How cute are these guys?   On a scale from one to ten, one being heart-melting perky and ten being insane, cheek-pinchingly, almost-want-break-something adorable.



How creepy!  Never heard of Blogshares, but apparently, they've heard of me.  Thanks for the sense of unease and paranoia, Hemlock.


Road Trip Mix for Chai:

Maps - Yeah Yeah Yeahs (self explanatory)
Driving in my Car - Geggy Tah ("All I wanna do is to thank you even though I don't know who you are.  You let me change lanes while i was driving in my car.")
Pole Position - Folk Implosion (cuz she's a racecar driver)
Woman Driving, Man Sleeping - Eels (very appropriate for roadtrips)
The Luckiest Guy on the Lower East Side - Magnetic Fields ("I'm the ugliest guy on the Lower East Side but I've got wheels and you want to go for a ride.")
Mr. Blue Sky - Electric Light Orchestra (of Volkswagen ad fame)
Beautiful Day - U2 ("You're on the road but you've got no destination")
Freedom - George Michael (cuz that's what you feel out on the open road, right?  plus, it's a catchy toon)
There is a Light That Never Goes Out - The Smiths ("Driving in your car I never never want to go home")
Fly Me to the Moon - Astrud Gilberto (cuz flyin's sorta like drivin'?)
Car Song - Elastica (duh)
Freedom - Rage Against the Machine (see above re: Freedom)
Go With the Flow - Queens of the Stone Age (just)
Southside - Moby ("I pick up my friends and we start to ride.")
Ride Wit Me - Nelly (duh)
Roam -  B52s (duh)
Country Roads - John Denver (heh heh)
Trogdor - Strong Bad (big finish)

Yesterday, TP and I turned this into this to make this.  Dollop of fresh, home-made basil pesto anyone?

In other news, anyone see Clinton speechifying at the Democratic National Convention?  He looked surprisingly fit and trim since last I remember seeing him.  During the Monica Days, he was all bloated, face full of broken capillaries and deep, dark bags under his eyes.  Anyway, it was nice to hear someone able to string a few words together without sounding like a complete moron or jackhole.


Public Service Announcement:

2Scoops and Najm are THE BEST!!!  They win the prize for the first official wedding present in the T2 wedding extravaganza.  Thanks, guys, for being such wonderful, generous pals.  You ROCK!!!
And now, back to your regularly scheduled blog.
Palace and Mosque: Islamic Art from the Victoria and Albert Museum.  More than 100 works of Islamic art borrowed from the London museum will be displayed in DC until February, 2005.  Calligraphy, textiles, and a 20 foot high minbar.  Come one, come all!  Thanks, Prince Bandar bin Sultan.  

(wow, this news even made the Daily Times!)


Film Noir, anyone?  Now, this is not for the faint-hearted, easily-squeamish, or anyone not wanting to leave the theater in a broody frame of mind.  If you don't mind gritty psychological thrillers, violent scenes unsuitable for really anyone, and the occassional bout of vomiting, then I'll Sleep When I'm Dead is the flick for you.  Mike Hodges, who directed Get Carter (the good one with Michael Caine, not Sly) teamed up with his Croupier star, Clive Owen (*sigh*), to create a cold, dark tale of London gangsters diving headfirst into and/or trying to crawl out of a life of crime.  Despite the grim and gruesome aspects to it, the film had some interesting moments of thoughtfulness.  I appreciated the way that many events, past and present, were revealed in a subtle manner; not everything was spelled out for the viewer.   You have to make an effort to understand the things that are left unsaid and not too many movies do that these days.  Don't get me wrong; I love explosions, robots, and stupidity mixed with hilarity as much as the next chick, but I'll pick the sleeper, clever movie over the popular, loud one anytime.

Perhaps you recall Clive (yes, we are on a first-name basis) from his stints in the BMW commercials, Gosford Park, or the BBC's Second Sight.  Anyway, keeping up his moody demeanor, thousand-yard stare, and deep, hushed voice, Clive was quite good in this movie.  I especially liked the scene where he goes from matted-down, bearded lumberjack to polished, clean-shaven gangster.  Come to think of it, the full-on-beard-to-clean-jaw scene in The Royal Tenenbaums was my favorite too.   I wonder why.  Perhaps it stems from my younger days when I would watch in fascination as my father shaved so carefully, so deliberately, scraping the blade so close to his vulnerable neck but never nicking himself.   Plus, he would make a cookie monster face on the palm of my hand with the shaving cream.  Bonus!  But what does that have to do with the movie?   Nothing.   Nothing at all.  Um.   Look!  Over there!  A brown dog!


Remember way back when, when I was writing up a travelogue for my Ireland/Scotland trip?  Not sure if you can cast your mind that far back since it's been so long, but it occurred to me that I never did complete the tale.  Mia culpa, folks.  Until I have the more detailed version down and up (on paper and on line, respectively), here are the highlights from the next day:

  • Trekked from Logie's Baird Pub on the Royal Mile, hung a sharp right at the Palace of Holyroodhouse, and took our legs off-roading to climb to the top of Arthur's Seat, a long-extinct volcano.  Burning thighs.  Creaky knees.  Lung a'fire.  Reached the summit at 251 m for a gaaarrrgeous view of the Firth of Forth, the Leith Docks, and the city below ('twas interesting to look down upon the city from such a dizzying height through the haze of spots and glittering sparkles swimming around in my eyes after the strenuous hike).

  • Reversed course, went down one ancient volcano and up another, and hoofed it over to Edinburgh Castle.  Sitting atop the austere crags of Castle Rock, the dark, massive castle also afforded an amazing panoramic view of the towns (old and new).  The entrance bore the royal Scottish motto in Latin, nemo me impune lacessit, which in English is translated as "you do *not* wanna throw down with me" - gotta love it.  Perfect moody, melancholy atmosphere, lovely architecture, and serious guard-changing action.


  • Fries with brown sauce.  Or, if you prefer, chips with brown sauce.  Either way, oh my.

  • Flipping through the channels on the telly, I caught the show "Still Game" and decided that for that show alone (Scottish comedy about two crotchety old men and their collection of pals, each with such a thick brogue that the dialogue was nearly or completely incomprehensible), I would move to Scotland.   Seriously.  It was that good.


In T-minus a week and a half, I'll be getting parental love, grandparent hugs, aunty smootches, cousin madness and madness and madness, and maybe even a surprise guest cameo by some fellow blogistanis, and later some more cousin madness.  Can't wait!  YAY!!!!  and, YAY!!!  oh yeah, and YAY!!!  One of the best parts of having mini family reunions is getting all the dirt, jokes, and teasing about and from these guys:

Inshallah, good times shall be had by all.  One more?  Ok.  YAY!!!


ok, lads and lassies.  here is the story in a nutshell:
a nut (story) shell. 


I think I may be losing my hearing. These guys have been drilling concrete right outside of my window for a week now, with the promise of returning every morning for several more weeks. The sound is deafening. I tried earplugs. Useless. I tried pillows. Suffocation. I'm trying to block out the sound by plugging in my Rio and listening to tunes all day (I've hit repeat for Black Eyed Peas' "Where is the Love" and Cheb Khalid's "Aicha" about six times this morning alone) and so far, that seems to work out pretty well. So please accept my blanket apology for asking you to repeat yourself several times during the course of a conversation. Yasmine, can I borrow your tune-out-background-noise toy?


Congrats to Lil Baji on her new job! AND...
Happy Birthday to you,
Happy Birthday to you,
Happy Birthday dear TP and Najm and Ingmar Bergman!
Happy Birthday to you!
Here ya go, y'all. Enjoy.


Me tired. Me loopy. Me talk like Hulk today.
I met Lil Najm yesterday! Here is a picture of him!


Goin' to the Masjid and I'm . . . gonna get maaah-haa-haaa-rried...

And now, back to your regularly scheduled blog.


One, Two, Three, Four, I Declare Thumb War.

This week in thumb review:

Buffy, Season Six DVD: Thumbs up. The sing-along karaoke alone is worth eleventy hundred cool points.

Frappuccino Light: Thumbs down.

Spiderman 2: Thumbs horizontal. Good action and special effects, but way too much dolby-enhanced screaming.

Spiderman India making it into this week's Entertainment Weekly: Thumbs up.

Yeah Yeah Yeahs' song "Maps": Thumbs up.

Walking half an hour uphill in 90 degree weather: Thumbs down.

My friend Karim's new baby, Yaseen: Thumbs up. Extra credit points for his brilliant idea displayed in this picture.

What do your thumbs say?


This week's goal: to finish reading "Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation" by Lynne Truss. In theory, it is a great book for me. The gist is that grammatical errors run rampant today (don't get me started on "its" and "it's") and that those of us who cringe when we see these abominations of nature in use are not alone. It speaks to me. The author writes about a seemingly dry and boring subject in a very easy, clever, and funny way. She makes me laugh. The book is small enough to carry around in my bag but meaty enough to keep me occupied when I am waiting around for someone or riding the Metro. It is tiny.

In reality, it is a great book for me, BUT. . . . But, there are errors. How can this BE?! Maybe it is a British thing, but I'm pretty sure that "Mr." requires a dot at the end. Commas are missing. Then, suddenly, they appear where they oughtn't. I'm not certain that her rules on semicolons are accurate. And I, for one, love the "Oxford comma" or the "serial comma" and don't understand why anyone would not use it here, there, and everywhere. Finally, with no real explanation, or, for that matter, evidence, Truss claims, "lawyers eschew the comma as far as possible." Um, no.

Although I agree with this reviewer's assessment, I am still reading, and most of the time enjoying, this book for several reasons: the writing style reminds me of Nicholson Baker's style, which I dig; the topics are interesting and informative; and I love it when other people rant about bad punctuation.


I met Najm yesterday! Here's a picture of him.


Kerry finally picked a running mate (even if it is not the one the New York Post is trying to force down his throat . . .)


short update stop
spent july 4th holiday in NYC stop
rambled through central park's ramble, up and down and side to side stop
strolled through brooklyn's lovely botanical gardens stop
ate my way through chelsea (nothing like a new york bagel), chinatown (vietnamese pho, green tea ice cream, and my very first egg cream), little italy (chocolate dipped cannoli immediately followed by lemon gelato), and the lower east side (superfrosted lemon cupcake and cafe latte) stop
groaned that i ate too much and then had mexican in the meat packing district for dinner stop
walked along the hudson river stop
waved to the empire state building stop
escape from NY to see my DC fireworks display stop
promise fully formed and grammatically correct sentences in next post stop


May 20, 2004
Bonnie Scotland! Land of bagpipes, the plaid, and whisky (Fun Fact: "Whisky" is a Scottish Gaelic word that means "water of life"). At 5 a.m., we packed up our belongings, kept the sunrise company as we took the AirLink to the airport, and said "Slan libh, mo bhaibini" to Dublin. Mode of transportation: Ryanair, Europe's Number One Budget airline. Since we are leaving Ireland, perhaps a limerick would be fitting here:

Ryanair is no frills.
Its price will result in low bills.
No breakfast, no lunch,
And your kidneys get punched,
So don't forget your pain pills.

Um. I guess that fourth line needs a little explanation. Like the US's Southwest or JetBlue, Ryanair is an inexpensive airline that is a bit less organized and a bit more uncomfortable than the major carriers. The air-sickness bags double as pre-printed envelopes to mail in your film for developing. The food and beverage service is administered thusly: you look above you, right there, right next to the air vents, for the pasted-on menu (sandwiches, sodas, mars bars) and when the flight attendant trundles by with her cart, you can pay for and claim your snacks. And, somehow, the seats are wedged in so tightly that every time a passenger, say the one right behind you, moves his long legs, another passenger, say yours truly, can feel knobby knees in her back for the entire 45 minute flight. Still, for a $27 flight (taxes and fees included), it's hard to complain. (And yet, if I try hard enough, I manage).

Brilliantly sunny Edinburgh greeted us warmly. We sneered at the passengers waiting for their luggage, got our return trip bus tickets (5 GBP - that's British Pounds (almost two to the dollar, ouch), not the Euro (even though the UK is part of the EU)), and got some cash (50 GBP to last both of us for three days). Fun Fact: The 5 pound note sports Robert Burns on the front and a vignette of a teeny weeny fieldmouse from Burns' "Ode to a Mouse" on the back. The bus wove its way into the center of Edinburgh and dropped us off at Waverly Train Station about half an hour later. New city map in hand, we walked up a steep, deserted curve and ten minutes later, we checked into the Travelodge on St. Mary's Street. It was 9 a.m. and our room would not be ready until 3 p.m., so we stored our bags and headed out in search of direly-needed coffee.

Taking our traditional giant steps, we stomped through Old Town and arrived at Elephant House cafe in just a few minutes. Right off of the George IV Bridge, this cafe has a great pachyderm-themed decor and ambiance, but surprisingly weak coffee and even worse sandwiches (insert ironic foreshadowing where our characters return to this place several times despite displeasure with the culinary fare). As we enjoyed the bright early morning sunshine streaming through the windows, we perused the various magazine articles taped to the walls. One blurb claimed that J.K. Rowling dreamt up Harry Potter in this very cafe. One proudly displayed review listed the city's best cafes (including, naturally, Elephant House) and mentioned Plaisir du Chocolate which appeared to be within walking distance. We crossed the bridge, strolled along the Royal Mile (a collection of streets, kind of like Copenhagen's Stroget, running from the Edinburgh Castle to Royal Palace of Holyroodhouse), and plopped down at the quaint French cafe for a tastier hit of caffeine.

I went to visit the cute-for-an-outhouse outhouse and when I returned, I saw Amelie warmly greeting a bunch of strangers. Turned out, it was the mother and father and some friends of the bride of the wedding in which Amelie was a bridesmaid and for which we came on this trip in the first place. From that moment on, we experienced the odd combination of visiting a foreign city but running into so many familiar people. Well, Amelie did. I was still just along for the ride and everything and everyone was new to me.

After a brief foray over the North Bridge and left on Princes Street, looking determinedly for and dreamily at tennis shoes, we returned to the beautiful and towering St. Giles Cathedral, The High Kirk of Edinburgh and the "mother church of Presbyterianism", to meet the rest of the wedding party for the rehearsal. Anxious about possibly missing the rehearsal, we grabbed a sad lunch of Walkers Sensations Sea Salt & Cracked Black Pepper Flavoured Crisps (not as good as it sounded, but presumably better than the Greek Kebab flavored ones or the Marmite Yeast Extract flavored ones)
and Scotland's very own Irn Bru (a toxic orange-colored soda that outsells Coca-Cola, is wildly popular in Russia, and leaves a weird aftertaste) and sat outside of the cathedral to wait for the others. As the meeting time came and passed, I, allegedly, tried to drive Amelie slowly mad by insinuating that we were in the wrong place at the wrong time in the wrong clothes. But, we weren't and we weren't and we weren't and we lived happily ever after.

I watched the rehearsal from the back of the Cathedral, and afterwards, we returned to the hotel and checked into our room. Amelie napped while I gleefully watched Scottish television - anything and everything would do. In the evening, we parted ways. The rest of Amelie's evening was spent dressing up for a delicious, fancy rehearsal dinner among friends, colorful and exotic peacocks, and some Brits who were happy to discuss the finer points of "The Office". My evening, on the other hand and in sharp contrast, was spent choking down a bad chicken curry dish from Bay of Bengal (tryna help a brotha out and this is what you get), watching a session of Scottish Parliament (if I could marry the Scottish accent, I would), and flooding the bathroom whilst trying to shower in the world's shallowest shower stall. You may weep for meeeeee . . . now.

Next up: dormant volcanos, cliff-perching castles, and the world's end.