Friday, August 31, 2012

Not much of a joiner

I've never been one for big groups. You can ask David, who frequently laments my tendency to "hide" when we "have people over" (quotes make everything sketchy), or even the athletic trainer at my high school, who, when I asked his opinion on whether I should go to Brown or UVA, pointed out that UVA has a very active Greek life and that I was "not much of a joiner."

I got indignant.

Then he pointed out that I was sitting on an overturned ball bucket, the same spot from which I had watched every home game in my three years of varsity play. And it was true. I hated watching from inside the dugout. Even when softball girls aren't being mean (I say that with love), they are chatty, and I don't like to be distracted.

So why am I telling you all this?

Because starting on Tuesday, I'll be reporting to you from the Democratic Convention. My boss is speaking there, and so we'll all be going down partially as support and partially to run some programs about social justice. We were supposed to go to the Republican Convention as well but we couldn't get credentialed. Words can not express my disappointment--- I have a feeling going to the Republican convention would be akin to when I visited Adelaida in Austin and people would eye-ball me and immediately ask where I was from. It was awesome.

Not that I'm trying to cast Republicans as the almighty Other or something. I've worked for Democrats for all of my professional life, but I've always been registered independent and I tend to cast a skeptical eye towards anyone (and there are many) who views party politics as a team sport. Or any type of sport. And with that as the criteria, I'm quite confident that the convention down in Charlotte will sport an enviable cast of normies and crazies.

Although perhaps nothing as amazing as Clint Eastwood talking to an invisible Obama.  A girl can dream.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Michael Higgins kicks some ass

This clip is a little old, but it's new to me and so I post it here. Not only is it nice to hear some cut-the-bullshit from a credible source, but it's done with such style.  Michael Higgins here is the current President of Ireland and also went to school in these United States.

Also, I love his Limerick accent. Dropping the "h" off of every "th" combo just makes me happy.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Fergaliciously Nostalgic

There has been a debate (with myself) on how to get back into guest blogging and what I could bring to TFLW. It is what would keep me up at night if I didn't pass out immediately upon getting in bed. I considered going the topical route and give my two cents towards the big or little issues of the day. This could be a soapbox to expound my views and attempt to justify those views. Or this could be an opportunity to pull a Seinfeld, and talk about nothing of importance.

About 2 weeks ago there was a trending topic on Google+, #TakeMeToYourChildhood,  which is a much creepier way of saying #Nostalgia. I can get very nostalgic (full disclosure - iTunes playlist with over 200 theme songs). I'm known to get nostalgic about Rumors (great D.C. hotspot by the way) and that place still exists. Idealized walks back down Memory Lane (no Minnie Ripperton) are the way to go. In my youth I was heavily exposed (indoctrinated) to Nickelodeon; PBS and other television programs geared towards my age group which leaves me with knowledge of cartoons, live action game shows, and educational shows that pass as game shows.

Ladies and gentlemen, for my first entry I've decided to talk about a show from 2 decades ago (late 80's - early 90's) when cartoons had implausible storylines, but just seemed better. I'm sure people of all generations will say the same thing, but guess what, this isn't their entry. Ladies and gentlemen, for your enjoyment, I present Denver The Last Dinosaur. How does a prehistoric guitar playing, english understanding human-size dinosaur seem so well adjusted to the 1990's... who cares, he is my pal and can be yours as well.

Oh those were the days, before cynicism kicked in and everything had to be examined. But really, shouldn't we care? After sharing this entry to the trending topic steam I received a comment from a random person which is what happens when you make things public, "He's my friend and a whole lot more.... hmm...wonder what they meant by that." I mean his point is valid by todays standards, but in yesteryear, we wouldn't even pause

So I say that to say this, listen to theme songs, talk about the shows you grew up on and remember them fondly, but under no circumstances really take the time to examine what you use to watch. It ruins things! Childhood is a magical time and we are really losing magic people. Kids are growing up too fast and arguably worse, the programming is terrible with the exceptions of Young Justice and So in reviewing what was written, I did decide to make this a soapbox.

I'll leave you all with some theme songs to some random shows.

So audience of The Famous Last Word, has there been any nostalgia that has been ruined or almost ruined by going back and re-examining your past?

Friday, March 2, 2012

Please see HR to claim your boxers

Oh, you know, just another one of those days where you go to the ladies room and there's a random pair of men's worn boxers in the hallway.

Our HR girl has dreamt of this day since she began a career in this industry...

"Ensuing Company-Wide Staff Email

To: Office Staff
From: Lisa

Subject: Found

A pair of men's Tommy Hilfiger boxer briefs was found near in the hallway near the elevator. Please see me to claim them.


It's the little things that make a day great.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Top 100 "challenged" books of 2000-2009 and why I've never done cocaine

The American Library Association publishes a list of the most banned/challenged books by decade.  (Side note: referring to a banned book as "challenged" is a bit like the Irish habit of referring to forty years of sectarian violence as "the Troubles," and World War II as "the emergency.")

I stumbled across the list during one of those Internet tangents that happen to the best of us.

Mary: I remember Go Ask Alice
Mary: Not a lot about the plot, but definitely remember that it was kind of "controversial" book and so we were all into it
me: there's a song by Jefferson Airplane called White Rabbit that came out in 1969
Mary: right
me: I was reading the lyrics, I think it's definitely where the title came from

Right.  So as long as I'm being all Captain Obvious-

-I'd like to point out that the only reason I read Go Ask Alice in the 7th grade was because it was banned, and that was reason enough for me.  In case you haven't read it, Go Ask Alice is the "diary" of a young girl who slowly becomes involved with drugs and eventually (spoiler alert) dies.  At one time, it was required reading in our public school.  It was banned, presumably because there is drug use, sex and rape.  Parents complained.    And I get wanting to protect your kids, but 1) I do not support banning books for any reason and 2) by the time we were in 7th grade, one of the hot topics was about how Eddie cheated on Meg with Nina and they went to third base, so unfortunately kids at that age are a little more aware than we'd like them to be, so throwing something like Go Ask Alice at them isn't exactly going to get the same reaction as when they found out about Santa Claus.  Granted, we were still using bases to talk about sexual acts, but hey, who doesn't?  

Anyway, Go Ask Alice is obviously much more of a warning against drugs than an advertisement, probably because, like another popular young adult book of our times, it was written by a Mormon With a Social Agenda.

Not that one.

There it is.  Stephanie Meyer, author of Twilight.  With Seth Green?

Which brings me to another ridiculous Young Adult series, Sweet Valley High.

I started reading SVH when I was something like 11 years old, and it featured all sorts of amazing story lines.  I mean, check out the mustache on this guy.  LOOK AT THE MUSTACHE:

The twins were kidnapped, solving murders and almost-raped at least 50 times through the series.  There was even an evil twin (triplet??) who shows up and tries to take over their lives.  (And yet, SVH has never made that banned books list.)  Anyway, in one of the books, deaf beauty Regina Marrow tries cocaine just once and dies due to an undetected heart murmur.  Dies on a couch, asking for stupid Elizabeth Wakefield who has eyes the color of the Pacific Ocean and all-American good looks.  Also, I think she had just become not-deaf like, the book before.

Yes.  Because she dies.

This book scared the crap out of me and hence I became the coke-free blogger I am today.  Thanks, Francine Pascal and your army of ghost writers.

So without further ado, I present the ALA's Most Challenged Books list of 2000-2009.  Use it as a check list.  (Particularly #34 and #35.)  I put a star next to the ones I've read so that you can compare, and also because I'm a show-off.

Thursday, February 16, 2012


JOSS surely would have killed off Daniel.

And if you understood that statement, we are tv soulmates.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Karmin, Karmin, Karmin, Karmin, Karmin Chameleon

It’s fitting that my first blog post here (like my first blog post ever) would be the result of Zooey Deschanel—that short, dark glass of quirk. Now that we’re getting older, Katie and I have started watching Saturday Night Live again to stay on top of what the kids are talking about. Or at least we DVR it and watch it on Sunday afternoons.

Second from left.

This week’s show was hosted by Ms. Deschanel and included at least three skits that lasted the right amount of time as well as an appearance from Nic Cage which further proved that he is awesome at playing Nic Cage.

Then the musical guest arrived—Karmin. Here I have a confession to make. In my darker moments, I consider myself a musical snob. Not that I have high standards for what qualifies as art of the musical variety. I just think that I know more about music than you. This belief stems largely from the fact that I read on the reg and once hosted my own college radio show (like I said, my darker moments). Due to my fleshy physique, my lack of tattoos, and my ability to enjoy Jersey Shore non-ironically, however, I’ve never been accepted by the truly hipster elite.

I totally knew this post when it was just a Google Doc.

Either way, I was shocked that I would have never heard of a musical guest on SNL. Lana del Rey? Please. Played it for Katie in the car back when I still had a car (See, that comment is funny because my car was stolen). Sleigh Bells? Totally bought Treats like eighteen months ago. But Karmin? Nothing. I panicked for a second. Where did they come from? Apparently I need to spend more time on Reddit and Youtube.

You had me at hello, Imgur.

Karmin performed one of their originals, an upbeat number entitled “Brokenhearted.” As the lead singer bopped around on-stage, the place in my soul where I put my hands up because they’re playing my song started to stir. An eyebrow was raised when she broke out into a rapid-fire rap in the middle of the song, but by the end, I barely even reacted when she ended several lines with “Cheerio!” and put her fingers in the shape of a monocle over her eye. The second performance was equally bouncy. After the dour and dreary del Rey performance or the overwrought Coldplay experience, it was nice that people seemed genuinely excited to be on stage. I figured I might check out a clip of the songs on Itunes, but that would be about it.

Shortly afterward, however, I found the following Gawker article which gleefully proclaimed: “The Hater’s Guide to Karmin!”

Is that what the White Stripes look like?
Written by Max Read as a mock interview in which he gets to enact his dream date and ask all of the questions as well as provide all of the answers, the article attempts to eviscerate Karmin for being… too cutesy? Too internet-y? Too plastic? If that was it, I could let the article slide. People like some types of music and hate others. For example, I think that people who like the song “Pumped Up Kicks” exist on the musical spectrum between those who collect DMB concert tickets into scrapbooks and those who put Pink songs on mixtapes for potential significant others because of their emotional impact. So I get being judgmental when it comes to music.

But Max Read couldn’t stop at just knocking down these Berklee College of Music graduates for their “cutesy covers of popular rap and R&B songs.” And it wasn’t enough that he trashed their physical appearance: “What’s wrong with her face? ‘Experts tell me that Heidemann [the lead singer] suffers from a tragic syndrome known as ‘theater kid’ that manifests itself as extreme and frequent facial and gestural tics.’”

Finally, someone knocks those bully theater kids down a peg.

Side note: It seems problematic that critics still go straight for commenting on a female artist’s physical features as a sure fire of discrediting them. Lana del Rey totally has plumper lips than she should! Kelly Clarkson has weight problems! Madonna looks like ET!

Then Read slammed in what I thought would be the final nail in the coffin: “Yeah. It’s kind of horrible, isn’t it? The way they’re desperate for you to like them, and you’re desperate to (sic) for the song to stop playing so you can set fire to the entire planet for having provided an opportunity for something like this to exist.”

Oh snap! Someone must have been that editor at his college newspaper! You know. The one who thinks being a newspaper editor in college is actually something worth putting on a resume. So far, the article is Gawker-esque in all the right ways—snarky, vengeful, and poorly edited. 

Then Read reaches out for the journalist gut shot: “I don’t want to guess at people’s motives for liking this cover, because that would require me to think about this cover, but isn’t it kind of shocking that so many people who claim to hate rap or R&B suddenly like it when it’s performed by approachable young white people playing ‘real instruments’? Just something weird to think about.”

That is something weird to think about. I was under the impression that since Obama was elected, racism doesn’t exist, but I was willing to go along for the ride. The real instruments part seems odd as in most of their videos and in their performances, the couple stuck to microphones, a cowbell, and a keyboard, but I suppose those instruments can be classified as real. Does it matter that all of the songs that Karmin covers were already Billboard hits and largely accepted by the mainstream? Or that they also cover such non-rap standards as “Firework” and “King of Wishful Thinking”? What makes them approachable? Because they’re white? Because they smile? Oh well, maybe he was just trying to flavor up a throw-away piece with some of the gravitas that invoking racism can bring to the table. He wouldn’t be the first.

But does Read really think the people who like Karmin are racist? Back to Mr. Read: “No, not at all. Just that you, know, for some people, there may be some unspoken cultural biases at play. Like racism.”

What he said.

Well now that you bring it up. I did think there was something Klan-y about their performance. In the sense that both groups start with a K and are theatrical. So people who like rap covers by white people are racist? To be fair, Read supports his case with zero evidence—even of the anecdotal nature. Both he and Maura Johnston, a music critic from The Village Voice who calls Karmin’s music a “pile of garbage and fronting,” seem very concerned that Karmin lack street cred, having come from Berklee and not making their way up the musical totem pole the real way—ie car commercials or being born in Brooklyn.

I wonder if it’s not threats of racism but that conservative urge to criticize intelligentsia which drives these snide dismissals of Karmin. If Amy Heidelmann and Nick Noonan weren’t engaged white folk from Berklee’s ivory tower but strung out heroin addicts or vegan chefs from Williamsburg, would they have more street cred? Both Read and Johnston attack Karmin for their name which stems from a Latin word carmen meaning "song" with an altered spelling to “hint at ‘karma’” (Thanks Wiki!). Johnston’s response? “The only thing I can say to this…is ‘Shut up, college.’” 

Shut up college? C’mon Maura, that seems downright Coulter-esque of you. I know all the really good names like Lady Gaga and Hanson were taken, but what’s wrong with a little Latin now and again? Where would Gawker and The Village Voice be if it wasn’t for overly educated liberal arts majors with a bastion of cultural allusions and a dearth of real world skills?

Maybe it’s that chimerical notion of authenticity in music. Willie Nelson has it. Taylor Swift doesn’t. Or at least that’s what music critics might want you to think. Is it that when Heidemann sings “You're so misunderstood/ Cause you're so complex,/ you and your complex/ and you claim you’re so low key/ Well you coulda fooled me, Mister TMZ,” she must be “fronting,” but when Miley tells us about not getting the memo, we really feel it? Is Rihanna’s “We Found Love” deeper lyrically because we know what happened with Chris Brown? Would Karmin be more musically “serious” if they wore meat on their clothes and had less of an internet following?

Has anyone actually read my lyrics?

Why do I care about Karmin you ask? Why have I been listening to “Brokenhearted” and “Crash Your Party” for most of the night/today? Maybe it’s because Karmin samples the beat from Black Sheep’s “The Choice is Yours”, and I would listen to anything sung over those bass lines even Max Read’s sloppy, race-baiting piece of fronting garbage. Or maybe it’s just that I don’t mind enjoying music contrived to make me enjoy it. Because that’s the beauty of pop music. Sure, it’s bred in a factory, and yes, it’s formulaic, but man is it ever delicious.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Still enough time to figure out how to chase my blues away...

It was the night of April 24, 2010.  We are in Falmouth, Massachusetts.

And by we, I mean me, because I am at Maggie and Matt's wedding and David has chosen to go to Hawaii for someone else's wedding.  Someone not nearly as cool, Maggie and Matt would have me add.

I was feeling a little sad about David's absence: he is a great wedding date, and also, I like him.  All the speeches had been made, and people were wandering back to their tables, for that traditionally awkward time between food and outright ridiculous dance time.

And then I heard it.

I wanna dance with somebody

Someone else beat me to the floor, but Bre and I weren't far behind.

I wanna feel the heat with somebody

Shoes were off.

I wanna dance with somebody

Hips were shaking.

With somebody who loves me.

Somebody who?  I didn't know, didn't care.  David may have been in Hawaii but I was here, with all the friends I love, and this song is a call to dance.

So dance we did, and dance we shall.

To you, Whitney Houston.  To your voice, to your songs and to the legacy you left behind.

8/9/63 - 2/11/12

Friday, February 10, 2012

Jobs, Home Ownership and Other Crazy Things People Do

I manage to kiss up to David AND make fun of Katy Perry all while reporting on the news in this week's edition of Stuff You Didn't Read When it Came Out and Still Won't Read Now.  

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Stop Colbert

This is the first bit of smart media messaging that I've seen the Dems do in a while.  Kinda.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

The Internet Knows Where you Live

Let’s establish some scope here. The objective of this article is to help you prevent third parties from obtaining information about you using legal methods. Out of scope is protecting you against those using illegal means: phishing, viruses, worms, etc. Hopefully everyone knows how to protect themselves from the latter category: run anti-virus, don’t give out your password, update/patch all software, and drink plenty of fluids.

With the upcoming IPO of Facebook it seems that online privacy is the topic du jour. I’ve been hearing a lot of talk and some mischaracterizations in these news pieces. It’s occurred to me that a lot of what’s being discussed about online privacy is not widely understood by most of us. This being (the) one topic I’m somewhat qualified to speak on, I’d like to take a crack at helping those unfamiliar with this subject understand it a little better (and protect themselves in the meantime).

This is a huge topic, and I could easily write pages about each of the items I touch upon so distilling them into something brief yet understandable is difficult. Some of what I’m writing is a significant simplification, but done so as to make this more digestible for everyone. Additionally, I broke each section into “What it is” and “How to stop it” sections in case you want to skip to the important parts.

The way I see it, most of the information you’re hemorrhaging to third parties on the internet is coming from about five main sources:

What it is
Cookies are pieces of data that your browser sends to a web server whenever you request a page. They are specific to a web site, so any cookies you have for will only be sent to pages in They’re a slight of hand to make the stateless internet feel stateful. It’s okay if that sounds like nonsense, the point is that its data your computer is sending to a website every time you type in a URL. It was told to store that data by some webpage within that site on a prior visit.

Here’s an example of a cookie:
  • username=JSMITH 
Every time you request a page from “username=JSMITH” is sent along with it. That’s really handy when you have a login form on your website and you don’t want people to have to keep typing in their user name.

Cookies are also exceptionally good at helping companies track your movement across the internet. Here’s how:
  • You type in a URL, let’s say it’s
  • That website returns to your browser a webpage. It’s really only sending back text and information on how to display it (no images or videos usually). Within that text are the URLs to other resources you’ll need to view the web page (like pictures, videos, and scripts). Your browser will go out and download them all. Every time it requests one of those items, it’ll pass all the cookies it has for that website with its request. 
    • Pretend one of those resources is “” 
    • When you request that image, part of your request header tells the website you’re requesting the image from “” 
    • Mean nasty web tracker notices you don’t have a cookie for their website, so they create a random identifier for you (say, 293), puts it in a cookie, and returns it to you along with the image you requested. 
    • Now you visit another completely unrelated website. “” and the same process happens again. The page they return also refers to that image. Only this time when you request SomeImage.gif, MeanNastyWebTracker sees your ID (293) and now knows whoever 293 is has visited both these web pages. 
    Do that over and over again and MeanNastyWebTracker begins to learn a lot about you. In this example, both SomeSite and SomeOtherSite are in cahoots with MeanNastyWebTracker because they enjoy learning things about the people visiting their site. This becomes even more evil and pernicious when MeanNastyWebTracker knows that 293 is actually John Bumbletuck. Google and Facebook do exactly this. Facebook knows about every webpage you ever visited that has a “like” button on it.

    Something you may not realize, is that even if you don't have Facebook or haven't signed into it on your current computer/browser, Facebook still tracks you through these sites. Instead of associating the traffic to you, John Bumbletuck, they create a placeholder account and log the traffic to that account. I heard an NPR commentator refer to it as a "shadow account" which has just the right sinister fear-mongering tone I think.

    How to stop it
    Let’s start with your first line of protection: AdBlock. AdBlock is available for Chrome, Firefox and probably a bunch of other browsers you shouldn’t be using. Remember when we typed in the URL “” and got back information with the text, layout information, and the list of other resources needed to display the page? AdBlock culls through that list of other resources first, and removes requests to advertiser content. No more ads on your pages and MeanNastyWebTracker never knows you visited SomeSite. AdBlock maintains a giant list of URLs of advertisers and trackers, so they know what resources to shoot down and which to allow.

    It’s also expandable, you can custom block certain sites if you’d like or use some others have made. Go into options for AdBlock, then to Filter Lists, and you can enter this URL:
    This one stops Facebook from tracking you through websites with Facebook “Like” buttons (i.e. every news site on the planet). You can still use Facebook, but Facebook won't know about anything you do outside their site.

    Most modern browsers have a second line of defense as well: private mode (Firefox)/incognito mode (Chrome). Among other things, this tells the browser not to persist these cookies. It’s a big hammer because you lose the good stuff cookies do (like remember passwords) but a lot of the time you don’t need this. If you’re planning on researching divorce procedures and don’t want your credit to suffer, this will guarantee privacy. Google and Facebook will see you doing stuff, but without those cookies they won’t know you’re the same person.

    Network Sniffing
    What it is
    Network sniffing is using tools to inspect web traffic. Google and Facebook wouldn’t do this, but your employer or ISP (Internet Service Provider) probably does. Let’s introduce an inappropriate metaphor: if the internet is the US postal service, your unencrypted HTTP web traffic is a post card. Anyone who handles your postcard can read its contents easily (like your ISP or the Gateway/Proxy Server at your office). 

    Tuesday, February 7, 2012

    A Blog Post In Which I Discuss Not Writing Katie a Blog Post While Avoiding Writing Katie a Blog Post

    Katie hasn’t had a drink in four months. I feel bad for her. Otherwise I might never have written her a blog post as I’d promised to do way back in October. (At the time, I had my own blog, which I started when I moved to Doha in August. I took the blog down when I found it a) interfering with my manuscript, b) possibly being taken the wrong way during some administrative changes at the school where I teach, and, most importantly, c) too often causing me to look for experiences to write about, rather than writing about experiences and things that just happened [good writing being a shit substitute for a good life, after all]. Oh, and d) I’m lazy and didn’t feel like writing it anymore. Which also explains why it’s taken me four months to write a post for The Famous Last Word. Until KD suggested today that I write about the alienation of watching the Super Bowl in a foreign country where the locals don’t care about the game or American football in general. Capital idea, I wrote [on gchat]. The problem is, I am so alienated from American culture that I missed the game completely. I slept right through it. [The game began at 2.30 in the morning here.] I woke up to find the Giants had won, which was nice, though I’m a Jets fan by virtue of the fact that at the age of [too young to know any better] I decided I liked green more than blue. We watched a recorded version of the game this evening, but mostly we sat around, bored, and talked about long distance relationships, new relationships forged out of mutual loneliness and resignation, whether or not we’d sign contracts for another year, and vacation plans for Spring Break. [I have not yet succumbed to loneliness or resignation and I am debating the respective merits of Istanbul and Beirut for Spring Break.] That’s how I watched the Super Bowl. But honestly it doesn’t bother me. I watch lots of sports. I watch lots of basketball. I play tennis and squash and basketball too, when I can find a game. Sports are not a problem. [As it turns out, there isn’t much I really miss. Except for one thing, though it isn’t really a thing exactly. I miss an organic social life. There are things to do socially in Qatar, sure, but unless it’s going camping or someone’s throwing a party, most everything is a production, a manufactured cultural event. Latin night. A film festival. Multicultural fest. Stadium rock. A sponsored talk at an institute. This is all fine and well in and of itself, but often I find myself missing just paying ten bucks and seeing a show. Or getting stir-crazy and walking down to an honest-to-God pub or dive. Things to do here too often scream THIS IS A THING THAT WE ARE DOING rather than just doing it, and often this THING is the ONE THING that is going on that night. People give opening remarks and closing remarks and they thank other people for making this THING WE ARE DOING possible and everyone smiles and pats themselves on the back for being there, for being conspicuously cultural. {This phenomenon does not, however, apply to eating. Good food is a casual enterprise in these parts. As is overeating. And as are carbs. So. Many. Carbs. The mountains of rice and bread are really impressive. I gained some serious weight in my first few weeks here.} As a result of this privileged sort of alienation, I find myself engaging in other privileged activities, like spending a lot of time on music blogs or streaming documentary films. It’s my way of staying connected to a world in which I can no longer take part. But it's not really that world--it's more the obnoxious idea of a past life I wasn't ever really leading in the first place. {And of course, like most English speakers here, I stream a lot of American and British television. Really into Revenge right now. And I’m happy that Justified is back. And I can’t wait for Game of Thrones.} So if you ask what it’s like watching the Super Bowl in the Middle East, that’s my roundabout answer.] On the subject of sports, I recently quit smoking, and that’s improved both my wind and given me significant chunks of time to fill now that I am no longer lighting up as I gaze listlessly off the balcony or try to appear disaffected and #overitdotcom for the cute Australian girls at the end of the hotel bar. Hopefully at some point I will use that time to write Katie a proper blog post.) I promise, I will write one soon.

    Monday, February 6, 2012

    Did you read?

    Matt:  so how did you discover the article about Dave and Beth?
    me actually i was looking for articles for the blog and saw the caption "i just remember being really, really happy"
    and clicked on it
    and hence the discovery
    Matt because evidently you found it before they even knew it was up
    me:  hahahahaha
    well i read a lot of news
    Matt:  didn't know you were such a Wash. Post fan
    i like trashy news like NY Post
    me:  hahahah i mean, it's my job
    so i read the nyt, wsj, wp
    and then for fun, the la times
    and of course CQ and all the hill rags
    Matt:  http://ww​​.com/watc​h?v=P7VgN​QbZdaw   

    Matt:  take that, nerd!

    Calvin and Hobbes, 26 years later...

    Click to enlarge.

    Still hard to read?  Click here.

    Friday, February 3, 2012

    Vote for me! (until Sunday at midnight!)

    Hola lovers,
    Just wanted to let everyone know that we will be posting every day as per usual, but, in the words of one Mr. Bruce Springsteen, we take care of our own around here and will be leaving this post on top to encourage as much voting as possible for the incredibly talented Miz Bre Duffy.  (Also check out her webpage here at
    "Rockets" is being displayed in Chicago, and the winner of a round of voting this week will have their artwork used as inspiration for a play.  You can read Bre's message below. 

    Good Afternoon, blog readers. I'm abusing my blogging privileges today for selfish reasons. Please vote for my artwork here:

    This is the artwork:



    This week: a whole bunch of reasons not to be friends with people

    In this week's rendition of all stuff-that-made-me-giggle, there are a whole lot of people in the news who nobody wants to play with.  We've got a group of moms who can't count, another mother who prefers her sons make their own chicken stock when they cook her dinner, an Alabama senator who wants to keep teacher's salaries low "for the kids" and a man who actually graphs out his friendships.  After the jump.

    Thursday, February 2, 2012

    Awkward moments that kind of make you either want to cry or laughhysterically.

    1. When your headphones aren't plugged in and the entire office hears you start playing Salt & Peppa's "Push It" on blast

    2. When you take said iPhone to the Apple Service and the first song that comes up to play is Britney's Hit Me Baby. (Even better when the second is that ridiculous joke song, "I know my calculus, it says you + me = us" )

    Not joking.

    3. When you admit the more embarrassing additions to your iPod to an entire blogging community.

    4. When you take the dogs out wearing a pair of fleece pants, glasses, and bed hair at 3am and the most beautiful man in the world watches you trip over their leashes.

    5. When you try to use a q-tip and have your earbuds in (oh wait, that's another post)

    6. When you fall off of a pyramid (hahaha, oh right another post :P)

    7. When you think a guy is leaning in to kiss you because it may or may not have been a date, and then you lean in too and he doesn't. (Seriously, I'll stop now, I promise)

    8. When you receive an email from one of your contractors, not in reference to your work, but with a "your boss said you were single, and so is one of my reps, and we thought you'd really hit it off... Can I give him your number?" and you realize that your office is trying to pimp you out. :P

    9. While mobile app text typing this blog post on the metro, you nearly miss the metro doors closing and have to make a beeline to get off, mowing people down so as to not have to take the Greenline into ANACOSTIA.

    10. When you get an urgent email FROM YOUR MOTHER with info about the Pfizer birth control recall and the subject line is not, "Does this affect you?" which would be embarrassing enough, but "Do you think you're pregnant??"


    Tuesday, January 31, 2012

    The WSJ Thinks Your Wife Should Shut Up and Make You a Sandwich

    Ken MacDougal feels victimized.  His wife, after she made him a sandwich, stuck a note in his lunch reminding him to stop by Home Depot after lunch.

    Even years later, he remains traumatized and "peeved" about the situation: "I didn't need a reminder in the middle of my sandwich," he says.

    Nagging, The Wall Street Journal earnestly reports, is even more common than adultery, and yet can be even more toxic to a relationship.  I'd like to helpfully remind you that adultery is traditionally considered a male attribute (although recent studies have shown that women are starting to cheat at almost the same rate as their male counterparts).  According to Howard Markman, a professor of psychology, nagging can be a prime contributer to divorce when couples start to argue about the nagging itself.  And of course, in that type of toxic relationship, who can blame a man for straying?

    Women are much more likely to nag because they are "conditioned to feel more responsible for managing home and family life" and are "more sensitive."  Still, the WSJ rushes to assure us, men also hold a share of the blame.
    Sure, a husband might tune his wife out because he is annoyed; nagging can make him feel like a little boy being scolded by his mother. But many times he doesn't respond because he doesn't know the answer yet, or he knows the answer will disappoint her.
    In other words, his share of the blame is really still her fault, because women are too sensitive, and he is only trying to spare her feelings while he rationally assesses the situation.  It's also his mother's fault, who has been nagging him since childhood.

    Back to Ken MacDougal.  His wife, sensitive to his tense "thousand-year stare," started signing her notes with extra hearts and smiley faces, trying to soften her words so as not to seem too threatening.  She even left out her own signature from the notes, instead signing them from "your faithful bathtub drain," or whatever appliance was low enough for him to step all over.

    WSJ  leaves us with some tips to save our marriages.  Sometimes it is best to avoid the conflict altogether.  In the most dire of circumstances, perhaps hiring a handyman would be best.  Don't try and do it yourself, ladies!  That's still a man's job, even if your man doesn't feel like doing whatever chore is distracting him from the big game.  No matter what, be sure to avoid direct conflict.
    "As long as I am not putting pressure on him, he seems to respond better," Ms. Pfeiffer says. Mr. Mac Dougall agrees. "The notes distract me from the face-to-face interaction," he says. "There's no annoying tone of voice or body posture. It's all out of the equation."
    Finally, WSJ suggests adjusting expectations, asking wives, "Does that lightbulb need to be changed immediately?" Maybe not ladies, but your attitudes certainly do.

    Monday, January 30, 2012

    Signs my future is doomed.

    Reasons that I'm convinced I am headed for senility, or Alzheimers, or Huntingtons, or some kind of mad cow disease:

    Friday, January 27, 2012

    Google Thinks I'm an Old Man

    So I have my preferences.  If you have spent time with me socially, you've probably heard me proclaim my preference for "old man bars." 

    Last night David and I were watching 30 Rock, and Liz Lemon, during her search for her new best friend, realized she needed to go to someplace where people with similar interests to her would hang out.  She goes to the bathroom of a local Barnes & Noble.  David lovingly patted my arm.

    Time for cookie pants!

    So yesterday morning I received an email from Google outlining its new privacy policy.  Unlike most of you, I read it.  And honestly, I don't see what the fuss is about.  It's only sharing information about you amongst the Google products you use, which they kinda already did.  I use a lot of Google products.  This doesn't particularly bother me.  They're not sharing outside of Google.  And I keep denying them my phone number or the ability to make a public profile to a minimum of hassle.

    So, here's the fun part.  If you go exploring into your account, you can find exactly who Google thinks you are, based on your searches and preferences, right here.

    The conclusion? 

    Google thinks I'm a 65+ year old man.

    Thursday, January 26, 2012

    Keeping Up With the Joneses

    The power of shy

    Time's cover for next week catches up with the newest journalistic trend of investigating those quiet people who don't want to go out for happy hour with you:

    Wednesday, January 25, 2012


    As you know, I'm from the Jersey Shore.

    The real Shore, not the one made infamous by MTV, the spreaders of all things hateful, vile and untrue.



    However, however, HOWEVER.


    I hate to sound like a hypocrite being so excited for this when I get so peeved about MTV's Jersey Shore.  As a native Jerseyan, I've always had to combat the same exact stereotype that MTV chose to perpetuate on their stupid show by casting people from New York, and now has made worse.

    Ryan: everyone assumes no one lives at the shore year round in NJ...because outside of monmouth county (and only parts of it) no one does! 
    Katie: and it annoys me, because when I tell people I'm from the Shore, they get this completely false stereotype in their head
    Ryan:  katie, NO ONE looks at you and thinks "oh her boyfriend's name must be anthony"

    So I get it.  The Irish had enough going on with the whole leprechaun stereotype before this showed up, so my sincere condolences, oh people of Ireland. 

    A note, however, before I exit for the day.  I never once, not in any time I visited Ireland and certainly not when I was living in Galway, saw any guys who looked like that.  Irish guys were all super skinny and weight lifting was just not a thing.  However, I have to admit that the ladies in this promo are not too much of a stretch from what I would see over there.  (Except for you, Rach, I love youuuuuu.)  Still, overall, where oh where did they get these people??

    Final word: please, please let this go global.  I need to be able to watch it.

    Tuesday, January 24, 2012

    The Famous Last Word on the Infamous Printed Word

    Maureen Dowd may be the Queen Bee but we'd all rather be friends with Gail Collins.

    Every week I compile a group of articles featuring what I would consider to be the week's most ridiculous news from [some of] the world's most upstanding news sources.  I scour The New York Times, LA Times, BBC, The Boston Globe, Providence Journal and The Irish Times, amongst others, looking for great writing, crucial snark and the latest in I-can't-believe-this-is-news updates.

    The best articles are always those in the Style section (or whatever the particular newspaper calls it) in which the ever hopeful reporter tries to break the newest trend with all the gravity of his journalistic integrity.  The second best is when they report on the young to the bewildered old (Wall Street Journal, I'm looking at you.)  This experience has given me, I think, unique insight into the soul of these periodicals.   Each has its own place in the media's own little cafeteria hierarchy.

    For instance, The New York Times is clearly the coolest, smartest kid in the room.  Yes, I know, most of you groaned out there.  But admit it, you groaned because it's true.  NYT has the best writers, hands down, and cover the widest array of issues.  For the five of you who actually read our weekly Friday summary of the news, you'll have noticed that The Grey Lady tends to dominate the conversation.  Their Style section is fantastic.  And no, I don't mean because it's super relevant, I mean because they have good writers writing about completely ridiculous things.  They try really hard to be up with the trends, which often leads to breaking news like "Teenagers share passwords!" or "Being pretty counts for more with teen girls than being smart!" 

    That being said, while NYT has the best writers and the best features, they're not the best in every issue area.  When it comes to political news, The Washington Post has that covered.  They tend to have less of a slant than NYT, and they cover a greater spectrum of the political arena.  The Washington Post is never going to be the coolest kid because it tries so hard.  They want  you to like them, they want you to think they're funny and trendy, and they really do everything right.  They even give out a free version of the paper to commuters!  Spreading information to the masses! Journalistic integrity at its finest!

    Friday, January 20, 2012

    Growing Pains, Pajamas and Other Things From When We Were Young

    After a bit of a hiatus, our weekly feature of the most crucial news of the week (and then some), along with some other features you shouldn't miss.  In this week, we remember all the things we loved as teenagers but aren't fit for public consumption: pajamas, Nigerian lovers and boy bands.

    Thursday, January 19, 2012

    All Goya with a Touch of Picasso

    RAG Week, Galway, Ireland
    March 2004

    I am in the middle of a bar hop during Ireland's Raise-A-Grand Week, in which all the pubs open early and close late.  (Also, something about charity.)  I am the caboose in the Lady Train that is winding/pushing its way through the crowded pub, when I am stopped by a young man on a bar stool.  "Excuse me," he says.  "I just wanted to stop you and tell you that you're lovely-"  I made motions to continue moving towards the back of the pub where my friends gathered.  "No!  Wait.  I didn't want to come out here tonight, I just broke up with my girlfriend, but my lads made me, and I'm so glad they did,   because you're lovely, and-" he pauses and gestures me closer for effect, "- I would tell a girl that I loved her to get in her pants, but I wouldn't tell her she was lovely."

     507 Main, Belmar, NJ
    August 2005
    It's the summer, it's last call, and I'm out in Belmar, which means I'm looking around for my friends while avoiding eye contact with anybody else.  A young man saunters up to me.

    "Excuse me, but you have a boyfriend, don't you?"

    I size him up.  "Yes," I lie.

    "I could tell.  But I have to tell you....[pauses for effect]....I'm better than your boyfriend."

    "Oh?" I said.

    "Yeah....I work at Z100."

    I immediately perked up.  "Are you Greg T the Frat Boy?!"  (Sorry for the geographic-centered humor there but I assure you that was a hoot for those who ever listened to Z100 in the morning in the late 1990s.)

    Wednesday, January 18, 2012

    Imagine Jenny McCarthy As Your Masseuse, But Like, Not Really

    I have to apologize for the serious lack of posts in Ye Ole Famous Last Word(e).  I'd tell you that I was busy dealing with the holidays, with my cluster headaches, with desperation apartment cleanings, with finding a new job (mission accomplished!) and finding my own replacement, but really, I hit a major writer's block and all of the above are just excuses.

    I tried to break the spell, truly, I did.  There are 27 different drafted posts in my folder right now, of which three are maybe decent, but I kept opening them up, staring at them, typing a sentence, and then opening up Imgur in a new browser tab instead. 

    "Katie," I told myself.  "You need to relax." 

    So I did what any other downtrodden urbanite would do: I dialed up my regular masseuse and requested a massage in the immediate future.

    Unfortunately, Marcus, former masseuse to the Women's Olympic Soccer team, was not available. 

    And thus my trauma begins.

    So I made an appointment at a small salon near our apartment and walked over.  I sat myself next to another woman in the reception area and continued A Dance with Dragons until a very small, skinny man with a mustache came out and immediately triggered my NOPE NOPE NOPE alarm.

    In case you haven't noticed, my Photoshop skills are slowly but steadily coming along.

    He started looking on the list for his next client. Not me, not me, not me, I thought.

    Tuesday, January 10, 2012

    On New Year's Resolutions and an Upcoming Five Year Review

    New Year's Resolutions. Do you make them? Or don't you? At this point, ten days into 2012, you have probably made a decision one way or another - and, as Rush so wisely reminds us, "If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice."

    I'm a classic type A girl. I love me some lists, and even more I love checking things off of my list. Typically, 1/1 of any year (or 2, 3, 4, or even 5, depending on how lazy I am that given year) finds me christening a new or newly revived journal with my year's to-do list. The list doesn't usually include World Peace, but it does usually check realism at the door. I'm usually sane enough to realize that at my personal mid-year review (...yup, I usually have those), and I usually don't take my "failures" too much to heart. This year, though, will be an interesting test of that philosophy.

    I-don't-know-how-many-years-ago-but-let's-say-10ish, my husband (whom I didn't know at the time) sat down with a group of friends to compose a series of personal predictions - not resolutions, exactly, but best guesses and gut feelings for where they would each be five years in the future. Ten predictions. It was an individual exercise, for the most part, but I suspect they influenced each other in the composition. I also suspect that ten items was a little on the aggressive side. (I base both of these suspicions on the fact that my husband's list counted not only his age but also his gender among its predictions). They nominated one person in the group as the Keeper of the Lists, whose primary responsibility was not to lose them in the intervening years.

    Three years ago or so, the Keeper sent the lists back to their creators. At this point, hubby and I were living together, so I got to participate in his "five year review," and smile and enjoy where exactly he thought he would be at this point in his life. (In case you were concerned? He is indeed still male and his age predictions were right on track.)

    Unsurprising for the almost-psych-major-I-am, I thought this was the.coolest.thing.EVER. So I made my own. Five years ago this Friday. I'm pretty excited to see where 23 year-old me thought she would be in 2012. Probably not here...

    But I wouldn't trade it.

    watered-down, post-grunge crap, horrendous shit

    Hey y'all. I'm about to leave the office for the day, but wanted to share with you a heartwarming quote I read in Rolling Stone. The issue features my lovers, The Black Keys, on the cover. Now, if you're like me and many of my friends, you absolutely want to punch every member of Nickelback in the face. And maybe every member of Daughtry for similar reasons. It is truly wondrous to have this sentiment embodied by the Key's drummer, Patrick Carney:

    "Rock & roll is dying because people became OK with Nickelback being the biggest band in the world,” he says, blowing cigarette smoke out the window of his rented East Village loft a few days ­before the band heads to L.A. “So they became OK with the idea that the biggest rock band in the world is always going to be shit – therefore you should never try to be the biggest rock band in the world. Fuck that! Rock & roll is the music I feel the most passionately about, and I don’t like to see it fucking ruined and spoon-fed down our throats in this watered-down, post-grunge crap, horrendous shit. When people start lumping us into that kind of shit, it’s like, ‘Fuck you,’ honestly."

    Love. You can read more here:

    I'm seeing these boys in person, albeit from very far away, in March and will kiss them in the face.

    Now doesn't that make you want to get down (in the dancing sense) and drink some whiskey?

    I've been thinking a lot recently about Blues-influenced music and why I'm so drawn to it. It has a quality of recognizing sincere emotion (pain, regret, longing) while at the same time making the listener feel powerful, happy and resolute. It's good therapy. It's that place where pain doesn't turn to apathy and abandonment or melodramatic, adolescent crap. As a visual artist, I'm jealous of musicians because they create with a media that touches people on some primitive, unconscious, emotional level while at the same time carrying meaning that the listener understands. I know that visual art can hit at that non-verbal primitive place too, but not in the toe-tapping, cry by myself on the train kind of way...It's like watching an extremely graphic, horrific scene in a movie. Turn off the sound, and closing your eyes doesn't seem as important. What I mean is, I think sound digs deeper than anything.

    Now if you want to go cry in your basement, listen to this nostalgic horseshit (as my roommates in Ireland used to say):