Thursday, July 19, 2007

Pestilence of the Eyeball

True to fashion, I've been suffering from a bizarre medical malady this week. Following the vertigo-mono-strep combo of December 2006, this week I was struck with a sudden, and gnarly, case of conjunctivitis, commonly known as pinkeye.

Yes, pinkeye. That scourge of the nursery school crowd. I think I'm regressing. This winter I got mono, the teenager's disease. Now I'm back in pre-K. Mark better beware -- I may start getting colicky.

After some shenanigans sorting out my new insurance, I have been well taken care of, and the magic eye drops have made me feel close to better. So why mention any of this? Because I have some bitchin' visual aids, that's why!

Check it -- Compare / Contrast

Good eye

Bad eye

Beauty, eh? I'm thinking of sending it to

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

You've Been...Bunderstruck!

I promise I didn't want to do it.

I just got a freakin' iguana for cryin' out loud. I already have two cats. And for God's sake I live with one other person in a one-bedroom apartment in downtown DC.

But my brand new officemate at my brand new job (more on that later -- this is important, dammit) found a tiny, defenseless, very tame baby rabbit -- nay, baby bunny -- on the doorstep of his building on Connecticut Avenue in Cleveland Park and needed someone to take him home or else he'd go to a shelter.

I held out for one whole day, but then he e-mailed me the pictures, and it was game over.

Meet the new addition. His/her working name is Bun Scott, after the late lead singer of AC/DC. We'll see if it sticks.


Friday, July 13, 2007

This. Is. Shepardy.

Yesterday finally saw the airing of the long-ago taped Jeopardy episode. Contractually, I was not allowed to blog about the experience. Telling all of my friends and sending numerous e-mails was somehow fine, but blogging (even on a craptastic blog such as this) was a no-no. So now it can be told. I finally fulfilled my dream of losing on Jeopardy.

The first round went swimmingly for me, and then everyone got comfy with the buzzers and I didn't ring in nearly as much in the second round. In order to have a prayer of winning, I had to bet it all, which is what I did. Sadly, I could not figure out the Final Jeopardy clue, so I lost everything and wound up in third place. Jeopardy is a cruel mistress.

For the record, the reason people bet everything on Jeopardy is that you don't get to keep your winnings unless you win first place. Second place gets $2000, and third place gets $1000 -- or about enough to cover the trip out to California. Thus, I could either settle for $2000 or play for $18,000, knowing I'd at least walk away breaking even. You do what you gotta do. It didn't help that the Final Jeopardy clue was crazy hard. Nobody got it, and I didn't have to kick myself for not getting it right.

If you're at all curious about the content of the clues, and OCD-infused analysis of wagering and game dynamics, check out the job the wingnuts at J-Archive have done. The Internet is good.

Here's the interesting stuff: Taping a show involves coming in at about 8 am to the studio lot, and eating yummy pastries while filling out all kinds of paperwork and making friends with the 20 or so people who will playing in the five shows that will be filmed that day. The green room is very well-appointed and very, very cold. You get to play a bunch of practice rounds on the set with the buzzers, and a producer stands in for Alex Trebek. The set is very blue and very shiny.

When the audience comes in at about 10 am, you are instructed not to even look at your loved ones on pain of death, because they might have seen the clues getting readied on the board before you're trotted out there. Naturally, everyone finds some lint on their shoulder or something so we can all steal furtive glances at our families to see where they're sitting. Players for each of the five shows are picked "randomly," though I think performance at practice might have something to do with the lineups, and between each show all the contestants are herded back and forth to the green room. Makeup is extensive and thorough -- they literally airbrush you with foundation. Short folks are given steps to stand on behind the podiums. Some special short people get two boxes. After your show tapes, you can leave, or watch from the audience (where you are now allowed to acknowledge your family). You get a tote bag and a glass picture frame in which to insert your souvenir photo of you and Trebek on the set that they take during a commercial break.

You don't get to talk to Trebek much, because he's seen all the clues, and they don't want you talking to anyone who's seen the clues ahead of time. He's nice and chatty at the end of the show, though. After my show he came right up to me and said "I thought you were gonna catch him." I was all, "I thought so too, Alex." Then you go to the front of the stage for the "rapping with Alex" part that you see when the credits roll and everyone's talking together but you can't hear what they're saying.

The staff and the other contestants were all really nice. By the time I was called up to play in the fourth show, I was more than ready to go, and was so comfortable that I forgot I was being taped for a show that would be seen by a whole, whole lot of people. Honestly, the saddest thing about losing was that I still felt like I wanted to play some more. I couldn't even be mad at the dude that beat me, because we had been hanging out all day, and you kind of support everyone. It's a bit twisted like that.

I watched the show this Thursday with about 20 friends camped out on my apartment floor eating pizza and drinking beer and champagne. Good times were had, and I think massive humiliation was avoided. Besides $18,000 in winnings, I couldn't ask for much more.

Now to start training for the World Series of Pop Culture.


Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Enter the Dragon

The annual trip to Aruba is over and done with, and it was lovely. I did exactly jackshit except read on the beach, swim with the pelicans, eat fresh fish, drink rum, make $20 at roulette, and save a sick lizard (again). Awesome.

I've mentioned the iguanas in Aruba before, and they really are quite charming. Mark adopted a small colony outside the cafe at the resort, whom he met for breakfast every morning. On the way home, we both decided that iguanas were indeed bitchin', and we should totally get one. We also decided that if we did not do this soon, we never would do it. So two days after we got back from Aruba we drove out to Annandale and got us a goddam iguana.

Now, one cannot just waltz into the Super Petz and declare their desire for an iguana expecting to take it home immediately. We had to prep by procuring the most ginormous leezard cage known to man. It looks like a phone booth made out of mesh. The leezard also requires more lighting than a Jerry Bruckheimer movie, so we had to get that as well, so leezard will think he's in the tropics, and not a climate-controlled, overpriced one-bedroom in downtown DC. Leezard also requires climbing things, and many, many greens. Leezard eats better than we do. So these had to be acquired before the Super Petz people let us take an iguana home, to ensure that we were properly equipped. They then plopped leezard in a paper bag which they stapled shut and sent us on our way.

It turns out that iguanas are skittish creatures, and they can be a little freaked out when they first come home. They demonstrate their displeasure by not pooping. It may seem intuitive that a lack of lizard poop is not necessarily a bad thing, but after a week we were a bit worried. Not to be indelicate, but in the people world it seems that such a movement is required at least once a day to keep one agreeable -- preferably just after breakfast and maybe around 11:30 as well. After a week, well, I know I'd be pretty unbearable. I can only imagine that leezard was in a great deal of discomfort.

We were then faced with the prospect of forcing our lizard to shit. Reptile vets proscribe soaking the lizard in warm water to get them to do this. This is not easy, especially when the animal in question is still freaked out at you and won't let you near it without scratching your hands and whipping you with its tail. Ouch. So I donned a pair of gardening gloves, wrassled the lizard into submission (no, that is not a euphemism -- don't be cheeky), and confined our scaly friend in a tupperware container filled with half an inch of warm water and a few holes provided so he could breathe. We stared down at the box for a few minutes, awaiting the appearance of lizard scat, but the poor little guy was having some kind of performance anxiety, so we went away.

We returned a few minutes later to a lovely tupperware box filled with skanky, befouled lizard water, and a very animated lizard who wanted out immediately. Never have two people been so overjoyed to see reptile crap. It will be the last time, I assure you.

So Leezard is happily munching and pooping away, but he/she still lacks a name. Trogdor, Krang, Larry, and Neil Diamond have promise, but none seems to stick. We're not sure at this point if it's a boy lizard or a girl, which complicates things. We are accepting suggestions, however, if you feel you have some insight on the matter.