Monday, July 31, 2006

Grandma's Boy

Oh holy Jesus.

When you have very low expectations for a movie, being disappointed can't happen. I went into Titanic with extremely low expectations only because everyone was gushing about it and I didn't see the point in getting my hopes up only to end up throwing things at the screen. Sure, it was a contrived storyline and sure, there may have been works by Picasso on board and sure, there could be a monstrosity of a blue gem at the bottom of the Atlantic because some ancient woman dropped it there in her bare feet and then died. But it was well-acted and it made ten kajillion dollars, regardless of the fact that history is written by the victors (read: first class passengers. And yes, I know that third class passengers survived, but let's face it, they obviously cannot read or write and they're poor, so their oral histories just aren't as valuable, now are they? Ah, history.) and we'll never really know what happened for sure. I still liked it even though the historian in me was like, "Yeah. Okay. Right." Titanic was historical fiction at best, but it worked.

Grandma's Boy, now. Grandma's Boy is a little film about a pot-smoking video game creator. I understand neither of these subcultures, and I still laughed my ass off. Filled with mostly B-actors, there is really no indication that it's going to be any good. Hell, Doris Roberts is good on Raymond, but who knew that she'd be one of the funnier actors in the film? Not me. There is a recognizable plot, an extremely bizarre villian, and Kevin Nealon as the boss. Great stuff here, great stuff.

The leads are great, but Nick Swardson (equal with Dane in hilarity, though not yet fame. Yet.), was hysterically funny. And if you have friends (as I do) who are obsessed with Guitar Hero and Dance, Dance Revolution, there is a scene that will make you tinkle. All. Over. The. Couch.

This is no Citizen Kane (and that's an understatement if I've ever seen one), but it is worth your time. You might want to make it a Miller Time, too. It can't hurt. Sure didn't hurt while watching Titanic...


After reading Lamb, I wondered if it was just a fluke - could Christopher Moore really be that good of a writer? On the way home from Maine, I picked up a copy of one of his earlier novels, Fluke: Or, I Know Why the Winged Whale Sings. Considering the fact that I had just traveled to Maine for the purpose of seeing whales, it seemed like a good pick.

As I mentioned
quite recently, Moore is an extremely clever writer. I think that part of the reason his books are so successful is that he really takes the time to research his subjects. For Lamb, he studied religious texts that ranged from the bible to the "hidden" gospels. For Fluke, he studied whales - lots of whales.

follows Nathan Quinn and his research team as they study humpback whales in the Pacific, hoping to finally explain the reason behind the humpbacks' songs. Humpbacks are unique in that their tails (flukes) have distinct markings. This makes it easy to track and study them -- relatively speaking, of course. While on the water, Nate captures a fluke on film that clearly reads, "BITE ME," but when he receives the processed film, the frame is mysteriously missing.

The story that follows is one in which the reader is asked to set aside reason and become engrossed in a tale that takes us back to Pangea and suggests an ongoing war between our world and the one below the surface. I'm sure that many researchers today have theories upon theories to explain why the humpback whale sings. Who knows -- Moore could be right!

Is Christopher Moore really that good of a writer? No. He's even better! I've put every one of his books on my Amazon wish list. He's definitely not a fluke. Heh.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Banana Hammock

Happy Hour found us once again at the Banana Cafe, known quite affectionately as the Banana Hammock, or quite simply, The Hammock. The margaritas are strong, the appetizers are free, and the fun company is always worth the trek to Eighth Street.

Merrick and Josh love The Hammock.

I miss my old roommate. She's crazy!

Told you so.

With people out of town, on the Chesapeake, or playing kickball dressed as Wayne's World characters, we were a slightly smaller group than usual. But we made the most of it! See you nerd next time!

Wednesday, July 26, 2006


While in Maine, I finished reading Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal. It's hands-down, one of the best books I've read in months. If you were ever curious about Christ's (here, Joshua) childhood, teenage years, and early adulthood, give this book a shot. Of course, make sure you have handy a huge grain of salt and an extremely open mind before cracking the spine.

Christopher Moore is a very creative, very clever writer. In his postscript, he explains that the gospels cover very little of Joshua's life. Two gospels don't even mention his birth, and only one mentions his preaching at the temple at age thirteen. He thought that he would go about recreating what could have happened - that is, if Joshua had no idea how to be The Savior and his best friend was a smart-ass, sex-craving miscreant.

In the current day, Biff is raised from the dead by an angel and told that Joshua commands Biff's gospel. As a disciple, his version of Joshua's life was never told because of Biff's actions after the Crucifixion. Understandable, as you'll eventually discover. After blessing him with the gift of tongues, the angel takes Biff to a hotel in America and holds him prisoner until the new gospel is finished. Hilarity ensues as the angel (who speaks only Latin) becomes addicted to American soap operas and inadvertently insults the Latino bellhop time and time again.

The bulk of the novel follows Joshua and Biff as they seek out the Three Wise Men - who will be able to help Joshua become The Savior. Each event, each journey, and each lesson helps the reader understand how Joshua becomes the Lamb of God.

At Good Friday Mass each year, the Passion is read aloud, and it never failed to move me to tears. So as I neared the end of the book, knowing what was to happen, I dreaded turning the last few pages. I shouldn't have worried. Moore takes what should be a horribly sad chapter and makes it poignant and beautiful, though slightly dark (as it should be).

In Moore's version, Biff has a mad crush on Mary, Joshua has siblings, the Three Wise Men are both wise and insane, Joshua loved coffee, and Mary Magdalene was known as Maggie. Oh, and we find out what the "H" stands for in Jesus H. Christ.

It is an enjoyable, insightful read and I highly recommend it.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Heather's Quick 'n' Easy Pasta

Notice that I didn't include the words "guilt" or "free," however...

I created this meal when I was living on a grad student's budget. It's fast and comforting - great for those late nights.

1/2 medium onion, sliced into half-moons

a few handfuls sliced mushrooms (baby bellas are great)

1 garlic clove, chopped

grape tomatoes, sliced in half

1/8 cup pine nuts, lightly toasted


olive oil

fresh parsley, chopped (Italian flat leaf is best)

(all portions can be adjusted to your tastes and mouths to feed.)

Toast the pine nuts in a small pan on medium heat. Watch them carefully - they can burn quickly. You'll smell them as soon as they're toasted. Remove from heat immediately and set aside.

Saute onion, garlic, and mushrooms with 3 tablespoons butter/olive oil, or as much as your conscience will allow. (I usually use 1 tablespoon butter and 2 tablespoons olive oil, but that really depends on my mood!) When onions are almost tender, add tomatoes, drop heat to simmer and cover with foil. Let cook for at least ten minutes to let flavors combine

Cook 1/2 to 1 cup (dry) of your favorite small pasta - I like mini farfalle - according to the package directions. Drain well and add to pasta. Add pine nuts last. Stir well to combine, garnish with parsley, and serve.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Rhett's B-Day

Rhett is an old man. And so he had a party. Here are some precious moments:

Mike imitating the stripper from his bachelor party.
Or doing pilates.
Either way...

Amanda is very sparkly.

Tucker and Lauren.

Sometimes Stephanie scares me.
I'd feel bad about posting this, but she's the one who took it!


Drinking games.

I love how I have absolutely no pictures of the birthday boy. Sorry, Rhett! I hope that it was a good one!

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Mainely Maine

I've been back from vaca for a few days, but I've been so busy that I have barely even had time to sleep, let alone post the longest entry ever (though that honor probably goes to Deals - she always has the best posts!). Here we go!

Friday, July 7

We left DC about mid-morning, and the traffic was light and airy. Well, not airy, but not overflowing with cars. So that's a plus. We flew through Maryland and Delaware (most boringest state EVER, by the way), and stopped for lunch at a lovely, wooded rest stop in New Jersey. Um, right:

Because of all of the crap that went down in NJ that week regarding the budget, the rest stop was closed, and had been for a few days. The trash cans were overflowing, the rest rooms were locked, and there was junk everywhere. Yum! Disgusted, we had a snack rather than lunch and took off as fast as possible. Because really, when even scary truck drivers and Harley guys won't use the port-a-potties, you know to avoid them.

We eventually had to explore Jersey somewhere off of the interstate, mainly for a restroom. And we discovered that Jersey roads make absolutely no sense - what with the driving a mile down the road just to turn around to get to something on the other side. Much like the "Michigan Left" but a million times worse. Anyway, we found our salvation in a dirt-ass strip-mall McDonald's:

And damn if people weren't serious about their Jersey hair. Wow.

There were some fun things along the way, including the truck with the gondola strapped to the back:

And the best name for a city on the east coast:


The Lady was none too pleased with my through-the-windshield picture-taking. I guess she had a point, as I was the one driving...

We got stuck in a big fatty traffic jam for over an hour while breezing through New York state. But because of that morning's ingenious purchase of a portable DVD player (love the Target), we were entertained by Rachel, Joey, Monica, Chander, Phoebe, and Ross.

We stayed in Poughkeepsie that night, which was hosting its annual hot air balloon festival or some crap. Explains the gondola, at least.

Saturday, July 8

After a lovely continental breakfast, we were back on track. Man, the east coast sure loves their Dunkin' Donuts, don't they? I mean, I do too (not a fan of the Krispy Kreme, honestly): I got a fab cappuccino blast that morning. LOVED IT.

Saw the best license plate ever:

A Scrabble player's worst nightmare. The plate reads: ZXXQME.

The Lady had her first lobster (of many) of the trip for dinner. I had sirloin tips because lobster isn't good unless it's Bar Harbor lobster.

We stayed in Wiscassett, ME that night, just over the border from New Hampshire. Our inn was so pretty:

Sunday, July 9

We arrived in Bar Harbor, Maine on Sunday afternoon, unpacked the car, and headed down Main Street. We ended up at Stewman's Lobster Pound and Pier for an early dinner. The Lady had lobster (again), this time in roll form. I had a fish sammich and a margarita, of course. YUM.

Then we went to the Bar Harbor Whale Museum (I know, but I can't help it. I love museums!).

FYI, Bar Harbor is just one of several small towns on Mount Desert Island, just off the coast of Maine. Most of the island is designated as Acadia National Park.

Monday, July 10

Today, the laziness really began. The driving finally caught up with me, so after reacquainting ourselves with the town (found the cute internet cafe!) and a bit of shopping, we lounged at the pool and read. We later had dinner at a little place called Carmen Verandah. Ha! We sat on the verandah where we had a fun view of Main Street:

Chicken pesto pasta and sangria. So good:

Tuesday, July 11

Tuesday morning was overcast and foggy. It did not bode well for the whale watch we planned on for that morning. But the watch was on despite the weather, so we were at the pier at 7:45 a.m. and boarded the
AtlantiCat at 8:00.

It was 45 degrees on the Atlantic Ocean, and the sun was nowhere to be found. Needless to say, I was a Donut-sicle:

After two hours of searching, we saw one whale, a finback. It was so foggy (about ten yard visibility), that we were lucky to see him at all. Now, a finback whale is nothing to scoff at - it's the second largest creature on the earth, behind the blue whale. The whale watch company only refunds money if no whales are spotted, but they were super awesome and gave everyone vouchers to come again. We planned on going later in the week.

Between those two masts? Yeah, there's an island there. Really.

Even though it was cold on the water, it certainly wasn't cold in town. We got back to the hotel, peeled off the sweatshirts, and headed to Acadia for some hiking. We explored Cadillac Mountain, the highest peak on the eastern seaboard. You can see more of how ridiculously foggy it was that day:

That night, we had an amazing dinner at Guinness and Porcini's Restaurant. It was Italian, abut like nothing I had ever had. It was a nice escape from fish and lobster. I had a great cocktail with vodka, strawberries, and basil. Sounds strange, doesn't it? So good...

Wednesday, July 12

On Wednesday, we drove to the maine-land (any shop or restaurant or business with the word "main" in the title was switched to "maine." Clever.) of Maine and visited Ellsworth - a cute little town with small shops and restaurants. After lunch at a Bistro, and about an hour in a used book store (I am so easily amused), we headed back to Bar Harbor. Once on Mt. Desert Island, I spotted The Log Cabin Restaurant. Now, they just had to have homemade blueberry pie.

They did.

Saw some fun street signs on the way back to town:

We weren't ready to go back to the hotel, so we headed back to Acadia and sat on Sand Beach to read. The Crazy Lady went into the 60 degree water. I read.

Bird's-eye view of Sand Beach

Thursday, July 13

We were scheduled to leave this morning, but it since rain was in the forecast, we decided to wait it out and try whale watching on Friday morning. We hiked at several places in the Park, went to lunch in Southwest Harbor, and started to head back to Bar Harbor. We stopped a few times along the shore:

We soon spotted a sign for Echo Lake, a fairly secluded part of Acadia. It was a sparkling freshwater lake with a small public beach and very few people.

I finally had lobster for dinner, in the form of lobster linguini. And it was fabulous. The Lady had a 1 1/4 lb. lobster. It was only slightly smaller than this lobster:

Friday, July 14

Ah, Friday. Whales!

We checked out of the hotel early and headed down to the waterfront (it was so awesome having a hotel on Main Street and being able to walk to everything). The sun stayed out all morning and though I shivered as the boat headed from the protected Frenchman's Bay into the open waters of the Atlantic, once we reached the whale's feeding grounds, it was sunny and pretty and warm.

Not ten minutes into our wait, a
humpback whale surfaced. Amazing. Soon, it was joined by another humpback and they hung out, side by side. Later,
another humpback. Lastly, a right whale surfaced a little further out from the boat. Right whales are so named, we learned, because they were the "right" whale to kill. They literally float in the water and let whalers harpoon them. So they're slightly endangered, to say the least.

Now, my camera's good, but not great. The whales didn't do anything crazy like breech, so the shots I was able to capture are more of them surfacing than anything else. They're not that spectacular, but they do show how damn close these things were to the catamaran. They're all humpbacks, as the right whale was too far to get a good shot:

We returned to Frenchman's Bay and Bar Harbor, and didn't want to get off of the boat! Here's a pretty sailboat:

We disembarked from the AtlantiCat and headed to the car and out of Bar Harbor. It was sad. After being there a week, it was like we owned the town, like we were locals.

The view up Main Street from the pier.

We drove for hours and eventually stopped in Waterbury, Connecticut. As we passed through Hartford, I noticed a Prius behind me and I definitely checked to make sure it wasn't Rory Gilmore. I am such a nerd.

Saturday, July 15

We left Waterbury at 8 a.m. and arrived in DC in the early afternoon. It was strange to be back - a whole new lifestyle. And heat. There's quite a difference to being in a town on the Atlantic Ocean and a town in a swamp. We ordered Thai and watched a movie. It was ridiculous. The Lady left Sunday morning, and it was sad. I headed to Eastern Market and cheered up a little. Going back to work on Monday was hard, but not too bad. I can't wait for my next vacation: the Outer Banks of North Carolina. August 8th is too far away!

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Project Awesome!

Project Runway is back for a third season, and it's as exciting as ever! The designers seem to be getting better and better -- and crazier and crazier (this Vincent guy? Holy hell). AND, there are at least two straight men. I don't know how that actually happened, but go figure!

And there is massive controversy this season: someone is asked to leave the show, but at what point?

Speculation to the bad boy's (or girl's) identity can be found here.

A fabulous interview with Tim Gunn can be found here. It's long, but totally worth it, as he spills tons about the show, past contestants, and the future.

New ep tonight - Make it work!

Monday, July 10, 2006

Internets Cafe

I am sitting at the cutest internet cafe here in Bar Harbor. I haven't spent much time here though, what with the beach and bars so close by! If I had been thinking, I would have packed my camera stuff so that I could download pictures. But apparently I forgot that along with a ton of clothing. Apparently, I also thought that I could wear the same 2 tank tops for a week. Stupid! But that's what stores are for.

Some guy is currently arguing with the owner about the price of tea. He doesn't think that he should have to pay for two cups of tea as he's already paid for one. I know. It's about as ridiculous as it sounds, especially since said fight has been going on for about five minutes.

Okay, time for dinner! Honestly, that's pretty much all we've been doing here.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Bar Harbor

I'm leaving for Bar Harbor, Maine in just a few minutes. There are many things on the agenda, from hiking in Acadia National Park to whale watching on the Atlantic. There will be much eating of lobster. We are also going to camp in the White Mountains of Vermont on the way back to DC.

I hope to see lots of sea birds like

Anyway, I won't be updating regularly, but there will be many pictures and hopefully stories upon my return!

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Monday, July 03, 2006


This weekend, it was back to Shenandoah for this Donut. As the heat intensified and the tourists descended, it was a perfect time to get away from the city.

Ah, mountainous.

A stop in Front Royal, VA reminded us that there are many places to be. But none as good as there.

Our site was the BEST in the park. No, seriously - A48 is the place to be. It's where this bird nerd spotted a Rufous-sided Towhee. And there was lush grass. Well, it looks like there is lush grass - it was rocky and a little spotty in places. But that's what the air mattress was for!

Yellowy prettiness.

Rushing water.

Big fatty bumblebee.

We decided on a moderately difficult trail that took us by lots of waterfalls and little streams. The hike back was almost entirely uphill and full of roots:

Yep, that's the trail.

Looks man-made, doesn't it?

This guy almost met an untimely end. Get off the trail!

And somehow, we ended up at a waterfall that we hiked to last year! Instead of the 2.6 mile round-trip hike we intended, we probably hiked at least four miles.

After heading to the camp store to get supplies for dinner, we spotted this little guy. Cute!

He was delicious.

We stayed up pretty late - the whole campground went to sleep by ten and the only light came from our fire. The stars were just amazing. We awoke to a silenced fire pit:

It's always hard to leave, but it's good knowing how easy it is to get back. I can't wait!