January 31, 2006

"S" words: synonyms, sex, slaying, Superbowl & slow jam.

Word of the day: callibogus. Apparently it is synonymous with "alcohol".

So I recently had a conversation with a friend about the word "slay". I'm a fan of using it as a substitution for the word "kill" in the following contexts:

"Oh, man! Ron Burgundy KILLS me!!" or "Watching pair figure skaters drop their partners in those cheesy sparkly spandexy costumes totally KILLS me!" etc.

I had just said something like "You SLAY me!" in response to some comedic moment, which then led to the discussion of why "slay" is such a good word. There are the obvious reasons (it's not a funny word when used appropriately, which means that when you use it ironically, it's funny), and then there is my friend's reason:

Him: "I dunno... I just like it. It's romantic, or something. It makes me think of dragons, and... and, like, hot knight sex!"

I spent easily the next 5 minutes laughing hysterically, with visions of two dim-witted armored men clanking against each other, trying to figure out just how to accomplish the sex act in the cumbersome and impenetrable outerwear. The details are the best part of this visual: their little face plates clanking down over their eyes at inopportune and frustrating times, their huge, heavy arms and boots, the inflexibility... it was priceless.

The next day, I shared this story with another friend, who had the same reaction, and proceeded to blog about his little mental picture. i thought I'd share his version with you, too.

I guess he should have said "hot knight-and-damsel sex", if that's what he meant, huh? (Not that there's anything wrong with hot knight sex...)


I just watched "Lord of War" - a non-preachy but thinly veiled statement film about the illegal international weapons trafficking (particularly in the poorest regions: Libya, Sierra Leon, etc.). The premise is provocative, much of the film leans heavily on historical events, and they actually worked with arms dealers in the making of the movie. Apparently it was cheaper to use real illegal AK-47's in scenes than to build out thousands of prop versions. Which is scary, and cool.

Though I'm generally tempted not to like Nicholas Cage for a variety of reasons including but not limited to the fact that his face depresses me and he sometimes seems to mistake "subtle" for "sleeping", I am generally reluctantly impressed by him. I even own and love "Adaptation" and found him quite brilliant in it. And "Lord of War" also proved to be his own little stage, though he was supported by a decent cast, including Jared Leto (plays his cokehead brother... weird, huh?) and Eamonn Walker as a perfect Andre Baptiste. Ethan Hawke (the token FBI guy) was a stretch, but he was really just there to deliver some statistics and monologue every once in a while about all the death the arms trade causes, so he's as forgivable as he is forgettable in the flick.

It was remarkably intelligent without being over-politicized. And Cage played his role with depth and coolness, yet again proving me shallow and wrong about him. And he delivered some dark but very funny lines like a champ. Asshole. Look, it's not 5-star, but it's good. See it.

I'm throwing a Superbowl party, it appears. And the face paint will be in full effect. But this time my roommate has come up with a few new elements. His tentative concept is to hand out T-shirts and sharpies at the door, on the back of which everyone must ink a number (for the halftime parking lot game - to make the commentators jobs easier) and on the front of which everyone must write something incorporating one of the following three words: "Score", "Sack", or "Waterboy". My contribution to the party will be the food, the wit, and a keg of ice-cold libation.

Our cranky neighbor is going to blow a gasket.

Current soundtrack:

"Raindrops" -- Ben Folds Five
"Amber" -- 311
"Nothing Even Matters" -- D'Angelo feat. Lauryn Hill
"Lonliest Girl in the World" -- Cary Brothers
"Heaven" -- D'Angelo feat. Erykah Badu

(it's rainy. we're doing the cool slow jams thing today.)

January 27, 2006

Mozart, Chuck Norris and wire tapping... oh, my!

Happy Birthday, Mozart!

I think I just found my new favorite place to shop online. Please note that I didn't say "my new favorite place to buy stuff online". I couldn't afford most of this even if I took a second job cutting diamonds. And I don't think I'd want to. But the design of most of it is awesome or clever or just unique. I have to say that their couches and chairs are not for the meek... particularly this stool. And I like that.


(I also like that you have no idea why I just "baaaaah-ed" unless you click the links that I put there pretty much exclusively for my own enjoyment. It's like my own little private joke with... me.)

Who EVER watched "Walker, Texas Ranger"? In appreciation of the awesome badness of this show and the innate comedy that Chuck Norris brings to everything thanks to the hair/mustache combo and his classic roundhouse kicks, I have compiled a list of links for your enjoyment:

First, a short musical tribute to the young Walker, Texas Ranger.

Next, how about some random facts about Mr. Chuck Norris, himself?

And really, this is the mack-daddy of Chuck Norris fact lists. If you're too lazy to read them all, here are a few:

"Rather than being birthed like a normal child, Chuck Norris instead decided to punch his way out of his mother's womb. Shortly thereafter he grew a beard."

"Chuck Norris sold his soul to the devil for his rugged good looks and unparalleled martial arts ability. Shortly after the transaction was finalized, Chuck roundhouse kicked the devil in the face and took his soul back. The devil, who appreciates irony, couldn't stay mad and admitted he should have seen it coming. They now play poker every second Wednesday of the month."

"Chuck Norris is 1/8th Cherokee. This has nothing to do with ancestry, the man ate a fucking Indian."

I gotta say, though, I'm a little dissapointed in ol' Chucky's response to these lists... singularly lacking in humor, sexiness AND threatening tone. (I'm sure now he's going to hunt me down and kick me to death, anyway, though.)

My geeky discovery of the week: Apparently AOL will be launching the first portion of a soon-to-be MySpace knock off in March. The social networking offering will branch off of the existing AIM, focusing tightly on user-created content, photos and music. Way to not innovate AOL! If this "AIM mee-tooing MySpace" thing isn't the most flagrant bandwagoning ever... We'll see what comes of this. I'll bet it will be flashing-advertisement hell. Good luck, AOL. Keep it up and you'll NEVER be the "Apple" or the "Google" of your market. Of course, you'll save millions on R&D, but if you don't start coming up with some ideas of your own, pretty soon you're going to be Reebok and Levis, leaving behind all hope of being Nike or Sevens -- ever. But it's cool. Old people need the Internet, too.

Finally, I swear to God I've had a few incarnations of this exact conversation with multiple friends before. My friends and I come up with the funniest material ever/the solution to every woman's problems in casual conversation ALL THE TIME. And then we spend like 30 minutes rolling on the floor at our comic genius or exclaiming how effing intelligent and insightful we are before we realize that we have totally forgotten what was so funny/smart in the first place. It's like we're perpetually on drugs, or something. (We're not). Bottom line: I HATE wasting the funny, and I do it all the time, and wire tapping is simply the perfect solution.

Have a good weekend!

January 24, 2006

The Sprint "payola" comment, and why it's total bullshit.

I read this BuzzMachine blog about Sprint contacting influential techie bloggers, offering to give them a new phone for free in the hopes of getting some feedback on new features. This is just one of many similar examples of big companies attempting to reach out to the blogger... a person they know can be mysteriously influential, but haven't quite figured out how to interact with.

(Others similar attempts have included McDonald's, and this Forbes article details what worried marketers and branders call The Attack Of The Blogs.)

So far, Sprint's is the best execution I've seen on the part of a corporate PR department. There was no "beg", not even an ask for coverage. Props for that, though this sort of polite behavior should be obvious.

One of the comments that followed Jeff's blog, though, is ridiculous, and inspired a response from me. This guy refers to Sprint's clever strategy as ""payola" and "unethical"".

Payola?! This is good communications, pure and simple. Look, I understand and agree that Sprint hopes influential bloggers will say something good about the new phone, and that the fact that it is free MIGHT help their case. But playing the "human nature" card is anything BUT "unethical". Men like breasts and asses. Women, particularly single ones, wear clothes that subtly accentuate these features. Is that unethical? Women dislike potbellies. Men who want these women to talk to them spend time in the gym, working off the 6-pack of Coors in exchange for a 6-pack of desire. A moral sin? Hardly. The truth is, we're all selling something, but we can choose what we buy.

Sprint is no dummy. They seriously weighed the consequences of as many bloggers or more disliking this new device as liking it. (As Jeff mentioned, freebies only go so far as to raise an eyebrow - after that, the device/service does all the work in developing brand loyalty). And Sprint had to consider that bloggers are likely to hate being contacted by a corporate giant, as the concept of blogs are rooted in consumer-to-consumer or expert-to-consumer or entertainment-to-consumer connectivity, not corporate-giant-to-potential-consumer, as far as the communications model goes.

What Sprint did was clever, and if done right, gives us an opportunity to improve our consumer experience with the company. If they were smart and did their homework (as I suspect they did) they knew that most bloggers would repost their “ask”. They might have even considered that they would get feedback about their brand as WELL as feedback about this new device. They possibly recognized the value in such dialogue, positive or negative, and that if they ask for it and then listen carefully, they just might learn something. (About their brand image, their service, their strategy, who listens to the experts they’ve contacted, and last but not least, the phone itself.)

Or maybe I'm giving them way too much credit.

Either way, I'm not offended nor victimized by this strategy. It's no manipluative ploy - we, and they, are smarter than that. And I'm growing tired of this upheaval from bloggers of late about such outreach from big companies.

I understand that the beauty of a blog is that we all get a platform to say what we think, unfiltered. The flip side, however, is that without any code of ethics or accountability for balance we can cause a ruckus amongst those who don't recognize flagrant emotional rants and we can thereby slowly chip away at the credibility of those expert bloggers out there who hold themselves to a higher (dare I say journalistic?) standard. I'm certainly no example, but I'm also not out in the ether yelling about conspiracies, ripping at companies, making recommendations or slinging mud at companies who are trying to start a dialogue with me, or even -- gasp! -- hear what I have to say. That's just silly.

I can recognize and appreciate that corporate America sees some value in the dialogues that go on in our world... and I've been carefully watching as they become smart enough to try to learn how to participate in it.

That said, having had a terrible experience with Sprint in the past, I wouldn’t use one of their phones if it was plated in platinum and someone was threatening to set my left foot on fire while pulling out my fingernails one by one and tickling me unless I used it. They are inflexible, their customer service people are testy and I always either went over my minutes and paid a month's rent for my cell phone or I under used my minutes and still spent a small fortune, with those minutes gone forever. And data sending was like watching paint dry.

Bad product and bad service will sink good strategy every single time. But if they are reading carefully, perhaps their product will improve.

Then we all win, don't you agree?

January 22, 2006

WOO HOO!!! (Also, content-based ads and the best cover song that no one's ever done)

You knew it was coming: THE SEAHAWKS ARE GOING TO THE SUPERBOWL!! I'm pretty sure 2006 is going to be the best year of my life thus far, and this is just another reason why. It was crazy around here before, during and after the game -- downtown was a mess, everybody was partying, and the crazies were out in rare form.

Though I didn't end up getting tickets to the game, I DID throw a game-day party. This was a very close second to being there, AND we didn't have to stand in a cold parking lot drinking bad beer, or, conversely, stand in a cold stadium drinking expensive beer. Besides these obvious plusses (which I'm clearly just listing to make myself feel better for not being at the game), the party was a smashing success (which only means there were more people than just my roommate and I there) with a few key memorable moments:

1. Near-mandatory Seahawks face painting. My vision was just the standard football grease stripes in blue and green below our eyes, but this party trick went far beyond my wildest expectations. We actually had people with full-on seahawks painted on their faces, a few nose racing stripes, a couple "Go Hawks", and my personal favorite, the guy who paited an H, them made his mouth into an A, followed by WKS. It's difficult to describe here, but the end effect was something of a cross between a dirty frenchman's mustache and a carnie.

2. One partycomer, Mark, was the "quote of the day" generator. The two times he substantially chimed in to playoff party "conversation", if it can be called that, were absolutely priceless. The first time, someone asked what the name of the dog in Neverending Story was. Before anyone had a chance to process the question, Mark was all up in it. "Falcor!!!" he screamed, before turning back to the TV. The second time, he randomly told a story about how he used to put penis cutouts in elevator lights in college at Seattle Pacific University, thus casting a "penis shadow" on everyone in the elevator.

By the end of the night, we decided that we should all start a band - a 20+ person band - and call it "Falcor and the Penis Cutouts".

3. During halftime, we adjourned to the parking lot outside my house for a quick game of pavement football. As the game was played on cement, to tackle a player, it was determined that you had to grab their ass -- one hand only. The game was officiated by a guy who lives a few stories up in an apartment complex overlooking the parking lot, and his black Lab. It was a complete shit show. There were a few spectators from other surrounding apartments, I'll just say that. I can't decide if they were watching in glee or horror, or were deciding whether or not to shoot us/call the cops, but it was funny regardless. The final score was 7-0, and there was only one successful pass - completed by Josh2 (not Josh1, who is my roommate), who layed himself out on the cement. It was glorious - he didn't even hesitate. He just ran, dove, got the roadrash of his life, and completed the pass. Later, as he sat on the couch and bled, we gave him one of Josh1's old football trophies with a piece of paper taped onto the bottom that read "Josh: parking lot playoff game MVP 2006".

4. Mid-game, we noticed that I got a new neighbor. We noticed this because I have two enormous windows. One looks out onto Ballard, the bridge, and water. The other looks directly into an apartment. We spent a good quarter waving, gesturing, and considering mooning this new neighbor before we finally (using sign language) got him to come over and join us. He seemed a little overwhelmed at first, as we are a very noisy, very funny, and very enthusiastic bunch, but we immediately fed him pie, handed him a beer, and made fun of him. He took to it like a redneck to a pig.

5. Immediately following the game, Josh1 turned on the stereo, and the whole party (well, except for the again-frightened neighbor/new friend) erupted into a spontaneous Seahawk Superbowl Celebration dance to Stevie Wonder's "Signed, Sealed, Delivered". I cannot, for the life of me, explain how funny this was. Funny, and bizarre, and totally typical. Quote: "I didn't know it was that kind of party!"

All of these things were much, much funnier at the time. I think it had something to do with either our collective euphoria about the way we handed the Panthers their asses, or pheremones. One of the two.


So I recently learned, the hard way, how "Content-based" ads work.
Google's "ADSense" actually makes no sense at all. All it took was ONE post with the word "underwear" in it, and suddenly the top of Legwarmers is plastered with the following ads:

"Munsingwear Sale 25% off
Regular and Big Man Underwear Free Shipping on orders $45 or more"

and this gem for disposable underwear, which I just don't understand at all.

Those were pretty good, but then, somehow, I got THIS weird ad, which had to be triggered by a combination of "pretty boy" and "spray tan", don't you think?:

"Men's Thong at SwimOutlet! Huge selection of swimwear and gear: The Swimming Superstore".


I am a pretty big fan of decent musicians covering other people's songs. I recognize that some people loathe this, instead preferring original music, but I really enjoy hearing different takes on the same song. There is, however, a caveat: for a cover to be really, really good, it must be ironic. An example: Alanis' cover of Seal's "Crazy". It's a good song, she sings it well, no one got hurt. But it lacks irony. She IS a little crazy, and the song is totally in line with her image.

A good cover is unexpected, sounds totally different but reminiscent of the original, and is, above all, ironic. Think of the Wedding Singer version of "Bright Eyes". It's great and memorable because the movie cover took it from sappy to suicidal. It is beautiful.

I've given this some serious thought, and determined that I have a concept for the best cover of all time, which I will now share with you and subsequently someone will do and make a lot of money off of, which will piss me off like no other because no one will believe that it was my idea first, which is the most infuriating feeling ever. But such is life.

The song is C & C Music Factory's "Dance". The band will be someone like Metallica, Rage, Alien Ant Farm, or Audioslave. It will be VERY heavy on guitar, VERY angry, and it will kick ass.

Just take a moment to picture it. It is funny, AND it is very rock and roll. And it's a good song, man. I'm a genius. You cannot argue that this is one of the best ideas of all time.


I need to wind down now. It was a very, very good game. By which I mean, of course:


January 21, 2006

The Song List (now, with links!)

I have many "lists", as anyone who knows me knows. Lists, for example, of the top 10 things I'd never do for one million dollars, the top 10 people I'd have a head transplant with, the top 5 places I MUST live before I die. Lists for names I will give my children, might give my children, and definitely would never give my children, lists of the all-time best dreams I've ever had, the all-time worst nightmares, and the big one: the "List of Desireables". Today, I'll introduce you to a more benign and ridiculous list, and you might make fun of me. But hey! If I have a list, and want to see it in writing, thereby subjecting myself to perhaps days of ridicule, call me Bobby or Britney, but don't call me out -- because that's my prerogative.

The list is "Mongo's list of the greatest love songs of all time". (also known as: "The-list-of-songs-I-have-been-known-to-wish-were-written-for-me-in-moments-of-extreme-narcissism-because-every-girl-wishes-someone-was-writing-songs-about-them-don't-deny-it"). There are probably 50 songs on this list, and I cannot bear to put them in order. Lucky for you, I'm only going to post a few at a time.

Oh, I think it's important to note that purely happy love songs suck. You will find a few in my list, but not many. That is because I find these songs boring and innacurate. A little difficulty, craziness, impossibility, fear and/or sadness mixed in with the love stuff is so much more effective. I mean, perfect relationships are like BigFoot and the Loch Ness Monster, and frankly they don't sound that interesting even if they do exist.

So, without further ado, here is a random handful of songs from "The List":

Every Woman - Garth Brooks (i couldn't find the original, so here's a crappy cover version; sorry)
A few key excerpts: "She's sun and rain/she's fire and ice/a little crazy but it's nice" (aaawwww) "and she'll rage just like a river/then she'll beg you to forgive her" (whoops - accurate) "She's makin' love on rainy nights, she's a stroke of Christmas lights, she's everything I wanna do again".

Pretty self-explanatory. The moment I find someone who can actually say, looking directly at my head, that my sun, rain, fire, ice and a little crazy is "nice" (preferably while rhyming), I am immediately condemmning them to a lifetime with this "nice". (I can be very persuasive.) Hey, he said he wants to do it again. Over and over and over for eternity is what he's gonna get. This song almost made me love Garth Brooks. But then he got a little chubby and did that whole "grungy rockstar alter ego" thing. What was Garth 2.0's name, again? Sooo weird.

My Cherie Amour- Stevie Wonder
(aaaah. here it is.)
Classic love song. But with a few key non-english words. Also, the line "How I wish that you were miiiiiinnnneee" adds a touch of the good ol' unrequited, impossible love theme. Which I'm a sucker for every time. This song is simple, perfect, and I cannot resist swaying lamely to it.

Stay Or Leave - Dave Matthews (can't find a link, sorry)
When I first heard this song, I literally played it over and over and over in my car for two weeks. I really think it was the only song I listened to during that time. It's full of rose colored glasses and regret and bewilderment and reminiscence. But it still comes off as a real love song. I dunno. It just has that thing.

"Stay or leave - I want you not to go, but you should -- it was good, as good goes. Stay or leave - I want you not to go, but you did. So what to do with the rest of today's afternoon? Isn't it strange how we change everything we did; did I do all that I should - that I could'a done? Remember we used to dance and everyone wanted to be you and me? I want to be, too."

Good stuff. This song shares a spot with my other favorite, but more obvious, Dave love song: Crush.

Nobody's Girl - Bonnie Raitt (preview here - the whole album's good)
This song is essentially about a girl who is again, a little crazy, a little fragile, and a little temperamental but ultimately pretty fantastic if a bit lost/lonely. This girl opens some poor schmuck's eyes to the wonderful world of "her/love/her love". It's pathetically been on this list for some time. But it's really more nostalgic than anything, because one time, years ago, someone sent typed verses of this song anonymously to my house for, like, an entire year. I still don't know who it was, which leaves me somewhere between mildly flattered and REALLY freaked out. God, why IS this song on the list? Eh...

A few others that might be more obvious:

Maybe I'm Amazed - Paul McCartney (a few covers of it here)
Something - The Beatles, also a good remake by Musiq (Musiq version)
I Want You - As sung by Alana Davis
Perfect One - Lit (it's here)
Your Song - Elton John (here you go)
Blue Eyes - The Cary Brothers (from the Garden State soundtrack)

(Honorable mention: Ray LaMontagne's "Hold You In My Arms".)

You can search lots of these lyrics here, if you're interested.

It's late, I'm tired. Have a good weekend, and GO SEAHAWKS!!!

January 19, 2006

I prefer to give curiosity the benefit of the doubt, regardless of who it's killed. Bowling hurts.

A few quick thoughts:

Have you ever noticed how your left butt cheek gets incredibly sore after bowling? (Unless you're a lefty, in which case it would be your right butt cheek). I'm not kidding. I had a friend who swore this was true, and I made fun of that friend for approximately 18 days before I went and tried it out myself, this bowling thing. (Turns out I like bowling, and can even win some money from people who underestimate me, doing it.) For two days after the "bowling and hustling" incident, I practically had to free-fall to my office chair, my left ass cheek was so sore. And I work it out! Regularly! What?!

Do you think bowlers specially train to prevent the strain of this unique bowling ass-muscle? Do their jeans fit slightly more snugly on the left cheek than the right? Is their left tush something like PopEye's forearm?

Moreover, do you think you can distinguish bowling-league members from non-bowlers from a mile away on the beach, without even having to look for the mullets, Ranier beer cans and campers?

Who had the genius idea to call a lisp a lisp? I mean, how degrading must it be for lispers to have to say "Thorry, I have a lischp"? And what if you were the person they said it to? You'd need an umbrella.

I read once about an old man who inadvertently poisoned himself and died because he ate too many Red Vines. I know for a fact that the maximum number of Red Vines one can eat before wanting to vomit is 26 and a half. And I'm still alive. I wonder how many he ate?

Along a similar vein, Pat has gotten me curious about this: can you die from "tired"? Not, like, heat exhaustion or anything, I just really mean regular old, garden variety tiredness. Lack of sleep. You think?

I wonder how many of the people in those ads in the Seattle Weekly that suggest strangers contact them for random, one-time, no-strings-attached sex actually go through with it?

I wonder if anyone who had a gender-altering surgery woke up on the hospital table, took one look Down There, realized what they just did and wished he/she had a do-over.

I am also curious about black holes. If they're nothing, how can they suck stuff into them? If they're something, where is the stuff? Is it possible that they're actually NEGATIVE nothing?

And I would like to see what "live cultures" look like under a microscope. Everyone's always talking about the "live cultures" in yogurt and whatnot, and it has me thinking that up close they look like little french poodles or a tiny traveling gypsy band.

I'd really like some answers, people. These are not random questions for the sake of asking questions. I'm serious. I really wonder.

On deck: Random Selections From Mongo's List Of Greatest Love Songs Of All Time, a.k.a. songs she wishes were written about her

January 18, 2006

Everything is Illuminated.

From Jonathan Safran Foer's "Everything is Illuminated":

"Let me wear it in a locket over my heart," the proud father continued, pacing the room with his empty crystal goblet held in front of him, "and keep it forever, because I have never been so happy in my life, and will be perfectly content if I never experience half of this happiness again -- until the wedding of my other daughter, of course. Indeed," he said, hemming the laughter, "if there are to be no other moments for the rest of time, I would never once complain. Let this be the moment that never ends."

My grandfather squeezed the Gypsy girl's fingers [not his wife, for the record], as if to say, "It's not too late. There is still time. We could run, leave everything behind, never look back, save ourselves."

She squeezed his fingers, as if to say, "You are not forgiven."

Menachem continued, trying to hold back tears, "Please raise your empty glasses with me. To my daughter and new son, to the children they'll produce, and the children of those, to life!"

But before the father of the bride had taken his seat, before the glases had a chance to clink their reflected smiles against one another in hope, the house waws again swept with a haunting guest. The place cards were thrown into the air, and the centerpieces were again knocked over, this time spreading dirt over the white tablecloth and onto almost every lap.

The Gypsy women rushed to clean up the mess, and my grandfather whispered into Zosha's ear, which for him was the Gypsy girl's ear: "It will be OK."

The Gypsy girl, the REAL Gypsy girl, did slip my grandfather a note, although it fell out of his hand in the commotion, was kicked across the floor, by the nameless fishmonger -- to the far end of the table, where it came to rest under an overturned wine glass, which kept it safe until that night, when a Gypsy woman picked up the glass and swept the note (along with fallen food, dirt and piles of dust) into a large paper bag. This bag was put out in front of the house by a different Gypsy woman. The next morning, the paper bag was collected by the obsessive-compulsive garbage man Feigel B. The bag was then taken to a field on the other side of the river, and burned with dozens of other bags, reached into the sky, red and yellow fingers. The smoke spread like a canopy over the neighboring fields, making many a Wisps of Ardisht cough, because every kind of smoke is different and must be made familiar. Some of the ash that remained was incorporated into the soil. The rest was washed away by the next rain and swept into the Brod.

This is what the note said: Change.


January 15, 2006

A visual tour of my trip through New Orleans, pre-Katrina

I was fortunate to see this incredible city before its most recent disaster. New Orleans is no stranger to forces of nature larger than, but parallel in passion to itself. It has survived fire and flood consistently over the years, one after the other.

You can click on each of my photos for a larger version, if you like. They're nothing special, but at least you get more detail when they're bigger.

I was most struck by the above-ground cemetaries in New Orleans. They are referred to as "cities of the dead" and are built this way because the water table is so hight that it makes traditional burial impossible - caskets would float to the surface of the earth, if buried.

Some tombs were better kept than others. This one held an old voodo witch - the city and the practice of voodo have long, intertwined histories. Tombs known to hold famous leaders in the practice were often covered by symbols in sets of three. "XXX", or three hatch marks, for example.

The tomb of multiple generations of an Italian family based in Louisianna.

According to the nuns, this convent survived the New Orleans fire because the nuns prayed that if God were to save it, they would celebrate Him and the miracle on the same day each year after. He did, and they do.

Everything at the convent was beautiful but I remember being struck by the impression it was all also trapped, locked or restrained somehow.

A breakdancer on a main thoroughfare. A sharp contrast to the careful restraint of the convent.

Before the hurricane, as after, New Orleans had a dark side and clearly struggled with her own demons. This is an apartment complex along the edge of the French Quarter. It was being lived in... I just missed capturing a woman and a child leaving the building.

A beignet (donuts without holes) maker at Cafe DuMond. He is inside, I am out. (notice the trees in the reflection.) Breakfast every morning was these, generously covered in powdered sugar, and Cafe au Lait.

The doors in New Orleans fascinated me - with the French, Spanish and Creole influence among others, the city's architecture, food, art and music had an eclectic feel.

Buildings along a street in the French Quarter. The street is Iberville, obviously. The color of the buildings is standard - N.O. is a colorful place...

...And full of artists. I caught this painter on her balcony. Wish I would have seen the finished product.

January 14, 2006

Why I can't date pretty boys; what's wrong with balance? A lesson in biology...

Part I: I can't date pretty boys

No matter how much I'd like to, and no matter how fantastically beautiful our children would be, I simply cannot date 'em.

I was recently pursued, with much persistance, by one such boy. We'll call him... Boy. This boy was the classic dreamboat. The sight of him gave me this weird sensation that I had stepped into a men's underwear catalogue where all the men were straight, and "the women flocked like salmon to the Capistrano"... or something. Picture:

Crater-like dimples, twinkly eyes, olive skin, straight white teeth... wavyish hair. Expressive eyebrows. Tall and muscly, but not beefy. Athletic, but not jock-y. Enough hair to be manly, but NOT hairy. Smells divine. Fantastic sense of style. Smiles a LOT.

And he was solidly NICE. The kind of nice where I'd occasionally succumb to the urge to test him by inflicting my worst self on him just to see if I could get him to be mean or freak out and bail on me. Guess what? I couldn't shake him.

And he can spell. This is a big deal to me. And he is even a little clever, though obviously not as clever as me.

OK, my judgement/memory obviously temporarily shorted out as I typed the last sentence. I was still thinking about how he looked. He really wasn't clever at all. But still, everything was going just fine until the fateful day he called me, and in the course of a normal conversation casually mentioned that he...


got a spray-tan.

Boy: "...so then I stopped by the snowboard shop and picked up my new bindings and on the way home I got a spray tan--"
Girl: "Wait, what?"
Boy: "Oh, I picked up my--"
Girl: "No, no - the other part. You did what?"
Boy: "Oh, I got a spray tan."


Girl: (clearing throat) "Uh huh... and... ? " (waiting for punchline)
Boy: "So, yeah. Then I went home."


Girl: "You WHAT? Are you serious? I mean, why in the world--"
Boy: (uncomfortable laugh) "Yeah, I mean, I have a discount at this place and, I dunno... it's better than fake and baking..."
Girl: "I can't believe you just told me that. I mean, it's one thing to do it, but then you went and TOLD me. Next time, do not, under any circumstances, tell me."


Girl, continued: "Oh God. There's going to be a next time, isn't there? Oh God..." ::hyperventilating::

And that was the end of that. There was no next time.

Part II: Yin meets Yang

Perhaps some of my struggle with this comes from my own personal balance of sexuality. Here is what I mean by "balanced": I tend to have equal parts "guy's girl" and "girl's girl" in me.

Guy's Girl:
- I like nothing better than to lay around and play videogames (which I will OWN you at, or at least tell you I'll own you at)
- Shit-talker extraordinaire
- I have been known to drink for 12-14 hours straight and actually enjoy myself. I do not boast. These are just the facts. It's science.
- I actually sometimes enjoy watching both football and pornography
- I like to shoot stuff with bb guns and throw rocks into bodies of water for no reason
- I've been known to throw things out windows just see what they sound like when they break
- I fish, and know how to clean what I catch
- I don't really understand drama
- I swear and tell inappropriate jokes
- I EAT. Really, really eat.
- I don't mind getting dirty or mowing the lawn, but goddamn, I hate doing dishes
- I am somewhat afraid of committment, when you get right down to it
- I'm really quite handy, having been known to fix belts on trucks, use a wood-splitter and build furniture, albeit from Ikea.

Girl's Girl:
- I wear heels and overpriced jeans like it's my job
- I am unreasonably terrified of spiders and cockroaches
- I am a constant and unfailing flirt
- In spite of a healthy sex drive, I'm an admitted prude
- You'll never find me without lipgloss and a credit card
- I have impeccable table manners if you take me to a nice restaraunt, where I'm guaranteed to get up during the meal to apply above referenced lipgloss and deep down hope not to have to use the credit card, though I'll never admit it to your face
- I own easily 20 pairs of shoes and 30 purses
- I like Emo
- I cannot watch a scary movie by myself
- I expect the door opened for me, even if I'm not in a dress and it's not a special occasion
- I cry at well-done sappy commercials and every wedding I attend
- I still believe, in spite of evidence that it no longer exists, in fidelity
- You cannot STOP me from shopping, cooking or entertaining
- Though I never take a compliment graciously, I get pissed if I don't get one now and then
- Ask me what's wrong. First response? "Nothing." Ask me again. Second response? Emotional tyrade.
- I relentlessly obsess about what to wear on a date, even though I'll end up in the very first thing I put on, only with different underwear.

Part III: Could it be biological?

Rumor has it that all men are biologically driven to spawn as many mini-me's as possible with as many different mini-she's as possible in one lifetime.

Rumor has it that all women are biologically driven to seek the most fit mate with the highest likelihood of spawning children who will survive. This means the man must possess on the following:

- Big brain
- Good looks
- Survivor physique (ie. can kill a large animal with his bare hands so that us women and children can eat, can fend off attackers who come to the village to slay his children and impregnate his women, etc.)
- Large... ahem
- Disease-free

Perhaps my aversion to aforementioned pretty boys is purely biological. This makes a lot of sense to me. If a man is so vain that he is spending most of his time perfecting his coif and bronzing his epidermis, isn't he more likely to run screaming in the opposite direction when someone comes to drag me by the hair away to his cave, for fear of getting his new Lacoste polo dirty or smudging the still-drying airbrushed abs?


So for now, I'm sticking with men. Real, grown-up men. Don't get me wrong, I want them to smell nice and dress reasonably well, but at the first sign of a blowdryer or bronzing powder, I'm out. And maybe I'll be a bit more lenient about body hair. I'm not a big fan, but that's a small price to pay for a guy who can fight off the indians with one hand, hunt with the other, make babies likely to make more babies, navigate when I (scarily and with no sense of direction) drive, hold a job and, well, focus on the other important stuff while he's busy doing all that.

Is that so much to ask, really?

January 12, 2006

Enough about you. Let's talk about me.

OK, so I got asked to play this game. (Though honestly it doesn't really seem like much of a game, as there's no winner, and no opponent, and this is all crap you never wanted to know about me, but whatever.) Here are the rules:

The first player of this game starts with the topic “five weird habits/facts about you,” and people who get tagged need to write an entry about their five weird habits/facts as well as state this rule clearly. In the end, you need to tag five people and link to their blogs. Don’t forget to leave a comment in their blog or journal that says “You have been tagged” (assuming they take comments) and tell them to read yours.

Here goes:

1. The word "moist" makes me twitch. I just hate it. You know how people react to fingernails on a chalkboard? That's me when I hear the "M" word. It's not the meaning that grosses me out so much as the actual sound of the word. It's all "oooiiiiissss", and I find that strangely disgusting. Also, when people chew on the ends of their sweatshirt drawstrings I want to punch them in the face. Just thinking about it, I got drymouth and my gag reflex triggered. Right now. Again. Eeew.

2. Even if I am standing right in front of you, looking right at you and even carrying on a conversation with you, if you suddenly exclaim "BOO!" with a crazy look in your eye, I will be genuinely terrified, girlishly squeal, jump and perhaps even get teary-eyed. Then, I will tackle you and beat you with the pointy end of my right pump, you sick asshole.

3. I have this problem with driving. Those of you who know me understand this, either from actually riding in a vehicle with me or from the people brave enough to do so. There is simply some part of my DNA that makes me unable to drive with an ounce of confidence or skill. Driving alone, I'm perfectly capable. A cool cucumber. But the moment someone else gets in the car, my mojo gets all conflibberated and I suddenly lose all sense of direction and become totally distracted by any number of superficial things unrelated to driving or knowing where the hell I'm going. However, I have perfectly applied lipgloss and fantastic music blaring at all times.

Here is a short list of bad things I've done on wheels to illustrate my point:
- knocked a huge mailbox port off it's post... and into a river, never to return... when I was 13
- drove a tractor (no joke) through a garage door... when I was under 10 (years old, not drinks deep, jerks)
- rear-ended a school bus on the way to high school... and it was the short kind
- gotten my old 3/4 ton chevy pickup on 2 wheels, more than once
- run completely over my infant brother learning how to ride a bike - with training wheels
- backed into a car, causing it major damage, while trying to leave a liquor store parking lot -- when I was underage

4. I arrange and rearrange things on my bookshelf and my bureau CONSTANTLY. I only have a certain number of books and picture frames, but I get the biggest kick out of setting each object just so, making sure the visual balance is right, the colors complement each other, and the books look appropriately rifled through without looking messy, while being sure they're in order from tall to short. However if you open my dresser drawers, my armoire or look under my bed, the perfection of the setup is all a facade. I really don't give a crap where things actually go, so long as where I put them gets them out of sight.

5. I'm BIG on "piles". My desk at work? Piles of paper, clippings, magazines, to-do lists. Similarly, at home, there is sometimes stuff on the floor, but always it's in a "neat" pile. For example, at this precise moment, there are probably 15 articles of clothing on the floor in my room. But they're not strewn about, they're in a litte heap in a corner... almost put away, almost organized, but not quite. In my kitchen, there are bills from oh, I dunno, 1998, and written but unmailed letters to my grandma, and credit card statements and junk mail envelopes and coupons and all sorts of shit that I could make go away like ::that:: but instead put in these tidy/infuriating little piles on the windowsill, as if they're there for a reason and on Sunday morning I plan to sit down and do something very important with it. Which, obviously, I don't. I plan to just add to the pile. Think there's a metaphor in there somewhere?

So there you have it. I'm tagging the following peeps:

Monkey Business (heh.)
Digital Nutella (perhaps you need a nudge to start up again?)
Drew (might not go for it... but if he does, it will be clever, hip-hop, AND well-written)
Ixtab (because I just find her so funny and am CONVINCED she's got some good ones)
Pat (because he's a publicity whore, and his answers will likely involve animal cruelty, drinking or midgets... or all three)

January 09, 2006

Geek-Squad recreation of Notre Dame

Title: Ginger Dame
Medium: Gingerbread
Artists: Geek-Squad

Motivated by more than a decade of friendship beginning in honor's English and Art classes in junior high, the Geek Squad (composed of AnnMarie, Kim, Liz, Josh, Joe and Anand, who are now, respectively, a grad student in Philly, a mom and wife in Utah, a tech PR exec in Seattle, a teacher/coach in Bellingham, an actor/filmmaker in LA, and a fundraiser/speechwriter for the UN in D.C.) comes together once a year to bond over excellent food, followed by the annual building of gingerbread structures. As Ginger Dame was created by only a fraction of the Geek Squad due to GS reunion scheduling difficulties, pregnancy and the mysterious dissapearance of Josh, the piece is a more somber study - pensive, spiritual, grounded. This is in sharp contrast to past works in the medium, which include the Husky Stadium, a bomb shelter, and Martha Stewart's home -which stand as testaments to the byouant influence of the three missing members of the GS, and the unique aesthetic dynamic that results from the blending of this geeky but very beautiful team.

I love my friends.

January 08, 2006

Why 2006 already kicks major ass

There's something you should know. You should absolutely not call me on my cell phone or drop by my house or ask me out or expect me to work or write between June 16 and June 28 of this year.

Because I won't be home.
At all.

Ask me why.


Ask me.

(Thank you.)

I'll be in EUROPE!!!

On this oft-daydreamed about tour, I'll be traveling with 6 friends -- two of which are married (to each other) and the rest of which are guys I've known since highschool, which makes me, as usual, the token single female. I am used to, and fine with, this.

So far, here's what I know. We'll be spending time in England, Scotland, Switzerland, Austria and Germany at least. We'll be driving through the Alps. I'll get to revisit my favorite church on the planet in London, and I'll get to chase Nessy, and we'll attend two World Cup games. And also drink copius amounts of beer.

There will, of course, be more details here as decisions are made and the itinerary is solidified. In the meantime, if anyone has been to any of these countries (other than England, which I am very familiar with) and has any suggestions for must-sees or books to recommend so I don't go into this adventure blind, I'm all ears.

This week, we'll be buying our plane tickets and making hostel reservations. This means I'd better plan to only eat tuna for about a month and become reacquainted with my credit card.

Resolution update:
I saw the monks chant this evening. And flossed.
And prayed for people other than me.
And did some writing.

Ten points for resolutions kept. Now I just have to make them habits. How many times do you have to repeat a behavior to make it habitual? I think I used to know this.

Anyone? Anyone? Buhler?

I couldn't be happier. Damn, 2006 is really shaping up. And I'm only on week 2. :)

January 05, 2006

I'm resolved.

So I'm really good at resolutions. Seriously. I have the follow through to actually keep them, and I routinely do. I'm just that kinda girl. If I say I'll call, I probably will.

If I get in the car to go to the gym, I hardly ever end up at the end of a pier with my bare feet dangling, a baby frosty in hand, watching the sun come down in my yoga gear and smiling at strangers (well, unless the workout resolution conflicts with the "be spontaneous" and "smile at strangers" resolutions, in which case you know what happens...)

The point: I really think resolutions are important, and I like to make and keep 'em - and I've had great success with pretty much all of them. Except for one, which I have included, again, on my list.

It's the last one. It's really the only true resolution this year. The others are just pledges - things that I already know I'm going to do or have already started but don't want to forget. But the big one is what I'm really going for, as it is that which challenges me most.

So, here goes:

Mongo's Resolutions, 2006

Patience. Have some.
Simplify, simplify, simplify
SSHHHHHHHH. Also, be concise.
Indulge my creativity.
Stop driving like a moron.
Stop fearing affection.
Write my grandma.
Visit rockstacker. Bring food. Learn.
Accept a damn compliment graciously, already.
Four words: Word Of The Day
Drink only non-concentrated orange juice.
Learn to knit.
Remember the taste of humble pie.
Join the PRSA and a book club.
Clean out the litterbox BEFORE Macy craps on roommate's bedspread.
Write press releases with kick-ass quotes that don't need revision.
Self-actualize. Today. Now.
More yoga.
Go see the monks chant once a month. Write immediately following.
Pray more for others.
Watch where I step.
Watch my head.
Watch out for cars.
Be aware of death every day. Empower it to motivate me to live.
Remember how to love like a child.
Answer personal questions.
Cook more for my friends.
Embrace my naievete but seek wisdom.
Remember I'm worth coming home to.
Stop wearing slippers to work.
End the self-doubt.
Let my life speak.
Enough with the F-bomb.


Relinquish control. Remember that giving in to the moment is not giving up. Just stop fighting everything and everyone when it seems too good to be true, or when it's not quite perfect, or anywhere in between. Remember that the best things I've had in life come from doing just this while having faith in the path to this point and recognizing I have the strength for whatever follows.

Welcome, 2006. I'm feelin' good, feelin' great. Bring it on!

January 03, 2006

On touch...

I know I've neglected you. I plan to stop soon. I even made it a resolution. In the meantime, though, here's a treat for you: an absolutely beautiful bit on touch and why it's a basic human need.

It's a must-read, and a topic I'd like to come back to once we've had a chance to talk about it a bit.

Welcome, 2006!