Friday, May 30, 2008

Olsen Empire

This just in: in addition to owning the rights to "How to Go From Adorable to (pseudo?) Heroin Chic," Mary-Kate and Ashley have a rug collection on sale at Maybe next there will be branded vacuums to clean said rugs...or perhaps a line of light fixtures?

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Quagga, quagmire

This NYT endangered/extinct species piece makes me a) want to play scrabble b) read some E. O. Wilson. And while I'm at it I'll go watch some more Jeopardy! and maybe invest in a pocket protector. (For real though, the lady who has been kicking ass on Jeopardy! is kind of great but really weird--she collects armadillo-related doodads and toys shaped like their ancestors. Also, my pockets are safe.)

Speaking of environmental stuff, one of our neighbors stole our recycling bin again. The replacement will come in two weeks, and in the interim the official response is to trash my juice cartons (OK, wine bottles), newspapers, etc. Not exactly surprising, it's just that the trash situation outside my back fence is already dire. I'll spare you the rodent details.

Friday, May 23, 2008


Passed along by Krista:

Below is a list of 106 books most often marked as “unread” by LibraryThing users. They sit on their shelf, perhaps to make their owner feel smart or well-rounded.

The meme comes with these instructions: Bold the ones you’ve read, italicize the ones you started but didn’t finish, and underline the ones you read for school.

My main comment, besides that I have been reminded once more of how much I have left to read and that I apparently have a shorter attention span than I thought, is that this list doesn't include the likes of The Great Gatsby but there are TWO Ayn Rand titles. Krista and I also discussed that there should be a "saw the movie" category."

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell
Anna Karenina
Crime and Punishment
One Hundred Years of Solitude
Wuthering Heights
The Silmarillion
Life of Pi : a novel
The Name of the Rose
Don Quixote
Moby Dick
Madame Bovary
The Odyssey
Pride and Prejudice
Jane Eyre
The Tale of Two Cities
The Brothers Karamazov
Guns, Germs, and Steel: the fates of human societies
War and Peace
Vanity Fair
The Time Traveler’s Wife
The Iliad
The Blind Assassin
The Kite Runner
Mrs. Dalloway
Great Expectations
American Gods
A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius
Atlas Shrugged (gag)
Reading Lolita in Tehran : a memoir in books
Memoirs of a Geisha
Wicked : the life and times of the wicked witch of the West
The Canterbury Tales
The Historian : a novel
A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
Love in the Time of Cholera
Brave New World
The Fountainhead (gag)
Foucault’s Pendulum
The Count of Monte Cristo
A Clockwork Orange
Anansi Boys
The Once and Future King
The Grapes of Wrath
The Poisonwood Bible : a novel
Angels & Demons
The Inferno (and Purgatory and Paradise)
The Satanic Verses
Sense and Sensibility
The Picture of Dorian Gray
Mansfield Park
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
To the Lighthouse
Tess of the D’Urbervilles
Oliver Twist
Gulliver’s Travels
Les Misérables
The Corrections
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
The Prince
The Sound and the Fury
Angela’s Ashes : a memoir
The God of Small Things
A People’s History of the United States : 1492-present
A Confederacy of Dunces
A Short History of Nearly Everything
The Unbearable Lightness of Being

The Scarlet Letter
Eats, Shoots & Leaves
The Mists of Avalon
Oryx and Crake : a novel
Collapse : how societies choose to fail or succeed
Cloud Atlas
The Confusion
Northanger Abbey
The Catcher in the Rye
On the Road
The Hunchback of Notre Dame
Freakonomics : a rogue economist explores the hidden side of everything
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance : an inquiry into values
The Aeneid
Watership Down
Gravity’s Rainbow
The Hobbit (and the trilogy!)
In Cold Blood
White Teeth (but I have read On Beauty!)
Treasure Island
David Copperfield
The Three Musketeers

Initial it

For a brief period, I had a green backpack that featured my initials in white machine embroidery. I was one of those kids. The point of admitting to the monogram isn't to call out my nerdiness, which I think is fairly self-evident, but to talk about my initials themselves and their potential hazard.

My initials are KKR. When I had that backpack, a few people liked to point out if you covered up the top of the R with Sharpie, my bag would make me seem like an awful, racist person. This was generally followed by comments that I could never marry someone with a last name that began with K; my mom consoled me by saying I could take R as my middle initial. I've never even dated a Klein or Knauss, but the thought of marriage honestly comes up (in the vaguest terms possible!) whenever I see a K last name.

Like today, walking to work, I saw a nametag stuck to the sidewalk near Dupont Circle. If I remember correctly, dude's name was Drew Kleibrink. Thanks to the powers of Google, I concluded that he wouldn't have been a candidate anyway. (To be fair, belly and age aside, he has donated thousands of dollars to Obama and seems friendly.)

Then, after reading a Post article, I realized that its byline was shared by someone named Kimberly Kindy. Relevant disclosure: she and I have the same first name. This made me 1) wonder what her middle name was 2) if she was married 3) if she was as bubbly as her name.

My consolation? My brother's initials are MMR, which, I have noted since I was little and had to get shots, is the name of the vaccination against measles, mumps, and rubella.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Hideous footwear

Worst shoes ever?


I don't have much say other than I have a particularly strong desire to have a pet. In addition to missing Prufrock, there is yesterday's painfully cute hedgehog, talk of a puppeh party this weekend, lunch discussions about very old pets (mine in PA is 20), and kittens like this one. Where is my cute and/or cuddly sidekick?

Tuesday, May 20, 2008


LOLruses: Lovable lumps

The NYT article about walruses is ripe with potential LOL cheezburger/bukkit jokes, especially considering that the cited expert exclaims in the lede, “They’re pussycats!” The NYT of course, does not go there.

Admittedly, I was pulled in because the photo caption begins with "lovable lumps"--"lump" being a nickname that has stuck with me and my sleepy ways since my sophomore year of college. Many others might find being called "lump-o" wildly unflattering, but my heart warms at statements such as "walruses remain perversely, lumpishly obscure."

Walruses, as it turns out, actually sound pretty fun, and the beginning the article itself (three pages! the Julia Allison treatment!) is pleasantly silly.

For example:

1. "I watched Sivuqaq, a 2,200-pound adult male, roll toward me like a gelatinous, mustachioed boulder..."

2."'Just push back on the snout with the palm of your hand and blow in its face,' Dr. Schusterman instructed. 'A walrus really likes to be blown in the face.'"

3. "Then I blew in his face, and he half-closed his eyes, and I huffed and puffed harder and he leaned into my breath, all the while bleating and grunting and snorting for more."

Friday, May 16, 2008

"And what about Mr. Lumpy Flounder himself?"

Besides the fact that I can't help but extol Wii's virtues, I also enjoyed the NYT article about Wii Fit for this quote:

"The closest I get to serious exercise is flopping around at concerts like a lumpy, overeducated flounder."

The article does neglect how much of a workout games like boxing already are (although the video feature reveals that Wii Fit has a boxing component). I also don't think it mentions a price. Finally, I know that the physical rehab center where sister-in-law works uses Wii, a detail the likes of which could have added something.

The video is pretty fun, though, especially, because it makes me want to try the hula hooping and skiing. Sooo, do I buy one?

Addendum: Yeah, I just read too quickly. The article does include the price, which is $90 (plus the cost of a Wii itself, which NYT puts at $250).

Where is Alec Baldwin when I need him?

I keep the office's newspapers and other publications in order, and today I noticed the top story from yesterday's Wall Street Journal was about GE looking to sell off it's "storied appliance unit." (Also, given that I don't regularly read WSJ, I noticed that their site has much more limited access than something like

News that GE wants to sell off its washers and dryers is such fodder for Jack Donaghy and his "Sheinhardt Wig Company" jokes.

(This post is a thinly veiled excuse for me to use news to whine about having to wait for next season.)

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Procrasti-Nation: Babying all the cheeses

This Slate article about procrastination is helping me do just that. There are a few choice quotes from people in various lines of work, including one from a guy I knew who played the mascot at Georgetown. It also includes disconcerting lines from people at the CIA and UN.

Here's one from Lindsey, an NFL cheerleader in Nashville, Tenn.:

One big thing we procrastinate on is tanning. We have to have color, because our uniforms are really light. But we have practices five times a week, and you don’t want to go in to practice smelling like tanning stuff—you’re already sweating, and you can’t spray and go to practice, anyhow, because it’ll all come off. It’s just disgusting. So you wait until 24 hours before the game, and then you go lay in a tanning bed for 10 to 12 minutes—just to get your body warm—and then you go right into the spray area to get sprayed. And then you can’t shower for eight hours, so you go home and you stink and you smell, and the next morning you’re all dark.
I also liked the cheesemonger (and the job title itself):

I hate doing maintenance work—cleaning compressors on refrigerators, that kind of thing. I always find a reason to do it later. … One thing I really enjoy doing is taking care of the cheese in the cave. I love going in there and babying all the cheeses, turning them over, making sure they have straw mats. … It’s a perfect way to kill some minutes at the store if I don’t feel like doing something more pressing. … Building and rebuilding the display is something I [also] get too into. It’s this weird Tetris game, it’s never perfect. I spent an hour or and hour-and-a-half every morning; I kind of obsess over it.

Consumption, and I don't mean TB

I am cursed with a love of pretty things. I want:

1. tea towels, tea towels
2. pillows, pillows
3. pears (as said with an R. Kelly voice)
4. sunshine
5. people
6. bag
7. etc.

In related news:

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

My Halloween costume: status as of May 14

In the course of Google Image Searching "Liz Lemon" for my costume, I discovered that there is a Liz Lemon-Swindle. She does religious paintings like the one at left (credit obv. is hers). Strangely perfect!


S: is that jesus?
because he's kind of hot

William Carlos Williams

This is just to say
I chucked
the eggs
that had been
in the fridge
for weeks

and which you probably
were going
to scramble
for dinner
because you can't cook.

Forgive me
but they were
the fridge
is so small.

Lost and not necessarily found

I am a pretty observant person, and in some regards my mind's a steel trap, but I am a chronic loser of things. I put crap down and just forget what I did with it.

Sometimes, it's food--I'll take a few bites of a muffin, put it down, and find it half an hour later. (This clearly has the potential for being gross, but I've discovered that I leave snacks either on my desk, bedside table, or dresser, so no food stays un-found for too long.) I once lost a coat for over a year, only to find it in a suitcase. A boyfriend counseled my dad to buy me a larger iPod over a Shuffle not because of increased storage capacity, but because I would inevitably lose the tinier one. (My dad bought the Shuffle. To my credit it was once misplaced for a few weeks, but it is still with me, more than a year later, only because I always keep it in the same place.)

Fortunately, I've never lost anything terribly important or expensive (see: iPod), but it seems strange to me to feel so "with it" with some things and so absent-minded with others. I mostly just don't want to wind up as an old lady who points ointment on her toast and her dentures in juice.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

My Halloween costume: status as of May 13

No, it is not too early for me to be brainstorming. I already decided (in the shower one morning) that I am going to be Liz Lemon. While not really sure how to depict her other than by letting my hair grow a little, wearing my classes, and impersonating Cathy, I realized today that my must-have accessory will be a bag of Sabor de Soledad chips.

Suggestions, please, folks.

P.S. It may not always be accurate, but the minutia of Wikipedia can be great. "Liz has been seen signing her name on a check with her left hand[21], adding items to her pros-and-cons list of Dennis with her left hand[16], and Jack has referred to her "left-handedness"[22]. Tina Fey is left-handed.[23]" Also, did you know that Fey's middle name is Stamatina??

Monday, May 12, 2008

______ in Charge

I was, from Thanksgiving until this past Friday, without a boss. That is more than five months working as an "assistante" without someone to assist (but not that I was counting). Now, as the wheels of bureaucracy continue slowly turning, I have a chef who is a little bit taller than I am and who has asked me to speak to him in English.

Taking into consideration me, my boss, and my boss's deputy, I think our sector is the shortest within our office. Those two are 5'5" max.

Friday, May 9, 2008

"Reader, I married him."

P.S. I am most likely going to watch this later this afternoon, during the pie-baking.

VE Day blender blunders, etc.

I had off from work yesterday for VE Day, and instead of updating from the comfort my bedroom or a nearby café (in true blogger style), I opted for laptop avoidance and laziness.

Highlights include sleeping late (duh); making a smoothie and fixing blender leak that left OJ all over counter, drawers, and floor; cleaning the kitchen in the wake of aforementioned smoothie problems; getting lunch somewhere other than the embassy caf (Teaism); paying a fortune to get a print framed; and engaging in a TVfest over Dogfish Head.

As great as it was to have the day off, it was mildly disorienting being put out of my routine like that. I'm taking a half day today (comp time for doing last weekend's Open House) to slouch around the house and make a lemon meringue pie for my parents' visit. I'll be going all out making a mother's day dinner.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Des restes

What is worse than veal brain? Leftover veal brain. Served today in the cafeteria.

"Is this some radical new therapy?"

I'm not entirely sure why this NYT article about creating new habits appeared in Sunday's Business section, but the topic is interesting enough. Personally I've changed a lot especially within the past year and, woo for my "parallel synaptic paths," I've established new habits , patterns, and all of that.

Honestly, what stuck out to me amidst all the standard stuff about how learning new things wards off dementia was this line: "She recommends practicing a Japanese technique called kaizen, which calls for tiny, continuous improvements."

What immediately came to mind was the 1991 Bill Murray movie What About Bob? and the "baby steps" credo espoused by Richard Dreyfuss's character, shrink Dr. Leo Marvin. (I watched this one, Groundhog Day, and Rushmore innumerable times with a high school boyfriend.) So basically, I know that it's important to keep trying new stuff, that baby steps aren't a bad idea even if the shrink is crazy too, and that I should probably finally set up my own Netflix account because I now have an overwhelming urge to rewatch Bill Murray movies.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Bad brains

They served veal brain in the cafeteria today. Watch out for cervelle de veau (other questionable offerings there include tongue). Eric, who was visiting for lunch, tried it! He said it was good, but he "couldn't eat a whole thing."

One is the loneliest number: American LOLparel

It took me a long time to have even one blog, but now, it appears, I have two. Born of a fondness for "I has a flavor" captions and a mixture of amusement and revulsion by AA styling, I give you LOLAmericanApparel, or American LOLparel.

Please do offer alternative capshuns and submissions (the latter can be sent to

Monday, May 5, 2008

Bill Clinton's groove

I have no idea how the movie How Stella Got Her Groove Back did in box offices, but 10 years after its release (thanks IMDb) it has remained embedded in the vernacular if only for its title. The lead article on right now is "How Bill Clinton Got His Groove Back." Is there a previous source I don't know about? The Wikipedia entry for the movie says "See also: Female sex tourism." Helloo, Taye Diggs.

Love is like a bottle of gin

The graphic for yesterday's Modern Love column, which was by essay contest winner and college junior Marguerite Fields, sums up the content better than illustrations sometimes do. Find it here.

The idea, in short:
And even when I don’t want him to stay — even when he and I find each other as strangers and remain strangers until we stop doing whatever it is we are doing — I still want to believe that two people can meet and like each other well enough to stay together exclusively, without the introduction of some 1960s rhetoric about free love or other noncommittal slogans.
This article is about 120,908,325 times more insightful than any Laura Sessions Stepp article or book has ever been--and it comes from a girl who hasn't even graduated yet. Pure gold:
Then there was the installer of soy insulation who cooked soggy pasta and made me watch football and whimpered and kicked in his sleep. In the spring there was the guy 12 years older than me who shared an apartment overlooking Tompkins Square Park with an antediluvian man who walked around in graying long underwear.
Unfortunately the end is kind of weak, but overall it's one of the more refreshing things I've read there in awhile.

It also makes me think of the last New Yorker cover, which had the gall to include "Mother's Day" in the title--the image of a woman drooling over babies that are enclosed as if in a pet store, while the man whose hand she is holding is desperately trying to lurch her away. It could have felt more like a comment on noncommittal guys if the desperate woman and the babies hadn't been the ones in the foreground. Blah.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Avoid Champlain St. NW at night

This depressing City Paper cover story just came out about a guy Aaron had mentioned to me at least a few days ago. Christopher Savage had just gotten to D.C. and started working at the Black Cat, and he was mugged and beaten a few blocks from my house and near the City Paper office. After having been in town less than a week, he died (toxicology reports "are pending"). For how much shit some people give the paper, the story itself is heartfelt (Jason's good at that) and says it all pretty well.

I realize there's plenty of crime in D.C., and Savage's death certainly isn't the only one worth talking about. I mention it here because it hits literally close to home.

I rarely feel unsafe, but Champlain near Kalorama has always made me uncomfortable. Last year I learned it's in a police "hot zone." Champlain dead ends near Marie Reed, which I don't think helps things. (Less traffic flow? It doesn't seem to matter that the MPDC third district station is on V between 16th and 17th.) The fact that Savage was ganged up on by a bunch of kids there isn't so surprising to me, unfortunately, just based on stories I've heard from other people. My boss when I worked at CP had been beaten up by a group of teens, too, nearby.

Fabulous muscles

Last night I tried a free Thai boxing (muy thai) class with MC. My yoga studio has been closed for a few days for a relocation, and I won't be able to go tonight because of the big reception. I'd always wanted to try some sort of martial arts class, and my elbows and I definitely have more respect for boxers now, be they Thai or otherwise.

I paired up with an athletic woman who was about my size, and we spent the better part of an hour jabbing, elbowing, and kicking at one another. If you suffer from "noodle arms" (as I have dubbed my own), this is the workout for you. We didn't really spar, but that doesn't stop roundhouse kicks from feeling pretty badass.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Portes ouvertes, oh penoose

This Saturday, my friend/coworker and I are going to be staffing a booth at the embassy's open house. (Let me say now that "open house" is my new favorite English expression to say with a French accent, because it comes out sounding like "oh penoose.") She and I are two of three Americans on staff, although she has dual citizenship. Oh, to be able to talk about scientific diplomacy in Charlotte Gainsbourg's voice! I will probably be able to offer French snacks, though, and pins at the very least. And I designed our brochure.

If you're in DC, this is the EU site for the embassy open houses. Hopefully the weather will be good. At any rate, no matter your location or forecast, I hope you can enjoy as much as I did the discovery that Melle Gainsbourg starred in a 1996 version of Jane Eyre.