum with exposed pink boxer briefs in the mall food court.
  • Described someone as "wannabe hoodlum."

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Great Food + Good Wine = Happy Dara

I have food swings.* And I'm always grumpy when I'm caffeine deprived. But restaurant week helps, even with a sore throat. And you know what I learned today? Wine pairings with an excellent three-course dinner makes it even better.

*Thanks, Beakerz.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Sound familiar?

Check out this resignation letter. Highlights:

  • "I do not like the practice of corporate law. At all. I find it extremely tedious and stressful."
  • "At this point in my life, I want to work a job with predictable hours. I want to work a job where I am not connected to a blackberry. I want to work a job where I am not expected to work past 6. . . . I want to work a job where I am not expected to work weekends."
  • "I am more than willing to make the trade of less money for more control over my life."

Man, I've been there before. But at least I had the good sense to not put it in my resignation letter.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Virgin Festival: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly (plus some pictures)

I promised my take on the Virgin Festival, so here it is:

The Good:
  • Regina Spektor. Man, is that girl talented! And quirky.

    If you haven't heard her stuff, download Fidelity, Samson, and Better.

  • The Police. They're amazing musicians who played nonstop hits, and - surprisingly - seemed to genuinely like playing with each other.

  • Cheap Trick. They just know how to put on a fun show. And Surrender and I Want You To Want Me kick ass.

  • Velvet Revolver. Them boys can rock!

  • The Beastie Boys. Ditto.

The Bad:
  • Amy Winehouse. Bo-ring.

    I was half-expecting her to not show up, or to be wasted, or to do something crazy. I was not expecting her to give a halfhearted performance of her songs in front of a bunch of annoying college kids that only wanted to hear Rehab.

  • The Smashing Pumpkins' song selection. The performance was good, but perhaps Billy Corgan should have realized that people came to hear the hits, not 66% of the new album.

  • Fountains of Wayne. See note re: The Smashing Pumpkins. Not playing Stacy's Mom was not cool.

The Ugly:
  • The schedule. It sucked to have to choose between The Police and Modest Mouse and Regina Spektor and Matisyahu. While a lot of the shows were somewhat staggered, it was inconsistent, and could have been done better.

  • The weather. 100 degrees one day, then thunderstorms the next. August in Baltimore is not the best time for an outdoor concert.

  • The garbage thrown all over the place.

    People, it's not that hard to throw out your cups and bottles, especially when there are manned stations every 10 feet or so for you to recycle or compost your litter. This goes doubly so when it's supposed to be a "green" event.

    And throwing the free condoms all over the place? Ick. Show some respect.

For the critics' take, read this and this.

Diet be damned!

Earlier today, on Twitter, I commented that I told my mother that Restaurant Week is my third favorite holiday of the year. It bears repeating. Tonight=Mahogany. Thursday=Willow. This weekend, perhaps Colvin Run Tavern or Indigo Landing.


Monday, August 06, 2007

Things in the news

Things I would blog about if I weren't so tired and if I didn't have so much stuff to do:

  1. The story about the robber who broke into a party, had a glass of wine, and then changed his mind.

  2. This sad map of Disappearing D.C. landmarks.

  3. This even weirder map showing how D.C. landmarks make a pentagram.

  4. How fucked up it is to have seventeen kids in today's day and age.

  5. The awesome article in The Post about reinventing your life, and why it's important to continually reevaluate life decisions.

  6. And why, surprisingly, I'm finding myself agreeing with some -- not all -- of the contentions attributed to this book.

Tomorrow's post will likely feature a lengthy discussion about the Virgin Festival. In the meantime, does anyone have any comments about any of the above?


Click here to read my blog interview.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Plan of Attack

I am very much looking forward to the Virgin Festival. And, while calling it the highlight of my summer might be overreaching a bit -- as of right now, it's the truth.

Based on the schedule, this is my plan:

11:45 am: Arrive at Pimlico.
12:00 pm: Arrive at North Stage. Watch Fountains of Wayne, Cheap Trick, and some Amy Winehouse. If that sucks, head over to South Stage for some Paolo Nutini.
4:45 pm: Back to North Stage for Ben Harper, Beastie Boys and The Police.
9:50 pm: If The Police don't play an encore, rush over to South Stage to see 10 minutes of Modest Mouse, hoping that maybe they'll play an encore.
10:30 pm: Drive back to D.C.

12:30 pm: Arrive at Pimlico. Debate whether to go see Regina Spektor at the North Stage or Matisyahu at the South Stage. Flip a coin to make decision.
2:25 pm: North Stage, for Spoon, Panic! At the Disco, Yeah Yeah Yeahs. Maybe go to the South Stage early, to see some Wu-Tang Clan (but probably not).
7:15 pm: Make it to the South Stage for Velvet Revolver. On the way, perhaps stop by the Dance Tent for The Crystal Method.
8:30 pm: Get back to the North Stage for The Smashing Pumpkins. Do not pass go, do not collect $200, and do not waste any time with 311. Even if they do play a decent cover of The Cure's Lovesong.
10:30 pm: Drive back to D.C. Complain about how tired and sunburned I am, and how much it's going to suck to have to get up for work in the morning.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

The summer is now officially 66% over

I think my summer would have been so much more awesome if I had read the AV Club's Hater's Guide to Summer Fun before today. At a minimum, I'd be sitting here, wearing my Kylie Minogue-designed bikini, eating Fla-Vor-Ice pops, while playing Uno with Alan Thicke. Hopefully, he would have remembered to bring the napkins this time.