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.