156. Rhonda Baron

My dear, brilliant friend Daniel and I went thrifting together recently. As soon as we walked into our favorite place – Unique Thrift in Merrifield, VA – we saw a table full of these lovely rectangular treasures.

The official Amazon picture.

The official Amazon picture.

Obviously, we each bought one. A ridiculous looking woman talking about manners? Yes, please (plus, they were 49 cents each – a deal, because they go for $25.99 on Amazon!).

And we were not disappointed. The DVD is a bizarre mixture of “etiquette” advice, which is basically just stuff that bugs Rhonda when people do it at parties. She teaches how to properly eat a hamburger. She teaches how to properly pack a suitcase (apparently she had some history in the travel industry). Most randomly, she teaches how to properly eat and appreciate sushi and other Asian food. And puts on a black wig to do so.

Table of contents.

Table of contents.

In each scene, Rhonda is totally alone in her depressing, barely-decorated home. There appears to be nothing in her apartment but beige wall-to-wall carpeting. And I’m pretty sure she set up the camera to tape herself. So lonely.

Rhonda is also a snappy dresser. Her outfits range from terrible-80s to terrible-90s. Her interview advice includes images of what suits to wear to an interview – and, boy, are they lovely! And extremely rectangular. Lots of square, padded shoulders and square-toed shoes. A woman after my own heart.

Obviously, Daniel and I decided to do some research on Ms. Baron. Turns out she is from a suburb of DC in Northern Virginia! One of our own. She mentions going into DC like some people might mention going to Paris. Such prestige!

Here’s the best part, though.

Rhonda was visited by Jim Morrison’s ghost.

Yes, folks. The spirit of Jim Morrison paid a special visit to Rhonda. Apparently, Morrison’s parents owned Rhonda’s childhood home before the Barons did.

According to this website, this is what Rhonda had to say about the experience.

The spirit laid down on the bed. Completely laying down and looking at me like this. It was like a haze. It was like you could look through it.”

Oh, Rhonda. I love you so much. If you read this, please get in touch. I want a private etiquette lesson and chat.

June 11, 2013. Culture, Fashion, Rectangles, Truth. Leave a comment.

154. Down Comforters

Not MY down comforter, but A down comforter.

Not MY down comforter, but A down comforter.

I can’t sleep without a blanket on top of me. I need that weight to feel safe and secure and relaxed. Ideally, that weight is made up of a down comforter – which is cool in the summer and cozy-warm in the winter. I love me a good down comforter. I don’t like sheets – too much work, and they get too tangled. So I tend to just sleep under my comforter, and feel happy and secure.

Buckley loves a good down comforter, too. He likes the soft, cushy feeling underneath his curled up, sleepy body. But, lately, he’s gotten into the unfortunate habit of chewing on it.

Yes. Buckley, the shittiest-yet-loviest-dog-in-the-world, has destroyed two down comforters of mine. The most significant side effect of a ruined down comforter, other than the cold, is a room. full. of. feathers.

Seriously. So many feathers. I would go out with friends and they’d inevitably remark upon the feathers in my hair or on my clothes. So. Many. Feathers.

Now, I tried to sew these comforters up. So many times. But, eventually, the holes and tears got un-fixable. The first time, I took a comforter from my parents’ house. But this time – the most recent, second time, I had to buy a $170 comforter off Amazon. Until it arrived, I borrowed an ugly, striped duvet from my loving parents. It helped to curb the feathers, but didn’t fix the problem. Now, I’m a Jew. A serious Jew. And spending that kind of money on a quilt hurts, even if I had the cash to spare. Which I don’t.

So, now I have a new (much thinner) fancy down comforter. And Buckley spends the first, dicey half of the night in his crate. I don’t like it, and neither does he. We would both prefer to be cuddling. But, hey. A cozy bed full of down is important, and, sorry Buckley, but we have to get our priorities straight. I love you, but I love my cozy, insulated bed more. Instead, I’ll dream about a warm, furry, red body curled up against mine, since I don’t have any sort of puppy-dog-replacement. Until then, we’ll have to compromise – to keep the peace and the comforter intact.

March 8, 2013. Animals, Rectangles, Truth. Leave a comment.

149. Deodorant

Are you aware that everyone is talking about your underarms?!?

Are you aware that everyone is talking about your underarms?!?

I’m kind of obsessed with our culture’s obsession with the antiseptic and over-clean. I don’t shower every day, because it’s bad for my skin and my hair. Both look much better with a little bit of oil. I’ve also read that some bacteria lives in the oils in our skin and keeps us healthy.

I also hate scented products. I love one or two sprays of my fancy, subtle, French perfume, but no more. I believe that no one should be able to smell your perfume unless they’re within kissing distance. I hate men in cologne – I’m a firm believer that Old Spice Deodorant mixed with natural man-smell is the best in the world.

The best smell.

The best smell.

Now, onto the subject of deodorants (in their rectangular packaging) and natural man-smell.

I recently read this amazing article about how deodorant and obsessive attention to smelling good became popular in the early 20th century. Before that, no one cared about smelling clean all the time. People covered up with perfume (generally fancy and French, thank you very much), but no one had been told that they had to be self-conscious about every natural smell they put out.

Cue the brilliance of the modern advertising movement. Ads were placed shaming women into insecurities about how they smell. Men came later, but soon experienced the same smell-shame that women did.

I’m going to go out on a limb here. I LIKE how men smell. For a little while, I dated a man who didn’t wear deodorant. He showered every day, so he was clean, but had a little bit of B.O. smell going on. It took some getting used to, but eventually, I really liked it. He smelled like a body. And our bodies should smell like bodies! And here is where I get back on my soap box.

Bodies are bodies. We shouldn’t pretend otherwise. Sex should smell like sex, not soap. People shouldn’t shower every day, compromising their health and the health of their skin and hair. Men and women shouldn’t load on perfume and cologne to cover up any natural scent that they may have. We need to reclaim the sensual power of the way we smell and taste when we’re a little bit dirty. Not saying we should embrace the gross, but a little bit of natural odor is, well, natural, and should be more acceptable. And, while I’m not ready to give up my deodorant yet, I like the idea that we could.

February 1, 2013. Culture, Rectangles, Truth. 1 comment.

141. Paddywax’s “Library” Collection (in box)

My dear friend Alex recently posted something on Facebook about lighting an “Oscar Wilde scented candle.” Obviously, I was immediately intrigued. Luckily for me, Alex also linked to the candle.

Oscar Wilde, in soy wax form.

Turns out, Oscar Wilde smells like Cedarwood, Thyme, and Basil. Who knew, amiright??!

But the news gets better.

Paddywax, the company who made the candle, has a whole collection of author-scented candles! “HOW IS THIS POSSIBLE??!?!?” I thought. Great literature and great smells? Two of the world’s best things, rolled into one.

The Library Collection includes such greats as Leo Tolstoy (Black Plum, Persimmon, and Oakmoss), Edgar Allen Poe (Cardamom, Absinthe, and Sandalwood), and Jane Austen (Gardenia, Tuberose, and Jasmine).

The whole library.

DUDE!!! I used to be really bummed that I never got to, say, cuddle up to Tolstoy and smell his ‘pits, or sample some of Jane Austen’s perfume/shampoo combo. But now it’s like I can have these authors – as many of them as I want!!!! – in my room, every night. THANK YOU, PADDYWAX.

November 26, 2012. Books, Culture, Rectangles, Truth. Leave a comment.

138. Joni Mitchell’s “Blue”

Joni at her best.

When I was 9 and 10, I had a nanny named Erin. She was magical and creative and still feels like my big sister. Erin and my brother and I used to make up dances and make collages and come up with scavenger hunts. But perhaps the best thing Erin gave me was a love for “Blue” by Joni Mitchell. It has been my favorite album of all time since she introduced it to me.

The first week Erin was with us, she found my parents’ record collection. She was so excited. One of the first things she did was transfer “Blue” onto one side of a cassette tape (the other side was Cat Stevens’ “Tea for the Tillerman“). We listened to nothing other than that tape every day in the car on the way to and from school and to our after-school activities.

“Blue” came out in 1971. It’s often considered Joni’s best album (yes, we’re on a first name basis). Her music  is not only hauntingly beautiful, but devastatingly complex. I’ve tried to play it on the banjo and the piano, and it’s just too hard for me.

My classic favorite song was always “California.” It’s upbeat and pretty and really showcases Joni’s voice. But, as I got older, I gained an appreciation for “The Last Time I Saw Richard,” a song Erin always skipped on our cassette tape.

Here are the lyrics:

The last time I saw Richard was Detroit in ’68
And he told me all romantics meet the same fate someday
Cynical and drunk and boring someone in some dark café
You laugh he said you think you’re immune
Go look at your eyes they’re full of moon
You like roses and kisses and pretty men to tell you
All those pretty lies pretty lies
When you gonna realize they’re only pretty lies
Only pretty lies just pretty lies

He put a quarter in the Wurlitzer and he pushed
Three buttons and the thing began to whirr
And a bar maid came by in fishnet stockings and a bow tie
And she said “Drink up now it’s getting’ on time to close”
“Richard, you haven’t really changed” I said
It’s just that now you’re romanticizing some pain that’s in your head
You got tombs in your eyes but the songs you punched are dreaming
Listen, they sing of love so sweet, love so sweet
When you gonna get yourself back on your feet?
Oh and love can be so sweet Love so sweet

Richard got married to a figure skater
And he bought her a dishwasher and a coffee percolator
And he drinks at home now most nights with the TV on
And all the house lights left up bright
I’m gonna blow this damn candle out
I don’t want nobody comin’ over to my table
I got nothing to talk to anybody about
All good dreamers pass this way some day
Hidin’ behind bottles in dark cafes dark cafes
Only a dark cocoon before I get my gorgeous wings and fly away
Only a phase these dark café days

I love the lyrics and it is also just hauntingly beautiful.

Even though “The Last Time I Saw Richard” is my favorite song on the album, I shouldn’t forget some of the other greats. “My Old Man” is a great song (“But when he’s gone/me and them lonesome blues collide/the bed’s too big, the frying pan’s too wide”), as is “A Case of You” (I remember that time you told me you said/”Love is touching souls”/Surely you touched mine/’Cause part of you pours out of me/In these lines from time to time). This is incredibly cheesy, but I’ve always wanted to put out a birth announcement for a daughter quoting “Little Green”:

“Call her green and the winters cannot fade her

Call her green for the children who’ve made her

Little green, be a gypsy dancer.”

Oh, man. I can’t believe I just shared that on the internet.

Anyway, pretty much every song on this album is amazing. I listen to it all the time – on rainy days, it’s perfect. On sunny days? Still perfect. When I’m happy, when I’m sad, I need to listen to “Blue.” It always fits. It’s always perfect. Thank you, Joni. I love you, gurl.

November 14, 2012. Music, Rectangles, Truth. Leave a comment.

134. My Endorsement of AJ Cooper

If I were a real journalist, this endorsement would be printed on rectangular newsprint, or else in a rectangular magazine.
Unfortunately, I’m just a lowly blogger, so you get the rectangular screen of your choice.
Now, I’m as sick-to-death of the election as everyone else. Maybe moreso, because I live in Washington, DC, where the coverage never stops.

But here’s what I’m about to do. WRITE ABOUT A CANDIDATE.
I discovered a young man named AJ Cooper a few months ago. Cooper is running for one of two At-Large seats on the DC City Council. He started putting up signs in my lovely home neighborhood of Petworth. This is what they look like:

Honor. Courage. Commitment. Ok, so those goals are vague, but we all like them, right?

Two days ago, I decided – purely on the beatific composition of the campaign posters – to look up Cooper online. Turns out, he’s super adorable. He stands for good things – alternative energy, sex ed in schools, employment. Ok, so his plans for how to achieve these things aren’t completely fleshed out. But here is why I genuinely want my DC readers to vote for AJ Cooper for DC City Council At-Large:

In this wonderful but corrupt city, we could use more idealistic, young leaders like AJ Cooper. He might not have determined how he wants to accomplish good things, but he wants to. We have so many depressing old hats in the DC City Council (here’s looking at you, Marion Barry). It’s time for someone young and idealistic to unseat them and bring about some fresh blood and ambition for making this city a better place. Chairman Phil Mendelson has been on the Council for 14 years. Ward 1’s Jim Graham has been on it for 13. Fucking Marion Barry (Ward 8) has been in DC government for nearly 40 years. Even Ward 4’s Muriel Bowser has been around for almost 6 years. Sure, Cooper might not have much experience – but he has dreams. And in this city of jaded, corrupt officials, I like that. Plus, he grew up in Petworth, the hood which I love the most.

So, since I plan on moving out of DC within the next year and can’t run for council myself, I formally endorse AJ Cooper. AJ: May the rectangles be always at your heels.

AJ, my man: Sorry I didn’t get to endorse you earlier. But if you read this, I’d love to get coffee sometime and discuss this city we both love so much. I hope you win.

November 5, 2012. Culture, Rectangles, Truth. 1 comment.

128. “The Classical”

My senior year of high school, I met one of the most magical people I’ve ever known. Her name was (and still is) Juliet Gordon. We formed a band with one of our teachers at our progressive private high school called the Tennessee Valley Authority. We played folk music. Juliet and I sang, the teacher played guitar, and Juliet played mandolin. It was really awesome. Like, really, really, really awesome. And that wasn’t even close to the extent of the magic that Juliet brought into my life – together we explored Virginia, music, and fashion.

Anyway, now Juliet is finishing up school at Colorado College. She has embraced music as her true love, and she and her band came out with this album. It’s really, really unique and interesting, and also nice to listen to. Here‘s a music video of their song “Man on the Stairs.”

You can download the album here. I’d at least check out the video and give it a listen. I think you’ll agree that Juliet’s voice is truly amazing, and that the music is really, really cool.

October 22, 2012. Culture, Music, Rectangles, Truth. Leave a comment.

125. Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Ok, so I’m a little late jumping on this wagon. But I have a good reason: while Buffy was on, I was only allowed to watch educational television. Perhaps that’s where my love for rectangles came from – Sesame Street emphasizes shapes pretty hardcore.

Little did my parents know, Buffy the Vampire Slayer is now giving me an education in awesome that PBS could never even come close to. Yeah, sure, Wishbone was cool, but did he stab vampires through the heart and turn them into dust? I THINK NOT.

I heart young Sarah Michelle Gellar.

Buffy, for those out-of-touch readers who don’t know, is about a high school girl who happens to be a Slayer – that is, one born to every generation whose job it is to keep the “forces of evil” in check. Unfortunately, she just wants to be a normal girl. No such luck. Buffy gets kicked out of school after school, as she burns down gymnasiums and skips classes to deal with vamps. At the beginning of the show, Buffy has just enrolled at Sunnydale High, where she hopes for a normal life. However, vampires show up in Sunnydale, and Buffy has to team up with her nerdy friends Willow and Xander, plus librarian Mr. Giles, to fight them.

All vampires have these sweet Khan faces.

Anyway, turns out Sunnydale is a hotbed of “vampires, demons, and forces of evil,” so Buffy is busy punching vampires in the face and the like. It’s pretty sweet. Pretty. Damn. Sweet.
Lots of good fight scenes. Lots of good evil-looking villains. Plus the usual high school drama of being popular and interacting with boys. It’s seriously a kick-ass show that I would recommend to anyone.

September 15, 2012. Culture, Rectangles, Truth. Leave a comment.

124. My Guilty Pleasures, Part Two

I know you all have been awaiting this post with bated breath.

I can see it now. You sit at home, obsessively refreshing TTAR in your browser. “What is her second guilty pleasure website?” you ask yourself, as you systematically pluck out your eyebrows.

Well, friends, your wait has not been in vain. Now, it is revealed:

Regretsy mostly highlights ridiculous items for sale on Etsy – allegedly, the internet’s handmade marketplace.

On the surface, it doesn’t sound that interesting.

“So what,” you think. “How interesting can Etsy be?”

Eat your words, dear reader. Etsy can be fucking ridic.

Par Example:

I should also mention that April, the curator, is fucking funny. Like, her writing actually makes me laugh out loud sometimes. Below is her response to the above photo (also, I should add, the green highlighted emphasis is her own).

Well, now you’re talking – a couple of rocks with string on them! You can add them to your collection, provided you collect rocks with string on them. And how cool is it that the colors change depending on the light? Not too many things you can say that about!

The question is, do you want her to trim the twine or not? That’s a toughie. I mean, what if it’s too short? Then what? You can’t uncut the twine. But then again, if it’s too long it might get caught in your nose ring. Oh well! I guess that’s why she’s on the front page, and you’re just slowly drinking yourself to death.

Whatever you choose, remember that twine-covered rocks are a calming element. Just thinking about the fact that someone got on the front page with this horse shit should put you in the fetal position.

DO NOT TAKE THE ROCK OUTSIDE

If you don’t get it, I can’t explain it to you. But I think it is subtle and brilliant and just plain funny.

Ok, indulge me here. One more.

She made up a term called “noncycling,” which makes fun of the trend to “upcycle” old clothes or items into a new, beautiful thing.

In her words:

non·cy·cle [non-sahy-kuhl]

1. To take a piece of garbage and turn it into a different piece of garbage

2. To take an object that still has some useful purpose and turn it into a piece of garbage

“Mary stopped Jim from discarding the expired air-fresheners so she could noncycle them into an instant collection.”

 

Here are too many noncycles, gleaned from a few posts:

Seriously. SERIOUSLY. This shit is for real. April is brilliant. Etsy is INSANE. I actually cannot believe what she finds on there. But I love it. So much.

You’re welcome. Enjoy.

September 13, 2012. Art, Beauty, Culture, Rectangles, Truth, Websites. Leave a comment.

121. $5.25 Farmer’s Market Bacon

My day had a very disappointing start.

Yesterday, I went to my friendly Petworth farmers’ market. I bought some pickling cucumbers, because I’m trying to perfect the New York Deli full-sour pickle. I bought some really delish apples and pears. I bought farm-fresh, allegedly cruelty-free eggs (I know, I’m a sucker), and I bought some fancy bacon. Yes, it cost $5.25, but, I figured those pigs were happy before they died, and it would probably be super delicious.

This morning, before I left the house, I thought I’d make myself a gorgeous cholesterol-heavy breakfast. My dear readers may not know that I have, in the past year, discovered a gluten allergy, so I can’t eat toast with my morning meal. Instead, I just make more protein. I scrambled up three eggs and started to fry up some of this fancy-ass bacon.

What I was imagining, minus the garnish. Although that does make it look very nice.

My first concern sprung up when it started to turn grey, instead of brown. However, since I bought the bacon frozen, I thought it might just be a casual, unimportant side effect of the freezing process. Dude, I don’t know science, or any of that shit. It seemed like a possibility. And the meat didn’t smell rotten, or anything.

So, I let the bacon keep cooking. By the time it was done, it seemed pretty normal looking.

And then I bit into the first piece.

It tasted like clay. Seriously. Like, you know how in Ceramics, you’d accidentally get some clay in your mouth? Maybe that didn’t happen to everyone. It definitely happened to me. More than once. Anyway, it legitimately tasted like that. Dry. Crumbly. Grey.

It was gross, in other words. And I was angry. Because, like most normal people, I love me some bacon. And, when I spend almost 6 bucks on my bacon, I expect to have an overwhelmingly positive bacon experience. It was not so, this time.

I’m going to call out the vendors of this meat, J&L Green Farm, because I think people should be accountable for their pork. I’ll let my readers know what comes of it.

September 8, 2012. Food, Rectangles, Truth. Leave a comment.

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