Monday, September 29, 2008

The airedale in the lobby should have been a sign...

When I moved to Washington, I transferred my checking-account money to Wachovia. Among the area's plethora of choices, how did I select this bank in particular?

o The convenient proximity of a Saturday-hours branch to my apartment
o The glowing endorsement from friends (and, in fact, Wachovia's tellers have been unfailingly pleasant and knowledgeable in the four years I've dealt with them - keep that in mind, CITI overlords!)
o The pretty, rich blue logo with the elegant swoops

And there was the Airedale puppy in the lobby, standing by that Saturday morning - within the actual bank lobby itself - patiently allowing its fuzzy head to be petted.

How very sweet, I thought.

Little did I know that dog must have been the company's top financial advisor.

Is nothing sacred?

Cadbury Eggs, tainted.


Monday, September 22, 2008

You're livin' in the past, ma'am (and sir)!

In this photo: Civil War reinactors take to the minivan to flee the Yankee hordes.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Sometimes a cute cartoon is just a cute cartoon

Babar: charming, well-dressed elephant king...or evil colonialist oppressor?

The straight lines and boulevards of Celesteville, the argument goes, are the sign of enslavement.

The New Yorker has far too much time on its hands this week.


Friday, September 12, 2008

Put down your weapons, culture warriors

I grew up in a small town in a red state. Today I am such an elitist that I consider Brie and Chablis a bit old-school (yet serve it with pasta strained through a Walmart colander. Because one should never pay more than $4.88 for a colander).

With one foot in each world, I must say that what Judith Warner wrote in today’s New York Times about the Fairfax, VA Sarah Palin rally * brought to light a variety of, ahem, “inconvenient truths.”

In no particular order.

Some liberals fear the unwashed masses:
I was isolated, too, because, unable to find the press area in the crowd of about 15,000, I was out with the “real” people.

Mr. Law and Order preaches to the choir:

Fred Thompson had warmed up the crowd, his familiar old district attorney’s voice restored to full bombast, and he’d been in fine form, denouncing – to loud boos from the crowd — the “lawyers and scandal mongers and representatives of cable networks” (aren’t these the people who can afford to live in Fairfax?)

Imagine a Republican saying this about an Obama rally:
I’d planned to make attending the McCain/Palin event a silly sort of adventure.

Kids these days are going to hell in a handbasket, regardless of where you sit on the political spectrum:
We talked about the moral vacuity of modern parenting. “I see extreme spoiling, self-absorption,” she said. “Constant bringing the kids up to love themselves without reflecting on how they affect others.” We talked about the disastrous lack of respect that children now show adults and institutions, and about the ways this lack of respect translates into a very ugly sort of lack of decorum and a lack of basic manners.

Condescending attitudes don’t win hearts and minds:
Businessman Scott Maclean on the Democratic Party: “Their attitude is: you don’t get it and they don’t expect you to get it because they’re smarter than you – and I hate that.”

Will the latte swillers and gun freaks ever get along? Stay tuned over the next six weeks and find out.

* Some dude named John McCain was present as well.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Only in America ...

Yes, those are Johnsonville brats, and yes, that is a vending machine.

Flavor up, citizens!

Monday, September 08, 2008

Like a plastic Airedale in a sailor dress...

the great city of Paris took me by surprise a few years ago.

Pleasantly so.

- I'd expected rude locals who would insult my feeble attempts at their language. In reality, people couldn't have been nicer (or maybe I just didn't fully understand what they were saying).

- I'd expected to be openly scorned by condescending intellectuals about all matters of U.S. if I personally had dreamed up and implemented that policy single-handedly. (In fact, the "Buck Fush" graffiti waited to make its appearance until northern Italy.)

- I'd expected the Louvre to feel like Disney meets the Da Vinci Code. No way, in fact - one simply can't be cynical about the Mona Lisa or Venus di Milo in person.

- Snails and frog legs? Bleah! But oddly they seem to work when served up in a little cozy bistro with misty rain and cobblestones outside of the window.

- Overall, I'd expected to be underwhelmed by a city that's so universally praised and beloved that I figured there was no way it could live up to expectations. I was wrong.

But maybe my enchantment was due to the fact I don't live in Paris full time. Apparently conditions outside of the tourist areas can be less than magnifique. Traffic jams, pollution, crime...

And now the government is considering urban planning measures based on what works in London.

London? That would be another interesting Parisian surprise.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

No, Mr./Ms. President, we’ll grab a beer when you’re done

I don’t want a president like the rest of us.

• I don’t want a president I can imagine having a beer with. I prefer my chief executive chugging vodka with Putin or Tsingtao with Chairman Hu…while they’re drunkenly hashing out the fine points of trade agreements and foreign policy. He or she SHOULD be too busy running the free world to drop in on Thursday night happy hour.

• Don’t get me wrong, I DO want a leader who knows how to “pay for the groceries, and the heat, and the mortgage, and to make the car payment.” (because it’s embarrassing when Town Car Number One gets repo’ed)

• Yet if “organizing the picnics” and “running the condo association” are the skills we seek, what we’ll get in return are tasty bratwursts and pleasing front-lobby carpeting. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that.)

• Frankly if POTUS’ (or VPOTUS’) life is too much like mine, it will freak me out a bit. Because I know darn well I am neither qualified nor capable of leading this country.

• I believe there IS something magical about leadership. If there wasn’t, after all, we’d all be doing it – and doing it well.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Chick pass not valid here

With two minutes to get from the bowels of the Orange Line to the Fairfax Connector, I wove through the rush hour crowd like a piranha through a Discovery Channel special.

An empty turnstile loomed in front of me. Like Seabiscuit on the final lap, I put on my blinders and went in, purposefully oblivious of anyone around me. It was a cheeky move, devoid of any hint of politeness, finesse or consideration. And the nattily dressed businessman intersecting me at the Smarttrip scanner treated it accordingly.

With a tailored shoulder, he shoved me firmly and decidedly out of the way.

“You will not cut in front of me.”

Hey, I thought. I’m a girl! You don’t shove a delicate flower of womanhood. I could be rushing home to care for my five kids and grandkid on the way. (That’s not the case, but hypothetically, one can stretch the imagination...)

As I reflected more upon the incident, I found it oddly reassuring that this man had not treated me with kid gloves because of my gender. Though appreciated in many circumstances (such as moving heavy furniture and opening jars), being a recipient of the Chick Pass often can feel like being patronized. The soft bigotry of low expectations, as they say.

I remembered every time I’d heard: “You travel to other countries by yourself – aren’t you scared?” “You bought a yourself?”

Would people ask such questions of a guy?

My aggressive action had turned the situation into a gender-neutral playing field. And my fellow commuter had treated me just as I’d treated him – as just another obstacle in a type A day.

Although I advocate neither Metro rage nor shoving, I do have to wonder how typical this man is.

I guess the next few months will tell.