Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Today's Top Story

From Riley.

Woodwind Solo

From Peggy.


I don't know what my ashes will be kept in, but it won't be one of these. I've put off enough people in life; I don't need to do it in death.

From Michael K.

Jump Right In

Dumpster diving gains cachet. Watch the video.

From Robert.
April 18, 1906: Crowd gathered in front of buildings felled
by massive earthquake that rocked the San Francisco area.

From Florence.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Today's Top Story

The writer is a longtime acquaintance.

Thanks to Michael K for the link.

Going to Pot

From Peggy.
(972): If it has a penis then it will be stupid. Just how it works.
Texts From Last Night

Trash Talk

Something kept getting into my grandfather’s trash cans, and it was driving him mad. For some reason, he decided the culprit was not the usual raccoon or opossum, but his bear of a cat, Jet.

Hearing the telltale clanging one morning, Grandfather charged out of the house, determined to catch the vandal in the act.

“Get out of there, you fat black bastard!” he bellowed.

Rounding the garage, he came face to face with … the garbage collector. Who, as fate would have it, was a portly man of color.

Grandfather apologized profusely and attempted to explain, but he never felt the guy was convinced.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

"Most people would like to be delivered from temptation
but would like it to keep in touch."

Robert Orben

Special Treatment

I knew "Obsessed" would spark certain reactions in me: disbelief, scorn, empathy. What surprised me was the hilarity.

The counselors practice exposure therapy, which forces patients to face their fears head-on. The woman consumed by morbid anxieties? Shut her in an earthquake simulator and don't give her any warning. The agoraphobe? Stand him in the middle of a baseball field. The hoarder who'd kept the paper plates and napkins from her grown son's first birthday party? Hold a yard sale. (She set the prices unreasonably high, then talked people out of buying things or refused to sell outright, even though everything left would be given to charity.)

With the germophobe/claustrophobe, they were able to kill two birds with one stone: They took her into a porta-potty and got her to touch the dirty seat.

Scarred for Life

From Kristine.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Monday, July 20, 2009

Today's Top Story

From Riley.

My Fair Lady

In a park on Saturday, we passed a small family out for a stroll. Ignoring Dan and the dogs, the grandmother homed in on Little Wheelchair Girl, beaming aggressively.

"Oh, what a lovely day for you!" she exclaimed with a slight British accent. "Lovely day!"

It was indeed a lovely day; I just hadn't realized it was for my personal benefit.

Photo by Dan.

The Inkredibles

From Kristine and Riley.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Today's Top Story

Don't miss the video.

From Peggy.

Disturban Living

My aide lives in the middle of D.C., and she sometimes remarks how quiet it is out here. It seems that way, I concede, but you might be surprised.

Not long after we moved in, a neighbor casually mentioned that our place had once been occupied by drug dealers. This explained why the front door was splintered through and held together with screws. (We replaced it pronto.) We had similar suspicions about a rough young trio who later rented the unit above our bedrooms. There was never proof, but I can't think of anything else that attracts a steady stream of sketchy-looking visitors for a few minutes at a time. Their more charming callers would shout up from the street to make sure it was worth the arduous trek to the door.

Our block has also been the scene of several car accidents. The worst two happened in the middle of the night and involved, shockingly, young male drivers and excessive speed. One guy managed to flip his Civic onto its roof, and the other took out a whole line of parked cars. Afterwards, as a bunch of us stood around gawking in our bras and panties, a woman wailed hysterically at the dazed driver: "You ruined my car! How could you do that?" Was the lamented conveyance a brand-new BMW? A vintage Mustang, perhaps? Try a crappy old Ford Tempo. She should have thanked him.

Then there was the woman across the street who went to the islands and came back with more than a tan. We've all had a holiday fling, but this gal brought hers home. Great idea, right? What could go wrong? Well, he could prove unwilling or unable to find a job. And you could have second thoughts and decide to break up with him. And then he could retaliate (rather effectively, I would say) by offing himself in your home. It's been known to happen.

The worst thing by far happened around the corner several years ago. A man decided his wife was having an affair and was going to leave him. As she prepared to fetch their young daughter from day camp, he grabbed a knife and stabbed her. She made it next door, where the neighbor called 911, but died soon thereafter at the hospital. Meanwhile, Prince Charming locked himself in the house and threatened to blow the place up, so the gas was shut off and the area evacuated. We had a police cordon out front well into the evening, but eventually they shot in a bunch of tear gas and hauled him out. That unit was home to the Nixons in the '40s, so it was already steeped in bad juju; I hope the owner brought in an exorcist after this.

We've often wondered if Parkfairfax has more than its share of crazy; unfortunately, that's impossible to quantify. We've known countless oddballs - a few with clinical diagnoses, most without - and we encounter tipsy neighbors with surprising regularity on evening walks. With apologies to David Sedaris, everyone seems crazy once you put your mind to it.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

New Math

No comments = no posts

Sing for your supper, you lazy bastards.

Monday, July 13, 2009

"I am no more humble than my talents require."

Oscar Levant

Today's Top Story

She is not just the party’s biggest star and most charismatic television performer; she is its only star and charismatic performer. Most important, she stands for a genuine movement: a dwindling white nonurban America that is aflame with grievances and awash in self-pity as the country hurtles into the 21st century and leaves it behind.
From Larisa.

A Gay Old Time

Jim has a chest of gold.


Site to See

Val-de-Grâce military hospital, Paris. © Yann Arthus-Bertrand

From Peggy.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Pins and Needles

Willard Wigan is still at it.

From Peggy.

Hello, Stranger

From Ken.
Hungarian actress Zsa Zsa Gabor poses with a Yorkshire terrier near a rocket
at the Rome Universal Exhibition, July 2, 1959. Gabor was in Italy
to work on the movie The Blue Countess in Naples. (FPG/Getty Images)

From Riley.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Today's Top Story

From Derek and Kristine.

Can't Buy Me Guv

[S]omething is amiss. Something feels, how do I say this, a little bit sad. Now that you've up and quit as America's favorite hottie milf ditzball politico moose-slashin' anti-choice anti-feminist destroyer of linear grammar, we feel adrift and lost, a nation without its favorite squeaky purple balloon.
Mark Morford laments the ostensible departure of Sarah Palin.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Paper Trained

Some stories are so awful they just have to be shared.

Our office manager in San Francisco, Brad, grew up in an East Bay suburb, and one Sunday he and his partner took BART out to visit the parents.

That evening, as they boarded the return train, Brad saw a discarded sports section and picked it up to peruse on the ride. Once they'd settled in, he opened the paper, which revealed a surprise insert: a load of diarrhea.

"I was wearing shorts, and it ran down my legs and into my shoes," Brad reported, noting: "It was warm, as if the guy had just done it. And there were sesame seeds, like he'd been eating a Big Mac or something."

"What did your boyfriend do?" I asked.

"He was rolling around, laughing hysterically."

Unfortunately, the train had just dipped under the bay, so the next station was some way off. And when they finally did emerge, it took a while to find an open restroom, given the day and hour.

My mother happened to be in town when Brad told the story, and when she came by the office at the end of the day, I delighted in repeating it. A few minutes later, as we stepped onto a BART train, the first thing we saw was a folded paper on an empty seat. With a nervous laugh, we moved along.

House Crudiful

Ladies and gentlemen, the nominees for the 2009 Oops Design Award.

From Kristine.

You Had to Ask


I Do It Several Times a Day

A Singapore Airlines Airbus A380 makes its final approach at
Chek Lap Kok airport in Hong Kong on July 9. (Mike Clarke/AFP)

From Riley.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Hollow Existence

We moved to the Holler 10 years ago last week. Early next year, I'll have spent a quarter of my life here ... if I don't gas myself first.*

* Just kidding. But occasionally Dan and I like to torment each other by saying, "Oh my God, you live in a garden apartment in Northern Virginia!"

Snark Bites

This site's name says it all.

From Kristine.

Twi Again

From Peggy, indirectly.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Que Sarah Sarah

What does it say about the nature of modern American politics that a public official who often seems proud of what she does not know is not only accepted but applauded? What does her prominence say about the importance of having (or lacking) a record of achievement in public life? Why did so many skilled veterans of the Republican Party—long regarded as the more adroit team in presidential politics—keep loyally working for her election even after they privately realized she was casual about the truth and totally unfit for the vice-presidency?

Sarah Palin is the logical conclusion of the GOP's "Southern strategy," where ignorance is prized and yelling "liberalism" or "socialism" about any policy with which you disagree is perceived as a thoughtful and considered argument.

From Derek and David, respectively if not respectfully.

Ad Nauseam

From Riley and Clay, respectively.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Today's Top Story

Welcome to the flip side of homophobia.
From Ross.

Noteworthy Names

Atlantis Wigfall
Thomas E. Thomas
Jacob Jacobsen Jr.
Pierre Funderburk
Hanif Abdul-Haziz Brown
Vijayalakshmi Yalamanchili Peters
L'Oreal Thompson
Diana Grande Fink
Denise Lerch Brace
Treadene Treadwell
Crecsendia Glidewell
Bobby Waddle
Boris Midgett
Elmer Skoog
Shelva Boggs
Fanny Cradock
Misty McWhiney
Tenille La Tourrette
Jamecia Muckelvene
Shasta Darlington
Alfarena Ballew
Tillie Schmeltz
Holiday Bash
Sparky Witte
Tung Thai
Carol Belcher
Candace Cain
Chip Minty
Rhubarb Woodmansee
Corky Stone
Jack Stone Pipe
Crystal Brown
Crystal Wood
Crystal Coats
Krystal Ball
Rod Ball
Gay Horney
Anita Woody
Thickness Jones
Dave Assman
Philip Booty
Baby Cox
Peggy Wang
Sony Dong
Willy King
Dick Wood
Dick Smallwood
Dick Fuchs
John Stokes Fangboner
Unique Payne
Robert E. Lee Head
Ptolemy Slocum
Dawn White
Blanche White
Savannah Green
Sylvania Woods
Angelica Love
Alberta Love Sparks
Love Battle
Prince King
Wylie Goodsell
Gladys Raper
Delbert Dilbeck
Marc Clark
Mary Cherry
Larry Sherry
Sara Pereira
Snorky Curry
Desiree Fish
Pearl Turner
Marionette Sanders
Rocky and Ivy Hutt
Zen, Glory, Dallas, and Virginia Bridges
Mary Bridges Gully
French Hill
Kitty Hawkins
Shi Pei Pu

Robert Burns
Mohammed Ali
Jackie E. Robinson
John D. Hancock
Thomas N. Jefferson
Thomas Payne
Joan F. Kennedy
Bob Lowe
Lindsey Wagner
Anthoney Perkins
Bette Davis
Lloyd Bridge
Kynan Wynne
Jean Stapleton
John Holmes
Tanya Tucker
Barbara Walters
Mike Brady

Thomas Leak, service station owner
Christopher Bird, avian scientist
William J. Passmore, jockey
Ryan Taylor, tailor
Brig. Gen. James W. Gunn
Lt. Col. Harry R. Bangs

Thanks to everyone who contributed.

From Marty.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

A Taste of the Suite Life

I knew we had good seats for yesterday's game, but I had no idea how good.

Everything's different on the executive levels. It's much quieter, for one thing, and the air is cooler, fresher. No crowds, just small groups of spectators and plenty of friendly, helpful concierges.

The air-conditioned box had a kitchenette, flat-screen displays, and a variety of seating. There was a great spread of finger food on the granite counters. But what blew me away was rolling outside to discover that we were directly above home plate:

We got there a few minutes late, thankfully missing the reading of Lou Gehrig's speech by the loathsome George Allen. The weather was ideal--warm and breezy--and by some miracle, the Nationals actually won, besting the Braves 5-3.

The only downside to the experience was that it probably spoiled me forever. Like an airline upgrade, it's awfully hard to go back.

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Today's Top Story

Sarah Barracuda made her big announcement Friday afternoon on the lawn of her home to an audience that appeared to include only Todd, the kids and the next-door neighbors. Smiling manically, she looked like a parody of the woman who knocked the Republicans dead at their convention. She babbled about her parents’ refrigerator magnet, which apparently had a lot of wise advice. And she recalled her visit with the troops in Kosovo, whose dedication and determination inspired her to ... resign.
From Amy.


How Many 90 Year Olds Could You Take in a Fight?


From Jeff.

Friday, July 03, 2009

One for the Gimper*

Normally I strive to be inappropriate, but tomorrow we'll be celebrating the Fourth in classic tradition: by going to a ballgame.

It's the 70th anniversary of Lou Gehrig's famous farewell speech, and Booz Allen Hamilton, our ALSA chapter's corporate BFF, kindly offered its box for the day. How better to experience the Nationals' new stadium than with primo seats and parking? A win would be icing on the cake, but that's about as likely as me catching a ball.

* I know, that was football. Sue me.

'Did You Hear?'

There is only one thing we know for certain, and that is everything is uncertain. Scientists are absolutely sure only that something dramatic and life-obliterating will sure as hell happen again. This is just the way the planet rolls. It's all a matter of when.
Mark Morford looks to the future.
British cookery writer and television chef Fanny Cradock (1909-1994) and her husband Johnnie inspect some tinned Norwegian pâté served by Berit Anderssen at the First National Delicatessen Exhibition in Park Lane House, London,
14 March 1960. (J. Wilds/Keystone/Getty Images)

From Riley.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Flashback: England, June 2003

Six years ago, we took one of our best vacations. Unless you count a brief Canadian excursion at the end of our Alaska cruise, this was my last trip abroad.

As a rule, I subscribe to the adage about hoping for the best while expecting the worst. Though not the most original or courageous approach, it makes for few disappointments and frequent pleasant surprises.

For some reason, as I researched outings for our week in England, not only did that mindset slip away, I actually caught myself getting excited. Happily, this flagrant optimism went unpunished: The trip was even more fun than I expected, with nary a single real mishap. (Ask Dan about his fall!)

I’d never been to Devon before, but it was just as I’d pictured: a relentlessly hilly green patchwork of forest and open land dotted with sheep, horses, and cows.

After an overnight flight and a four-hour drive from London, Woolley Lodge could not have been more inviting. In the middle of nowhere, the little cottage appeared out of the mist, its garden in full bloom behind a massive wrought-iron fence. Warm light beckoned from a hallway lamp, and the key was under the mat. The place was freshly cleaned, and we were greeted by cut flowers and a tea tray set with biscuits. I thought I knew cozy, but this raised the standard to a completely new level. Quirky but charming, the lodge was a convenient base and a welcome place to come home to at night.

I thought it deliciously apt when we learned that Woolley Lodge is a remnant of a failed dream. The owner of the surrounding estate had grandiose plans to build a suspension bridge over his lake (you’d laugh if you saw it), to be approached by a stately avenue. Unfortunately, he fell in debt, died, and all that’s left of the scheme is an impressive pair of gates and the gatehouse: Woolley Lodge. It was occupied by an eccentric gardener and his Jack Russell terrier until the man died, and in the early 1970s the National Trust began renting it out to tourists. (The Trust has hundreds of unique properties, which are fun to browse through.)

We quickly learned that distances are far greater in reality than they seem on the map. Mostly this is because of the roads. I can only surmise that rural English road planners were paid by the number of hills and twists they included, with double credit for blind curves (triple if the road’s only wide enough for one car). Because this would not be challenging enough, most roads in Devon are hemmed in by steep, high banks. Covered in wildflowers, these are as beautiful as they are deadly. (The sense of confinement made it all the more striking when a break revealed a sudden panorama.) I won’t even address the dreaded “single track,” which requires pulling over whenever two cars meet, or the ubiquitous roundabout.

In the countryside, all driving is done at great speed, the theory apparently being that the less time one spends on the road, the fewer opportunities for an accident. Dan did all the driving, and it’s to his credit that I am here today to write this.

Once we’d adjusted our sense of distance, we fell into a comfortable rhythm of visiting one or two places a day, staying in Devon except for one foray into Cornwall. Most were National Trust-owned houses and gardens. (We’d bought a pass before the trip, and it paid for itself several times over.) All were beautiful, many spectacular, and they ranged from the 17th century to the 20th.

Although I’d done a lot of research beforehand, I was surprised by how much was physically accessible. (Hope for the best but expect the worst!) Each place we toured had ramps, some even an elevator—pardon me, a lift—and almost every garden had a designated route for wheelchairs. British Airways treated me like the queen that I am, whisking me past all sorts of lines. If you want to speed through an airport, get thee a wheelchair—or someone who uses one.

The trip was originally planned for last year, but we waited too long and the airfares shot up. This year things were cheaper—a silver lining on the cloud of global woes. And I’m glad we didn’t wait any longer, because you can do and see a great deal more when you can stand up and climb a few steps than when you can’t.

As refreshing as the sights was the change of mental scenery. I’ve been so disturbed lately by the Bush regime’s actions that it was good to get away, if only for a week. It was novel to watch news that wasn’t mindless cheerleading for the administration. Quite the contrary: They demanded accountability from their leaders, and no one cried treason. Imagine!

No matter how fun the vacation, it’s always nice to come home. In our absence, the Washington summer arrived with a sticky vengeance. The blow was softened, however, with a great diversion: the long-awaited delivery of Ingmar, my new Permobil power wheelchair. This Swedish-made conveyance is state of the art in comfort, flexibility, and performance. It’s even quite stylish.