L'esprit de l'escalier

I am often in the position of thinking of the right comeback or witticism too late (L'esprit de l'escalier, as the French say). For instance, yesterday I ran into Emma's fiancee (yes, fiancee) at the grocery store. He walked over and got behind me on line. The conversation went something like this:

Him: Hi B-Dice.
Me: (looking disinterested) Hi.
Him: (avoiding eye contact) You have a lot of stuff [note: I did. I was making halibut with a spicy seaweed salad.]. I shouldn't wait behind you. I'm going to the express line.
Me: mmhmm
Him: Well, it was nice to see you again.
Me: Yup.

Upon driving away I realized that what I should have said was "Why go? Being in line behind me has worked out pretty well for you so far."

Unlike George Costanza, I did not follow him to his office to deliver my brilliant retort.


The Facts of Life Goes to Paris

Going to the airport and traveling to a far-off land (even if it is still in the same state) with eight of your friends is like an episode of an 80's sitcom where the cast goes on vacation together. Kristen likened it to the Facts of Life two-hour TV movie where Mrs. Garret took the girls to Paris, so we'll go with that for the title even though this post is about the trip to Kodiak for the Crab Festival.

Kodiak is beautiful but isolated--the inhabitants of the island were really excited to have some new people to talk to. And at times it felt like we were on the island in Lost because mysterious things kept happening--though the "mysterious things" really just amounted to whatever 80's song we were singing inevitably playing on the only radio station shortly thereafter.

The weather was cold and rainy, so we wound up spending a lot of time playing poker in the huge house we rented. There are way too many funny stories and inside jokes to recount here, and the weekend is kind of a blur anyway--4 days of drinking whiskey, playing poker, and eating crab have all blended into one big blur that can best be summed up like this:

Rain, cold, rain, minivan, crab legs, poker, Dominos or Pizza Hut?, whiskey, rain, poker, crab legs for breakfast, survival suit race, poker, buoy toss competition, French pastry chef, poker, Brendan almost wins the buoy toss, Brendan's new nickname is "No Fold", follow-up songs for one-hit wonders,* falling asleep while listening to the ocean, salmon quiche, poker, rain, cold, mattress race, meat on a stick, Russian history museum, rain, cold, poker, poker, rain, poker, drive to the end of the road, rain, poker, crab legs for lunch, crab legs for dinner, tilt-a-whirl, rain, whiskey, poker, rain, crab legs, rain, poker, meat on a stick, arm wrestling tournament, poker, George Dickel, Maker's Mark, snoring, bed/bedroom partner swapping, Americans With Disabilities Act reasonable accommodation for my inability to shuffle a deck, whiskey, drunk poker dealer, rain, wild buffalo, bald eagles, rain, poker, drinking at the oldest bar in Alaska, playing pool with local fishermen, rain, playing pool with local cab drivers, my local pool partner admittedly really stoned and apparently amped up on meth--but actually amped up on God, whole bar watches as I have to sink a big shot, I miss said shot (barely), flight is canceled, Set, brewery tour, rain, apple blueberry beer for dessert.

*Lots of time was spent reading from Created in Darkness by Troubled Americans: The Best of McSweeney's Humor Category. The book includes many McSweeney's Lists. Some of the favorites from the weekend include:

Possible Follow-Up Songs For One-Hit Wonders
How Are We Going To Get These Dogs Back In?
Bust an Additional Move
Seriously Eileen, Come On
Whoomp! There it Continues to Be
867-5309, Extension 2

Schoolyard Games for Unpopular Children
Hide 'n' Be Lonely
Goose Goose Goose
Studio Apartment

Rejected Arcade Games
Falafel Time
Extreme Lawnmowing
The Congressional Redistrictor
Street Panhandler Turbo
The 401(k) Adventure
Martha Stewart's Weed-Out

Punch Lines Suggested By Ashton Kutcher For Punk'd That Were Rejected Due To Their Archaic Nature
You've been hoodwinked!
You have been beguiled by my cohorts!
You, unfortunately, are the jestee!

Why I Don't Go To Parties, Or, Things People Have Said To Me After I've Said: "I Don't Drink."
Why not?
That's funny.
Wanna smoke some weed then?
Then why are you here?
Good, you can drive us home.
Yeah, but you do sometimes, right?

[note: these are mere excerpts from the lists published in the book. If you are yearning for more, you can buy the book here.]:

Okay, time for some pictures (hat tip to Brendan and Justin for snapping most of these):

Team Kodiak

Our Sweet Ride (notice the crab leg on the antenna)

Our "Beach" House

View From the Deck

Focused on the Crab

Yay! Much Success!

Lots of Cliffs on the Kodiak Island

And Lots of Baldies


Think She's Bluffing?

What About Her?

Look at Sarah's Enormous Pregnant Boobs...

...Almost as Big as Salma Hayek's Ginormous Pregnant Pair

Come On, That Was Funny!

Spooky Scooby Doo-esque Beach

Mattress Race

Wild Buffalo


Buoy Toss Competition

More Buoy Tossing

Arm Wrestling Tournament 1: No Enthusiasm

Arm Wrestling Tournament 2: Over The Top!


Seriously, There Was A Lot of Crab

Justin and Alex on the Tilt-a-Whirl

Playing Set on the Baggage Carousel at the Kodiak Airport


Sweetness Follows

By Stephen Dunn
From New and Selected Poems: 1974-1994

Just when it has seemed I couldn't bear
one more friend
waking with a tumor, one more maniac

with a perfect reason, often a sweetness
has come
and changed nothing in the world

except the way I stumbled through it,
for a while lost
in the ignorance of loving

someone or something, the world shrunk
to mouth-size,
hand-size, and never seeming small.

I acknowledge there is no sweetness
that doesn't leave a stain,
no sweetness that's ever sufficiently sweet. ...

Tonight a friend called to say his lover
was killed in a car
he was driving. His voice was low

and guttural, he repeated what he needed
to repeat, and I repeated
the one or two words we have for such grief

until we were speaking only in tones.
Often a sweetness comes
as if on loan, stays just long enough

to make sense of what it means to be alive,
then returns to its dark
source. As for me, I don't care

where it's been, or what bitter road
it's traveled
to come so far, to taste so good.


Four Day Weekend!

I'm taking Friday off and heading to Kodiak for the long weekend. Why Kodiak? Simple: It's the Kodiak Crab Festival. Some event highlights:
  • Street Bowling
  • Something called the Shrimp Parade
  • US Coast Guard Search and Rescue Demonstration
  • The Norm Holm Memorial Survival Suit Race
  • Mattress Races(?)
  • Lingerie Fashion Show(!)
  • Hammer Triathlon (Events include pounding three nails into a board, drilling a hole into the board, and measuring by eye a pre-determined length and sawing it from the board.)
  • The Sixtathlon Iron Person Competition (Bowling, Darts, Pool, Putting, Shuffle board and The Wheel of Fortune)
Allow me to provide some procrastinatory assistance to help ease your Friday pre-holiday weekend blues:

Putting inflation in context.

This show looks really, really stupid.

Know anyone who likes unicorns? Send them this link.

This picture of Al Gore in his home office makes me feel much better about the mess on my desk. I am insanely jealous of his computer setup. I want that bad.

Some guy is responding to Craigslist Missed Connections by writing "That's my girl, asshole." and is posting the responses on this blog.

A few Congressmen, their aides, staffers, and spouses tried to survive on $21/week in food stamps, as many people are expected to do. Take a couple of minutes and read about it on Congressman Jim McGovern's blog. And these faithful public servants even lost some of their food due to TSA'a inane rules. As Ohio Representative Tim Ryan explained:
Sure enough the very nice TSA agent explained to me the 3-1-1 regulations for liquids. As a public service I’ve decided to link you to them. He politely put the peanut butter and jelly to the side, closed my bag and gave it back to me. I was too astonished to talk. I took my bag and walked towards the gate thinking about the 4 or maybe 5 meals that she had taken from me. What am I going to do now? It’s not like I can just go to Safeway and grab another jar. I have .33 cents and a bag of cornmeal to last today and tomorrow.



That's how much sunlight there was today: eighteen hours, four minutes, fifty-six seconds--and that doesn't count the dawn and dusk hours. Though it is only the end of May, Summer is already here: this past weekend saw 65 degree days and sunny skies (all day and night). Today it was 50 degrees and raining. Yup, sounds exactly like Summer in Alaska.

Other telltale signs of Summer in Alaska include an influx of tourists and, closer to home and of great anticipation by me and my 501(c)(3) friends, the arrival of The Summer Interns. This Summer I will be supervising 5(!) interns: two law students and 3 college kids. I'm thinking about training them Fight Club-style and taking over this city.

Three of them have arrived and started working this week. Two are really young (19 and 20) and display all of the attributes you would assign to young women who venture from Alaska to elite liberal arts schools on the East Coast, and then return for Summer employment: they are smart, political, and excited and eager to learn. And, as one of my female co-workers keeps pointing out, they are disconcertingly cute. However, I can't help but feel anything other than old and creepy every time she points this out. For instance, today I had to mentally slap myself in the face when my gaze fell downward to read the "Say No To Genocide" slogan emblazoned across one of their t-shirts because the text coincided with the location of her chest. It felt wrong --wrong! Yet, technically, legally, she is an adult.

I don't want to give the impression that I am ogling my too-young-to-drink legally subordinates. I am a strident adherent to the rule that you cannot get involved with anyone younger than half your age plus seven (that's (your age/2) + 7). So, anyone under 22.5 is strictly off limits (and, as the exploits of Mr. Clinton should have taught us, schtupping one's intern can only lead to problems, and sometimes, a congressional investigation. However, in a strange twist of fate, absent Ms. Lewinsky and her blue dress, I don't get to go mano-a-mano with K-Starr on national TV.). Though, even without that rule I have no choice but to stay away from the born after 1981 crowd as my wit and charm is based almost entirely on obscure pop culture references not understood by anyone outside of the (as of the date of this writing) 27-33 age group.

Losing It

I'm about to watch the season finale of Lost. I fucking hate this show. I know nothing is going to happen tonight--none of the mysteries will be solved, no questions answered. They will just leave us even more befuddled and curious. Yet I can't stop watching. I'm becoming more and more convinced that this is how they come up with storylines.



I just finished a five-day fast. No food, only juice since last Wednesday night. Per the detox program I'm following, I had an apple for breakfast (never have I taken that term so literally) and I'm going to get lunch now: brown rice, steamed veggies, and baked tofu. So. Excited.


Hi Mom

I hadn't intended for her to find out about it, but last week I learned that my mom reads my blog. How does a woman who can't figure out how e-mail works discover a random little blog? My dumbass younger brother told her, of course.

I hadn't spoken to my mom in a while, so she was asking Andrew about what I had been up to. His frustrated response: "I don't know, why don't you just read his blog." After he explained what a blog is, she started reading. Now, the question is, can she figure out how the comments work?

circa 1980


Fundamentalist televangelist/political activist/segregationist/fucking asshole Jerry Falwell died today. I will remember three things about him: (1) His lawsuit against Hustler Magazine; (2) founding The Moral Majority, the preeminent Evangelical Christian political lobbying organization; and (3) Blaming 9/11 on gay people and the ACLU. Well, what he actually said was, "I really believe that the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People For the American Way, all of them who have tried to secularize America. I point the finger in their face and say 'you helped this happen.'"

Rest in peace, Jerry. And fuck you, asshole.


A Post About Katy (Finally)

Katy and I share a very immature sense of humor (We knew we were two peas in a pod, to borrow one of her patented antiquated expressions, when, on the first morning after we met, we delighted in spending a few hours before work watching one of our favorite movies, the John Candy classic Who's Harry Crumb, and reruns of Charles in Charge.). When Katy moved back to Alaska from St. Maarten, she lived with Marlo and I for about 6 months. During the time we lived together we spent a lot of time doing couple-y things like grocery shopping and looking for home furnishings at Home Depot.

Since neither of us was afraid of looking silly in public, when we would go to the grocery store or Home Depot we would often play either "Angry Married Couple" or "Retarded Brother." Retarded Brother was my favorite. I would just follow Katy around the store, clap my hands repeatedly and say things like "Yaaaaayyyy!" or "Pretty hair! Katy pretty hair!" Katy did not like this game. She especially didn't like it when I found a football helmet at Fred Meyer and added that to the game. Angry Married Couple was much more nuanced. We would stage elaborate arguments in front of store employees or unsuspecting customers and then drag them into it.

I bring this up because Viv and I played a version of this game last week. On the way in to Barnes & Noble she was clutching her back as if she were pregnant and remarked how we looked like a pregnant couple going shopping. Instantly we were in character: "Why don't you hold doors for me anymore?" She asked. "Why have you gained so much weight?" I replied. For the rest of this story, and the reaction of the mother/daughter shopping duo who witnessed our performance, I will direct you to the last three paragraphs of this post from Viv.

Geeky Folk-Rock-Singer-Songwriter Got Back

Renee discovered Jonathan Coulton last year.* All you need to know about him can be learned by listening to his cover of Baby Got Back.** But if you are intrigued and want to learn more about the man who could craft such a bit of musical genius, go here.

*When Renee and I worked together we found ingenious ways to waste time. There is a comprehensive list of all of our office olympics-like activities somewhere, but a few that stand out include searching online for naked pictures of Debbie Gibson and Tiffany, playing name that tune with '80s music, and competing against each other in Statute Ball, a game we invented that involves a ball made out of tape and Alaska Statutes books. I'm drawing a blank on some of the other things we did, but I remember that at one point safety goggles and a pink hard hat were involved. I should also note that, perhaps unbeknownst to her, during her tenure in my office, Renee was pitted against one of Emma's co-workers in a battle to determine who was funnier. Renee won.

**If you are an employee of the State of Alaska, and find that link blocked, go here, or go here and scroll down to Thing a Week I and click the listen link next to Baby Got Back. Or pay him a buck and download it.


Arch Nemesis

In case there were any questions about my whereabouts a few weeks ago:

(the arch was really cool).

Weekend Recap: Self-Important Edition

Friday evening I had a few glasses of wine with David Rose, an editor at Vanity Fair who broke a story about neocons criticizing the Iraq War, investigated the treatment of Guantanamo detainees, and recently wrote a book about a guy railroaded onto death row in Columbus, Georgia. Then I took Viv to the airport and met up with Scott, Em, Tamara, Jason, and Joey for a late dinner and some drinks.

I spent most of the day on Saturday at a conference (the second consecutive weekend I was asked to speak at a conference--last week it was the Alaska Progressive Youth Summit, where I got to kick it with Rosey Fletcher for a bit). I had a presentation to give and then I moderated a panel discussion on Alaska Native issues. By mid-afternoon, my responsibilities were done and I found myself sitting in a corner, sort-of paying attention to the other presentations while exchanging text messages with Udi, who was at the UN where he was giving a presentation on human rights and migrant workers.



The softball season started tonight and we won our first game. We beat the team from the Anchorage Senior Center (we don't play in a very competitive league, apparently). We did not take this game lightly--earlier in the week an email went out announcing the schedule and that we should "remember what happened when we played the disabled team last year."

I don't know what the final score was, but we kicked their ass; though, their team's average age, according to their third base coach, was 65, their first baseman was 83 and could not bend, and they had a father-son duo that resembled the Mandelbaums.

I played third base and to describe my play in the field as anything other than sparkling would be a disservice not only to the position, but to Brooks Robinson himself. At the plate, I had one solid line drive hit and I reached base one other time when I hit a ground ball at an old person who really couldn't move.

Regardless, a win is a win. The Deciders are 1-0.


Racial Slurs, Nipple Licking, and Waking Up the Neighbors

Spring Break 2007: the Alaska Bar Convention in Fairbanks. Viv, Mabel, Monty, and I drove up from Anchorage. 6 hours each way. Lots of laughing, snacks, breaking traffic laws, beautiful scenery, and rocking out to '80s music. Obviously, given the title of this post, there is a lot more to report, but, as they say, "What happens in Fairbanks stays in Fairbanks." Viv, however, has a short, safe-for-work recap.

This trip was carefully orchestrated to count as work: we got to take a fun road trip while we stayed on the state and non-profit clock, all in the name of professional development. The real beauty of this trip, though, was that it basically gave us 2 weekends--we got back Friday night so we still had Saturday and Sunday to rest and recover. Some pics:

Gotta love a woman decked out in ACLU propaganda (even if she is wearing it unwillingly). The sticker gave her a rash.

The road to Mabel's free homestead in Anderson.

Future site of Little House 2.0.

@ the Midnight Mine in Fairbanks.

hilarity ensues

hilarity continues

These people were actually really cool...

...according to this guy.

This look works better for Madnonna.

Sightseeing while my pants fall off.

The Great One pokes its head out.



Spilled Milk

Viv has been giving me a hard time about what I write about, the lack of character development in my writing, how I treat people (her), and basically, how I live my life and spend my time in general. Notwithstanding Viv's own complexities, and whether the proverbial Pot should be calling the proverbial Kettle anything, she was dead on about one thing: I do like to "lament over (figuratively, here) spilled relationship milk that had curdled to the point of chunk." Why? That's how I process and deal, I guess. So, without further adieu, here is tonight's curdled relationship lament, courtesy of the current events I learned of just a few hours ago: Meagan is getting married and Alli is, as of the time of this writing, in Mexico with her (not-so-much-anymore, apparently) ex-boyfriend.

So, who are Meagan and Alli? Why am I lamenting tonight? In order to placate Viv, and to provide the reader with some context, here is the start of the answer to those questions, in the form of a quick recap of my recent relationship foibles, from the depths of the Winter of 2003 to the present:

I was dating Alli.
Alli dumped me.
I started dating Meagan.
I dumped Meagan because she wasn't Alli.
(some time passed...)
Alli and I started hanging out again.
Alli moved in with another guy--right around the corner from where I lived.
Meagan and I started hanging out again, but I ended it because I wasn't over Alli.
(a lot of time passed...)
I met Emma.
Emma and I started dating.
Emma captivated me.
Emma and I broke up.
Emma and I started hanging out again.
I fell in love with Emma.
Emma and I broke up.
Alli and I started hanging out again.
Alli moved out of her boyfriend's house.
Alli and I started dating.
Emma told me she was still in love with me.
Emma and I started hanging out again.
Emma and I started dating again.
I realized I was still in love with Emma.
I broke up with Alli.
Emma didn't know what she wanted.
I went to Africa.
Emma moved in with another guy.

Notice any patterns or anything suspicious going on there?

So, should the news that Meagan and Alli have (ostensibly) moved on and are (theoretically) happy bother me? No. Meagan and I have been over for a long time, and as pretty and witty as she is/was, I just wasn't that into her. And Alli? As much as I wanted to fall for her, she's just not what I need, and I'm not what she needs--that being someone who wants to get married and have kids as soon as humanly possible (so, 9 months, or thereabouts). But does it bother me? Of course. Do I want to marry Meagan? No. Do I want to be in Mexico right now with Alli? Sort of. Do I want to have a kid with her post-haste? Definitely not. But, still, the news that one ex is getting married, and another is back with the guy she dumped me for, and then dumped for me, doesn't make me feel so wonderful tonight. Or maybe I feel this way because I actually did (accidentally) ingest a little spoiled milk tonight.

I may lament over this crap too often, but at least I'm good at it.