Things I Love – A Quick List

Inspired by a recent meeting of my artists group, I came up with a (of course, not exhaustive) list of things I love. One of the best things about making and sharing this list was getting to hear everyone else’s. It made me love all of them a little bit more, too.

– The color deep turquoise/sapphire/indigo blue the sky is at dusk. It makes my eyes water, it’s so beautiful.
– All animals, dogs especially. My dog the most.
– Chopin.

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On Being Disingenuous in Personal Relationships

No matter how well they [try to] hide it, or how long the burn before they go in for the kill, you can ALWAYS tell when someone is just being friends with you because they want something. You might even think you’re surprised when it happens, but you’re not. You’re maybe just surprised they took as long as they did, or created as elaborate a friendship as they did, but you knew. You always knew.

Keep this in mind when you’re trying to befriend someone because of what they can do for you – maybe introduce you to their cute cousin, get you a job, write you a reference, or let you in without waiting in line. Deep down, they know what you’re doing, you know what you’re doing, and the whole thing is just kind of gross. Call it networking or being pragmatic all you want, when you try to be someone’s friend just so they will do something for you, you’re being dishonest.

Although, on second thought, maybe that’s all ANY relationships are at their core.

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Restaurant Review: El Chucho

El Chucho’s house margaritas are $5.50 at all times. Those are happy hour prices ALL THE TIME. And they are delicious.

Aside from that, the vegetarian tacos (made with, of all things, squash) are really flavorful. The guacamole is sadly, not that great. It’s undersalted, which I know is my own personal preference, but I also just don’t get a big punch of avocado flavor. I’m thinking their avocados aren’t ripe enough or something. The elote callejero, which is corn on the cob, is a delight. They grill it and put that Mexican crema on it with a bunch of seasonings – it’s the best. At $4 for a cob, it’s kind of expensive, but you get two tacos for $5, so it evens out.

The atmosphere is very festive and the place is teeming with hipsters. Anyone will fit in, though, don’t be scared if you’re old or unstylish or both. Definitely try it, and maybe just get the queso instead of the guac.

A final thought: margaritas are always $5.50. So does any of the rest really even matter?

El Chucho
3313 11th St. NW, Washington, DC
Columbia Heights or Petworth metro

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The Word ‘Feminism’

I recently heard a quote by Aziz Ansari that went something along the lines of, “If you believe men and women should be treated equally, then you are a feminist. You don’t get to decide what words mean.”

But actually, who got to decide what ‘feminism’ means? A person. The definition wasn’t sent down from god, and it’s a relatively new term in the scheme of spoken language. And why, if we’re so concerned with the notion that men and women are equal, are we using the feminine version of the word? Why is the word not ‘masculist’? Or, better yet, ‘humanist’ or ‘personist’?

There is a reason people are uncomfortable with that word, and I don’t think it’s always what everyone claims it is: that men are afraid of screamy banshees trying to castrate them. It’s because by focusing on the female version of the word, there is an inherent inference of inequality. By USING that word, you are reinforcing that men and women are NOT the same, they are NOT equal. Because if they were, the word would be one which encompassed both sexes.

Words do have power, Aziz is right on that count. The problem is when you insist that your desired definition of a word requires everyone to think irrationally.

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Happy New Year 2015!

Hi everyone, how are you? We just had a rather unexpected snowfall here in DC, and the government did not exercise good judgement when they decided not to close, or at least open a couple of hours late. I know everyone, but EVERYONE makes fun of how we handle snow here in DC, but this is how it is, so you might as well try to mitigate trouble. Today it was decided to not try to mitigate any trouble whatsoever.

This is how this person cleared their windows. They turned on their wipers and rolled down the two front windows. That’s it. They then drove off, presumably to cause a four-car pileup.

This was traffic in northern Virginia at about 7:45 this morning. The red means basically “not moving.” [Image credit: ARLnow]

So, oopsy daisies on that one, but otherwise, 2015 has been just peachy so far. I threw a wonderful little NYE party, complete with horns and confetti. I had an awesome trip back to South Dakota for Christmas. Being back at work has been a breeze, everyone is excited for the new year. I even checked my holiday credit card bills and didn’t drop dead! 2015 is looking pretty, pretty, pretty, pretty good.

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Is there anything more perfectly Christmas

Than the opening tinkles to Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas Is You”? It fills me with Christmas joy every single time. I CAN’T WAIT FOR CHRISTMAS!!

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Restaurant Review: Las Canteras

Last night a couple of girlfriends and I went out for dinner at Las Canteras, a Peruvian restaurant in Adams Morgan. It was SENSATIONAL. Years ago, I used to hang out with a Peruvian family (as longtime readers know!), and the mother cooked for us all the time. This food is probably even better than hers, absolutely as authentic as it comes. The flavors are completely spot on.

I don’t eat meat, except the occasional mussels pot (my foray back into mussels eating will be an upcoming post), so ceviche is usually out for me. However, Las Canteras makes a mushroom ceviche with exactly the same flavors as I remember! Oh, it’s delicious, with the big Peruvian corn kernels and the sweet potato on the side…just perfect. I think even if you don’t like the flavor of mushrooms, you’d like it, because the citrus flavors are so tart and strong that you don’t taste the actual mushroom at all.

They also have a potato appetizer called Papa a la Huancaina which is sliced, boiled potatoes covered in this delicious, cool, creamy sauce that again, tastes just like I remembered. I can’t get over how they get the unique spices just absolutely perfect. I don’t know why it blows my mind so much, there are plenty of Peruvians in DC so they’re obviously going to be able to get these spices. I guess it just must be that it had been so long since I’d tasted those exact flavors, my brain went a little haywire with excitement.

I also had the ‘quinotto,’ a risotto-like quinoa dish, that was also delicious, but didn’t taste quite as special as the other two dishes I tried. The rice pudding dessert and pisco sour drink were also top notch. I must admit that the chocolate quinoa cake was a tiny bit dry, but not awful. Probably about how you’d expect chocolate cake with grain in it would be. But even the spicy sauce they served with the bread basket was just to die for. They really got all the details just right.

I’d love to try the lomo saltado, a meat and french fries stew; causa, a chicken and potato dish not unlike shepherd’s pie in its presentation but with totally different flavors and served cold; and the papa rellena, which is mashed potatoes formed around a saute of hamburger, eggs, tomatoes, and olives. I LOVED those dishes back when I ate meat and I just know they’d do them well there. If you try them, let me know how they are!

Two thumbs up. Try this place, you will not be disappointed.

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Ireland: Day One

I flew directly to JFK in New York from Tampa, where I had a meeting for work. I got there in plenty of time, but wandered around a bit before I finally found the Aer Lingus desk. (It’s tucked in with JetBlue in Terminal 5, FYI.) My traveling companion, Angela, was already there waiting for me.

We checked our bags, went through security, and boarded the plane. I was instantly charmed by our adorable little leprechaun flight attendants. Those Irish lilts! Too cute to be withstood, really. The flight from New York to Dublin is only seven hours, but there is a five hour time change. So we arrived at about midnight to our bodies, but 5 AM to our location.

We picked up our rental car at the Dan Dooley counter at about 5:30. When we first reserved it, we got the lowest price option – a stick shift. Since I STILL can’t drive a stick, and was a little skeptical about making Angel do ALL the driving while shifting with the opposite hand, I sort of railroaded an upgrade to an automatic transmission. We were required by law to take out a TON of insurance on it – probably because Americans have a bad habit of crashing into things on the left side of the car. Pretty much every car in the lot had gashes up the left side, scuffed hubcabs on the left, and we were told that Americans were forever breaking of sideview mirrors on that side. OOPS!

Off we went, with no GPS. Which is probably why we ended up in a town called Swords instead of Dublin. After some directions asking, accidentally driving on the wrong side of the road (several times), and some light screaming on my part, we ended up on a residential street. Where we passed out for at least six hours. At one point, a woman knocked on our window and told us the car was running. I’m sure she thought we were drunk, but we were actually just running the heater. We turned the car off and continued sleeping. At about noon, I hear the same woman loudly talking to a man VERY near the car: “What are those girls doing in there? They’ve been in there for hours! Something is going on. I’m going to call someone.” The man, presumably after taking a peek in the window, says, “Oh, come on. They’ve obviously just come from the airport! Look, you can see their bags, and this is a rental car. Haven’t you ever had to spend the night out in Dublin?” She responded in a huff, “I guess not!” but must not have called anyone, because the police didn’t show up. Soon thereafter, we were on our way to begin our day.

On the agenda:

Stopping at a couple of pubs. Lunch, dinner, pints, all in the pub.

The Guinness Storehouse. This was pure chaos, but you have to do it if you’re there. They give you a free pint of Guinness, and yes, it does taste fresher and less bitter in Ireland.

St. Patrick’s Cathedral. We tried, but it was closed for graduations, so that will have to wait for another day.

Next stop: Cabra Castle in County Cavan, near Kingscourt.

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Remembering the Edmund Fitzgerald

Today is the anniversary of the sinking of the SS Edmund Fitzgerald in Lake Superior. Because of the Gordon Lightfoot song, this has always been a haunting story to me. But I also have a lot of family in Duluth, I used to vacation on Lake Superior as a kid, and I have several friends that worked in the taconite mines in the Iron Range of Minnesota (which is the material that freighter carried). So the tragedy piques my interest on a lot of levels.

This year, instead of just revisiting and poring over the wikipedia entry, I found out the National Weather Service’s Marquette outpost was tweeting updates from the day of the wreck, in ‘real time.’ Starting several days ago, on November 8, they have been giving background information on the Fitzgerald, and are currently posting weather and radio communication updates at nearly the exact times they were given in 1975.

It is chilling to watch these updates come in. (The name of the ship has been hashtagged for Twitter.)

“NE of Caribou Island, Captain McSorley radioed the Anderson and indicated the #EdmundFitz1975 had developed a list and lost a couple vents.” 3:30 PM – 10 Nov 2014

“Captain McSorley reported to the Anderson that both of its radars were out and it would need them to help them navigate. #EdmundFitz1975″ 4:10 PM – 10 Nov 2014

“#EdmundFitz1975 communicated with the northbound Swedish freighter Avafors and indicated that it was taking heavy seas across the deck.” 5:15 PM – 10 Nov 2014

And on it goes, no changing course, again and again the same ending. The last communication with the SS Arthur M. Anderson was at 7:10 PM: “We are holding our own.” All 29 on board died when the ship sunk a few minutes later.

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Birdman: A Review

I went to Birdman at the E Street Cinema yesterday afternoon with really high hopes. I hadn’t read much about it, but I saw that it was 94% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes, so I thought for sure we had a good one on our hands.

I was wrong. I have never seen such a self-congratulatory piece of over-thought, dumbed-down, condescending drivel in my life. Unless you like to be made fun of by the stooges in show business, don’t watch this. It was worse than any of the asinine awards shows that are on TV all winter. I go to the movies to avoid this kind of crap. If you have to tell your viewer at least a hundred times that what they are watching is, in fact, art – it ISN’T.

To everyone involved in this movie: get over yourselves.

A million thumbs DOWN.

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