Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Caution: Show Dogs

On the exit ramp from 695 onto Dulaney Valley Road, I spied something like this on the back of a minivan:

The one I saw also featured a silohuette of some frou frou pup. Here's the thing, though: shouldn't we exercise caution because we don't want to injure the people inside the car? It makes sense to slap a caution sticker like this on something that doesn't typically carry precious cargo, like a cardboard box or a suitcase or something. But on a car? And for dogs?

Rain, Rain, Go Away

You know your day isn't going to be particularly good when you get a call at 1:30 a.m. from your local municipal government, and when you answer the phone, a robotic recorded voice informs you that voluntary evacuation procedures are underway.

Aren't we always able to evacuate voluntarily?

Anyway, most of the flooding is south and east of where we live, so I don't think we'll need to find another place to sleep tonight. But I've got to keep frantically searching various newschannels for any updates because Laurel, MD, is apparently a Brigadoon-ish kind of town as far as the newspapers are concerned. Even the local paper hasn't uploaded any alerts on their website. I know the Laurel Leader is a weekly, but come on! Isn't this kind of stuff supposed to get the blood of a cub reporter pumping?

For what it's worth, as of 1:04 p.m., the city is still recommending evacuations of low-lying areas, but they are not mandating it.

Look at me, serving the good people of my 'burg with news they can use.

Friday, June 16, 2006

How Not to Look Like a Hillbilly

So, I was watching this interview yesterday, and I was inspired to scribe a few simple rules for how not to look like a hillbilly. I'm not gonna reveal my muse, but I feel for her. She's (a) young, (b) in the public eye, and (c) still in that stage of her life where she feels like if she admits having made a mistake, she'll irrevocably lose some of her pride. Of course, what she ends up losing is the appearance of integrity and an understanding of personal accountability, but hey, see (a). Someone needs to share with her that it's OK to make mistakes since you learn a lot from mistakes too, but we have to acknowledge when we make mistakes or we never improve ourselves.

Sorry about getting all Dr. Phil on you there for a minute. Especially considering that this is just a shallow piece on physical appearance.

Full disclosure: I'm about two generations removed from hillbillies (white trash, trailer trash, whatever epithet you want to sling), so I'm familiar with this particular type of woman.

Ready? Here we go:

1) DON'T walk around guzzling a beverage. Doesn't matter what kind. A smoothie, a Coke, a beer, a venti mocha latte: these are not accessories. Food should be consumed in relative privacy, at a table, in a car, on a picnic basket, wherever. Just not when you're cruising the mall or running errands. I mean, can you really not go for an half an hour without liquid sustenance?

2) DO maintain your roots if you color your hair. I don't care what color with which you rinse your crowning glory. Go for platinum blonde if you so desire. Just don't let it get to a point where your strands resemble Jell-o 1-2-3.

3) DON'T chomp on gum when you are serving in a professional capacity. In a meeting, when cutting hair, when being interviewed: ditch the chew. You want minty fresh breath? Go for a Tic Tac.

4) Speaking of gum, DON'T use a shade of lipstick that looks like it belongs in a candy aisle. Other make-up choices to avoid during daylight hours: blue or frosted eyeshadows, radically unnatural shades of nail polish (only if you bite your nails to the quick and we can see the jagged nubs in chiaroscuro with the fakey color), and body glitter.

5) DO acknowledge your body size, regardless of the reason. You might be pregnant, or have a disability that keeps you from exercising, or have an allergic reaction that causes you to swell. Doesn't matter. Even if they make mini-skirts in a size 18, that doesn't mean you should wear them. Same goes for bikinis, camis, thongs, hot pants, and tube tops. Now I know that some people will take offense and say we should be proud of your bodies. To them I say: you can be proud of something without displaying it to the universe. I would say that dressing in the most flattering clothes possible is how you show pride in yourself.

6) On topic of clothes...DO wear at least one thing that fits properly. If you really want to wear a hobo-chic baggy shirt, go for the jeans that fit like they are supposed to, not an excessively big pair of dungarees. If you really want to sport a too-tight skirt, skip the second-skin top and slap on something flowy. This shows that you might actually be trying to accentuate an asset instead of delude yourself.

7) And again on the topic of clothes...DO understand that bra straps are not an accessory. If you can see 'em, you need to rethink your outfit.

8) If you happen to also be a Mommy...DO attempt to ensure your child is wearing the following while out in public: shirt, pants, socks. It doesn't seem tough, I know, but some people are under the impression that all babies are adorable, and all people will coo over them even if they are just wearing a diaper. Anyway, under the age of 1, shoes are optional. And when inside, hats are optional. One more baby-related item: when in public, DON'T change your baby's diaper anywhere other than a changing station. Exceptions may be made, of course, but only if you've looked for a changing station and there are none to be found.

That last one got a little more behavioral, I guess, but it tangentially deals with what a kid wears, which is a reflection on the Mom, right?

Anyway, I'm not saying this stuff to be mean, necessarily. In art class, they called it constructive criticism. There's this tendency among girls today to happily proclaim that they are liberated, that they know their own minds, and that they don't care what other people think. That's laudable, it really is. But I think you still have to have a firm grasp of how certain actions and personal choices are perceived, and how that might impact your standing in a community. Ultimately, it really isn't anyone's business or right to judge another person. That's between them and their Higher Power (if they have one), or, in some cases, the judge sitting on the bench.

Man, I went all Dr. Phil again. I've gotta stop that.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

You Need to Be a Geek if You're Going to Make Pop Culture References

In the post-Howard Stern era, I've been zipping around the radio dial in search of a go-to talk radio show for my commute. I wasn't one of the goober Howard automatons who listened to all four hours every day, nor did I want to jump on the Sirius bandwagon. As DC loyalists, we subscribe to XM in one of our cars, home of Ron and Fez. I can't stomach the notion of paying another $10 a month just for Howard.

I'm sure lots of citizens who belong to the iPod nation will think this is nutty. Why would you rely on radio to deliver a program when you can orchestrate what comes through your car speakers?

'Cause I don't want to create four-wheeled incubator and inoculate myself from the outside world. I'm a little paranoid that something big will be happening in the world, and I won't know about it 'til I get to work because I was ignorantly grooving to Erasure's "Chains of Love" or laughing at a Ricky Gervais podcast. So I'll listen to a little NPR, a little Washington Post radio, and, in the mornings, I'll flip between Elliot in the Morning and the Junkies.

I like these two shows because, unlike other local radio morning "talent," they don't:

1) Use all kinds of bass and echo on their voices;
2) Download "jokes" or interesting lists from what has to be a DJ filler website that no one outside of the biz knows about;
3) Sound like they hate what they do;
4) Talk about how funny the "Blue Collar Comedy Tour" is;
5) Sound like they smoked 400 packs of cigarettes that morning.

Don't get me wrong, I know that Elliot smokes like a chimney, but he doesn't have that "my throat has been scraped raw" voice...yet.

But here is a minor something that has GOT to stop on both shows: if you are going to make pop culture references to TV, movies, music, or celubutards, I am BEGGING you to get the names, titles, circumstances, etc. right. I can't take it anymore. I know I'm a fanatic about that stuff, but Elliott, what if I said I really liked that hockey player Alexander Ovechsky? And Junkies, what if I insisted that LeBron plays for the Pistons? Wouldn't you tear your hair out?

Elliot's a little better about this 'cause Diane's apparently a gossip hound (what's up, home subscription to US Weekly?). But when y'all start talking about how you want to see a movie, but you can't get the title right, you kind of sound like my Dad. Oof, and then you start arguing about it, and no one comes up with the right answer, which is wildly interesting to listen to. Can someone please become the perma-Google-er, IMDB-er, or Wikipedia-er?

In the grand scheme of things, I know this is no biggie. But the subjects of my rant understand that we geeks each have to guard our tiny corners of the intellectual (or trivial, if you like) universe.

Phew, I feel better now.