A Necessary Evil: Summer Sweaters

It’s mid-May and I am sitting in my home office, sipping hot tea, wearing fuzzy house slippers and a summer sweater over a button up shirt.

That’s right: a summer sweater.

This girl is freezing. You can tell by her body language.

Growing up in West Texas, I never understood the concept of a summer sweater. Sure, I’d see them all the time in catalogs like Spiegel, Chadwick’s and Alloy or in magazines like Glamour or Lucky. These loose knit, cotton sweaters paired with white linen pants or worn over bikinis.

I never understood why if it was warm enough for beach wear, it was still chilly enough to necessitate a sweater. (I felt similarly about sweaters with three-quarter length sleeves: what, your wrists are unbearably warm but the rest of your torso is cold? And do not get me started on open-toed booties.)

I did not grow up with seasonal confusion. In Texas, you have two seasons hot as hell and slightly less so. No need for too many sweaters and certainly not a year-round entire sweater wardrobe.

Then I moved north, or more accurately, the greater D.C. area.

Now, I get it. I understand the need for summer sweaters.

Get your summer on, my chilly cohort.

A summer sweater is what you wear when the calendar (and all the catalogs and magazines and your clearly lying eyes) tell you that the weather should be sunny and the temperatures should be in the high 60s or even 70s and yet, it’s cold and rainy and not even remotely spring/summer like.

Here in the real world, it’s currently 50 degrees out. Granted, it’s still early in the day but the high is only supposed to be 58 degrees.

Enter, the summer sweater. A hole-y, loose knit sweater that bridges the gap between your winter bulky sweaters and the sweet summer uniform of t-shirts and flip flops. A summer sweater says, “Hey, I like/respect/embrace the concept of a seasonal calendar, but I know better than to trust it and I’m not going to just go skipping outside without some sort of warming layer just in case.” (See also: vests)

Apparently, this girl’s shoulders are very warm.

Luckily, I have three loose knit summer sweaters to get me through D.C.’s godforsaken “early summer.” They’re stacked in a small corner of my closet next to my heavy winter sweaters and my slightly-less-heavy fall sweaters. Right next to my even-less-heavy, more pastel-toned spring cardigans. Sometimes I grab a winter sweater instead of a summer sweater and have to go through the whole exercise of refolding and reorganizing the stacks.

By the way, I just saw on Twitter that the outdoor pool season in my neighborhood begins on May 25. I’ll be there, with a bathing suit and my head-to-toe, loose knit summer sweater onesie.

Staring off into the distance, wondering where the back of her sweater (and summer) is.

This Town Might Have a Dead Body Problem

Hey, who likes to hear about dead bodies? Or maybe I should say, “near misses with floating dead bodies?”

I mean, who doesn’t, amiright?

I realize this is a pretty abrupt manner in which to get started back into blogging. BUT, as a die-hard murderino (SSDGM, MFM crew), I have to post about this crazy, possible (but probably not?) hometown murder.

So, on the work front, things have been pretty busy since the beginning of the year, which isn’t a shocker – that is usually my busy period. But most of my really big yearly projects are slowly winding down (last big convention for the year is next week), so it’s been a nice quiet week here at Poe Communications/ National Detective/Sleuthing Services Agency, LLC.

cat detective

(Sidebar: Here’s a Buzzfeed list of 13 Signs Your Cat is Secretly a Detective).

And when my non-husband, XFE mentioned going to the gym at 6 am, I checked my pajama pockets for excuses and finding none, gamely agreed to go along with him. However, when we got to the gym, we saw construction crews tearing up the street to get to the water pipes and all the lights in the gym were off. After seeing other would-be gym goers leaving the scene, we surmised that our gym was probably not open. Yet, here we were, all dressed in spandex and ready to sweat.

Now, we live in Old Town, Alexandria, just a few blocks from the Potomac River. And along this stretch of Old Town, we have a lovely collection of waterfront parks, most of which are connected by a biking/walking trail that runs all along the Potomac. It’s pretty dang nice and its definitely one of my preferred running paths.

Pretty typical waterfront park view. Notice no dead bodies clogging up the river.

Since the gym was closed, we decided to take advantage of the cool morning and go for a walk along the Old Town Waterfront, which will now be known as Scenic River Murder Path (SRMP).

We headed south. Because I’m a curious, snoopy sort of person, I spent a good portion of my time checking out all the various bits of debris that had washed up along the shoreline after the many heavy storms we’ve had over the last couple of days. I’m always surprised how many logs and just huge splinters of logs, along with just tons of trash end up stuck in all the various nooks and crannies along the SRMP’s otherwise well-manicured trails.

OT Waterfront
We walked along this lovely area. Keep it in mind.

This morning, as I was gawking at all the debris, I didn’t see too much of note, except for one foam-pontoon-looking thing that had washed up into a pile of logs and trash near the Potomac Riverboat Company office. At first glance, it’s large, concave white shape reminded me of a dead, belly-up shark, which caused me to do a double take and then laugh at myself over the idea of a shark in the Potomac River.

But then, this afternoon, XFE sent me this story:

How the body of a man ended up in the Potomac River in Alexandria is under investigation by the Virginia city’s police department.

The body was found Wednesday morning in the river not far from the marina in Old Town, not far from the Torpedo Factory, according to the Alexandria Fire Department.

Police will investigate how the man ended up in the water and how he died.

The man’s identity has not been released.

Holy Torpedo Factory, that was right where we were! How could we not have seen it? I was literally gawking at every bit of flotsam and jetsam and yet, somehow I had managed to not see a body bouncing around???

OT body
Look familiar? Yeah. I know. Image from reporter Victoria Sanchez’s Twitter feed.

I immediately started looking for more information and found this:

A body was recovered from the Potomac River in Alexandria, Virginia on Wednesday morning, Alexandria Fire Department said.

Around 9:15 a.m., fire crews responded to the scene just off the Old Town Waterfront for a report of a person in the water.

The fire crew has handed off the incident to the Alexandria Police Department. The PIO does have much information that can be confirmed at this time, but it has been reported as death on arrival.

Wait a minute, 9:15??? We were right there! We were walking along the marina area at like, 6:30!! How did we not see anything??

But then, my Internet sleuthing got even spookier:

 A man’s body was found in the Potomac River Tuesday evening in D.C.

Metropolitan Police say the unidentified man was unconscious and not breathing when he was located. His body floated approximately 10 feet off the shoreline of Dangerfield Island in the Potomac.

According to investigators, there does not appear to be signs of foul play.

So, another, different body was found in the same river the night before. Oh, and guess where Daingerfield Island is? Just north of us, along that same hike/bike trail! Basically, (well, not basically, but literally), the two bodies washed up two miles and about 12 hours apart.


That’s suspicious, right?

I have just so many questions, but I think the main one is: what was the deal with the water pipes outside of our gym this morning?

And, in slightly more upbeat neighborhood news, we’re getting a Taco Bell (free Nacho Cheese Doritos® Locos Tacos Supreme® for every murder mystery solved)! But also, it will serve alcohol (Margarita Bell Grande?).

Old Town is so weird. And apparently, dangerous.









Friday Links: Shutdown Protest Edition

So let’s just have a little quick recap of this week, shall we? My sweet love petal XFE is out of town and my insomnia is in full force. I showed up a week early for a dental cleaning (they declined my offer to go ahead and just do it. They also didn’t appreciate it when I pointed out that since they charge me when I miss an appointment without calling, they should reward me the same amount when I show up for really, really early for appointments. )

The huge mirror over the sink in my bathroom decided it didn’t like my outfit and completely jumped off the wall (the wire holding it broke), cracking the left corner and ruining it.

I left my keys in the door overnight and had to force myself to be Secret Agent Ninja Poe the next morning looking for would-be murderers/rapists/robbers/cat hostage takers.

I finally broke down and got a work-issued phone that is about sixteen generations more advanced than my personal phone (the iLuddite, as one co-worker dubbed it) and has me totally confounded (where is the “dismiss appointment reminder button!”)

And, finally, it rained approximately 160 of the last 168 hours.

Let’s see what was on the Web this week.

Matthew Broderick Does Triple Daddy Duty School Run

  • I agree with ol’Tabitha or Marion or whatever Broderick up there. Fall sucks and leaves are mean.
  • It may seem kinda lame to say, but this risotto from Trader Joe’s was the highlight of my week.  Lick-your-bowl phenomenal. It’s made with spelt. Spelt! I’m not even sure what that is! But I suspect it’s healthy! And nutritious!
  • I finished this book, about reclusive copper heiress Huguette Clark and her fortune and the subsequent fight over that fortune, and yes, her empty mansions. Pretty sure ol’Huguette left the keys in the door, metaphorically speaking. It’s a good  (ie: odd) story, if a little short on action. OK, a lot short on action.
  • I stayed up way too late the other night watching this HBO documentary on the murder of an openly gay teen by a classmate. Valentine Road is heartbreaking, in part because of all the ignorant, homophobic adults saying horrible things about the victim. It got me pretty fired up.
  • Perfection: Jimmy Fallon helps perform What Does the Fox Say?
  • Man, I hope I never drive XFE to fake his own kidnapping in order to get some guilt-free party time away from me. My favorite quote from the Hidalgo County Sheriff: “”Well, he’s going to party in jail now.”
  • Do you know who or what an Absu is? IKEA or Death is an online game that challenges you to correctly label words as either an IKEA product or a death metal band. Even better, the game was created by a marketing agency.
  • Speaking of clever marketing agencies, this mobile ad firm Revolution Marketing has campaign called Drunk Dial Congress. Drunkdialcongress.org connects citizens fed up with the government shutdown to members of the House of Representatives.
  • Listen, I grew up around truckers, literally less than half a mile down the road from an actual truck stop. Hell, my mom even married a few of them. But truckers hijacking the roads around DC to protest congressional inaction is just not a good idea. Your cause may be noble (or, more probably, misguided), but you’re method would just punish the innocent citizens of this swampland. We’ve been through enough lately.

RIP: Unknown Search Terms

What a week, huh? Kray up here in tha DC, y’all, what with the government shutdown and all the crazy effects of that — veterans storming World War II memorials, DC metro saying it will run fewer train cars, and, worst of all, no panda cam at the National Zoo. Then there was that whole crazy car chase/shooting business yesterday.

How can you be so cruel, Congress?
How can you be so cruel, Congress?

All of that (plus the end of “Breaking Bad” — sooooo good; and total work insanity), has distracted us from a true travesty: the end of unknown search terms.

You see, one of the greatest and most amusing features of WordPress was a feature that rounded up terms used in search engines like Yahoo, Google and Bing, that somehow led people to your blog. For example, someone found my blog recently by searching for “grand theft auto widow.”

Anyway, this list of search terms brought me a ton of pleasure and laughs. Whenever I found a particularly weird search term, I would post it on Facebook or Twitter as a Totally Random Search Term that Brought Someone to thePoelog, also known as TRSTBS for short. And I would speculate exactly what kind of person would have been searching for that term. Here’s an example from September 11: Totally random search term that brought someone to thePoeLog “rat on a treadmill videos.” Welcome, Pied Piper in training.

Sadly, the search term feature is being relocated to a nice family farm out in the country, never to be heard from again. Here’s what WordPress says:

In September 2013 Google started to rapidly expand the number of searches that it encrypts, which results in a higher proportion of “Unknown search terms” in your stats.  According to some sources, this expansion will eventually result in encryption of all Google searches.  This is being done for privacy reasons by Google when someone searches at Google.com, before a visitor arrives at your WordPress.com site.  Therefore we don’t have any way to unhide the search terms.  We recognize this means a loss of stats information for you and we will look for other ways to show you how users arrived at your site.

Source: http://blog.hubspot.com/google-encrypting-all-searches-nj
Source: http://blog.hubspot.com/google-encrypting-all-searches-nj

Damn you Google! And Edward Snowden! And NSA, who really, when you think about it, started this whole nonsense to begin with. Listen, I got nothing to hide. If NSA wants to look at pictures of my chubby cat and whatever deliciousness XFE has made us for dinner, knock yourselves out. I live my life loud and proud.

However, other people do not really feel the same way I do and like their privacy to remain intact. But now, NSA, you’ve gone and made everyone all wild-eyed and outraged and who pays the price? Cultural observers such as myself who get a snicker out of people finding my blog while searching for “Kate Middleton porno.” (Can’t you just imagine their disappointment?)

kate compares

So far, however, I do have a list of the last month’s search terms that I’ve copied and saved. So, I thought we’d have a little Irish wake here, pour some wine (one for me and one for my fallen homies) and do a little Q&A using a small sampling of those last Totally Random Search Terms that Brought Someone to thePoeLog.

What to pack for doomsday — This is a very good question. Also, quite philosophical. On the one hand, does it really matter? After all, it’s doomsday. But, maybe our erstwhile searcher is an optimist and expects to survive and carry on the human species, perhaps with the assistance of one mighty fine Matthew McConaughey, for example. In that case, you might want to pack something lingerie, a nice sturdy box of wine, a sleeping bag, and a gun. The gun, mind you, isn’t to use on Matthew. It’s to protect Matthew from other the clutches of other lady survivors.


How to get in touch with duck dynasty — Well, shouldn’t be too hard. West Monroe is a pretty small place. Population is only 13,000. I think if you hung around the Circle K long enough, you’re bound to run into one of those long-bearded fellas. Or, you could probably start going to their church. Or just stop by Duck Commander headquarters. They say on their website that, “We would be HAPPY, HAPPY, HAPPY for you to come by and say “HEY”.  You can even pay them to hang out with you, according to the website: for information on booking the Duckmen please visit WME Speakers at ducks@wmeentertainment.com

Is hilary from love it or list it pregnant — I haven’t been watching it lately (we’ve got three episodes hanging out on the DVR), so I don’t really know. But (and no offense here), she seems a bit old to be starting a family. I would guess the answer to this question would probably be no. Now Desta on the other hand, I believe she’s fairly recently married, so that would make sense. And if Hilary is pregnant, congratulations and good luck.

When is gold rush coming back on discovery channel — The Hoffman Knucklehead Crue are back on Discovery Channel on October 25. According to this blog: “In season four of GOLD RUSH, Todd Hoffman puts his life on the line, and asks his crew to do the same, braving malaria, poisonous snakes and quicksand to set up a mining operation in a patch of hostile jungle deep in Guyana, South America.” We saw a few preview episodes on Discovery a few months back, and it looks like plenty of bad decisions ahead.

Can you get brain eating amoebas feom bath water — I believe that should be “from” and my guess is yes. Brain eating amoebas are everywhere and we should all be afraid of them. Best to just take showers whilst holding your breath. But you might want to have a chair in the shower. If you pass out from holding your breath, amoeba-carrying water will definitely get up your nose and eat your brain.

Death and danger are everywhere. A pink floatie will not save you.
Death and danger are everywhere. A pink floatie will not save you.

When men reading shades of grey — I’m not familiar with the book “Shades of Grey,” so I’m guessing you mean “Fifty Shades of Grey.”  Also, this query seems to be missing some very important connecting words here, which changes the possible answers a bit. If you are asking “When do you find men reading fifty shades of grey,” then the answer is most likely when they think they won’t be caught, so maybe when they’re in the tub enjoying a nice bubble bath? If your question is, “what to do when men [are?] reading fifty shades of grey,” my advice is to avert your eyes and calmly and slowly walk away without drawing attention to the awkward situation. The obvious caveat here is that no man should be reading Fifty Shades of Grey. Even Matthew McConaughey.

I feel nervous about an upcoming trip — Totally understandable. Travel can be exciting but scary. After all, a lot of things can happen — the plane might crash, your luggage might get lost, the car rental place might be closed, the hotel might have lost your reservation, the roads might be blocked by protesting fishermen, you might eat bad salami and be violently ill for 10 days in one of the world’s great gourmet regions. Or, you might get a brain eating amoeba from taking a bath while reading “Fifty Shades of Grey.”

That would be a highway closed by protesting fishermen on our trip to Peru.
That would be a highway closed by protesting fishermen on our trip to Peru.

But, it’s all worth it because travel provides you with an opportunity to brag about all the great places you’ve been and all the great things you’ve seen on your very own blog. See? Don’t you feel better already?

(Some of the) Laws in Virginia are Bleeping Stupid

Ugh, so apparently we have to move. It’s all very unfortunate because we love our little house, and our adorable neighborhood and we live just a block from Trader Joe’s, which has always been my main aspiration in life. And, I’ve just figured out where to stand on my neighborhood metro platform to place myself at the nearest escalator exit on my way to work every morning.

But, moving appears to be the only solution since we are–in all likelihood–on the lam. Running from the long arm of the law. Hardened criminals on the loose, as it were.

First, there was this delightfully B-52-headlined story:

A Senate panel on Monday unanimously advanced a bill to repeal an old law that makes it illegal for unmarried couples to live together in Virginia. It is a misdemeanor in the state, under a law dating to the late 19th century, for “any persons, not married to each other, [to] lewdly and lasciviously associate and cohabit together.”

Holy bare ring finger. Are you serious, Virginia?

Well, not so much "lovers" technically, but more like, "married people."
Well, not so much “lovers” technically, but more like, “married people.”

When it came time to pick a place to put down roots in this area, one of Virginia’s major selling points was the fact that Virginia does not have common law marriage. Well, that, along with the fact that the taxes are lower than in DC. And, housing prices are slightly less. And, it’s much safer than DC.

OK, common law marriage laws were not at all a consideration in where my illegal consort XFE and I would live. BUT, I did check it out and was much relieved when I found out that we would not be considered married if we lived together.

(Interesting factoid from the above list I linked to: In Indiana, “any unsterilized female under 50 must submit with application for license a medical report stating whether she had immunological response to rubella, or a written record that the rubella vaccine was administered on or after her first birthday. Judge may by order dispense with these requirements.” Really? Rubella? AKA: German measles? Well, apparently, this is a problem in Indiana. Weird.)

Where was I? Oh yeah. So now our esteemed legislators in Richmond are telling me that we have been breaking the law this whole time?? Also, trampy readers in Michigan, Mississippi and Florida take note: you still have cohabitation laws on the books.

Luckily, some hip new lawmaker in Virginia is trying to update the law. And, he’s from my neck of the woods.

Sen. Adam Ebbin (D-Alexandria) brought legislation to legalize cohabitation, a measure one observer in the committee hearing dubbed the “Love Shack” bill. “Are you suggesting that perhaps things have changed since 1877?” committee chairman Sen. Thomas Norment (R-James City) jokingly asked Ebbin.

Oh those Virginia senators. Aren’t they a jolly, jokey bunch?

Ebbin's for beddin''s that don't require weddin's. (see what I did there?)
Ebbin’s for beddin”s that don’t require weddin’s. (see what I did there?)

However, the future of the bill hangs in the balance, with possible opposition arising from conservative groups who have not yet taken a position, but say they’re “monitoring the bill.”

The second reason we might have to move is even more distressing because it all falls  completely on me. And my unending love of cursing.

Section 18.2-388 of the Virginia Code states that “profane swearing and intoxication in public” is punishable as a Class 4 misdemeanor: “If any person profanely curses or swears or is intoxicated in public, whether such intoxication results from alcohol, narcotic drug or other intoxicant or drug of whatever nature, he shall be deemed guilty of a Class 4 misdemeanor. In any area in which there is located a court-approved detoxification center a law-enforcement officer may authorize the transportation, by police or otherwise, of public inebriates to such detoxification center in lieu of arrest; however, no person shall be involuntarily detained in such center.”

Shit. I mean, crap. Whatever. This could be a problem. I cuss with a great, great frequency, regardless of the venue or the unintended audience members. I have seen people physically flinch from the cursing spew that often comes out of my mouth. It’s a terrible, terrible habit, I totally agree. I just can’t seem to get a grasp on it.

If you can't cuss in a Waffle House, I'm not sure where that leaves us as a society.
If you can’t cuss in a Waffle House, I’m not sure where that leaves us as a society.

What’s worse is there doesn’t seem to be any erstwhile young firebrands in the legislature looking to get rid of this particular law. No trailblazing Ebbins. No comedic stylings of one Norment. (Hmmmm, Norment and Ebbins. Sounds like an accounting team, or maybe some Victorian crime fighting duo that cracks down on cussing and the like.) But no. There’s no one. No one to hear my profanity-filled cries.

Except for maybe this school board member from Bloomington, Illinois who just got banned from attending school sporting events for the rest of the year after a recent outburst. But I don’t think school board members are allowed to write bills or reverse laws in Virginia, or anything.

So I’m ……well, let’s just say I’m thinking of a word that rhymes with “stucked.”

Bare Legs in Winter. Why?

Excuse me, miss.

Yes, you, the young lady in the puffer coat on the corner, shivering away on this damp, drizzly, cold morning.

You seem like a smart young thing on her way to work, hair: neat and in place; makeup: appropriate; professionally dressed (with the possible exception of the puffer jacket which I think looks like you’re walking around in a giant sleeping bag, but I get that it has some redeeming qualities: ie; it’s warm as a sleeping bag).

So why the hell are you walking around with bare legs and Tory Burch flats in the 37 degree weather??

Welp, at least the hat will keep her warm.
Welp, at least the hat will keep her warm.

I’ve lived in Washington DC for around 9 years now and this is something I will never understand: bare legs in winter and an unnatural attachment to Tory Burch flats, no matter the season.

I get that DC ladies may not want to take fashion advice from someone who left work yesterday looking like this:

HBC layers

A very bad Mary Poppins played by Helena Bonham Carter. (In my defense – and yes, I’m feeling quite defensive about this ensemble — it was raining and those are my rain boots and they are NOT what I wore all day. My brown leather knee high boots are actually in that bulging light blue bag on the left. Along with all my lunch gear. Also: that supremely unflattering-length skirt is now in the donation pile.)

But this is not fashion advice; this is survival advice. It’s cold out there. Really, really cold. Hell, it’s cold in most offices. So if it’s cold enough to wear a coat, it’s cold enough to cover your legs with either pants, or tights, or even knee high socks, if you can manage it.


And on a fashion note, seeing your pale winter legs slowly turn blue is not cute. No one is looking at you and thinking, “yes, that hypothermia really makes her look like she just came from St. Tropez.”

fur and bare legs

Even a fur coat is not really sufficient.


The cape is lovely but where are your pants, dear?

winter shorts


Scarf…check. Coat…check. Fuzzy earmuffs….check. Tights….ooops.

alexa chung


Alexa, I’m chilled just looking at you. Although you’re legs are quite moisturized-looking, so good for you on that score. That windchill is going to dry those out completely.

winter coat and flip flops


It’s always the young girls trying this look out. Never older ladies, I’ve noticed. Listen, I have to commute as well and I totally understand the concept of a commuter shoe, but maybe wear something that actually covers your foot or something that you can wear warm socks with. Warm socks can be quite lovely on a cold day. Really!

Freaky Friday: Bagel Heads, Ghosts, Attack Owls

It’s been a bit of an odd Friday around here. For example, I was trapped at a work-related event for a large portion of the afternoon and when I returned to my own floor at around 2:30, no one was around. It was actually pretty creepy. Just empty chairs in every office and cube. Even the Party Crue from the Finance Hizzy were half gone. If there was a Get-Out-of-Work-Early memo, it was not circulated to me.

Yep. That’s pretty weird. (Owls will also figure into this post, so that’s creeping me out.)

Perhaps all my co-workers merely turned into ghosts, in which case they are probably off having an orgy with Kei$ha.

Our favorite white trash songstress has a new song out called “Supernatural,” which, of course, she needs to promote by going on Ryan Seacrest’s radio show. Seacrest, being the intrepid reporter that he is, delved deep into Kei$ha’s creative process and found out the inspiration behind the song:

“It’s about experiences with the supernatural… but in a sexy way,” she told Seacrest. “I had a couple of experiences with the supernatural. I don’t know his name! He was a ghost! I’m very open to it.”

Actually, my friend Katie over at MaddieUncensored has a much more plausible theory on the whole ghost-sex thing, including who it might have been.

I highly doubt she had sex with a ghost. It’s more likely the trash bag she was wearing billowed up and confused her. But please refer to the ghost as Ca$per.

The only Casper I know is J-Lo’s boy-toy, so Jenny from the Block better start enforcing her man’s curfew.

“You stay away from that Ke$ha or I’m going to $hiv you, Ca$per.”

Kei$ha also mentioned that she went on:

A “spirit journey by myself. No security guard. No managers. I just went around the world and lived on a boat. I was in Africa rehabilitating baby lions. I went diving with great white sharks, and just went on this crazy spirit quest. I got hypnotized, and I just really wanted this record to be really positive, really raw, really vulnerable and about the magic of life.”

Sounds to me like she’s been hanging out a bit with ol’SnoopKitty. And by hanging out, I mean, smoking some very special medicinal cigarettes.

In case you were wondering, some of the other titles off her new album are “Die Young,” “Last Goodbye,” and “Love Into the Light.” I’m definitely sensing a theme here.

(By the way, that Wikipedia page linked above is pure comedy gold. Some funny, funny stuff on there. Spandex on the Distant Horizon?? A song about “futuristic sex toys??”  National Geographic documentary?? Also: cover art = genius)

While we have some pretty compelling evidence purely speculative ideas on what Ke$ha’s ghost might look like (J-Lo’s leftovers), there’s just as good a chance that this ghost has a bagel for a forehead, particularly if this is a Japanese ghost.

“National Geographic Taboo” chronicles the bizarre beauty treatment in an upcoming episode set in Tokyo, following three people who opt into the temporary forehead injections which have become a keen part of the Japanese “body modification” art scene.

Here’s how it goes down: technicians insert a needle into the forehead and inject about 400 cc of saline to create a forehead-sized blob. (One bagel-ee describes is as feeling like “something’s dripping down [his] head” and a “slight stinging sensation.”) The practitioner then places his or her thumb into the blob to create the indentation….Luckily, the bagel-shaped injections aren’t permanent; the round protusion fades after about sixteen hours as your body absorbs the saline.

Eeewww. So. That’s now a thing.

Just in time for Thanksgiving, the next craze out of Japan? Turkey head.

Which leads to my last item of weird news: Apparently, there are some owls out here on the running trails of DC that want to take a chunk out of our bagel-less foreheads. This is THE scariest paragraph ever written:

I had been attacked by a bird previously, on a trail in Rock Creek Park just after dawn, so I was familiar with the feeling of bird claws raking my head. It feels like a kitten has been set on your head, claws out: There’s a light pressure and a mildly sharp prickle.

(Actually, the whole first-person account is terrifyingly graphic. I can’t believe they put that in the newspaper.)

Runners World also has a blog post noting the increase in unprovoked owl attacks, which they’ve pegged at four.

Now, it’s a well documented fact that I am not fond of birds. I have pretty much been attacked by every bird I’ve ever been around, including one memorable time when a grackle attacked my head one fine day while I was walking to class across the University of Texas campus. There were even witnesses.

(Both of whom failed to render aid, I caustically observed.

I may have shouted at them at the time. It’s all a feathery blur.

OK, fine, I did yell at the two small female exchange students, but seriously! How long did they intend to just stand there watching me get attacked??)

But I especially don’t like being dive-bombed by aggressive asshole owls while trying to get my fitness on. Running is difficult enough. I seriously cannot add defense moves (ie: flailing) to the mix. Somebody’s going to get hurt and it’s most likely going to be me.

I guess I could just throw my ipod at him and then stop-drop-and-roll my way home.

Very weird week. Hopefully this weekend is free of ghosts, body modifications and especially, owls. But not Ke$ha. I dig her jams.

Don’t Be That Guy: Metro Edition

It’s finally summertime in Washington DC and therefore, it’s time to partake in a season ritual known as “complain about metro.” (There’s even a whole blog about it)

Don’t get me wrong….this is a sport that can be played year round. It’s just that it becomes especially strident when the town is (a) incredibly muggy and odor-producing and (b) overrun by tourists.

survivor guide

I have nothing inherently against tourist. I, myself, am often a tourist in strange locales. If tourists stop and ask me questions, I generally try to keep the eye-rolling to a minimal and not only answer their stupid questions, but point out the steps I took to come to that answer. For example, here’s a typical exchange I have with a tourist about 90 days of the year:

Red sweaty tourist: “Do you know if I’m on the right side of the platform?”

(Sometimes there’s even a timid “excuse me” thrown in there, which is actually appreciated, unless it’s followed by a “ma’am,” which will get you cut. Other times there’s a whole life story involved before the question, which is not appreciated. I don’t care what part of the Appalachian you came from or how many of your children you brought with you or how this is your first time riding public transportation. I’d already figured that last one out, by the way.)

Cool composed me: “Where are you going?”

RST: “Washington DC.”

CCM: “Well, if we look at the clearly marked electronic signs above our head, they indicate that trains going in this direction end at Largo Town Center. Then, if we cross reference that with the sweat-stained map you’re holding in your hand, or the identical metro maps emblazoned every two feet along the platform, or even the tall brown pillars with a little dot-by-dot list of stops serviced by this platform, we can deduct by the names of the stops that you are indeed on the correct side to go to Washington.”

RST: “When is the next train coming?”

CCM: “Well, I don’t actually control the trains with my Big City Magic, but I can refer you again to the electronic signs above our head which clearly indicates that the next train is in 3 minutes. Don’t worry. There’s no reason to be suspicious of that information. It is generally true and reliable, and the signs are located on every platform in every station on every line.”

Well, usually
Well, usually. These are the instances when I have to keep my smart comments to myself.

There’s a lot more I can add to this, but these tend to be the most often asked questions, although other questions about specific landmarks or locations are often thrown in, to which I have to reply that there is no metro stop called “Lincoln Memorial,” and since I don’t often travel to the memorial because I don’t work there and there isn’t really a restaurant or bar there, I can’t help them any further.

So back to my point: I don’t mind tourists. I understand that they bring money into our fair region – money that, in some magical accounting mystery, doesn’t actually lead to better metro service or lower fares. I just wish the tourists wouldn’t ride the metro when I’m trying to ride it. They can have at it between the hours of 8:30 am and 5 pm and again after 8 pm. Actually, let’s make that 9 pm. Sometimes Happy Hour runs long.

No, today I’d like to complain about my commute last Friday. Let me set the scene, which is easily done in about four sentences: It was a hellacious workday. My normal team of three was just down to me. I had worked harder than a preacher in Las Vegas. I just wanted to go home and have some wine.

My home metro station is serviced by the blue and yellow lines, which runs together for a little while before splitting and going two different directions. The metro station near my work is the blue line, so I take blue line trains to work and home.

But some days, especially on very bad Fridays, you get to the metro station near work and the platform is packed. Which indicates that there are delays on the metro. Probably from someone trying to commit suicide by jumping on the tracks – it actually happens a lot and seriously tests your humanity because while you know that someone has been seriously hurt and probably even killed, all you can think is “dammit, this is so freaking inconvenient.”

Suicide Booth

When there is a delay on the blue line, I have a serious calculation to do based on very little information: Do I go down and pack myself in with the rest of the herd and wait for the  blue line train, or do I resort to Plan B? Plan B involves backtracking several stops in the opposite direction I wish to go in and then switching to a yellow line train, which is (a) obviously less direct and (b) requires changing lines in the intimidatingly large and exceptionally crowded L’Enfant station (which services four different train lines and therefore has about eight platforms, plus a Virginia Rail Express, I think).

So I have to decide whether I think the time it will take to navigate the yellow line option is less time than what it will take for the metro crew to scrape a body off the train tracks and get the train moving again. Sorry, but those are the factors to the formula. No way to sugar coat it.

Unless we’re just dealing with a sick passenger (usually some heat-stroked tourist). Then, things could, hypothetically, be resolved in slightly less time. Unless, that sick passenger got sick all over the train, in which case everyone on the train will have to be off-loaded, the train will have to be taken out of service, which involves backing it to an unused platform, then adding another train to service to pick up all the offloaded passengers, etc. etc. etc.

The point is, there’s really no way to know. It’s a crap shoot. I usually find that whatever Sophie’s Choice I’ve made, I have a sneaking suspicion it was the wrong one. On Friday, I decided to go with the platform that had moving trains on it versus the one that didn’t, and went in the direction of the yellow line. (This is my station. My platform is on the right. Plan B is on the left. Which would you choose?)

farragut 2
My normal direction is on the right. The Plan B option is on the left.

Another calculated risk when riding the metro: When the doors open, you have about 3 seconds to discern whether an empty seat on a very crowded metro during rush hour is empty for a reason, ie: crazy person sitting there. But when I looked at my potential seatmate, no bells went off. I had no gut check, so I sat. (To be fair, neither the train nor station were air conditioned, so perhaps this fogged up my situational awareness ability.)

Sitting next to this guy was the other option.

It wasn’t him I should have been worried about. It was the group of about eight hooligan teenagers who were heckling him mercilessly with very loud questions like, “Oh, are we bothering you? Are we? Huh? I bet you wish we would just get off this train, huh? Oh you’re not going to talk to me? You’re just going to ignore me? Why are you so angry? We’re just all going home to party, right? What do you drink when you party? I bet you drink wine coolers! Did y’all hear what I said? I told him I bet he drinks wine coolers!”

We all heard what you said. Because you said it repeatedly and very, very loudly.

This went on for about four stops, or around 15 minutes. They made sure to beat the windows next to me (he was seated in the aisle seat) to get his attention and wish him a fond journey to his destination. By fond journey, I mean, flip him off and jeer at him.

Switching train lines, I patiently wait on another packed platform for the next yellow line train (by the way, there was a National’s game that night, so extra special times). One pulls up and there’s a mad push towards the doors. It’s not quite Tokyo style where there are little men pushing you in from the back, but as I said, I’m already hot and sweaty and not looking forward to jamming in.

But I need not worry because a woman wearing about 12 laminated work badges, some Reebok/Sketcher fake workout shoes, and the world’s largest gym bag/body duffel (unused, I’m fairly certain) appears out of nowhere and wedged her wide acid-washed jean-covered ass in front of me. She basically shoved me into the side of the train. To which I commented out loud, “Oh yes, please, you should totally go first. I didn’t realize that YOU were waiting for the train. Don’t mind me at all.”

Then, as the doors opened, she maneuvered herself in front of – I kid you not – a man in a wheelchair. A wheelchair!! To which I huffed into the back of her thinning, cotton-candy textured hair, “Oh, you’re going to cut this guy off too? Are you kidding me??”

She did indeed, cut him off too. And she seemed quite satisfied in her seat for the next two stops, while I glared at her from the aisle.

I eventually got home, quite worked up and rattled, which isn’t at all the way you want to attack a bottle of wine on a Friday night.

I’m telling you, if you hear about a shoot-up in a DC metro station, please delete this blog post. Or use it as evidence for why my actions were justified in the name of humanity.

Dave Hester Better Stay Away from My Plants

You know what chaps my hide? I mean, besides plant vandalism, of which I was a victim this week.

Not even sure that sentence is properly constructed.

Anyway, I’ll get to the real point of my post in just a second, but first I want to yell for a minute about the lame thugs of Old Town who tore all the leaves off my newly planted banana pepper plant.

A leaf-less banana pepper plant. Now what will I put on my pizzas?

Who does this? And why? And why stop just there? We also have a lovely and tender new Roma tomato plant just waiting to grow and fill its’ metal tomato cage. And what about my jalapeno plant? Why not just rip it out like you did my heart? Don’t even get me started on the herbs. But I suppose this vandal was too damn scared to walk up into the walkway and tear at the leaves of my mint and basil. The rosemary is far too scary, since it’s protected by the very thorny rose bush.

No, you just stood by the little garden box in front of our house and adjacent to the sidewalk and picked the leaves off my banana pepper. Did you know that we’ve never tried to grow banana peppers and we were so excited to see if we’d be any good at it? But no. You were probably standing around, talking to another one of your thuggy friends and needed something to do with your hands. Ugh. It really has made me so very, very sad.

The scene of the crime. Sideways, I think. I don't know. I was very distraught and it was early.

Although, I guess I should be glad you didn’t just poop in my backyard.

RIP banana pepper. Or, better yet, fight. Prove us all wrong and fight your way back.

OK, now that that’s out of the way (I really didn’t expect to get so emotional on that). We at the XFE-PoeLog abode love us a little show called Storage Wars on A&E. Actually, we love both the original and the Texas edition. I can’t exactly even say which one I love better. I love them both equally.

But one thing that really confounds me is Dave Hester’s pricing. Dave, if you don’t watch the show, is kind of the resident jerk. He’s a teensy bit evil. He likes to run up other bidders just for the fun of it. He’s got a huge ego, and he wears a black shirt and hat, and likes to smirk a lot. He’s like the NeNe of the Storage Wars world – he’s loud, and conniving and confrontational, and annoying as all get out, but the show would be a lot less fun without him.

Don't worry, I am rich. Very, very rich. Dave Hester rich, in fact.

When Dave starts going through a storage locker and pricing the items for what he thinks they’ll sell for in his shop or auction house, he seems to just be pulling some very large prices out of thin air.

We were watching an old episode from season two last night in which Dave bought a unit that hadn’t been touched in 20 years. In it, he found a trunk that had some Italian travel stickers on it. Inside the trunk were a whole bunch of cheap disposable Christmas ornaments. Bummer. But in a nearby box, he finds a whole bunch of really tacky old yellowing lace curtains. Putting zero and nothing together, Dave surmises that these are in fact rare lace pieces made in Murano by blind nuns or something, and therefore are worth about $1,000.

Bull. Malarky. This guy overprices EVERYTHING. There was another episode where he found some old decrepit fur coats and declared he was going to get $200 a piece for them. Another time he found two guitars and said he could get $600 a piece for them. He inflates the value of every single item just so it looks like he’s made a profit, no matter what.

That’s way more annoying than him driving up the prices or making last minute bids.

Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe he does sell that stuff for the prices he quotes. According to the Storage Wars Wikipedia page, Dave has made a profit of $3.26 for every dollar he’s spent over the first two seasons of the show, far outpacing anyone else.

But I’m also not the only one out there who questions Dave’s pricing. As these guys over at Grantland put it:

Also, as long as I have your attention, producers, how about a little accountability? If I have to watch Darrell look at an old Xbox and say, “That’s a 50 dollar bill” one more time, I’m going to throw my remote control through my television.

Maybe Dave has some sort of banana pepper alarm system he could sell me for a couple of thousand dollars.

Sometimes, you have to go extreme.

Mushrooms That are Neither Magical, Nor Emo: I Sense a Conspiracy (Of Course)

Seems that some folks around the greater DC area, specifically, Northern Virginia, are getting sick. From the most evil of all fungi….mushrooms. (I kid, I kid. I love you mushrooms. Especially sautéed with balsamic vinegar and served on top of my steak. But, I’m not too familiar with other forms of fungi, so we’ll just go with “most evil,” mkay?)

There are a whole lot of "evil mushroom" images out there. Crazy.

No, people are getting mushroom poisoning because they are idiots. So far, at least four morons have gotten sick. From eating mushrooms they just found growing in yards and on the sides of roads and whatever.

Let me explain. Actually, let’s let an official news source explain:

“An additional two people are currently being treated at Georgetown University Hospital after eating poisonous mushrooms in Northern Virginia.  The two women, one from Warrenton, Virginia and one who was in town visiting from Thailand, bring the total number of mushroom poisoning cases treated at Georgetown Hospital in the past two weeks to four.”

Isn’t that nice? They all go to the same hospital. Wait…..how do they know to do that? There must be a billion hospitals in the area. And Georgetown isn’t even in Northern Virginia, it’s in DC proper. Wait a minute….I’m starting to get suspicious here. Let’s read on.

“The women picked the mushrooms at a farm near their Warrenton home and ate them on Thursday night.  The two women got sick the next day.”

At a farm? Seriously? A farm seems like a pretty safe place to acquire mushrooms, which are, last time I checked, a vegetable grown on farms.

“The first case happened when Springfield resident Frank Constantinopla and his  wife picked mushrooms from their backyard to cook in a stir fry.  A native of the Philippines, Constantinopla said it was a common practice back home.”

Hmmm, Constantinopla doesn’t sound like a Philipino name to me. Not that I would know. I don’t know anyone from the Philippines. Which is kinda sad. Perhaps I should find someone from the Philippines and befriend them. Maybe we can bond over a love of mushrooms. Or not.

(Also, I love that he was just whipping up a stir fry and thought: ‘hhmmm, we’re out of mushrooms. I know. I’ll go get some from outside!’)

Also, also: Does this mean that if I am in the Philippines and I just see a wild mushroom growing somewhere, I can safely just pluck it out of the ground and eat it? Good. To. Know.

“’We thought they were organic,’ said the 49-year-old at a press conference on Saturday.  ‘We thought it was a good mushroom because it sprung up in our backyard.’

They had picked a fungi called Amanita phalloides, known as ‘death cap’ mushrooms.  Within hours of eating the mushrooms, Constantinopla and his wife felt sick.  He developed worse symptoms.  Within three days, he was suffering from the early stages of liver failure.”

Holy emo band – did someone say “Death Cab” mushrooms! Oh. No. That would be “Death Cap” mushrooms.  

Also: Did this dude really hold a press conference? I’d be waaay too embarrassed about my bonehead move to hold a press conference on it. By that logic, I’d be holding a press conference about burning the roof of my mouth a week ago on scalding hot artichoke dip, which I was clearly warned by the server was very, very hot. And indeed. It was. The roof of my mouth is still tender. (End of press conference. I will take questions now.)

“Constantinopla was transferred from a Virginia hospital to the Georgetown Transplant Institute. Dr. Jacqueline Laurin, a Transplant Hepatologist, was aware of a drug that was still undergoing clinical trials and had not been approved by the FDA.  

“We contacted one of the study investigators and they were able to rapidly transport the drug to us. With the treatment, his liver functioning improved and he recovered.  He was sent home a few days later.” 

Hmmmm. Again, how convenient. Georgetown just happens to know about a drug that hasn’t been approved by the FDA that just happens to treat mushroom poisoning when some poor, unsuspecting and not-too-smart immigrant suddenly shows up with…..wait for it…..mushroom poisoning!

“Silibinin, also known as milk thistle, is approved in Europe for amatoxin poisoning, caused by the toxin in some species of mushrooms. Although it’s available in pill form as an herbal supplement in the U.S., the highly purified intravenous version was still being researched in Santa Cruz California, where there was a case of mushroom toxicity several years ago.”

Ok, Ok, I’m starting to connect the dots here. Does anyone know if Dr. Jacqueline Laurin recently moved here from Santa Cruz?   

“One week after Constantinopla’s case, a retired farmer from Frederick fell ill with mushroom toxicity. Georgetown University applied for special permission to use the drug.  

Now both men are recovering, and Georgetown University is monitoring their cases. All of the data collected will be included in the Santa Cruz clinical trials.”

AHA! So Santa Cruz still needs some data, probably to get that pesky FDA approval thing, and Georgetown now has FOUR victims, I mean, patients, in their care. And, hold on a minute, this guy was a retired farmer? You’d think a farmer might know something about things that grow out of the ground.

“While they now have access to quick treatment for mushroom poisoning, doctors at Georgetown say it shouldn’t come to that. People need to avoid eating mushrooms growing in the woods or back yards and buy their mushrooms from legitimate farms or grocery stores. 

“We are a very international community and practices from many parts of the world and many different cultures come into the Washington Metropolitan area,” said Dr. Thomas Fishbein, director of the Georgetown Transplant Institute. “And what grows here is not the same as what might grow in the areas where many of the patients who immigrate to this area come from.”

I don’t know. I’m still quite suspicious. I know the milk thistle lobby is incredibly powerful here in the United States (now that they’re running the show in Europe) and it’s clear that they are poisoning poor immigrants and retired farmers to collect data.

Or, people really just are that stupid. Like, eat-molten-lava-artichoke-dip stupid.

Actually, I do see how this could, possibly, happen.