Monday, October 24, 2016

Tough As Nails

A short play:

Scene: nail salon

Dramatis personae: Nail technician, me

Nail technician (inquisitively, while massaging my hands): "Do you lift weights a lot?"

Me (somewhat proudly): "Yes, I do. How did you know that? Is it my fierce grip?"

Nail technician: "Actually, you have some pretty tough callouses on your hands."

-- fin --

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Figure It Out

A word problem:
Yesterday, my husband went on an 80 mile bike ride. At the end, he felt great and is excited to plan a 100 mile ride.

While he was doing this, I was working at my sedentary office job. Which was unremarkable, except for an event late in the day... 

During the afternoon, I caught my foot on a cord behind my desk, did an involuntary shuffle-off-to-Buffalo through the doorway of my office, windmilled my arms while trying to prevent the (inevitable) fall, and landed in a rather inelegant heap next to one of my colleagues’ desks in a large, open space in the middle of our suite.

Question: How much longer before my husband realizes he can do better?

(show your work)

Friday, September 09, 2016

No So Charming

Remember that time I wanted to register my domain name, yet instead of typing the URL for domain registry web site GoDaddy to do so I typed "DoDaddy" by mistake?  

Or the time my daughter was working on a school project and wanted to know whether Spain used Fahrenheit or Celsius as a temperature measure?

"Use the Internet to find out," I said. "A quick Google search will answer that right away," I said. And it did:

Well, the Internet hath forsaken me yet again.

Last night, while planning for my daughter's birthday party, we were trying to decide what she could give her friends as favors at this year's candy-themed birthday party. I (helpfully) suggested that since there would be so much candy and cake at the party, the favors should be something candy-themed rather than actual candy. Say, for instance, an ornament they could put on a bracelet or necklace - so we used Google to find ideas.

And while in retrospect in makes perfect sense, at the time I was gloriously naive.

"Candy Charms" is, in fact, an excellent porn name.

Tuesday, September 06, 2016

And you thought Ramsbottom was bad...

While chatting with friends over the weekend, we discussed summer camps in which our kids participated.

Our friends noted that a few years back, they had registered their son for a week-long sleep away paintball camp -- as he loved playing paintball and they figured it would be fun for him. Besides, it was nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains - what a lovely setting and a fun week away!

However, our friends missed the fine print that also identified this camp as Seventh-day Adventist and vegan. Which means that their (omnivorous, non-churchgoing) son spent seven days playing paintball while praying for a cheeseburger.

I have never run a summer camp, so I'm no expert (although I do know enough to understand that names matter), but I cannot imagine the market that fits into the Seventh-day-Adventist-vegan-paintballers interest area is a very large one.

Then again, summer camp has changed quite a bit in recent years.

Wondering if it is harder to survive the Zombies or the Seventh-day Adventist vegan paintballers,

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

All That Jazz

Chicago is one of my all-time favorite cities - I have traveled there so many times I have now lost count - including for the Chicago Tribune Peeps diorama contest finals in 2011, and a trip in 2004 during which I was inspired to name this blog. In between, I had many fun and work trips during which I fell in love with the city all over again.

It's true what they say...Chicago is a big city with a friendly, Midwestern sensibility - people are so cheery and helpful...with the notable exceptions of those who are causing Chicago's murder rate to spike, and the irate woman who stepped in front of my husband on the sidewalk, gestured aggressively toward me and angrily sputtered, "How about you open her asshole and clean it up...because it STINKS!!!"

Which of course, I found very offensive.

I mean, it's 2016 for chrissakes, I can open and clean up my OWN asshole, thank you very much. I don't need to rely on some MAN to do that for me. Way to set the women's movement back a hundred years, irate lady on the street.

That aside, Mr. Brutalism and I enjoyed doing many of the touristy things we have never done, visiting our favorite museum and showing our daughter around. With that, here is Chicago 2016, what we learned:

1) When a friend suggests bringing all of the postcards from the classic Masterpiece board game to the Art Institute of Chicago to create a challenge for your 10-year-old of finding and identifying those 24 works of art...DO THIS! We ended up spending three hours in one of our favorite art museums and she was engaged the entire time. Brilliant.
This is fun for your kid!
This is (apparently) not!
2) When possible, ride the El. You can avoid traffic, save some money and feel like locals by riding the train instead of taking cabs. If you want to counteract that feeling of being a local, go to the top of the Willis Tower and do this:
After this, we danced and sang on a parade float and made lunch reservations
under the name of Abe Froman, Sausage King of Chicago.
3) If you get a chance to go to a Chicago sporting event - GO! Chicago fans are the best. Especially during a Cubs game that goes to THIRTEEN INNINGS and also during which the two young women sitting next to your husband shamelessly (and drunkenly) flirt with him to the extent that your daughter leans over and whispers to you, "Should I tell them he's taken?"
Instead, I told them he was the Sausage King.
4) You are obligated to take a photo at the Cloud Gate sculpture ("The Bean") in Millennium Park. 
If it was Millennial Park, you'd instead be obligated to take
a photo at "The Beard".
5) You should absolutely take an architecture tour from a boat on the Chicago River to gain an appreciation of the fantastic architecture in the city - including contemporary, art deco, Gothic revival, and (our favorite, natch) Brutalism styles.
Not from the tour, but a cool shot of art/architecture near The Loop.
6) You will want to try the foods for which Chicago is famous including deep dish pizza, Chicago-style hot dogs, Italian beef sandwiches and Garrett's popcorn. You will then want to try Prilosec and apologize profusely to all of your vegan friends.

7) You should get tickets for Second City before your trip and not find out later that the (sold out) early show is for all ages. (We assumed it would not be family-friendly, and therefore our #FOMO was sadly realized.) #amateurs #thestruggleisreal #improviseTHIS

8) The fun of a gigantic soaking tub in your hotel suite (look! I'm eight feet tall!) 
You can tell that those are my daughter's feet, right? After I posted
this thinking it was hilarious, I'm not sure it is obvious.
(Always funnier when you have to explain it.)
somewhat makes up for having to call the concierge at 3:45am on the first night of your stay to announce that the bachelorette party entering its ninth hour on your floor is now testing your patience. (A direct quote from me to concierge, "I know it's a Saturday night and I want them to have fun - it's just that the screaming and horn-blowing is now making it hard to sleep.")
In case you were wondering how we knew it
was a bachelorette party, the penis confetti in the
hallway shed a little light...
9) When traveling with a kid (or really anyone who suffers from general ants-in-the-pantsiness), it is a great idea to run out some energy in Maggie Daley Park
Yay! Running around is good!
While Maggie Daley Park receives an "A" for effort, I'm not
sure this suggestion has been so effective, Chicago.
10) You should plan to schedule a walking tour with Chicago Greeter. We really wanted to do this during our trip, but ran out of time. How perfectly Chicago is a walking tour provided by volunteers to welcome you to the city? Bonus: they probably know the route that avoids the irate woman.

My kinda town,

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Praise be!

You know that friend? The one who is impossible to buy for because he has impeccable taste and chooses every item he owns with care because he wants to be surrounded by only beautiful and meaningful things?

And then one day, you stumble across a gift so perfect, so unbelievably HIM that you snatch it up and send it to him for no occasion?

Yes. It's a GG Allin prayer candle. 
And of course, you browse the entire site and end up also buying yourself a GG Allin prayer candle to go along with the Dee Dee Ramone and Joey Ramone prayer candles you already own:

A tableau in the guest bathroom. Because nothing says, "Welcome
to our home" like the Bishop of Bloodletting, the Father of
Feces-flinging, the Cardinal of Coprophagia, the Deacon of  Dung...
(I could go on forever...)
You also end up purchasing a candle for your friend who has an unnatural obsession with Billy Joel to present to her for Christmas:

I'm going to force her to sing, "We didn't start the fire" whenever
she lights this.
I have not been this happy with a purchase in a long time. And have already added the following to my wish list of prayer candles: Sarah Silverman, Ol' Dirty Bastard, Leo DiCaprio, Henry Rollins and of course...Ron Jeremy.

Thanks to Etsy shop Granny's Hope Chest for making this girl's dream come true, for ensuring a happy Christmas for my friends, and for sending bonus smarties along in the package.

Guessing their usual order is not 2 GG Allins and a Billy Joel,

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Mother's Day - Winning off the Field

I had a great Mother's Day weekend. My husband and daughter served me breakfast in bed followed by ice cream in bed, then allowed me some alone time to work on puzzles in GAMES magazine (Antisocial nerdo, party of one...)

After that, I was presented with a list of potential activities for the day:
As appealing as it sounded, there was simply not enough time for "pull dad's finger."

I (incorrectly) assumed that we may do one of the activities I selected, but apparently, my checking activities that sounded fun committed me to doing them all...and in the order in which I ranked them.

And none of these were small endeavors...the fashion show was comprised of 20 outfits, the bike ride was a 16-mile trek, and the golf game involved so many mulligans that it took quite a while to complete (albeit with the best scores we've ever had.)

It was fun (as promised in the list header) but the real gift seemed to be that after the day full of activity, I slept a solid 8 hours -- something I have not done in years.

It helped that all of this also followed a rather busy Saturday. It began with the annual 5K run at my daughter's school, and a Kentucky Derby party that afternoon.

In between, my daughter also went to a piercing and tattoo parlor with her best friend.

Keep your shirts on -- her friend was getting her ears pierced. It was only my daughter who was getting the facial tattoo. (Bieber is such a wannabe.)

Excited about the Derby, her fascinator, and her new face ink.
(Not necessarily in that order.)

I love a good theme...and the hosts of the party did not disappoint by decorating with red roses, serving Kentucky Fried Chicken, derby pie, benedictine and mint juleps.We also bet on the horses and came away with winnins' in the four figures (counting the places after the decimal)

It was very similar to the real Kentucky Derby experience, except that this time around, I was not four months pregnant. (As far as I know, anyway...)
This is me at the 2005 Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs in Louisville.
I am pregnant and in high heels, which seems to concern the woman behind me.
Yes. It's the same hat in both pictures -- what am I? Made of
money for assorted Derby hats?

Hope all you mothers had a great weekend, too. (see what I did there?), 

Thursday, April 28, 2016

There Will Be Nobody Left To Hire Us

I wish I had read this just one more time before sending to several hundred people:
"I am excited to announce [NAME] will be joining the program as a Program Manager focusing on customer engagement and execution."

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Costa Rica - Pura Vida in a Helmet

The Brutalism family is back from a spring break trip to Costa Rica. And as I like to do with all of our international trips (to Indonesia/Hong Kong, Iceland/Netherlands/Belgium, and Italy), I've captured what made traveling to this lovely Central American country so memorable. 

1) From the DC area, you can get to Costa Rica via Panama. And if we learned anything during our 20-minute layover between flights, it is that the most insanely gorgeous people live in Panama. Forget the hats and the canal -- if the Panama tourism board wants to promote reasons to visit this country, it should focus on the fact that every person who works in the airport looks like a supermodel. 

Yes, I'm painting with a broad brush here...but it's a broad, beautiful brush, so I feel that's okay.  

Panamaniacs. I'm including this as it is the only
photo we have in Panama. 
2) With the lush landscapes and laid back lifestyle, it is easy to quickly develop a taste for the pura vida that is Costa Rica. It is also easy to mistakenly text your friend that you have developed a taste for the "puta" vida, to which she will (non-mistakenly) respond, "Well, you were a sorority girl."

3) Driving in Costa Rica can be an adventure - many roads are not paved, none of them have shoulders, and our GPS continually mocked us by announcing a speed bump, dangerous bridge or escuela zone every kilometer or so. I was gringo-knuckling it the entire time. 

What our GPS did not feel was important to include in the dangerous bridge category was the CROCODILE BRIDGE, which we found by literally stumbling across it.

Costa Rican GPSs have an odd sense of what is dangerous.
(I'm fairly certain that's a human head.)
This happened. 
4When none of you has ever ridden a horse and you speak only a little Spanish, it might not be the best idea to go horseback riding with a Spanish-speaking guide. Particularly while heading up a steep, gravelly path when, without warning, he whistles to prompt the horses to break into a gallop. 

(It is here I proudly announce my first-ever attempt at humor in other than my primary language. While my horse took off at full speed, I screamed toward the guide, "Como se dice en espanol, "WHHOOAAA?")
The guide laughed appreciatively with at me.
(Or at my helmet. Hard to tell, really.)
5) Even when you're not naturally an adrenaline junkie, you become suddenly willing to zip line 450 feet above the ground through a cloud forest, "Tarzan swing" off a 150-foot-high platform, and walk across suspended treetop bridges that are held together with zip ties and luck. 

(You might also become willing because your 10-year-old chides you by calling you a "cream puff" when you initially hesitate at the idea of jumping off a perfectly good platform.)
Yet another helmet. Which should help
tremendously when you fall 450 feet.

So not a cream puff.

6) You become used to roommates such as the one below during your trip, something with which you would normally not be okay. 

It helps to be so physically exhausted from a day o' activity that you would rather sleep with a lizard on your face than stay awake another minute.

The Costa Rican Face Lizard.

7) When you wake up one morning and share a bizarre, convoluted dream you had overnight, your husband will patiently listen to the ridiculous details. Even when it involved him sitting in a refrigerated grocery case next to another guy who threatened to expose himself until you spilled hot coffee from the carafe you were holding onto his lap.

Then when you ask him, "what the hell do you think that dream means?" - he will pause a moment and inquire, with a straight face, "well...was it Costa Rican coffee?"
He should be a psychiatrist.

8) When you stay at a resort that has a huge array of natural hot spring pools and soaking tubs heated by the nearby volcano, you are slightly hesitant to use them because you have read about brain-eating amoebas that tend to congregate there. 
This is the amoeba - Naegleria fowleri. More commonly known
as "terrifying clown amoeba that will forever haunt your dreams."
But she wanted to, so we let her. 
Solid parenting.
9) When you are driving through the "downtown" area of Monteverde and see a restaurant billed as one of the "World's Top 10 bizarre restaurants" you of course go there for dinner. (It was not really bizarre...just kind of cool since it was built around a huge tree.) You also decide to have ice cream -- for breakfast -- and are surprised by the huge amount of people doing the same (both turistas and Ticos...)

The cloud forest area of Monteverde is known for its dairy farms
thanks to Quakers settling there and farming.
Breakfast of champions.
10) You can tell how hospitable a country is based on its toilet tissue. During my semester abroad in college, the UK scored a big, fat "F" with its non-absorbent, waxed paper-like TP, which I can only assume was payback for that whole "independence from them" thing. Conversely, Costa Rica, with its fragrant, pillowy-soft version, receives an appreciative "A+." 

I was so excited by this, I wrote down the information from the toilet paper label, as I'm hoping to score some stateside. (Note: never has the phrase "hoping to score some" been used in such a lame context.) 

British TP

In addition to the above, we saw the most gorgeous beaches we have ever seen, watched wild monkeys and sloths climb in trees right near our hotel balcony, experienced the rain forest, cloud forest and beach, and had an adventure-filled vacation. We'd go back in a second...particularly if we were routed through Panama...

Friday, April 01, 2016

I Hear...The Secrets That You Keep...

During the night, I heard some mumbling coming from my daughter's room.

She has always been a sleep-talker and if I've learned anything as a parent these past ten years, it's that I can usually count on her REM sleep ramblings for comedy gold.

Last night was no exception.

I went into her room and heard the following:

"De-bah-dee, de-bah-dee, de-bah-dee, bomp, bomp, bomp" (scatting in her sleep?)

So I repeated it back to her and said, "oh my god, you're hilarious."

And, while still asleep, she replied, "Well, thank you, m'lady"

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Finding Mr. Write (aka Bob Balaban)

For the third year in a row (you can read here about years one and two), I've been fortunate to attend the Writer's Guild Awards (East) show in NYC as my friend, Meredith's, date: 
She's a great date, albeit a bit handsy.
Her husband, John, is the Executive Producer and Head Writer of the awards show. (And this year, he was also executive-in-charge-of-making-the-BB8-costume-from-a-giant-soccer-ball-outfit.)

You'd think that being a VIP at a glamorous awards show and mingling with some of the best writers in the industry would be the highlight of the weekend. Alas, it is but one of the many highlights, which included going to the dog groomer so the dog could get something sticky cut out of it's paw fur, sitting at Meredith's office while she finished up some work and doing the grocery shopping.

Don't be jealous, haters.

Perhaps the real highlight of the weekend is pictured below. It is the DVD cover of a horror movie Meredith and I filmed many years ago at a farm house that belonged to the family of my then-boyfriend. As a Christmas gift this year, her husband edited and scored the film, which they presented to me while I was in town. It is probably the single best gift I have ever received.

Please note: probably the scariest thing about the film are our fashion choices -- it still makes us wake up screaming that these were captured on film...
The cover of the DVD. I tried to upload the five-minute video in its entirety,
but was not able to do so. Please enjoy stills from some of the key scenes below,
which I think nicely illustrate the high-quality plot development and performances:
Me screaming when I see the murderer in the barn.
Me after being impaled by a pitchfork. 
Meredith after the murderer gets her.
Meredith being amused after the murderer gets her.

And even though we felt our acting and especially the writing were spectacular, we were not nominated for any Writer's Guild awards. (How's that for a segue?)

For the awards show this year, we again got our lashes done at Rouge, ran home to get dressed, then hopped in a cab. And as soon as we did, the cabbie hopped out.We were confused at first, but he explained that since it was about a zillion degrees below zero, he wanted to go into a store to get some coffee and asked if we minded sitting in the running cab while he did so. We did this happily, as it kept us out of the frigid weather. (And we enjoyed that even something as mundane as a cab ride is never just a cab ride when you're with Meredith.) When we got to the Edison Ballroom, we checked in with John and said hi to Rob, who was starring in one of the sketches during the show:

Rob starred in one of the show's sketches with Michael Ian Black. 
(Fun fact: Rob and Mr. Brutalism are friends from high school.)
The show was hosted by Michael Ian Black, and included presenters like Tituss Burgess, Margo Martinale, John Slattery, Emmy Rossum and Michael McKean. Also, Senator Al Franken was in attendance to receive an award for bringing honor and dignity to writers. (I also saw Fred Armisen and Gina Gershon walk by and brushed by Bob Balaban, who you likely know as Phoebe Buffay's dad from Friends, and many other notable roles - one of which landed him an Oscar.) It was at this moment that I decided I had a mad crush on Bob Balaban and not just because it is fun to say his name.
Bob Balaban
Actually, it's pretty much because of that. (Note: Ask me how many times Meredith and I have texted each other about Bob Balaban since this weekend. If your answer falls somewhere between 19 million and infinity, you are correct.)

Who did I wear, you ask? A Vera Wang dress that has a built-in-bodysuit that is 
nearly impossible to figure out how put on. 
(Meredith loves that all of my awards show clothes are so high-maintenance.)
With this, I wore pewter sandals and clutch. (Necessary point of clarification:
pewter-colored, not made of pewter - that would be uncomfortable.)
My feet look huge in this photo. Fortunately, the shadows
(fairly successfully) camouflage the self-tanner debacle.
One of the writers of the awards show and generous Cosmo-sharer, Bruce Cherry. 
The show was fantastic and we also got to go to the after party at the ski-lodge themed rooftop bar at the Sanctuary hotel - where our little posse got to surpass everyone standing in line (thanks, executive producer John Marshall) to head for the cocktails.We stayed out til the wee hours celebrating and laughing -- it was a blast.

As I was leaving NYC early the next day, we went for a quick breakfast at The Mansion (neighborhood diner that is not as fancy as it sounds) and I ate my body weight in cheesecake (as I tend to do the day after I've eaten nothing to fit into a dress for an awards show), then Meredith accompanied me back to the area where the bus picks up to head back to Virginia. I have made this trip several times, so Meredith is just as familiar with the process as I am, and was concerned when she did not see any other passengers lined up outside the Starbucks where we were waiting.

I assured her that this was probably due to people waiting inside as it it was one degree outside ( degree), and that she should not worry. She humored me until about five minutes before the bus was to depart, and then asked, "does the bus company have a web site?" I went to the web site and realized that the bus pick up area had moved (something that I also learned -- and promptly forgot -- when they sent an email a few weeks prior to my trip -- and also when they dropped me off at the new stop two days earlier).

The new stop was SEVEN BLOCKS from where we were, and the bus always leaves right on time, which means I had FIVE MINUTES to run that distance. So, in boots and a dress, while carrying my suitcase and regretting that I ate a slab of cheesecake for breakfast, I tore down the street as fast as I could, with Meredith shouting directions behind me. And as I turned the corner where the bus was parked, I ran up behind it waving my arms so the driver would spot me and not take off. As I ran up the bus steps, the driver opened the door and invited me aboard, laughing and telling me that I lucked out because they had run out of hand sanitizer on the bus and his assistant had gone to a local bodega to stock up.

I have never been more grateful for an understocked bus bathroom in my entire life.

A glamorous end to a glamorous weekend.

Bob Balaban's bae,