Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Flatizzalicious

I'm pretty much anti-fast-food-restaurant. And not just because of the lack of nutritional value, the trying-to-hook-future-customers-by-marketing-to-kids or even that "burgers" are really a euphemism for "extruded pink slime."

No. My aversion stems primarily from this:
No. Just no.
When I posted this abomination on Facebook, my outrage was shared by many like-minded friends, one of whom provided this link to a Jezebel article, which perfectly captured the reasons for my hostility toward the Flatizza.

Another of my brilliant friends noted that this was "in the wake of the complete failure of the PizzOrb(TM)." Which totally summed up what is the dumbest part of this Frankenstein word -- it doesn't even make sense - by design, pizzas are flat. It is a redundant, stupid product name. (Worse yet? You know that a summer intern didn't just roll in hungover and come up with that. It was decided over the course of many months, focus groups and overpaid marketing executives' business lunches. "Flatizza" was decided by well-compensated committee.) (Note to self: immediately look for job on well-compensated marketing committee.)

As you may imagine, it took a while for my blood pressure to finally re-enter the normal range after learning that Flatizza was part of my new reality. And it stayed there until I recently ended up at a large chain restaurant with my boss on our way back to the office after a meeting. As this restaurant specializes in massive servings of high-calorie desserts, I was at first happy to see that they offered some healthy options for lunch....

...until I realized that the healthy items were included in a pull-out menu of their own and that each healthy item was referred to as "Skinnylicious." Meaning that even though I really wanted a salad, I was not about to order the "Skinnylicious California salad."

I ordered an omelet,
Brutalism

Thursday, July 24, 2014

You Give Blood A Bad Name

My community has been appealing to residents to donate blood lately, noting that there is an extreme shortage in our area. (Hear that, vampires? Nothing to see here...move along...)

I would gladly help out and contribute except that I cannot. You see, I lived in the UK for three months in 1988 during an outbreak of Mad Cow disease and therefore my blood is now deemed "risky." 

Fine. I get that reasonable precautions need to be taken and I would not want to infect anyone with my possibly tainted blood. ("Tainted Blood" -- the lesser known, less danceable hit by Soft Cell.

However, I find this screening system lacking in that not once has the blood donation center vetted me for prom dates, which in my estimation is probably a much greater threat to my blood quality:  

My prom date, Devin. A man who knew what he wanted and was not afraid to advertise it.
I wrote about that unforgettable prom night here

Feeling stuck (how ironic),
Brutalism

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Sweet Satanic Child O' Mine

I've had many not-so-stellar parenting moments:

There was the Bad Milk Incident of 2008. This was the one time in her life my daughter vomited — a result of my accidentally providing her with some milk past its expiration date. The next day, she strutted into preschool and promptly reported this fact to her teacher, who (rather unkindly, I thought) insisted on calling me Mrs. M√ľnchausen after that.

There was also the time she gave me ample warning that she had to go to the bathroom while we were in the checkout line at the grocery store with our approximately seven tons of groceries on the conveyor belt in front of us. She was just out of diapers and was doing exactly what I had taught her by alerting me to the fact she was feeling the urge. I said to her those three little words that I (and the cashier on aisle 3, it turns out) will forever rue. And those are, “Just hold it.”

But perhaps the most spectacular was the time I was trying to be “fun mom” by doing something I never envisioned doing: driving her to a local mall so she could run around in the children’s play area. Or as I like to call it, “spend half an hour barely avoiding concussions followed by a Silkwood-worthy shower of hand sanitizer.” (Apologies to the 30-and-under crowd who will need to Google the Silkwood reference). Inexplicably, the particular mall we were visiting has two Macy’s stores, so based on sheer odds, we ended up parking at one of them.

After the kid pit, she asked me if she could throw a penny in the fountain in the middle of the mall. I said, “Of course,” because today I was “fun mom!”

She took that penny, wound up like a major league pitcher and tossed it with every ounce of strength in her being, which caused her to lose her balance (and her little Crocs to lose traction) on the slippery tile floor surrounding the fountain. Before I could even react, she rather inelegantly plunged into the water. I looked down to see her completely submerged, and two huge and terrified brown eyes looking accusatorily back at me.

I quickly snatched her out of the water and held her to my chest, soaking myself in the process. She was inconsolable – sobbing, dripping wet, scared — and we were obviously attracting some attention as we made our way back through the crowded mall to Macy’s to get into our car and go home.

The wrong Macy’s, it turned out.

Our wet T-shirt parade continued as we turned around and retraced our steps back through the entire length of the mall, leaving a long, wet trail behind us.

I've consoled myself with the fact that everyone makes mistakes and that even with a few traumatic experiences like these, my kiddo seems to be turning out okay. (This and this and this aside.)

In fact, more than okay. It is evident in the way that she mothers her favorite doll. She'll bundle her up and say, "Is everything okay, sweetie?" and "I love you, sweetie." and does many other things to care for her and speak to her very tenderly while handling her very deliberately and lovingly. I, of course, assumed that she was mimicking the way that I care for and speak to her, and gave myself a little pat on the back for her patterning this in her own behavior.

And I lived in this blissful, delusional state for several years. Until this past weekend, as a matter of fact.

While playing with two of her friends outside at a cabin where we were staying, my daughter picked up a large log and cradled it like a baby. I figured she was again going to demonstrate her seemingly effortless maternal instincts.

Instead, she screamed, "I'm putting you to sleep, baby.....FOREVER!" and heaved the log into a ravine.

Thankful we stopped at one,
Brutalism

Monday, June 16, 2014

It's the Tin Anniversary, you know

Happy anniversary to us. Me and Brutalism that is.

Today, June 15, 2014, marks our ten year anniversary. Ten years of one my least complicated and most joyful relationships. A relationship into which I entered with no expectations and therefore, just appreciated anything that has come from it. (Note to self: apply same philosophy to human relationships in next phase of personal growth.)

Many surprisingly great things arose from this blog over the past decade, particularly since I didn't even think of making the blog very public or promoting it for the first five years of its life. It was not until I submitted Brutalism to be anonymously reviewed on Ask and Ye Shall Receive in May 2009 that I decided to begin actively sharing my posts. (And as I like to say, I need validation just badly enough that an above-average review on an anonymous rating web site gave me the confidence to begin telling people about Brutalism.)

Brutalism has provided me with some cool opportunities that led to some other cool experiences, such as:
  • An editor finding my blog and offering me a paid weekly humor column at the Oakton Patch and then the Vienna Patch for two years
  • which led to two speaking engagements for local charities where I got to read my columns to an audience full of people. Here's a clip from one of those 
I've also received a few awesome freebies over the years thanks to companies taking a chance that my readership might drive some business to them. Things like tickets to the Rockettes Christmas Spectacular and Madonna's MDNA tour.

Also in the past ten years, I had a daughter, realized a tremendous amount of success as a Peeps dioramist (which is well documented on the blog), and started the Dilettante Club (and associated blog).

During my time as a blogger, I've attended one DC Bloggers meet up, one BlogHer conference and one Erma Bombeck Humor Writer's Workshop. I probably should have leveraged those and been a better networker in the blog world. Alas, I have not.

I've also received several mentions and links on DC Blogs and in the Washington Post Express. These two sources have been great supporters of my blog through the years and I love them for it. Seeing my blog quoted never stops being exciting.

What's next? We'll see. I've already had more opportunities than I'd ever anticipated from this fun hobby/experiment. I'll just keep writing and chronicling things that make me laugh.

And if you have ever read, commented upon, laughed at or enjoyed anything I've written...thank you so much.

AND AN UPDATE: Thanks to DC Blogs for linking to this post. DC Blogs is also one of my least complicated and most joyful relationships...

Friday, May 16, 2014

It Was The BoM

I spent last weekend in the 401...the ocean state..."Little Rhodie..." My best friend from seventh grade (and Rhode Island resident) arranged to have 25 of her closest friends see "The Book of Mormon" on stage at the Providence Performing Arts Center -- something she planned about nine months ago.

Name tags for me and all of my sister wives.
After she picked me up from the airport and we got back to her house, the contractors who had renovated her kitchen were there doing some touch-up work. One of these was a carpenter named Christian who very clearly resembled Jesus Christ. (Do with that what you will...)

With that as a lead-in, the weekend did not disappoint.
The group headed to the theater. En masse. 


Kath even had her name up in lights.
(So did I...I was part of "and friends.")
After the hilarious and well-done show, I reminisced with Kath about when I was Mormon. All I really remember was my sister's "PTL" ring (praise the Lord, for those not in the LDS know), saying lines in a couple of church plays, hiding behind the couch from elders when they came over to visit and being terrified of the full-immersion baptism. (I saw the baptism room at the Mormon church at some point and the thought of going in there and being dunked was horrifying.) Fortunately, we switched religions again before it came to that. PTL...am I right?

Oh...and there's one last memory of my days as a Sister: Postum:

This is to coffee what carob is to chocolate. And that is a 'Why bother?'
alternative. I remember always having this beverage around the house during
the Mormon phase. I'm a little sad there was no mention of this during the show. 
Anyway, we also spent some time in New Bedford, MA, going to some vintage stores and walking on the beach.

And then, because I love her so much, I made my friend, Kath, drive me to the airport at 5:10am on Sunday to catch my flight back home.

There's not enough Postum in the world...

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Good Girls Don't...But "I Do"

Today is the 15th anniversary of the day I married my husband.(If you do the math you'll learn that we did, in fact, party like it was 1999 the day we took our vows.) And it has been a great 15 years. (Actually, we both agreed over coffee this morning that it has been a great 13 1/2 years -- the rest of the time, we fluctuated between mild annoyance and kind of wanting to throttle each other.)


To celebrate this marriage milestone, I spent the entire day getting poked and prodded.

Before you high-five me, let me assure you that I mean that in a truly literal sense. I took the day off work to go to a variety of medical and dental appointments, since I figured it is an extremely efficient way to get things done. (Besides, taking my clothes off so many times for so many different people in the span of five hours makes me feel young again.)

Another bonus to my all-appointment day was that I got to meet my husband for coffee in between proddings. Which is when I reminded him that a technician and a doctor had already gotten further with me than he had today.

And although we are not celebrating tonight (studying for a spelling test and rehearsing for a Helen Keller project are taking precedence), we have big plans tomorrow night. Our awesome neighbor is taking our kid for the night so we can see Brian Regan and dine at a restaurant that does not offer crayons with its menus.

Happy Anniversary to my partner in every sense of the word. I'm glad I only want to throttle you 10% of the time.

Brutalism

UPDATE: Thanks to DC Blogs for linking to this post today. And for being so complimentary. I would never throttle you.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Coming out of the Closet

Avery: "Mom -- do you want me to do my impression of Larry?"

Me (confusedly): "Who's Larry?"

Avery (matter-of-factly): "That guy in my closet."

Me (slightly panicked): "WHAT GUY IN YOUR CLOSET?"

Avery: "You know, the puppet."

Me: "You mean LESTER!"
Is it me or does that bunny look terrified?

Avery: "Yeah, Lester!" Here's my impression of him." (Makes creepy, vacant face that is eerily similar to Lester's.)

Me: "And here's my impression of a terrified bunny."

The Rhythm Totally Got Us

Our spring break trip to Miami started out a little rough:
..so they go with my husband's middle initial, but decide to
take full advantage of the 20 character limit with my name...
...but then we landed and began what would be our laziest (and therefore, best) week, ever.

South Beach: land of awesome art deco architecture and the $20 cocktail.
  • We arrived in Miami during Gay pride weekend, which featured a high-heel race and parade grand marshal, Gloria Estefan. There were parties everywhere:
It's D-I-L-I-D-O Beach Club. Get your mind out of the gutter.
  • The morning after we arrived, there was a photo shoot at our hotel pool featuring a Sports Illustrated swimsuit model. It was for the French "Elle" magazine. (Which, I guess in France, they call, "Her" magazine.)
Decor at our hotel. There was a whole bovine/ovine theme going on.
Seems apropos for South Beach Miami.
  • Also while we were there, we met up with our good friend, Amanda, who I have not seen in far too long even though we both live in the DC metro area. She's all "Oooh, I'm so cool, I'm working on a project in Kenya and flying all over the world" lately so we have not been able to connect. Thanks to the well-timed good fortune of her having a business trip in Miami (for "Sustainotopia" -- not making that up) at the same time as our vacation, we met up for a few insanely-priced cocktails... 
...and did our best impression of a Picasso painting.
  • One morning, the straight-from-a-Ralph-Lauren-ad Director of Daylife from our hotel offered an art deco walking tour of south beach. He claimed the focus was more on pop culture, so we figured it would be worth us stepping away from the pool and putting on actual clothes for part of a day. And it did not disappoint.
Versace's mansion, which was part of the tour. We also saw a place where Justin Bieber
was arrested. And where to shop if you are really, really, really, really, really rich.
  • Our hotel also had a wine hour every night. Because it occurred during our late afternoon nap, we only made it to wine hour once during the week. And while we enjoyed it, our daughter was kind of bored sitting around with a bunch of adults and occupied herself by talking to Siri:
  •  It was an excellent family vacation...
...for us and our little baller.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Drama Queen and a Half

Eight-year-old Avery, begrudgingly having to use our regular mint toothpaste because her strawberry-flavored toothpaste had run out:

(Dramatically, while placing toothbrush in mouth): "If I don't make it through, tell Madilyn she was my best friend."

Monday, March 10, 2014

Getting Schooled

The following came home on one of my daughter's 2nd grade papers recently:


And I cannot tell you how happy I am that she is learning what we've been drilling into her head at home...and that is to always forgo your principles for the right amount of money.

We also teach her that it is important to do well in school but it is more important to always have a boyfriend.

UPDATE: Thanks to DC Blogs for linking to my post today. I'd gladly forgo my principles for DC Blogs.

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Austin City Limits

Indeed.
As Stefon would say about the four days I spent in this Texas capital city with some girlfriends: "This weekend had everything: half-buried ceramic babies, swingers, eating truck food sold by a George Clinton lookalike, poisoned margaritas, window shopping for taxidermy, and a personal introduction to Austin by a former sex therapist who convinced us to pose for topless photos."

The first night we were there, we ended up at a venue listening to some great music and talking to a couple of guys at the bar who suggested we see Austin City Limits while in town. And because we do everything random guys in bars tell us to do we headed to Austin City Limits the next morning after breakfast at a cafe that was recommended by a drunk-seeming cowboy in full regalia that we ran into on the street. (We also do everything drunk-seeming cowboys on the street tell us to do.)  And because breakfast and the tour were both spectacular...our bad judgement was both reinforced and rewarded.

The bar at Hotel San Jose where we stayed.




After the tour of Austin City Limits, we stopped by a bar for a margarita, which proved to be our first bad choice of the trip. (And by that, I mean the first bad choice with negative consequences...)









It was here that Kira drank half a margarita while commenting on how weird it tasted. She returned it for another drink, but by then, she had already set the wheels in motion for the "Austin Cleanse" that kept her holed up in the hotel room for the next two days. While she missed the shenanigans of the next 48 hours, she did return from vacation five pounds lighter, so I suggested partnering with this bar that sold her this for the next great quickie weight-loss program. (She'll laugh about this some day.)
Kira and Carrie at Austin City Limits. Before we lost Kira to the Austin Cleanse.
With one man down, Donna, Carrie and I took a break from all the pillow and tickle fighting* and headed out. And this is where the very After Hours portion of the trip began...

*Okay, fine. This is really more what it is like in the hotel
room during our girls' weekends. 
On our way out, we passed by the hotel bar where we saw a vision in a floor-length goat coat floating in...a tall woman with long blond hair and an aura of fabulousness. She glanced our way then ran over screaming, "Donna" and embracing our friend. (Donna had met this woman a few times before and knew she had a home in Austin but did not know she'd be in town.)

She told us to give her a few minutes to get her friends settled at the bar so she could take us on a tour of South Congress Street. And that she did...popping into every restaurant, shop and hidden music venue she deemed worthy of seeing, she breezed past patrons and management and had everyone's eyes on her everywhere we went. And we all followed along, enthralled.

One of the shops on our tour -- a place called
"Uncommon Objects" that featured skulls, home
decor, many doll parts and some very bad
taxidermy.
During this tour, we saw her Austin home which was across the street from an artist who had planted ceramic babies in her yard. Our whirlwind tour ended at a live music place that was fairly crowded, so our tour guide went up to a woman sitting alone in a large booth to see if we could sit with her and the next thing we knew, they were hugging (foreshadowing) and we were being introduced to booth woman -- who invited all of us to sit in the booth with her and her boyfriend.

As the evening progressed, there was lots of good music, lots of margaritas, and some food from the truck out back where Carrie ordered a catfish sandwich, even though she does not like catfish because the George Clinton clone working there recommended it.

We are a suggestible bunch.

Also during the evening, we spoke to booth woman and her boyfriend, both of whom were very, very friendly. This did not strike us as weird, because everyone in Austin is very, very friendly. Although, I suppose there was more than the usual lifting of shirts to show us their body art, and perhaps less personal space than normal as they moved in closely to talk and share photos. And sure, they bought us lots of rounds of drinks and yes, at one point in the evening after dancing with the woman, our hostess simply disappeared.

 Disappointingly, I did not pack a travel fishbowl.
When we woke up the next morning, I was half convinced that the entire evening was a dream. That is, until Donna realized that she had our hostess's credit card in her purse. When we met up to return it, we discovered that she had simply fled the previous night because the booth woman told her they were swingers and started getting handsy and she did not know how to handle it, so she left...conveniently, without warning any of us. Oh, well, it's not like I told the swingers my name or blog name or showed them photos of my husband and daughter. (Clarification: I did all of this.)


During breakfast, we had a visit from my old roommate, Chuck. We lived together for a year in Northern Virginia, and during that time there was a shotgun and a mounted deer head in my apartment.

Me and Chuck. His mom is an NYT best-selling romance novelist.
For the  purpose of preserving his sanity, he does not read her stuff.
Later that day, we met up again with Michelle and boarded her party bus to a famous barbecue place. (Note: She simultaneously drove, DJed, refreshed people's drinks, held conversations and exercised with her resistance band while driving the party bus.)

The group at Salt Lick Barbecue. 












The party bus. 


















 When we got back to her house, this happened:
My waist has never looked tinier. That's the first
thing you noticed, right?
Later that evening, we caught up with some more friends...
Dori (second from right) lives in NJ  and was also visiting Austin
at the same time. She did a college semester in London with
Carrie and me.
...then ended our evening checking out all the bars on Rainey street and coming home in a pedicab after we could not find a regular cab...

Another sweet Austinite (Austinian?) -- Everyone in this
city is so damn nice.
Kira rallied for breakfast at Guero's the next morning, just in time to head to the airport.

And some of my other favorite pics from the trip:












Getting to Know Me

Gentle readers,

Although we've known each other a while now I feel it is in a somewhat superficial way. I hide behind the pseudonym 'Brutalism', I post only things about my life that are interesting or entertaining, so after almost 10 years (!) here, I feel we should know each other better. Which is why, for the first time, I'm offering a glimpse into my private life through the magic of photographs:
Here's one of my boyfriend, Leo, and I a few years ago at the Oscars.
I was obviously uncomfortable with the attention
from the paparazzi, but probably more upset that the mani-cam
had not yet been invented. 

This one always brings a smile to my face. This was during a business trip to San Francisco years ago
when I booby-trapped a co-worker's egress from his hotel room, thinking it would be hilarious if he
slipped on the shampoo-covered marble threshold and brained himself. Miniature condiments,
a dish of crushed nuts and a plastic bag full of tepid water on the door knob all played into the scheme.
I doubt alcohol did, though...


This is when I got my pilot's license. 


This was my daughter's introduction into the Brutalism family.
Her first sentence was "Don't post this."

I like public transportation but get a little frustrated waiting for buses.


Another of Leo and I this year at the Oscars. I was in much better
spirits. Until Ellen excluded me from the celeb selfie.
(Don't believe what you read, hear and know: she is
mean-spirited and exclusionary. The cameras
just make her seem generous and kind-hearted.
She also uses lady pens. Exclusively.)


And a photo I cannot believe I'm only sharing now.
This was in Comic Genius: Portraits of Funny People. And
I had no idea my photo was there alongside some of
my idols until my friend, Amy, sent it to me as a gift.
I've never been prouder. Or looked better.
(Pssst: they're natural)


Now we're besties,
Brutalism

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

The Red Carpet Treatment

So, I realized a dream:






















Not necessarily of attending the awards show, as I never dreamed that would be a possibility...but of hanging out with some of the best writers in movies and television for an entire evening.

This was all made possible by my friends Meredith Forbes and John Marshall, who invited me to the Writers Guild Awards East in New York City as their guest. Which they could do because John was HEAD WRITER and EXECUTIVE PRODUCER of the awards show this year.
Seriously. So cool. 
And Meredith is his wife and one of my very best friends. (John is also an Emmy-nominated writer who worked on Tough Crowd with Colin Quinn, The Chris Rock Show and a bunch of other stuff. Meredith is an actor and performed a sketch with host Colin Quinn during the awards show that parodied the movie "Her." The sketch was a highlight, and after the show a reporter from New York magazine interviewed Meredith about her performance. Fortunately she is used to this kind of stuff, so she handled it beautifully. While I gawked and took photos of Meredith being interviewed.)


Here's a fun fact: After three rounds of alterations, my insanely expensive (but purchased on sale)
Marc Jacobs jumpsuit still did not fit correctly, so Meredith had to pin me into it. This meant that I
could not have any liquids all night lest I have to use the restroom. It also meant that
when Meredith was urinating in a stall she called out to me at the sink and asked, "Jealous?"

The day of the awards, I ran around the city with Meredith, first getting our lashes done, then getting our hair styled, then hanging out at the Edison Ballroom during a sound check and rehearsal:

Where the show was held. Scenes from the Godfather were filmed here.
Although not during the awards show.

While the real talent was rehearsing, I took the opportunity to see what it would be like to be onstage. And even in my pretend world I am someone who presents an award rather than wins one.

I should be analyzed.

Colin Quinn made a joke in his opening monologue about how
the award resembles female genitalia. Me standing with a picture
of the award at that height is not an accident.

After rehearsal, Meredith and I got dressed and went outside so we could get the full experience of entering the show via the red carpet:

Those autograph seekers were not looking for my autograph,
rather Archie Panjabi's, who was entering the awards show right
next to me. That did not prevent me from grabbing a book and
signing my name, however.

And by the way, here is a side view of my shoes...which I forced Meredith to take after I kept whining about how they looked "orthopedic" in the photo above.
See? Not orthopedic. But I will need orthopedic shoes after
wearing these all night...

It was an incredible night. Not only were there are million amazing writers in attendance, there were also some performers lending their star power to the event, including Ethan Hawke, Keri Russell, Kate Mulgrew, Colin Quinn, Emily Mortimer, Matthew Rhys, and the aforementioned Archie Panjabi.

John and Meredith. John's gorgeous suit is by Alexander McQueen.
Meredith's gorgeous dress is by "Le Closet" (pronounced Clo-ZAY) as she likes to refer to
clothing she already owns

And trite as it may be, although I did not come away with an award at my first red carpet event, it was an honor just to be invited.

UPDATE: And here is a photo of Mer with host, Colin Quinn: