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September 27, 2007

Ode to CSPAN

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Lately, the little television in the space between my desk and my boss’ has been tuned to CSPAN or one of its stepchildren (CSPAN 2 and CSPAN 3) more often than CNN. So instead of poorly produced infomercials for knives that can cut through whole buildings with a single slice and never dull, I’m treated to the theater of national politics.

And I find it highly, highly amusing.

When the sound is muted I enjoy looking at the expressions of people in the background of whatever’s being filmed. They obviously don’t know that the cameras covered in cloth so as to blend in with the wall hangings connect to a portal that broadcasts their mugging to every American astute enough to tune in to this glorious channel.

During the Patraeus reports, the channel was especially lively as members of antiwar group Code Pink repeatedly interrupted the proceedings to heckle senators as the committee chairman’s calls to order were fruitless. There was also that fun, 10 minute pause as the “report of the year” stalled when they tried to get Dave a microphone that worked.

The war stuff in general is just priceless because these politicians get SO worked up about it. This column in today’s Washington Post by Dana Milbank did an excellent job of painting an image of Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W.V.).

Check it:

"I am disappointed," Byrd said as if the witnesses were children. "This committee will not -- N-O-T, not! -- rubber-stamp every request." Theatrically, he drew out his words: "Trillionnnn." "Breathing roommmm."

After watching the proceedings yesterday, I think Byrd has become my favorite senator. And this information from Milbank’s column only stoked the fire for me:

In April, he had identified himself as "Popeye the Sailor Man" and delivered a 15-minute discussion of his dog at a Senate hearing. In June, he had found it necessary to deliver a speech on the Senate floor objecting to reports that "I am at death's door."

September 25, 2007

Justice!

It appears Natalie's plea was unsuccessful: the council said nay to her neigh. The townspeople rejoiced and drops of justice rained from the sky.

September 21, 2007

But Mom! I want a pony tooooooooo!

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I just read THE most ridiculous article in the Star Tribune today. Poor little Natalie wants a pony. The meany City Council says she can't have one because horses, even the precious mini horse she has her eye on, are classified as farm animals and require a certain amount of space to roam.

But plucky little Natalie isn't giving up. She's going before the Council tonight to plead her case. I'd like to imagine the scene will go a little like this:

Natalie arrives in the council chambers wearing a horse suit. She gallops up to the dais, flicking her mane as she allows each councilmember to nuzzle her muzzle. She returns to the audience where her mother feeds her apples, carrots and sugar cubes from her warm palm. When it's time for public comments Natalie rushes the microphone, lets out a sustained whinny that consumes 20 seconds of her allotted three minutes and commences her plea.

"My dear local representatives, I come before you today to ask for equine equality," she said. "I consider myself to have the spirit of a horse, so if you legislate against them you are effectively denying me my human rights, by way of my horse rights.

"Please say yea to my 'neigh,'" she sobbed as she held up a sign to ensure the council was aware of her pun. border=

September 18, 2007

Heature of Crabit

Since starting my new job I’ve been too lazy to cook. I finally made it to the grocery store this weekend so there’s really no reason for me to continue my dinner diet of grapes and beer beyond sheer exhaustion. The ingredients for two delicious feasts are in my kitchen, withering as they wait for me to get off my tuchus. Maybe tonight will be the night.

One of the byproducts of this inertia is that, having no leftovers to schlep to work, I must continually buy my lunch. I’ve been frequenting a place across the street from my office building called the Juice Joint and purchasing a healthful, nutritious meal I hope will make up for my dastardly dinner choices.

Make that The first time I went to the Juice Joint I ordered a Granwich—a concoction of avocado, tomato, cucumber and sprouts on toasted wholegrain bread—and a small fresh-squeezed grapefruit juice. It’s also what I ordered on my second, third, fourth and every visit since.

The manager there has started to recognize me and shouts out my usual order before I even have to part my lips. Today things were slower and he inquired after my marital status. I’ve seen things like that happen at coffee shops, where people like their caffeine fixes to be routine, but not at a lunch shop.

I kind of feel like a boring loser for ordering the same thing every day, but I just enjoy my choices so much: the crunch of the sesame seed crust, the crisp cucumber, the smooth avocado… the slow slurp of my grapefruit juice until the pulp wont fit up the straw…

I could write a sonnet.

September 13, 2007

Workplace Hazards

When I'm bored or just thinking really hard about something my gaze tends to unfocus and wander to my right. Unfortunately, when I'm at work a television always tuned to CNN falls directly in my line of vision, and I am thus forced to break my reverie and stare at whatever happens to be on.

Usually it's Calamity TV at its best: a fire at an oil company here, some cops in Florida being shot there, a few consumer crises regarding lead paint and the like and a feel-good story about a foreign kid blasted by an American bomb coming to this country to get pro bono plastic surgery.

But their audience must age drastically in the early afternoon, because the commercials switch from being aimed at middle-aged professionals to stay-at-home old farts. This means infomercials galore, and I often find myself staring with awe and desire at these trinkets that could be mine with a quick call to a 800 number and 14 easy payments.

I've fixated on two products in particular, and will stop whatever I'm doing (unless I'm on the phone with, you know, a senator) to gawk when they appear with frightening regularity between the hours of noon and four.

The first is a neon green, motorized duster that makes dusting faster, easier and more fun than ever to get the very best clean. Cleaning it is a cinch: just run it under water! The ad shows an ecstatic housewife running this technological marvel through her drapes and along a row of porcelain Virgin Marys with the speed, joy and ease of a cokehead chopping the next line.

The second is a walk-in bathtub meant for arthritic senior citizens who have trouble getting in and out of the tub. Last year, when I had a princely salary and was living in a palatial apartment with my own bathroom, one of my favorite pastimes was soaking in a nice hot bubble bath to relax the day away. Now I have a tin can shower I share with a flatulent male roommate. Thus my desire for this tub might just be a projection of longing for my long-lost bathing days of yore, but the fogeys in the commercial look just blissful when they lower themselves into the Chester.

That bliss could be mine.

September 9, 2007

The Salon In My Office Building is Advertising a $400 John Edwards Presidential Special

I think I'm going to have to deem DC the soggiest place on Earth. Everyone says the weather we've been having is great, that it is such a relief from the hellish humidity of the summer. Coming from the cool ocean breezes of SoCal, though, my body has forgotten how to self-regulate in high temperatures. I thus can't seem to make it through the day without my face sweating so much that I fantasize about Neutrogena.

On my second day on the job, I had to book it to the Hill to cover a hearing one of our senators would be present at. I clopped into the room, sure I was going to be late, and was about to set up my laptop at the press table when one of the senator's staffers saw me and approached me for an introduction. It was then that I realized my skirt had shifted to being completely sideways. This might not have been an issue had the hem been straight, but it looked more like this, with a longer hem in back than in front and pockets sticking out my rear and front ends. I surreptitiously tried to shift it back to its original position while talking with this lad, but it stuck fast, glued by my sweat.

The next day I was trying to locate the room of our other senator's press conference when I discovered I was in the wrong building. Already late and fearing I'd missed the whole thing, I scrambled to the Capitol with images of having to tell my boss of my incompetence dancing in my head. Thankfully I was only a few minutes late, but beads of sweat dripped from my forehead and smudged the notes I was furiously scribbling. By the way, West Virginia Sen. Jay Rockefeller is a giant of a man.

In closing, I will give you a story of what occurred when I rode the metro last night, in keeping with my obsession with the friends I make on public transportation.

It was dusk on a Saturday night and I descended into the metro station amongst hordes of revelers to go to a friend's to eat Chinese food and "watch" (read: sleep through) two movies. I was sitting in an aisle seat, conspicuous of my revealing clothing (a tank top and skirt are not the most desirable choices when one is a woman of virtue traveling alone, but it was hot as the blazes), reading a novel about Queen Elizabeth I.

Two burly, beefy dudes boarded the train a few stops down the line, and one proceeded to do pull-ups on the overhead rail, his crotch swinging dangerously toward my face. The man in the window seat left and I dutifully scootched over to his spot. Crotch Man swooped in next to me, putting his arm on the back of my seat. My muscles tensed as my body went into fear mode, and I tried to reason with myself that he could not easily rape me on a train full of people. He leaned over me as if to sneak a peek down my shirt and said, "Sorry to disturb you, but isn't that an oxymoron?" in reference to my book's title.

"It's about Queen Elizabeth," I said severely, simpering at his crudeness as I stood to exit the train. And that, my friends, was that.

September 4, 2007

"Stumped" and "Other Tales"

I was at a party on Sunday where one of the attendees suggested we play a card game. There was much discussion among veteran card players of which would be at the apex of where the pastime meets fun. (Fornicate with) the Dealer was tossed out, as was perennial favorite Circle of Death.

One lass from Virginia suggested we play a drinking game called Stump instead. All players gather around a stump with nails embedded in it and take turns swinging a hammer at them.

“What if you hit someone else’s nail?” an imbiber wondered aloud.

“What if you hit someone else’s face?” I muttered.

***

Seen on the metro: Two slim, good-looking men flamboyantly practicing their runway walks along the platform.

***

I made dinner for a Long Lost Friend on Saturday and was having a pleasant conversation with him when my roommate wandered in. He immediately headed for the cordless phone stationed on the dining room table, ripped the battery pack out and threw it to the ground. He told me the phone didn’t work and since our third roommate works at the Department of Defense, the only natural conclusion is that…

“It has a microphone in it,” he said without a trace of irony.

***

Seen in my kitchen: A note stuck under an empty Vitamin Water bottle reading, "Whoever drank this needs to replace it. It is mine." The flavor? B Relaxed.

***

I started my new internship today. Several people, including a predecessor in this very post, gave me the same dire warnings: do not attempt heels. And don’t wear anything long. DC is a hot, murky swamp.

But, obviously thinking I had a superhuman body equipped with both blisterless feet and a superior cooling system, I paid no heed and wore heeled boots and long black pants. How was I supposed to know that a trek to the Capitol to get a press pass involved 40 sweaty minutes of walking around in the blazing sun? Did I mention my photo graces this press pass? My soggy, wilted photo overlayed with holographic images strategically placed to make me appear to have a gap-toothed grin?

You better believe that tomorrow I’m hoofing it in a skirt and flip-flips, which I will switch to heels only upon entering a building.

September 1, 2007

The Cloak of Darkness

Nugget here, reporting to you live from the East Coast.

One of the unhappy consequences of living here is the time zone works against me. I tend to be an early riser, so when I was in California I could wake up at 8:00 on a Saturday (as I am wont to do) and be assured that at least some of my compatriots in Central Standard Time and a good number of those in the east would have arisen, ready to amuse me.

So that is how I came to be coming atcha at what is 6:48 a.m. for a good portion of our readership, 5:48 for Wink.

I arrived in Our Nation's Capitol (or wherever Dulles is) last night after the smoothest flight experience I have ever... er... experienced. Fly Sun Country!* After being haunted by dreams that my new living quarters would be host to mold and various fungi, that I would have to share a room and that a hated childhood acquaintance would be my new roommate, I was more than relieved to find my new room spacious, bright and lovely. It has a walk-in closet. And the bathroom's connected. Um, score.

One of my new roommates was kind enough to help me move all my boxes, which barely survived this move, from my buddy's apartment. (Two picture frames and one mirror broke in transit. How many years of bad luck is that?) He warned me that our other roommate, who I won't be able to make the acquaintance of and judge for myself till Monday, is a bit odd. His quintessential memory of him is when he skulked through the apartment muttering, "Thanks for stealing my Cloak of Darkness..." to the lad from whom I'm subletting. I'm inclined to believe this is a reference to a computer game.

The aforementioned fellow from whom I'm subletting, who is currently in China, left all manner of goodies in his room, one being the computer I'm typing on. He left bedding and towels, which I will not be partaking of, thank you very much. He left a cooler, which I might partake of should I be invited to a pick-a-nick.

He also left a locked trunk in the corner. It's locked with a padlock. I would like to invite our readers to hazard guesses as to what could be contained in this mystery wrapped in an enigma. My hunch was dead bodies, but that seems unlikely since it doesn't emit an odor.

*I was not paid to say this. But after a flight that included a complimentary hot sandwich and cookie, a row of leather seats to myself and an early arrival, how could I not? Did I mention it was only $99???