Feb 22 2009

The Short List

Published by under Random Musings,Travel

Do you know what Brittany and I do when we’re bored?

1. Eat
2. Talk about what we should eat next

But this lazy Sunday afternoon we were pretty full from lunch, and we already knew what we would be having for dinner…so we found ourselves in unusual and unsettling territory. Of course, there do exist rarely employed alternatives for just such emergencies:

3. Talk about the places from our trip that we miss
4. Fight to the death

Oddly, there are no other options. Because I’m afraid of Brittany’s unusual strength, I quickly started asking her which places from our trip she misses the most. Before long, she was beautifully and safely distracted at the computer, reading our old blog posts and breathing sighs of reminiscence. And instead of fighting to the death, we talked about which blog entries are our favorites, now that we have the benefit of hindsight. We each have our own peculiar favorites, but it wasn’t hard to agree on the ones that make us both smile. For those of you who prefer to walk on the CliffsNotes side of life, please enjoy the following short list…our own hand-selected “best of the best.”

In no particular order:

  1. Trekking in Thailand with Johnnie Walker
  2. An Unexpected Meeting in Cambodia
  3. Our Greek Music Video
  4. Top 5 Tips for Not Looking Like an American
  5. Brittany Gets a Tempting Marriage Proposal in Laos
  6. Ben Eludes the Policia in Seville
  7. Ben is Caught by the Policia in Barcelona
  8. A Photo Journey in Chiang Mai, Thailand
  9. Won’t You Take Me to Monkey Town?
  10. The Motorcycle Diaries in Vietnam

One response so far

Feb 19 2009

A year ago I was in Thailand. Sigh.

Published by under Random Musings

So I’ve had this project at work for the past few months. And by “this project” I mean a P.R.O.J.E.C.T. One of those life-sucking, eyeball-gauging, hair-pulling projects where you work non-stop at every single moment, and even in the moments you’re not actively working on it, you’re thinking about how you should be working on it, and you can’t sleep because you’re trying to solve the problems of the project as you lie in bed, despite having to wake up at 5:30am to work on the project, and because you’ve invested so much time in it you become obsessed with the perfection of the project, even though it’s impossible to achieve perfection, mostly because this project involves working with Internet Explorer.

Let me break it down for you: INTERNET EXPLORER IS THE SPAWN OF SATAN.

I won’t go into the technical/boring reasons why IE is the devil. Basically: you can work for hours on a website making sure everything pretty and perfect and functioning, and then open up the site in IE where it looks like you threw up all over the page. It’s time to lodge formal complaint.

DEAR the 65% of my employers’ readership that obstinately continues to use Internet Explorer for their web browsing needs:

You are putting me in an early grave. Get with the times. You know how Tinkerbell taught us that every time you clap your hands you save a fairy’s life? Well, every time you download and switch to Firefox, a shriveled-up, sleep-deprived, comatose web designer somewhere in the world can avert their glassy stare from the computer monitor, stand up from the office chair, and LIVE. Do your part, people.


I haven’t had to work or think this hard since…well, ever. But, over the course of the past week, something has changed: I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. I can feel a faint breeze. Do I detect the slightest scent of roses in the air? A few more days’ hard push and maybe, dare I say, the worst will be over?

And once I’ve sufficiently recovered, I just might redesign EAMD. Because I hate myself.

3 responses so far

Feb 16 2009

Jon and Kate Plus Product Placement

Published by under Random Musings

I record the following shows on my DVR:

  • Lost
  • The Office
  • Flight of the Conchords
  • Jon and Kate Plus 8

Jon and Kate Plus 8 is the newest addition to the lineup, and even though I was late to this bandwagon, I jumped right on like the best of them. I’m not the least bit ashamed to sit down and watch four episodes in a row, but thanks to all those who have asked with one eyebrow raised ever so slightly. When I turn on the DVR and find episodes waiting for me, I have to stop everything and check in on to see what those little kids are up to, and whether or not Mady is finally going to get what she has coming. Seriously, that is one annoying kid, and this is coming from someone whose only interactions with her are tempered by the glorious mute button.

Because I am a late comer to the Jon and Kate party, I have mostly been catching up on old episodes from the past couple of seasons. And one night when I was out with friends, I mentioned how much I was enjoying the show to my friend James. He scoffed,

“That show is just one big advertisement now.”

Which confused me. Granted, I had only been watching old episodes, but I hadn’t really noticed anything like the uncomfortably forced product placement that seems to be permeating network shows these days. Until tonight. I caught a rare NEW episode tonight, which was exciting for me at first, because as I sat down on the couch, I felt like I was finally on the same page as all my fellow fans.

And then the show started with a big white moving truck backing up into the Gosselin’s driveway. Off the truck came boxes and boxes of appliances for the new house the family has apparently just moved into. The little kids were excited by the commotion and ran through the house screaming, and everything seemed like just another day on the best little show in the world.

But then, instead of simply installing the boring appliances and getting on with the show I was here to watch, the camera cut to Jon and Kate sitting in their chair and discussing the specifics of their new washer and dryer. That discussion went pretty much like this:

Kate: “I just love our new washer and dryer from Whirlpool! They look so beautiful sitting side by side in the laundry room.”
Jon: “Yeah, aren’t those the Duets?”
Kate: “They sure are, Jon! We had some in our old house and after that amazing experience, I knew the Whirlpool Duets were the ONLY washer and dryer I’d put in the new house!”

I kid you not, as this point the camera cut to ZOOM IN on the Whirlpool Duets logo on the washing machine.

Now cut to Kate in the laundry room with her newly installed Whirlpool Duets.

Kate, talking to…nobody?: “My Whirlpool Duets are so small that they fit perfectly in the room and they’re so easy to use, but they still have tons of options! I can even wash ALL of my kids’ jeans in ONE LOAD! What other washing machine can do that? They make laundry a joy! They’re like having little friends in my laundry room!”

I swear to you that she called them her “little friends” in the laundry room. And until that point, Brittany and I had just been sitting there asking each other if this was for real. But once Kate crossed the “little friends” line, that was the last straw. We turned off the TV. I want to watch Jon and Kate Plus 8, not some thirty minute commercial for Whirlpool Duets!

Sadly, it looks like James was right. Maybe the rest of the episode was better, I don’t know. It just wasn’t worth sitting through any more of that charade to find out. I realize that companies are sticking their products into shows in order to still get their message in front of people like me who DVR my shows and fast forward my way through the commercials. But my show is only thirty minutes long, people! Does the product hawking have to go on for SO LONG? Instead of all that awkward adspeak, allow me to offer a better suggestion:

  • Open the episode with the little teaser about what today’s episode is going to be about
  • Roll the opening credits and theme song
  • Now, before anything else happens, have Kate walk right up the camera and yell, “Buy a Whirlpool washing machine or I’ll send Mady to come live with you!”
  • Proceed with show

That would improve my life because it would only take four seconds of my show, AND I bet Whirlpool would sell a lot more Duets. Think about it.

29 responses so far

Feb 10 2009

Is this real life?

Published by under Random Musings

By now I’m sure you’ve seen the YouTube video sensation entitled “David After Dentist.” If not, then please go watch it because it’s far more entertaining than any of the things I ramble on about.

Anyway, my favorite quote from the video has to be, “is this real life?” I don’t know if I’ve watched the video too much lately or what, but I had my own “is this real life?” moment tonight.

I saw a story on Digg about Heroes star Hayden Panettierre doing whatever it is that celebrities do, and the reference gave an unexpected kickstart to a memory hiding in the back of my brain. My mind was suddenly flooded with images from a story involving Hayden Panettierre…but I had one problem. I couldn’t remember if I had seen this story on TV, online, or if it had all been a dream. The only way to know would be to ask someone.

Brittany was washing dishes when I walked up to her cautiously:

Me: “Hey…Brittany?”
Brittany: “Yes?”
Me: “Is Hayden Panettierre actually a man?”
Brittany: “WHAT are you talking about?”

Definitely a dream then.

Actually, I still had some reservations that the story MIGHT have been real life, but these were put to rest when a Google search for “is Hayden Panettierre a man?” returned no relevant results. Now that I’m 100% convinced the story was allll just a dream, here is how my dream went:

Hayden Panettierre is up for some kind of acting award, and when she shows up to the award ceremony, no one recognizes her. This is because she is actually a married man. He is short and balding with beard stubble and a wife, and the network filming the awards show explains that he puts on a wig and makeup each week to become Hayden Panettierre. He has obviously been doing this since the days of Raising Helen or whatever her first movie was, and he enjoys the unique ability to be a famous actor who is able to go out to dinner without being recognized.

I wish you could have seen the man in my head who is Hayden Panettierre. But even as shocking as the story was, I had clearly forgotten about the whole thing until a random Internet reference jogged my memory. Stranger still, now that the memory is back, I’m actually having a hard time accepting a world in which Hayden Panetierre is NOT a balding, stubby, middle-aged married man.

Are you SURE this is real life?

5 responses so far

Feb 09 2009

New York weekend

Published by under New York

I spent this year’s Super Bowl driving on I-95, which means that No, I did not see “the best five minutes of football ever it was so awesome and I can’t believe you missed it!!!!!” but thanks for asking. Brittany and I were driving home from New York City, where we had spent the weekend visiting Greg and Yasmine, friends of ours from college. The drive from Richmond is about six hours, which wouldn’t be too bad except that we had to make it up on Friday and back on Sunday. On the bright side, the drive home on Sunday night was shortened by the fact that we were just about the only ones on the highway. Everyone else was at home watching this “bEst EvER!!! ahaghdghskdj!!!!!” football game I keep hearing so much about.

But hold on! We may have missed the game, but we had fun too! To let me feel like I am proving it, please enjoy the following highlights from our New York weekend.

Brooklyn Brewery
If beer were melodic vocal stylings, then Brooklyn Brewery would be the late Luther Vandross. Except Brooklyn Brewery is alive and well, innovating its way into your heart and mine. If you like beer when it’s full of rich flavor, fresh ideas, rainbow dollops, and molten Leprechaun gold, then Brooklyn Brewery is for you. It’s a surprisingly small brewery given that it distributes widely here in Virginia and beyond, but thank goodness that it does. Any given weekend, I may be found sipping a Brooklyn pint down at the local watering hole. Brooklyn Brown is my personal favorite, but I like the fact that the brewery is always good for seasonal and conceptual beers, which often make it alllll the way down South of the Mason-Dixon line. Where I drink them. Hooray beer!

Brooklyn brewery
Hooray beer!

Given that Brooklyn Brewery = Luther Vandross, it was clear that we had to pay homage to greatness during our short time in NYC. The brewery visit is unlike others I have heard about, because you don’t actually tour the brewery beyond two giant rooms. The first giant room contains tables, chairs, and a bar. The second giant room is off-limits unless you are accompanied by a tour guide. At the top of every hour, the tour guide collects all interested parties for the “tour,” and then brings you into the second room, which is full of shiny metal cylinders and scientific contraptions that, when combined, somehow yield beer. The tour guide stands on top of a platform and talks about beer in a loud voice for about twenty minutes, pausing every so often to remind the audience that the giant vat of brown liquid in the middle of the room is NOT beer, but in fact, iodine. Then the tour is over and you go back to the first giant room. Also, you might think that a brewery tour would include free beer sampling, but in this case you would be wrong. So why exactly is this worth visiting?

Because you get to try beers that DON’T usually make it all the way to Virginia. I think the Brooklyn Brewery bar is not legally allowed to stay open all day, selling tons of beer and no food. So they don’t. Instead, they sell tons of cork tokens all day, which can then be TRADED for beer. See how that works? We traded our cork tokens for beers including the mysterious Blunderbuss Old Ale (dark and smoky, 8.2% ABV) and the delightful Savoir Faire (a taste of bananas, 8% ABV). The first giant room with the bar was PACKED with locals playing cards on the tables, so we stood around double-fisting plastic cups until we had spent all of our cork tokens. We also used this opportunity to purchase souvenirs like bottle openers, coasters, and beer to take home. I think Brooklyn Brewery was happy to have us that day.


Leaving Wicked!
NOT the wicked witch

Brittany and I took in our first Broadway show two years ago when we saw Rent. And since Brittany is STILL singing those songs on a daily basis, I was banking on this trip as my best chance to put some new songs into her head for once. We’d heard good things about Wicked from several sources, not the least of which our NYC-based friends Lois and Hadar, who have managed to see the show eight times so far. Eight times can’t be wrong, right?

Right! The show was an amazing spectacle. I can’t get over the production value of Broadway shows: from the talent level of the very last actor to the gigantic twisting, growling mechanical head of the Wizard of Oz to the monkeys who flew right over our heads. Where Rent was intimate and personal, Wicked is blow-your-mind theater magic. We loved both.

It wouldn’t be us if we didn’t attempt to spend every waking hour of our trip stuffing our faces! Greg took us and his brother on something of a “meats of the world” gastronomical excursion on Saturday. We shared a mountainous plate of corned beef and sauerkraut at the Carnegie deli for lunch, followed by an afternoon snack of German sausages at a Biergarten. Pork sausage, veal sausage, venison sausage…all with more sauerkraut, lots of beer, and even more groans from Brittany. During the meat and beer-filled hours we spent between both restaurants, I think she ordered a hot chocolate. Sorry Brittany!

Look familiar?

All was not lost for her: we ate a fun brunch at the diner from Seinfeld! Well…sort of. See, it’s the diner that they used for the outside shot on Seinfeld, but walking inside is kind of a disappointment because it looks nothing like the show. No booth for Jerry and the gang and no cranky old cashier lady. Just a huge crowd of Columbia students, a harried waitstaff, and some Seinfeld magazine covers on the wall. Oh well. Brittany says the shots from inside the diner were probably filmed on a “set,” but whatever that may mean, I don’t understand it and I won’t respond to it.

Until next time, New York! Which will probably be just about the moment I can’t take hearing Brittany sing the Wicked soundtrack one more time…

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Feb 05 2009

The Ultimate Bar Arm Wrestling World Championships New York City Woot!!

Published by under New York

We sat around a cramped table in a crowded Lower East Side bar, where Ben and I had met up with some old school friends. We were tired and sore from a full day of exploring NYC. We’d just ordered our last round of beers. The night was winding down. Our friend Greg, however, was determined to keep it going.

“Hey, you guys,” Greg said, pointing a finger at my friend Yasmine and me. “Arm wrestle.”

My initial reaction to pretty much any suggestion Greg makes is more along the lines of “go away” but I was too tired to argue. Leaving the inevitable protestations up to Yasmine, I laughingly propped my elbow on the table and opened my hand.

Of course, I forgot that Yasmine is the type of girl that would TOTALLY GO FOR IT. A barely-five-foot-tall curly-headed bundle of sass and energy, Yasmine is at one moment dragging you out on the dance floor against your will, at the next delivering a highly-opinionated diatribe on any given subject, and at the next laughing at your fart jokes.

So while most of my girlfriends would scoff at Greg, Yasmine laughed and grabbed my hand. She then beat me handily. A fact that should embarrass me, but I’ve always been admired more for my mental fortitude than my physical fortitude. Right? Guys??

Years of torment at the hands of his older sister
vindicated with this one sweet, sweet victory.

What happened next is obvious: a full-fledged arm wrestling competition ensued. Sweeping our pile of coats and scarves to the side and clearing away the empty beer glasses, an unofficial bracket formed. In the end, Greg emerged as the bar-arm-wrestling champion OF THE WORLD.

That is, until his brother returned from getting a beer. Now, while Greg got the height, Andrew (his brother) got the beef. Plus, he lifts refrigerators for a living. Clearly, it wasn’t even necessary to include Andrew in the bracket until the championship round. Andrew was kind enough to let Greg feel like he had a chance before dominating him completely.

We emerged from the bar red-faced and sweaty. Not from mingling or dancing or anything normal. From arm wrestling.

I love visiting college friends.

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