Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The Cup Had a Face
TV Time with My Own Media Analysts

I was with my nieces watching TV the other day and there was some show on for kids that was attempting to explain "dark" as in "dark humor." I remarked on this and my 9-year-old niece calmly explained that it would have made more sense to me if I had seen the show from the beginning.

When it switched to a scene where they were making chocolate milk in cartoon cup to explain "dark" as it relates to color (which is different from dark humor--to me they were trying to cover a lot of ground), my 2-year-old niece had a strong reaction.

"That's nasty," she said with disdain. "That cup had a face."

This was surprising because these days everything imaginable, be it animal, vegetable or mineral, talks, walks and has a song to sing.

In the very next scene a mop was telling us something. My older niece was excited to see the talking mop, saying that she thought it was cute how the mop strings made up this creature's hair. I looked at my younger niece and said, "The mop has a face."

But she was not at all interested or even offended. Apparently, only dishware should be seen and not heard.

Monday, December 29, 2008

You Never Know: The Mid-Life Anti-Crisis Edition

Having just returned from ye old homestead, I have to say that as much as we all say "you never know" ...well, you really never know.

There wasn't any unexpected news from my peers. Some people got married, had kids, some are in back in school, some aren't, etc., etc.

The real surprises came from people who were older than me, like a former boss and a former teacher.

An old (and rather unscrupulous) boss is now an evangelist. My father said she started discussing scripture with him when he ran into her last.

And one of my teachers who used to organize yearly bus trips to a far away place...ended up marrying one of the bus drivers and moving to Prince Edward Island in Canada.

(And can I add that this just seems like a fairy tale ending for an Anne of Green Gables devotee, such as myself?)

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas To You and Yours...

from me and the blue octopus with the striped scarf.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Let Me Upgrade You: The ever-so-exciting sequel to Up or Down

So as I was trudging through some work at the office with the interesting elevators that I mentioned last week, my supervisor came by to tell me to feel free to stop by the office Holiday party. I thought it would be pizza and pop.

Turns out it was an exquisitely catered affair with tablecloths and a tantalizing menu that included crab cakes, spinach pie, corn souffle, brisket, pumpkin cheesecake and tiny mice made of chocolate mousse, among other delicacies. Plus, there WAS a sketch artist to draw caricatures of staff, if they chose to sit for such a portrait.

The highlight of the afternoon was the door prizes. They gave away the mundane (t-shirts and the fabulous (40 hrs. vacation time, 2 free airline tickets). But then there was one rather odd offering: a one-way fare upgrade?!

Everyone paused and groaned at that one. And before someone trots out some saying about being grateful, let me just say that even the CEO who was calling out numbers for these prizes commented unfavorably on this "prize."

The unexpected upgrade of a free gourmet lunch seems better than a one-way fare upgrade...

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Why Credit Cards are NOT Your Friends

Earlier this week, Michelle Singletary wrote a great article detailing just how it is that the credit card vampire manages to suck the life out of you:

Overcharged and Over a Barrel

And can I just add that those changes to credit card laws do not take effect until 2010, so they still have a year or so to siphon funds from us?

If you've already been to my Facebook page, then you'll see that I've posted this article there (in two different forms). But for those of you that are not on Facebook, check it out. (And, yeah I could link Facebook to my blog and Twitter, but I'm not doing that just yet.)

Friday, December 19, 2008

Up or Down? (Or miniscule minutiae about an office building)

I do temp and contract work around town and every office is a new and alien environment, while at the same time they are all very much the same in some form or fashion.

But I have to say that some things at my current gig threw me for a loop.

I once worked at a place where the toilets flushed automatically. And everyone who worked there remarked on how spoiled we all were--when we went to other public buildings, we kinda expected this task to be done for us, forgetting that we were not at the office.

Well, where I am now, not only do the toilets not flush--they expect you to make a decision about HOW to flush them. Bathroom visitors are instructed to lift the handle up for a "light load" or push it down for something a little more cumbersome. This was set up to save water.

But the soap and the water shoot out automatically, so at least that is done for you. Although, if the soap dispenser's motion sensor discovers your presence as you run your hands under the water, it will shoot soap at you just as you are trying to rinse it off.

The other systematic surprise for me in this building was the elevators. Traditionally, you can run to an elevator that is almost closing and make it in, especially if someone is kind enough to hold it for you.

But in this oh-so-smart building, that wouldn't matter. Why not? Because you have to press the buttons for the floor that is your destination on a numbered keypad (each floor does not have its own button) while you are outside of the elevator and wait for the electronic gizmo to tell you which elevator will take you there. (For a while, I couldn't figure out just how people knew which elevator would open, but then I saw the flashing lights telling me to take elevator A or B or C.)

As I'm writing this, I am thinking that smart buildings actually require a lot of thought on the part of the user. Not that I'm complaining, though. Enough of already sleepwalk through life as it is.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

An Eye-Opening Experience (or Crank That Funky Music White Boy)
As an African-American who is fluent in Spanish, time and time again I surprise native Spanish speakers when I speak their language. And of course I refrain from getting all huffy with them, but in my mind I think huffy thoughts. There are plenty of people of African descent who are from Latin American countries, not that I am one of them, but still... And it isn't just me, of course-- I remember seeing a friend of mine who is black and a native of Honduras gets the same shocked reactions, even though she really is a Latina.

I thought about this the other day when someone surprised me in a similar way. I didn't express my surprise vocally, but I have to say I was thrown for a loop when a white, balding optometrist who had earlier told me about the many years he lived in Israel, casually made a reference to Soulja Boy that fit perfectly into the context of the conversation.

Monday, December 15, 2008

I'm Kind Tired: The Post in which I Refer You to Another Blog I Write

I'm sure I have something brilliant to share, but I am getting that end-of-the-year fatigue that tells me not to overexert myself.

I just posted a blog entry on about the National Christmas Tree. Check it out: Visit the National Christmas Tree.

Even if you are not close enough to visit the tree, the blog post includes a link to a slideshow of National Christmas Trees over the years (this year makes the 85th year for the National Christmas Tree tradition).

I'm going to get a little rest and I'll catch you later in the week.

Friday, December 12, 2008

The Frown that Garnered Three Free Meals

I went into Cosi the other day looking for some soup, but I came out with three free meals.

At first I started out at a hot dog stand, but when I peered in, no one was there, so I ended up at Cosi.

It was close to 2pm, so I thought the lunch rush would be over, but it was not. So first I had to fight to get someone's attention, since I wasn't ordering a sandwich and all of their attention was focused on people who wanted higher priced menu items.

Then I got the soup of the day, which was actually three bean chili, in a coffee cup with a coffee-drinking lid. This is where I'm sure a frown started to crease my brow. I was told that they were out of lids for the soup containers.
(As an aside, I'll say that I am usually afraid of chili, but I was so hungry that I forgot that irrational fear. Really, anything you eat at a restaurant could be a hodge podge of who-knows-what, but I still avoid chili.)

Soup comes with bread, which as a carbaholic, I do not need, but still wanted because I am entitled to it. I reminded the harried worker behind the counter of this. A different employee started to ask me what I wanted (White. I usually do the "healthy" thing and get wheat, but I didn't want multi-grain.) and at the same time the harried worker thrust some (multi-grain) bread in my hand. Meanwhile, I heard another employee ask someone if they wanted white or multi-grain.

"You know that's multi-grain," said the woman behind me. I looked at it, and rolled me eyes, resigned to my healthy multi-grain fate because I just wanted to get out of there. But then I thought better of it as asked for the bleached flour white bread because that is what I wanted.

When I got to the register, a manager, who I had seen chastising an employee about not using gloves to make a sandwich earlier, upped and grabbed by coffee container o'chili and disappeared.

"Forget it. I don't want it," I told the cashier. As it turns out the manager was trying to put the chili in the correct container, but I didn't want to be bothered by then.

This same manager reappeared and told me that she had something for me if I'd just wait a few minutes. I frowned, but since the cashier couldn't process the refund until another manager came to do whatever that special thing is that managers do, I was still there when she came back.

She gave me three cards for three free meals, prefacing this gift saying that she was sorry and that even if I didn't want to return to that Cosi, there were many all over town and here were cards for three free meals. That was very smart.

Although as a kid, they told me that frowning was bad and that it would leave lines on my face (which it does), it is still worth something. Really, I was tired, hungry and cranky, otherwise I'd have been more patient since they were so busy. But it is just as well that I wasn't.

When I walked back across the street, I found my appetite and the hot dog vendor, so I got Italian sausage with little hassle for half the price of the soup.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

5 from 5-0

Earlier this week, they sent two cop cars, a police van and two fire trucks to get a mentally unstable (but apparently unarmed) flasher at a metro station near me. He had been acting up on a bus with some people who were at the station, and they told me that they had called the police.

When my neighbor was being beat within an inch of her life, no one came for hours...

Monday, December 08, 2008

Don't Sleep

Riding up the escalator on day last week, I saw that the teenage boy in front of me had a quote imprinted (stitched?) near the bottom of the leg of his jeans:

He who stands, lives. He who sleeps, dies.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Sunny Delight

This post is brought to you by the color yellow and the numbers 2,0,0, and 9.

And yes, I know Sunny Delight (the drink) isn't really yellow, but that is beside the point.

Fashion forecasters have deemed yellow to be the next "it" color for 2009. I find this confusing because wasn't yellow, this year's color to have? I have had the yellow leather shoes pictured above for years, but when I noticed that yellow was really in this past year, I wore them more often.

But now I have learned that it was actually a specific shade of blue that was in this past year. This is good because I wear a lot of blue, although I can't say that I actually wore the correct shade.

I cannot even pretend to understand the complicated mechanisms of fashion forecasting. There are only so many colors, so something that you're wearing will be in the rotation at some point.

Yellow has been given this honor because we all need cheering up. So when the economy is down, we need to brighten up with happy colors like yellow. I'm certain no one wants to spend next year in the red. Might not be bad to be in the black though.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

The Greatest Gift of All

Last month a friend of mine posted a message on Facebook, asking people to donate to a food pantry for his birthday in lieu of buying gifts, going to happy hour, etc. etc.
I thought this was a very noble gesture.

Unfortunately, I am not going to follow in this selfless person's footsteps.

Instead, for my birthday, I ask that you help out my favorite charity: Me.

As a gift to me, will you meander over to my Cultural Events Blog at Read a few posts and leave a comment if you are so moved.

Even if you don't live in DC, you still may learn somethin'.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Three on a Match

I read about this pre-Code film in this Girls, Meet Gotham article that came out about the same time the Sex and the City movie made its grand entrance. I was intrigued and put it on my Netflix and finally got around to watching it.

Because it was made in 1932 before Hollywood's morality police took over (imagine that--there was time when they were policing morality in Hollywood, Three on a Match flouts convention and gets away with it. It shows and alludes to people, (and more specifically women) doing things they shouldn't and they are not always punished. True, the woman in the trio who leaves her husband does come to a gruesome end, but if you look at her entire story, this goes against convention.

Of the three friends, two (Vivian and Ruth) were straight arrows, while the Mary, who hung upside down on the jungle gym showing boys her underpants, smoked cigarettes behind the school, and spent time in reform school, winds up married to a rich lawyer. (Mary gets the Vivian's lawyer husband after Vivian leaves him for a shiftless acquaintance of Mary's.)

The polar opposites, the good-girl-gone-bad Vivian and bad-girl-gone-good Mary, go through dramatic changes. Middling Ruth works hard in school, works hard at her job, and in the end gets to be a nanny to the child Vivian abandoned, while Mary becomes lady of the manor by marrying the husband that Vivian abandoned.

Vivian seems to be the one most punished because she shows signs of depression before running off. It is clear that she repressed her authentic self to follow the dictates of society and then went off the deep end when she couldn't take it anymore. Mary spent her early days, living life to the fullest and did suffer some. Her exuberance gets tempered, but she never loses her joi de vivre.

This goes against the cultural norm that says that it is better to sacrifice yourself. Mary sacrifices little and gains much in the end.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Killing Birds Without Stones

So I was driving down 395 yesterday, happily singing Christmas music along with the radio, when I saw a bird nearing the right side of my car. Birds fly by all the time, but in a split second I saw that this bird was too close. There was little I could do, driving on the highway, over a bridge in the right hand lane.

And SPLAT, it made contact. And for another fraction of a second I thought it would just fall off of the car, making for an unpleasant, but brief encounter. As is often the case, I was wrong.

I realized that this bird had not just hit my windshield; it had become impaled on the antenna.

And I watched it die.

By now, I had left the bridge. I was in a middle lane with cars on either side. And I cannot really begin to describe just how awful it was. I had to keep driving as the impaled bird tried to free itself. It's head jutted against the windshield and I had to do all I could to hold myself together.

When I did leave the highway, I called the friend I was coming into town to meet and asked if he'd help me remove the bird. By now, it had given up.

I was near the National Mall and parking was hard to find. I saw a woman getting ready to leave a space and I hovered near. She kept pointing and gesturing. I, in turn, gestured to indicate that I was aware of the dying/dead bird impaled on my car. I still needed a parking space, however. Then I feared that some animal rights fanatic would vandalize my car before I was able to get my friend to help me remove the bird.

"I really just should have taken metro," I said at one point.

Later, my sometimes-atheist, sometimes-Buddhist friend said this was God's way of telling me that I should have taken metro.

And suddenly, I was irritated. "How do you know what God is saying?" I asked. "You don't even believe in God."

But later, as he removed the bird, he remarked on the odds that a bird would impale itself on an antenna in that fashion. Being a mathematician, he noted that the bird had to have been flying at just the right angle, etc., etc. "That's very rare."

And for me that was it: I was traumatized by the entire incident, but perhaps the point of it all was that the rare and impossible does happen.

Earlier, I had been talking about a rather upsetting situation that seems to have no solution. But, hey, if a bird can impale itself on my car antenna, who is to say what else can happen? Of course, I am hoping for more pleasant rarities and not traumatic ones.

Still, I am very sorry that the poor bird had to suffer like that. My friend, however, was fascinated by this gruesome death.

"Don't you care about the sanctity of life?" I asked.

He mulled it over and said yeah, he cared, but that it was still cool to see a bird impaled on a car antenna.

And yes, I took a picture of it because if I get nothing else out of all the random things that happen, I get a story.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Everything Old Does NOT Need to Be New Again

OK, so first I read about how some scientists were all excited because they had discovered the genetic code for woolly mammoths. Fine. But then I kept reading and I discovered that there was speculation about whether or not they should bring woolly mammoths back.

Um...what is this 'hope' that extinct species will once again live on Earth? They're extinct for a reason.

Next I read that somewhere some other scientific geniuses are pondering the idea of re-populating the Earth the neanderthals too.

Honestly, just when you think there is enough crap to go we are still dealing with nuclear weapons, bioterrorism, suicide bombers and just regular, plain old guns and knives and it is someone's brilliant to take it back to the Land of the Lost.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Land of Lost Cell Phones

The other night I was sitting at a birthday dinner when my cell phone rang. I glanced at it quickly and saw that it was someone I knew. But when I answered, the voice on the other end was not one I recognized. He had an accent that the person whose name was on the caller id did not have. The man said something that sounded like "I'm calling you from your cell phone." I jumped a little--how could he be calling me from my cell phone when I was using my cell phone?

An unexpected phone call from a strange man with a foreign accent? Doesn't that have all the makings of an exciting story? Sorry to disappoint, but in this novel that is my life, things like this often turn out to be quirky, annoying, or nothing at all.

His command of English was less than great: he'd found my friend's cell phone and called my number because it was the last call received. Then I called some other friends to see if they knew how to find this cell phone-less person.(Because of course I didn't know his home phone number and he later told me that he has no land line.) They didn't and I ended up using my morse code typing to send him an e-mail on someone else's cell phone. (This person actually has 2 cell phones, but it was really hard to type on his iPhone, so I went for the old-fashioned version.)

As it turns out the cell phone finder lives in the same building my friend who lost his cell phone.

And then on Sunday, I ran into another friend who had also lost her cell phone. She was fairly certain that she'd lost it is NoVa. She had the service turned off and speculated that had she lost it Maryland or DC, someone would have gone crazy with it. I told that just the say before a friend of mine had lost a phone in Maryland and that someone found it, called me and intended to return it. She was very surprised to hear of such honesty in Maryland.

Of course when she said Maryland, she probably meant PG County. And I didn't mention that my friend's lost cell phone was lost and found in Rockville...

No doubt some areas have more crime than others, but thieves and opportunities to do good abound everywhere.

Friday, November 21, 2008

How Great Stories (and Blog Posts) Are Born

I was on the subway and reached in my bag for a book I'm reading. The woman in front of me was reading The Express and the article she was reading caught my eye. And instantly I had an idea for a blog post that I could put up on the Cultural Events Blog I write at So I put the book down, got out my calendar and searched for a pen. I quickly scrawled the idea, and put the calendar and pen away so I could get a bit into my book before the train ride ended.

But that oh so persistent muse...well, really it isn't all that persistent There are days when I feel idea-free, and other times when I get stopped in the middle of something else with a great idea.

So I had to put down the book again and to scribble another idea. The way you can forget that a beautiful butterfly landed on your shoulder minutes before is the same way you'll forget a fleeting, but good idea.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

I So Love the Innanets: 30 Rock Edition

I needed a laugh, so I wanted to revisit an episode of 30 Rock that I found to be especially amusing, but of course I couldn't remember which one it was. Netflix kept confounding my efforts by not letting me see the plot descriptions on the episode list. And has annoying commercials, just like real tv, so I didn't bother with them.

So I did a search in which I wrote something like "30 Rock episode where Tracy sings Midnight Train to Georgia" and I found it. It was Episode 210. Isn't that a very descriptive title? What happened to real titles, like Ludaschristmas?

Yeah, that is about as profound as it gets today. I'm tired.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Blog Post Confessional

When I ran into someone I hadn't seen in a while at a party, she confessed to me that she though she hadn't seen me, she felt as though she had been prying into my life by reading my blog. She seemed sort of embarrassed.

I reassured her that it was okay and that if I didn't want anyone to know, I wouldn't post it on my blog. The thing about blogging is that you are your own editor. And although it may seem that some people do not know when to stop, it really is all in their control and they choose to tell all (or what we think is all) because they want to do so.

And this blog is hardly all that confessional. There is plenty of things that I'll never write about. Anywhere. And isn't that how we all live our lives? We only tell part of the story. What we reveal doesn't add up to even half the story.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Who is Responsible?

Yesterday I was reading the New York Times and an ad caught my eye. It outlined a scenario that asks the reader what they'd do if they saw a nanny seeming to mistreat the child under her care. It offered several choices and referred you to something called The Responsibility Project.

Me being me, my mind went off on a tangent that was unrelated to the project's actual purpose. My first thought was: how very New York City. Not a mother mistreating a child, but a nanny.

What signals to a person that a woman with a child is a nanny and not the child's actual mother? (Having lived in NYC, I know what often signals this and can spot what I am sure is a nanny in a NY minute.) Would you feel differently if the woman you thought was mistreating a child was the child's mother and not the nanny? How would someone's intervention (of lack therof) change if it was not an employee, but a parent mistreating a child? Why didn't they simply ask what someone would do if they saw a child being mistreated?

And being a person of color, I try not to think that there is prejudice in every scenario, but I saw the possibility for it here. Nannies come in all colors of course and sometimes they share a cultural background with their charges and sometimes they do not. A friend who lives in that area has told me that she is often mistaken as being the nanny for her own child because their skin colors differ.

Monday, November 10, 2008

The Price is Right (In Any Language)

I went to a store whose symbol is a big bullseye and decided that I wanted to purchase an item that had two different price points. On one shelf it was $5.99 and on another it was $4.99. I checked--the sizes and make were the same. So I chose one from the $4.99 stock and went to the cash register.

When the item scanned at $5.99, I told the cashier that it was $1. She held it, looked perplexed, and then continued ringing up my other items. I waited to see if she'd wait until the end to try to verify the price. She didn't. So I mentioned it again. And again she held it and looked perplexed.

Finally, she consulted cashier in the next aisle, in Spanish.

"She says that this is $4.99, but it shows up as $5.99."

The other cashier responded in Spanish, "She says that this is $4.99, but it shows up as $5.99?"

"Yes," I said, in Spanish. "It is $4.99, but it shows up as $5.99." They ignored me.

Then my cashier calls the manager and says to her in Spanish, "She says that this is $4.99, but it shows up as $5.99."

Then the manager asks me in English, "Was this $4.99 on the shelf."

"Yes, I answered in English."

So the manager took a dollar off.

Then some other employee came by and asked my cashier if she had been speaking to the other cashier. He was a little off because he then went off on a tirade about people not speaking the right language, but he didn't direct this speech at anyone in particular.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Is It Time to Unpack?

I've heard many metaphors about the African-American condition in the U.S., one of the shrewdest being Chris Rock's likening it to having an uncle pay for your college tuition and not being able to forget that he molested you when you were a child.

Yesterday, I heard Whoopi Goldberg say that she feels as if she can finally put her suitcase down. Yeah, we've been here a while, and most of us aren't going anywhere, but we've never felt welcome either. And certainly never felt comfortable enough to unpack.

But of course we aren't the only ones. Yesterday I was on a bus and I overheard a young Latina explaining who Obama was and what his winning the presidency meant to an older Latina, who apparently was unaware of these things. In Spanish, the younger woman also said that for the first time she felt really proud to be an American.

She echoed the words that Michelle Obama spoke that ignited controversy and were (of course) spliced, diced and taken out of context:

"What we have learned over this year is that hope is making a comeback. It is making a comeback. And let me tell you something -- for the first time in my adult lifetime, I am really proud of my country. And not just because Barack has done well, but because I think people are hungry for change. And I have been desperate to see our country moving in that direction and just not feeling so alone in my frustration and disappointment. I've seen people who are hungry to be unified around some basic common issues, and it's made me proud."

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Imitation of Life

People like to say that 'art imitates life,' but isn't it really the other way around?

There is a certain vision that people who are dedicated to cultural expression have that lets them see what is to come (be it comforting or uncomfortable).

Over the last few weeks, I've read any number of articles with the premise that plot lines in The West Wing foreshadowed Obama being elected president. And truthfully, this is a case of art and life informing each other because The West Wing's writers based character Matt Santos on Barack Obama.

And in thinking about the "Bradley Effect," Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez wrote about 'The Huxtable Effect' saying that the cultural movements pave the way for political change. She points out that the Harlem Renaissance preceded the Civil Rights Movement and that kids who grew up on The Cosby Show helped put Obama in the White House. Interestingly, just as the young Latino president on the West Wing hinted at Obama, she hopes that Obama himself will foreshadow a Latino president.

In this world, we still have these divisions, so I understand her hope. A president who is a person of color is good, but one who shares your particular cultural heritage is the icing on the cake.

As for the "Bradley Effect," didn't anyone ever think that it could be turned inside out? Yes, back when Tom Bradley ran for office, they found that to be "polite" certain people said they'd vote for a black man and didn't.

Now, perhaps some people were reluctant to say they intended to vote for a black man, but they did so anyway. Not to diminish the power of polls, but what people said, carried much less weight than what they did in the voting booth. As always actions speak louder than words, and the America spoke--by a landslide.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

I Done Voted, Y'all

In: 7:40 am
Out: 8:14 am

If you are voting later in the day, I can't say that it will be that quick, but as we all know it is well worth it.

For the first time since I moved to my particular area of DC, I actually stood in line to vote. I wasn't in line for long, but the fact that there was a line at all is significant because in the past I've walked right in with no waiting.

And when I stopped by the supermarket afterwards, I heard a woman say how beautiful it was to see a line of beautiful black people wrapped around a building on their way to vote.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Been There, Got the T-shirt

The other day I stepped out in my hard-earned t-shirt that bears the logo of everyone's favorite satirical newspaper, The Onion. (Hard-earned in the sense that I worked hard at a contracting gig that put me in an area of DC to be near enough to the happy hour where they gave away the free t-shirts to actually saunter over there after work.)

Someone told me she loved my t-shirt and I said, "Yeah, I should have grabbed more." This was just some random comment I threw out. All they had were women's size small (an odd choice to have in abundance), so I didn't get more because I didn't see myself giving them away to all of my female friends who wear that size.

"You could have sold them on eBay," the woman replied.

We had just been talking about how I was a writer and she was thanking me for publicizing her event on the D.C. Cultural Events blog I write for

"It's because you're a writer," she said. "You don't think like a marketer."

I could pout and say that this was an unfair generalization, but what the hell, it's true.

I need to think like a marketer, although I'm not sure I want to get into the t-shirt resale business...

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Increasing Domestic Violence is Really Scary

Yes, I know it is Halloween and people are getting ready for tricks and treats and all sorts of fun stuff. But I want to talk about something that is truly frightening.

I cannot let October end without mentioning that it is Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

Recently, I saw a teenage girl being bullied by a teenage boy. He didn't hit her, but he was being quite menacing. It was late at night at a bus stop outside a metro station in my troubled neighborhood. I had my cell phone ready in case it escalated and I needed to call the police. When I told someone this story they stopped short of chiding me for not intervening. What could I have done? And how would I have helped her if he decided to do me harm as well?

Sadly, things like this happen everyday.

Just yesterday, a friend of mine told me that while her then (and now former) boyfriend didn't hit her, he gave her some indication that he could hurt her if he wanted to.

According to, about 1/3 of the women in the U.S. reported being physically or sexually abused by a husband or boyfriend at some point in a 1998 survey. That was the amount of women who reported the abuse. But how many didn't report it? And that was ten years ago. Now with the heightened stress of a bad economy even more women and teenage girls are likely to become victims of abuse.

Earlier this year, members of my family had to bury my cousin after she died at the hands of someone she had dated who did not agree that their relationship should end.

National Domestic Violence Hotline: (800) 799-SAFE (799-7233)

If you are an abuser or a victim, get help.

Domestic Violence Hits Home (Again)

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The Other Side of the Door

I supposed when people try to help you and it doesn't turn out quite the way you thought it would, you should just be grateful. However, when have I been known to leave an oddity un-commented upon?

I really do appreciate it when a man hold open a door for me. More often than not, they tend to do it rather quietly. So I should have known that something was up when I was leaving a coffee shop and man called out rather loudly, "I'll get it! I'll get it!" just as I was about to exit.

I paused to let him get the door and he did...but then he walked through it. He held it open once he was on the other side, so he did make good on his promise. Who's to say that this isn't how it is done where he comes from?

However, when I described this incident to two friends (a guy and a girl) they broke into peals of laughter.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Face to Face (without Facebook)

My Facebook friending habits vary. Sometimes someone who I only kinda sorta know will ask to be my friend and I'll say yes and sometimes, I'll think that I barely know them, so I click "Ignore" and their request is spirited away.

That is the interesting thing about this phenomenon we call 'social networking': socializing almost always has a networking aspect to it, but sometimes networking isn't all that social.

Once, when in an expansive mood, I accepted a friend request from someone I knew socially, but not personally. I would not have friended her, but since she asked, I thought why not?

The other day I came across the aforementioned person in the flesh. I said, "Hi, [Person]. She paused, crinkled up her face, giving me a look that said, 'Who the [bleep] are you?' Then she responded with a tepid, "Hi." She walked away, turning back as if to try to understand who I was or why I'd spoken to her. Yeah, I could have tried to jog her memory, but I didn't feel like being bothered.

Of course, she likely fell sway to that 'seeing people out of context' thing where meeting someone in an unexpected place renders them unrecognizable.

From my vantage point, I saw recognize that I saw all that I needed to see.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Deer and Bears and Police, Oh My!

When The Washington Post asked me to do a Road Trip in Shenandoah National Park, I thought why not, since I'd never been.

You can read the article here:

Scouting Shenandoah's Skyline

The park staff said that the bears were friendly and that seeing a bear was often the highlight of a person's trip...I saw no bears, but I did catch on sign telling me that a certain area had "aggressive bears." Truthfully, I didn't know there was any other kind.

And I was delayed by a deer family eating lunch. They say not to get too close to them because they'll get frightened. So I had to wait 15 minutes or so for the fam to finish the picnic they were having right near my car.

To be honest, the unfriendliest and most frightening creature of all was the menacing park police officer who stopped me and gave me a warning for having a defective brake light.

Friday, October 24, 2008

During these harsh economic times...

During these harsh economic times (and you can replace the word harsh with tought/difficult/uncertain/unsure or any other such word) many sentences begin with the words "During these harsh economic times."

Perhaps we have to use adjectives to qualify it because we don't want it to become the norm, as in beginning every sentence with "These days."

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Bag Lady
It is amazing how ever since the plastic disposable shopping bag came about, some of us cannot wrap our minds around the concept of the reusable bag. If I were a truly dedicated blogger I'd look up the history of the disposable shopping bags and have all sorts of fun facts for you. As you can see, in this instance my dedication did not extend that far. But, it is the thought that counts, right?

I am not one of those people who does a lot to conserve the environment, so I can only hope that my environmentally-friendly thoughts count since my conservation actions don't always seem to quite pan out.

As I've mentioned before, it really ain't easy being green. When I show up to my neighborhood grocery store with my resuable bag, the barriers to earth-friendliness are much higher than in other places, something I understand given the area. But is it that the idea of a reusable bag can be so foreign?

Tonight the cashier (as is often the case) told me that my bag didn't count for the 5 cents off that Giant promises because it wasn't a Giant bag. Yes, the sign offering the discount pictures and is next to a display of bags that Giant is selling, but it says you get the discount when you reuse any bag.

So after she gave me the 5 cents off and sighed and rolled her eyes at me for not following the Giant program, she then proceeded to put my groceries into a plastic bag. When I tried to stop her, she again looked at me with disdain and explained that she was putting the groceries into the plastic bag so I could put the plastic bag into my resusable bag (duh!).

Of my frequent trips there when my bag is ignored unless I insist, there was one cashier was more than happy to to use the resusable bag. She told me she loved people like me who brought bags in because she got tired to trying tp pry open the plastic bags and said they got on her nerves.

So once I made one person's day. Good. Because I left the store after my latest trip with a plastic bag that I will reuse to line a wastebasket. Actually, that does make it a reusable bag. See Earth, I really do care.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

A Clothes Encounter—Of the Rude Kind

In which Inotherwordz exchanges harsh words and gets kicked out

Consignment shops are doing well these days. I’ve always been on to frequent these places, but I gather that lately, they’ve seen new customers who had considered them to be an option before.

I called one such shop, Clothes Encounters of A Second Kind, to ask if I could bring clothes in for consignment. I was told that they were getting full, but that I was free to come by any time. Granted, a busy Saturday morning is not the best time to go anywhere, but anytime means any time. So I didn’t expect to be greeted so rudely and eventually kicked out of.

As soon as I walked in the proprietress, greeted me with these words, “Oh, God, not another one.” To give this a generous context, I will say that she meant that I was yet another person coming in with clothes for consignment. I was instructed to go over to the side and wait while she schmoozed with people who indentified themselves as “good customers.” Fair enough. There were people there ahead of me. Yet, my back was already up because as they say, the bulk of communication is non-verbal. In word, gesture and tone she communicated that she did not want me there.

So here is the lesson: if you are not wanted and are in a position to leave, do so. Why stick around for more abuse? But I am stubborn, so I stayed and stewed, thinking that I would tell her that I understood she was busy and frazzled, but she might want to be kinder to customers.

When she was ready to attend me, she asked if I’d been there before and I hadn’t. I dutifully provided her with my basic information. Again, she mentioned just how very full the shop was getting. I was given to option to have clothes donated if they didn’t sell, and I took this option, so I was essentially saying goodbye to those clothes forever.

I gave her a phone number and when she asked for alternates, I said I had none. In modern life, all of our information is spread everywhere, so it seems pointless to even try to contain it, but I do. I get tired of having to give every story, office or whatever I enter every single piece of identifying information there is. One working phone number should suffice.

“If you move, we will have no way of contacting you.” Sure, life is full of surprises, but the clothes stay on consignment for, I think, 60 days and I had no plans to move. While I’m sure a consignment shop gets stuck with a lot of clothes, the fact that I’d chosen the donation option meant that if mine didn’t sell, they were free to give them the heave-ho.

“Well, I’ll try not to move then,” I said with a smile. This was a very lame attempt at humor on my part. Instead of breaking the tension, all hell broke loose. She had been looking for a way to get rid of me and she’d apparently found it.

“Do you really want to consign here?” she asked angrily. The truth is she didn’t want me to be there, but she was going to flip her disdain and make it my fault.

“Yes,” I said. “I don’t understand why you were so rude…”

“Get out,” she said.

The ensuing conversation got heated. I attempted to complete my statement and she told me no, she would not listen to me and to get out. It got ugly and as I said, all of this took place on a busy Saturday morning. Since Clothes Encounters of A Second Kind is at 202 7th Street SE, it is right near Eastern Market, and there were plenty of customers there to witness this exchange. Not that having witnesses around ever makes people reconsider their behavior.

I will admit that there were some rather unkind thoughts running through my head after this, but one really doesn’t have to wish misfortune on some people. Doing well is more than even to do them in.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Project Meatloaf

If someone had ever told me that I'd be judging a meatloaf contest, I'd have told them they were crazy. But hey, we all end up doing things that a) we never said we'd do of b)are so out if the realm of our thinking we can't even imagine them.

So yeah, I was asked to judge a meatloaf contest by a restaurant that I once reviewed for the Prince George's County Gazette. If that is where my "celebrity" takes me, then I'll go.

Celebrate National Meatloaf Awareness Day at the New Deal Café

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Identify Yourself

Today I overheard a woman on a cell phone saying, "Hi, this is R_______, Marquise' Baby Mother, and...

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

They're Bringing Sexy Back

In case you didn't know, savings and fiscal responsibility is sexy...and when I woke up this morning one retailer was on the radio wishing me a Merry October and telling me I could put stuff on layaway for Christmas.

Remember layaway? I thought it was all but gone, however it seems that you could have put things on layaway at Wal-Mart up until 2006. In case you didn't click on the preceding hyperlink, it referred to a Washington Post article which stated that at that time: living within your means is becoming an outdated concept in today's buy-now-pay-later culture.

Styles change quickly, so the budgeting that was outdated in 2006, is back with a vengeance in 2008. Let's hope it now obtains classic status, as something you'll want for every season.

I don't have plans to put anything on layaway, but I really do need to get a little sexier when it comes to savings.

P.S. If you want more serious insight into our economy, check out “where analytical rigor meets a mother’s intuition.”

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

BlogHer DC 2008

As I wrote in my previous post, there were definitely some goodies to be had at the BlogHer DC conference, like slippers, a cute little portable mouse for my laptop, and a laser pointer. But really these conferences are about knowledge and making connections.

If I had one big takeaway from the BlogHer DC conference, it was that authenticity is key. Authenticity and good content are Even when panelists had differing opinions on methods, techniques and formats, they all in some way advised bloggers to be true to themselves.

I thought about this when I overheard someone at the closing cocktail reception say that he was going to get his site all spruced up with bells and whistles. He reasoned that if it looked good people would come, even if he didn't put so much time into the content. Sure they'll come, but will they stay? And will they ever return?

At a bare minimum, a blogger needs to identify themselves somehow--with a picture, a graphic or a tagline--and give readers some method for contacting the blog's author.

You also need to spread the link love, meaning you gotta include hyperlinks to the cool stuff you mention and link to the cool bloggers you read. I definitely have to do more of the latter, but here is some of the former. I got great tips on some online tools to put method to my madness: your internet usage each day. You can set alarms to help you limit time on certain applications (Facebook!!). you into your Twitter, Facebook and IM accounts on one page. is a good tool for aggregating research, as their tagline says: 'research, not re-search.'
--A tool for organizing and aggregating your e-mail accounts and social networking applications.
--This set of online notebooks wants to help you get organized one project at a time. It's still in beta, so you have get a code, but look for it to launch. usability guru's site isn't cute, but it doesn't have to be because he has the inside scoop.

Besides learning about these super-useful online tools, I also learned that the Chinese have a word for the first person to leave a comment on a blog/article and that people are having virtual baby/wedding showers where they present to stories to the guest of honor.

Who knew?
This post would be 1000x more compelling if it was accompanied by pictorial evidence. I had such evidence, but it seems my camera has been stolen. I hope it turns up, but in the meantime, here goes:

The BlogHer DC Bathroom Brigade

Any time I go to some event and stand in the line for the women's bathroom that inevitably snakes around a corner while the man's bathroom remains unoccupied, the conversation about who designs buildings and 'why don't we just use the men's bathroom' commences. And only sometimes does anyone really take action.

Well at the BlogHer '08 Reach Out Tour in DC, some of us stormed the castle, or the commodes, shall we say. Since the conference was at a rather nice hotel, the men's bathroom was not at all scary and they had the same fresh flowers that the women's bathroom had. Perhaps knowing that we'd pick up on secrets such as this this is why men live in fear of women's empowerment...

In any case, the conference gave us a lot more that secret bathroom knowledge. We also got great swag like slippers, notepads and reusable bags.

Ok, in all seriousness, it was a great conference and I'll be back later in the day with more about stuff I actually learned. (And hopefully my camera will show up as well.)

Monday, October 13, 2008

That Chicken You See Running Around With No Head--Yeah That's Me

I'll be at the BlogHer 2008 Conference all day today. I wish I could tell I was doing something brilliant like Twittering the conference or something. But I'll be taking notes the old-fashioned way.

Then I'll be dashing over the the Washington Post to hear children's book legends Mem Fox and Helen Oxenbury because a) I want to hear them speak and b) I am on the board of he WNBA-DC Chapter and we are co-sponsoring the event.

But hey, there are many days when I just watch the tumbleweed roll by.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Arugula is Alright with Me

Someone with a surplus of arugula brought some into the office to share. If I've had it before, I don't remember. I do remember all the fuss about Barack Obama being some arugula-loving elitist.

After the first bite, I wondered how something so bitter could be considered the province of the elite, but then it grew on me.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

"That's how I do my thing!"

I managed to check out two events on the last day of the Duke Ellington Jazz Festival and found that these events had plenty in common: entertainment, a little education and calls for audience participation.

At the THEARC in Southeast DC, Nasar Abadey's Legazy Band, which includes his teenage son, gave some youngsters a lesson in jazz basics. He found a way to bring improvisation home to kids, telling them that it is similar to performing freestyle.

The band demonstrated improvisation with a scatted-up version of The Flintstones theme song. Abadey then called a few volunteers onstage to show their skills. Interestingly enough, the first few were handed a microphone, but they chose not use it very much. I thought they would all start to rap, but they most just danced (quite well I might add). Although one kid did exclaim the words in the title of this post upon finishing. Abadey then prompted the next volunteers to rap.

The festival's final performance featured Paquito D'Rivera, the festival's musical director with a cohort of very skilled musicians, many of whom hail from Latin America. One of them, Edmar Castañeda of Columbia, did absolutely impossible things with a harp.

In between selections, D'Rivera gave the audience insight into the value of instruments like the bandoneón. He also treated the audience to tales of jazz legends, including sharing a story about how Dizzy Gillespie once arrived at a South American club dressed as a gaucho and riding a horse.

There was also swag: attendees were treated to a souvenir program booklet that came with a free cd.

Monday, October 06, 2008

David Sedaris
My first experience with author David Sedaris almost got me killed.

I got one of his audio books from the libary, unaware of what I was in for. I thought it would be mildly amusing, but instead it was unbelievably hilarious. So much so that when I listened to it in the car, I was laughing so hard, I nearly ran a stop sign.

Sedaris isn't for everyone, of course, but if you aren't offended by his offbeat worldview and sometimes less than pc offerings, it is a treat to hear him read his work.

When I got an e-mail saying that someone I knew had an extra ticket to go hear David Sedaris speak, I jumped at the chance. Sedaris, who lives abroad, was here to promote his latest essay collection, When You are Engulfed in Flames.

As usual, Mr. Sedaris was laugh aloud funny. He is in the habit of paying someone at a book signing prior to a speaking engagement to introduce him. When a young woman who looked a little nervous approached the microphone, I thought she might have been university staff, but no, she was a student. Sedaris had offered her $10 to bring him out and for someone who hadn't planned to speak before a capacity crowd, she did a good job.

Book tours are all about promotion and he read a funny piece that The New Yorker had asked him to write about being on a book tour. But Sedaris doesn't just use him speaking engagements to promote himself. He also mentions, holds up and reads from the work of another author he admires. He read from The Braindead Megaphone by George Saunders. This kind of promotion was good to see because not everyone is quite so generous.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Free Speech?

There is a memo on the bulletin board of the non-profit where I am working at the moment instructing employees to restrict their political discourse. They were asked not to flaunt their political views on websites where they identify themselves as employees of the non-profit. They were also asked not to post any political cartoons or things of that nature in the office since these things might make someone else uncomfortable and muddy the non-profit's non-partisan reputation.

All day I sat near someone who engaged everyone who passed by in conversation about politics. This person called several people, asking them to come by and see a satirical political cartoon.

Despite the edict and the attempt to stick to the non-profit's promise of being non-partisanship, the employees can't help themselves. And I don't blame them. Although I've always been conscientious and voted, I have to say that I have never been on to actually watch any pre-election debates. And the people I spoke with, friends, neighbors and colleagues spent the whole day on the edge of their seats in anticipation of watching tonight's vice presidential debate.

In the words of Sara Palin: Let's ramp it up! Now doggone it, it's time to move forward!

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Botox Bailout!

Yes, that was on an ad that was screaming at me from the the back page of a newspaper.

You knew it was coming...someone has to profit from this bailout might as well be the purveyors of a beauty-enhancing toxin.

Because, hey, if the financial crisis is all too real for you, then you will need to smooth out those wrinkles you got from all that frowning.

Monday, September 29, 2008

I Wanted a Cut and Color and All I Got Was This Lousy Story

This fifth time is the charm (or so I hope). Yes, I know that the saying really only refers to the third time, but since I will embark on my fifth attempt to get my hair done this week, I am banking on number 4.

When I was telling a friend about my third (or was it the fourth?) attempt she responded: It's funny how some people think the president has all the power. When it comes to black women it's the hairdressers. Truer words were never spoken.

Because I didn't want to part with my hard-earned money for lackluster service, I've had to roll out of several hairstyling establishments.

Sleeping Beauty
#1 was a salon that came recommended. I walked in and there was someone slumped over the reception desk, sleeping. After barely being acknowledged and spending 20 minutes listening to an in-depth analysis of P. Diddy's umpteenth installment of Making the Band, I left. When I went to introduce myself to my would-be stylist to tell her I was leaving she said, "You can't wait?"

Got the Message?
#2 was a salon that I didn't actually visit. I spent a week or so just trying to get the required initial consultation scheduled. I called and then had to wait for someone to call me back to get my info so they could leave a message for a stylist who would call me to schedule my this mandatory consultation. After consulting with them, I would then be given the privilege of making an actual appointment to get my hair done. The stylist took days to call me back, and since I wasn't home, left me a message. When I called her back and left her a message, she didn't return my call. When I called the salon, they said I should call the DC location. "But I did call the DC number," I countered. "Oh, well they have routed their calls here to Silver Spring."

I Can't Stand the Rain

#3 was a salon I'd been to before. The failure of this attempt was my fault. If I'd given myself enough driving time to make allowance for the fact that no one wants to drive above 30 mph when it rains in DC, I might have made it to my appointment. The extra 20 minutes I'd added wasn't enough to offset the rain and the wrong turn I made. When I called from the road, they said I might very far away and that I might was well not show up.

Color Me Gone

#4 was the salon where the stylist greeted me at the door by saying that her shop had recently been robbed. She handed me a box and told me to go to the beauty supply store next door to pick up hair color made by the same brand as the box she'd given me. It is common for people to buy bring hair with them for braids and weaves, but this was unusual. When we'd discussed the appointment over the phone, the stylist failed to mention that hair color was an a la carte item.

And so, my hair remains uncut and uncolored. For now...

Friday, September 26, 2008

National Singles Week: No Strings Attached

Apparently this past week (Sept. 21-27) was National Singles Week. It is also known as National Unmarried and Single Americans week, which would give it the acronym N.U.S.A. That abbreviation is a little to close to nuisance for my liking...

Here is a link to an article on the topic:

It's National Singles Week

The article is a bit defensive, but makes good points about how single people are sometimes unfairly discriminated against when it comes to time off and medical benefits.

So if you're single, get out there and celebrate! You've got no strings to hold you down.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

This Land is Your Land, This Land is My Land

It is always amazing to me how I can find an entirely different world when I travel just a few hours away from the metropolis I call home. I am a city girl, so anything that is not quite a city has a limited attraction. Still, it is good to be reminded that although everyone does not live as city-dwellers do, we all have plenty in common.

On my way to Shenandoah National Park to do research for a Washington Post story, I saw a hand-scrawled sign that read: NRA Supporter for Obama. The person who made that sign had a point to make. Later I saw one that declared Virginia to be McCain Country.

More and more I see people sporting all kinds of variations of the mohawk. But I didn't expect to see any mohawks once I got a little deep into Virgina. Sure enough, a man at a gas station had a mohawk that was accompanied by a rat tail in the back.

The Mohawk/Rat Tail man came into a convenience store as I was paying for my (cheap!) gas to announce/ask about getting some gas on store credit. He said he needed to gas for two hours because he was going to get some money and that he'd be back. This transaction (or lack therof) was surprising to me. I didn't think people still did things like that. But with the way things are going, everyone may be bartering and borrowing a lot more.

Recently, I was allowed to get items from a store on credit, so I can't say that it doesn't happen in big cities. However, it is a phenomenon I associate more with small town living.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

"You're Such a Woman!"

That is what a colorful patron (and fellow woman) in the auto body shop said to me because I told the mechanic that I was only electing to get a new air filter because he showed me how filthy mine was.

I had joked that if they'd just mentioned it and not shown me the air filter, I'd probably have skipped the new one, saying, " I can breathe."

In any case, the woman had a point: we women are too long-suffering for our own good.

Monday, September 22, 2008

So Many Blogs...

If you are in the DC area (and even if you aren't) you can catch me blogging for I write about Cultural Events for the Communities section.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

The Meaning of Amistad

I am the master of my fate; I am the captain of my soul.

-from Invictus by William Ernest Henley

Everyone wants their moment in the sun, but sometimes one has to ask if it is really worth it. Especially if your shining moment means you have to step over someone else. Particularly if the time you’ve chosen to stand in the spotlight takes place on a replica of a slave ship when a fellow visitor has fallen ill.

I was aboard the Amistad at the National Harbor, where man's (continued) inhumanity to man played out in historical memory and contemporary lack of courtesy. Amistad, a replica of the slave ship La Amistad, is touring the world and docking and educating people as it goes. The word amistad is Spanish for friendship. The original Amistad was not intended to carry slaves as it did and was the site of a well-known 1839 slave revolt. This revolt was the subject of the 1997 movie, also called Amistad. The tour is sponsored by a non-profit that wants to promote cultural understanding.

The ship is small and only a certain number of visitors could be on it at once. Even fewer visitors were allowed to go below deck. It was down there that a woman started to sweat profusely and became ill. She ended up sitting on the floor and vomiting.

Meanwhile, another visitor was asking people to move out the way so she could get pictures of herself at various spots. Even when the women became ill and ship personnel came to her aid in those tiny below deck quarters, the photo shoot continued. She was oblivious to the woman’s plight and was solely concerned with getting a good shot. As they cleared people from below and made them return to the upper portions of the ship, the woman, seemingly unconcerned to all that went on around her, cajoled a crew member about how he was supposed to be in place to take pictures of her with her camera.

It’d be great if this was story where someone was overcome because the stench of slavery and the collective spiritual memory of how our ancestors suffered. But it’s not. I heard the woman diagnose her swooning as the combined result of waiting in a long line in the hot sun to get on the ship and the heat in the small, cramped quarters below deck.

Friday, September 19, 2008

They Say They're N Luv

Yesterday's entry about gentlemanly behavior is a great segway to talk about some rather un-gentlemanly and un-ladylike behavior.

I was reading an issue of Jet about a week ago and came across and article entitled "Exotic Dancers at the Forefront of Picking Hip-Hop Hits." (If you're wondering how I remember the title it's because I have a subscription to Jet. It was free, hey, what can I say.)

I know journalists just present the issues and they aren't supposed to judge...but I was surprised at the article and at the fact that it was so blasé about the whole thing. So-called "urban" radio appeals to young listeners and a lot of what they listen to glorifies stripper culture. Stripper culture is now mainstream. Often enough I have been listening to a song on the radio and a few minutes into it, I realize that the object of a male singers "affection" is in fact a stripper.

Hip Hop artists will test out a song in strip clubs and if the "girls" like to dance to it, then they've got a hit. One expert quoted in the article noted that the strength of the "alliance" between hip hop and strip clubs is increasing.

Once men sangs songs to women they wanted to date. This is not to say that they didn't want more than a date, but they were at least willing to attempt to woo a woman. Now women in general are reduced to being sex workers as men sing songs to women that they want to see on the pole.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

An Old-Fashioned Model

Walking down the stairs of my building, I ran into a neighbor who was balancing a garbage bag and her toddler. At about the same time, a man I hadn't seen before came into the stairwell inquiring if I had any black shoe polish. I don't think I've ever had any shoe polish.

He offered to take the trash out for my neighbor since she had her young son. He was another neighbor's father, here on a visit. That is the kind of thing my Dad would do. They really don't make them like that anymore.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Ratting People Out

The other day I was happily typing away and the radio was on as background noise, but I was barely listening. Then I heard a public service announcement that got my attention because its cheerful tone belied the distasteful subject matter.

It made me think about when I was studying abroad in Costa Rica, where there seemed to be a lot more PSAs. They were all so earnest. I remember one that aired frequently: a teenager comes to his dad to discuss a "friend's" problem and the father launches into a brief but serious lecture on the topic, and you can tell Pops is feeling all "Father Knows Best." At the end the teenager tells his dad that he is the friend in question. I'd walk around with his words echoing in my head (Papi, este yo.)

So I was jarred to hear a man telling me how we all need to work towards a rat-free DC as if he were recommending a movie I should watch. Speaking of which...I now see that I share my father's aversion to rats in pop culture. When he discovered that I had discovered the song Ben from the movie of the same name, my father said, disgusted, "He's singing...about a rat." I felt the same about that movie Ratatouille. Rats cooking in the kitchen? Ugh, no thanks.

And because I am nothing if not logical--I don't like real mice, but have no problem with their onscreen counterparts. Onscreen mice--cool; onscreen rats--no.

But back to the lecture at hand: yeah people, let's work on that whole rat-free DC thing.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Just Like Romeo and Juliet

"Women may fall, when there's no strength in men."
-Romeo and Juliet, Act III, Scene III

When Jennifer over at Regal and Regular heard that I was going to see "Romeo and Juliet" at The Harman Center for the Arts, she asked me to blog about it. And since I would do anything for my regal readership, I am doing just that.

I've seen various versions from the West Side Story movie to Synetic Theater's stunning silent adaptation, but I hadn't seen the play performed on a stage. So you know not only did I have to go see it done the old-fashioned way, I ended up seeing it done old school for real: as in all the characters were portrayed by men, just as it would have been done in Willie Shakespeare's day. Both the ancient Greeks and the Elizabethans thought that the stage was no place for a woman, so men played men and prepubescent boys and men played women. One of my friends thought that Romeo was a better girl than Juliet. For years scholars have pointed to Romeo's weakness and Juliet's strength throughout the play, although both teenagers' dramatic tendencies get the tragedy going.

The intro in the program drew my attention to the lines that characterized women and it made me look at the play in a whole new way. They wanted to emphasize the male posturing that leads to violence. The violence on the streets of Verona could be the violence anywhere, but we see it differently because Shakespeare is viewed as classic.

It is funny that Shakespeare is thought of as a high school thing because anyone who has seen a performance will tell you that it is much bawdier than it seems. (And in a different way, this does make Shakespeare very much a high school thing.) Modern play companies tend to emphasize Shakespeare's innuendo and double entendres to remind us that his plays were much more grounded than we are led to believe.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

OK, My Digital Transition Wasn't That Easy...

Now I have to get my DVD player hooked into the equation as well. At the moment, it is out in the cold...stay tuned.

The Transition to Digital TV

The Transition to Digital Television

When I bought my analog tv set a few years ago, digital television was for me a hazy notion, but as the date for the conversion creeps up it is becoming more and more real. People with digital televisions and cable packages have little to worry about. But if you are like a cable-free, analog television set owner like me, you need to pay attention.

I've heard conspiracy theories that this digital transition is one more step in the government's plan for total mind control. Maybe. I've also heard rallying cries to abandon tv altogether. Good idea...I'm not a big fan of tv, but even I like to catch a few shows now and then. I got a coupon for a digital converter box...and then I let it sit in a drawer for months until my mother reminded me that it could expire.

So then I went out to get a digital converter box and then I let it sit for months...until I met Denice Rhodes, the Digital Dynamo, and she convinced me that I might want to set it up, rather than wait until the night before the conversion. There is no guarantee that your digital converter box will work.

Well, Denice, I am happy to report that my digital converter works just fine. And I could have been enjoying much clearer reception had I done so sooner. I do have extra channels, but where I once had three different local PBS stations, I now have three different channel extensions of one PBS station. I guess that evens out. And I saw a great commercial for a gadget that helps you make pancake puffs, which are apparently superior to regular pancakes, although you still have to flip them.

Unlike me, some people may not find their foray into digital television so simple. Denise works to help seniors, people in rural areas and others understand the transition for analog to digital. Many people are unaware and some who are aware and get the converter boxes still have trouble getting everything. set up. Plus, cable companies are poised to get new customers when consumer with no reception turn to them in confusion.

You can visit Denise's website,,to get info on outreach workshops to keep seniors and others from being left in the dark.

Go to to get a coupon toward the price of a digital converter box.

You can also read this list of FAQ's on the digital transition from the FCC.