Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy 10th Anniversary Of Guy Who Flipped Over The Banister Day

The title of this post is a text message I received over the weekend from my friend, Meredith. It took me a few moments to decipher and then I remembered -- the Milennium New Year's Eve that we spent in New York City...

(wavy lines and "DO..do.do.do" music here signifying the trip in the wayback machine)

Meredith had some sweet deal when she first moved to NYC. She lived rent-free with a couple that had a sick apartment in exchange for cleaning the house wearing nothing but fishing waders and nipple clamps helping out when they entertained, which was often. Over the years, this couple had purchased four adjacent apartments and combined them...which made for a huge, two-story, roof balcony-wrapping-around-the-entire-apartment place on the Upper West Side. They were out of town for the holidays that year, so Meredith decided she would take that opportunity to throw a major party.

She did act responsibly as she was holding this party in someone else's gorgeous home. And by that, I mean she went to the Meatloaf concert at Madison Square Garden for the first half of the evening, while about a hundred people descended upon the apartment. (Including the drunken, jackass cousin of one of our friends.)

(Great aside: On the way into the Meatloaf concert, someone who worked for the show was assessing the crowd in search of someone who would go on stage with Meatloaf during the song, "Paradise by the Dashboard Light" and who wouldn't mind kissing someone while they were up there. Because Meredith's life is a series of bizarro incidents that sound made up but are not, she was selected from the crowd of thousands. While she was on stage, her now-husband John saw her, and never having met her before, turned to a friend he was with and said, "I'm going to marry that woman." The friend also knew Meredith, so John ended up being invited back to the party later that night.

By the time Mer and John made it back to the apartment, the evening had already gotten a little out of hand. One friend of theirs (a comedian) spent a good part of the night screaming suggestive ideas to the guys on the roof of the drug rehab place across the street, and the aforementioned drunken jackass cousin was at one point sitting on the upstairs banister when he lost his balance and fell backwards down to the first floor, landing on his (thankfully, fairly soft) head. The following conversation actually took place during this incident:

Drunken onlooker (in a panic): "Is anyone here a doctor?"
Our friend Sanjay (stepping forward, helpfully): "I am"
Drunken onlooker (quizzically): "A medical doctor?"
Our friend Sanjay (patiently, yet sarcastically): "No. A doctor of poetry."

Fortunately, the kid was okay. It took just a few stanzas of Walt Whitman to make him feel better.

Hope you all had Happy 10th Anniversaries of Guy who flipped over the banister days, too.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Notes To Self (Holiday Edition)

Thanks to the recent blizzard and lazy holidays there has been a lot more movie and television watching in our house than normal. In addition to killing off the brain cells that the egg nog missed, it bumped us up to the top of the CPS list gave us some insight into just how influential the media is on little minds.  

To wit:

1. I should not let my child watch 'A Christmas Story' as it prompted the following:
  • her to turn to me and ask, "That's crap. Right, mom?" when the dad in the movie opened up the crate and pulled out the leg lamp (perceptive little potty mouth, isn't she?)
  • her playing "mommy's little piggy" during lunch at the local Thai place recently (how does one say "Yes, she *was* raised in a barn" in Thai?)
2. I should not let my child watch 'Best of SNL Christmas skits' as it prompted the following:
  • her to exclaim, "my vagina's in a box" in the middle of a crowded restaurant (rendered speechless here)
3. In an attempt to steer my daughter clear of references to genitalia in boxes, I should not then let my child watch the food network. The seemingly innocuous segment featuring a donut maker dipping a donut into a big bowl of gloppy white glaze prompted the following:
  • "Mom, that looks like throw up" (so much for visions of sugarplums)
Hey, it's cheaper than a babysitter,
Brutalism

    Monday, December 28, 2009

    Publicity Whore

    Jeff Cockey stopped by while in town for the holidays.

    My kid, who takes forever to warm up to anyone and has only met this guy a couple of times, led him up to see her bedroom within moments of his arrival with the promise of showing him her "pink tree." As she walked through the kitchen, she attempted to grab the bottle of Ketel One he brought us as a gift along the way. Ignoring all of the "apple does not fall far" comparisons, it was actually kind of cute how quickly she took to him until I realized that at four, she is about three years away from the dateable range in his world. (Not okay, Jeff Polanski Cockey...not okay at all.)

    We also learned that Canetto and Cockey have a mutual friend in a relatively successful actor out in la la land...Canetto from his GMU days, Cockey from his actor days. They live near each other in Brentwood and have become friends. (Interesting aside: Cockey is partially responsible for this guy's first foray into sex in the no-no place.) (Though not with Cockey.) (Or so he says.)

    While he was visiting, Cockey was telling us about another couple with whom he is friends. The husband is a doctor at Stanford and the wife is a biochemist. They have a daughter the same age as ours who is currently studying Mandarin. As he was saying this, our child walked by with a conical party hat pressed against her forehead, repeatedly grunting "UNICORN". Too bad they live in California, or we'd totally be besties.

    Another year, another unannounced visit from Jeff. Nothing like a little Cockey to make the holiday complete.

    That's what she said,
    Brutalism

    Friday, December 18, 2009

    Different Day

    Often, when I read the daily report from Avery’s preschool listing all of the fun activities, nap time and snacks, I think, “I want to go there.”

    And then there are the days when it feels like I do.

    Like earlier this week, when the phantom pooper in our office struck again.

    We are all (chronologically) adults here and I feel that there really is no reason to leave bodily yuck anywhere in the shared bathroom at work. Apparently, I am alone in this radical thought in the world of female government consulting professionals.

    Unsuspectingly, as I walked into the restroom a few mornings ago, I pushed open a stall door and was greeted by the sight of a huge smear of poop on the toilet seat. (To frame this properly, please envision your favorite horror movie…the ominous music that begins to play as the hapless victim is about to come upon something horrific. Then, the music leads to a crescendo as the door slowly opens and the victim begins to process the nightmare that they are seeing.)

    I ran out of there so fast, you’d have thought someone told me that Leonardo DiCaprio had finally tired of twenty-something supermodels and was waiting for me in my office.

    I spent the rest of the day suppressing my gag reflex and going down three floors when I needed to use the restroom. Until late in the day, when I had put it out of my mind and thoughtlessly walked back into the restroom on our floor. Where I was again greeted by something I did not expect: an angry (all caps! exclamation points!) sign on the offending stall door that read, “CLEAN UP AFTER YOURSELF! THIS IS DISGUSTING AND NOT ACCEPTABLE!”

    It’s not that I don’t completely agree with the message (I do.). It’s just that the furious sign writer had taken the time to add the flourish of a clip-art toilet on their sign. In my opinion, this is not only redundant but also takes some of the “zing” out of the strong wording.

    Such a waste,
    Brutalism



    Thursday, December 17, 2009

    In The Spirits

    Some good friends of ours have THE BEST holiday party every year. They hire a bartender who makes specialty holiday cocktails, and a pianist (tee hee) who plays Christmas songs on their baby grand piano and invite about a zillion fun people, which makes for a great evening to which we look forward all year. And because we are such good friends, we and another couple take care of updating the hosts’ calendar while we are there.

    This began a few years back after one thousand too many elf martinis. As the hosts had thoughtfully left a white board marker right next to the calendar with their schedules, we thought we'd make a few of their appointments a little more colorful…and add in some of the ones they’d carelessly forgotten.

    For instance, "Kelly's party" was easily transformed into "Sniff Kelly's panties", and "Father's Day" was celebrated by a NAMBLA Father/"Son" dinner dance. They were very busy one year, what with all the KKK rallies, Swingers parties and various medical appointments (lets just say that one year saw more than its fair share of boil lancings). Also, for liberal Democrats, they have an astounding number of Mitt Romney fundraisers and NRA Life Member events to attend.

    Last year, we had even more fun by re-arranging their Christmas d├ęcor, which found many of the reindeer and (backdoor) Santa figurines in compromising positions.

    The hosts love to wake up the day after their party and read about all of the fun events they have to look forward to in the following year. (Hiking the Appalachian Trail with Governor Sanford!) Or so we tell ourselves, anyway. Thus far, we continue to be invited back.

    So you can probably understand why we felt completely comfortable wearing the following to their party a couple of weeks ago:

    We were totally on the list,
    Brutalism

    Tuesday, December 08, 2009

    Leave The Gun. Take The Cannolis.

    My daughter has a large stuffed horse that was given to her by her grandmother last Christmas. She loves this thing, and was "riding" it all over the house last night.

    As Canetto was over at a neighbor's watching football, I let her climb into bed with me to try and get her to fall asleep. (The child requires NO sleep. None. I usually tuck her in by saying, "I love you and you exhaust me.") So, she climbed up into my bed with the large stuffed horse and we all fell asleep there. When Canetto came home a couple of hours later, he moved her into her own room, then could not sleep himself, so he went to the guest room so as not to disturb me.

    Which means that when I woke up this morning at 5:00am, I looked over and saw a horse head on the pillow next to me.

    Definitely better than sleeping with the fishes,
    Brutalism

    Friday, December 04, 2009

    It's A Gift, Really

    Once again, I find myself in the holiday spirit, just like I was last year and in other years past. The spirit that takes me back to simpler times, times when I spread joy so effortlessly to everyone around me...

    Like the one Christmas several years ago when my mother and I were visiting my sister in South Florida and we went to the mall so my sister's young son could sit on Santa's lap. It was only a few days before Christmas, so the line to visit with Santa was about as long as Tiger Woods' texting bill. (Oooh, snap!)

    We figured it would be better if Grandma ran around the mall with my sister's son while my sister and I held a place in line. So, we stood and waited and chatted as we slowly moved closer to Santa, surrounded by legions of small children who were so excited by the promise of a small candy cane handed to them by a cranky alcoholic (Santa, not me) they could almost not contain themselves.

    As my sister and I talked, we reminisced about Christmases past. Like the one where I walked on the linoleum kitchen floor in my new ice skates (yelled at), the one where I used my brand new hair yarn to create pom-pom animals (smacked), and the one where I received the roller skates I wanted so desperately, yet instead of the beautiful bright-white skates of my dreams, they were blue with racing stripes (disillusioned).

    I believe it was at that moment that I asked her (loudly), "...and do you remember when we found out that Santa Claus wasn't real?"

    And I believe it was in the excruciating moments that followed that dozens of sets of weepy toddler and glaring parent eyes all turned toward me in unison to see who it was that was ruining the magc of Christmas.

    Happy Holidays, Everyone!
    Brutalism

    Wednesday, December 02, 2009

    Muy Caliente

    This morning, I came across a headline indicating that a former Miss Argentina had died during a cosmetic procedure. Which cosmetic procedure, you ask? Well, she was undergoing plastic surgery to get a butt implant. [Note to Brutalism readers: If you read my obituary one day and it names the manner of my death as "natural causes", rest assured that it was a butt implant gone awry and my PR people are protecting my (sadly, flat-assed) memory.]

    It gets better. I did a google search to find the story and the web site I landed on installed some spyware on my (work) computer. The IT Department tried many things to remove this, and ultimately took my computer into their parents' basement special IT diagnostic lab, which is when they discovered that in addition to the spyware, my processor had overheated, which warped the laptop.

    Looking forward to my annual review,
    Brutalism

    Saturday, November 28, 2009

    Danke Schoen

    I am David Hasselhoff. And not because I was videotaped lying in a drunken heap on the floor scarfing cheeseburgers. (Well, not just because...)

    According to my site statistics of late -- I am huge in Germany.

    Perhaps the fact that I'm wearing a dirndl in my profile picture has finally paid off. Perhaps my German readers appreciate that I host a big Oktoberfest party every year. Perhaps my love of wieners is blatantly obvious.

    Thank you, Germany. With apologies to the great JFK, "I am a (not worthy) donut."

    Wednesday, November 25, 2009

    Breast Man

    One Thanksgiving, I drove to Virginia Beach to have Thanksgiving Dinner with my parents. It was just going to be the three of us that year...having a small, quiet, family Thanksgiving.

    Until my dad was (characteristically) inspired to do something really nice. He found out that an artist he worked with had nowhere to go for the holiday, so he invited the guy to share the day with us, too.

    The man was a freakishly talented painter and a raging alcoholic. The guy didn't drive, so my father offered to pick him up and drive him to our house, with the stipulation that the invitation was contigent on the guy not having anything to drink that day.  (Let's be honest here...telling an alcoholic they cannot have booze on a holiday is like telling Lindsay Lohan that she should not wear leggings as pants -- even though they know the results will be disastrous, the allure is just too great.)

    I'm pretty sure you can guess how this played out. The guy was tanked when my dad got to his house. My dad, not wanting the guy to be drunk and alone on Thanksgiving (showing of hands, please...how many of you would LOVE to be drunk and alone on Thanksgiving?), loaded the guy into the car and brought him over. He poured this guy into his chair at the dinner table and the guy proceeded to say the most foul, obscene and lecherous things to and about my mother and I all during dinner.

    I could see my father's face getting redder as he tried to contain this guy's outbursts as much as possible and scolded him after each new rude remark. It was really, really uncomfortable. Until it got really, really funny. After a while, we all realized that this guy was so out of it that he had no idea what he was saying and each inappropriate comment became more hilarious. (Especially when we'd toss in asides like, "I bet this is just like the first Thanksgiving" and "Pass the stuffing, Sugar Tits.")

    Dinner seemed to last an eternity, then my dad did the "driving home of drunken artist friend" that is so steeped in Thanksgiving tradition.

    Hoping yours is memorable too,
    Brutalism

    Tuesday, November 24, 2009

    Eek! A Mouse

    Late last night, we got back from our trip to Disney World. In the past five days, my child was made over princess style at the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique (I threw up a little in my mouth as I was typing that), dined with Cinderella at her castle, ate breakfast with Minnie, Donald and Goofy, and observed giraffes, zebras and other animals from the balcony of our hotel room at the Animal Kingdom Lodge. (Envision Canetto and I looking pathetic while pulling out pocket linings here.)

    I have lots to discuss from this trip including, but not limited to, the vast scooter brigade, the all-Christian-all-the-time programming on the hotel television (except for the Miley Cyrus channel), and the area of Fantasyland called "Pooh's Playful Spot." You read that right. Chewing gum is the devil, but they name a children's playground after a pantsless bear's privates.

    Back in realityland,
    Brutalism

    Friday, November 13, 2009

    Ass-ault On My Sense Of Justice

    Did any of you see this a few weeks ago?

    Man who threw feces in CA courtroom gets 31 years.

    (Take a moment to peruse, then continue on to the commentary and discussion questions below...)

    1) Please do not let it be lost on you that the Judge's name is Judge Brown.

    2) I appreciate the clarification that it was "his" feces. Did they analyze it? Did they ask?  Is it any more or less gross or does it add anything to the story by specifically designating them (it?) as "his" feces? (As my friend, Simon, noted, "I can see him in the interview room: "Of course it was my own feces; what kind of weirdo do you take me for?")

    3) How quickly do you think the juror dumped (pun intended) the computer case?

    4) How does one sneak a bag of feces into a courtroom under their clothes? (This is a rhetorical question. RHETORICAL!)

    5) If a feces-flinging robber heads north at 65 mph and passes an unsuspecting lawyer heading south going 45 mph, at what point does the lawyer decide that he might just want a nice data entry job?

    Hoping they cannot find a jury of his peers,
    Brutalism

    Thursday, November 12, 2009

    It's Real...And It's Spectacular

    Yesterday, while spending several hours fostering my delusions of grandeur by adding snooty-toot titles in front of my name, I was at work, I received my first invitation to attend an event as a "key influencer."

    And not just any event, an event at Radio City Music Hall for "bloggers and other key influencers" to celebrate The Christmas Spectacular in New York City. Which is only something I have wanted to see since I was a kid, having heard nothing but fantastic things about this for as long as I can remember. (It really is one of the quintessential New York City experiences...along with being urinated on and getting yelled at by a deli owner when you don't understand that a "regular" coffee is one that comes with milk and sugar.)

    Assignment: In ten words or less, please let me know how I have influenced you, gentle Brutalism reader. Extra points if your comment is in the form of haiku, references fecal matter or is sent from a correctional facility.

    The exclusive (If you wondered how much I loved typing that the party I was invited to is “exclusive” and thought “I bet she loved it a lot,”....you would be right.) party celebrates the 2009 Radio City Christmas Spectacular and would have me mingling with the world-famous Radio City Rockettes, Santa Claus, and other bloggers from the area. (Which, honestly, has been a fantasy of mine since forever. Except that in my version, the Rockettes are naked except for dirty argyle socks, Santa is a Siamese twin, and we are all eating Kentucky hot browns.) (I know. A rather pedestrian fantasy for someone who calls herself "Brutalism.")

    So kill me. As awesome as that sounds, I have an awesome conflict and cannot go. This, my friends, is what is known as "bittersweet."

    Make me feel better by going to see this fabulous show and by following the (aptly-named) Spectacular on Twitter and Facebook: www.twitter.com/rockettes and www.facebook.com/radiocitychristmas. And by sending me beer.

    Wednesday, November 11, 2009

    Most Excellent

    Canetto suggested we purchase a membership to Wolf Trap because we want to get our Chris Isaak and Mamma Mia! tickets a day earlier than the people in steerage are major supporters of the arts.

    Because I have to do everything, he made me complete the transaction (not a euphemism). And I have just this to say: Wolf Trap...your "title" section of the Membership form is an immature woman's playground.

    The drop-down menu included the following:

    Mr.
    Mrs.
    Ms.
    Miss
    Dr.
    Drs.
    Admiral
    Ambassador
    Attorney General
    Baroness
    Brigadier General
    Brother
    Capt.
    Chairman
    Cmdr.
    Col.
    Col. (R)
    Colonel
    Congressman
    Congresswoman
    Delegate
    Father
    General
    Governor
    Her Excellency
    His Excellency
    His Royal Highness
    Judge
    Lady
    Lieutenant Governor
    Lord
    Lt.
    Lt. Col.
    Lt. Gen.
    Lt. Gen. (R)
    LTC
    Madam
    Major
    Major General
    Master
    Mayor
    President
    Prince
    Prof.
    Professor
    Rabbi
    Rear Admiral
    Representative
    Reverend
    Secretary
    Senator
    Sir
    Sir/Madam
    Sister
    Supervisor
    The Honorable
    Vice Admiral

    Moments ago, I received the following confirmation e-mail from Wolf Trap:

    Dear Her Excellency Canedo:

    We have charged your American Express $65.00 for your new Friend membership.

    Let them eat cake,
    Brutalism

    Addenda:
    1) Second runner up was going to be "Baroness and Rabbi Canedo"
    2) Wolf Trap would probably be none the wiser had I not gone with the cheapest Membership option

    Friday, November 06, 2009

    Coming Soon To A Theatre Near You

    Often, I e-mail myself with (riotously funny) blog post ideas because if I don't, they immediately leave my booze-addled brain and I will be staring at a blank computer screen into the wee hours of the morning trying to remember the story that was finally going to put Brutalism on the map.

    This also serves to provide the "full e-mail inbox" validation that I crave, and if that must be achieved by sending e-mail to myself, then so what? (Though I do wish I would stop sending myself performance enhancment product solicitations.)

    I just came across one of these "e-mails to self" that I sent to me a few weeks ago. It includes the following suggested topics:
    • Disappearing after Children of the Corn late show with Erle
    • Simon -- G.G. Allin documentary, convincing me for years that I broke wind when I fell asleep in a room full of people (I didn't), threesome in New Orleans
    • Kath -- walking across broken glass a la Loni Anderson, Circus of the Stars
    Much like movie trailers, I'm thinking these stories may be more compelling in the abbreviated format above. I ask you, gentle readers, do you want the whole story(ies) or is it more fun to let your minds wander?

    Tuesday, November 03, 2009

    The Curse Of The Minibar

    (Originally posted 12/17/04 -- but deserves another run...)

    Have I mentioned that I worked for THE ORGANIZATION THAT DOES NOT HATE FREEDOM for more than five years? One of the best jobs I ever had (and I've had a bunch of 'em). I worked with some of the most fun people during those five years, and I'm sure it had very little to do with the fact that I was single, in my 20s and drinking heavily.

    I did a lot of things for NRA and one year I got put on a special project -- the Charlton Heston Celebrity Shoot out in Dana Point, California. Glamour! Excitement! "Celebrities!"

    While there, I had a bet with a consultant as to which of us could get our picture taken with the funniest celebrity (funny in a B-list way, not in a "ha ha" way). I ended up winning -- finding and taking a picture with Jerry Mathers. The photo became my Christmas card that year with the greeting, "Merry Christmas. Love, Kathleen and the Beav." I gave one to a friend of mine in grad school who later became my husband. He still likes to joke that the reason he fell for me was that I so freely gave out my "beaver shot."
    My Beaver shot.
    Earlier in the evening, I was hanging out with Nat from the Peach Pit on Beverly Hills 90210. Seriously, at that time, he was my Brad Pitt -- I so loved 90210. I talked to Nat (still cannot remember his real name) in the bar for an hour or so -- don't remember a lot of it. About a week after I got back from the shoot, however, my sister (who lives in Florida) and I each received autographed head shots of Nat. Apparently, at some point in the evening, I wrote down both addresses and gushed enough to prompt the head shot sending.

    But the best story......
    One night, I stayed out til four in the morning, partying with some of the celebs at a party that only the cool kids were invited to. Now, because I worked for a non-profit, I was sharing a room with a co-worker on this particular trip. She had gone to bed around 10:00 that night and was fast asleep by the time I found my way back to the room. At this point, the minibar was just screaming to me, so I opened it, found a huge Hershey's chocolate bar and that's the last I remember -- UNTIL....at about 6:00am, I woke up to my roommate standing over my bed and yelling like a maniac. She was practically hysterical...pointing at me and screaming. I jumped up and also started screaming and ran to the bathroom to see what she was pointing at.

    Apparently, in the dim light of the hotel room that morning, the choclate bar that I had fallen asleep with had smeared all over my face and bed, looking a lot like blood. She thought someone had come into the room and blugeoned me to death while she slept.

    I was still clutching what remained of the chocolate bar -- apparently only willing to give it up once it was pried from my cold, dead hands.

    Me and Robert Stack's daughter. She's handsy. Read comment thread.

    Friday, October 30, 2009

    I Want Candy

    Ahhh, Halloween...

    Some of my favorite Halloween memories involve dressing up for costume parties when I was in my 20s and first living on my own as an adult. Every costume I ever wore (punk rocker, biker chick, Miss America) always somehow included one common accessory -- handcuffs. I guess I used to be a lot bolder, because I distinctly remember cuffing guys to me during parties. I wouldn't even speak to them...I'd just go up to one I thought was cute and wordlessly cuff him. (Let's all say it together: It is a really good thing I met Canetto when I did.)

    There's a great Halloween story that involves my dad, back when we lived in an apartment complex in Syracuse, New York. My sister and I had gone out trick-or-treating dressed as Frankenstein (her) and an angel (me). We were probably 4 and 5 at the time.To make my costume, my mom had dressed me in an old white nightgown of hers and had made fantastic cardboard wings that she covered with aluminum foil --giving me a wingspan of a good three and a half to four feet across. She also made me a halo out of a shaped wire coat hanger -- also covered with aluminum foil. My sister and I trick-or-treated for a couple of hours and then came home to immediately begin gorging on candy. (Okay, fine...I was the one who was apparently intent on upping my risk factor for diabetes. She was one of those annoying able-to-delay-gratification types who would be pulling out her treat bag the following summer to sift through the treats and then select a single piece of candy to savor. And of course, I was convinced she did this simply to torture me.)

    With our trick-or-treating done, my father decided that he and a friend should enjoy some trick-or-treating themselves. So, he put my costume on over a pair of jeans, and headed out with a beer stein. Since we lived in an apartment complex, he manged to get his stein filled up very quickly with whatever beer or hard liquor our neighbors had on hand...all of them thinking this was very funny, of course.

    He was gone for a while on this mission and when he returned home, he tried to walk through the front door into our apartment, but could not. He tried again -- no luck. Confused as to why he could not walk through the doorway, he tried again. Still -- stuck on the front porch. My (sober, and therefore unamused) mother intervened at this point and managed to get his drunk self focused long enough to understand that he simply needed to turn sideways to fit his giant angel wings through the door.

    The Devil is in the details,
    Brutalism

    Wednesday, October 21, 2009

    Batter, Batter, Batter....

    So a bunch of employees in upstate New York were refusing to work this past weekend because a Swinger's Convention was being held in their (sold out) hotel.

    Being the curious, investigative type that I am...I (naturally) have some questions:

    1) When you think of locations in which to engage in deviant sexual escapades, do you really think Buffalo, New York? Who is this convention planner?

    2) As long as your job is not sheet-changer or hot tub cleaner-outer, why would you not beg to work that weekend?

    3) If you worked that weekend and saw that your former fourth grade English teacher was a conference attendee (not a stretch, based on what we know about the lifestyle), would you ever be able to use the word "conjugate" again without wincing?

    4) How often do you use the word "conjugate" now?

    5) Do you think that if they called the event a "swap meet", the employees would have been none the wiser?

    "Entice the Falls" my ass,
    Brutalism

    Tuesday, October 20, 2009

    Just Like Heaven


    Somehow, this photo, taken by Kathyconnolly, perfectly sums up what I was feeling the night of the wedding. I twisted with Jack, did the Molly Ringwald '80s dance with several partners (it's the swinger in me) and bounded all over the dance floor. (I have missed working out the past two days as my calves recover.) I promise a wedding recap post soon.

    Sunday, October 18, 2009

    Bend Over, I'll Drive

    Subtitle: F&#K you, Margaret Zuidema*.

    This weekend, my mom married Jack, and invited some of my close friends and some of my sister, Patti's, to the wedding and reception. My sister and I were a year apart in school and had different groups of friends, but of course some of them knew (or at least recognized) each other. At one point during the reception, I brought my friend, Kathyconnolly over to Patti's table to talk to some of her friends that I thought Kath might have known...including Margaret Zuidema. They politely said "Hello" to each other, but there was not much recognition on either's part and Kathyconnolly went back to her table while I chatted with Margaret for a few more minutes.

    Margaret casually mentioned to me, "You know, the last time Patti and I got together, we were talking about that day we dropped you off at driver's ed." A lightbulb went off in my head as I remembered just how she and Kathyconnolly knew each other. I ran over, grabbed Kathyconnolly and screamed, "You know Margaret because she and Patti are the ones who got us blackballed from behind-the-wheel." Kathyconnolly ran over, screamed, "F&#K you, Margaret Zuidema" (In a friendly, kidding way, of course), and within moments all of the teen angst came rushing back...

    Back in the day, Kathyconnolly and I were taking a summer class for driving instruction so we could then get our learner's permits. Each morning for a week or two, we would meet in a high school parking lot, assemble on a bus where a tight-shorts-wearing-angry-that-he-was-teaching-this-god-forsaken-class-during-the-summer-just-to-earn-a-few-extra-bucks P.E. teacher would provide some instruction, and then we'd leave the bus to get into some cars in the parking lot to practice what we had learned.

    And, since my sister and Margaret already had their driver's licenses, they were sometimes (unhappily) tasked with hauling us around...especially when we had to go somewhere legit (like behind-the-wheel classes).

    Because they were forced to drive us, Margaret decided they should at least make it interesting one day when she was driving (my sister was in the passenger seat and Kathyconnolly and I were in back). As we neared the high school, Margaret drove about a million miles an hour into the parking lot, did a loud, squealing donut around the instruction bus and then came to a screeching halt right next to the open bus door. Kathyconnolly and I slunk out of the back seat and up the bus steps. As Margaret and Patti sped away without a care in the world to go buy Slurpees (or whatever it was they did with all of their drivers-license-having freedom), Kathyconnolly and I were forced to stand at the front of the bus and be made an example of for the benefit of all our behind-the-wheel classmates. Angry P.E. teacher screamed for twenty minutes about how that was a prime example of how NOT to drive a car and how we should always be concerned about safety and how irresponsible we were. (Please keep in mind that WE were not driving, had no control over how Margaret drove and wanted to crawl under the bus and die.)

    We did manage to get through it and ran home and told my mom maturely dealt with the situation. We naively believed we had reached a detente as Patti drove us to behind-the-wheel the next day. She pulled into the parking lot slowly and carefully...and continued driving slowly and carefully as she deliberately ran over each and every orange pylon set up for our class.

    *Margaret thought this was hilarious...so please don't think I am in any way disrespecting (or "dissing" as the kids say) her.

    Tuesday, October 13, 2009

    The Birthday Post

    First of all, Happy Birthday today to loyal and hilarious Brutalism reader, Dilettante07! She was reading and commenting on this blog back when it was just a baby (and actually...so was she.) Little whippersnapper. Tante was one of the first people I met when I moved to DC in the early 90s. We have many ridiculous shared adventures including (of course) Dilettante Club, being co-flower girls in our friends' wedding in Santa Barbara, Oktoberfest, cocktail parties, a half marathon, smashing cake in each other's faces at our weddings, and more karaoke on video than I want to admit to.

    Second of all, Happy Birthday to Avery, who turned four on October 9th. We celebrated with a princess tea party at our house for her and five friends. (At this age, all of the princesses come accompanied by one or both parents, so we had a decent crowd there. Which also included grandparents and our friend, Amy, who wore a dirndl and acted as a handmaiden, serving tea goodies to the girls.)

    Before any party at our house, I update the quote board with a new quote. In an attempt to be topical, I wrote one by Stephen Wright that said, "I would kill for a Nobel Peace Prize." It made me chuckle...until it began a not-so-comfortable discussion among the adults about whether or not Obama was deserving of the prize at this point in his presidency. As party host, I was trying to remain neutral, while also trying to end the discussion. So I said, "Enough about that. How do you all feel about abortion?"

    Apologies in advance to Avery for all of the play dates and birthday parties from which she will now be banned. She does make a beautiful princess, doesn't she?

    Wednesday, October 07, 2009

    The Paparazzi Will Just NOT Leave Me Alone

    The Dilettante Club is being featured today in Washingtonian magazine.

    Be more jealous that I get to hang out with these cool chicks every month.

    We always have to look up how to spell "Dilettante," too,
    Brutalism

    Saturday, October 03, 2009

    Patrick Swayze -- A Delinquent Tribute

    In the summer between my junior and senior years of college, I lived in an apartment in Charlottesville with my sister. She had just graduated from UVA and was working at CVS because she was an English major wasn't ready to enter the real world yet.

    I was working a minimum wage job and taking a statistics class, hoping to get a "C" so that it would transfer without being figured into my (already horrific) GPA at JMU.

    What does this have to do with Patrick Swayze, you ask? Just everything. My sister had a bunch of friends that she had met while working at the radio station at UVA. And to a person, they were (and are) the funniest bunch of people I have ever met. That summer, we'd just hang out at the apartment, drinking whatever beer our minimum wage salaries would afford us, and talk and laugh for hours. One of the things we laughed about? The defacement of albums at the radio station.

    At the time, the Dirty Dancing sound track was huge, and much to everyone's chagrin, the Program Manager had put it in the rotation to play every hour. In retaliation, one of the crew had taken a little creative license with the Dirty Dancing album cover at the station. Immediately after the song title, "She's like the wind," for instance, he had penciled in "from my ass." And on the front of the album, where Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey were embracing, someone had artistically added a thought bubble from his head with the words, "that is not my finger" and a thought bubble from her head with the words, "that is not my belly button."

    Also, on the Billy Ocean 12 inch single album (where he was wearing a long white leather coat and looking totally pimped out), our friend, Sean, simply added a period and a comma to make the album title, "Billy Ocean. 12 inch, single." Which, if guys were smart, would be the title of their Match.com profiles.

    All of this to say: RIP, Patrick Swayze. I'm really glad it wasn't her belly button.

    Pirou-wet

    In a failed attempt to make me more graceful and more social when I was a little girl, my parents enrolled me in a ballet class.

    I was so unbelievably shy that even though my older sister was in the class with me, I was scared to talk to any of the other little girls and was especially terrified of the teacher, Mr. Jack. Mr. Jack was what one might now refer to as a "frustrated-and-closeted-homosexual." Back then, I believe we just called him "artistic."

    He scared me so much that one day while we were practicing in the gym after school and I had to urinate, I simply could not raise my hand and ask him if I could be excused to use the restroom. I held it as long as I could and then, inevitably, wet my leotard in the middle of class. (My logic here is admittedly a little flawed. In my pea-sized brain, it was less scary and attention-drawing to have a potty accident in his class than ask to use the restroom.) Many of the little girls in my class (including my sister -- always the loyal team player) pointed at me and laughed. After he realized what was going on, Mr. Jack bellowed, "Young Lady! Do you need to use the restroom?" (Which, to this day, strikes me as an odd question. I really wanted to say, "Um...no. I just emptied my bladder on the floor. I really wish you had asked me that five minutes ago, though.")

    I was relegated to the back row from that point forward -- during class and for the recital. This marked the end of my (short and humiliating) ballet career.

    (Any member of my family would now play straight guy and ask, "how old were you when this happened?" and I would reply "25" and then we'd all laugh heartily. It really never gets old. We're a fairly simple people.)

    Wednesday, September 23, 2009

    I Wouldn't Want To Paint It

    It's a small world. (I just coined that phrase. Catchy, huh? I see
    t-shirts...merchandising...getting Disney involved in some capacity...)

    Supposedly over Labor Day weekend, I was sent a text message by Jeff Cockey. (He says he sent one, but I did not receive one. Either he did not send it or -- a more likely scenario -- he sent it and due to my complete lack of texting ability, I deleted it by mistake.) (Aside: Once, when I was due to pick Cockey up from Dulles airport, he texted to let me know he arrived so I could come get him. I wanted to let him know that I was on my way, but had no idea how to text back, so I pressed "reply" and then something like "QYR98621."  He wasn't sure if I had been abducted, was drunk, or if I was just completely technologically retarded.) He (correctly) went with option "C". (Although "Both B and C above" would also have been an acceptable answer.)

    The Labor Day text was to let me know that he was at a party in Hermosa Beach, California, with none other than one of my ex-boyfriends (who lives on the East Coast and was out there visiting). Somewhere in between guzzling bad beer and ogling girls on the beach, they put it together that they both knew me.

    Jeff Cockey -- he's the new Kevin Bacon.

    Saturday, September 19, 2009

    Memory Lane

    Remember your favorite storybooks from childhood? When you'd nestle into your parent's arm and listen to tales of familiar characters that you'd begin to think of as your friends? And how that opened up your world? Like the story about Babar, the sweet little elephant, gigolo?


    Mon dieux!
    Brutalism

    Thursday, September 10, 2009

    Your Gubmint At Work

    I am developing a style guide for the documents we create at my company. In doing this, I and another Project Manager who is working on this with me are following some of the Government Printing Office (GPO) guidelines to incorporate into our manual.

    Today, we discovered that the GPO style guide helpfully indicates that the word "werewolf" is one word. Which, as always, raises some questions in my mind:

    1) What kind of grammar idiot has ever written that as two words?
    2) How come I've never been staffed on a werewolf contract?
    3) How many of my tax dollars went into researching whether or not that was hyphenated?
    4) Really?

    Howling at the lunacy,
    Brutalism

    Wednesday, September 02, 2009

    I'm Betting That A Phillip Hart, By Any Other Name, Would Not Smell As Sweet

    Yesterday at work, I received an e-mail from a vendor. The naming convention for his corporate e-mail account was (like many) the first letter of his first name and then his last name. So, the e-mail I got from Scott Loth was Sloth@company.com.

    Things like this amuse me probably more than they should. Although when I mentioned it in my weekly team meeting, my boss shared an even better one -- his wife had once worked with a Phillip Hart, whose company also used that type of naming convention.
    Another friend said she once worked with a Richard Ebel, who was anything but.

    How about you guys? Seen any e-mail addresses that were particularly (and unintentionally) funny?

    Monday, August 31, 2009

    Underpanted Should Totally Be A Word

    Canetto wears a very specific kind of underpants. Mr. High Maintenance's brand of choice is nearly impossible to find in stores, and only after an exhaustive Internet search was I able to locate a site to buy them -- called -- get this -- FreshPair.com.

    Because he just recently cleaned out his drawers and threw away a bunch of worn out underwear, he asked me to order him about 30 new pairs of underpants. (Younger women: I am speaking to you from your future -- this is what the carefree and fulfilling life of a 10-years-married woman entails.) Off I went to FreshPair.com and placed the order for the 30 pairs of boxer briefs.

    First one month passed. Then, another week. That's when my campaign to locate the underpants-in-limbo* began. (*Unrelated aside: When I was in AP Art History in high school with my sister and our friend, Darren, we studied a painting titled "Christ in Limbo" that depicted Christ in between heaven and hell. To amuse us during a rather lengthy lecture one day, my sister drew a line over Christ's head and retitled the painting, "Christ DOING the Limbo". Heathens...all of us.)

    I wrote a politely-worded letter to FreshPair that asked simply,

    "Can you please tell me the status of my order?"

    which received an automated reply with generic information telling me that a customer service agent would be in touch with me soon regarding my order.

    No one got in touch with me. So, after another week, I sent another note, this one worded a little more strongly, asking,

    "For the love of God....where are my underpants?!"

    Again, an automated reply. But this one was followed up with a "personal" note from a customer service representative that did not provide one more bit of information, but gave me some encouragement that there was actually a human being on the other end of the e-mail address.

    Another week passed, and I decided this called for some serious action, so I wrote another e-mail that went something like this:

    "I've seen London, I've seen France, what I haven't seen are my underpants. Where the heck are the underpants that I ordered?"

    And again, I received the most generic note from the customer service representative, with no indication that they had read or appreciated my psychotic ramblings directed at an automated response mechanism amazing wit.

    Days later, as I was preparing to send a photo of my husband naked from the waist down to emphasize just how desperately we needed these underpants, we finally received a package of underpants in the mail from FreshPair.com.

    Now with a happily underpanted husband,
    Brutalism

    Thursday, August 27, 2009

    Delicate Flower

    The most fun thing about having Avery in preschool is she has a whole new audience to whom she can announce that mommy and daddy had an argument last night she learns things from other kids that are pretty entertaining.

    Last night, in the middle of dinner, she jumped out of her chair and began walking around like a robot with her arms bent at ninety degree angles saying, "Ro-bot con-tin-ue." We had never heard or seen this before, so Canetto and I burst out laughing.

    Because she was enjoying making us laugh, she cranked it up a notch to "Ro-bot poo-poo Diarr-hea Con-tin-ue."

    The apple does not fall far,
    Brutalism

    Monday, August 24, 2009

    Isn't It Ironic?

    I sent an e-mail to Canetto earlier (he is picking up a piece of furniture later today out in Gainesville that we had painted and distressed) that read:

    "Please drive carefully out there...lots of two-lane roads. Please play attention."

    Perhaps I should heed my own advice.

    Monday, August 17, 2009

    We Can Hitch A Ride To Rockaway Beach

    Friday night, I'm getting on a bus and heading up to NYC. "Sightseeing?" you ask. "No," I reply. "Bar crawling again?" "Been there, done that." I say. "Taking in some culture and good restaurants?" Sounds nice, but no. (And stop giving me the third degree. Sheesh...)

    I'm going to New York to learn to surf. You read that right. I spent 15 of my formative years in Virginia Beach, Virginia, where there was both ample coastline and opportunity to learn, yet I never once gave it a go. (This, of course, did not prevent me from wearing t-shirts from every surf shop at the oceanfront and peppering my tweener conversations with words like "tubular" and "stoked.") (I'm nothing if not a dedicated poseur.)

    As I head out to a Long Island beach on Saturday morning, I will try to forget that a 24-foot-long shark washed up on the shore there not even a month ago. People I have mentioned this to inevitably try to reassure me about my safety, claiming that this was a plankton-eating shark and that there is really nothing to worry about. Nothing except a TWENTY-FOUR-FOOT-LONG SHARK, FOR CHRISSAKES!!!

    We're gonna need a bigger boat,
    Brutalism

    UPDATE: Thanks to Hurricane Bill, the surf instructor cancelled classes this weekend, so there will be no surf lesson for me. I am going to go home, put on my (new, bought just for this occasion) board shorts, clutch my bus ticket and play some Chris Isaak while staring forlornly into space.

    Thursday, August 13, 2009

    Good Career Move

    One time, my wise older sister suggested that the best way to get a paid vacation from work was to pull my skirt up over my head and run around my workplace babbling incoherently.

    This has been a bit of a challenging week. I'm wearing a skirt tomorrow just in case.

    Sunday, August 09, 2009

    A Woman's Prerogative

    Our weekend at the Inner Harbor in Baltimore:

    Avery (two seconds after seeing the dragon boats): "I wanna go on the dragon boats. I wanna go on the dragon boats. I wanna go on the dragon boats. I wanna go on the dragon boats. I wanna go on the dragon boats. I wanna go on the dragon boats. I wanna go on the dragon boats. I wanna go on the dragon boats. I wanna go on the dragon boats. I wanna go on the dragon boats. I wanna go on the dragon boats. I wanna go on the dragon boats. I wanna go on the dragon boats. I wanna go on the dragon boats. I wanna go on the dragon boats. I wanna go on the dragon boats."

    Avery (two minutes and $16 after getting on a dragon boat): "I wanna get off the dragon boat."


    Avery -- ready to get off the dragon boat.

    Sunday, August 02, 2009

    I'd Like To Thank The Academy

    When one of your very best friends calls you from LA and asks, "Do you want to work the Vanity Fair Oscar party with me?" you immediately say, "I thought we agreed that you’d stop spray tanning because the fumes make you all loopy (though in a sun-kissed, bronze goddess kind of way)." Then when she repeats herself and says that it is $300, you realize that she is serious and consider the possibility, thinking that paying $300 for a unique experience like this is fairly reasonable. When she corrects you and tells you that they pay you $300 (and subsequently accuses you of huffing the Mystic Tan), you get your butt on JetBlue. Which is how I ended up serving cocktails to Hollywood royalty.

    LA friend and I had no idea what to expect as we arrived at Morton’s West Hollywood on the night of the 2002 Oscars. Blatantly disregarding the rules about bringing in any recording devices (and after being egged on by me), my friend had stuffed a disposable camera up her sleeve. And as we were going through security to get into the event, the camera fell out of her sleeve, hit the ground and the flash went off. Twice. I'm such a good friend, that when this happened, I completely turned my back to her and chatted up a replacement best friend standing behind me. (Hey. I travelled across the country. I was getting into this party.) Thanks to all the paparazzi, security did not seem to notice a couple of extra flashes, and we made it into the party with the camera (and surprisingly, our friendship) intact. She managed to sneak a few photos throughout the night, including one of Tobey Maguire and Nicole Kidman canoodling, though I’d never be so crass as to post that:

    Working the party was a little surreal. And not just because I had no experience serving cocktails (which may be a slightly different story than what I told the person who hired me for this gig.) Every single person at this party was white-hot famous – movie stars, sports figures, artists, media figures, designers, supermodels, television stars, musicians – it was nuts. And you know how everyone always tries to make you feel better by saying that people in Hollywood have great lighting and are airbrushed and styled which is why they look so good? Well everyone is a big, fat liar. This is a group of people that is just genetically blessed, and each person is more beautiful than the next. (With the obvious exception of Larry King.)

    And of course I'd never be so gauche as to mention which of the major stars in attendance were totally cool (Tom Hanks, Luke Wilson, Alan Alda, Sandra Bernhard, Helen Hunt, Hillary Swank), who was definitely not (Katie Couric), who made me star struck (Johnny Knoxville, Annie Leibovitz, Gwen Stefani, Diane Sawyer) and who was just freaking hot (Gary Dourdan, Vince Vaughn, Ellen Barkin, Halle Berry, Kirsten Dunst, Jake Gyllenhaal). Because even though these people are celebrities, they deserve their privacy.

    It was a ridiculous, fun experience and we had a great time doing it. So, a few years later, I decided that I wanted to do it again and that Canetto must do it, too. I called the guy who did the hiring to make arrangements and found out that another friend who I’d met while working the party would also be there. I figured we should also see if our friend, Cockey, who had recently moved out to LA to be an actor wanted to join the party. But apparently, I had already used up all of my favors in getting people added to the list and he was denied. Were we discouraged? Not at all. We were motivated to come up with a great (nay, brilliant) plan to get Cockey into the party.

    This is how it worked: Canetto and I had to get fitted for uniforms the day before the party at a costume designer’s studio in West Hollywood. We figured that if Cockey came with us and acted surprised when his name was not on the list for a fitting, the costume designer may figure there was a miscommunication (because how else would he have known where and when to show up for a fitting?) and go ahead and outfit him. Fortunately, it was a female designer, and fortunately, Cockey is charming, so within minutes, he was getting his inseam measured (not a euphemism) (or is it?).

    The second part of the plan was that when Cockey arrived at the party the following night in full uniform, he could again pretend there was a miscommunication, which is why he was not on the security list…because how would he have a tailored uniform and know how to get to the secure staging area if he had not been hired for the event? (See? Genius.) And again, because Cockey is a deceptive bullshit artist charming, we were serving cocktails to A-listers in no time.

    Okay, we actually may have spent more time helping ourselves to a little champagne and talking to people than doing any serving. At one point, I decided that I did not want to serve at all, and just sort of wandered around the party, stopping to talk to anyone who looked like they might want company. (Which is how I found out that Paul Sorvino had just broken up with his girlfriend and had an art exhibit opening in LA. It is also how I found out that Allison Eastwood got her (gorgeous) dress for only $300 off the rack. It is amazing how much people will open up to you when you are dressed like a poor man's Captain Steubing.) (See photo for humiliating evidence.)


    And of course, we managed to get a picture with the biggest star of the night. (And the only one who did not try to convert us to Scientology.)

    Air kisses,
    Brutalism

    Tuesday, July 28, 2009

    Workin' Blue

    On the way home from her preschool the other day, I asked Avery what was her favorite part of her day. She said to me, "When I told the other kiddos the one about my dog having no nose and also the one about Mickey Mouse's underwear."

    I asked (after pausing to wipe away a proud tear at the realization that she had her first "set" and seemed to like performing in front of a crowd), "So you told them jokes? Did they think the jokes were funny?"

    And she said, "Yes. Especially the one about the penis."

    Monday, July 27, 2009

    Thanks For Nothing, Dr. Drew

    How it SHOULD have played out:

    (Brutalism walks into a room full of friends and family members. Everyone looks very serious and as she enters, all eyes are on her. She stiffly takes a seat in the only available chair, and a person she has never seen before begins speaking very calmly.)

    Stranger: We understand that you have made a very bad choice recently and we are concerned about you. We think that you might need some help. What is your take on this?

    Brutalism: Is this because I had a few dozen too many glasses of wine last night? Because I've read that red wine is GOOD for you. You all need to read more. (She points accusingly at each person around the circle.)

    Stranger: No. We are actually gathered here today, as people who love and care about you, for a much more serious reason. We heard that you made plans to go camping this weekend. Camping! YOU!?! We are here to ask you if you will forfeit the camp site you reserved right now. Today. Are you willing to make that change in your life?

    How it ACTUALLY played out:

    After driving for SEVEN hours (this should be a three hour drive) to get to Virginia Beach, we made our way to the camp site we had reserved (past a clothesline with a huge bra hanging from it and another camp site with a rebel flag displayed proudly out front), to find that the campers before us had left trash everywhere, and that our tent space was situated right next to a mosquito-infested pond full of stagnant water.

    We thought about just going straight to my mom's house and giving up on this little adventure. However, because we are the best parents ever lazy, we stuck with our original plan. And after going out to dinner in a restaurant (non Zagat-rated, we were totally roughing it), we came back to sleep in the tent. Mr. Rebel flag and his friends kept us up half the night with the little "south will rise again" party they had going on across the way, and because our tent was on a bit of a slope, Avery kept rolling on top of Canetto in her sleep.

    The next morning (after breakfast in another non Zagat-rated restaurant -- sheesh...how much suffering can one woman take?) we headed over to my mom's house for the best shower I have ever had in my entire life.

    Happily entering a 12-step program,
    Brutalism

    Thursday, July 23, 2009

    Where Were We?

    1) This past weekend, I was asked by two guys that I find ridiculously funny to be a contributor to the new humor site they're developing. More on that as it comes to fruition. (Ugh. "Fruition"? Add that to the list of words I don't like. And in case you're wondering...there are actually some words I DO like..."skillet", for one.)

    2) If you haven't checked out The Dilettante Club site, do so immediately. (And mock me for wearing makeup to an early-morning exercise class. I've become that woman.)

    3) Based on a reader suggestion, I'm thinking about doing a "Friday lists" kind of thing. (People seemed to like the Jeopardy! categories post.) Whaddaya think? Would you guys contribute list ideas?

    4) At this very moment, I'm sitting under a heat lamp at the hair salon, a salon that now provides Internet while you are being processed. Since I am getting re-blonded, you will actually be able to experience me getting ditsier in real time.

    Your humble servant,
    Brutalism

    Tuesday, July 21, 2009

    DC Bloggers

    Last week, I went to my first DC Blogger Meetup meeting at Madam's Organ. It was a great chance to meet and talk with people who blog about a wide variety of topics and who were more than willing to provide their insight and expertise.

    If you get a chance...check out their blogs:

    Leon -- Listen to Leon
    Bill -- Clarendon Nights
    Dave Newman -- Groovy Soup
    Shevonne -- Free Agent Writer
    Kier Duros -- Durosia
    Mike Licht -- DC Blogs
    Yali Friedman -- Biotech Blog
    Margie Newman -- Flack Rabbit
    Joe Logon -- Dumb Things I Have Done Lately
    Marie -- Merblog
    Jade -- Jadxia Live Journal
    A Glenn -- Comings and Goings & Good and Green

    UPDATE: Of course, it goes without saying that once I implement some of the great ideas these people are giving me to market my blog and increase readership, I will become very important and fabulous. I may not remember your name. Don't take it personally.

    UPDATE 2: Apparently, I slept with an editor of the Washington Post Express in a previous life. And in spite of that, they gave my blog another mention today.

    Music To My Ears

    Today, I am being featured over at Music Savvy Mom.

    Now, normally I'm right there with Groucho Marx in not wanting to be part of any club that would have me as a member. (You hear that, Junior League of Northern Virginia? I'd like those four months of my life back.) However, I'm feeling like being included at Music Savvy Mom is elevating my status a bit.

    Ri, who writes this blog, really knows good music and has enlisted some of my very favorite bloggers to participate in providing her with their iPod play lists.

    In the spirit of disclosure, I must admit that I do not own an iPod...so my list is more of a hypothetical -- the play list I would have, were I to lose the death grip on my disc man and embrace the technology that the rest of the world has.

    Check it out...submit play lists...show the woman some love with comments. You're going to like what you read (and hear).

    Sunday, July 19, 2009

    Freedom Of Expression

    I had a wonderful visit with an old friend yesterday.

    She and I first met when we worked together for the ORGANIZATION THAT DOES NOT HATE FREEDOM for a couple of years -- in the same small department of that large association. (We later ended up dating the same guy, who also worked with us. But not at the same time, so it is slightly less dysfunctional and incestuous than it could have been.) (She tells herself hopefully.)

    Since we had not seen each other in many years, our reminiscence included going through a box of stuff that I had saved from those days. The usual stuff you accumulate when you work somewhere for five years: a crazy letter file (which, if I did not fear being sued, would be its own blog), a commemorative Charlton Heston Celebrity Shoot watch and photos with Joe Mantegna from the event, and a letter proposing marriage from a fellow exhibitor at a trade show. (Lest you think my ego might need a check -- let me remind you that the pool of single women at these events was not a large one. And that the male exhibitors stood a good chance of never being mistaken for Brad Pitt.)

    We also remembered that during that time, one of our co-workers was working on developing a Hunter Safety brochure that, among other information, included details on how to handle any first aid emergencies that may arise when people were out in the field. Our co-worker had tasked the in-house graphics department with creating the illustrations for the brochure and was slightly unnerved when he received the following CPR graphic from the (approximately 90-year-old) illustrator:

    Friday, July 17, 2009

    Not So Easy Listening

    So.

    While trying to lull my night owl 3-year-old to sleep recently, I sang every song I knew. First, it was all the kid songs with which she was familiar. Then, as I got more desperate, I started singing anything that came to mind. (If you'd like to know how to lullabatize "Sheena is a Punk Rocker" e-mail me...). (And yes, I'm pretty proud of the word "lullabatize.")

    This explains why I have been listening to Firefall's "You are the woman that I've always dreamed of" as sung by a 3-year-old for the past week.

    Yes...good luck getting it out of your head, too.

    Whoa Whoa Of My Heart,
    Brutalism

    Monday, July 13, 2009

    Smut Peddlers

    As further testament to my earlier hypothesis that children's books are filthy (which is supported by examples here and here), I recently discovered the following in a book on my innocent's book shelf:




    Based on what he carries, Pig Wig, apparently, speaks very softly...








    ...and wonders, as any pig with his attributes would, what may happen when he comes into contact with a sweet-looking *feline*...






    Fortunately for Pig Wig, his new friend belongs to a sorority, so there is a (ahem)happy ending.



    Looking for Tipper Gore's phone number,
    Brutalism

    Friday, July 10, 2009

    Well, I'm Sure They Do Need To Be Laundered Pretty Regularly

    (Loyal reader JenBC provided this gem. This is her local cleaners where her husband takes his laundry. And his merkins.) Obviously.

    Thursday, July 09, 2009

    What Is...Rockin'?

    Yesterday's post was mentioned in The Washington Post Express.

    Dude.

    UPDATE: Do you love how I linked to yesterday's post above, even though you can read down one more line of text to see it?

    UPDATE 2: Okay, so apparently, I had other mentions in the Washington Post Express on June 4 and June 9

    Dear Clinton Yates -- >mwah<

    Tuesday, July 07, 2009

    What Is...Roughin' Up The Suspect?

    Jeopardy Categories I Would Totally Dominate:*

    --Things that taste great smothered in Nutella
    --Movies I convinced my husband to add to the Netflix list before he realized they starred Leonardo DiCaprio
    --Creative ways of being passive-aggressive
    --Family events where I saw my grandfather in boxer shorts
    --Euphemisms for masturbation
    --Famous men I've touched
    --Cities I've thrown up in
    --E-mails I wish I hadn't sent to my boss by mistake
    --Potent Potables

    *[concept (and the last item) borrowed from http://freetheunicorns.wordpress.com]

    Thursday, July 02, 2009

    No One Wants That

    Isn't being the Champion of Cornholing kinda like being the Captain of Team Diarrhea or having someone say to you, "You are the second prettiest girl at this gun show"?

    Tuesday, June 30, 2009

    Jack The Stripper

    My mom is getting married in October. She found a guy who has many qualities she admires: intelligence, honesty, a sense of humor...and most importantly (as her romantic history indicates) a compulsion to take his clothes off in public.

    Last fall, she and Jack went to an afternoon party and they each had approximately seventeen pomegranate margaritas. After making their way back to Jack's house at the beach (walking distance...fortunately), they sat in the Adirondack chairs out front (and set back from the road) to enjoy the sunset. Jack went into the house to get a couple of (necessary) glasses of wine for them and (inexplicably) came back out totally naked. My mom claims she had a non-reaction to this development -- she simply accepted it and began drinking her wine as Jack sat back down in his chair. (I'm hoping against hope in the name of the sweet baby Jesus and all that is right and holy guessing that this had something to do with the seventeen pomegranate margaritas.)

    As it grew darker, a car pulled up at the curb in front of the house. It was the young kid who rents an apartment from Jack (the apartment is on the lot next to Jack's house). Because he is friendly with Jack and my mom, he started walking up the sidewalk to say hello. And as he got closer and his eyes began to focus in the dusky light, the expression on his face showed that he was beginning to register what he was walking toward. Jack knew that if he got up to go inside it would only make things worse...so he simply lowered his glass of wine to cover up as much as he could, while the kid stammered something about needing to get to his apartment and fled next door (likely to begin downing seventeen pomegranate margaritas himself).

    For Christmas a couple of months later, I gave Jack a very practical gift: a bottle of pinot noir (purposely not a much more transparent chardonnay or chablis) and a large wine glass with a pair of boxer shorts constructed out of cardboard affixed to the stem. Therefore, if he ever found himself in that (highly probable, let's be honest) situation again he could simply lower the glass with the underpants attached, cover his stuff and fool passersby into thinking he was dressed, while still enjoying all the benefits of front yard nudity. (I should really look into a patent.)

    A few days after Christmas, I was checking e-mail when I opened one from my mom. It had an attachment. A photo of Jack putting the boxer shorts wine glass to use.

    I suppose the upside is that he doesn't have to rent a tux for the wedding...

    Friday, June 26, 2009

    Coinkydink?

    Oh, for chrissakes...I take one week off from blogging to go on a quiet family vacation and look what happens:

    - Ed McMahon, Farrah Fawcett and Michael Jackson die
    - Gene Weingarten takes the Post buyout
    - Governor Sanford joins the growing ranks of those espousing family values while simultaneously getting a little Argentinian sumpin sumpin on the side

    I shall never desert you again, gentle readers.

    Mamma say Mamma sah Mamma koo sah,
    Brutalism

    Thursday, June 18, 2009

    That's Easy For You To Say

    When I was in my early twenties, I was fortunate enough to have a job that kept me out of the office, traveling the country and meeting a lot of interesting people. (If by traveling the country, you mean to towns with populations of fewer than 26 people, and if by interesting, you mean terrifying...)

    (Aside: Once, I called my dad from a trade show I was doing in Mississippi. He asked, "what's the time difference?" and I said, "two hours and about 40 years.")

    One of the trips I took was to the Soldier of Fortune convention in Las Vegas. (You may remember Soldier of Fortune from their earlier work in "Oopsie -- we let a hit man advertise in our classifieds."). As you may imagine, the attendees at this convention fit a very specific demographic (see "terrifying" above).

    On the first day of the convention, I had just finished setting up my booth with the ORGANIZATION THAT DOES NOT HATE FREEDOM materials, when I heard a weird noise at the end of the aisle. I couldn't see anything, but kept hearing an odd sort of hooting sound. As the noise got closer, I realized that the source was a massive human being -- he was about six feet of solid muscle. Also, he had a long ponytail, was albino, and had Tourette's Syndrome (I could not make this up on my best day, but thank you for thinking that I could).

    As he made his way down the aisle closer to me, I silently willed him to keep walking and not stop at my booth. But of course he did. And of course he was a member. And of course he had a question about his membership that he needed to ask me. After a bit of a struggle, he managed to get the question out. I took a piece of paper, wrote a phone number on it and said, "You'll need to call this number and ask for Lance (our member specialist back at HQ) and he'll be able to help you." To which he replied, "Okay, thanks. I'll be sure to call llllAAAAAAAAnnnnncCCCEEEEEEE."

    I could never refer to Lance as just "Lance" again after that. From that day forward, he was llllAAAAAAAAnnnnncCCCEEEEEEE. (I'm pretty sure that's also the day I began applying to graduate schools.)

    These colors don't bleed,
    Brutalism

    Friday, June 12, 2009

    Objet D'Isturbing

    Avery was busy in the office tonight. I heard her playing in there and after a while went in to investigate. This is what I found: On one hand, pretty artistic. On the other hand, I'm sleeping with the bedroom door locked.

    Thursday, June 11, 2009

    Holy Crap

    On a conference call with (undisclosed government client) today, we were discussing epidemics when one participant noted that the right people have to be asking questions of those affected in order to determine if there is a trend. She then went on to say, "Team Diarrhea of Minnesota, for instance, would be able to identify a trend based on their expertise in questioning."

    Which, of course, raised several questions in my mind:

    1) Do the members of Team Diarrhea find that no one wants to shake their hands at networking events?
    2) Is becoming a member of Team Diarrhea a promotion from another position? If so, do I want to know what it is? Worse yet...has anyone ever been demoted from Team Diarrhea?
    3) How many times do you say the words Team Diarrhea before you can do it without giggling like a school girl?
    4) Is it unprofessional to put the phone on mute so that I can giggle like a school girl?

    People think it's pretty funny,
    Brutalism

    Wednesday, June 10, 2009

    New York Part I -- Meredith

    On Friday, I rode the bus to New York, armed with a jumbo bottle of hand sanitizer and many preconceived notions about bus travel. However, the bus was new and clean and the other riders seemed much less under the influence and much less aromatic than fellow riders on the last (and I thought, final) bus trip I took many years ago.

    The sanitizer was a good call, however, because bus bathrooms do not have sinks. What they do have is a sign on the wall above the toilet that shows an outline of a man in a suit and fedora sitting on the toilet. Right next to that is a picture of a man in a suit and fedora standing up -- with a huge red X through him. I took this to mean that if you are dressed identically to another passenger who is using the restroom, please do not stand right next to him as he is doing so. (Frankly, even when I am not dressed the same as someone else, I tend to employ this personal space courtesy. But I suppose it is nice to provide a reminder for those who don't.)

    I arrived in New York in four hours and my friend, Meredith, had taken the day off work to meet me at Penn Station. It was pouring rain, so we hopped into a cab to go to lunch. During the ride, Mer began telling me a story about her next-door neighbor and how she can hear him having (interesting) sex with his (very vocal) girlfriend at all hours of the night. (Well, until recently, when she heard a lot of banging on the wall and a plea for help and then no noises since.) We arrived at our destination about midway through her story and as we were getting out of the cab and paying the fare, the cabbie said to me, "I really wanted to hear the end of that story." She finished the story about the murderer/sex fiend over lunch, then we talked about her upcoming vacation to the Turks and Caicos, dramaturgs (look it up) and our crazy parents.

    After lunch, I went with her to an audition, and we met up with her husband, John, who was also auditioning (not for the same role). (He is an Emmy-nominated writer for the Chris Rock show and a comedian and pretty much hilarious 24 hours a day.) You may understand (as I do) that probably what drew him to Meredith initially is the almost-constant comedic fodder she provides -- just by being her. (Case in point: just before her audition she walked down the hall to use the restroom and walked right into the men's room by mistake where she saw a half-naked gentleman applying deodorant. To his nether regions.)

    After the auditions, we headed to their apartment on the Upper East Side. As we got into the cab, Mer noticed a sign in the cab that said, "This is a Happy Cab." Because she is Mer, she said loudly, "Hey, we're in a Happy Cab." When we arrived at our destination, the cabbie asked, "Which one of you said this was a Happy Cab?" and Mer said, "Me," so he handed her a coupon for a free cab ride and a new Dooney & Bourke wallet. (Closer investigation revealed that this was actually a Booney & Dourke wallet, but that didn't make it any less exciting.)

    We freshened up, then headed to the Metropolitan Museum of Art for a Friday night thing they have where they stay open late, play music and serve wine. Or as we like to call it, "Friday Night Pretension." Because it was still pouring, the rooftop wine/music party was postponed, but we did get to tour the museum, which was amazing. We got to see the new "Model as Muse" exhibit that just opened and also spent a lot of time looking at the Impressionists and the Egyptian stuff because we know so much about art the Temple of Dendur in the Egyptian exhibit is where one of our favorite scenes in When Harry Met Sally was filmed.

    John met us at Brother Jimmy's BBQ later that night, where we had a great dinner, then we went back to their apartment. The neighbor kept it down that night (double entendre intended) so it was a very restful sleep.

    There is too much pepper in my paprikash,
    Brutalism

    (Stay tuned for New York Part II -- Dori and Jen)

    Monday, June 08, 2009

    50 Hours Of Mayhem

    I'm back at work this morning after a long weekend in New York City. I took the bus both ways, thinking it would provide great blog fodder. What a disappointment. It was a great way to travel -- and probably the only way I will travel to NYC in the future. (And leave my fodder out of this...)

    Saw about a million people from my past, went to great restaurants, did some touristy stuff, shopped, laughed, won prizes from cab drivers and yelled at my friend when I didn't want to eat a taco.

    Detailed posts to come.

    Thursday, June 04, 2009

    www.Brutalism.net

    Yes -- that's my brand spanking-new domain name right there in the title. Now you can type that instead of that cumbersome blogspot address when you want to find me.

    Yesterday, I set this up with Paul, a wonderful customer service representative at GoDaddy.com. (Free advice: Focus when typing the GoDaddy URL. I was distracted and ended up at DoDaddy.com, which led to an interesting discussion with my company's IT department. Again.)

    Paul was helping me re-route the blogspot traffic to the new domain name. When he asked me the new domain I had registered and I said, "Brutalism", there was a bit of an uncomfortable silence on the other end of the phone. I immediately blabbered, "um...it's an architectural style." He began laughing and said, "I was wondering because you don't sound like that kind of person."

    I said, "I'm not. But I've got some good friends at DoDaddy that might be."

    Bring out the gimp,
    Brutalism

    Wednesday, June 03, 2009

    You Big Dummy

    When I was about seven years old, my sister and I spent hours poring over the Sears catalog looking for things we wanted for Christmas. The research paid off when we happened upon ventriloquist puppets and subsequently determined that we must have these in order to live productive lives of fulfillment.

    She wanted WASPy Charlie McCarthy with his monocle and top hat -- fitting for a child whose lunch box in elementary school was Jonathan Livingston Seagull. (She's a lawyer now. I know you may find that shocking, Internet.) I, on the other hand, wanted Lester -- the hip, African American ventriloquist puppet. (I had a Waltons lunch box as a kid, so I'm not necessarily making the argument that there's a coolness correlation here. But Jonathan Livingston Seagull?...really...?)

    My parents totally indulged us and ordered the puppets for us that Christmas. However, Sears was out of stock (some of you may remember the great ventriloquist puppet famine of the 70s), so under the tree that year my sister and I each received an envelope with an original poem on the outside and the catalog picture of the puppet we wanted on the inside. Mine read as follows (and was written in my father's distinctive all caps, slanted handwriting):

    There's a picture of someone you know inside
    To be here in person, he really tried
    But here's a promise, he'll be here quick
    Just put your faith in good ol' Saint Nick

    When we received the puppets a few weeks later, we had a lot of fun practicing ventriloquism and making up short plays. I think Charlie even made an appearance in a junior high production of Godspell. (Sure...pick the WHITE puppet for the junior high play...)

    I still have Lester (I've seen enough horror movies to know that I could never truly get rid of him). He's made appearances at parties we've had and has become a bit of a running joke with my friends. Once, when my friend, Meredith, was visiting shortly after Avery was born, she moved the baby out of her crib and replaced her with Lester, so that when I came in to check on my newborn in the middle of the night, I almost had a heart attack. (I have great friends.)

    Another friend, Amy, went on a cruise a few years back and the original Lester (and his puppet master, Willie Tyler) were performing on the ship. She pulled some strings (pun obviously intended) and got me an autographed photo.

    A childhood defined by ventriloquist puppets, nudist parents, and mocking religious figures...I'm surprised Norman Rockwell never painted that scene.

    Monday, June 01, 2009

    Shill Game

    You know how when there's a very important cause people come together and support one another and achieve greater things than they ever could individually? That's nice, but this really has nothing at all to do with that...

    You may remember my need for validation that I discussed here. My self-worth is now completely partially determined by the number of people who visit my blog every day. Yes, this is very healthy.

    Brutalism was nominated for a couple of awards and you, the reader, can vote for Brutalism (and keep me away from Promises...) by clicking on a Blogger's Choice icon on the right side of this page. This will take you to the Blogger's Choice web page, where you will need to register to vote (it only takes a minute). Then, you can cast away...

    I promise that if Brutalism wins, I will reference swinging and meth addicts in my acceptance speech. There are only about twenty or so no other bloggers who can make that promise.

    (Dilettante Club has been nominated, too -- so after you've registered to vote, just type "dilettante" in the search box on the Blogger's Choice web site and cast a vote for that while you're there.)

    Rock the vote,
    Brutalism

    Sunday, May 31, 2009

    Kitsch? My Ass

    When my in-laws sold their house a couple of years ago, they moved into an extended stay facility while their new house was being completed. Because we live in the same area, they brought some items to store at our house during this time -- things like house plants, some glassware, and (naturally) a concrete dog lawn ornament.

    We thought it would be funny to put this in our yard near the front door for a couple of months until my in-laws got settled and took it back -- and were sure that our friends would see it, mock it, and that hilarity would ensue over our attempt at kitschiness.

    I guess we just got used to it (and never received any comments on it) because two years went by and we had pretty much forgotten it was out there. (And my in-laws had "forgotten" to claim it.) Occasionally, I'd see it and think, "we really need to get rid of that thing before people think we're serious" and then I'd get involved in something else and forget all about it.

    A couple of weeks ago, I finally remembered to ask Canetto to move the thing into the back yard. The next day when I was walking with my friend, Amanda, I asked her, "Did you ever notice that concrete dog by our front door?" and she said, "I always meant to ask you about that...because you're not really dog people."

    To which I replied, "I was kinda hoping you'd say that we're not really concrete lawn ornament people."

    Wednesday, May 27, 2009

    All-Inclusive

    Site stats tell me that two new readers recently became part of the Brutalism family -- one by googling "tap dancing meth addicts" (Brutalism pops up as the first result) and one by googling "Mandrell Sisters."

    New tagline: Brutalism -- a little something for everyone.

    I aim to please,
    Brutalism

    Tuesday, May 26, 2009

    Come Hear Uncle John's Band

    video

    You know what you get when you are two relatively uptight, white bread parents with no rhythm? You get a kid who feels the music and who must jump into a drum circle in the middle of downtown Asheville because she just has to move. How long do you think we have until she starts with the dreads and the patchouli?

    Wednesday, May 20, 2009

    What It All Means

    Not that I need another reason to love Urban Dictionary (or Dilettante07), but I do have one.

    (See definition #1. The tags are particularly inspired.)

    Please make like my doctor and give it an enthusiastic thumbs up.

    You're welcome,
    Brutalism

    Tuesday, May 19, 2009

    Lost In Translation

    When I was a single girl, I dated some pretty interesting characters. Like Greg. Who had a hyphenated last name and spent the better part of most years working as a ski instructor. He was a nice enough guy -- it's just that talking to him was like talking to a foreign exchange student and I got tired of having to bring a Righteous/English dictionary along on all of our dates.

    Me: "How was your ski trip?"

    Him: "The freshies were epic, bra."

    Translation: The untouched fresh snow was rather magnificent, my friend.

    Me: "Do I look okay in what I'm wearing?"

    Him: "You are a buff nugg."

    Translation: I find you to be somewhat attractive and that outfit is particularly fetching.

    Last I heard, he was living in Southern California.

    Translation: He found his homeland.

    Monday, May 18, 2009

    Epic Hunt

    One time in an interview, someone asked me what were the most important things I had learned in business school. I replied, "That it's a great place to meet guys with jobs and that if I ever hear another person use the word "synergy" I shall be forced to throttle them." "How to negotiate effectively and the importance of surrounding myself with smart people."

    Those lessons have helped me in many situations throughout the years -- most recently, the Post Hunt 2009 in which I participated yesterday as part of team Velvet Unitard. (After not winning, we amended our team name to Crushed Velvet Unitard, and no, it has not stopped being funny.)

    Fellow VUs were Amanda and Leon (who faithful readers of Brutalism may know as Dilettante07 and Dilettard07, respectively). They share a combined IQ of somewhere in the infinity range, a life, and a ridiculous sense of humor. We trained separately by doing many word games and also studying clues from prior Tropic Hunts and last year's Post Hunt. We also drank a lot.

    When we met up yesterday at Freedom Plaza in DC just before the Hunt began at noon, we were pretty excited. And not just because Gene Weingarten agreed to take a picture with us, although that was a huge part of it. (Aside: I reflected later that in the past few days I had touched three famous men -- Joe Frazier, Jeffrey Ross and Gene Weingarten. That is a famous-man-touching personal record for me. Well...if my mom is reading this, anyway.) It was total nerdvana.

    Our first stop for clues (the human statues) just frustrated us. None of us had any idea what the answer was and we were beginning to wonder what we were doing there. However, we (and by "we", I mean "Amanda") solved the next two puzzles (failed monuments and the congressional debate) in mere moments and then we were addicted. The next couple of puzzles (the watch guy and commodities) were a total group effort -- it was amazing how helpful it was to have different perspectives on these things. Then, Leon came in for the big finish by doing the correct mathematical calculations (my eyes had glazed over at this point) and coming up with the solution to the statues puzzle.

    We had the answers to the five puzzles by 2:15, so we took a break for lunch and a beer. At 3:00, we returned to the stage for the final clue and were halfway to solving it when we heard the winner being announced. Next year is ours.

    (And you're welcome for the post title, fellow Unitards...)