Friday, December 29, 2006

Dani's Birthday

Our favorite Xmas baby (who hates to make birthday plans) was forced to celebrate last night! The lovely Ms. E. arranged for us all to meet up at the Village Bistro in Arlington. It was a nice small party of 9 - Stick braved the highways and crazy drivers all the way up from Atlanta to be there! She even managed to get Dani a nice gift from KH (with Holly's help). Thanks, Holly. ;)

The birthday girl did wear a tiara all night, to make sure she was easily identifiable to the masses. (don't we look cute?) :)

Dinner was verrrry yummy (and fast! entrees in under ten minutes!). Most of us vowed to return to the Village Bistro immediately - although I don't know if I'll make it back there before I leave on Monday. Poor Pete was the only guy at the table, but he was ok with it -- until we started talking about our mothers giving birth to us and other 'girly' topics... he was so traumatized by the end that he started re-folding the wrapping paper that Dani was neatly removing from her gifts. (Here's Dani unwrapping on the right, Pete folding on the left)

Then we migrated North (or is it West?) to the Four Courts in Courthouse to meet up with the rest of the crew. Dani's roommate Mairead (how do you pronounce that again?) tends bar at the Courts so she begrudgingly provided some "Irish Car Bombs" (a shot of Bailey's dropped into 2/3 glass of Guinness). Blech! These were followed a short time later by shots of Tequila. Before you start thinking that I'm a lush, please know that I participated in NEITHER of these. I stood by and took pictures. ;) Stick and Dani were gearing up to go to the lake cabin with a bunch of ruffians for New Year's, so this was good practice. We were all enjoying the stories they were telling about last year's trip, and can't wait to hear what craziness awaits -- vegetable oil, a blue tarp and some spatulas? or how about a headbut to the groin, protected by the "im-Parv-anator"? there's video of that one! Really, you really don't want to know.

How did Stick get the Tiara? Anyway, here's the tequila shot in progress. :)
I can't tell you how the evening ended... the smoky bar and my sore throat combined made me decide to leave just after 11... I'll need to get an update from the girls.

Xmas photos

Hannah in her pink boots!

(Looks like she's already bow-legged!) Maybe her mom got a better picture of the modeling than I did...

and, the magnets I made for Kelly & Micki

and my favorite picture of the girl from Xmas Eve:

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

DC is my hometown...

... but I think Austin is "home" now.

Arrived on Saturday night. The whole fam came to pick me up at the airport, and we went to Ted's Montana Grill in Crystal City for dinner. We all had various forms of bison meat -- steak, meat loaf, short ribs, burger -- but nothing so impressive that we have to run right back. It was a little unnerving to sit underneath the wall-mounted giant stuffed buffalo head. (His name was Maximus.) When we got home, we celebrated the last night of Chanuka. I got a penguin to add to my collection (a collection that is growing daily as my mother goes out shopping), a lovely bracelet and three books I wanted (including a knitting book) from my brother. Poor kid had to brave the Crafts section of the bookstore to get the Yarn Harlot book. heh. I also opened my new (RED) iPod (thanks, Andy!) and started loading songs onto it. I loooove it!

Xmas eve at Kelly's was tons of fun, as usual. We only had nine people this year, which was a nice, small group. Hannah was the only little kid, and she milked it for all it was worth. She tried on her pink cowgirl boots as soon as she opened them, but I think they were a little too big, and not quite comfy without socks. But she did like them! (She was a crankypants all day long, and by that time, almost nothing was making her happy.) We had Kelly's awesome lasagna, salad, Aunt Karen's garlic bread (spread: 2 sticks of butter with four cloves of crushed garlic, tarragon, basil and ... dill? It was yummy), and cream puffs with chocolate sauce for dessert. We were stuffed! Kelly's mom gave me a neat long wooden sign that's a star and four stripes... If I can figure out how to get it home, it'll look great on my wall. :)

Xmas day: Chinese food! We did the reverse of the stereotypical Jewish holiday, though... we went for dim sum at Fortune and then went to the movies. We saw the latest Christopher Guest movie, "For Your Consideration." It was better than "A Mighty Wind" but not nearly as good as "Best in Show". I don't know if it's because my aunt breeds and shows dogs, or if it was just a funnier movie overall, but that by far is my favorite Guest movie. Well, ok, except for the Princess Bride. ("You don't by any chance have six fingers on your right hand?") and Spinal Tap. The rest of the day wasn't terribly exciting... and the weather was icky.

Boxing day, mom was up and out at 8am for the day-after-Xmas shopping at Lord & Taylor! I wasn't nearly awake enough to go with her. I probably should have gone along - she ended up buying a half-dozen 2' tall Santas! (I'm so confused.) It turned out to be international foods day - sushi for lunch and Indian food for dinner. Ryan and Becky picked an Indian restaurant in Columbia that was on the Zagat's list... it was hard to find, but the food was very tasty.

I'd probably have more to report, but I managed to get sick -- or a really bad allergy attack -- as soon as I got here. Just like what happened when I got to LA for Thanksgiving. ICK!

Friday, December 22, 2006

What else would you do with a USB port?

You've seen the USB fan, the USB light, the USB coffee warmer...even the USB lava lamp.

Now meet "Rex the Humper." Be sure to watch the video to see just how amorous Rex is. ;)

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

How's your Grammar?

Whee! I'm a grammar whiz!

Your Language Arts Grade: 98%

Way to go! You know not to trust the MS Grammar Check and you know "no" from "know." Now, go forth and spread the good word (or at least, the proper use of apostrophes).

Are You Gooder at Grammar?
Make a Quiz

Monday, December 18, 2006

Yes, Virginia, there really was a Holocaust

I have been trying to ignore stories about last week's Iranian conference on whether the Holocaust actually took place or not. (We all know that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is a nutcase.) This article in the LA Times really puts this conference into perspective. According to this emigree from Somalia, it's not that all Muslims deny the Holocaust - they are simply oblivious. They've never been taught about the mass murder of Jews, gypsies, homosexuals, political dissidents, (or for that matter anyone Hitler didn't like)... or seen pictures of the gas chambers, the cattle cars, the piles of suitcases and shoes and hair. As this writer suggests, they are being fed propaganda, not unlike Josef Goebbels' efforts, telling them that Jews are evil.

Yes, there are still people in this great melting-pot of a country who have 'issues' with Jews (and why are there Jews in Hollywood who have forgiven Mel Gibson for his idiotic rant?!?) but for the most part, we're left alone - and even regarded highly enough to be given a small spot on the retail sales floor for the requisite blue and silver chanuka crap this time of year. ;)

How do we combat the institutionalized anti-semitism of the Muslim world? How do you change years of prejudice, hatred, and negativity? I hope the outcome of the "conference" is a) rational - yes, the Holocaust happened (hah!) and b) serves to wake the world up to what's going on over there. But somehow, I doubt it.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Offloading pics - random

I realized today that I have been taking pics but not uploading them, so here's the rundown. It's nothing terribly exciting.

Two weeks ago when it was really cold around here, I broke out my new hot cocoa. I bought the "marshmallow lovers" low-fat Swiss Miss. Let me tell you, they aren't kidding when they say marshmallow lovers. Each serving is two packets - one is the hot cocoa powder, and the other is all mini-marshmallows! I had to take a picture. It was soooooooo yummy.

For the past week, my tv has been slowly dying (in fact, as mom reminded me, it was already starting to go south when she was here two months ago!) . I've had that set for ten years - it survived moving from Arlington to Chevy Chase and back to Arlington, and then to Austin. I spent the past week jumping up off the sofa to go whack one side of it or the other to keep the picture going. Finally, last night, I gave up and went to Circuit City. Complicating things, I have a tv unit that has a square-shaped hole for the tv - in other words, the television itself cannot be wider than 28" or taller than 26". The width restriction really limited my choices with the flat screens. I literally had to go around the store with a tape measure! I ended up with a 24" flat screen digital tv, and was smart enough to have it delivered instead of trying to bring it home on my own. It's lovely. :) Happy Chanuka to me! (and thanks, mom & dad!) [Extra points if you can figure out what movie I was watching when I took this picture] ;)

Which reminds, me, Happy Chanuka! When I unpacked my kitchen in August, I realized that I had four boxes of Chanuka candles. Four boxes! I think I must have just bought some when they were on sale after the holiday - and then conveniently forgot and did the same thing the next year. Oops. (Plus, I didn't use the big candles last year because we lit the little ones on the menorah I took to London.) Here are my two lovely menorahs and my multitude of candles. The menorah on the left represents an oil lamp, with the outline of Jerusalem in the middle. It was sent to me when I was a freshman in college by the student support group from my synagogue, and I've used it almost every year since.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Working neither here nor there

Today is the big day! We move into our new offices in the new building! I escape cubicle-land (aka "the Library") and enter a real office, with windows and -- most importantly -- a door! Unfortunately, it's also working-in-limbo day, because I can't go work in my cubicle (they're moving the cube furniture to the new building) and I can't go work in my new office, because they don't want us to get in the way of the movers bringing our stuff in. *sigh*

So here I sit in Starbuck's, getting amped up on the strong smell of coffee, trying to get some work done, and drowning out the constant Xmas music with my Launchcast. (And trying to figure out what to get for everybody for Xmas/Chanuka. Any requests? suggestions?)

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

You're more likely to be gay if you eat tofu.

I wish I were kidding with this.

"Soy is feminizing, and commonly leads to a decrease in the size of the penis, sexual confusion and homosexuality. That's why most of the medical (not socio-spiritual) blame for today's rise in homosexuality must fall upon the rise in soy formula and other soy products."

--Jim Rutz, a columnist writing in the far-right WorldNetDaily that soy is a “devil food” that has caused a rise in homosexuality. Seriously.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Holiday Meme

Welcome to the Holiday edition of "Getting to know your friends" - courtesy of Phyl-Phyl
1. Wrapping paper or gift bags? Both. It all depends on the gift. I looove wrapping gifts.
2. Real tree or artificial? None. Menorah, check. Chanuka lights, check. Tree? Not so much.
3. When do you put up the tree? see #2. Menorah comes out the day before Chanuka, and gets put away after the eighth night... after I've cleaned all the melted wax off the base.
4. When do you take the tree down? again, see #2.
5. Do you like eggnog? Lactose intolerance really curbs my eggnog intake. However, I would love to get a sip of Dani's famous version someday. I'll just pop a dozen lactaid pills first! I'm still on the hunt for the recipe my mom used to have for eggnog cookies. they were awesome.
6. Favorite gift received [as a child]? There are two things that I absolutely love that my parents got me - first, a script from the West Wing, signed by Dule Hill, Allison Janney, John Spencer and Richard Schiff. I literally screamed and jumped up and down when I opened it. [there's a picture of that reaction...] Second, a Lalique eagle hood ornament. (I used to have the eagle on a poster that my mom brought back from a car museum. So it was very exciting to have my own eagle.) That was my only Chanuka present that year... and dad made me play 20-questions in the week leading up to the holiday, to see if I could figure out what it was. (I couldn't.)
7. Do you have a nativity scene? I think I can safely skip answering this one.
8. Hardest person to buy for? Mom. Since she doesn't often express any "need" for anything, it's very hard to come up with something she might like that she hasn't already gotten for herself!
9. Easiest person to buy for? Jeff. I am always surprised at the cool books that come out about comic books and superheroes, and most of the time I get it right. (I think the golf/billiards set I gave him a few years ago was my worst choice ever!)
10. Worst Christmas gift you ever received? A battery-powered light-up ring in a weird aluminum box. (last year's office white elephant - thanks, RTK.)
11. Mail or email Christmas cards? Mostly mail. Yikes! Better get started on those this week.
12. Favorite Christmas Movie? The Grinch Who Stole Christmas, and Love Actually.
13. When do you start shopping for Christmas/Chanuka? This mostly depends on when Chanuka actually falls. If I see something for a specific person early in November, I'll buy it - but then I run into the challenge of making sure I can still find it by late December! Otherwise, shopping starts this week in earnest! I have been known to hit the mall on the evening of the 23rd for Xmas gifts.
14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present? That's what "white elephant" parties are for, right?
15. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas/Chanuka? Potato Latkes with applesauce! yum.
16. Clear lights or colored [on the tree]? Lights with Chanuka shapes attached to them - menorahs, stars, and dreidls - strung around my office.
17. Favorite Christmas song? I love the David Bowie/Bing Crosby duet. But you can't beat Adam Sandler's Chanuka song, or Kyle's "Lonely Jew on Christmas" from South Park. :)
18. Travel at Christmas or stay home? Travel... but that's because I went and moved to TX, so I have to travel home to DC.
19. Can you name all of Santa's reindeers? Donner, Vixen, Prancer, Dancer, Comet, Cupid and Blitzen. Plus Rudolph. Is that all of them?
20. Angel on the tree top or a star? K&J use an Intel "Bunny-man" that I gave them as a tree-topper. I think that's my favorite.
21. Open the presents Christmas Eve or morning? Eve, because I'm never there (at K&J's) in the morning. ;)
22. Most annoying thing about this time of year? Xmas music in the stores BEFORE Thanksgiving! UGH!

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Wild Wedding Weekend

Spent the weekend in Kansas/Missouri. (Kansas City, MO is the closest airport to Overland Park, KS, so that's where I went.) My friend Stuart "officially" married his wife Jenny. Yes, you read that correctly. These two eloped almost three years ago, before he was to be stationed in [a Middle-Eastern country] for two years, and she was going along on the trip. So now that they're back, this weekend they had a church wedding and a big party.

I admit, was a little (ok, alot) apprehensive about going to another wedding by myself, but in no time, I was "adopted" by Stuart's high school friends, Anthony and Tamara, and Tam's husband Eric. Turns out these were the "cool" kids - the ones that were always causing trouble, the ones that everyone stared at for laughing too loudly. I fit right in! We were so clearly the "fun" table at both the rehearsal dinner and the reception that people moved to hang out with us -- or moved to get away from us! [pictured right: Eric, Tamara, Stuart and Anthony]

The wedding itself was *very* Catholic. Made me think of those times when I was in high school and we would go to the Christmas service at the Cathedral (I was in the choir). Afterwards, my mom would say she needed to go to the synagogue, to "cleanse her palate". I really felt like I needed a good Sh'ma and maybe some Kaddish after the whole father-son-and-holy-ghost thing. (although I can still say the Our Father prayer backwards, forwards and upside-down after all those years at NCS... scary.)
Then we all (the bride & groom and attendants, and the troublemakers) jumped on a little trolley (thankfully, there was heat on the trolley - it was COLD in KC!) and drove around the city to take pictures... although someone on the bus pointed out that it was kind of silly to take pictures of the bride & groom with dead plants and piles of snow everywhere. Oh well. Unfortunately, the trolley seats were wooden slats, so it wasn't terribly comfortable to ride around for two hours. But we survived. (and we stopped and picked up some "Christmas Cheer" after we were done taking pictures, on the way to the reception.) I probably had a few too many of the signature drink - pomegranate martinis - but was able to snag enough water bottles to make it through the night and not have (much of) a hangover this morning. and I think I danced off plenty of alcohol on the dance floor!
All in all, it was a GREAT weekend. I also had to thank Jenny for *not* throwing her bouquet or doing the silly garter thing. Turns out there were probably only two of us who would have been waiting for the bouquet [one of my favorite scenes from SATC - the girls all stand there when a bouquet is thrown, let it fall to the floor without even moving a muscle, and then walk away]. We talked about it this morning... ten years ago, our friends' weddings were full of singles. Not so much any more. Instead, they had an "anniversary" dance - they asked all the married couples to come on the dance floor, and then whittled the dancing couples down based on how long they had been married - 15 years, 20 years, etc. Turns out there was one couple who have been married for 43 years! Wonderful.
There are plenty of other stories from the weekend (I was hanging out with the troublemakers, after all!) but they will not be posted here. If you wanna know, you're gonna have to ply me with food & drink. probably a lot of drink. ;)

Friday, December 08, 2006

Just posting a link

I don't normally just post links to other blogs, but this one is disturbing, and a little bit funny. (Sort of like that diet coke ad.)

The Priest-of-the-Month calendar, from Rome:

As Andrew Sullivan put it, "How Gay is the Vatican?"

Monday, December 04, 2006

The word HUBRIS came to mind...

The USC Trojans, after effectively squashing the Fighting Irish like bugs, felt good. No, they felt Grrreat! They were going to the BCS national championship to prove their mettle against Ohio State -- in what was supposed to be a rebuilding year at SC -- *if* they could win the last game of the season against crosstown rivals UCLA. Piece of cake!

That turned out to be a big IF.

We're perfectly content to play in the Rose Bowl, mind you. But the boys I saw on the field at the Coliseum last weekend were not the same boys that came out to play this weekend. UCLA is not that good. The Bruins were 6-5, fourth in the PAC-10. They just out-played us, plain and simple. It sucked.

And somebody, please put Brent Musberger out of his misery. I know it wouldn't have felt as bad if we had been winning, but his commentary was really horrific. Maybe he was just being snotty because USC sent a nasty letter to the network after Musberger revealed Booty's hand signals on national television (!!!) What a shmuck.

At least Reggie and Matt had good games on Sunday. [A friend of mine, a Texas Longhorn fan, made the most of his Sunday watching Vince Young and the Titans, reliving the glory days. Maybe I should have watched the Saints game?!]

As for the Rose Bowl game, unless I can change my flight, I'll be watching from Dulles airport, and will probably miss the end of the game as I fly back to Texas. Argh.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Ceci n'est pas une Fratkin

Bryan, Marc and Carla went to the Magritte exhibit at LACMA on Sunday. (I'll bet my plane was probably somewhere over New Mexico before the boys even woke up...) I was very jealous. I am particularly fond of Magritte's Son of Man and the other bowler-hat images. But of course the most famous one is "Ceci n'est pas une pipe." -- a painting of a pipe with the caption, "This is not a pipe."

I received this photo by email (and sent to my cellphone) on Sunday. The caption was "Ceci n'est pas une Fratkin." :)

Son of Man is part of my favorite scene in The Thomas Crown Affair (the new version) -- Pierce Brosnan and his lackeys scatter around the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, all wearing black coats and bowler hats and carrying briefcases full of pictures of the man in the bowler hat. It drives the cops crazy.

Marc also found (after Bryan mentioned) a picture of the Son of Man etched into the top of a Mac Powerbook, with the Apple logo in just the right spot. Very cool. If I had a Mac, I'd think of doing that too.

And that was the end of the trip to California.