Year in Movie Review:

  1. The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou. B - Imaginative and droll, but not as good as Rushmore/Tenenbaums
  2. Napoleon Dynamite. A - Friendlier version of Welcome to the Dollhouse
  3. In Good Company. F - Please fire me
  4. Fear and Trembling. A - Whimsical, masochistic, twisted, and hilarious
  5. Shark Tale. A - Even if the plot was mediocre, the jokes and pop culture references were great
  6. Sideways. C - Pretentious meandering flick with hints of strawberry cliches and oaky lameness
  7. Million Dollar Baby. A - Poignant, violent, and sweet; what more could you ask for?
  8. Donnie Darko, Director's Cut. A - Cult classic still as bizarre but much more accessible especially with the commentary
  9. Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter ... and Spring. A - Lyrical storyline and lovely imagery
  10. Vanity Fair. D - Stick to Bollywood with an English slants rather than the other way around
  11. The Canary. B - Heavy-handed view of palestine via typical iranian storytelling (children, metaphors, striking images)
  12. Hamoon. C - Atypical Iranian film with grating Felliniesque dream sequences and uninteresting characters
  13. Maria Full of Grace. B - Glorified after-school special but with realistic plot and good acting
  14. Battle of Algiers. B – Jarring but realistic
  15. The Grudge. D - Liked it better the first time I saw it when it was called The Ring
  16. Wimbeldon. C - meh
  17. You Got Served. B - Good dance sequences but I liked it better the first time I saw it when it was called Bring It On
  18. The Motorcycle Diaries. B - Road trip movie of a hisotrical figure with scenery so beautiful it makes me want to get a ticket and go.
  19. Dodgeball. D - Might have worked as a half-hour short, but feature length underdogs-fighting-to-win-children's-sport just didn't cut it.
  20. Monseiur Ibrahim. C - Teenaged Jewish boy befriends older Muslim man and several French hookers with the cliched hearts of gold; could have been so much better.
  21. Big Fish. C - Much as I like Tim Burton and Ewan McGregor, this was just a string of not-so-tall-tales with no real substance or lesson.
  22. The Yes Men. B - Fearless activists impersonate WTO members in international conferences with hilarious speeches and shocking behavior; more hands-on but less serious than Farenheit 9/11.
  23. Manhattan. B - Woody Allen doing that thing he does in portraying the fast-talking, free-thinking, radical New Yorkers.
  24. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. A - I saw this one year ago today and the second viewing of Charlie Kaufman's maze of wonders is even better than the first.
  25. Eurotrip. D - The things we watch while waiting for the laundry to be done; only funny scene was the slo-mo kung-fu robot fight.
  26. The Big Tease. D - Silly story of an underdog Scottish hairdresser trying to make it big in the L.A. Platinum Scissors Competition; only thing saving it from an F was Craig Ferguson's accent.
  27. Closer. C - Shallow examination of the tangled webs we weave when first we practice to decieve; plus, Clive Owen.
  28. Sin City. C - Stylish, shocking, and stunning in all of its over-the-top, graphically violent, film noir glory (how many mutilations can one movie hold?); fascinating at first, then repetitive gore. Can't say I know anyone to whom I recommend it.
  29. Control Room. B - A vivid, eye-opening documentary of the people and events linked to Al-Jazeera's control room during 2 months of the Iraqi war.
  30. Lavendar Hill Mob. B - Alec Guiness = Genuine Class - especially when he plays the upright, meticulous, genteel, nerdy mob boss.
  31. Rabbit Proof Fence. A - A true account of the harrowing journey three "half-caste" Aboriginal orphans made across Australia to return home.
  32. Solaris. C - More like Snorealis.
  33. Taste of Cherry. A - Slow-moving, thoughtful Iranian movie about a man contemplating, and looking for someone to assist him in, suicide.
  34. Hotel Rwanda. A
  35. House of Flying Daggers. A - Swords and ballet, flying sleeves and daggers, love triangles and beautiful scenery.
  36. Assassination of Richard Nixon. B Based on a true story, Sean Penn does a good impression of a browbeaten Lundegaardesque (Fargo) shlub who just can't stand The Man bringing him down.
  37. Life and Death of Peter Sellers. C - I'll stick to the real Sellers material even though I do like Geoffery Rush.
  38. Bad Education. A - Gordian, graphic, and Gael Garcia = interesting mix.
  39. Goodbye Lenin. C
  40. Word Wars. B Documentary on the quixotic world of Scrabble competitions.
  41. Burn to Shine. A - Cool compilation of DC rock performers (Q and not U, Bob Mould, The Evens, etc.) performing in a house that will be burned down and demolished.
  42. The Russains Are Coming. C - Don't know how this won some Oscars, but it wasn't nearly as amazing as 'Dr. Strangelove'.
  43. Kontroll. A - Brilliant and innovative drama of the lives of the Hungarian underground metro ticket inspectors; funny, dramatic, and clever with a pulsing, throbbing soundtrack.
  44. National Treasure. C - Adult version of School House Rock without the catchy tunes.
  45. Batman Begins. B - Darker, better installment that explains the history behind the 'hero'.
  46. Dirty Pretty Things. C - Good beginning but then slipped into the contrived.
  47. Veer Zara. B - Interesting take on the youth of Indo-Pak not holding their ancestor's grudges but dang, that's a long flick.
  48. Kung-fu Hustle. A - Loved it in all its hi-yah, slap-sticky, outrageous, over-the-top, silly, cartoony goodness.
  49. Rashoman. A
  50. Metropolis. B
  51. A Very Long Engagement. B
  52. Devdas. C
  53. Lolita. B
  54. Broken Flowers. B - Lost in Translation in middle America.
  55. Macbeth. A/B - Ian and Judi are brilliant in this film version of their RSC stage production but I don't think I could sit through another viewing anytime soon.
  56. Taming of the Shrew. C - John Cleese was excellent in his role but everyone else was not.
  57. Layer Cake. B - British gangster movie with a little bit of "Lock Stock" and a little bit of "Sexy Beast".
  58. Born Into Brothels. A - Child photographers use the streets of an Indian red light district as their amazing canvas.
  59. Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy. C - Although I only saw 4 of the 6 installments, even Alec Guiness's melodious voice could not convince me to sit through the rest of the plodding plot.
  60. Crash. A - Despite the cliches (yes, we are all complicated and have a little bit of bad and a little bit of good in us - but mostly bad), it was an arresting, disturbing, upsetting film about relations: race, gender, political, you name it.
  61. Mighty Aphrodite. C - Not one of Woody Allen's best attempts.
  62. Throne of Blood. A - Great take on "MacBeth" but I still like the "Scotland, PA" version best.
  63. Superman. D - I had no idea how horrible this movie was until I heard Margot Kidder's voice-over poetry.
  64. Triplets of Belleville. A - Despite some of the gross frog-cuisine scenes, quite enjoyable.
  65. Fog of War. A - Educational and eye-opening.
  66. Central Station. A - Interesting Brazilian movie with unlikeable characters that still get you to root for them.
  67. Freaks & Geeks. A - Can't believe I never watched this show when it was on TV.
  68. Fantastic Four. C - Not the best of the Marvel comics genre flicks but better than Daredevil.
  69. Sky High. B - Kinda cute
  70. Serenity. A - Oh, how I miss Joss
  71. Nobody Knows. B - Insider's view of the poor side of Tokyo and quite upsetting. *shakes fist at gojira*
  72. Mr. and Mrs. Smith. B - Good empty-headed summer flick.
  73. Dot the I. D - Incredibly predictable and poorly done.
  74. Capturing the Friedmans. B - Bizarre documentary about a father-and-son molestation scandal in NY.
  75. Ray. B - Gotta say, Jamie can sing.
  76. Mad Hot Ballroom. A - Heart-warming documentary about inner city children learning to move gracefully across the dance floor in high competition.
  77. The Wicker Man. D - Freaky freaky movie. *shakes fist at upyernoz*
  78. Constantine. B - Matrix + Dogma = not too shabby
  79. All Quiet on the Western Front. D - So quiet that I fell asleep. *shakes fist at TP*
  80. Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. C - Not as good as the book; meh.
  81. Story of the Weeping Camel. A - Adorable story about the ugly duckling . . . er . . . baby camel. awwww.
  82. Trekkies. B - Scary that I actually recognized the actors, characters, and plots discussed by the avid AVID Star Trek fans. Black Clustah.
  83. Wallace and Gromit The Curse of the Wererabbit. A - Cheese! I love cheese!

I'm sure there are more, but I can't remember them now. Will update. Some day. Happy New Year, Y'all!


I got an email from the President. Jealous?

To all DOC employees

President Bush sends the following Holiday Message to the Employees of the Federal Government:

"I send greetings to all Federal employees and your families as you celebrate this holiday season.

Federal service is a high calling and an expression of responsible citizenship. By working to improve lives, advance prosperity, and protect our homeland, you strengthen our country and help many realize the promise of America. Your spirit of professionalism and dedication reflects the best of our society and contributes to the success of our great Nation.

Laura and I send our best wishes to you and your loved ones during this season of hope and joy. May God bless you, and may God continue to bless America."

Signed George W. Bush


Highlights of this weekend
  • Met up with my friends from Tunis/Paris at the see-and-be-seen Cafe Milano for some good food at some outrageous prices.
  • Revisited this Korean restaurant run by this crazy Korean woman ("You eat! Is good for you!") somewhere between DC and North Carolina where, upon seeing me and confirming my pregnancy by raising her eyebrows and patting her stomach and nodding, confidently predicted that we'll be having a boy.
  • Wished Dad a happy birthday with both of us singing a hideously off-key version of "Happy Birthday" - you know, that homemade Pakistani kind?
  • Spent Christmas morning sunning myself on the deck of TP's parent's house and basking in the 60 degree weather.
  • Made out like a bandit on baby-related paraphenalia.
  • Bade adieu to my parents as they made their way to Pakistan.


As of today, it looks like the house is ours again. That's not to say that the story may change any time between now and the closing date - December 29th. It's been a frustrating few weeks. First, we had to negotiate the price. When the seller grudgingly accepted our low-ball offer (which was pathetic in his eyes, but completely valid in today's real estate market), we had the home inspection. When we discovered that they had lied about the age of the roof and that the roof, the columns, the plumbing, and the electrical needed repairs, we had to negotiate who was going to pay for what. Thursday night, we were ready to walk away. Friday morning, a new deal was struck. Friday night, they threatened to walk away. Saturday morning, they came running back and signed the paperwork. Saturday afternoon, they held an open house. Sunday night, they officially told the world that the house was now under contract. So. Um. Stay tuned? I'll let you know whether I need you guys to come over and help us pack or come over and help us comb through the real estate sections of the newspaper.

UPDATE - No house. Termite damage. Major termite damage. $50,000 to $60,000 worth. Walk away. Walk quickly away.


Gone are the days that I would attempt to do a cartwheel on the living room sofa. Been a long time since I've jumped through a hoop made out of my own arms. I've come to terms with that. But I've always been a good walker. I hate running (the only time I can justify it is if I am chasing after something like a ball or a child or if someone is chasing after me), but I can walk until my shoes wear down. Long, purposeful steps. Ground-eating strides. Quick, bouncy lopes. No more.

Thanks to my lil' pirate, I've developed a pain where my left leg meets the rest of my body. Apparently, my ligaments are growing to support the scurvy sea-dog. So I've become even more pirate-like than ever: I have to walk favoring my right leg which makes me look like I'm pacing the deck of a ship with an uneven keel - almost as though my left leg has turned into a peg leg; I yelp out, "ARRRR!" when I have to rise from a sitting position, get out of bed, or get out of the tub; and blimey, I could nae more do a jig to save me life. To all of those who used to trail behind me as I out-paced them, I say Godspeed! (ye lousy landlubbers.)



The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsover: Pretty crackin' good yarn about a family of well-meaning but ill-prepared Baptists plunked down in the Congo. The travelogue portion, of course, I love. The insight into each character's behavior and thoughts I found intriguing. Plus, it's practically four-books-in-one!

Mad Hot Ballroom: Captivating to watch a group of tough inner-city children move with such adult grace as they whirl and twirl each other around the ballroom in a dancing competition. Picture Spellbound plus Strictly Ballroom.

Matador at Fifteen: Did I mention this already? Good tunes and lots of 'em. Plus, an extra CD. Plus, a DVD. Plus, liner notes that include hate mail received by the company.


Bah, put away the lemonade. Store the lawn mower. The house is not ours. We had a home inspection done (word to the wise - always get one) and found that the sellers lied about the age of the roof (zero to five years my arse!) and that the house had all sorts of plumbing, electrical, and potential foundation issues. We tried to be reasonable and negotiate with the seller to get them to pay for part of the repairs, but greedy bastages that they are, they refused. So we refused. So it's back to square one. So set the mousetraps, get out the snipery squirt-the-dog gun, and ignore the sirens - looks like we are here to stay for a bit longer.


Monopoly for Asians in the UK

Desi Monopoly is a new special edition board-games celebrating Indians, Pakastanis and other Asians living in the UK; the properties are a mix of Indian icons (famous train stations, the Taj) and Asian neigbourhoods in Britain. Link

via gunnar.
What kind of cards will they have?
  • "You have won a beauty contest because you are tall and fair and have green eyes, natural or not. Collect 50 rupees."
  • "Take a ride on the Reading Rickshaw"
  • "Go to jail. Go directly to jail. But bribe someone and get out of jail free."
  • "You have won an eating contest. Collect 50 gulab jamens."


Science, again!! I said 'Science' again!
Your baby weighs about 5 ounces now, and is around 5 inches long - about the size of a large onion. The baby can move his/her joints, and the skeleton - until now rubbery cartilage - is starting to harden to bone. The sense of hearing is also developing.
Time to bust out some tunes. Suggestions?


No more sushi.
No more coffee.
No more feta, brie, or manchego.
No more than five straight hours of sleep.
No more belts.
No more sleeping on my tummy.
No more junk food.
No more staying up past 9 p.m.
And now, with this season's first snow fall, no more brisk-paced/mad dashes across slippery and slushy walkways to catch the approaching Metro.

Baby is not even born yet and he/she is already in time-out.


So TP and I have been house-hunting (which is different from, but related to, mouse-hunting) lately. And it looks like we may have a winner. Everyone put your du'as in now while it's hot hot hot!


Un. Be. Lieveable. We've been home for four days and in that time, we've caught four mice. That's a mouse a day! At this rate, we're looking at a very Sisyphean winter. Perhaps we should boil their little mouse heads, remove the skin, and display the skulls at mouse-eye-level to serve as a warning to other mice to leave us alone. Nah, too much work. Mouseheads on pikes is much easier.


Ahoy, lads and lassies! We're back. This was the first Thanksgiving spent away from home. It was different but still lovely. Different in that we didn't have anywhere from 20 ("oh, you know, just the family") to 100 people ("well, we just invited a few of our friends") to host, socialize with, feed, and clean up after. Our usual Thanksgiving weekend schedule consists of Mom getting up at an ungodly hour and starting the turkey while the rest of us gradually awaken and get assigned various chores and tasks. Take out the extra chairs! Set the table! Make those puff pastry thingies! Then, the guests begin streaming in. This time, I actually got to sit down and eat my turkey and 'taters and fixin's without having to leap up to offer someone my seat or refill a glass. I missed sharing the weekend with the BIG family (i.e. aunts, uncles, cousins, and all of those close friends whom we've pretty much adopted or absorbed into the family too), but I was happy to be with the core four (now five).

The day after T-day was usually spent doing several loads of dish-washing, laundry-washing, and floor-washing. This time, Mom, Dad, and LB braved Black Friday and hit the mall for new tires (which came with a $50 gift certificate, yay Sears!) and a new TV (which we didn't get, stupid Sears!), while TP and I worked on some home improvements and went for a stroll around the golf course to lounge around by the club house pool and then scare off the cowardly neighborhood alligator sunning himself on the banks of the nearby pond. In the afternoon, instead of continuing the clean-up project or shivering our way to the stores in frigid winter weather, we went to Venice Beach. It was a little disconcerting to spend the end of November in balmy 80 degree weather, walking along a sunny path lined with palm trees and live oaks dripping with Spanish moss on our way to beach, but I got used to it pretty quickly. So, that's a recap of our holiday weekend. What did y'all do?


Things learned this weekend:
  • no matter how often you tell your husband not to give you his cold, he will disobey.
  • the 10 lane Delaware tollbooth narrowing to 2 lanes is the suck in both directions.
  • upyernoz lives in an amazing, gargantuan abode with its own mudroom, monkeyroom, and gameroom.
  • I thought only Tetris had this ability, but Settlers of Catan invaded my dreams after only a single game.
  • our little peanut is growing and is now the size of a lemon.
  • T-minus three days until Florida! Yay!


Matador at Fifteen. Good stuff.

Super Soaker Liquidator to aim sniper-like from the second story window and hit the barking neighbor dog. Good stuff.

Chipotle's Veggie Burrito at 1:00 a.m. when some little monster wakes me up craving guacamole. Good stuff.


Like daughter, like mother.

Scene I: Anticipating H-Biddy's arrival, I get on-line to check the flight status and in the corner of my eye, catch her on-line too.

Facsimile of Dialogue:
"Hey! Where are you? What are you doing?"
"Hey, Baji! Oh, you know, just chilling."
"Are you at the airport?"
"What? No, I'm at home."
"WHAT?! Your flight leaves in about half an hour!"
"LOL! Oh, Baji. My flight is tomorrow!"
"Are you sure? Because LB, the Palm Pilot Nazi she is, assured me that you were coming in today."
"Hahahaha, no."
"Well, just go check your ticket anyway."
"Fine, I'll be right back."
-- pause --
"Oh NOOOOOO!!!!!"
End scene.

Scene II: Several years later. Anticipating Literaunty's arrival, I get on-line to check the flight status and discover that rather than ARRIVING at 8:30 p.m. the flight was DEPARTING at 8:30 p.m.

Facsimile of Dialogue:
"Literaunty! Where are you?!"
"Hello, beta, we are in Atlanta! Our flight is about to leave in twenty minutes or so."
-- pause --
"Did I tell you that we were arriving at 8:30?"
"YES! We were almost on our way to pick you up and I came to check if the flight was delayed or not and found out it hasn't even taken off yet!"
"Oh, I suspected that I told you the wrong information, but then I thought since I gave you the flight information, you would figure it out."
"Oh, Aunty, you are just as bad as H-Biddy. But at least you were only 2 hours off instead of 24 hours off."

Like son, like father.

Scene III: Sitting around the dinner table, engaging in some gup-shup, Izbot contributes.

Facsimile of Monologue:
"Have you seen that Spongebob where he thinks that Plankton is only evil and trying to steal Krabby-patties because he doesn't have any friends? So he tries to be his friend and then Spongebob finds out that Plankton doesn't even know what the word "FUN" means? So he starts to sing this song to explain it to him? And it goes, "F is for Friends who do stuff together. U is for You and meeeee. N is for Anywhere and anytime at all down here in the deep blue sea"? But then Plankton messes it up and says, "F is for Fire that burns down the whole town. U is for URANIUM...BOMBS! . . . . "

Scene IV: Sitting around the breakfast table, engaging in some gup-shup, Literuncle contributes.

Facsimile of Monologue:
"Have you seen that Spongebob where SpongeBob says a bad word but instead of the word, all you hear is a loud honk, like "ahhhOOOOgah!" and what is that fellow's name? Hahn, Patrick is shocked and tells him not to say that anymore? But Spongebob can't help himself and he repeats it and Patrick threatens to tell on him but Spongebob bribes him with some ice cream? But then Patrick goes to tell what is that boss's name? Hahn, Krabby. Patrick tries to tell Krabby but Spongebob beats him to it and tells Krabby that Patrick said the bad word and again it is just "HONK!" And Krabby tells that that is one of the 13 bad words they should never say and then when he reads out the list, it's just all "HONK! OOOGAH! BEEP! RAAAHH!!! . . . . "


The good: having Veteran's Day off; TP buying me doughnuts because I casually mentioned that I hadn't had any in ages; a visit from Literaunty and Literuncle; Martinelli's Sparkling Cider; Steve Martin's "diving competition" sketch.

The bad: Netflix delivering "Shaun of the Dead" waaay past the Halloween due date they promised; startled neighbor dogs who are too stupid to figure out where the spray of water comes from when they bark; trying to cook pasta without any electricity; the 30 degrees we'll have tonight.

The ugly: me when I catch some brat neighborhood kids fooling around in pretend fights and slamming into my parked car for fun; the amount of dust on top of the tallest bookcase; the gigantic people on the metro who take up a seat and a half with their girth and bags thereby preventing anyone from sitting in the half-empty seat.

Ooh-wee-ooh-wee-ooooooohhhh (wah wah wah) . . .


Ahoy, lads and lassies! After hitting Home Depot (never-ending house repairs) and IHOP (four kinds of syrup!), this is how I spent my weekend. How about you?


Eid Mubarak, y'all!

Okay, my fellow scrabbie-lovers, literati-junkies, and bibliophiles. Here's your quiz for the day. How many words can you make out of the following letters? Enjoy! Eid Mubarak, evrrrrybody! ("Eid Mubarak, Dr. Nick!")


Away goes the air conditioner, out comes the heater.
Away go the t-shirts, out come the sweaters.
Away goes hanging out, out comes staying in. Er. Um.
What I'm trying to say is it's movie season! Netflix, ho! *Thundercats bellow*
(which, by the way, is now out on dee-wee-dee)

Constantine = Matrix + Dogma - Silent Bob

Fog of War = Read Upyernoz's review

All Quiet on the Western Front = Take away TP's Netflix privileges.

Superman, the Movie = Classic superhero tale - good acting, good plot, and good dialogue (NB Margot Kidder's atrocious voice-over poetry that makes you want to spoon your eardrums out).

Triplets of Belleville = Breaking Away + Godfather + koo-koo-krazy animation.

The Machinist = Memento + Usual Suspects - 100 lbs.

The Story of the Weeping Camel = Animal Planet + Ugly Duckling


The Association of Pakistani Physicians of North America, APPNA, has set up an emergency disaster relief fund for the victims of the earthquake. Email: appna@appna.org

And, via DeGrouchyOwl,

Here are some websites for relief and reconstruction groups.

World Vision

Humanity First


Yes Pakistan

Develop Pakistan





I've been on some weird "Macbeth" kick lately even though I much perfer "Hamlet" when it comes to Bill's tragedies. A few weeks ago, I watched Ian McKellan thunder and rage in a 1979 RSC stage production. Black hair and a kilt, but the same booming voice of Gandalf and Magneto. Then, the other day, I saw Akira Kurosawa's version, Throne of Blood. Odd to see samurai warriors re-enact the tale of Scots warriors, but still interesting. I'd have to say, however, that my favorite rendition of "The Scottish Play" is the dark and twisted Scotland, PA. Oh yeah, and I also used to dig the now and then references made on Gargoyles. What's your favorite Shakey play?


Happy Birthday, Gunnar! In honor of your concert tonight, let me regale you with the tale of *my* one and only U2 concert, the Zoo TV tour in St. Louis featuring Big Audio Dynamite II and Public Enemy as opening acts. It was around this time of the year when my friend called me to offer me the extra concert ticket he had since his girlfriend couldn't go. Well, you know by now how much I love free stuff, so, I agreed to go. When we arrived, we encountered a make-shift enclosure (which resembled a portable toilet more than a recording booth) in which you could enter, face a camera, and say your piece to the band. We had time to kill, so we gave it a whirl.

The concert started and the crowd was well-behaved and excited. When the sun set over the stadium, the spotlights came on. As well as any other electronic, electric, blinking, buzzing, sensory-overload device. U2 was on stage along with about every conceivable type of multi-media eye-catcher including, but not limited to, a JUMBO jumbotron screen which alternated displays of the actual concert we were watching live on stage and other pop culture images.

Around the halfway point, the band needed to take a break. It's hard work singing "Sunday Bloody Sunday" while dodging television monitors. Suddenly, the jangly random images on the jumbotron disappeared and they started showing clips of the audience member's "personal messages" taped before the show consisting mostly of lavish praise, a few flashes of cleavage, and some butchered attempts at a capella renditions of the band's songs. I'm sure you can guess where I'm going with this. Without any expectation or warning, there was my 40-foot high face on the screen.

"Well, I don't really care much for U2, but I got a free ticket so . . . *shrug* . . . here I am."

My friend freaked. The people one row ahead of us turned around at all his "OH MY GOD!"s and looked at me. They pointed me out to the people two rows ahead of us. The people one row behind me patted my shoulder. I was mortified. Thankfully, the concert started up again and I was quickly forgotten. Or so I thought. The next day, I was stopped in the classrooms and hallways by people I had never met before who recognized me from the concert. It was surreal. Anyway, I have now been allotted about 2.13 minutes of my 15 minutes of fame. I hope your U2 concert gives you that and more. Rock on.


Our very own panda cub was named in an auspicious ceremony yesterday at the zoo. Don't worry, Tai Shan, you'll always be "Butterstick" to us.

Forget about those kitten wars on HB's blog, check out this overdose of cuteness.


Curse you, Jacques Pepin! You show me a delectable dessert on your PBS show, but then don't give me precise measurements OR post the recipe on your website. The only place to obtain the recipe is from your $30.00 book? Monsieur, this means war!

*takes off white glove, inserts brick, slaps Pepin*

. . .

*sneaks into Borders, finds book and writes down recipe, sneaks out*

So. Apple Skillet Cake.

Apple stuff:
Saute two (2) sliced apples
in three (3) tablespoons of butter
in a deep skillet that can operate on the stove and in the oven (i.e. no plastic).
Sprinkle about a (1) tablespoon of sugar and cook for five (5) minutes.
Turn over apple slices and cook for another five (5) minutes.
Leave in the skillet.

Cake stuff:
Add a (1) cup cottage cheese,
three-fourths (3/4) cup sour cream,
two (2) teaspoons sugar,
three-fourths (3/4) cup all-purpose flour,
and three (3) large eggs.

Stove-top part:
Pour batter over the apples.
Cook on low heat for six to eight (6-8) minutes.
When it gets kinda bubbly,

Oven part:
Stick the skillet into the oven and broil for six to eight (6-8) minutes.
When the top is browned, take it out.

Eatin' part:
Dust with confectioners sugar and/or maple syrup.
Chow down.


Owlieboots is in Kashmir now. Read all about it.


The Association of Pakistani Physicians of North America, APPNA, has set up an emergency disaster relief fund for the victims of the earthquake. You can call in your donation by credit card or send in your checks to their office. If you want to fax, you can use this donation form. APPNA is 501 C3 organizations. All donations may be tax deductible as permitted by law.
6414 S. Cass AvenueWestmont, IL 60559
Phone: 630-968-8585 or 630-968-8606
Fax: 630-968-8677


Thanks to everyone for their concern and well-wishes. I'm relieved to report that my family in Islamabad is fine, but saddened to hear about the death toll and injuries. To read an on-the-scene take on the matter, check out Chai's blog. Else, here's my grandfather's report. I hope that all you bloggers and blurkers are fine and your families are safe.


A national tragedy occured at 8.50 am yesterday when an earthquake registering 7.5 in the Richter scale struck Islamabad, Rawalpindi and cities as far as Multan and Lahore, resulting in human and material casualties unprecedented in a century. We are all safe but due to disruption in communication, I couldn't contact you. Hardly a mile from our house, a 10-storey block was reduced to rubble. I was about to start work at my desk when the cupboard door flew open, the photographs hung on the wall and the ceiling fan started swinging crazily. Sabeeha held me by the wrist and I had time just to grab my glasses and walking stick before going out into the lawn.

Everyone was out on the road or lawn, praying silently. After-shocks continued till late into the night and the unexpected thunder and lightning made things more scary. Today passed off without incident although the Met Office has indicated possibility of after-shocks of 5 to 6 strength for 48 hours. News is coming in on the TV of heavy casualties in the northern areas and the armed forces are busy with the civil administration, coping with the disaster. High-rise buildings in Islamabad have developed cracks but the rest appear to be OK. More later as I am feeling off-colour. Allah Hafiz. DND


Okay, kids, it's time to play: "What's! That! Smell!?" (interrobarf!)

There was a sewagey/rotten/garbagey smell emanating from one of the bedrooms last night. We looked all over and couldn't figure out from whence the stench was coming. You know how during Ramadan, your sense of smell becomes more finely tuned? Yeah, not such a good thing in situations like this. Luckily, we sleep in the other bedroom these days (can you believe that barking dogs can cause a neighbor to shift entire living arrangements?). This morning (6:00 a.m. to be precise), we tried our luck one more time before one or both of us "vomicked." Bingo! Was it:

(a) the rain (first drenching showers in a month) reacting checmically (and badly) with the new wood and drywall that the builders just installed to repair our roof, side of the house, steps in the back, and insulation underneath?

(b) TP's wet clothes that got soaked from his monkeying around with the sump pump to ensure our basement didn't get flooded and that he nonchalantly bunched up into a big, dripping wad and threw in with the rest of the dirty clothes?

(c) a putrified, bloated dead mouse ready to explode with all sorts of noxious mouse gasses under the bed?

(d) week old food found in the pocket of one of our jackets that we had forgotten to remove and/or throw out with the rest of the garbage?

Winner receives a clothes pin to pinch nostrils shut!


Sunday morning found us shivering from the cold. Unlike the day before, the sun was barely visible this day and Maine treated us to a chilly, gray, drizzly day. I was wearing no less than FIVE layers of clothes - t-shirt, long sleeved t-shirt, thin wool sweater, another wool sweater, and a jacket to top it off - and still I was not warm. To warm up, we walked and walked and walked. And, of course, took pix.

Really, that was all we did. Walk, eat, look for shells, walk, look for sea glass, walk, eat, bundle up and play checkers, cards, and scrabbie. Come to think of it, it reminded me a lot of our summers with the cousins in Pakistan. Except instead of escaping the blazing heat by playing marathon UNO sessions in the air-conditioned roos, we were escaping the cold playing marathon checkers in the heatless, wooden house under several blankets. I really need to teach TP how to play Rummy 500 and Three-Two-Five.

The next morning, TP tossed our leftovers out to the seagulls and we headed back to the mainland to seek shelter from the rain in various bookstores, cafes, and movie theaters. Word of advice: forgo seeing "The 40-year Old Virgin."

That's it for now. Bedtime! Ramadan Mubarak, y'all!


So, get this. New England in the fall? It's cold! I woke up with little baby icicles for earrings and one medium-sized ice-cube for a nose. When I went to wash up, I had to play the hokey pokey with the sink where there were separate faucets for the boiling lava water and for the glacial water.:

You put your right hand in (the stream of hot water and scald it), you take your right hand out (and inspect the heat blisters), you put your right hand in (the stream of frigid cold water), and you shake it all about (trying to knock off the crystal of ice that have formed around your hand), you do the screamy-screamy and you turn yourself around (and out of the bathroom, shrugging off any sense of cleanliness in favor of self-preservation), that's what it's all about. yeah!

Luckily, there was a mug of hot chai waiting for me downstairs, courtesy of TP. I took my mug and a liberally cream-cheesed bagel outside onto the porch to sit in the sun. Surprisingly, it was warmer outside than it was inside. I watched fat, lazy bees dip in and out of the morning glorys, tiny birds perform aerial acrobatics, and rocked on my rocking chair with the sun on my face. Not a bad way to start the day. Belly warm and full, I helped myself to one of my host's sweatshirts and we walked down to the beach.

We merged onto the island's version of the superhighway and walked from one end of the coastline to the other.

The sunlight glittered on Casco Bay and everything took on a warm, sparkly look. Every time I heard the seagulls, I had the urge to shout out "Are you ready, kids? Aye aye, Cap'n! I can't hear you! AYE AYE, CAP'N! Ohhhhhh . . ." Okay, I'll admit it; I did give into that urge a few times. Why not? TP, the birds, and I were the only ones on the beach. Speaking of birds, I'm not sure which one left this print, but I sure don't wish to run into it in a dark alley anytime soon.

We poked around for some seaglass and then returned home for our second breakfasts. Then, with nothing else to wash or straighten up or listen to on the radio, we went back outside to circle the whole island. We saw butterflies.

We discovered hidden World War II forts.

We climbed up said hidden WWII forts and saw lighthouses.

We looked down from said hidden WWII forts and saw the waves crashing against the black rocks below.

Finally, after the nearly three hours of hiking, we came back home. We had some leftover sammiches for lunch, a well-deserved nap, and dinner -- TP with leftover Pinchy and me with dirty old ravs. Although the day was sunny and warm, by nighttime, the temperature had dropped and so we layered up. With no television in the house, we spent the evening listening to NPR and playing Clue. It was Colonel Mustard, by the way. In the ballroom. With a candlestick. What a jerk.


*insert wavy flashback lines here*

So, bright and early, Friday morning, TP and I packed our bags (me with a single backpack and him with an entire half-suitcase carry-on deal . . . holy role reversal, Batman!), hopped onto the Metro, and flew over jewel-like islands and into Portland, Maine. After short 15 minute cab ride down to the docks later, we trolled the streets for the Italian grocery store to stock up on some vittles, for the famous Amato's (apparently the birthplace of the "Italian sandwich"), for some bubble tea, and for some lohbstah (TP selected an ugly two-pounder). Here's Pinchy getting ready to wash some dishes:

We waited at the docks for the water taxi to pick us up and whisk us away to Cushing's Island. It was a gorgeous day so we didn't mind getting lost and going around half of the island TWICE before finally finding the house. We lugged our luggage out of the wheelbarrow we had been carting around, put our stuff away, and immediately headed out for a walk to the beach (all of 2 minutes away).

Upon our return, we spooked four deer who bounded into the woods at our approach. Two big 'uns, however, stood their ground and glared at us as we passed them by and entered the house. A few minutes later, I peeked outside again and saw that they had not moved. Such bossy deer.

For dinner, TP attempted to wrassle Pinchy who, with his thick, meaty tail, was thrashing violently against the slate sink base any time TP got near him. Except for the fact that Pinchy didn't fall onto the floor, it was a scene right out of Annie Hall. TP managed to scoop Pinchy up into a pot, toss him in a bigger pot, and boil the rascal until he turned from muddy brown to bright red.

Ding ding ding! Dinner is served!


Travelogue in progress. In the meantime, have you guys heard of this? It's "Fulla," a Muslim Barbie doll. Extry Extry, read all about it.

The very popular Fulla doll is sold in the Middle East wearing either a black abaya or a white head scarf and long coat. Under these modest coverings, the dolls wear fashionable dresses.

(via Gunnar)


Hey, kids, I'm back. Had a good time in jolly ol' New England, but MAN does it get cold up north. Travelogue chock full of bossy deer, violent lobsters, and beautiful seaside vistas coming up. We'll be back after a word from our sponsers.


So long, sukkahs!


You axed for it . . .
Books on Bookcase #1
  1. The Greatest of Marlys by Lynda Barry
  2. One Hundred Demons by Lynda Barry
  3. The Far Side Gallery (1, 2, 3, and pre-history) by Gary Larson
  4. The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein
  5. Beg the Question by Bob Fingerman
  6. Persepolis (I and II) by Marjane Satrapi
  7. The Final Solution by Michael Chabon
  8. The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon
  9. Mysteries of Pittsburgh by Michael Chabon
  10. The Minotaur Takes a Cigarette Break by Steven Sherril
  11. Jenny and the Jaws of Life by Jincy Willet
  12. Brief Interviews with Hideous Men by David Foster Wallace
  13. Oh, My Word!; Take my Word For It!; and Upon My Word by Frank Muir and Denis Norden
  14. Cruel Shoes by Steve Martin
  15. CivilWarLand in Bad Decline by George Saunders
  16. The Very Persistent Gappers of Fipp by George Saunders and Lane Smith
  17. Coyote v. Acme by Ian Frazier
  18. The Art of Survival by A.E. Maxwell
  19. The Neal Pollack Anthology of American Literature by Neal Pollack
  20. Red Dust by Ma Jian
  21. Waiting by Ha Jin
  22. Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt
  23. The Club Dumas by Arturo Perez=Reverte
  24. Chump Change by David Eddie
  25. Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf
  26. Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer
  27. Into Thin Air by Jon Karkauer
  28. The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde
  29. The Well of Lost Plots by Jasper Fforde
  30. Lost in a Good Book by Jasper Fforde
  31. The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri
  32. The Gashlycrumb Tinies by Edward Gorey
  33. Amphigorey by Edward Gorey
  34. Gates of Eden by Ethan Cohen
  35. The Cheese Monkeys by Chip Kidd
  36. Chip Kidd by Veronique Viene
  37. Wigfield by Amy Sedaris, Paul Dinello, and Stephen Colbert
  38. The Griffin & Sabine series by Nick Bantock
  39. The Venetian's Wife by Nick Bantock
  40. The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales by Smith and Scieszka
  41. McSweeny's Quarterly #5
  42. McSweeny's 6 Find Them and Convince Them
  43. Palace Walk by Naguib Mahfouz
  44. Dorothy Parker Anthology
  45. Beowulf
  46. Fathers and Sons by Turgenev
  47. Rudin.On The Eye by Turgenev
  48. A Woman of Independent Means by Elizabeth F. Hailey
  49. One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  50. On The Road by Jack Kerouac
  51. The Lottery and Other Stories by Shirley Jackson
  52. Eats, Shoots & Leaves by Lynne Truss
  53. Ex Libris by Anne Fadiman
  54. The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark by William Shakespeare
  55. A Midsummer Night's Dream by William Shakespeare
  56. Macbeth by William Shakespeare
  57. Plays by Chekov
  58. Spotted Horses; Old Man; The Bear by William Faulkner
  59. A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemmingway
  60. The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
  61. Dracula by Bram Stoker
  62. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
  63. Edgar Allen Poe Anthology
  64. The Decameron by Boccaccio
  65. Cat's Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.
  66. Collected Stories by O. Henry
  67. Old Goriot by Balzac
  68. The Stranger by Albert Camus
  69. The Picture of Dorian Gray and Other Writings by Oscar Wilde
  70. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
  71. Nine Stories by J.D. Salinger
  72. Franny and Zooey by J.D. Salinger
  73. Side Effects by Woody Allen
  74. Without Feathers by Woody Allen
  75. Getting Even by Woody Allen
  76. Hoidays On Ice by David Sedaris
  77. Naked by David Sedaris
  78. Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim by David Sedaris
  79. Barrel Fever by David Sedaris
  80. Take the Cannoli by Sarah Vowell
  81. The Partly Cloudy Patriot by Sarah Vowell
  82. The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
  83. Stories by Franz Kafka
  84. Life with Jeeves by P.G. Wodehouse
  85. Life of Pi by Yann Martel
  86. The Adventures of Ibn Battuta by Ross E. Dunn
  87. Bunch of Dictionaries, Lonely Planets, and Knick Knacks.


How lazy can you get?


Yay! Travelogue coming soon to a blog near you. Once I go on my trip that is. Cushings Island off the coast of Maine, here I come!

*packs telescope, ship's log, and other pirate essentials*


Avast, ye scury landlubbers! Harkon thee well. 'Tis less than half a fortnight ere the bells toll and 'tis Talk Like a Pirate Day. Are ye ready? Let's see (out of our patchless eye, of course) how ye scalliwags fare in tangling with the lingo. If ye dare.


Happy Birthday, Nanaji!

(he's the one to the right of the monsterous, menu-weapon-wielding, menacing statue -
I mean, honestly. How many children to you think he ate? The statue; not my Nanaji.)


Pandi's 'Pinions

Special Edition!

Everybody raise your glasses of bamboo juice! Li'l Baji and Gunnar are engaged! I'm so excited because they are very happy. The wedding will be so much fun - we are going to dress up, eat, and party. Soon, I'll officially be a Swedistani Panda! I will be able to make bamboo samosas with one hand and build IKEA furniture with the other! Mabrook and best wishes from all the pandas in Blogistan.

xoxo, Pandi


Happy Birthday, my little waterbaby!


Competitiwe Adwantage

Guest Post by First Year Med Student/Part-time Plumber Oz

My embryology prefessor is an Indian guy. He's got a way thick accent. His lectures are very scattered and he rarely follows his outlines. This wouldn't be so bad in any other subject, but embryology has its own, [seemingly] very esoteric vocabulary, so it's nearly impossbile to keep up.

I was talking to a girl in class and she was telling me that she was going to leave and go study, and not stick around for the next lecture.

"I'm just not getting anything out of this. He's all over the place; and I can hardly understand what he's saying!"

I politely agreed with her, but we all know better: though he was all over the place, I knew perfectly well what he meant by "hot wallv."

Post Script Post
Happy Bananiversay, my little monkey!


I went for a ride in my friend's brand new, convertible, candy orange Mini Cooper S the other day. And it bit me. Hard.

Then I went for a ride in my dad's brand old, convertible, lipstick red 1961 Austin Healy today. And it did not bite me at all.

Lesson to be learned? Stick to Austin Healys.


Pandi WAS going to give his 'pinion on the movie Broken Flowers, but Upyernoz beat him to it.
Pandi WAS going to give his 'pinion on the book Brief Interviews with Hideous Men, but it had some very naughty parts and he wasn't allowed to read much of it.
Pandi WAS going to give his 'pinion on the new free cell phone, but it hasn't arrived yet.
Pandi WAS going to give his 'pinion on the song Seed 2.0, but it's even naughtier than the book.
So, instead, Pandi sings this song to Literaunty for the funny, HEAVY prezzie she gave to us via MC Chef and Broheme:

Brass Monkey
That funky Monkey
Brass Monkey, junkie
That funky Monkey. . . .


Ah, the daily commute.

Heard on the Metro:
"Attention. Please look up from your newspapers and Blackberrys now and then to be aware of your surroundings. If you see any suspicious behavior, please report it to a Metro official ee-mee-dee-ately. Remember: Be prepared, not scared. This has been your Metro tip for the day."

"Naw, naw, naw, see we is in homeroom together. Fah real! Naw, I know, I saw yo schedule. Gurrrl. Oh mah Gawwwwd, shat up, I love this song; this mah SONG!"

"Doors closing (bing bong to the tune of "Jane Says")."

"I've got a meeting with someone the White House tomorrow . . . "

Seen on the Metro:
A gorgeous view of the Potomac River coursing below us with the butter yellow sun shining above us.

A roach. A rat (on the rails, not in the train). A smear of some bodily substance making a clear view through the windows impossible.

The cool, deep green of the Virginia trees as we emerge from underground and seemingly into the endless sky.

This guy twitching and scratching and flinching wearing a ratty, stained t-shirt that barely provided any protection for his scabby skin topped off with a loud purple hat. He could be the stunt double for Tyrone Biggums. No joke.

Smelled on the Metro:
You don't wanna know.


This post goes out to that slow-moving, decrepit, disdainful, chain-smoker's wheezing, lung-hacking, locks-wrenching hairdresser I had a brief encounter with on Friday:

Errors in Communication Between My Hairdresser and Me,
in the Form of What I Said and What He Heard.
- - - -
"Just a little off the length, and a little thinned out?"
"Could you make me look like a clown's apprentice?"
- - - -
"A little shorter, thanks."
"I want the style that would emerge if you combined all three of Charlie's Angels."
- - - -
"Just the usual - little shorter and thinner."
"You know when you have a bubble bath and you shape it all around your head? I want it like that."
- - - -
"If you could take some of the width off, that'd be great."
"If you could make it hard for me to appear in public, that'd be great."
- - - -
"Of course it isn't OK - you've disfigured me beyond repair. I look like a mushroom."
"That's perfect. Take my money."


Pop Quiz

Q: You get a flat tire driving along one of DC's many treacherous streets teeming with potholes, jagged curbs, and broken pavement. You don't even notice your flat tire until several streets later because it is normal to experience shuddering jangles and jerks as you drive around town. You parallel park your car in a safe area and find that the right rear tire is badly punctured. You are wearing flip flops and therefore cannot kick the lugnuts off with your tools and put the spare on yourself. You call AAA because you pay them $56/year for pretty much no service and the least they could do is fix your freaking flat tire. You are told that someone will come within the next two hours or sooner. It is noon and 90-odd degrees outside. Do you:

a. Get a courteous call in a few minutes that a repair truck will be arriving in two hours, at precisely 1:54 p.m.

b. Make a polite status inquiry call at 2:00 p.m. when nobody has shown up only to find out that the dispatch has called and said someone will arrive at precisely 2:13 p.m.

c. Make a frustrated status inquiry call at 2:30 p.m. only to find out that there will be an additional 45 minute wait until the repair truck can come.

d. Make an infuriated status inquiry call at 3:30 p.m. only to learn that "the dispatch was just about to call you because the truck is about 10 minutes away now."

e. Memorize the cracks in the sidewalk, realize that what you had mistaken for a walnut was actually a dead bat on the ground, and donate blood to at least five to eight mosquitos before the truck finally shows up at 4:00 p.m.

f. All of the above.


I was all ready to write a "Dear Blog" letter to let my blog down easy; to assure it that it was me, not it; to end our relationship in as dignified and tearless a manner possible. Then, I thought I'd employ all of my stealthy ninja-like moves to assassinate it in the dead of night; or middle of the afternoon; or perhaps after tea. Finally, I thought I'd just go out with a big bang and list a bunch o' crap about me before I had to shut 'er down. But y'all won't let me!

I've been too busy hostessing with the mostessing, going to work, coming home from work, visiting family, attending weddings, attending baseball games, and watching fat kids watch other fat kids dance. So. It comes to this. An excerpt from Sarah Vowell's Take the Cannoli on her post-Hall-of-Presidents visit at Disney World:

Boy, all that glory glory hallelujah sure makes you hungry. We exit the theater and agree that it is time to "Liberate Your Appetite" with a late lunch at the Liberty Tree Tavern . . . The maitre d' announces customers as if they're representatives to the Continental Congress, barking their last names and that of their home state. He gives the bell to a small child from "the Great State of Pennsylvania" who is supposed to ring in the meal. The child yells a phrase the maitre d' whispered into his ear: "Hairy! Hairy! Hairy!" Probably he's supposed to say "Here Ye," but I'm not one to knock the healing power of childhood Disney mispronunciations: When I was four, my parents made an appointment with an ear, nose, and throat specialist the moment they realized I was half deaf, rendering the Mickey Mouse Club theme
lyric "Forever let us hold our banner high" as "For every little polar bear to hide."

"The Vowell Family from the Great State of Illinois" is seated and served the Patriot's Platter - a family-style Thanksgiving dinner. I'm not quite sure if I feel particularly patriotic about strawberry vinaigrette on my Declaration Salad, though I gladly pledge allegiance to the mashed potatoes of the United States of America.


100 Things About Me [Part 2 of 2]

  1. I have attended safety school, public school, Catholic school, non-denominational private school, college, and law school.
  2. I have attended Mass, a Seder, and Diwali
  3. I loathe running for the sake of running, grammatical errors in published books, and wintergreen anything.
  4. I have lived near a river all of my life: Taff, Ohio, Hudson, Mississippi, and Potomac.
  5. I never really learned how to drive a manual transmission car but I have driven a U-Haul truck (with Cressie hitched to the back) across several states alone.
  6. I have enjoyed scuba-diving, parasailing, and snorkeling.
  7. I am a pack rat; I get that from my Mom who gets that from her Dad.
  8. If I were to compare my handwriting to a leaf, I'd have to go with either the ginko or the tulip.
  9. If I had to choose only one cuisine to eat the rest of my life, it would be Italian. I mean, come on: pasta, pizza, gelato, cannoli, cappuccino, macchiato, do I have to go on?
  10. Almost every time I get my hair cut, the stylist comments on how thick my hair is.
  11. One of my earliest memories is being enraptured by watching my father shave in the morning and then getting a shaving cream design of cookie monster on my little palm as a treat.
  12. Another early memory is of pretending to make French Toast (plastic pieces that fit onto a toy plate) for my mother and asking her if she wanted sesame seeds or powdered sugar on it.
  13. In my youth and into my adulthood, my father and I share this ritual: he sees my light on in my bedroom late at night; he knows I'm reading and sings out, "Baby doll, go to sleep!"; I respond, "Okay, Dad! Good night!" and continue to read for several more hours.
  14. I took four years of Spanish in high school and remember very little of it.
  15. In school, I used to envy the kids who had braces.
  16. I probably don’t drink as much water, eat enough greens, or get as much sleep as I'm supposed to.
  17. I have voted for the Independent presidential candidate for every single election since I could vote except in 2004.
  18. I have seen Frank Sinatra in concert and was probably the youngest audience member there.
  19. I wish I could use and take advantage of my Palm Pilot (now TP's) as much as my sister does.
  20. I used to love Welch's Grape Soda. Liquid candy!
  21. I dislike small minds, small dogs, and small girls wearing thick make-up and skankified clothes.
  22. I can give a pretty decent tour of Washington, D.C.
  23. I have ridden a camel, horses, and a very large dog.
  24. I have been on a helicopter, a cruise ship, and various motorcycles.
  25. I used to hate but now I love tomatoes, olives, and dates.
  26. When I was younger, I used to break my fasts with chocolate chips.
  27. I can raise just my left eyebrow.
  28. After a bout of chicken pox, I lost a chunk of eyelashes on my lower left eyelid which never grew back.
  29. The only time my parents ever spanked me was when I was in Pakistan and had to take a horse-pill-sized malaria pill but couldn't choke it down. Well, couldn't without a little added physical incentive, that is.
  30. Dad used to enjoy waking me up in the morning by holding the palm of his hands, recently wetted by after-shave, under my nose until the fumes, yes, fumes, woke me up.
  31. I was once so addicted to Atari that I formed calluses on my hands from holding the joystick so tightly.
  32. I like ice cream. I like cake. But I don't like ice cream cake.
  33. With my Dad being a cardiologist and not needing copies of EKGs after he had reviewed them, I had an unlimited supply of scratch paper growing up.
  34. Newcomer to a new country, my Mom was so concerned about my English language skills that she forbade me from purchasing comic books for fear that they would ruin my grammar. That didn't stop me from devouring them when we visited friends who had a stash though.
  35. Going for Hajj is still the most spiritually overwhelming experience I've ever had.
  36. I have one bookshelf dedicated to travel guides and languages, one to classics, one to comics, one to compilations of humorous pieces, one to DVDs, one to non-fiction, one to mysteries and sci-fi, one to mild fiction, one to edgier fiction, one to outrageous fiction, one to photo albums, one to series, one to hardbacks that don't fit anywhere else, and one to books I haven't read yet.
  37. I have twin sisters-in-law.
  38. I really have enjoyed meeting all of the bloggers and blurkers that visit – be it in person or just virtually.
  39. This list thing reminds me so much of the lyrics by L7: Enough talk about me, Let's talk about you, What do you think of me? What do you think of me, me, me...
  40. Once, when I was choking on an Everlasting Gobstopper, my Mom saved me by performing the Heimlich maneuver.
  41. One of the things I really dislike about myself is my boundless capacity to hold a grudge or want revenge; but I'm working on that.
  42. I have been lovingly called the following: Monkeyboots, Junk Monkey, Buck-toothed Monster, The Buck-Toothed Kid, Tuckered Out Mouse, and Snarling Beast.
  43. In my pre-teen days, I was so enamored with Star Wars that when a special behind-the-scenes show came on television one pre-VCR year, I recorded it onto an analog, audio, old-school tape with my tape-recorder. As a clip featured Han Solo warning jubilant Luke Skywalker, "don't get cocky, kid," you could hear my Mother doing the dishes and my parakeet chirping in the background.
  44. When I sleep, I don't so much toss as I do turn, like a goat on a spit, in one place.
  45. At family functions, I tend to tower over everyone else.
  46. I love irony, sarcasm (when witty and dry, not mean and stupid), absurdity, and twists.
  47. I will readily admit to being a Buffy fan. Joss Whedon rules!
  48. I was a Girl Scout, a 4-H member, and a Guppy.
  49. I wanna rock and roll all niiiiight, and party ev. er. ee. day.
  50. I'm done.


100 Things About Me [Part 1 of 2]

  1. I was born in Merthyr Tydfil, Wales
  2. My family moved to the United States when I was three months old and I've been traveling ever since.
  3. If I could, I would become a professional world traveler.
  4. The locals of every country (except China) that I've ever traveled to believe that I am from their country.
  5. I love my parents, my sister, and my husband.
  6. I have taken piano lessons, tried flute for a while, and am quite adept at singing the tunes that the non-vocal instruments create in songs.
  7. Without cable, I have become more attracted to home improvement television shows, cooking shows, and travel shows than ever.
  8. I was once in such a rush that as I was exiting my bedroom, four of my toes cleared the doorjamb; my pinky did not. It broke and despite its perpendicular angle to the rest of my toes, my father insisted that it was just bruised.
  9. I believe there is an appropriate Simpsons quote for every occasion, and that, if someone can quote The Simpsons they can't be all bad.
  10. I'm a fan of British comedy.
  11. When I was a child, I decided to extend the track of my motorized miniature car and proceeded to roll the car along my arm, up my neck, and into my hair where the wheels became inextricably tangled and had to be cut loose.
  12. I have a hard time comprehending the fact that some people don't read for pleasure.
  13. I like cheese, monkeys, and pirates; one equally as much as the others, but rarely in conjunction with each other.
  14. I first learned the sign-language alphabet when I was reprimanded for talking in class with my friend and we decided to continue our v-e-r-y. s-l-o-w. c-o-n-v-e-r-s-a-t-i-o-n-s. in silence.
  15. I prefer dark chocolate over milk, hot weather over cold, and comedy over tragedy.
  16. I've never smoked, had an alcoholic drink, or taken any drugs that were not over-the-counter.
  17. Despite my disinterest in sports and apathy for exercise, I participated in the following in school: kickball, dodgeball, softball, field hockey, tennis, swimming, badminton, track, basketball, and gymnastics along with some unnamed sport that involves all of the children grasping an edge of a parachute and whipping it up and down to make a ball in the middle fly up.
  18. I love the smell of laundry, jasmine, and Vera Wang's perfume.
  19. I once had as pets the following: parakeets, fish, hamsters (one of which went rabid), a box turtle (who ran away), cats, chicks, and by default, my neighbor's dogs (upon whose warm bellies I would sometimes rest my head in the summer and nap).
  20. I used to count among my favorite televisions shows the following: The A-Team, Voyager, Manimal, Remmington Steele, and Saturday Night Live. I will only admit to SNL now and even that I don't like as much anymore.
  21. I enjoy an eclectic mix of music. I used to say I liked "all kinds of music except country" but now that has grown on me and pop music irritates me instead and I'll never really get into industrial quote music unquote.
  22. In college, I joined in on the Rocky Horror Picture Show's audience participation night. More than once.
  23. I work for the U.S. Government and have the badge, fingerprint record, and meager paycheck to prove it.
  24. My car is a 1992 Toyota Cressida named "Cressie" which I can parallel park with ease.
  25. My favorite lotion is Santa Maria Novella's rose milk lotion.
  26. I've had the best and the worst pizza in Italy.
  27. I can spend an inordinate amount of time browsing the beauty products aisles.
  28. My favorite accent is the Scottish accent.
  29. I love "Catcher in the Rye," "Marathon Man," "Me Talk Pretty One Day," and "Ex Libris" inter alia.
  30. When I was younger, I could form a 'jump rope' with my arms (hands clasped together) and jump through them.
  31. I have held, at one time or another, the following paid, some more than others, positions: garbage collector, house painter, travel writer, attorney, cherry picker.
  32. My hair is long and dark brown that turns reddish in the summer sun.
  33. My mother used to call me in from playing outside by alerting me to the fact that the Muppet Show was on; these days, Brak, Samurai Jack, or Spongebob Squarepants would probably do the trick.
  34. I am plotting the death of my blog.
  35. I'm still stunned that Bush got re-elected.
  36. Other than Eid, Talk Like a Pirate Day is my favorite holiday - which is not a sanctioned holiday, but should be.
  37. I always try to read a book before the film-version comes out, regardless of whether or not I plan to see the remake.
  38. Despite the many "are ewe tew twains?" we are asked, I am five years older and five inches taller than my sister.
  39. I have bestowed upon my sister the title of beloved, enemy, stalemate, friend, best friend, and beloved.
  40. My sister lives anywhere between 1.0 and 1.2 miles away from me, depending on which route you take.
  41. I love movies and have seen probably more than my share over the years.
  42. Despite having done quite well in A.P. Calculus, I'm bad with numbers.
  43. If I don't get to become a professional world traveler, I wouldn't mind opening my own bookstore, and spend my days reading and discussing books with people, and not caring whether I sell the books or not.
  44. I enjoying making up my own words whether or not Literati or Scrabble acknowledges them.
  45. I am assisting a friend in creating a sci-fi graphic novel.
  46. I dislike public speaking immensely.
  47. I have no appendix, wisdom teeth, or perfect sight.
  48. I have a fairly dark sense of humor and get reprimanded often for it.
  49. I love caffeine in chocolate, coffee, and tea form.
  50. One of my favorite possessions is a gold ring that was given by a prisoner in WWII Hong Kong (on charges of being a British spy), to my Uncle (also imprisoned for the same reason), to my Grandmother (who was also in Hong Kong at the time), to my Mother (upon finishing the Quran) to me.


Our newz:

Our newest lil' stick o' butter is a boy!

Our buddy Nazia will be singing the national anthem at the upcoming Washington National's game. Masha'Allah, tu tu tu (as Shaheen would say).

Our friendly neighborhood plumber (if by 'neighborhood' you mean 'same time zone resident') celebrated his birthday yesterday - Happy Birthday, Mothman!

Our patience with skeeters has reached its limit, whipped right past it, risen to the boiling point, and exploded in a rage of white-hot rain of fire and brimstone.

Our tix are ready for the wedding of our buddy Gavin and his "Tiffany Blue" obsessed bride-to-be.

Our order has been placed for "Kung Fu Hustle" on deeweedee.

What's new witchu?


O's final guest post:

The hardware store provided new and improved parts, but they were no match for my uncanny ability to blunder. The pipes still dripped ever so slightly. Note: there is no grey area in plumbing. A pipe either leaks or it doesn't.
As my visit was coming to a close, I had no choice but to leave my client with a leaking drain pipe. (It's a good thing we're family!) I flew home dejected.

The slight drip was weathered patiently for two days, when a second expert came and fixed the problem by simply "tweaking" current fixture with plumber's putty. Ego aside, I'm glad the problem was fixed.


Onlookers: baji and TP
Client/assistant: LB
Theorist/failed plumber: O
Expert/the Wolf: himself


What have I been up to?
Hosting Chai and Ismo from Georgia. In the 90 degree heat. Feeding them grilled cheese sandwiches that TP made. Making them sit at home and watch deeweedee after deeweedee.

Hosting Oz from Louisville. In the 100 degree heat. Feeding him tacos that TP made. Making him dust, do the dishes, and repair LB's sink.

Hosting Giz and Iz from B'ham, UK. In the 110 degree heat. Feeding them salad that TP made. Making them stay awake to see the monuments and then forcing them to sleep with no A/C.

Hosting my parents from Jeff. In the 80 degree heat. Feeding them daal that TP made. Making Mom pay for the repair of our skylight and making Dad scrape and sand that door.


Going to Jaleo (a Spanish tapas restaurant) with family and friends and getting fed a sample of or an entire dish of:

1. Garbanzos con espinacas 'Que bien cocinas, Tichi' - Moorish stew of chickpeas and spinach
2. Patatas al 'Cabrales' - Potatoes with 'Cabrales' cheese sauce
3. Cazon en adobo al estilo de Cadiz - Marinated fried shark like people do in Cadiz
4. Manzanas con Manchego - Apple and Manchego salad
5. Pollo al ajillo con salsa verde - Grilled chicken with green sauce
6. Espinacas a la Catalana - Spinach sauteed with pine nuts, raisins & apples
7. Tortilla de patatas al momento - Classical Spanish potato & onion omelet made to order
8. Patatas bravas - Fried potatoes with spicy tomato sauce & alioli
9. Arroz con setas al Idiazabal - Traditional rice with mushrooms and smoked Idiazabal cheese

I'm such a horrible hostess.


1. Fresh fish - yes, especially spicy tuna rolls
2. Lobster - yah, but was injured in Maine and am once bitten, twice shy now
3. Steak - yep
4. Thai food - you know it; but i'd like to eat it in Thailand some day
5. Chinese food - but don't enjoy it in the US; France, Italy, and Pakistan is a different matter
6. Ice cream - duh
7. Pizza - double duh
8. Crab - aye, especially Maryland's famous crabby patties
9. Curry - triple duh
10. Prawns - i'm sure some have found their way into my meal, but i wouldn't choose it
11. Moreton Bay Bugs - no, gah! i need to get to Australia!
12. Clam chowder - yeah, wikkid pissah
13. Barbecues - yes, even in South Africa
14. Pancakes - ah, Mom's chocolate chip pancakes. . .
15. Pasta - at least once a week
16. Mussels - yes, thanks to TP
17. Cheesecake - Godiva Chocolate Cheesecake is to die for
18. Lamb - i'm Muslim, aren't i?
19. Cream tea - ummm, don't think so
20. Alligator - yes, in Florida
21. Oysters - nay
22. Kangaroo - a thousand nays!
23. Chocolate - that's like asking me if i breathe
24. Sandwiches - sir, yes, sir!
25. Greek food - mmm . . . feta and olives
26. Burgers - affirmative
27. Mexican food - cheese and avocados and salsa - who could resist?
28. Squid - no
29. American diner breakfast - yes, at all hours of the night and day
30. Salmon - raw, baked, grilled, seared, and (Mom's favorite) cajun style
31. Venison - see above comment on barbeque
32. Guinea pig - never. ever. ever. jeez.
33. Shark - sure did
34. Sushi - do you people not know me at all?
35. Paella - yes, especially in Madrid
36. Barramundi - what the . . . apparently BBC really wants me to go to Australia
37. Reindeer - awww, poor Rudolph
38. Kebab - seriously?
39. Scallops - yep
40. Australian meat pie - oh, come on, mate! enough!
41. Mango - yes, in fresh, iced, and liquid forms
42. Durian fruit - only in popsicle form
43. Octopus - no, but i think that LB and/or TP has; does that count?
44. Ribs - certainly no porky ones
45. Roast beef - great with horseradish
46. Tapas - yes, especially in Spain and in DC
47. Jerk chicken/pork - yep, jerk chicken in Belize
48. Haggis - i'd eat a guinea pig or a kangaroo before i ate that
49. Caviar - no thanks, snooty two-shoes
50. Cornish pasty - yes, in York

37 out of 50. How did you gourmands do?


Another guest post by O:

The bane of my current existence: plumbing.

When the topic of replacing a faucet came up I was ready to give it a go. I mean seriously, who among us hasn't watched "This Old House" and though to ourselves, "wow, I could probably do that?" I willing undertook the project - though with the requisite amount of [suppressed] trepidation; after all, I am a theorist and have actually never done this before.

Of course, when dealing with plumbing I do know to shut off the water. (After all, I didn't want Desi Arnez to come running in and say "O! You've made a big mess in here...") I've read that this can be tricky, as the valves are notoriously prone to self-sealing from disuse. They turned freely, the water was off and I removed my client's faucet (for I am visiting, and thus have no faucet of my own on which to focus these whims of construction) without a problem. I'd also read that this removal can be difficult and so with two of the admittedly more difficult steps completed, I was well on my way.

It may have been at this time that I began to get a bit smug. I cannot recall; subsequent toiling and analysis has clouded my memories of my mind-set at that time. Perhaps I thought to myself that I was really, really good. If these thoughts weren't yet in my mind they surely entered after I proceeded to successfully install the new faucet! Bright and shiny without a leak in sight! At this point in time I knew with little doubt that I was indeed really, really good.

With the faucet in place I was then well on my way to the removing and then replacing the drain plug. The removal went smoothly and after a bit of improvisation - oh yes, I can improvise plumbing fixtures now! - I reassembled the pipes and called my client into the workspace for the inaugural "running of the water." Success!

It was at this time that I distinctly remember interlocking my fists and shaking them over my shoulders. [First right, then left.] This jubilation was witnessed by my assistant. I'm sure my smile was so genuine it could have passed for photogenic... And then in happened.

Drip, drip, drip.
And it wasn't just one joint; indeed all three connections began to cry. I was crushed but not defeated and so for the better part of the next hour I pondered and reconfigured: drip, drip, drip. I removed and resealed: drip, drip, drip. I furrowed my brow and stroked my chin: drip, drip, drip. Defeat.

The next day brought a trip to the hardware store and hope that newer fittings would seal correctly. A pipe was cut - oh yes, I'm cutting pipe now! - and placed optimistically. Still leaking. Again I resealed and tightened the fittings with in mixture of frustration and rage. Still leaking.

Finally the expert was brought in. ["I'm bringing in the Wolf"]. Yes, I was depressed, but I was also happy that the burden was being shifted to someone who was more than just a theorist.

I briefed the expert on the current situation.

Onlookers: Do you guys need anything?
Expert: Yes, a plumber!
Me: [inaudible snickering]

After sighs of consternation and grunts of force ("man, you really torqued it!") the drain was removed and carefully analyzed. Subsequent discussion and expert analysis yielded a morale-saving conclusion: the new drain was designed to fit neither the sink nor the pipes in our project.
And so tomorrow brings yet another trip to yet another hardware store.
Stay tuned...

Down but not out,


Editor's note: The following is a guest blog...

O's Observations

So I've been visiting this week and thought it appropriate to pen a few observations about the past couple of days. Of course, I'll do this in scientific, non-literary, list format:

1. When a crowded metro car is a welcomed respite from the heat, you know it's hot outside.
2. Boy scouts are very patriotic.
3. The satisfaction one gets from touring a museum is inversely proportional to the price of admission.
4. The British version of "The Office" is vastly superior to the American attempt.
5. Holding - and eating with - a spoon while grasping it like a tennis racquet is funny.
6. Eating pizza keeps one young. (Actaully, I've known this for quite some time. I just though I'd share my knowledge...)
7. Apparently my parents were right; filp-flops are too casual to be worn indoors.


Can't post.

Must read Harrrrrry Potterrrrrr (said with trilly Desi/pirate "ahrrrr") before third wave of family members come to visit.

And eat. Thx for the haleem, Literaunty!

And sleep. Sweet, sweet sleep; oh, how I've missed thee.