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

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
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,

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:

Monday, January 27, 2014

What do Mozart, Chocolate Cake, the inventor of the Toilet and Brutalism have in common?

Although I'm confident your answers to that question would be way more entertaining, the commonality is...

...we are all honored in some way on January 27th.

Yes, my birth date is shared with some amazingly accomplished people and some awesome national holidays, those being Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and National Chocolate Cake and Thomas Crapper Days. 

Sounds about right.

(Note to self: Do not celebrate these events simultaneously....Again.)

I'm looking forward to a week of fun that culminates in a very exciting event in NYC. Hooray for another year!
And a birthday gift from my husband who totally gets me.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Hashtag Blecccchh

Perhaps I am just perplexed, because as a non-religious person, I have never actually felt "blessed" about anything -- and that includes sneezing. Although I'm not entirely sure when it applies, in my limited purview I would guess it means something of a sacred nature. Yet according to some Twitter research, it is now a catchall that is applied to everything from humble brags (one blogger referred to these as "spiritual humble brags' - yes!) to bits of head scratching randomness. These have nothing to do with divine intervention and are simply easily explained occurrences that I'm guessing God had no hand in determining. And if He did...someone should gently remind Him of priorities. 

Sure, there are a number of tweets that reference God and love for God in the  Twitter stream -- and I'm okay with that as it seems to be a relevant usage. And while I won't be hanging out in that Twitter conversation regularly, I totally get why they do.  

The others, however? Read for yourself...these are actual tweets from the past month or so on Twitter under  (with my commentary in parentheses below):

I won an iPad Mini at my holiday party!!!!! 

(Ed. I think the word you're looking for is "lucky.")

93 days of high school left

(Ed. Blessed? Or on schedule as dictated by the established school calendar?)

We all live in a submarine sandwich.

(Ed. This tweeter obviously lives in Colorado. #420)

Don't ever give up on your fitness goals. My hard work is finally starting to pay off.

(Ed. Blessed? Or seeing results based on long hours in the gym and determination?)

All these live tweets about the Golden Globes really make it feel like I'm there.

(Ed. Blessed because people are live tweeting an awards show? Perhaps the hashtag you're searching for is more along the lines of #needfriends.)

Feeling right now. Just googled my least favorite college professor and it looks like his life is a living nightmare.

(Ed. I'm no theologian, but can one feel blessed while simultaneously experiencing schadenfreude?)

And possibly my favorite:

Blessed about wearing flannel? When there are so many other things she could have written, like:

  • My ex-husband was so involved with our kids when they were young. He used to play special bonding games with our youngest in the attic - just the two of them.
  • I'm so fortunate my ex-husband gets along so well with our daughter, Soon-Yi. They really have a special relationship. 
  • Now that everyone knows my ex-husband married our daughter, I'm confident people will stop supporting his movies and Hollywood will shun him.
On second thought, perhaps she should stick with the blessed flannel.

I want this,

Monday, December 30, 2013

Brutalism's Year in Review 2013

This year was marked by sadness, loss and pain. Seriously...a lot of it was a total suckfest.

Yet because it is life, there were a lot of great moments, too. And here in Brutopia, the latter are the things on which we dwell.

So, diving right in, here's the Brutalism Year in Review 2013 (THP*):
  • Ushered in the new year in the great Smokey Mountains (I still don't like nougat.)
  • Skied and snow tubed during a ski weekend with friends
  • Read Dr. Seuss books to students on Read Across America day (In a Turkish bath.)
  • Had an audition in a hotel room at a hotel near the airport. (Well, that sounds perfectly legitimate.)
  • Spent spring break in LA with celebrities and no regrets. (I'm doing it wrong.)
  • Finally got some love from the Washington Post Peeps Diorama contest judges (These dioramas will be worth a fortune when I'm dead.)
  •  Had a girls’ weekend in hip ‘n trendy Brooklyn (And proved my own hipness 'n trendiness by being shat upon immediately upon arrival.)
  • Co-hosted the first annual firefighter auction at the Vienna Volunteer Fire Department (Where my comedy stylings were compared to comedic genius Waldorf.)
  • Learned to hula, sampled olive oil and visited a gin distillery with the Dilettantes. (We managed just six activities this year...speaking of suckfests...)
  • Had work trips to Charlotte, Orlando and LA
  • Ran a lot of races individually and as a family -- some 5Ks (including one where my kiddo placed 3rd in her age group); a half marathon; and a first marathon for my husband. (This explains why our house smells like Ben Gay...I hope.)
  • Went to my first gay wedding. (Where I hobnobbed with John King and Joe Biden.)
  • Took a memoir writing class and wrote a piece about my sister and I being threatened by a broken bottle-wielding psychopath. (Soon to be a major motion picture.)
  • Stalked met Molly Ringwald
  • Took a trip to Cleveland, OH and Pittsburgh, PA to surprise my Mom on her birthday. (Instead, she surprised us by going commando.)
  • Spent weekends in Cambridge, MD; Richmond, VA; and Williamsburg, VA
  • Went to Bastille Day, Oktoberfest, and Murder Mystery parties (Oui! Ja! I have an alibi!)
  • Prancercized (An exercise that keeps you on your camel toes.)
  • Ziplined:
And looked very fashionable while doing so. 
  • Showed off my stellar parenting skills at back to school night. (Moms groups? Still elusive.) 
  • Watched my kid do gymnastics, a product launch class, a new summer camp where she knew no one going in and made a ton of friends, and make beautiful stuff in her art class. (She won a first place ribbon in her school art show again -- maybe one day she will graduate to the family medium of Peeps.) 
  • Spent Avery’s 8th birthday (and most of our retirement savings) at DisneyWorld
  • Got a little sentimental around the holidays which prompted several schmaltzy posts on FB that most people incorrectly (though understandably) attributed to wine.
Here's to a very bright 2014,

*THP - The Happy Parts

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Vowing to Figure this Out

One of my resolutions was to finally print and frame some photos from my wedding...

...that occurred almost 15 years ago.

I'm an overachiever.

And while looking through the almost 500 photos this morning, I came across this:

That is not my husband, it is a good friend of mine. I did not crop this photo...nor were we in a wind tunnel. I have no memory of this and wonder how our wedding photographer found the absinthe we had stashed just for family members.

Then again, here is a photo of me from that same friend's wedding a year before mine:

Also not my husband.
It all comes full circle.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Brutalism's Holiday Gift Guide 2013

During the month of December, my car radio is tuned to the all-Christmas-music station, I love to receive Christmas cards and holidays letters and I adore the gift guides posted by some of my favorite bloggers. Last year, I even swallowed the small bit of pride I still have and drove around with this all season.

So to share this (uncharacteristically cheery) spirit with others, I am, for the first time ever, providing my very own gift suggestions, Brutalism-style:

Brutalism's First Annual Holiday Gift Guide (the 2013 edition):

1. An empty box. Sure, we've all kidded that after spending gobs of money on toys the kids actually prefer the boxes in which they come. What I didn't realize is that these boxes are now a commodity that go for upward of $20. I would suggest that you do not purchase this, but that you instead save any gift boxes from overpriced 18" doll crap your kids receive this year and fund the holidays for your family next year. You're welcome.

2. Pretty much anything from I buy all of my daughter's stocking stuffers from this site because there is nothing more magical than the joy and wonderment on a youngster's face Christmas morning when they realize their stocking is filled with (fake) dog doo. (Why just last night, a fine gift from was presented to me by a fellow Dilettante:)
Lederhosen! For beer! This is the best Christmas, ever!
3. Mensch on a Bench. Sue me, Hanukkah has been over for weeks. This sold out early this year, so this is a reminder to pre-order for 2014. Now Jews can experience the same level of guilt as the Christians when it comes to forgetting to position the mensch in some clever tableau every.single.night. Because let's face it...what do Jews know from guilt? least he spends time with his mother.
4. One Direction perfume. If only this had been around in Marilyn Monroe's time so when a probing reporter asked her what she wore to bed, she could have answered "Our Moment" instead of the (trite), "Chanel No. 5."
I know what you're wondering: a) I'm Team Zayn and b) All I wear to bed is Derek Jeter's Driven cologne.
5. Dorothy Parker cocktail plates and coasters.  You gotta love Dorothy Parker. And eating off plates featuring some of her famous phrases probably makes you feel exactly like you're hanging with her at the Algonquin...
...okay, probably not.
6. Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace. So we can have a competition over how long we own this and never get past page 15 due to the overwhelming volume of this tome and the footnote-palooza that is his writing. I know, I know... I need to read it.
I also need an attention span. And so you know: it's been three years now...
7. Fancy cigarette holder. I don't smoke. I've never smoked. I don't like smoking. I have, however, had occasion to need a fancy cigarette holder numerous times (see: Brutalism profile picture in blog header). In just the past few months, I attended a Mad Men-themed party and a Roaring 20s murder mystery party, both of which required this accessory:
Guessing Mr. Brutalism is feeling pret-ty silly right now for referring
to the cigarette holder purchase as "frivolous."
8.  Bounty Bars. I ask for these every year, as they are the most delicious candy bar on the planet. (Interesting aside: this was also Saddam Hussein's favorite candy bar - he had stashed several in his hideout that were discovered when he was captured.) Related: I share a favorite joke with Hitler.
Perhaps now is a good time to reconsider this gift guide considering my shared
tastes and preferences.

9.  The funniest blog you're not reading. This is my gift to you and your gift to yourself. These guys are so funny and I would visit their blog more often if I could remember the damn order of the Points and Counterpoints in the blog title. Read this blog. Follow it. Like them on Facebook. You can thank me with Bounty bars.
Seriously, Guys. Ever hear of an acronym?
10.  The Alphabutt CD. This contains lyrics such as "A is for apple, B is for butt, C is for cat butt, D is for doo-doo...." Your small child will memorize these lyrics, write them on her white board, and play the CD (loudly) for every person that steps foot in your house including young, impressionable friends; babysitters; grandparents; and the Derek Jeter Driven cologne delivery guy. The child receiving this will love you. Everyone else will hate you.

Hope you all have a peaceful, healthy, happy, fun and kindness-filled holiday season and new year,

UPDATE: And of course, thank you to DC Blogs for mentioning me in DC Blogs Noted. DC Blogs is the bounty bar in my foxhole. (If you will.)