Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas With The Sheps

Yuletide at the Shepherd household is very special indeed. Not just because we do the Christmas/Chanukah thing, because that's becoming progressively less weird as time goes on, but because I'd like to think we put our own little stamp on things. We run a bit of an open house during the afternoon, so if you're in the 18954 zip code, you're cordially invited to stop by. If, however, you can't manage it, here's a little guide to how we do here:

1. Music: The Shepherd family has a limited number of Christmas albums, but we are fiercely loyal to the ones we play the most. Elvis sees a lot of rotation, as does the jazzy Ramsey Lewis Trio. But, as mentioned previously, the paramount Shepherd Christmas Album is John Denver and the Muppets: A Christmas Together. Yes, I know it sounds awful, but please revisit last year's blog to hear the full treatise on the subject. It's an emotional issue.

2. Menu and activities: Pancakes must make an appearance prior to attending to the stockings, accompanied by the first of several Scarlet O'Haras of the day (SoCo, cranberry and lime). This is the only day of the year on which it is acceptable to consume this particular beverage. You may start when trimming the tree on Christmas Eve, but by the 26th, it's back to Manhattans, gin martinis, and bourbon and diet starting at 4pm -- per usual. Also unique to the holiday is the annual Christmas Spamburger at lunch, prepared after the presents under the tree are opened, although consumption by all family members is not required. Trivial Pursuit takes up the better part of the afternoon, until dinner of prime rib and potatoes, in memory of Grampy Shep and his preternatural love of red meat. If Christmas and Chanukah coincide, the Menorah is lit and latkes are served as necessary. Dreidel is considered being played for about three minutes, until we all admit we really don't know the rules, or how to make the damn thing spin correctly, and just play Scrabble instead.

3. Decorations: The Shepherd Family Christmas Tree is the kind of tree that would make Martha Stewart weep. By that I mean that there is no theme, no color coordination, and the ornaments have been randomly accumulated over the years, and, in truth, are mostly pretty fugly. But, and this is very important, NO ORNAMENT MUST BE DISCARDED NO MATTER HOW HIDEOUS UNTIL IT IS BROKEN BEYOND ALL HOPE OF RECOVERY. If it's kinda broken, it is valid. This is how we wind up with family favorites like Barfight Santa, who got too close to a red candle one year and looks like he's been punched in the mouth. Or Vietnam Goofy, who has been missing a foot as long as I can remember, and the suggestion that he lost it in 'Nam seemed as good a backstory as anything else. Or the Magical Christmas Toilet Paper Roll, dating back to kindergarten. Or the McDonald's Happy Meal toys that by rights should have been thrown out 20 years ago, but still make it on to the tree every year. Or Sergeant Fire Hazard, who is made out of yarn, and one day will be ignited by a Christmas light, and likely kill us all. These are not pieces of shit. They are HEIRLOOMS, and being the one to hang any of them on the tree is a unique and treasured honor. Fights have broken out over who gets to place Barfight Santa.

So that's kinda how we roll here. There are some pictures to be found here. Do drop by when you have a chance!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Snowmegeddon 2009

By now you probably heard that the northeast had a bit o' weather this weekend. It must be annoying if you're in say, Fargo or North Platte or somewhere like that to watch the media lose it's mind over a piddly foot of snow in Manhattan. I sympathize. We are a bunch of effete city folk, and we ought to just own that.

That said, holy crap, it snowed this weekend!

Blizzard conditions came to Manhattan late in the afternoon, and the TV advised us all to stay in and hunker down. So of course the whole city came out to play instead. I myself hit up three separate shows in the Village and did some ill-fated Christmas shopping, which resulted in me slipping on the sidewalk and shattering a highly-sought after bottle of bacon-flavored vodka. (Cut to scene of me screaming on sidewalk, and people asking if I'm okay, and all I can do is shout "The vodka! THE VODKA!" I was fine. A week without Robyn falling down is like a night without stars).

But I still managed to shake it off and get my rock and roll on. My pals the Ramblers played a benefit concert that mustered over 100 people in a small W. Village club, and afterward we all ran through the snow so half of the Ramblers could take the stage again at Scott Stein's show at the Bitter End, which was packed. I was fetchingly dressed in a flattering, form-fitting royal blue Express sweater...which spent most of the night hidden under layers of the Chastity Parka's Gore-Tex. Shmeh. I'll get the bombshell thing down better in 2010. Pinkie swear.

So New York can still rock it in the snow. My pals were actually still ready to rock at a house party in Brooklyn, and I had to call it a night because I was too pooped. I ended the evening by joining three strangers in pushing a motorist out of the snow. It was a nice moment, and we all waved goodbye to the car as it sped off to the FDR highway, like a condor being released into the wild. Ahn. That kind of stuff happened everywhere. Although some folks, like this poor bastard, weren't so lucky:

Here's some more video of the Village mid-blizzard, and the Ramblers rocking out at a venue with more machine-generated fog that I ever seen at any gig, ever.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Where the #@%$ are the other cats?

Tippy doesn't appreciate the confusing musical stylings of the Jingle Cats.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Three Ladies Singing: Silent Night

It's not all raucous rock and roll and mind-melting soft rock with my pals, you know. Here's Three Ladies Singing bringing some class to a Toys for Tots benefit in Harlem last night:

Monday, December 7, 2009

Tim Blane Live at Rockwood Music Hall (with Celebrity Guests!)

Special guest star: The back of Chelsea Clinton's head. That's right, TMZ. There's a new kid on the celebrity Web site block. Be scared.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Turkey in Lower Manhattan

Here's something you may not know about the Sheps. We like birds. We like birds a lot. We're not one of these families that goes on birdwatching expeditions, as that requires too much effort, however we do tend to lose our collective familial shit when a new songbird graces the backyard. Or perhaps a thrush. And don't even get me started on the fits elicited by a pheasant. Birds are good.

Much like my love of cooking and the ability to make badass, military-approved hospital corners when making the bed, I have carried this family-bred ornithological appreciation with me in my adult life. So wasn't I just tickled when I stumbled upon this scene in Lower Manhattan, in the shadow of the Statue of Liberty, of all places:

It turns out Ms. Turkey actually lives there, after spending some time in Tribeca before re-locating downtown. Clever of her, as the real estate market really favors Battery Park these days. And her name is Zelda. After F. Scott Fitzgerald's wife, who wandered around the park when she had a nervous breakdown. Which is frankly pretty sick, and not like the way the young kids say sick now. But a turkey-in-residence is awesome. Did DC have a turkey-in-residence? No. No it did not. Which is one more reason why NYC kicks DC's ass six ways to Sunday. Go on, turkey. Ms. Zelda if you're nasty.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Ukulele Debut...Kinda

My friend Jess came to town this weekend, officially to participate in Ukulele Fest at Banjo Jim's, but unofficially to join me in an exhausting weekend of bar-hopping, late night dancing, gigs, brunches, shopping for dresses, losing said dresses in said bars, and getting into a manageable amount of trouble. Saturday alone we went to eight bars...three of which were Rockwood Music Hall (at 4pm, 6pm, and 1 am, respectively). It wasn't even that we overindulged in adult beverages. We kept that at a respectable pace, thank you, no matter how much Piano's deadly margaritas tried to do us in. It was more the sheer ambition of the agenda that wiped us out, and ensured that I spent most of Sunday homebound with a box of crackers, a brick of cream cheese, and the NFL.

Also at Banjo Jim's, I was convinced to pick up an instrument in front of an audience for the first time since the heady days of the Council Rock High School Orchestra. Here's me playing the ukulele. Or at least, one note on the ukulele. Accompanying a nursery rhyme version of "I Am the Walrus." Weirdness abounds:

And here's some proper uke strumming, courtesy of Jess:

Sunday, November 1, 2009

DIY High-Concept Halloween

I never was one for pre-fab costumes. I don't think I've actually purchased one since grade school, and even then my spending budget was limited to cheap accessories to augment some kind of thrown together deal. Sometimes this didn't work out quite so well, as in the unfortunate toilet skirt-viking ensemble I rocked for the 5th grade explorer's pageant as Leif Ericson. But my track record's pretty good otherwise. Now's as good a time as any to think about next year, so here's some helpful hints from costumes past:

Taped together paper boxes + Crayola poster paint + low center of gravity and ability to shuffle = Pez dispenser

Black hooded sweatsuit+ paper emo drawing taped to stomach + cutesy headpiece + bad attitude = maladjusted Teletubbie

White hooded sweatsuit + cotton balls + construction paper ears = sheep

Orioles hat + oversized googly eyes + yellow leggings + walking cane = lame duck (best implemented in major election years and on Capitol Hill, where I promise this is hysterical)

And this year's accomplishment, which is admittedly a bit baffling at first: blue tube dress + blue wig + roll of blue painter's tape + moderate threshold for pain when it comes time to take the damn thing off = "Tangled Up in Blue"

Best implemented among those with similar musical tastes and high tolerance for borderline pretentious wordplay.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Radiator Denouement

Why I choose to do these prior to putting on makeup, I don't know.

Monday, October 19, 2009

I Think My Maintenance Guy's Full of Crap

I have the loudest radiator in New York City. Is this normal? You decide!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Andy Mac Live at the Living Room

From my pal Andy Mac's CD release party at the Living Room on the Lower East Side.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Robyn Featured in Beauty Blog; Flurries in Hell

Let's be clear. I'm not slovenly, and I'm not a raging tomboy, but I think it's fair to say that I'll never be mistaken for a fashion or style maven. Ever. It's just too much effort. I can clean up reasonably well, but I'll never be counted among, for example, the leggings mafia that currently is swarming NYC. Don't get me wrong, those gals look great in their semi-pantless, giant sweater, elaborately scarved getups. But I'm too lazy, and too cheap to bother with things that will look ridiculous three years from now. Plus, I have these things called "curves" and an "ass," which just precludes the whole thing.

Which is why it's semi-hysterical that my makeup artist/hairstylist friend Cassandra Kenendy featured me in, of all things, a beauty blog. She made me up right purty for the wedding of my friends Bryan and Emily. Bryan and Emily, being the artsy sorts, had their awesome, rock and roll wedding at the Williamsburg music venue Public Assembly, which is unspeakably cool. Emily encouraged the ladies to "dress to get noticed." So, this one time, I figured I'd comply. With a vengeance. We just went Rita Hayworth on this thing. Or Rita Hayworth goes to Billyburg. Elbow-length gloves, my old slinky black prom dress (god bless you Weight Watchers and everything you stand for), crippling silver heels, and black eyeliner. A lot of black eyeliner. Like, still-wearing-it-at-the-laundromat-the-next-day-after-four-attempts-to-remove-it amounts of eyeliner.

How did it turn out? Check out
CK's blog,
and judge for yourself:

Oh, okay, sneak freakin' preview:

And to think, when I first met Cassandra when I was a 22-year-old new hire she described me as slinking awkwardly around the office "like Gollum in a twin set." Upgrade.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Bruce Springsteen: "The Rising/Born to Run"

How you close down a stadium.

Dispatches from the Ladies' Room at Giants Stadium

Who gets up during a Springsteen concert in Jersey? Apparently, nobody.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Work Stuff: Discussing "The Torture Report" on NPR's On the Media

I helped get Larry Siems of the PEN American Center on National Public Radio's On the Media show, discussing a project he's helped us work on called The Torture Report. The ACLU launched a site recently that aims to make the thousands of documents released on the torture of detainees accessible to the public, and have done so through a Web site that presents the information as an interactive report, where readers can engage with experts and commentators. It's really interesting. In case you need a dollop of foreign relations to go with your daily perusal of I Can Has Cheezburger.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Bryan Dunn at Spike Hill

My friend Bryan is getting married next weekend, and to emphasize this fact, has had approximately three bachelor parties. We think. The accountants are still verifying the total tally. But that's fine, as long as we all get to rock out like this. With the estimable Andy Mac on drums and Jim MacNamara on upright bass.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Hey Baby, Want Me To Set Your Potato On Fire?

Holy shkamoly...

I haven't blogged much in the past two weeks. 'Cause you know why? Because work, Judaism and rock and roll have been kicking my ass in the best and worst ways. I spent Rosh Hashanah in Philly, came back to NYC, then turned right around for my first ACLU business trip back to DC, staying at a hotel mere blocks from my old place. It was weird coming back this soon. Kinda like running into a recent ex at a party, and having to make weird small talk. "Oh, DC,'re looking well. Am I seeing someone? Well, you remember New York. Yeah, well, it's soon and all, but it could be serious. You? Well, someone will come along. Well, anyway, I'd love to stay but I gotta go do a thing. Say hi to the family." And then you jump on Amtrak and run like hell back to a city that knows how to treat a lady. NYC tells me I'm pretty...and lets me take Acela. Snack on that, DC.

Oh, and the trip? We just briefed the Supreme Court press corps on the upcoming court term, and earned a whole mess of juicy articles, including the LEAD STORY ON THE FREAKIN' FRONT PAGE OF THE WASHINGTON POST. No big.

I got back to DC just in time for back-to-back U2 shows at Giants Stadium. A refresher on Robyn and U2: it could be argued that U2 is responsible for changing my career trajectory into social justice, my entire outlook on music, and consequently the great bulk of my adult life. Well, U2, and, you know, terrible relationship choices and a volatile geopolitical climate. So it's a big deal when they tour, which is every four years or so. Which is why I gladly made the four-hour round trip C.F. of a journey on NJ Transit to the Meadowlands. As a word of advice, if you plan on sharing mass transit with 80,000 other people at the exact same time, it better be for someone who changes your life. Otherwise it might be the most miserable experience of the year. The first night we were way far away, the better to see the ridiculous claw from outer space stage setup.

And the next night we were right up close!

If you don't think money can buy happiness, I respectfully beg to differ.

Now granted, all of this took a bit of a toll on the system, and consequently I haven't been all that able to sleep more than five hours a night for the past week and a half. Even the metabolic crash of Yom Kippur didn't slow me down. I didn't go to services, as I'm not yet part of a congregation, but I did make homemade chicken stock, which was the second most Jewish thing I could think of. And I cleaned my apartment. And broke fast with my friend Alex at a German beer hall in Brooklyn. Achtung bubbe.

And I accidentally set my potato on fire in the break room yesterday. And no, that's not a euphemism for anything. But it should be. Hey, you get the lead in WashPo, you get to set your lunch ablaze in the microwave...ONCE. It's a rule.

Throw in about a half dozen shows, an Eagles win and a loss, and some awful dietary decisions, and I'd say that brings us up to speed. Now if you'll excuse me, it's 7 pm on a Friday, I'm about to leave the office, and I have an intense night of sitting on my butt, watching Lost, and eating cheese to look forward to. And I think I'm gonna love it.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Tim Blane at Rockwood Music Hall

Thursdays in September: Get up. Protect freedom. Go home. Feed pets. Feed self. Shower. Go to Rockwood. Rock out with Tim and the boys. Go home and go to sleep. Repeat as necessary.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Fly Eagles Fly

Alas, now that I've re-located, I've had to bid adieu to the Rhino bar in Georgetown, where I spent many, many Sundays hunkered down with fellow Eagles fans, eating cheesesteaks and Old Bay fries, and befriending the former-stripper bartenders who always poured me extra shots. So this Sunday, Shwa and I test-drove a new Eagles bar: Wogie's in Greenwich Village. It's a lot smaller than Rhino, and most of the seats were taken as early as 11:30 am, but I think it passed muster. Here's me, Shwa and the rest of the crowd in action during one of the ridiculous number of touchdowns the Birds scored in the opening day thumping of Carolina:

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Robyn Draws: Boy Trouble

Guest starring Kyra

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Settling In, Rocking Out

I think I'm about 80% moved in now, which is a hell of an achievement considering how ridiculously long the process took. All the boxes are gone, most of the stuff has found a place, and with the exception of the tragic loss of my beloved overstuffed green couch that couldn't fit in the apartment, I'm back on track with a new Ikea loveseat, cable, Internet, pets, etc. Hey, it's hard fitting your whole life into half the space. I have also become skilled in the art of hauling ridiculously heavy stuff up stairs. Ever see those nature documentaries with the ants that lift things hundreds of times their weight? Well, it's not quite like that, but I did manage to get a 100-pound cabinet up to the place unscathed all by my lonesome. Snack on that, NY Sports Club.

After all that work, a little bit of playtime is in order. So it was very nice that two of my pals -- Bryan Dunn and Chris Cubeta -- were having a major show at the Bowery Ballroom last Saturday night. This is what we call a Big Deal. Bryan had never played there before, and this was Chris' first time headlining with his band, the Liars' Club. So a good amount of singing and dancing and a responsible amount of carousing was in order. And there's video! Of the dancing and singing. Not the carousing. Give me a little credit, please.

Bryan doing one of his own jams, "Ordinary":

...and then a ridiculous cover of Blondie's "Heart of Glass":

Chris and the Liars Club doing "Sugar Sky":

Chris also did a kickass cover of Tom Petty's "American Girl," but I was too busy rocking out to film it. After all, we have to leave you some incentive to come out to the shows, yes?

Monday, August 31, 2009

Work Stuff! CNN Commentary on Racial Profiling

I promise not to make a habit of this, but I'm pretty proud of this media placement. I'm told that my organization has never gotten a CNN commentary placed before. Granted, I'm not sure we've ever TRIED to get one placed before, but the fact that I got our first one in my second week is, I think, pretty good.

If you're wondering what it is I actually do, one of my jobs is to pitch op-eds and pieces to major media outlets. Sometimes I get to ghost write the op-eds myself, sometimes the authors largely write their own. That's what happened here. Then I have to get it published. That's how we do.

Here's the piece on racial profiling, written by one of our attorneys, Chandra Bhatnagar:

Thursday, August 20, 2009

That's the Anthem, Get Your Damn Hands Up (Redux)

Replacing the previous anthem, I give you the genius that is "Constructive Summer," by the Hold Steady

Me and my friends are like the drums on "Lust for Life”
We pound it out on floor toms
Our psalms are sing-along songs

And this whole town is like this
Been that way our whole lives
Just work at the mill until you die
Work at the mill, and then you die

We’re gonna build something this summer
We’re gonna build something this summer
We’ll put it back together- raise up a giant ladder
With love, and trust, and friends, and hammers (This summer!)
We’re gonna lean this ladder up against the water tower
Climb up to the top, and drink and talk (This summer!)

Me and my friends are like “Double-whiskey-coke-no-ice.”
We drink along in double time; might drink too much, but we feel fine
We’re gonna build something this summer.
Gonna build something this summer.

This summer, grant us all the power to drink on top of water towers,
With love, and trust, and shows, all summer

Let this be my annual reminder that we can all be something bigger

I went to your schools, I did my detention
But the walls are so gray, I couldn’t pay attention
I heard your gospel, it moved me to tears,
But I couldn’t find the hate, and I couldn’t find the fear
I met your Savior, I knelt at his feet,
And he took my ten bucks, and he went down the street
I tried to believe all the things that you said,
But my friends that aren’t dying are already dead.

Raise a toast to Saint Joe Strummer
I think he might’ve been our only decent teacher
Getting older makes it harder to remember…

We are our only saviors

We’re gonna build something this summer

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Blog Blackout

Quick word on sporadic postings:

It's not that things aren't happening. Oh, it's happening. The job is awesome, the place is awesome (if a wee bit hot and sticky...hoping things will cool off soon), the city is awesome, my friends are's all good.

Well, almost all good. The movers have decided to hold my furniture and the bulk of my stuff hostage until an undetermined day. I'm now told that it will come this weekend. Maybe. I'd really rather not know the over-under on that.

So I've been sleeping on an AeroBed for the past week and a half, eating Lean Cuisine and sitting on the floor and watching DVDs of Lost on my laptop in front of an oscillating fan when I'm in my place. Which, given the heat and the lack of accommodation, I try to be in as little as possible. The riverside park is my reading room, the various music venues in lower Manhattan are my play room, and work and the 4/5/6 line are where I live most of my life. The only time I have proper Internet is at work, so I can only blog on lunch breaks and the like, if at all. Not ideal.

Despite the heat though, I do have to say that summer's a great time to move to NYC. Everyone's out, there are free concerts all over the place, and people seem to be in a reasonably good mood. Besides, would you rather lug the contents of your life up five flights of stairs in the heat, or in a blizzard? Actually, they're both kinda heinous, aren't they? Never mind.

At least I don't have to join a gym.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

New Yorker Robyn v.2.0

I moved in to the new digs in New York City on Sunday, and oh, my goodness is it good to be back. I don't even care that I seemed to have timed my arrival just in time for the hottest, stinkiest days of the year. Or that I blew my knee out the day before arriving, making my poor, awesome parents do most of the heavy lifting to the walkup apartment while I popped ibuprofen and offered encouragement and promised that I did not, in fact, do this on purpose. Really really.

Given the limited time and mobility, I've done a lot in the past few days: bagels by the river, dips in the public pool, walks to the Met, etc. I told myself to take it easy, and not hit the gig circuit too soon, as I had all the time in the world.

I lasted all of 36 hours. Here's Bryan, Mac, Jenny, and Alec getting awesome with it at the Red Lion:

and Bryan and Mac killing a Howard Jones cover:

Friday, August 7, 2009

Moving to NYC: Part One

Final updates from OneTwoThreeFour Mass Ave:

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

How Not to Take a Vacation

So between preparing for a new job, closing out the old one, trying to find an apartment, and quickly moving out of my old one, it was pretty much the worst time ever to take a vacation. But, seeing as the Family Shep had committed to a week visiting Dad's relatives in Maine, and seeing as this would probably be my last chance at some time off for a while, we forged ahead. It was suggested that the time away may be good for me, as I'd have a chance to chill for a bit.

This was an incorrect assessment.

You see, we never actually signed the lease for the apartment before I fled NYC for New England. Nor did we attend to little things like movers, and notifying my old apartment. So all of this had to be done from Grammy Shep's Internet-free house. This involved a lot of overnight deliveries, a lot of imposing on more tech-savvy cousins for printer use, and a lot of trips to the Augusta Staples business center, which happily and unexpectedly featured some choice Britpop and indie music on the P.A. That made things a little better. But really, if you spend the bulk of your vacation like this, you're doing it wrong.

But we did get a few Maine-type activities in, including two days lakeside where I thought it would be a good idea to hoist myself up on a rope swing over the water, and also be towed by a motorboat. And it was a GREAT idea, right up until I realized that these things take a tremendous toll on your upper body, which you happen to use a lot when you're packing and moving. So now, I kinda wanna just marinate in BenGay. That would sound pretty good. And pepperminty. We also ate lobstah. Twice. Including once in a casserole that combined both lobster and Cheez-Its, which are universally acknowledged as being two of the greatest things on earth.

So now I'm back, and getting about fours of sleep a night, and theoretically will be out of DC come Sunday. This is all subject to change of course. Really, after the craparama spectacular that was the first part of 2009, I'm still waiting for something to go horribly wrong and someone to say that there's been a big misunderstanding, and I'm actually going to be stuck in DC with terrible credit for all time. Can't be helped. Disaster's my default position these days. I'll be convinced once I'm actually situated in the new digs.

I'll leave you with some borderline tedious footage of water sports at Lake Porter. The scenery's sure pretty, and there's incidental lingering shots of my posterior in a modest, family-friendly one-piece bathing suit, if that does anything for you. En. Joy.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Shwa Losben at the Mercury Lounge

So it's like this. You've just put down an application on a slammin' New York apartment. You've got a night to kill in New York City, but you have to get out of bed at the crack of dawn to meet your parents somewhere in Connecticut to drive up to Maine. But you really want to celebrate. We've all been there. What do you do?

Well, if you're like me, you put on an electric blue tube dress that's juuust this side of trashy, meet up with a bunch of people who have known you since puberty at an esteemed rock venue in SoHo so you can watch your friend rock out, maybe dance to some Peter Gabriel covers, leave at 2 am when you decide you're the most sober person in the room, sleep at another pal's empty apartment in Greenpoint for four hours, then get up and get lost in Queens at 6am on a Sunday morning due to MTA irregularities before sprinting through Grand Central Terminal and passing out on a Metro North train to New Haven.

THAT is what you freakin' DO. Just in case it ever comes up.

Oh, and you take video, too:

Saturday, July 25, 2009

I'm Going Home

Six and a half years ago, 21-year-old Robyn faced a very important decision. She was living in New York -- a town she had been passionately in love with before she ever loved a boy -- and was facing a bit of a crisis. Her boyfriend of three years was moving to Washington, and as at this point she was all but certain they were going to get married and have dinette sets and stuff, it seemed logical to follow him. But she loved NYC. What would she choose? She decided to choose love over geography, and felt really stinkin' noble about it at the time.


Now, to be fair, Washington hasn't been all bad. I did luck out big time in finding an internship willing to take me on and give me a crash course in international development, advocacy, public relations, media cultivation, and general do-gooding, and I've been able to make a nice living saving the world. And I have some fantastic friends who mean the world to me.

But DC and I never took to each other. Ever. I missed New York since the day I left it. I missed the neighborhoods, the history, the museums, the parks, the people, the bagels... Every visit felt like coming home, and every time I left I felt like I had to be pried off the subway. And the relationship...well...hey, at least I got a dinette set out of the deal. And the less said about the follow-up relationship the better. Mostly for legal reasons. And I wish I were kidding.

Sooooo, this year, I decided this longstanding wrong needed to be righted. It's taken me the better part of eight months, and some inglorious incidents up and down the eastern seaboard, but this week I signed an offer letter for position from no less than the ACLU's headquarters in New York City. As in the American Civil Liberties Union. As in I don't need to craft a 30-second elevator speech to tell people where I work anymore. As in it's gonna be intense, and it's gonna kick my ass, and I am so freakin' stoked I can't stand it.

And if that wasn't enough, I had seven days to lead a do-or-die mission to rent an apartment before a previously scheduled trip to Maine. Most of the mission looked bleak, as many of the apartments viewed on Craigslist were not quite as livable as advertised. But the very last place was a sun-drenched, one-bedroom, riverside little beauty that could conceivably fit my most important furniture (including the goddamn dinette set). It's an un-air conditioned fifth-floor walkup, and just a bit outside the price range I had originally set, but the Manhattan neighborhood is to die for, the view is gorgeous, and I'm over the freakin' moon.

So I have less than a week to pack up my entire life, wrap up the DC job, and re-locate. But after this year, that will be a piece of cake. I don't want to be too presumptuous here, but it looks like things are dangerously close to falling into place. Whaddya know.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Miss Jess at Artomatic


Thursday, July 9, 2009

Fireworks on the Mall

Okay, okay. Sometimes being in DC can be pretty cool. But only when it's July 4 or a once-in-a-lifetime inaugural event. Other than that New York beats it every time.

Friday, June 26, 2009

How to Mourn the King of Pop

The good boys and girls at RESULTS were gathered at a happy hour when we heard the news of the passing of Michael Jackson. We dutifully downed a fair amount of cheap beer in tribute, so it was rather late by the time I stumbled in the door. It's been a long week, and I badly wanted my bed. Around midnight I made the mistake of checking Facebook before heading to sleep, and found a note from Miss Jess asking for fellow explorers to check out a tip of mad partying happening at 14th and U Streets.

Were this 2008, I would have just gone to bed. Or, more likely, would not have seen the message until the morning. But since it's 2009, there was only one thing to do: throw my damn dress on and head out into the night. After all, the King of Pop only dies once. But rocking the night away proved more difficult than you'd think. In the end, though, I think we prevailed.

Although if the next music legend could kindly die on a weekend, that would really rock my world. Re-entry was a little rough today. Just sayin'.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

The Million Dollar Rabbit

When I was growing up, we had a little bunny named Smokey. I got him for Christmas when I was six, and he finally died when I was a sophomore in college. I honestly couldn't tell you what we did right to make him live so long. We fed him when he was out of food. We changed his cage when it smelled bad. We let him run around from time to time. We took him to the vet once because we were too dense to figure out if he was indeed a he. Basically that was it.

So two years ago, when my co-worker found a small, obviously domesticated, rabbit on his doorstep on Connecticut Avenue, I figured it would be a charming, low-cost addition to the little menagerie. Bun Scott did turn out to be an awesome little guy. Very personable, cute as hell, and compact-sized for apartment living. Even people who tend not to like animals like Bun. What could go wrong?

What indeed?

A few months later, poor little Bun stopped eating, and we took him to the bunny vet. This was, of course, after locating the apparently only bunny vet in the greater DC area, which took a bit of doing. It turns out Bun's teeth are such that they grow into his tongue, and make eating pretty painful. So twice a year, I have to plunk down $200 to get his teeth filed. Lame. But, at the time, managable.

Fast forward to the great free-fall that is 2009, where for various and sundry reasons, my financial position and access to vehicular transportation are not what they once were. No matter. I'm still making it work. Then, Bun stops eating again. His teeth are fine. He is rushed to the vet, made to stay overnight, and discovered to have a bit of hairball trouble. He comes home, is fine for 24 hours, and promptly relapses to the point where he's clearly in pain, and an emergency visit is paid to a hospital in Vienna, Va., in the middle of the night.

Turns out there is (and this is kinda gross, sorry) a bunch of hairballs in his stomach that need to be pumped out. As he is all of two pounds, this is a dangerous procedure. We do the potential goodbye visit, and I am presented with a bill for $1100. Yours truly decides six months of Are You Kidding Me? is enough, and now it is now time for a not-insignificant public meltdown, of which the good people at Pender Veterinary Hospital find themselves on the business end. After this is done, payments are arranged, the rabbit pulls through, I collect what shreds of dignity remain, and go home.

Low-maintenance my tuchas.

I don't expect everyone to get why I didn't just look at the rabbit, and call it a day. But if you know me, you know that that's just not an option. So what if he's now on so many meds that it looks like he's the John Belushi of rabbits.

He's doing much better now, and that's what's important. He hops. He eats. He poops. He does everything a rabbit should do. His poor little feet had to be shaved to accomodate IVs while he was in hospital, which is kinda pathetic and makes him look like he's wearing Ugg boots, but that's the extent of his physical scars. And considering I'm pretty sure he has the cognitive capacity of cauliflower, I don't think we need to worry about any emotional stress. For him anyway.

Though if this happens again, the little shit is hasenpfeffer.

Monday, June 15, 2009

The Affirmative Power of Mystery Science Theater 3000

Once upon a time, there was a sad little 12-year-old who thought she was a weirdo. She thought this only because that seemed to be the general consensus of most of her peers. She didn't like sports. She didn't like shopping or makeup. She didn't laugh at the same things other kids laughed at. She did like birdwatching, books, coloring, writing stories, and postmodern absurdist humor; but none of this really helped her social standing. As she entered junior high, she had the feeling that there might be something wrong with her, and that there was no one else in the world who could possibly understand her.

Then one fateful day she happened upon a strange program on Comedy Central. It looked like a terrible science-fiction movie, but at the bottom were figures in silhouette, saying things. Wonderful things. Ridiculous, smart, silly...WEIRD things. And this 12-year-old girl had an epiphany. "There are others!" she thought. "It's okay. You ARE a weirdo, but you have company..."

Thus began a love affair with a television program that admittedly may have gone a little too far back in middle school, but whatevs. Even with the distance of years, I think it's fair to say that Mystery Science Theater 3000 (MST3K) had a pretty dramatic effect on my life. Not being all that socially savvy, I formed friendships based on whether or not people also enjoyed the show, which was a pretty good move, as I'm still friends with most of those same smart, silly, weird people nearly 20 years later. I first dipped my toe in journalism by publishing a monthly newsletter with my friend Kathryn, and we even scored an interview with the star Mike Nelson, which was (and still is) pretty badass. I even saved all my babysitting money to go to Minnesota with my friend Melissa for a convention, which was strange, but at the time the coolest thing I had ever done.

I mellowed a bit in high school, but always had an affection for the show. I've been really, really lucky to meet some pretty cool people in my day: I've shaken hands with Bill Clinton, I stood shoulder-to-shoulder with Bono at a work event, I got the autograph of the guy who played Cousin Larry in Perfect Strangers. But one person remained elusive...MST3K creator Joel Hodgson.

Ah, Joel. The object of a fervent, multi-year teenage crush. The Buddha of my youth. Some kids worshipped rock stars, or athletes, or Nobel peace prize winners, or astronauts, or some damn thing. I worshipped a puppeteer in a red jumpsuit. But he all but disappeared after leaving the show in 1993 (incidentally, his last episode aired on the same night that the Phillies lost the World Series to the Toronto Blue Jays. October 23 is a historically terrible day). Surely, I thought, I'll never meet him. Bono, sure. Clinton, meh. But Joel Hodgson? Lost to the mists of time...

But last week, destiny threw me a freakin' bone. It happened that Mr. Hodgson, and some other original cast members, were engaged in a very similar project to MST3K, but for legal reasons, had to call it Cinematic Titanic. But it's essentially MST. They show a bad movie. They make fun of it. And they were going on tour. To Philadelphia. Holy balls. I was six kinds of excited.

So me and John, my friend of nearly 20 years who has seen the MST obsession in all its stages, went to the Trocadero, plunked down $38 a ticket, stood in a rainy line, and prayed that it would still be as good as we remembered. And by god, it was. I laughed harder than I laughed all year. I snorted. It was an awesomely nerdy time. And then they announced that you could meet the cast in the lobby. Booyah.

I couldn't help it. I hugged every one of them. I enthused about how much fun it was, how good it was to hear their voices, how they needed to come back as soon as possible. And when I came to Joel at the end of the table, I told him how much his show meant to a little 12-year-old who thought there was no one who would ever get her. "Oh, yeah?" he asked. "Where is she?" "SHE'S RIGHT HERE!" I replied, and then I hugged the crap out of him. It was so undignified. It was so awesome.

So it might not be the most esteemed of choices of childhood heroes to have, but it's mine. And if you ever wanted to see what the happiest girl in the world looks like, check it:

We can cross that one off the bucket list. Rock.

Friday, June 12, 2009

My ONE Campaign Blog on TB

Work stuff alert. I have a piece published today on the ONE Campaign's blog. My organization co-hosted an event last week at the U.S. Capitol exhibiting photographs of patients around the world who are suffering from XDR-TB, which is an especially nasty form of tuberculosis.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Orange Crush

Rush hour on the DC Metro orange line to Vienna. Only the strong survive.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Robyn vs. Moth

I'd like to think that after this past year, there's not much that scares me. I'm a little gal, but I can pretty much hold my own. That said, there's a very, very short list of things that will make me lose it for no good reason in particular. One of those things is a moth.

I wish there was some dramatic backstory here as to why moths (and butterflies for that matter) give me the heebeejeebees, but there's really not. I just hate them. I hate their erratic flight patterns. I hate their big dusty wings that leave a mess when you kill them. I hate their hairy bodies. I hate their horrible tongues. I hate that they can smell fear and head right the eff towards you no matter what.

So when one materialized in my apartment the other night, I did the only logical thing: hid in my bedroom until action was absolutely necessary. Then I did the next logical thing: I videotaped it. I'm all about making an ass out of myself before someone does it for me these days. As noted in the video, this is not me being cute for dramatic effect. I'm terrified of this mofo.

Rated PG-13 for language.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Carolyn and Robyn Ride NJ Transit

My dear friend Carolyn Burkhimer passed away six years ago today at the age of 22. Carolyn did not have what you'd call a good death. Really, it was the one and only time she ever let me down, but it's not really the kind of thing you can blame her for too much. However, if there's such a thing as an afterlife, and you get to see your loved ones, the first thing I'm gonna do is smack her. Then I'm gonna hug her. Then we'll go out for lobster ravioli and talk about times like this. She and I would regularly take day trips to NYC from Trenton, where we usually cracked each other up so hard, we'd get a lot of dirty looks. Some folks appreciated it, though.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Single Girl's Freezer

Once upon a time, my freezer was stocked for the apocalypse. I always had enough meat, veggies, and nutritious treats on hand to feed a small army. This was probably a result of my domestic savvy, and being brought up by parents who were entrenched in the supply corps division of the Navy. Sheps can stock a larder like nobody's business.

Alas, 2009 has seen my homemaking skills slide a bit. Okay, a lot. And while it's all for a greater good, my stockpiles are looking pretty, well...

Martha Stewart doesn't live here anymore. Clearly.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Live in Columbus: The Karaoke Comeback No One Asked For

This weekend, I traveled to a city where I'd never been, to a wedding where I knew no one except my dear, darling high school friend Abbie, and her fiance PJ. The potential for misadventure was high. All the more so when poor PJ was sticken with a rather serious illness, and had to bail with Abbie in the middle of the reception to be tended by EMTs. Take THAT, Platinum Weddings!

But there's an upshot to being a single gal in a room full of strangers. You have absolutely nothing to lose. And there was karaoke there...

This would be my first time at the mic in three years. And bless their hearts, Abbie's friends and family were amazingly sweet. I think I've unofficially become a member of the Sockloff clan. I'm both a Shep and a Sock. Awesome.

That said, for those of you who may have wondered why I hang around with music kids, but never go on stage myself, this should explain a lot.

First, we warm up with Elvis:

And after a bit more bourbon, team up with a stranger for some Starship:

It's pretty much everything you could hope for and more, yes?

Friday, May 22, 2009

Lockout at OneTwoThreeFour Mass Ave

When taking out the kitty litter, always check to make sure you have your keys...or at least your pants.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Jill Sobule with Justin Trawick: "I Kissed a Girl"

Once upon a time, 1996 to be precise, you could be a mild-mannered folk-rocker and shock the crap out of people with a silly little song about being a lady who kissed another lady. Nowadays, Katy Perry sings about getting all Girls Gone Wild on Nickelodeon. Simpler times, friends, simpler times.


Friday, May 15, 2009

Robyn Works!

I usually like to maintain a barrier between my wonky professional online life and my ridiculous personal online life, but it's a porous barrier. I originally wrote this piece intending it to be published as an op-ed, but settled for it going out to about 10,000 people in our online newsletter. Wonk and roll!

The World Bank — Failing on Health

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Rap Snacks!

Everything about this is fantastic, but the "Stay in School" line is the coup de grace.

The chips are pretty tasty, too. Very salty, but tasty.

Available at fine DC hot dog stands.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Illinois: Live at DC9

It's Bucks County, Pennsylvania's own Illinois, rocking in DC! I'm so confused!

Ka. Boom.

Once upon a time, 21-year-old Robyn and bf lived in Forestville, MD. In PG County. It was a fascinating time. And they were both really poor. ANYWAY, Forestville is often in the news for many unsavory reasons, but this one's kinda spectacular. This was a frequent destination for us, because it's near IHOP. Eight firefighters were injured, including two with second-degree burns. They've all been released from the hospital.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Study: New U2 Videos Do Much to Improve Robyn's Workday

Oh, Bono, you cheesy old bastard. I still love you. Despite your over-eager endorsement of Obama's disappointing global health budget for FY10. That's how deep my love runs. But seriously, babies, button your shirts. You're, like, 50 now. It's unsavory. XO, R.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Emotional Knee-Capping Via Comic Strip

Like a lot of places, the Washington Animal Rescue League, where I volunteer, is facing tough times. They had to postpone their annual walk at AU due to lack of resources, and cut hours. I don't take to the soapbox these days much (you're welcome), but if you can spare some change, or some time, for a cause you love, please do so. And so help me, if I have to resort to emotional knee-capping via comic strip, I will.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Signs of Summer

The elusive Jew-fro makes its first appearance.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Boys' weekend; Get classy with scallops and lavender!

This weekend I had a pantload of fun with my boys in NYC. I chilled in the park and wandered through bookstores with my high school pal Alex, I had burgers and beer with honorary Team 215 member Koz, saw a kickass Travis gig with my rockstar friend Shwa, had pancakes on the Lower East Side with my new friend Andy, and then returned home just in time for my friend Chris' gig in DC. It was the best series of non-date dates I've had in a while. Thanks, boys! I think.

However, there was a certain amount of grubbiness involved in the weekend, as it was a bit hot, and I had but one outfit and little recourse for a shower. There may have been a bit of a mishap with a too-quickly-chugged Miller Lite as well. May have been. Only Shwa, and my confessors, and most of 11th Street between 2nd and 3rd Avenues know for sure...

ANYWAY, much as I enjoyed my dirty weekend with the lads, I felt I needed to take back what remained of my dignity and dainty-ladyness. I'm not sure how well I succeeded, but making this dish sure made me feel a bit more classy.

Seared scallops with basil and lavender essence

15 to 20 basil leaves
1 clove garlic
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2 drops pure lavender essence (usually available in health food stores in the herbal remedies aisle. DO NOT substitute synthetic).
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
1 pound large sea scallops

Combine the basil, garlic, salt and pepper in a food processor until smooth. Add the lavender oil and 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Let stand for 30 minutes. Cut a deep horizontal slit through the scallops, but not the whole way through. Fill with the basil mixture, close with a wooden pick. Drizzle with the remaining olive oil. Heat 2 tablespoons butter in a skillet, and heat until foamy. Add scallops and sear for 2 minutes on each side. Scallops should be browned, and translucent on the inside. Remove from pan immediately.

If you can't find lavender oil, just sprinkle with lemon juice. Scallops can also be grilled rather than seared.

There! Don't we feel civilized? Now I'm gonna crack open a Sam Adams and watch the Phils. In my underwear. Class. Easy come, easy go.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Miss Jess: "Memphis"

Some video of Miss Jess "Mustang" Graves from a house concert I went to last night. Wanna see more awesomeness from my musically-inclined pals? Check out my YouTube channel. Those who can't play, take pictures. And bake brownies. And draw fliers. And don't get paid. Hey, wait a sec...

I kid. Kinda.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Happy Erfday To You!

Apparently it's Earth Day. I know this because there was a massive concert on the Mall this weekend, and because just about every other TV commercial over the past week or so is making me feel morally inferior about something I am or am not doing to save the planet. Don't get me wrong, I'm totally on board. I was the kid rocking a straight-up lunchbox rather than brown bags in elementary school, complete with reusable Tupperware sandwich holders. I even have a Tupperware cookie holster, so as not to waste precious Saran wrap, so I'm totally down. Just...please stop yelling at me. I have tiny little fetus feet anyway. They don't leave much of a footprint of any kind, carbon or otherwise. 'Kay. Thanks.

But I will say that the Green Generation can throw a kick-ass party. My pals and I went down to the Mall to catch the delightfully silly Flaming Lips at the free Earth Day concert. Nevermind that what started as a beautiful 80-degree day turned into a blustery, 60-degree day in about 2 hours. That's just Mother Nature saying hello. Happily, hippies like to share, and one of our number was kind enough to loan me the World's Biggest Most Ridiculous Poncho to break the wind. So to speak.

And speaking of the "Green Generation," that term was thrown around quite a bit, and I want to be clear that it refers to the heightened awareness of the youth of today, and not to the funny smell that pervaded the scene (and made everything extra special hilarious that day), nor the fact that the festivities were held in such proximity to 4/20. And these guys just love music. That's ALL:

We did manage to get right up close to the stage, thanks to the zeal of my compatriots, emboldened by tasty street vendor food, and maybe a little bit of fermented apple-y beverages. So we were right up close to Wayne Coyne and the Lips. Close enough to be showered by the contents of his confetti bazooka. That did rile up the organizers some, but Mr. Coyne insisted that if anybody would pick up after themselves, it's a bunch of potentially chemically-altered, environmentally-conscious hippies. And wouldn't you know, when that show was over, the Mall by the stage was spotless. Save for a few hundred cigarette butts, because no one wants to touch those.

So, all in all, it was a good day. And so the tired celebrants trundled home on the Metro, including one poor random fellow who, in the span of two stops, made himself nice and comfy and went night night. Saving the earth is hard work.

I leave you with Robyn's-Eye-View footage of Wayne Coyne surfing the crowd in a giant bubble -- for the planet! XO

Sunday, April 19, 2009

How to Force-Feed a Bunny

How we get down at OneTwoThreeFour Mass.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

2 Girls, 1 Bidet

Way back on inauguration weekend, two childhood friends, we'll call them KraByn, decided to celebrate history by enjoying some frozen adult beverages with the American University crowd at Guapo's in Tenleytown.One friend, we'll call her Kra, excused herself to use the ladies' room.

Moments later, her companion received a call on her Sidekick. It was Kra, demanding that her companion get downstairs to the bathroom. Immediately.There, the friends discovered that Guapo's had entered into some strange pact with a bidet company, and had installed bidets in all of the ladies' toilets, complete with promotional materials for installing a bidet in the comfort of your own home. Since Guapo's is hardly the type of establishment where one finds such classy personal hygiene accouterments, and since one of the friends had a video camera, and since they were a little happy with margaritas, they decided to have a bit of fun.

And then all hell broke loose...

Sunday, April 12, 2009

The Shep Guide to Passover

I just got back from four days back home for joint Passover-Easter celebrations. It seems to me that these two holidays coincide more and more regularly, which is really annoying if you're partial to ham and Peeps under normal circumstances, but want to try to at least make an appearance of keeping the holiday. Complicating matters is the fact that I'm the only one in the household that tries to go the whole eight days. I'm not a terribly picky eater by nature, so it kinda pains me to be the one who's all "Umm...actually, I can't eat this..." in my own house. Even though the Family Shep is crazy supportive, I still feel a little obnoxious.

Which is not to imply that I'm anyone's role model. I do my best this time of year, but it's rare that I go the full eight days. And something tells me that my code to following Passover may not jibe exactly with even Reform Judaism's handbook. To codify things a bit, this is the Shep Guide to Passover:

  • For the basics, look to the Ashkenazi (Eastern European) rules: no leavened bread, no rice, no corn, no legumes. I know that they didn't have corn in ancient Egypt, but this has been hammered home to me repeatedly, and even though I didn't quite understand my rabbi when she tried to explain it to me, it seems like this be the deal. So no corn syrup. Which pretty much rules out 95 percent of the supermarket, and 98 percent of everything in this world that is delicious. Yes, I know Sephardic Jews are a bit more lenient, but there ain't no way red-headed pasty Mcgee here is passing for Middle Eastern or Spanish, so don't even try.

  • Even though I'm a bacon cheeseburger Jew the rest of the year, that must cease for a while. Put. The pork rinds. Down. And no Easter ham if the holidays' paths cross. You get lamb, which is just as delicious.

  • Some families get rid of all no-no foods from their home. Considering I just devoured a roast I found in the freezer that said "use by Feb 2007" because I couldn't bear to waste it, that's not happening.

  • Diet Coke and McDonald's fries are totally acceptable, mainly because I have yet to hear a valid argument as to why they're not. If you happen to know one, kindly keep it to yourself, as that would really mess with my chi.

  • There are mitigating circumstances to breaking Passover. Namely, if you're on spring break somewhere like Wales or Ireland, just give it up. It ain't happening. They're not exactly flush with Manishewitz there. You can work it out with Yahweh on your own time.

  • Also, if your dad prepares his famous "cherry stuff" dessert for PassEaster dinner, forgetting that the Nilla wafers and Cool Whip therein are verboten, you can have a serving. You don't want to hurt his feelings. And it's awesome.

  • By the same token, if you're meeting your boyfriend's parents for the first time, and they're not hip to the whole thing, you are within your rights to try to educate them, but if a major portion of the meal is out of bounds, eat the damn lasagna. Unless of course you get a premonition that your bf will turn out to be a lying, thieving sack of shit. In that case, you not only should make them feel guilty for putting you in the same room as pasta, but you should really Jew it up way, way more than normal and totally freak 'em out. Then run like hell.

  • If you're catching your friend's gig at Catholic University, and you are accidentally mistaken for his manager or publicist or some damn thing, and they thrust a coupon for a free meal at the student union in your hand, by God you will use that coupon no matter what goyishe fare they have to offer. Free food is free food.

  • The rules on alcohol are a little fuzzy, so it's best to avoid it altogether. Unless someone buys you a drink. Or if it's your turn to buy rounds. Or if you're already so drunk from other people buying you drinks, that you're having trouble keeping track of what city you're in, let alone what the Talmud says. Then rock on.
So that's it, basically. It's not terribly hard. And now, if I wind up going to hell, you'll know exactly why. Hag sameach.

UPDATE And if you do make it all eight days, you get to go to Five Guys, burst in, and scream "I need a Little Bacon Cheeseburger right the hell NOW." And then you win.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Monday, April 6, 2009

New Blog, Same Nonsense

Well look who's finally joined the new millennium! True, I took baby steps by re-posting the blog on MySpace and Facebook, but I had to accept that the old NYU-sponsored homepage just wasn't cutting it anymore. I mean, I started the damn thing as a homework assignment in digital journalism class in 2001. It was literally done on notepad. And it showed. And it had the catchy URL of I mean really, a tilda? Who has a damn tilda in their URL? Christ...

So I took good ol' NYU blog out for a nice walk. We looked at the sunset. We talked about the eight years we had together. NYU blog wanted to know where we were going next. I told it we were going somewhere wonderful, and there'd be rabbits there.

Then I shot it in the head and ran like hell to Blogger like the rest of the world.

So here's the new digs. I'll probably still re-post on MySpace, to pretend I still have some kind of a presence there, but I rather like it here. We'll see how it translates to Facebook, and if anyone cares. Whatevs. It keeps me off the street. And all 214 (holy balls) entries over the past eight years are still archived here, if you want to relive the good times. Thrill as Robyn grapples with 9/11-induced PTSD! Don't doubt her for one minute when she decides that leaving New York for DC is a swell idea! Marvel at her amazing track record with live-in relationships! Get a great cheesecake recipe!

Robyn on Blogspot. It's about damn time.


Friday, January 23, 2009

Inaugurate This

Washington, DC and I generally have not gotten on well in the past six years. Sure, I've gotten a decent career out of it, and I have a pretty slammin' apartment (which I'm thisclose to not being able to afford, but whatevs), but I've never really taken to it. It's like a bad arranged marriage. "Don't worry, it will provide for you, and you'll learn to love it." Wrong, wrong, wrong. Unlike when I lived in NYC, and London to a degree, I never really woke up and said "Holy crap, I LIVE here, and it's awesome, and I really wouldn't rather be anywhere else."

Until this weekend. For the first time in six years, I'm really REALLY glad I was in DC for the past few days.

Yes, I'm a card-carrying Democrat, and my politics fall generally to the left of center, but I really believe that over the past few days, it was hard for anybody not to get caught up in the generally good mood that's been enveloping our nation's capital. Everybody's partying, all the tourists are excited, and I can't even hate them for standing on the left side of the Metro escalator. Much. With all the parties, the whole city's felt like a suburban neighborhood on prom night. All week long.

Witness what happened this past Sunday during the concert at the Lincoln Memorial. Despite my usually stellar logistical prowess, I wound up stranded and on my lonesome among half a million people by the reflecting pool. I had arranged to meet my friends at a very clear location, and I even had a big rainbow-colored umbrella to mark my location. A RAINBOW-COLORED UMBRELLA. DAMMIT, I'M GOOD. But I did not count on security sealing off the entrance before they could arrive. And there was little to no cell phone reception, so I was pretty much screwed. There really was only one solution...

Find the nearest group of Jamaicans, and freakin' party. A nice family let me and my stupid umbrella stand with them so I could see the Jumbotron, and they were psyched. We danced to Stevie Wonder and Springsteen and U2, and had a blast. My camera battery died, but somewhere in Kingston there are many pictures of a happy little white girl in a McNabb jersey and green and silver eye makeup losing her mind to Bono. I take a certain comfort in that. The most equalizing moment: Garth Brooks' cover of "Shout." A middle-aged country singer covered a Motown staple for a mostly young, very diverse, crowd, and owned it. And it was cool. One love...

I dashed away after Obama's speech to catch the second half of the NFC Championship, but really, the less said about that, the better. Go Steelers.

And then there was Inauguration Day. I live 20 minutes walking distance from the Mall, and I'm not afraid of getting up early, so I figured I had this locked down. But, again, if there's anything that can trump Shepherd Logistics, it's the most unprecedented show of security ever seen in Washington, DC. Despite setting out before 8 am, my friend Linda, her pal Merry and I unwittingly began a 3-hour odyssey in 20-degree temperatures just to get on the freakin' Mall. We waited 2 hours in security just to be told we actually shouldn't have gone through security, and were trapped on the parade route. We had to head back the way we came, and tried to stay one numbered street ahead of the Metropolitan Police before they kept arbitrarily closing them. By 11 am, we succeeded.

Much like the concert, the crowd here was very friendly, very diverse, and very excited. They were, it must be said, also very partisan, but for the most part, they were very polite. We watched the guests arrive on the big screen, and everybody was very respectful when John McCain came on screen. It was only when Joe Lieberman came on screen, that the first boos started. Eff that guy, apparently. And, of course, they were very vocal when Bush came on screen. Unfortunate, yes. Disrespectful? Arguably. Surprising? Dude, come on.

When Obama finished taking the oath, it was like Times Square on New Year's Eve. Strangers were hugging, couples were making out, dudes were high-fiving, people were crying...look, I don't know what you think of the guy, but if you weren't moved by that, your heart is officially two sizes too small. Or you're my ex. Same diff.

It did take a while for us to beat a retreat, and we saw the helicopter taking the Bushes away from Washington fly over our heads. Would you like to imagine what THAT ride was like? I'd like to imagine it was a bit like the last scene in The Graduate. George and Laura...sitting awkwardly next to each other in silence...not really looking at each other...Simon and Garfunkel coming over the soundtrack...Hello darkness, my old friend... I'd like to think that, so I will.

So that's how it went here. AND I got quoted in USA Today and the Bucks County Courier Times! I've done better networking on my days off than I have in months of work! Yes, I can!

I took some video, too. A word or two on the video: I had had three hours of sleep, hence the horrifying dark circles under my eyes. At times my voice sounds like I'm on the verge of tears. I am not. It was just ridiculously cold. I also seem to report some major discrepancies in the time that elapsed. For the record: Left the house at 7:50, arrived at the 14th Street gate at 8:00 am, waited in security for over an hour, was told to turn back at 9:15 (not "a quarter of nine" as was cold, man), reached the Mall around 10:00 am, found a decent spot to stand close to 11:00 am. Three hours.

But this doesn't mean DC and I are getting back together. This was just a breakup fling. One for the road. Because after all, this place is trying to kill me, and that's not grounds for a stable relationship.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Gato Shepherd: 1995-2009

Oh god, not an overly sentimental online tribute to a departed pet. Really, do you think so little of me? Would I do that to you? I know your time spent dicking around online is at a premium, so you'll not find any namby-pamby, rainbow bridge crap here.

What you will find is a proper tribute to an animal that was more than a housepet, he was a force of nature. Gato literally walked into our lives 14 years ago as a flea-infested stray that we just couldn't bear to surrender to the Bucks County ASPCA. He was a sweet little kitten, and then we cut his balls off, and all hell broke loose. To this day, I'm not sure what went awry during the procedure, which should have mellowed him, but in the end I really can't blame him.

Gato was only ever about eight pounds, jet black, and had a pathetic stump of a tail which I'm convinced was the result of wild inbreeding. He was not an emotionally stable animal. Despite his small size, he took on cats, and people, exponentially larger than himself. The neighborhood kids gave him a wide berth, and he sent 250-pound men scrambling in fear. Vet visits required multiple attendants, and an impressive array of kitty jujitsu. Our first vet suggested we put him to sleep immediately, but then I think he was the sloppy ball-whacker, so maybe he was just trying to cover his tracks. Gato is also the principal force behind an episode in 2004 known as "The Very Bloody Thanksgiving," from which I still have a scar from a Mike Tyson-esque puncture wound in my right ear. Gato's antics earned him a place on back in 2002. He's bona fide. If he could talk, I always imagined he'd sound like Tony Montana in Scarface.

So why did we put up with this for so long? Because we liked the little bastard. The going rule was don't mess with Gato, Gato won't mess with you. If you let him cuddle up to you of his own accord, he was perfectly fine. The Family Shep learned to co-exist with him, and he was very much part of the family. A crazy-ass, volatile, cuddly part of the family. He spent a lot of time outside, and I was always afraid he'd wind up splattered all over Redwood Drive, or killed by an animal, or a disgruntled neighbor. As it was, he passed away peacefully at the vet's, with Mama and Dadoo Shep by his side.

Gato took quite a shine to one particular stuffed animal back when he was a kitten, and they remained in a monogamous relationship for the duration of his life. It was a toy husky named Diefenbaker, or Dief, for short (don't even ask). To our eternal shame and entertainment, Gato enjoyed being intimate with Dief constantly. Especially in front of company. He'd even make an announcement if we weren't paying attention. It was weird as hell, and absolutely hilarious. So I'd like to leave you with Gato as I'd like to remember him: screwing a stuffed animal on the living room floor while the family goes about its business. Play on, playa.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

How to Turn 28

My past couple of birthdays have consisted of me waiting around for someone to plan something, and inevitably being disappointed. So this year, I decided to be a right pain in the ass about dictating what we should do. And, boy, am I glad I did.

The first stage of the birthday weekend kinda happened by accident, with the sudden announcement that my high school pal Shwa was going to play his first ever gig at the 9:30 Club. A big act cancelled, and the bookers scrambled to fill the bill with four local(-ish) bands. The 9:30 Club is one of my favorite places to see music. It's not much to look at, but it's got a big spacious floor, a generous balcony, and pretty friendly staff. I've seen everyone from Crowded House to Cyndi Lauper to Joan Jett to Moby there. So when my buddy, who can very clearly recall singing Aerosmith songs at the 1994 Holland Junior High Beach Day picnic, got booked, I made sure that a group of Council Rock alumni, and some good-spirited DC-area friends, were there.

While it would be too much to expect that the place would be packed, given the circumstances, Shwa mustered a more than respectable turnout, and pretty much killed it. We had unusually free rein of the place, and were running around backstage and in the dressing rooms like kids. Shwa's drummer got engaged, so everyone got a little silly. Maybe a bit too silly, as the end of the night saw a complete breakdown in logistics, and Shwa sent most everyone off to start the post-show celebrations, ensuring that he's "got this." Everyone, that is, except two former junior high classmates who saw where this was going, and knew enough to know that when anyone says they've "got this," they usually don't.

So the evening ended with me, my pal Meredith, and Shwa stumbling down a frigid U Street at 2 am schlepping guitars and trash bags full of merchandise, trying to find his friend's house so we could dump our stuff ("Where we headed?" "I thiiiiiink...12th Street!" "12th and what, babe?" "...craaaap..."). I think we passed the headliner's limo on our way out, while we looked like we were freaking robbing the place. From rockstar to hobos in one evening. It was a ridiculous, and weirdly perfect, way to end the night.

The next day brought three hours of conference calls (meh) followed by four hours of Britpop dance party (meh!). I've been dying to go to this particular party for months, but circumstances prevented it. These same circumstances pretty much prevented any dancing of any kind for the better part of two years. I do not miss these circumstances. The highlight of the evening included an exuberant young lad who I suspect was faking an English accent, encouraging us to "Let's disco!" He asked how old I was, and when I told him 28, he replied "But you're so beautiful!" Thanks, uh, Nigel.

Top the weekend off with an Eagles win to go on to the NFC Championship, and a three-piece dinner from Popeye's, and I'd say that's a hell of a weekend right there. Now all I have to look forward to is another major football game, a free concert with Springsteen and Bono, and a new president next weekend. Bor. Ing.

I've got a good feeling about 2009. Let's let Shwa play us out, yes?