Saturday, March 22, 2014

The Time Macaulay Culkin Made a Sexual Innuendo To Me

http://www.washingtonpost.com/entertainment/music/pizza-underground-live-macaulay-culkins-meme-band-sends-em-home-hungry/2014/03/22/8947575a-b1d2-11e3-a49e-76adc9210f19_story.html

"Do you like punny songs about pizza?" the show began. "Great!" Because, hey, who doesn't?

On stage was Macaulay Culkin, Home Alone star turned not-so-starving weirdo artist, performing with his band Pizza Underground, a pizza-themed Velvet Underground cover band. In its on-point review of the show, The Washington Post's Chris Richards refers to Culkin's latest endeavor as a "meme band," which about sums it up. Tickets cost $20, & the demand was so high that the sold-out show was moved from The Black Cat's side stage to its main stage to accommodate hungry (ha) fans.

Maybe you're aware of my deep & abiding love of  the Home Alone movies. In fact, I own all four of them - yes, four - on DVD, though Culkin appears in only the first two (which are obviously the only ones worth watching). Long before BuzzFeed started obsessively sharing movie factoids, thus effectively solidifying the film's cult-classic status, I was watching the first movie approximately a dozen times a year, irrespective of the date on the calendar. Because Home Alone is a cinematic masterpiece that cannot be confined to Christmastime.

It goes without saying, then, that I was no-holds-barred enthusiastic about seeing Kevin McAllister in the flesh, & fortunately, I found a few friends who were a mix of A) similarly enthusiastic, &/or B) willing to indulge me. None of us was delusional enough to believe this would be a good show in the traditional sense of the word "good" - & we got exactly what we expected.

The show started with the "band" passing out a few boxes of cold pizza, & that was probably the most normal thing that happened all night. During most of the songs, Macaulay Culkin played a tiny plastic trumpet (think glorified kazoo). One of his bandmates spoke with a faux German accent. He introduced his actress girlfriend as "Edie Breadstick," & she performed a weirdly sexified version of "Perfect Day" with modified, pizza-centric lyrics. A poor-man's Kurt Cobain impersonator sang an esoteric, past-tense version of Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit." And at one point, the band stopped playing & started dancing like crazy... to Billy Joel's "We Didn't Start the Fire," set to a PowerPoint presentation of cats & the inexplicably appropriate hashtag #PUSSYJOEL.

At one point, Culkin asked the audience, "What's the difference between a pepperoni pizza & a boner?" After a pause, he announced casually, "I don't have a pepperoni pizza right now. But seriously, you guys are giving me a hard-on."

OK, so it wasn't directed at me. Or was it? Pizza Underground was on stage for a mere 45 minutes, which was plenty bordering on too much. It was everything I wanted it to be & more.

Photo credit: Chris Richards, Washington Post

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Lessons in Adventuring: Ask More (Or Any) Questions


Much to my dismay (& entirely my fault), my apartment is still relatively furnitureless. I scour Craigslist with some regularity & recently joined a Yahoo Group (apparently those still exist) called Freecycle to try to score some key (free) pieces. In particular, I've been on the lookout for a nightstand & a coffee table & a microwave, though I was planning to probably just buy one of those at some point because who wants a stranger's microwave? When a friend texted to ask if I'd like to buy his coffee table & a microwave, though, I was eager to take him up on it. He sent me one photo of the two, & we made a deal for me to come pick them up last Monday night.

Mid-week, I received a shiny, new microwave - a red one! - as a really lovely surprise gift, so I told my friend I'd just be taking the table. On Monday night, I had dinner with two other friends, & when I mentioned my plans to go pick up this new-to-me coffee table when we parted ways, they had a number of questions for me.

How are you going to transport the table? I'll carry it! You cannot carry a coffee table all the way from Mount Pleasant. But it's only a mile & change! Kaaaate. As their questions persisted, I realized they were right & that I was probably bordering on delusional to plan to carry a coffee table by myself all that way. I insisted that if it was too unwieldy to carry, I'd catch a cab to help me transport it, but they pointed out that this, too, was rather irrational, given the general size of coffee tables (Did you ask for measurements? ...no...) & cabbies' general unwillingness to serve as movers.

This shouldn't have become such a thing, but suddenly it was, like, a bona fide thing, where my friends thought I was a crazy person incapable of planning basic adult errands. I hate asking for help, so I didn't - but one friend volunteered, & then she convinced the other friend to "volunteer," somewhat against his will, to secure a Zipcar & drive us out to Mount Pleasant to obtain said coffee table. I apologized profusely & tried to bill it as an adventure. Wheeeee!

Notice how I've been calling it a coffee table this whole time? But I didn't ask for its measurements? You probably know where this is going.

As we arrived at my friend's home, I could see the "coffee table" through the front door - & that's when it occurred to me that he had never actually told me it was coffee table. I just needed a coffee table, so I assumed that's what it was.

Alas, it was a kitchen table. Huge, by the standards of my apartment's square footage - dinner-for-four huge, in an apartment that sleeps no more than one. There was was no way I could've fit it into my miniscule studio apartment, & it certainly wasn't going to fit into the four-door hybrid sedan we'd rented. So I walked inside, hugged my friend, waffled for a minute, got really embarrassed, admitted I couldn't take the table with me after all, apologized profusely for the second time that night, & then walked out the door empty-handed.

You can imagine how hard my friends made fun of me when I got back to the Zipcar (which we used for a whopping 26 minutes, given our ultimate lack of transportation needs). Did I mention that just over dinner, they'd accused me of landing myself in all kinds of shenanigans that don't happen to most, you know, normal people? (Another friend refers to this as "having trouble living," a unique-to-me life descriptor.) Well, what a grand way for me to disprove that theory! And so I apologized profusely for the third time that night & returned home to my tiny, still-furnitureless apartment.

Adventure indeed. So, uh, anyone selling a coffee table...?

Monday, March 10, 2014

The Time I Went to the White House, Finally


Though I work with a great many people who have visited the White House a great many times, I've somehow never been - not since moving to D.C. in 2007, at least. I went once with my parents when I was 7 years old, in a pre-9/11 world that didn't require advance screening or extreme security measures, & longtime readers will recall the devastating time that I got to the White House but couldn't get in. In all my time living here, I've never figured out how to make it happen.

A friend of mine did campaign work a few years ago & has a number of well-connected colleagues who work in places like... the White House. When I mentioned that I'd never been, he quickly set up a tour with a friend who works in the Office of Presidential Personnel. I left crazy early for our 7:45 meeting time in case I happened to get lost along the way (& because I know better than to count on public transportation to be timely). As my bus made its way down 16th street toward 1600 Penn, I had a nerve-wracking realization that spurred me to send this frantic text message to a friend who visits the White House with some regularity:


As I waited for a response, I grew more & more nervous. I texted two other friends. And when the bus dropped me off two blocks outside the White House gate & I still hadn't heard back from any of them, I decided to take precautionary measures.

I sat down on a park bench in snowy Lafayette Park & stripped off my boots & both pairs of socks - the furry rainbow socks that looked like they were made of a skinned Muppet & the tall black knee socks underneath them. (For the record, I was wearing two pairs because A) it was cold, & B) my boots are too big.) I put the Muppet socks on first, then the black ones, ensuring that if I was asked to remove my shoes at White House, it at least wouldn't look like I was wearing half a Fraggle.

And then we went on a tour of the West Wing. And it was amazing, obviously, because it was the West Wing, & I wish I had a better word for it than "amazing" because that's the same word I use for, like, really delicious mac & cheese, or a refreshing midday nap. They only give tours at night, so it felt a lot like a cross between a museum & a movie set - pristine, all roped off, inaccessible, beautiful. I couldn't step foot in the Oval Office - because, you know, it's not a museum or a movie set but the president's actual office - but I did get to lean over the velvet rope far enough to say that I'd been inside.

The West Wing has a strict no-photos policy, so I couldn't share my presidential adventure on Instagram (though I did snap a selfie in the bathroom outside the Oval Office that I'm too scared to post for fear of, like, being reprimanded by the Secret Service). I was able to take two photos: one with my friend outside the entrance to the West Wing, with the seal above the doorway, & one in the James Brady Press Briefing Room, where I was photobombed by an American flag that appears to be a very patriotic wizard hat.




Now if you'll excuse me, I think it's time I tried to get into The West Wing again. The TV show, that is. Because I've already been to the real one.
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