Current GPA: 4 point oh! Dig!

Got my final grades for the semester and I'm currently rocking teh four pointer. Life is good. Now the hard part: not screwing this up.

Happy New Year! Don't forget to eat your grapes!


Gary Shandling

I hereby declare Live Totem Pole EP by fIREHOSE to be the most ass-rocking cover album ever produced ever. EVER!


Rock god.

Interviewer: So you're some kind of "spaceman," then?
Ace: No, actually, I'm a plumber.


Group project hell

What do you do when you are assigned a group project worth 25% of your final grade and two of the four members in your group are (a) a plagiarist or (b) an illiterate?

Team member "A" cut and pasted entire sections of her contribution directly from sources assigned by the professor and used Wikipedia as a source. Team member "B" included sentences such as "...women, as appose to men..." And "the stradegies include...."

I ended up just sucking it up and writing my section and theirs. Life is too short to educate people in grad school on 8th-grade level term-paper skills.


Turkey Day weekend!

Well, Thanksgiving turned out very nice. We hosted our neighbors K, B, and B from down the street and pigged out on turkey with all the trimmings.

The only kitchen disaster occurred the night before the event, when I stupidly poured a pot full of hot cranberry sauce into a room-temperature, non-pyrex bowl. CRAAAAAAAACK. SPLASH. "NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!" What a freaking mess, let me tell you.

Scored four goals on Sunday. I seriously rock. :-)


Heart = melted

Yesterday Sylvia and I were sitting on the couch, all snuggled up after she had just awoken from her nap. We were taking the opportunity of alone time (Joseph and mommy were in the other room) to "have a quiet talk," as Boo likes to put it.

I was explaining that later in the week we would be having Thanksgiving dinner with our neighbors, and told her about all the things our family should be thankful of, like our nice house, our family's good health, and our general lack of want—things that other children and families don't necessarily have.

I asked her what she was thankful for, and she turned her beautiful little face to me and simply said, "you."

I never felt so good in all my life.



Joshua Hoffine's work will keep you up at night. The creepiest thing about these shots is that none were Photoshop composites. He uses friends and family as models, and sets the scenes as if they were movie sets. The theme is childhood fears, and I think it's safe to say that he vividly hits the mark. Very cool, and very, very scary:


Election Day

Well, it's finally here. I voted this morning, and had to wait 24 minutes to do so. Not bad, considering that this should by accounts be a record turnout.

I can't believe that some black areas in Virginia Beach and Florida have waits up to SIX FREAKING HOURS to vote. It's a disgrace.

I'm still skeptical that the Republicans will steal the election again (like in 2000 and 2004), but I hope I'm wrong. I also didn't think Barack had a snowball's chance in hell due to his skin color, but it looks like I was wrong. Thank goodness for that!

Go Dems!



(Photo: Bill O'Leary/The Washington Post)

Seriously. Cut this shit out.


I want my name back!

Joe Six-Pack.

Joe the Plumber.

Dear Republidicks: please pick some kind of Republican name to use as your "everyman" name. Biff, Lawson, Chad, or Clayton all sound good. Just leave mine out of your bullshit. Thank you.


My oldest friends

Jenny, Joe, and Iris at OHHS 20th reunion

One of the very cool things about growing up in a small town (pop. ±8,000) is having the same classmates from elementary school through graduation. When I went back for my 20th high school reunion (gah!) a month back, I got to catch up with two of my oldest friends, Iris and Jenny.

Iris and Jenny were always partners in crime, and they graciously let me tag along from day one. And I mean day one of kindergarten. We met by luck of the last name draw (W., V., and T.) when we were grouped together in home room.

As an only child, having fast friends gave me a sense of security and warmth that saw me though the difficult days of scraped knees, ABCs, and playground scuffles. We stayed friends all the way through 12th grade cowbell class by virtue of being all of one mind on pretty much everything. Their parting words of wisdom before graduation: "Don't marry anyone named Beth." (Yes, there's a history of Beths and no, it's not a good one. :0)

Now that we're all grown up, I was surprised at how those first-grade feelings of comfort still came rushing back as soon as I saw them again. I love you girls!


In other news

Life is still pretty darn good:

Off the mark

What the hell are they doing up there on the Hill?

According to a recent Pew Research Center poll, only 48% of the public support this preposterous giveaway to the rich bankers on Wall Street that will saddle our children (and likely our grandchildren, too) with mountains of debt. Given that level of split, one might be tempted to think that the Senate would not want to rush headlong into a proposal that would enrage more than half of the voters in this nation. "No problem, screw the people, we're doing it anyway," say the Senators.

And to add insult to injury, the bill is laden with all kinds of bullshit like, believe it or not, cutting taxes on kid's arrows. I swear to god I could not make this stuff up:

"SEC. 503–Excise Tax Exemption for Wooden Practice Arrows Used by Children.

Current law imposes an excise tax of 39 cents, adjusted for inflation, on the first sale by the manufacturer, producer, or importer of any shaft of a type used to produce certain types of arrows. This proposal would exempt from the excise tax any shaft consisting of all natural wood with no laminations or artificial means to enhance the spine of the shaft used in the manufacture of an arrow that measures 5/16 of an inch or less and is unsuited for use with a bow with a peak draw weight of 30 pounds or more. The proposal is effective for shafts first sold after the date of enactment. The estimated cost of the proposal is $2 million over ten years."

Kill me now.


Sarah Palin

Honestly, people. She's not ready for this kind of thing. She's not stupid, she's not an idiot, but she definitely isn't ready to be a heartbeat away from the nukes.


Rainy days

Yucky down here in D.C. as autumn rears its head. Leaves should be changing soon.


Back to School

Well, I'm a student again. It's official: I'm currently enrolled in UMUC's M.S. Non-profit and Association Management program.

Honestly, it was time to get moving again. I've been feeling a little (a lot) stalled lately, and since my company will pay for my continuing education, I decided to take them up on it.

UMUC is the University of Maryland University College, a fully accredited school based in Adelphi, MD (it's not a division of UM College Park, although they are in the same UM system). The classes are all online, which is the only way I could really swing this with two kids under four years old and a full-time job. UMUC is the only web-only program I could find that was fully accredited. Having it be right next door was just a nice bonus.

My first class is a non-credit course on how to conduct graduate-level research. I'm very glad this is required, as I probably would've skipped it otherwise, and the information I'm learning will be indispensable when working in my "real" classes, which start in a couple weeks.

I'm under no illusions that this isn't going to take a gargantuan amount of work and time normally spent watching soccer. :-( But at least I have a goal to work toward again, something that I haven't had for quite a while. It feels good.


Six happy years of marriage!

Well, today Jenny and I celebrated six years of marriage (ten together) with a romantic dinner appropriate to our parenting situation. You can see it in the photo below. :-) This pretty much sums up life with two kids under four. I love you honey!


On set!

Well, I'm on set today shooting the training video for work. Today we are doing the narrator and courtroom scenes. Drama is fun!


Lights, Camera....

So at work we're shooting a movie. Well, really it's a video, but humor me here. I've been charged with heading up the production of it, and we are now at the point of casting.

My director has forwarded over sample videos of a dozen or so actors reading for various parts in the video, and I get to choose who plays what. I feel like a younger, bald, non-pedophile Woody Allen.

I'll have my people call your people.


Mama likes animal prints

Matching PJ's cracked me up.


New baby gear

Oh! I almost forgot, we're getting some new, cool baby gear for Joseph.

They have something for Sylvie, too!

The weekend has landed!

Shaping up to be a busy one. We have to bite the bullet and hit Ikea to get Boo a new dresser and start moving bedrooms around. We are leaving Joseph to his own domicile and moving into the guest (soon-to-be master) bedroom. This means much furniture swapping is in my future. Not. looking. forward. to. moving. all. that. shit.

Soccer last weekend was brutally hot. It felt a lot like what I imagine playing soccer in a knee-deep Amazonian swamp tucked into the armpit of a 400-pound Russian sailor while wearing a heated, soaking wool sweater after a night of heavy drinking might feel like (without the benefit of the night of heavy drinking). In other words: really, really muggy. I'm hoping that it will be better this Sunday. Not that I have anything against sweaty armpits, mind you.



The way we were!

Tonight I found some old photos of us from around the turn of the millennium.... Man we look young. I think I've aged 30 years in 8. It's crazy how you don't think you look any different as the years go by, only to see some old photos that knock your delusional ass back into reality.

Partying like it was 1999...because it was 1999.

New Year's Eve 1999


How the hell...

...do you go from this:

To this?:

I will puke now.


See you in your dreams, Jane

Sleep tight, Jane! Muhahahahahahahaha!


Musical weekend

This weekend I went to check out my buddy Andrew's new band, the Brokedown Playboys, at the Quarry House in downtown Silver Spring. The QH is a nice place to see bands (and a great place to play, too. MyLOH played there and got free Belgian ale all night long), and the beer list is just insane.

I went with Sylvia's friend Charlotte's dad, Bill. We had gone to Baltimore to see the previous incarnation of the Playboys, then known as Ron Scott's Four Star Combo (the BP is the combo minus Ron Scott). It was interesting to see how the band had developed without a "front man." The band seemed tighter and more focused, and the sound was much better (Andrew's guitar playing is fantastic rockabilly precision, and his Tone King amp is smooth as a greased mink). I like Andrew's vocals better than Ron's, too, to be honest. Plus I always like to support my friend's bands, because goddammit, it's hard to get people off their asses and into a club these days.

An unexpected plus was running into another musician friend, John, who plays bass in Her Next Friend, a band that opened for MyLOH on a couple of occasions. Nice guy, and I hope to collaborate with him in the near future on an upcoming project.

Speaking of projects, I have a new single up on the myspace site for ¡Coño! called "Fool You All." Check it out...IF YOU DARE!


Goodnight, America. I miss you already.

The end is neigh, as they say. Someday, in my old age, I will tell Sylvia and Joseph of the America they never knew. The one where you could speak freely without fear of being labeled a traitor. The one where you could fly on an airplane without being suspected a terrorist. And the one where you didn't have to fear that the government was going to break into your house or tap your phones on a whim.

Yesterday, the Democrats in the Senate followed the Republican minority into the abyss and effectively shredded the 4th Amendment to the Constitution, which reads (bold mine):

"Fourth Amendment – Protection from unreasonable search and seizure.

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Maybe a staffer for one of the following worthless assholes who voted for the despicable FISA bill will Google "Fourth Amendment" and actually read to his or her boss what it used to guarantee (especially galling/surprising turncoats in bold):

Baucus (D-MT), Yea
Bayh (D-IN), Yea
Carper (D-DE), Yea
Casey (D-PA), Yea
Conrad (D-ND), Yea
Feinstein (D-CA), Yea
Inouye (D-HI), Yea
Johnson (D-SD), Yea
Kohl (D-WI), Yea
Landrieu (D-LA), Yea
Lincoln (D-AR), Yea
McCaskill (D-MO), Yea
Mikulski (D-MD), Yea
Nelson (D-FL), Yea
Nelson (D-NE), Yea
Obama (D-IL), Yea
Pryor (D-AR), Yea
Rockefeller (D-WV), Yea
Salazar (D-CO), Yea
Webb (D-VA), Yea
Whitehouse (D-RI), Yea

You all disgust me. Not to ramble, but I am reminded of a very prescient Aesop's Fable that the above Senators would do well to take to heart when looking back on their decision to join the Republican "patriot" cause:

The Tortoise and the Birds

A TORTOISE desired to change its place of residence, so he asked an Eagle to carry him to his new home, promising her a rich reward for her trouble. The Eagle agreed, and seizing the Tortoise by the shell with her talons, soared aloft. On their way they met a Crow, who said to the Eagle: “Tortoise is good eating.” “The shell is too hard,” said the Eagle in reply. “The rocks will soon crack the shell,” was the Crow’s answer; and the Eagle, taking the hint, let fall the Tortoise on a sharp rock, and the two birds made a hearty meal off the Tortoise.

Moral: “Never Soar Aloft On An Enemy’s Pinions”


Date night: Infant-sitting edition

It's Tuesday night, baby. Tuesday is the night when we...watch Woody Allen movies. It's business time!

Netflix DVD of Woody Allen's "Manhattan" in DVD player: check.
Sylvie in bed: check.
Joseph fed and asleep on the floor in his papoose: check.
Beer for Mommy in Sylvie's baby cup: check.
Curious George book serving as impromptu coaster for said beer: check.
Cheddar cheese goldfish within easy reach: check.

We're ready.

Step 1: Begin movie.
Step 2: Turn up volume to hear dialogue over six-week-old's snoring.
Step 3: Laugh at Woody Allen.
Step 4: Fall asleep ten minutes into the movie.

This is parenthood.


Sylvia turned three and the 4th of July

Sylvia turned three this past weekend and we are all amazed how fast time has flown by.
Her birthday bonanza party was at our local pool club and she and her friends had a blast!
They swam, played in the sand, wore cone hats and devoured cupcakes.
We also have a really fun annual event in our neighborhood: the 4th of July parade. All the kids participate and march around for about two blocks. It's very cute! Sylvia and her best friend, Charlotte marched very well together and waved their flags! How patriotic!


Operation: Take Advantage of D.C.

No, I'm not talking about our überfantastik D.C. public employees. It's not that kind of taking advantage. No, today we're talking food. Good food. Ethiopian food!

Live a little: Dukem makes a mean veggie combo platter

In what I hope will be the first installment of an ongoing series, I am chronicling my adventures at lunchtime in the nation's capital. Since I work downtown at the middle of the Red line (DC Metro's main street, as it were), there is no excuse for sitting behind my desk with my food every day. With so many free (or almost free) things to see and do, literally within walking distance of my office, I'm determined to keep from living life like some schmuck stuck out in an office park in Fairfax all day.

I have already made a couple of trips down to the Smithsonian (the Hirshorn Gallery and the Holocaust Museum), but, alas, forgot my camera. I brought it today so I could share with you my Friday adventure: a trip to U. St./Cardozo and lunch at my favorite Ethiopian restaurant, Dukem.

U Street NW is a funny neighborhood. It is the traditionally black entertainment district of the city, but after the 1960s riots, it went downhill fast. What brought it back up to speed was a steady influx of immigrants from Latin America and east Africa (principally Ethiopia and Eritrea). The neighborhood now is an eclectic mix of those cultures combined with African-American holdouts from the '60s and newer, loft-dwelling white couples in fancy new condos.

The neighborhood sports some great bars for live bands, like the Velvet Lounge (my old band played our first gig there), and, of course, good restaurants like Dukem and (although not my taste) the world-famous Ben's Chili Bowl.

Today I feasted on the veggie combo platter comprising spicy split lentils, yellow peas, greens, cabbage, and salad and washed it down with a rich and thick Beck's Dark. The On the TV above me was an old Germany vs. Belarus Euro 2008 qualifier that I hadn't seen. Life for lunch was indeed good today.

Satisfaction on a beautiful Friday


What I hope Sylvie will be when she grows up.

Janet Weiss is the most powerful live drummer I've ever personally seen. Her intensity is really insane. Check out this great close-in video of her with Sleater-Kinney in 1999. Power.
I hope Boo will grow up with the kind of self-confidence and positive vibes that these girls exemplify.

And I'm serious. That drumming is nuts.


I'm switching parties

Well, I'm gonna go for it and register as a Republican* like these fine folks:

*uh, no I'm not.

Rockabilly Hot Rockin'!

My good bud Andrew Ladson has just formed a new rockabilly outfit that you all should know about: The Brokedown Playboys. They are period-correct in the fancy dress department, and the musicianship is insane!

Check out the Brokedown Playboys myspace site here.


Joseph David is here!

I am cuteness, hear me roar.

We are so happy to announce that Joseph David has arrived and is doing well. He has a full head of fuzzy blond hair and is just a doll. Sylvie loves his "teeny toes." We love all of him!


Carrie and Fred: Sleaterday Night Live?

Carrie Brownstein (formerly of one of my favorite bands, Sleater-Kinney) and Fred Armisen (of SNL fame) have teamed up to make some amusing videos as ThunderAnt.

"The Perfect Song" is probably the most entertaining of the videos up there, and features a cameo of another third of Sleater-Kinney, Corin Tucker. I had the great experience of interviewing both ladies for a Guitar Player cover story a few years ago, and found them both to be utterly cool and charming. Nice to see that they seem to be doing fine post-Sleater-Kinney.

And speaking of Sleater-Kinney, at Sleater-Kinney.net, you can download live versions of every single song they ever played for free. Very cool!


Good soccer news

First, my game report:

1 goal, 2 assists. Schweet.

Now, in the Premiership, Fulham has somehow managed to win its last four out of five to stay one spot above relegation to the English second division. This means I'll get to see McBride, Dempsey, Keller, and the gang on TV next season. Yes!

Also, Sporting de Gijón, the only Asturian side in the running for promotion to la Primera in Spain, are in third place with six weeks to go...hang in there dudes!!!!





Guy Ritchie + Soccer = Awesomeatude

Guy Ritchie, who directed a couple of my favorite movies, Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch, has just put out an ad for Nike Soccer that, for lack of better terminology, simply kicks ass.

Fabregas celebrates with you on your goal

The "mini-movie" is in first-person perspective and takes the viewer on a whirlwind tour of scoring for a small-time club, being signed to and playing for Arsenal, and, finally, playing in a Dutch National Team game versus Portugal.

Ibrahimović mocks your attempt at marking him after scoring on your sorry ass

What makes this commercial so compelling is the on-the-pitch action of real-life European soccer stars such as Arsenal player Cesc Fabregas, Man U. players Wayne Rooney and Cristiano Ronaldo, Inter Milan players Marco Materazzi and Zlatan Ibrahimović, Barça players Ronaldihno and Rafael Márquez (the Barça game is on the Internet-only longer version of the commercial) and Dutch National side players Ruud Van Nistelrooy and Wesley Sneijder, among others.

Materazzi gives you the one-handed definition of "man marking"

The action scenes are very well-done and give you a good sense of how brutal it must be to play at that level. When Materazzi stiff-arms "you" in the face (see photo above), you can almost feel it, and when "you" score the pick-up pass in front of goal from Fabregas, the exhilaration is undeniable. The killer soundtrack from the Eagles of Death Metal propels the action perfectly.

Sneijder intones one last word of encouragement prior to your free kick

This type of commercial should be incredibly cheesy, I understand that. And maybe if you are not a soccer addict you will get a eau d'fromage. But for me (and I suspect legions of die-hard fans just like me), it really resonates. And it works—I had to hit up the Nikesoccer web site to watch it again (and, I confess, again and again).


Great visit from a dear friend

On Tuesday, one of my good friends, Helen, came to visit us. She's in DC for a convention and gamely made the trek all the way up the Red Line from Ballston to have dinner with Jenny, Sylvia, and me. I met Helen when I was studying abroad in Salamanca, way back in 1991. Who would figure that a West Virginia kid and a California girl would have so much in common?

Since that time, we have stayed in touch via letters, much too infrequent visits, and, these days, email. Regardless of the geographic distance between us, we have remained close friends. She now works for the Lance Armstrong Foundation in Austin, doing some immensely important work (work that includes hobnobbing with Lance and Hillary Clinton), is happy married to a great guy, and is as fantastic to be around as ever.

She has surmounted some seriously daunting obstacles in her life, and even survived a near plane-crash a year ago. Still, she always beams with enthusiasm and zest for living. I can honestly say that she's one of the most inspirational people I've been lucky enough to know. (Plus, Sylvia thought she was super cool from the minute she walked in the door—the killer Austin tee-shirt Helen brought her was a great icebreaker!)

We were all sad that she wasn't able to spend more time with us, and hope to make a trip to Austin when the baby gets ready to travel.

Why Americans Are Overweight

Here's a perfect example of the kind of food logic rife in America:

From The Consumerist.


Soccer is teh cool

I am obsessed with soccer, I think. It's pretty much all I watch on TV lately (other than Good Eats), thanks to a DVR and massive helpings of GolTV, Fox Soccer Channel, ESPN2, and, occasionally, ABC.

I also play every Sunday with a bunch of other soccer-obsessed over-30s in a pickup game on small goals. I usually score a couple times per game (I'm a winger/forward), and this week I scored my team's only two goals: one was a sweet knee-in from a high cross into the box, the other was a simple pickup on a breakaway pass that got through the defense.

When I get home from a game, Sylvie always asks how many goals I scored. If the answer is two, she says "you forgot one." She's my number one coach and motivator, as you can tell....

I'm working on my self-confidence on the ball and trying (in vain, as of yet) to make myself drive to the goal instead of shooting from too far out. It's difficult to keep your composure with defenders trying to catch up to you, as you can imagine, but I'm convinced that I can do it.

I used to only play defense, but decided a few years back to quit pussy-footing around and take charge of my game. Since then, I've only played up front and am now a terrible defender. :-)

There is no real point to this post, other than the fact that I love soccer and wanted to brag about scoring goals. Yes, I am lame. Sue me.


Wow! Can you believe a customer-driven corp.?

In my inbox:

"April 23, 2008

Dear Bolt Customers:

When we began service last month with free WiFi service, many of you (particularly Mac users) had just one request--remove the security key login requirement! Well, we're happy to announce that the key is no longer required on board.

Boltbus remains committed to provide service that is responsive to the needs of its customers, and we hope everyone will now be able to enjoy free WiFi service en route.

Boltbus Customer Service"

It's nice to see a company being run by a team that actually listens to its customers!

BoltBus...the only way to fly.


My Boo

I lurve her.
Photo by Mommy


Try as I may, I just cannot get jazzed about this election cycle.

I personally don't like either of the Democratic candidates. Both are substantially unpalatable to a significant portion of the electorate, and to call either of them a slam dunk would be laughable.

It is no small feat that the Democrats have successfully found two candidates that have a serious chance of losing to a Republican after eight horrible, truly disastrous years of Republican rule in the White House. This election was un-losable. Yet, we've found a way to make it interesting. Our party is a collective freaking basket-case.



This weekend, while in NYC with Jason and Dabney, Dabney and I were comparing our rural upbrings (I'm from West Virginia, she's from Arkansas) when the subject of strip mining came up. I related to her and to Jason my belief that the country simply would not tolerate the wholesale destruction occurring in Appalachia were it being subjected upon New England.

Can you imagine the uproar if the headlines read "Vermont forests dynamited for coal baron profit" or "Annual N.E. foliage pilgrimage threatened by mining destruction"? The press would go, in a word, batshit.

So why doesn't anyone take notice of the 700,000 acres of Appalachian mountains that have been literally rendered to dust by this barbaric practice? The answer, I believe, is because it's happening not to upper-middle class New Englanders, but to dumb ol' hillbillies.

The term "hillbilly" has been used for centuries to debase and dehumanize rural mountain people, the the great benefit of those who would make a handsome profit from the region's natural resources. Dismissive and offensive, the term connotes a subhuman class of people who are simply undeserving of sympathy or human dignity. Images of Snuffy Smith and the Beverly Hillbillies or my [irony]favorite movie[/irony], Deliverance, reinforce an outdated and unfair stereotype that outsiders are unfortunately all too eager to believe.

I can't tell you the countless "West Virginia jokes" I've endured since moving from my home state. While no one would have the audacity to walk up to an African-American and start spouting "Uncle Remus" jokes, it seems to be perfectly acceptable in our society to ask a West Virginian if he married his sister or has all of his natural teeth. It's especially prevalent in Appalachian border states like Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania, and the Carolinas, but I heard them all too frequently during my time in California as well.

But the real problem with the general acceptance of the hillbilly stereotype is not the obviously offensiveness of the term, but that it gives people a perceived moral "out" in terms of being able to look away while a small, but inordinately powerful, industry systematically obliterates the lives and quality of life of an entire class of people.

After all, it's just the dumb ol' hillbillies' ground water being fouled by toxic sludge.

It's just the dumb ol' hillbillies' towns being flooded by deforestation and valley fills.

It's just the dumb ol' hillbillies' livelihoods being taken away.

It's just the hillbillies. Who cares?


The Big Apple: Bitten.

Well, the trip to NYC went fabu. I boarded the BoltBus at the curb outside the Metro Center Metro station, took up my Uker-like front row seat, and instantly connected to the Internet to begin my trip. The bus was brand new and very shiny. The bathroom had a non-smelly chemtoilet, so you could pee en route. The bus left seven minutes late, but took exactly four hours (as planned) to get to NYC, where we disembarked around the corner from Penn Station. For $20 roundtrip, you can't beat it!

I then hoofed it about eight blocks to Chelsea where Jason and his lovely girlfriend Dabney (see photo below) were waiting at Jason's subleased apartment. It was a typical NYC studio apartment, which meant that it was...cozy. But it was also very convenient! Chelsea is a neighborhood I hadn't visited on my prior trips to the city, and it was really eclectic and cute, kind of what you like to think the Village used to be like.

We first went down to the New Museum ("Hell Yes!"), which is an architectural novelty, even in NY, as it is shaped like six boxes stacked one atop the others and clad in expanded aluminum. We got in free, since Dabney is a curator for a well-known New England women's college, which is nice. The artwork was suitably weird and cool.

After the museum, we went out to eat at the Mercer Kitchen (Yum! Pork chops...goooood.).

Later we headed down to the Lower East Side (my new favorite 'hood in NYC) and were deemed cool enough to be admitted by the leatherclad bouncer to The Back Room. In an "only in New York" moment, we approached the unmarked gate to the unmarked, hidden tunnel leading to the unmarked, hidden entrance to the unmarked, hidden bar and were stopped by a mean-looking bouncer who needed to scope out our coolness quotient before letting us inside. A guy next to us was judged unfit due to his use of flip-flops, but we made the cut. We're so cool.

After The Back Room, we went in search of live music, and found it at one of my NY haunts, The Living Room. This place is great because the crowd is over 30, the bands are always eclectic and good (we caught an improv band doing cover tunes with a Siberian throat singer...crazy!), and there is no cover charge to enter.

The next morning we groggily made it down to Washington Square Park and my my good friend Jane for breakfast down in Alphabet City. After some eggs, French toast, and plenty of coffee, Jane updated us on her new passion: kickball league (which started later that day).

The last leg of my whirlwind tour took the whole gang down to see a gallery that Dabney knew about where back in 1977 an artist named Walter De Maria filled an entire 3,600 square-foot flat with soil. Weird, yet strangely calming (see how calm we were afterwards in the photo below). That said, Jason and I also had an overwhelming urge to grab the fire hose and some seeds to perform some "performance art" of our own. :-)

I reluctantly trudged down to Chinatown, where my return leg BoltBus was patiently waiting to take me back to D.C. I was sad to be leaving my friends yet also very excited about seeing my Boo and Jenny (+S.T.B.®) again. It was only a day away but I really miss them!

The trip back to Washington was just as comfy as the ride up to NYC, but I (nor any other Mac users) could log on to the Internet due to a WEP 128 password problem (the router on the first leg of the trip was not pw protected). I hope that BoltBus either gets rid of the password altogether (why even have it on a moving bus?) or can figure out a Mac friendly solution before my next trip.

All in all, it was a fantastic day and a half trip. A big thanks to Jason and Dabney for putting me up and showing me the town and also to Jane for dragging herself all the way down Manhattan to come play with us! You all are awesome!


NYC weekend TK

I'm going up to NYC this weekend to visit my buddy, Jason (see photo on right), and meet his girlfriend. Looking forward to telling her every embarrassing story that I can recollect on the bus trip up there.

Jason and I met while studying in Spain back in '91, and have been BFFs since then...OMGWTFLOL. We lived together on Capitol Hill back in '93-95 and I followed him to San Francisco when I returned from Spain (different trip) in '96. It's been a while since we've been able to hang out, so I'm looking forward to seeing him.

The bus I'm taking is pretty cool. It's a Greyhound offshoot called BoltBus that operates between DC--->NYC--->Boston and is dirt cheap. My ticket came to $20 roundtrip (I think they are doing $1 trips, too, but I couldn't score one of those), which is pretty cool, considering that the bus has free Wi-Fi access and outlets for your computer so you can surf the Net on the road. I'll report back on Monday with my review.

Hope to meet up with my S.F.-turned-NYC galpal Jane, too (see photo on right).We're going to get breakfast on Sunday morning if all goes to plan. Jane and I worked together in San Francisco and wine-partied together in Oakland. It will also be great to hang out with her again! Looks to be a good trip....


New facelift for the blog!

We needed some graphically designed logo goodness, so here it is! (Look up, silly, it's right there!)

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Bed drama and, finally, success!

Hard to believe, but Sylvie is now officially a "big girl" who sleeps in her very own real bed. Since we knew that the crib would be needed by the S.T.B.® (sibling to be), we thought it better to get Boo into her new digs sooner rather than later.

We didn't want to get her a toddler bed and have to outfit it with a bunch of sheets that would become obsolete all too soon, so we opted for a twin that she can grow into. Being the IKEA freakazoids that we are, we picked out what looked to be a trés cool, über-modern design that we knew she liked from a quick romp at the store and both Jenny and I dug, design-wise. So I lugged it home and put it together, with all the trials and tribulations that putting anything from IKEA together entails.

And it looked, as the California kids say, "hella cool." Turns out though that, in person, it was also "hella sharp." Like, box-o'-steak-knives sharp. Here it is:

See, very cool. But...every single edge was seemingly lying in wait for the smooth skin of our baby's noggin to come crashing in for impact. Crap. Took it apart. Lugged it back. Gahhhhhh!

Undaunted by lower back pain and mental distress, we picked out a nicer, gentler, more rounded and less deadly bed for our Boo. I give you—Tromsö:

So far, only one busted lip from the railing (knock on wood). She likes it so much she's already sleeping through the night without getting up! (KNOCK ON WOOD KNOCK ON WOOD X infinity)


Getting ready for baby #2

Wow! I can't believe we're about to be parents again. We're getting really excited and the little jumping bean is really doing somersaults in there. Elbows and knees and buttbones are all readily visable through Jenny's sweaters now. It's straight out of the Alien movies!

I hope this baby is as sweet and good as Sylvie Boo. She is really coming into her own personality, and aside from the occasional 2 year-old tantrum, she's really a sweet and loving child. We are so proud of her!


Sirens in D.C.

I work within spitting distance of the White House (I've tested it often), so whenever I hear air-raid type sirens I get a little "edgy." What with maniacs flying shit into buildings and all. One is going off right now. Gulp.


My Grandpa's Senior Photo

I posted my cheesy senior photo a few days ago. Here's my grandfather's (his name was also Joe V.):

He graduated class of 1936 from Moundsville High School in Moundsville, WV. It's a good thing his parents had immigrated from Spain in the earlier part of the century, as the Spanish Civil War began in 1936. He was the perfect fighting age to participate in that terrible conflict, but instead went door-to-door with his uncle collecting donations for the Republican government in the Spanish areas of West Virginia (which were quite substantial at the time).

He went on to Bliss Electrical Academy in Takoma, MD and returned to WV where he worked as an electrician in coal mines in southern West Virginia, which is where he met my grandmother.

In 1945 he shipped off to Japan and helped rebuild the electrical infrastructure in Yokahama until his early release from the Army due to my grandmother having a terrible car accident back home.

He spent most of his later years as the head of the electrical apprentice program for the West Virginia branch of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers. Every time I pass the IBEW offices here in D.C. I think of him with pride. He was truly dedicated to the Union cause.

I loved my grandpa very much, and I think he was pleased that I learned to speak Spanish and kept in touch with our family there. I still dream about him often.