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Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Bivalve? No, bye bye.

I woke this morning and felt a little sting on one side of my mouth. As I'd suspected, last night at Daddy-O's birthday dinner in Annapolis (a lovely gathering of the Significant Other, his parents visiting from Texas, and my parents) I'd gotten a little slice on my lip from the edge of an oyster shell. "Huh," I thought to myself. "I guess I could blog about that today."

And that friends, is when I realized it's time to take an intermission.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Oh, The Onion and The Politico Are Coming to the D.C. Media Scene? Yawn...Because So is JESUS!

I'm thinking there are a number of possibilities to explain this:

* Gavin and Dufour have lost perspective on the work they're doing over there.
* Some papers put your George Wills or your Richard Cohens on their editorial page to attract conservative readers. The Examiner says "Nertz to that," and throws the Prince of Peace on the front page. (Incidentally, this still makes them less annoying than the Washington Times.)
* New circulation strategy: You weren't planning on picking up our paper, huh? Well enjoy burning in hell.
* In an attempt to top WaPo scribe Laura Sessions Stepp's wingman story, The Examiner lands exclusive with The Original Wingman, Buddy Christ
* New motto: Jesus Saves...50 cents by reading The Examiner!

Friday, January 19, 2007

A Moment of Politics If I May

I find it incredibly snicker-inducing* that, following Condoleezza Rice's criticism of his government before Congress, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki retorted with the following: "Such statements give moral boosts to the terrorists."
So you're saying criticism of your government helps the enemy, eh?

Ms. Rice, that medicine must taste terribly familiar.

*Because if you can't snicker at international armageddon, what can you snicker at?

Photo courtesy of Princess Sparkle Pony, my go-to repository for goofy Condi photos.

Things That Are Awesome--The Travel Edition

In no particular order:
1. When a two-hour layover at the Charlotte-Douglas airport becomes a 5-hour-and-counting layover.
2. Being a vegetarian and having a choice of two dining establishments for an overdue lunch: Chili's and something called The Tacqueria.
3. The smell of the food coming out of Chili's and The Tacqueria.
4. The decision to check my small suitcase at National, just so I would only have to deal with my laptop while in transit. It wouldn't have been too much trouble, but I figured, "Why bother toting it around in two airports and two planes all afternoon?" So it seems like this flight will likely be canceled and I'm going to be spending the night at a hotel without my suitcase. Yeah, that decision was awesome.
5. The girl across from me on the cell phone describing in detail why she thinks Terry Schiavo was "murdered" because she was clearly coming around when they disconnected her from her feeding tube.
6. The girl across from me on the cell phone ending that conversation to describe how it was totally unfair that she didn't get a job at Sally's Beauty Supply because she wasn't peppy enough.
7. Just in general, the girl across from me on her cell phone. She's awesome.
8. Businessmen who know that yelling at the gate agent is the fastest way to get the plane to come.
9. Realizing that I'm going to have to eat dinner here, too, and that my two choices are Chili's and The Tacqueria.

PS-The first commenter who says, "But the Charlotte airport has those neat rocking chairs!"? Yeah, they're awesome.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

URGENT: No Self-Spending Plan Faces First Significant Test!

In my much-publicized effort to not spend money on myself this year I'd canceled the catalogues and unsubscribed from all of the retail email advertising that crams my inbox. Even while in stores with others I've been the picture of restraint thus far. But an email snuck through today. My Achilles' HighHeel: Sitting Pretty in Annapolis. Starting tomorrow they're marking everything in the store down to under $100 for a final winter clearance. Before I even realized what I was doing I was on the phone with the boutique's owner this morning. "Do you still have those midnight blue Elie Tahari corduroy pants?" I asked, twirling the phone cord absent-mindedly, trying to sort out quickly in my head if I wanted the answer to be yes or no. I'd tried the pants on in a mid-December visit to the store and they were amazing (perfect for the next four months), but I had already been teetering close to a total bill best described somewhere between "ouch" and "booooinnnggg." The owner came back to the phone. "Just in a size 8," she said. WHY DO YOU TEMPT ME OH LORD?! Oh, and tomorrow these very-much-in-my-size pants, originally $200, are getting marked down to $50. "Well, I'll be in Houston tomorrow morning," I said, less to her and more to myself as a way of reminding myself I couldn't get them anyway. "You can just call in with a credit card at 10 a.m.," she offered helpfully.

Is this what quitting smoking feels like?

They're Going to Make Me Turn in My Film Snob Card Over This One

But I don't care. I'm speaking to truth to power:

"One of the great end-of-childhood elegies."

"It's pitch perfect, impeccably conceived...a masterpiece." Miami Herald

"Eh, not so much." Brunch Bird

Panting critics have been thumbing through their dictionaries to look up the spelling of supercalifragilisticexpialidoceous for this movie. Yet I was left with only one thought as I shuffled out of the Landmark last weekend: For a movie being hailed as the ne plus ultra of cinematic creativity, its gratuitous gore represents a complete failure of innovative filmmaking. It's like a gross, cranky Chocolat. Given critics' infatuation with the flimsy fairytale and the veritable stampede of film festivals to bestow top honors on it, I can only assume that we're going to see one heck of a Cannes and Oscar sweep next year by Saw IV. I don't mind violence in movies. I do mind pointless violence being flame broiled, wrapped up and put on the tray marked "groundbreaking" just because it's interspersed with scenes of a talking faun. Here's a tip: if you're reheating The Cell's themes and imagery, you're in trouble.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Hello M'Lady, Those Certainly Aren't the Hands of a Baby Seal Clubber

After exiting at my Metro stop last night some guy immediately sidled up to me and decided, unsolicited, to escort me part of the way up the block. His clipboard said Greenpeace; his look said slimeball. Now, I've grown accustomed to dodging the "Gotaminutefortheenvironment?" hippies. They're harmless. You just point over their shoulders and yell "Hey, is that Trey?!" and they scatter. But this guy was even better. And by that I mean worse. Much, much worse. As I was alighting from the escalator, I pulled on my fuzzy green wool gloves. He actually said the following after prefacing it with a creepy "heh, heh": "Allll riiiight, green gloves. You know what Greenpeace is all about dontcha? Heh heh." Ugh. I mean really? Is that all it takes to be simpatico with your organization, dude? Because following that logic, Kermit the Frog should be out on an inflatable dinghy blowing up Arctic oil wells. The guy would have been so disillusioned if he knew I was wearing my genuine, infant polar bear-fur unmentionables.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Princess Tulip on the Washington Merry-Go-Round

I spent part of my day off Monday peering into the tiny works of assemblage that comprise the Joseph Cornell show currently running at the Smithsonian Museum of American Art. Lest you think that the robin's egg- and silver thimble-adorned tableaus in Anthropologie were their brainchild, a trip through this exhibit reminds you that Cornell did it eight decades earlier, did it better, and did it for a more complex purpose than selling $200 crocheted capelets.

Included in the exhibit are several pages from Harper's Bazaar, Town & Country, and the like, which contracted with Cornell in the late 1930s and 1940s to illustrate features. One jumped out at me, from the May 1941 Town & Country. Not because of the strength of his artwork, but because of the written content. A bit of fictional fluff titled "Princess Tulip on the Washington Merry-Go-Round" the piece opens with Princess Tulip opining about the District: "Until this year I always gave Washington the slip in my travels because of the ancient taboo that it is a city no one ever visits voluntarily; you are either sent, or sent for, or you have won a national essay contest."

Glad to see later in the day that Princess Tulip is still getting work. (Via DCist.)

This Came On and I was Suddenly Goosebumps McGee

Try to tear your eyes away from the screen while it's playing.

Monday, January 15, 2007

David Lynch Special Performance for the Derek Zoolander School for Kids Who Can't Read Good

This is a ticket to see reclusive director David Lynch speak about his films and his fantastic new book Catching the Big Fish.
This is a ticket to see him give this speech at the Round House Theater this past Saturday night at 6 p.m.

Unfortunately, we were running about 10 minutes late so I was somewhat breathless from the dash from the Silver Spring Metro when we entered the lobby. It was empty. Everyone inside already apparently. Drat. Going to have to beg a little to let the two women at the box office let us in late.

Out of Breath Me: "Can we still get in?"
Box Office Lady: "To what?"
Out of Breath, Confused Me: "Uh, to the David Lynch talk."
Box Office Lady: "It's in Bethesda."

This is a ticket to see reclusive director David Lynch speak about his films and his fantastic new book Catching the Big Fish.
This is a ticket to see him give this speech at the Round House Theater this past Saturday night at 6 p.m.
At the Bethesda Round House Theater.
Not the Silver Spring Round House Theater.

Friday, January 12, 2007

"What was done to me was monstrous." "And they created a monster."

Is that a line from one of the worst movies of 2006, or a telling analysis of what happened to me when sitting through the crudfest that is the list of movies below? Indeed, I'm rarely crankier than when walking out of a movie feeling like I've just gone 10 rounds with idiocy, boredom, or unnecessary excess. In most of these movies the dialogue reeked, the acting was overwrought, or the plot was just zzzzzz... Earlier this week, we debated the Oscar-worthy performances that likely won't get nominated. Today, the films that should get nothing more than a stern wag of the finger from the Academy: the worst films of 2006. Now, clearly, if stuck on a desert island I'd rather watch any of them than say, Aquamarine or You, Me & Dupree, but these were movies that I had high hopes for and left feeling that the $48.93 pricetag on my ticket stung even more than usual. So perhaps the list should officially be called,

The Most Disappointing Films of 2006:

V for Vendetta
Art School Confidential
Hard Candy
Who Killed the Electric Car?
Match Point

Yesterday I referenced one of these likely getting an Oscar nod. I'd be willing to bet that Jennifer Hudson will get nominated for her role in Dreamgirls. It's a bum nomination though. She's a tremendous singer and that shows in the movie. But great singers deserve Grammys, not Oscars. This is not to say that I don't think any performers in musicals are ever worthy of Oscars, but you can't convince me that Hudson's overall performance was one of the best five of the year. Incidentally, very few lead actresses in musicals have ever won Oscars, even when their films have captured the top prize, so it's a pretty exclusive sorority to begin with: Liza Minnelli in Cabaret, Barbra Streisand in Funny Girl, and Julie Andrews in Mary Poppins. (Winners Reese Witherspoon and Sissy Spacek did heavy lifting when it came to singing in Walk the Line and Coal Miner's Daughter, respectively, but their movies weren't musicals.)

Congratulations to all the not-going-to-win winners announced throughout the week! Actual Oscar nominations come out on Jan. 23. Prove me wrong, Academy. Prove me wrong.

New Friday Feature Unveiled Later Today

I think I've hit the wall on explaining every Friday why the terrorists hate us. If you don't know by now allow me to boil 2000+ years of international strife thusly: when your company sells iPod costumes for $39.95, the terrorists hate us. Feel free to keep sending in your reader submissions for this feature though, because I reserve the right to resurrect it at a moment's notice.

Now, I'm not in any hurry to have to do a lot of work around the blog on Fridays, so I'm replacing it with a new feature. It will be short, sweet and chock full o' potential trademark violations--hopefully just the right pupu platter to kick your weekend off right. I'll give you a hint: "I am fast. To give you a reference point I am somewhere between a snake and a mongoose...and a panther."

Thursday, January 11, 2007

"Tristram Shandy was actually No. 8 in the top 100 books of all time." "Uh, that was a chronological list."

For the last two days I've hit the ladies and gents who delivered Oscar-worthy performances in 2006 but who will be watching the awards like the rest of us: at home, in our sweatpants, up to our necks in righteous indignation at the travesty against filmmaking playing out on the stage. (I'm just assuming that everyone gets as much in a froth about these things as I. I mean, Crash? Come'on! Denzel Washington in Training Day?! Really?!) Today we've got:

The Best Movies of 2006 That Won't Get Nominated:
Thank You for Smoking
Dave Chappelle's Block Party
Friends With Money
The Proposition
Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story
A Prairie Home Companion

I'm not actually picking a winner out of this category today because the film that I think truly is the best movie of 2006--Children of Men--should actually get nominated. And tomorrow: the Most Disappointing Films of 2006. And I can goshdarnguarantee you that at least one of them will get an Oscar nod...sigh...

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

"If we'd wanted us some wussies we would have named 'em Dr. Quinn and Medicine Woman!"

Yesterday we covered the men (although thanks to Blogger nobody could get to arguing about it until about 6 p.m.) On today's list we have:

Best Female Performances That Won't Get Nominated for an Oscar:

Rinko Kikuchi, Babel
Toni Collette, Little Miss Sunshine*
Jennifer Anniston, Friends With Money
Leslie Bibb, Talladega Nights
Lily Tomlin and Meryl Streep, A Prairie Home Companion (One or both of them might actually get a nomination but to demonstrate an understanding of what these two women did with their parts in this movie, and how well they did it, the Academy needs to put them on the same nomination. They won't do it, though because they're the same people who said Crash was the best movie of 2006.)

*Winner, as picked by me.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

"That's the beauty of argument. If you argue correctly, you're never wrong."

*UPDATE: As of 6:30 p.m., comments appear to be working again. no longer wants to hear not a word of what you have to say.*

It's the time of year when everyone and their Aunt Hildy regails you with their Oscar nomination predictions, in advance of the actual announcement later this month. Oh, you think Forest Whitaker might get a nod for The Last King of Scotland or Helen Mirren for The Queen? We'll you're a genius Aunt Hildy. News flash, spoiler alert: They will. And they deserve them. But what about the performers who turned out to be revelations in their roles, large and small, and they closest they'll come to an Oscar is if they trip over their kid's Oscar the Grouch toy on the way to noodle the nanny. All week long I'll be throwing my alternative nominations against the wall to see what sticks. And by that I mean, to see what generates the most emails and comments that begin with, "Dear Brunch Bird, You dear, are an idiot." First up, the chaps.

Best Male Performances That Won't Get Nominated:

Danny Houston, Children of Men
Barry Pepper, The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada
Steve Coogan, Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story
Sacha Baren Cohen, Borat
Guy Pearce, The Proposition
Aaron Eckhart, Thank You for Smoking*
*Winner, according to me.

Watch for the Ladies Who Won't Get Nominated tomorrow, Best Movies That Won't Get Nominated on Thursday, and Most Disappointing Movies of 2006 on Friday.

I Spent the Weekend Breaking Up

I managed not to cry once, although I came close several times. It was a long and complex process but it was for the best. As of today, in furtherance of my 2007 Spending Experiment, I no longer have a relationship with the following catalogues:
J. Crew
West Elm
Williams-Sonoma Home
F.A.O. Schwartz
Smith & Hawken
Crate & Barrel
Pottery Barn
Restoration Hardware

The last one was the hardest. Torture. That's why I saved it for last. We've had so many good times together, Restoration Hardware and I. I'm sitting on one of them right now. But I knew I had to make a clean break. So that's all of them. As with most messy break-ups, they spent all day Saturday and Sunday emailing asking me to come back. Then, resigned but pissy, they said that it might take at least 90 days to fully break contact. Frankly, given the years we've been together I think it's going to take them longer than that to get over me.

Friday, January 05, 2007

I Certainly Hope They Make a Patch, Gum, or Inhaler for This

A friend told me recently that her sister decided last New Year's to not buy herself anything other than necessities for the duration of 2006. I snorted. Inconceivable. No clothes? No CDs? No DVDs? No doodads for the house? No baubles for the wrist? No fresh flowers? "I wouldn't last two days on that kind of a venture," I thought before clicking "confirm order now," on a pair of new ski pants. But as the days have passed since she mentioned it, I haven't been able to shake the idea. Could I do without for a year, just to see if I could do it?

Last night I decided to parse all of my checking account statements from 2006. An informal audit of my spending as it were. I didn't pay attention to any purchases for bills, groceries, drugstore trips, travel, or spending that I knew was on gifts for others. I was just tallying the Banana Republic stops, the Garden District visits, the Cafe Deluxe noshes and the like. The results were horrifying:

More than $12,000 in one year on non-essentials. And that's just based on identifiable purchases; it doesn't even include cash that I might have used after making an ATM withdrawal. Now, I'm less concerned with the second column. Really I just tabulated that to see what it would come to. Dining out is both necessary (a girl's got to eat) and social. Heck, nearly one-twelfth of that particular bill came from one night at The Caucus Room when I took my Significant Other out to celebrate him landing his job after moving to D.C.

It's that first column--we'll call it the Needless Budget-Clusterflubbing Fluff Column--that has me questioning my sanity. At first, reading back through the bank statements was like a pleasant skip down Memory Lane. The pink, ribbed sweater that made my skin glow here. The new toile comforter for the guest room there. But then I hit months like April, where a $550 trip to the mercilessly enticing Sitting Pretty boutique in Annapolis helped push the spending tally into four digits and I started to feel guilty. By the time I gasped and sputtered into the December bank statement, a year's worth of buyer's remorse had taken up residence in the pit of my stomach.

So that's it. I'm holding my nose and taking the plunge. I'm seeing how long I can last without buying anything for myself that isn't essential.

*Now if someone would be a lamb and send me a burned copy of The Crane Wife, that would be swell because I'd planned on buying it and I'd hate to welch already.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

How Could They Deny the 2006 Person of the Year's Right to Know?

Much has been written in recent days about whether the video of Saddam Hussein's hanging should have been made, released, and viewed by the general public. Some call it disgusting and voyeuristic. They stand in contrast to a more thoughtful and deliberate group--the millions of people who downloaded the hanging in its entirety, not just the initial TV footage of him being fitted with the noose and mocked by his executioners. In news articles, television man-on-the-street interviews, online forums and blogs these thinkers are rightly advancing the viewpoint that is always so much at the heart of the American peoples' daily lives: a thirst for comprehensive understanding of international events.

On YouTube's first page of "Saddam Hussein hanging " offerings alone there have been roughly 1.7 million downloads. (Staggering evidence of engagement that will surely call to mind the similarly staggering voter turnout in the last election when a full 39 percent of eligible voters thronged to the polls to make their voices heard.) To paraphrase these advocates who argue their need to view the hanging video, as well as the ones of Daniel Pearl and Nicholas Berg being beheaded: Without viewing these videos, one cannot truly comprehend the horrors of terrorism, war, and the conditions and politics that give rise to these monsters. In short, without the video evidence of major events, how do we really Know?

Exactly. This week, authorities gave Crocodile Hunter Steve Irwin's wife the footage of Irwin being fatally stabbed by a stingray, allowing her to destroy it and thus prevent its public release. Clearly, this cripples my development as an enlightened and engaged citizen of the natural world. Without the footage, how will I come to fully understand the circumstances of Irwin's death? Newspapers can tell me that as Irwin swam over the ray its tail whipped into his chest, a poisonous barb ripping into his heart, but do I really grasp what that means if I don't watch it happen on my computer at lunchtime while I'm shoving in biggie fries? In a New York Times article yesterday, Irwin's friend John Stainton says "It's just a horrible piece of film tape." That should be "was," Mr. Stainton. Was. It's gone. And now I and millions of Internet users hoping to reach a more complete understanding of what it means to be stabbed in the heart with a stingray barb will never Know.

Overheard in Georgetown

As I was walking up Wisconsin trying to shop this weekend it was quite crowded, so I had to squeeze right past two girls my age and overheard the following exchange.
First: "One of my students came by to see me the other day."
Second: "At a strip club?"

I told you Georgetown was getting tacky.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

New Year's Resolutions Are Pointless

Unless you have suitable inspiration. And really the only suitable inspiration in this country is celebrities. So the following will inform my resolutions for 2007:

"I be up in the gym, just workin' on my fitness."
Yes Fergie, I could stand to lose 10 pounds and tone up. With the holidays over, my four main food groups--candy, candy corn, candy canes, and syrup--will be shelved indefinitely.

"When the last time you heard it like this
Smoke somethin', drink somethin', get ripped." Good point, Clipse. More live shows this year. No excuse for sitting home. I was lazy on this point last year.

"I would be happy without money. If you're in love you can be happy with nothing. If I wasn't in love then maybe I'd be sad." Paris is right. I should be socking more money away in savings.

Sound advice from our nation's sagest.