Friday, December 29, 2006

My Favorite Videos of the Year

Best Motivating Moment That Should Be Made Into a Disney Movie

Worst Sportsmanship, Best SportsCenter Clip

Best Tom Cruise Moment: Appearance on Today Show

I love awkward situations! They are so fun to revisit! Especially when they involve Crazy Cruise!

Favorite Music Video: Mates of State, "Fraud in the 80's"

Also a killer song from a talented duo...

The Office: The Initiation

Dwight: "Just as you have planted your seat in the ground, I am going to plant my seed in you."

The Office: Future Dwight

Best. Prank. Ever. If John Krasinski is anything like his character Jim Halpert, I want to invite him to Thanksgiving next year.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

R.I.P. President Ford

Well, I will never get to enjoy that pint with President Ford, who died last night at the age of 93.

Given the topic of my last blog post, I was a bit freaked out to hear the news this morning, especially since I'd told Carlyn about my dream. Whenever Carlyn and I get together to talk about a celebrity or public figure, strange things seem to happen. In fact, Carlyn takes responsibility for killing Anne Bancroft. (Go to the July 06, 2005 entry).

Way to go, Carlyn. Yes indeed, Anne and the President are probably cursing you in the afterlife...

On a serious note, if you are interested in presidents or politics or leadership, I highly recommend "Eyewitness to Power" by David Gergen, who worked as an advisor for four presidents -- Nixon, Ford, Reagan, and Clinton. He paints a nice portrait of Ford as a man of great integrity and strong character.


Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Brick Store, Brickskeller, and President Ford, too.

Since leaving Atlanta, arriving in DC, and preparing to visit NYC, I've been having some weird dreams. Last night was a good one... here is the abridged and relevant version:

Some Atlanta friends -- Lauren, Andy, Patrick -- and I went to see Brick Store Pub open a new branch in some big city. The new place was much more dungeon-like than the original Brick Store, but same staff, same vibe. While we there, I thought I saw Barack Obama walk in with some members of the press. But it was really President Ford and his wife (an easy mistake to make, right?). Well, I couldn't remember the First Lady's name (Betty... as in the Betty Ford Center...) and kept calling her Rosalynn (as in Carter). My friends asked the ex-Prez to join us for a pint, and he did; it was the most awkward conversation of my life, especially when I offended Betty by calling her Rosalynn and Andy asked, "Well, do you know Barack Obama?" Lauren added: "We're reading his book for the book club." The End.

After recovering from the crazy dream, I went down to DC and had lunch with Flax, then hit the National Gallery. The Gallery had two interesting special exhibits -- Rembrandt's sketches and prints, and photographs from NYC 1938 - 1958. Since it is a weekday, the museum was pretty empty, and at one point I found myself alone in one of the interior gallery rooms (not even a security guard to watch me).

After the Gallery I visited the Cafritz Foundation, where Carlyn works and two Warhols are housed. Then... deja vu... we went down to Brickskeller near Dupont. It was like walking into the new Brick Store I dreamt about!!! And if Barack Obama was going to be anywhere, why not DC's version of the Brick Store??? I really expected to see him there.

But Obama wasn't there... or President Ford... or Betty/Rosalynn... and the bar was out of Saison Dupont... but for a moment, I felt like I'd been to Brickskeller before.

(Only 6 days since I left Atlanta, and already I'm dreaming of Brick Store... if Brick Store were a man, I think we'd be having the "DTR" talk right about now.)

The Brick Store...


Tuesday, December 19, 2006

White House Holidays and Barney Cam

Last year at Christmas, my family was lucky to get a private tour of the White House. Beautiful when it's decorated for the holidays, and SO much goes on behind the scenes... the amount of flower arrangements, meals, etc, that are made in the tiny basement? Amazing. (Plus, it has a bowling alley... who knew...)

In 2005, the theme was "All Things Bright and Beautiful," with fresh flowers on all the trees. In 2006, it is "Deck the Halls and Welcome All."

As part of the theme, the Executive Residence staff produced this video, which means 1) You get to see the White House, including off-limits areas, all decorated for the holidays; 2) Hard to believe, but Karl Rove tries to be silly and act like an American Idol contestant; 3) The President has an Oval Office meeting with Barney; and 4) It stars the Presidential Pups and "Kitty."

Watch Barney Cam V: Barney's Holiday Extravanganza

Monday, December 18, 2006

Breaking News in Fantasy Football

No prizes for these Trophy Wives
Buckhead loses to East Atlanta; Playoffs continue into Round 2

ATLANTA, GA - Tuesday December 18, 2006 – The Buckhead Trophy Wives held a press conference at ESPN Zone late Monday night, following a Round 1 playoff loss to East Atlanta Scallywags in the Texas Sucks Championship Bracket.

“It’s a tough loss, no doubt about it,” said Trophy Wives’ triple-threat coach/owner/manager “CK," who kept a low profile most of the season. “Scallywags are tough. We were ready for whatever happened.”

The Trophy Wives led the league early into the season, opening with a 4-0 record. But the second half of the season was plagued by injuries and inconsistent performances from key offensive players. “When Adam [Vinateri] got hurt, and Donovan [McNabb] went out with a torn ACL, we knew we were in trouble,” said CK. That same week, wide receiver Antonio Bryant was arrested and backup quarterback Mark Brunell ended his NFL career, leaving the Trophy Wives without many options. They did, however, pick up Brunell’s replacement, Jason Campbell, who stepped it up for the last games of the season. “It was a band aid when we really needed some stitches,” CK added.

Many teams in Texas Sucks questioned the Trophy Wives’ staying power, citing luck as their strategy. Two consecutive losses to Mancha La Manchas added fuel to the fire. “We tried not to pay attention to that crazy talk,” said Campbell. “I think [Texas Sucks] was just frustrated they were losing to a girl."

With their playoff loss to the Scallywags, the Trophy Wives move into the consolation bracket, where they will face the Peachtree Platypuses. “We’re not scared,” said running back Julius Jones. “They’re called the Platypuses. That says it all.”

The Trophy Wives extended good wishes towards the Scallywags at the press conference before heading into the ESPN Zone game room. “Someone has to beat the [computerized] Space Taker,” said Vinateri in between rounds of skee ball. “Our reputation as living, breathing, intelligent human beings is at stake.”

As for the future, the Trophy Wives are optimistic and ready for the next challenge. “We’ll focus on this next set of playoff games, then start regrouping for next year,” said CK for the Trophy Wives. “In the meantime, there’s always gold digging to do. And we’re pretty good at that.”

(Note: In case its not obvious and I get complaints from news sources or publicists, no, those NFL stars didn't really comment... cK)

Stupid Presents for Your Favorite People

Need a not-so-ordinary gift for a not-so-ordinary friend? Go to for a wide array of things you don't need but want just so you can say, "Hey, look! I have Mr. T in my pocket!"

One of my favorite gifts to give? A pair of Freudian Slippers -- perfect for the psych major, sex therapist, or super-ego in your life.

Other choice selections:

Holy Toast, Batman!
Retro Cell Phone Handset (a giant leap backwards for technology)
Tattoo Sleeves (perfect for your next trip to Little 5)
Darth Tater

Friday, December 15, 2006

East Coast Tour: "Day 1", or "I Hate You Airlines," or "I Should Never Visit Penn State By Plane Again"

Well, you saw thegreat little plan I drew out for my travels to Penn State. This year I was not going to be taken for a fool by Delta. But alas, the powers that be looked at me today and said "Ha ha, SUCKAAA!"

It stared okay. Sheila at the Delta counter was very nice and helpful... security lines were short... but then my flight got delayed because Philly had some fog. (Miraculously) I made my connecting flight with US Air... luggage did not. No one seems to know where it is. Not Delta, not US Air... I fear it lost and gone forever. And now...

A Haiku for My Suitcase:

Luggage lost on route
To the middle of nowhere.
Au revoir, mi habits.

Correction: At 1:30am, my bag arrived at the hotel. It included a note from the TSA to tell me they'd inspected it. Naturally. In the meantime, I also realized that time that my French is awful and I don't know how to match possessives and nouns. That makes for bad haikus.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

East Coast Tour, Part 2; Where Not to Fly

Tomorrow I will set off for the second round of my East Coast Tour 2006. This time I'll be heading to Philadelphia (for 15 minutes), Penn State (to see my lovely sister give her recital!), DC, and good ol' Maryland.

I am nervous about this tour, actually. The last time I flew into State College, PA, home to Penn State, was a bit of a disaster a la Delta.

When I booked the trip online, my itinerary showed just one stop in Cincinnati. No big deal. So I boarded my 8:00am flight in Atlanta and took off for Cincinnati... or should I say, "Cincinnati."

I fell asleep on the plane and woke up 2 hours later to hear the flight attendant say, "Welcome to Shreveport Regional Airport, where the local time is 9:05am."

Shreveport? Where is Shreveport? Wait, I studied this in my Southern politics class... Louisiana... that's not Ohio!

I asked the gentleman sitting next to me to confirm where we were. "Shreveport," he said. Duh. I pulled out the Delta Sky Magazine and flipped to the map. I was almost in Dallas!

Delta made me exit the plane so they could clean it. "But I'm continuing onto Cincinnati," I said.

"Please exit the plane, ma'am."

I'm a pretty patient person, but this -- not okay. I marched through the tiny terminal and approached the Delta ticketing counter. The line was too long, so I headed back towards the gate, not realizing that (in this tiny airport) I had walked out of the "Safe Zone." I had to go back through security, where I was subjected to the most tedious screening of my life. Shoes went through the XRay three times... belt went through twice... then, trouble....

"You don't have a ticket, ma'am. You can't come through here."

"Yes I do -- I was on that flight to Cincinnati and they made me get off the plane."

"Your ticket is for Cincinnati from Atlanta. You can't come through." I tried my Southern manners, and when that didn't work, my Yankee bitch attitude. That worked, after some phone calls were made. Finally got through and arrived in State College (via Cincinnati via Shreveport) at 5:00pm.

This time, I'm flying into Philly. Maybe the City of Brotherly Love will be more kind to me, even if I am a Redskins fan...

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

My Apocalypto Dream, staring Christopher Guest & Britney Spears

Ever since I was little, I’ve had crazy dreams. I can remember vivid details for days afterwards. For example, when I was eight years old I dreamt that I a totem pole came to life and attacked my family in my grandmother’s house. I escaped by hiding in the cabinet under the bathroom sink.

Here is my latest dream, which Steve LaBate suggested I document:

I moved back into my childhood bedroom in Maryland – the one with the aqua colored walls. In my dream, the previous owners had started to knock out a wall to make a closet, but stopped midway through. They did a bad job repairing and left a two-inch hole in the wall. Curious Caren looked through it and discovered that on the other side of the wall was the ancient Mayan empire! That’s right, the civilization didn’t vanish – it relocated to my closet!

So I called together some coworkers for an expedition. We were going to figure out what happened behind my wall. But first, we needed a leader. That leader was actor and director, Christopher Guest, subject of Paste Magazine’s most recent cover story. “Topher” (as he liked to be called in my dream) was curt, but boy oh boy did he like expeditions! So we set off for an adventure, leaving behind a coworker who was in a cast. “You’ll slow us up,” I said.

Topher led the five of us to a small cliff overlooking a rocky ocean. It was very Laguna Beach at first – sunny day, great waves. There on the cliff I saw a long lost sorority sister.

“What are you doing here?” I asked her. “You’re married now – you can’t go on an expedition!!”

“I’m waiting for Britney Spears!” she said. “I hear she’s making an appearance here today for a photoshoot.”

“Britney Spears is not coming,” I countered. “Why would she be on a cliff?”

“She wants to be on the expedition, too,” said my sorority sister.

“No, Topher doesn’t like Britney Spears,” I said. “She can’t be here.”

But my sorority sister didn’t care to listen to me. She dove into the water, barely missing some rocks, and said “I’ll just wait here for her. You’ll see.”

While I was talking to my sorority sister, the rest of the expedition went off into the woods. Suddenly the beach was the rainforest, and the ocean was the Amazon river.

Then all of a sudden Britney Spears was there, sans babies and sans shoes. Before my sorority sister could say, “Told you so!,” I thought – Whoa! Britney Spears and Christopher Guest… on an expedition together?! This is crazy! This is the reality TV show idea I’ve been waiting for! Like the Amazing Race, but better!

The members of the expedition reappeared, covered in black soil and mud. “It’s an exfoliating treatment,” said one of my coworkers. “We have to wash it in the river now.” They all walked into the river, but I realized Topher was missing. No one seemed to mind that Britney Spears was there, so I went to grab a videocamera.

I turned my back on my team and I heard the screams. The Mayans had appeared. They were warriors, chasing everyone into the water where piranhas waited anxiously. I climbed a tree to hide. I couldn’t watch it… Britney Spears screamed like a banshee. No one stood a chance.

The Mayans retreated. No one was left. All this, and for what? Exfoliating treatments and a massacre? And where was that Topher Guest! I climbed out of the tree and saw a leaf blow away near my feet. Something was sticking out of the sand. I bent down and realized it was a nose – the nose of Mr. Guest. I dug up the sand quickly and unearthed Topher, who had buried himself in the sand for protection, leaving only his nose above ground so he could breathe.

"You coward!" I yelled. “You led us into a death trap and had time to hide!”

But Topher didn’t have time for this. Echoing words he told Jason Killingsworth, he said, “Well, I hope you have something to work with. Bye now.”

This dream should serve as a warning to children: Do not watch Mel Gibson interviews before you go to bed.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

2007: Year of the Deer (Peace Out, Wolves)

2006 brought a ton of wolves into our lives via music...

- Wolfmother (Best New Wolf Band)
- "Wolf Like Me," TV on the Radio
- "Wolves at Night," Manchester Orchestra
- "The Wolf Is Loose," Mastadon
- "Wolves," Josh Ritter
- "House of Wolves," My Chemical Romance

(Some bands, like Wolf Parade and Voxtrot, with their Raised by Wolves EP, led the way in 2005...)

But wolves are out. I predict that 2007 will be the Year of the Deer... among the bands leading the way...

- Deerhunter
- Deerhoof
- The Dears
- Midlake, "Chasing After Deer"

Wolves losing popularity...

... but Neko Case loves deer!

Monday, December 11, 2006

Remembering John Lennon

I am a Beatlemaniac, but sadly, I was born after John Lennon died. As a result, I've discovered all of his music (and the history surrounding it) as a second generation fan. However, that did allow me the freedom to hear it out of order -- "Happy XMas", Please, Please Me, "Imagine," Sgt Pepper, Revolver -- and experience it differently.

Sometimes I wonder how the music and John Lennon's activistm would have affected me if I lived during his lifetime, back when every teen was a Beatles fan and when churches held protests against him. I would probably have taken the music for granted in the post-Beatles years, assuming that Lennon would be around to make music for years to come. Tragic that he wasn't.

Since last week was the 26th anniversary of his death, Brent (fellow Beatles fan) shared this video from YouTube, set to Lennon's cover of "(Just Like) Starting Over."

And here is a playlist of my favorite Lennon songs, plus the Beatles songs primarily composed by him...

- Imagine
- Give Peace a Chance
- Because
- Two of Us (still debated whether he or McCartney penned it)
- Real Love
- A Hard Day's Night
- And Your Bird Can Sing
- Julia
- Across the Universe
- Happiness is a Warm Gun
- Look at Me
- Revolution 1


Thursday, December 07, 2006

"I Still Remember," Bloc Party

This week I've been listening to the upcoming Bloc Party release, "A Weekend In the City" (due out Feb 6 in the US).

I loved "Silent Alarm" so much that I was frightened for the follow-up in case Bloc Party tried to either replicate that album or abandon it. But so far I've not been disappointed by Bloc Party or The Shins new one ("Wincing the Night Away" also due out Jan 23).

"A Weekend In the City" has whispers of "Silent Alarm" throughout it, including the heavily built up crescendos I love, but it much more varied. Not so much ROCK HANDS! as (baby rock hands).

Here are the lyrics to my favorite song, which I won't and can't post (go buy the album when it comes out, ok?)

"I Still Remember"

I still remember
How you looked that afternoon
There was only you

You said "it's just like a full moon"
Blood beats faster in our veins
We left our trousers by the canal
And our fingers, they almost touched

You should have asked me for it
I would have been brave
You should have asked me for it
How could I say no?

And our love could have soared
Over playgrounds and rooftops
Every park bench screams your name
I kept your tie

I've gone wherever you wanted

(I still remember)

And on that teachers' training day
We wrote our names on every train
Laughed at the people off to work
So monochrome and so lukewarm

And I can see our days are becoming nights
I could feel your heartbeat across the grass
We should have run
I would go with you anywhere
I should have kissed you by the water

You should have asked me for it…

And our love could have soared…

I would let you if you asked me

I still remember...

Monday, December 04, 2006

At the sound of the beep...

For the past two days, I've been tormented by two obnoxious sounds: the beep from my smoke detector, and the beep from my cell phone. After a sleepless night, I pity all new parents tending to wailing babies...

The smoke detector started up on Sunday and was so loud that even my neighbors upstairs could hear it. I tried to take off the cover and get to the battery. But my apartment property management team has it locked in place to prevent tampering. What good is that??? Almost as good as the fire extinguisher tied tightly to the pipes under the sink.... Had to wait until today to get it fixed... a good 30+ hours of beeping, once every minute. It was especially wonderful when complimented by the high pitched squeal coming out of my new cellphone.

About a month ago, the company switched us all to Verizon Wireless (I was already "IN") and Motorola Q phones (thanks, boss!). Wired magazine loved the Q and said it was the best phone out there, so I was pretty stoked.

But I've had two problems with my Q so far. First, the addicting game called Bubble Breaker. It's like Snood for the phone. So far I've logged 568 games. At approximately 3 minutes per game, I've wasted 1,704 minues of my life trying to beat my boss' high score in MegaShift mode. I wonder if there are support groups for this...

Second problem: the beeping. When it first started I would run to my phone anticipating a new message. Hopes deflated, I went back to my business. Until the beeping got more and more regular (it's already beeped twice since I started writing this).

By now I've read every manual that came with the phone (even the French version, just in case it read "Haha, stupid Americans! BEEP BEEP BEEP!"). But all I've figured out so far is that the beeping is a "WARNING." No clue what the warning is since it doesn't flash an alert on the screen. Everything looks fine to me -- no text messages, no voicemail, no new email.

As a last resort I turned off all sounds, including my homemade ringtone, "Consolation Prizes" by Phoenix (listen courtesy of Sandwich Club). But that cheeky phone has a mind of its own... now it's giving me both vibrating warnings and nosie warnings. How is that possible when the sound is off??

Having this Q is like babysitting a Tamagotchi! "What's wrong Q? Are you hungry? Do you need your battery changed?" I can't take it anymore! I want to throw it against a wall until it breaks into a thousand pieces!! Even then, I bet it would beep!!

... but then I realize I'd miss Bubble Breaker and need to get my fix from a coworker's phone. Damn you, Q, and your pretty features.

Sorry, Kip -- I do not love technology... try me again tomorrow...

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Death Cab, free download of "Photobooth"

Friz got us awesome seats for the Death Cab show a few weeks ago -- better than I could've gotten from a publicist (thanks, Friz). Great performance, as usual, from the Seattle outfit. They played one of my fav songs, "Photobooth," too, which first appeared on the Forbidden Love EP (2000).

You can download a live version for free from Largehearted Boy (hooray free music!). Lyrics below. (Ben Gibbard is a genius songwriter and I am still mad that he didn't make Paste's 100 Greatest Living Songwriters list.)


I remember when the days were long,
And the nights when the living room was on the lawn.
Constant quarreling, the childish fits, and our clothes in a pile on the ottoman.
All the slander and double-speak,
Were only foolish attempts to show you did not mean.
Anything but the blatant proof
Was your lips touching mine in the photobooth.

And as the summer's ending,
The cool air will put your hard heart away.
You were so condescending.
And this is all that's left:
Scraping paper to document.
I've packed a change of clothes and it's time to move on.

Cup your mouth to compress the sound,
Skinny dipping with the kids from a nearby town.
And everything that I said was true,
As the flashes blinded us in the photobooth.
Well, I lost track, and then those words were said.
You took the wheel and you steered us into my bed.
Soon we woke and I walked you home,
And it was pretty clear that it was hardly love.

And as the summer's ending,
The cool air will rush your hard heart away.
You were so condescending.
And this is all that's left:
Scraping paper to document.
I've packed a change of clothes and it's time to move on.
And as the summer's ending,
The cool air will rush your hard heart away.

You were so condescending,
As the alcohol drained the days.
And as the summer's ending,
The cool air will rush your hard heart away.
You were so condescending.
And this is all that's left:
The empty bottles, spent cigarettes.
So pack a change of clothes, 'cause it's time to move on.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Gillian Welch vs. Lady Sovereign

This week I caught two very different concerts put on by two very different women: Gillian Welch and Lady Sovereign.

I can't think of two more different artists to compare. The soft-spoken and sensible Gillian, with her banjo and cowboy boots; the foul-mouthed and lively Lady Sov, sporting a baggy t-shirt and cornrows.

Welch's show was on Thursday in the vibrant college town of Athens, GA, home to REM, Of Montreal, B-52s, Drive-By Truckers, and more. I drove up with Katie to see this folk singer/songwriter who, along with partner David Rawlings, has heavily influenced the Americana music scene and the works of other artists like Ryan Adams and Mark Knopfler.

I have to admit that prior to Thursday, I'd only listened to a few Gillian Welch songs. Kate and Katie both threatened to drown me in her music if I didn't right my wrongs, so I delved into "Time (The Revelator)," her third album.

During the show I realized I knew a lot more of Welch's work than I thought I did, and was struck by the honesty of her songs and how devestating they are. Hearing "Revelator" and "Wrecking Ball" felt like having my heart ripped out but wanting to immediately fall in love again. Rawlings was on hand to wow the crowd with his musicianship and intricate solos. He even played "To Be Young (Is to Be Sad, Is to Be High)," a Ryan Adams song that Rawlings co-wrote. Welch told a funny story about how that song almost didn't happen because Adams didn't remember writing it (luckily for all of us, Rawlings did). For their finale, Welch and Rawlings performed "Jackson," doing justice to Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash. Fantastic show.

Fast forward to Lady Sovereign show at The Loft, less than 24 hours later in downtown Atlanta, just blocks from some of the hottest nightclubs around. It was suddenly in the low 40s outside, and after some trouble getting in, Leila and I made our way into the packed club. As the stage was getting set up we were entertained with some 2 Step Garage music from the UK (which British Leila pointed out is a stupid name for it; agreed). Lady Sov's band took the stage and played for a while before she got out. The guy working the decks was spinning some great stuff -- I could've watched that for awhile.

Then she arrived -- all 52 cms of her. Lady Sovereign. The first non-American female to be signed to Def Jam Records. The audience started chanting "S-O-Veeeee!" and she ripped into her set. With her speed and accent it was hard to hear what she was even saying. Sov explained that she added this tour date in (the last of her US engagements) because it was requested by her MySpace friends. Then the 20 year old introduced everyone in her band, including her personal assistant and tour manager, stopped to have a drink, and then played on everyone else's instruments. She looked like a fun chick you'd want to cause trouble with.

The crowd was crazy -- people fighting and pushing, one lady trying to get an autograph by yelling "Louise!" (Sov's given name). That sent Sov into a round of fake hurling. She made disgusting sounds into the mic and said, "Louise! Louise! Yuck!"

After about an hour, she instructed the audience to split in half down the middle. One half had to make heart shapes with their hands. The other side were instucted to put up a middle finger. Then she broke into her US hit, "Love Me or Hate Me." Everytime she sang "If you hate me, fuck you," the middle fingers were flying in the air. The finale was "Public Warning," which prompted moshing in the crowd. Suddenly the whole Sov crew took the stage and brought insanity -- roadies dangling from lighting rigs, managers throwing drumsticks into the audience, band members crowd surfing...

Think Gillian's show was my favorite because it allowed me personal space, though dancing to Sov was a welcomed release. Don't know how I'll top this pair of shows. Maybe Mastadon and Paul Simon? Ideas welcomed.