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.