Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Buzz Ballads!

Saw the commercial for this compilation the other day. Check out the playlist. It should be called Songs So Overplayed That Even the Artists Themselves Hate Them. Or whatever.

And I still want it.


The Lady and I headed to Willow Metropark for some bird watching, and man were there birds. There was also some very lovely wildlife:

Purply stuff

Giant Mushroom

Magic Mulberry Tree

Baby Bunny!

Would you like to hear the story of the magic mulberry tree? Of course you would. As the daughter of a bird nerd, I am a bird nerd. It's inherited or something. The parents discovered the magic tree a while back when picnicing at the park. Birds LOVE the tree, and the day of our visit was no different especially since the tree had fruit.

Within a few minutes, birds started flying in. Robins, cardinals, sparrows, and the like. Then goldfinches, house finches, and bluebirds. A red-bellied woodpecker dropped by next, and then the best visitor of the day: a Baltimore Oriole. I had never seen one before, and to up the ante even more, they were followed by their new babies. They were insanely orange. Just beautiful.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

K-10 in the A2

K-10 had to fly in from London for some training in Ann Arbor, so that's where my ass was this weekend. Oh, and hey -- why is it that when I rent a car, they give me a stupid Dodge Stratus, but when her company gets her a car, she gets an M6? Bitch.

Dinner at Prickly Pear and a drive around campus were definite musts. I love that campus. Every time I go back, I get excited. Granted, the one-way streets are now two-way streets, and there are about twenty more buildings than there were when we were students four years ago, but you understand. College memories are powerful because we were finally on our own. We were living with *gasp!* boys, drinking shitty beer, attempting the crossword puzzle during morning lectures (best way to not fall asleep), and avoiding the huge "M" on the Diag. There were football Saturdays and horrible group meetings, part-time jobs and crazy frat parties. You gain a sense of pride and school spirit that you'd never felt in high school - even if you were head cheerleader or student council president. It was your school, your place, your home.

We headed to Dominick's and Charley's before the night was out, and it sucked to leave. But the weekend rocked. And next time I see K-10, it will be in London. Here's hoping!

Monday, June 26, 2006

Where's the Ark?

Okay, let me take you through the last twenty-four hours or so.

Last night it rained. You know the whole "it's raining cats and dogs" thing? Well, last night, it rained cats, dogs, horses, fish, hamsters, and Loch Ness monsters. Yep, Nessie came swimming by after a few hours of torrential downpour.

The thing is, I love rain. I love rainstorms with the lightning and the scary thunder. I love to lay in bed and listen to the craziness up in the heavens. I love running around outside, getting drenched, and not caring. Love the rain. Last night, though... last night things started leaking. Now, living in a one hundred year-old rowhouse is peachy keen! Until it rains. Roommates and I gathered at the window just staring into the night, watching the low-lying areas of the parking lot become lakes. Quickly.

Even in the mildest of rain storms, a little rain usually sneaks underneath the door -- place is old, people. But the water was leaking from the top of the tiny little window above the door. The window itself wasn't leaking, however - the molding was. It was the strangest thing. Because I'm weird, I snapped a picture. I guess I figured that it might also help to explain to our landlord that molding was leaking and since there really wasn't any other way to describe it:

Yeah, our place is shit.

This morning's commute was as normal as any day's, but I was supposed to meet my office's interns in front of the Castle for a field trip. I bypassed Chinatown and headed to Metro Center, where officials were directing the frazzled masses to shuttle buses since several stations were closed due to flooding. Super! Makes you feel really good about getting on those trains that run on those OH MY GOD DON'T TOUCH THE TRACKS WITH THE MUDEROUS VOLTAGE, DANGER, DANGER, AHHHHHHHHH!

Walked to the Castle, and on the way discovered that the trip was cancelled as the Beltway had mudslides. Mudslides? Where do we live again? I'm so confused.

I waited for any interns to inform them of the situation, and then trudged to work where I sat around for a while with no internet, no programs, and nothing to do, until I got sent home at
2:30 because the museums were flooded. All thanks to our Founding Fathers for building the nation's capital in a swampland.

Oh, and apparently today was considered ideal to deliver the new phonebooks. As I walked home from work this afternoon, each porch on the block was sporting a brand-new, soaking-wet phonebook. Oops!

Twenty-four hours later and it's still raining! But you know what? I still love it. Makes me want to go out and run around. Again :)

Sunday, June 25, 2006


Someone at Metro Airport might have stumbled upon my blog, because after this post a few weeks ago, this is the same sight that greeted me upon my arrival in Detroit this weekend:

No more cracked-out building! Buh bye, Detroit Marriott! It was nice knowing your hollow, empty shell. Thanks for the memories!

Thursday, June 22, 2006


Tuesday, it rained. It rained bucketloads.

For example, here is a lovely picture taken in the
National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden around nooner:

And here are some pictures taken from my office about two hours later:

That white stuff? Hail. Yep.

It looks dark as night, correct? Nope, 3:00 p.m.

About twenty minutes later, the clouds cleared, the sun popped back out, and when I left at 5:30, it was back to hot and humid. Again. I met Merrick at McPherson Square to catch the bus to Old Town so we could enjoy our weekly shopping extravaganza at
Trader Joe's. This bus is pretty awesome, by the way. It hops on 395, exits on Washington Street, and drops us off a few blocks from her house. Much better than walking over a mile from the King Street metro.

Quick story: about a month ago, we were on the bus to her house and the driver was just driving along, minding his own business, and this dumbass pigeon flew directly into the windshield. I saw it coming and covered my eyes before impact, but I certainly heard it. Someone screamed, which I found hilarious. I was close to tears, but Merrick said it just flew away. She was probably lying so I wouldn't cry in front of all of those people. She's a good friend...

Anyway, back to Tuesday. We were motoring down Washington, and the windshield wipers started swishing. At our stop, it started
dumping rain. We jumped inside CVS for a few minutes, but figured that it wasn't worth waiting around for rain to stop. The sky was back to black, and we only had my umbrella, but we sucked it up, crowded underneath the umbrella, and ran back into the rain.

Washington Street was flooded already, and as we crossed, the water was up to my knees (a little lower for normal people, of course). We were cracking up when we realized that we were both wearing white - her white slacks, me a white skirt. The drivers probably got a kick out of us.

But what was the point in being annoyed at the rain? When we were little, rain was the best thing to run around in. So we enjoyed it! And Trader Joe's was fun, too.

Monday, June 19, 2006

DC Improv

Headed to the DC Improv on Sunday night to see Pablo Francisco. I'm told that he has a special on Comedy Central, but I'd never heard of him. Glad I went, though, because he was pretty damn funny, and it was a good way to end the weekend (as sunburned as I was). I love the Improv because it's small and intimate and the comics seem larger than life. Plus, I saw Dane Cook there, long ago. Ah, memories...

The Improv has some strange policies, though. Their seating makes absolutely no sense, but that's the way comedy clubs go, so I'm told. But when you're small and the couple in front of you is large, well... you do the math. The wife turned to her husband after
every joke to make sure he "heard" it. Got a bit obnoxious, really.

Then there was the two item minimum, which includes food and drinks. Who really wants to drink at 10:30 p.m. on a Sunday night? Everyone, apparently! I think that as long as everyone ordered something, the server didn't really care.

It was a fun time.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

The Boating Party

No, not this painting.

An actual boating party.

Chesapeake Bay and a crab trap floaty thingy

It's nice to have friends who buy boats and then want to go to Chesapeake Bay and boat it around. It was a blast, and the only thing that
might have made the day more enjoyable would have been the absence of five foot waves. Poor Amanda wasn't feeling very sea-worthy after a while. But she perked up!

Mike's boat is currently named
Wet Willie. This is lame. Most of the day was spent trying to convince him to rename it Your Mom. Just imagine the possibilities:

I was on
Your Mom all weekend!
Your Mom took me all over the place!
Your Mom made me sick.
Your Mom's a bit rusty.
Your Mom is looking a little messy down below.

And the list goes on and on. I mean, how old are we, twelve? Giggle!

As a huge bird nerd, I noticed some amazing raptors nesting in the buoys al over the Bay. I guessed that they were sea ospreys, but that was only because I couldn't think of any other bird of prey that would be nesting on a buoy in the middle of a huge body of water. Turns out, I was
right, though they're just ospreys, not sea ospreys. They were incredible though - and their babies were adorable! I still can't believe that I saw ospreys so close to the boat!

Osprey nest. Blurry thing = osprey.

And, as all boating parties go, I ended up with a sweet sunburn. Putting on sunblock as the boat is pulling out of the marina = stupid. And yet, I seem to do this at any time sunblock is necessary. Dumbass.

Friday, June 16, 2006

The Omen

For some reason (lack of originality?), Hollywood continues to produce remake after remake of films that don't necessarily need to be remade. Sure, The Thomas Crown Affair was supposedly a good remake, but I wouldn't know: I didn't see it (I hear Rene Russo is ten shades of hot in that movie, though. Gentlemen?). One that severely pissed me off was the remake of Charade, entitled The Truth About Charlie (and apparently several other remakes as well!). Maybe it was good. Again, I wouldn't know. It's just... why would you remake an Audrey Hepburn movie?

But I did see
The Omen. After scaring myself to tears watching the original on AMC one night, I figured that there was no way the remake could improve upon the film, especially after reading that the director changed very little and even brought in the original screenwriter to pen his remake. So yes, I went into the movie with a bit of a bias and fairly low expectations.

You know, though... it wasn't that bad. The horrifying music from the original was missing, but replaced with a pretty scary score. There is no filling Gregory Peck's shoes, but Liev Schreiber did a pretty good job (I do agree with pajiba's reviewer though: he was a bit of a baby). Julia Stiles... well, she's... pretty!

And there were some legitimately jumpy scenes. To spare some details for those who have yet to see either version (and might actually want to), there's a pivotal scene with some scary-ass dogs. Devil's minion attacking killer dogs. I turned to Amanda at the point in the movie where I expected them to be and said, "the dogs are coming soon," and no more than a second later, they were hurled into the scene by what I can only imagine was the scent of a gigantic milkbone in the actor's pocket, and I jumped a foot off of my chair. I KNEW that the damn dogs were going to be attacking, and yet I was fooled. There were a few other similar scenes, where the director used the camera to his advantage and drew in the viewer as close as possible only to catapult him or her a foot into the air. Those were fun scenes!

The people in the theater were hilarious as well. Those sequences were very effective in soliciting screams, and my fellow patrons did not disappoint. I don't think that I've ever been in a theater where the screaming and yelling was that loud and exaggerated, but it was much welcomed comic relief at a few points.

Alternatively, the unintentional comic relief came from the one actor who should have exuded anything but humor: Damien. Poor little child actor. It seemed like he had fewer than five lines in the whole freaking movie, and his main purpose was to look, literally, like the Devil's spawn. He didn't really pull it off - something for which I blame the director. If directors can get golden children
Haley Joel Osment and Dakota Fanning to freak us out (although some would probably argue that they don't need any help in that department), director John Moore should have been able to get Seamus Davey-Fitzpatrick to resemble something other than a child who's trying not to laugh. And losing the battle.

Mia Farrow was incredible as the nanny. Her quiet, understated, very strong performance was the best part of the film.

As I've also read in other reviews, I think that the reason that the original's popularity had a great deal to do with the cultural climate in America at the time. People just aren't as scared these days - we've witnessed some truly horrible things as of late (granted, the country had just gone through Vietnam at the time, but America hadn't been attacked). Horror films keep pushing the envelope, trying to be scarier and more disgusting. I think that movies like The Sixth Sense, for example, are much more effective in achieving fear because they force the viewer to question his or her own mortality. Throw in religion to the mix, and those who believe in a higher power are given even more to contemplate. And fear.

If you've seen the original, skip this version. If not, I would recommend it. But make sure to see the original afterwards.

Thursday, June 15, 2006


I met my awesome old roommate, Jenny, for tapas and sangria at Gua-rapo, a super amazing tapas resto in Courthouse. I heart Gau-rapo, but I always forget about it since I've been living on the Hill. They have great happy hour specials and lovely, lovely sangria roja. It was a good time, but it just reminded me of how much I miss Jenny and her craziness.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Castle Tour

The boss and I took her new intern on a behind-the-scenes tour of the Castle - there are so many neat things hidden in nooks and crannies (including the tomb of the founder himself)!

Sunday, June 11, 2006

No Shirt, No Shoes

So I finally got around to seeing Fight Club. I had been wanting to see it for years, to finally understand the hype, the obsession, the constant quotes, the rules.

It is one fucked up movie.

And yet, I want to watch it again. And I want to read the
book. Funny thing is, I didn't know that the film was even based on a book until I came upon this in the bookstore a few months ago. After seeing the truly terrifying cover and then reading some reviews, it was decided: Chuck Palahniuk is disturbed. Deeply disturbed. (Granted, I have yet to read any of his books, so I should reserve judgment, technically). But this prepared me for my viewing of Fight Club.

As an extremely squeamish person, I was surprised to find myself glued to the screen from beginning to end. Maybe it was because of the interspliced screen shots at the beginning - I didn't want to miss
a thing. Sure, I had to turn away a few times, but the violence didn't really bother me. Saw bothered me - it was gross for the sake of being gross. The blood in Fight Club was like another character. It was necessary and really not all that gratuitous.

I already knew the "twist" - sort of. But I started thinking about it too much, causing my brain to jet off in other directions. I don't think that it ruined the film for me - that really wasn't the point, was it?

My favorite parts:

-Bitch tits.

-Tyler Durden fucked with movie-goers by splicing single screen shots of porn into family movies. The makers of
Fight Club did the same. Tyler fucked with his audience, the filmmakers fucked with theirs. Brilliant.

-The soap. "We were selling rich women their own fat asses back to them."

-Marla Singer's hair. Oh wait. Yeah, I hated that. It was so distracting. Never mind. Helena Bonham Carter, on the other hand, was amazing.

-The final gunshot.

Fight Club
asks a lot of questions and ultimately forces the viewer to consider his own rage, his own problems, his own reality. Are we too materialistic? (Probably.) Is this a kind of Hobbesian threat to return to nature and survival of the fittest, or is it more of an Emersonian idea to return to the reason and faith of nature? I think that it's a bit of both, though who knows how philosophical Palahniuk intended his novel to be.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

One Year, One Week Old

I can't believe that my beautiful niece is one year old! I still can't believe that I have a niece! She's walking and talking and curious - basically, she's perfect:

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Detroit Airport Marriot

This is the sight - directly outside the old terminal at Detroit Metro Airport - that prompted one New Jersey-ish woman to comment to another, "See? You get to Detroit and it looks like a fucking war zone." (Read this outburst with the Jersey accent in mind - and then contemplate the irony of a woman from JERSEY bitching about Detroit.)

I wanted to respond, "Hey lady, this isn't even Detroit! You think this is bad? Drive about twenty miles east!"

But seriously, airport guys? Maybe it's time to TEAR DOWN THE REST OF THE BUILDING. It looks like SHIT. It's the crumbling buildings like these that give Detroit a bad name - and it's not even Detroit! Gah!

Monday, June 05, 2006

Prettiest. Dinner. Ever.

Yeah, I took pictures of my dinner. It was too pretty to fade into obscurity! And when you make something pretty, you should take pictures of it before it's gone!

Lightly grilled sirloin tip on a bed of romaine, pea pods, green onions, and grape tomatoes. With a light drizzle of olive oil and coarse salt and pepper. Lovely!

The guy at Schneider's handed me this wine, and it was perfect (on a side note, I love that place! So much wine, and the employees actually know what they are talking about. And, it's only a few blocks from my house. Yay!).

Yeah, I took a picture of my meal and then posted it here. Wow. What. A. Nerd.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Tents + Rocks = Pain

The first camping trip of the season was a grand success. Well, except for that whole "sleeping on the hardest ground imaginable" thing. I am embarassed to admit that I am finally going to have to purchase some sort of camping mattress on wish to collapse upon, because I woke up in a good amount of pain. See, the ground didn't look that rocky - and that's because it wasn't. It was just one giant murderous mother rock hiding under a mere inch of dirt and grass.

And yet I still love Shenandoah.

We left early Saturday morning with Gerald in the driver's seat. Merrick was a good navigator for her boyfriend:

We camped at Mathews Arm Campground, about twenty miles into the park. About 75% of the sites were available, so we were able to drive around and pick the site we wanted. After we drove around at least five times, we got the site and started unpacking. That's when we discovered that the fire "pit" was a pit of cement due to the leftover ashes mixed with the morning's rain. It was pretty gross, but Gerald got rid of most of it. He wasn't all that happy about it, though:

After pitching the tents and relaxing for about three seconds, we headed another twenty miles into the park to hike a trail to the Whiteoak Canyon Falls, the second highest waterfall in the park.

And here are the obligatory nature shots (I think that the hike to the falls took twice as long as the hike back as I stopped to take pictures of every single ridiculous stream. I realize my insanity now, but at the time, they were so "pretty!")

I think that this is St. John's Wort, but I'm not sure. It could also be a flower called "Sneezeweed," which would be awesome because that's the best name ever.

Good enough for a high school senior picture?

Okay, seriously - this one could be a backdrop in the crazy photographer's studio where everyone in your high school senior class had pretty much the same pictures.

Stepping stones

There were many, many dead hemlocks in the park. In my "Hikes to Waterfalls" book, I learned that these beautiful trees - some more than four hundred years old - were killed by an insect called the Hemlock Wooly Adelgid. Jerks.

Pretty stream, dead hemlock. A common sight on the trail, unfortunately.

And finally, the Whiteoak Canyon Falls. We were all surprised at how high up we were - the entire trail had been slowly sloping downward, and the streams we hiked along were only inches deep.

Beneath my feet? A sheer drop. There were no ledges, no outcrops -- nothing. Totally worth the climb there, though.

Merrick and I, deep in thought.

We didn't notice this until after we were preparing for the hike back. The fact that the park service had to point out the massive waterfall is beyond me, but it provided us with some laughs:

Gerald likes what he sees.

On the drive back to the campground, some deer got a little cheeky.

The fire was super hot. This is before it turned blue.

It was a gorgeous night and a great weekend. I just have to figure out when I can get back.