Thursday, January 22, 2015

Want to Buy This Domain Name?



Are you here because you wanted the domain name for yourself? Angry that it's being squatted on by a person so amateur that she chose Blogger over Wordpress, and so flaky that she hasn't posted an update in years?

I really do keep meaning to revamp this thing and start writing on it again. However, for what it's worth: I *would* consider selling the domain for the right price.* I just haven't seen it yet from any of the people who contact me every couple of weeks with an offer.

My email is anna dot sproul at gmail. Feel free to get in touch if you'd like to discuss.


*By which I mean the right price for me. 

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Charles TOoowwn Races and Slots

Every Washingtonian has at some point wanted to chiffonade their brains due to one of the following songs:

2. "CHARLES TOOOOWN races and slots," a tune I can't find online, but if you've heard it before I don't think there's any need. Along with Miley Cyrus's "Party in the USA," this radio ad has ruined many a Monday morning for me. But after last Thursday, I forgive it. Because I finally gave in and went to said races and slots, and do you know what was there? UNLIMITED FREE SODA. And people in paisley vests and a restaurant unironically named the Epic Buffet, and a tower of cubic zirconia rings available for purchase.

My friend Richard was in town from London:

He told me he wanted to take a road trip somewhere "weird." The weirdest I could come up with was Harpers Ferry, site of John Brown's revolt, but fortunately for me, someone on the website I was looking at had commented something like "RACES AND SLOTS fifteen minutes away if you hate history lol"! So that's where we went, and afterward we stopped in Harpers Ferry to eat frozen custard and watch choo-choo trains go by. (P.S. we don't hate history. Just ask the guy in the big overcoat who was giving the lecture next to the armory on Abraham Lincoln the "giant racist." We listened until we became uncomfortable.)

The slots were definitely better than the races. There were at least several thousand of them, making that wonderful angelic noise they make when they're all playing sound effects and music at once.
The race track, however, was empty, except for a guy eating a sandwich.

Las Vegas this was not. This was Las Vegas right on the edge of emphysema, grabbing its Diet Pepsi and eyeing you beadily from the corner. If this casino had a Christian name, it would be Lurleen Gummit. There was one cocktail waitress that we could see waiting on a labyrinthine casino the size of several football fields. She was about 60, and she was wearing an outfit with shoulder pads and sensible shoes. Minimums on the slot machines were so low that $30-$32 each bought us 3 hours of CRIPPLING LOSS FOR RICHARD HA HA I mean a lot of action.

But you know what? It was outrageously fun. The casino had everything you'd do in Vegas (roulette, poker, baccarat, craps), only for like half the price - the buffet was $16.99 ($10.99 between 11:30-1:30 am!); the roulette minimum was $25, or even less before noon. If you come to this place determined to comp every penny of your losses in free soda, you will leave a jittery, loud, paranoid, giddy mess. Which is just the way gambling should be.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

NOMOFOMO NYC: Dead or Alive

By guest blogger Caitlin

Confession: I am a Halloween glutton. I don't mean I binge on candy- I binge on Halloween activities. This year's include: macabre walking tour of the village, steampunk haunted house, steampunk fashion expo, Edward Gorey brunch, parties Friday and Saturday night, all the Halloween episodes Netflix and Hulu have to offer (recommended: Pushing Daisies' season 1 episode, "Girth"), reading Neil Gaiman's The Graveyard Book and some Poe, and the Tompkins Square Park annual dog parade.

But best of all these was the NYC Museum of Arts and Design's exhibit Dead or Alive. I don't think I've ever before grinned so much at a museum. WARNING: This exhibit has closed. Read on at peril of feeling you missed out.

Dead or Alive consisted of art made out of dead things or their byproducts: plants, bones, feathers, and insect and bird carcasses. There were plant pieces of astonishing, ethereal beauty, particularly the dried-kelp lamp, a construct made by painstakingly gluing white dandelion fibers onto a series of little lights, and what looked like a Japanese parchment painting but, when viewed from the back, was revealed to be shadows of organic matter cast against a screen. Then there was the bone stuff. With the exception of a baroque frame spilling over with bone and antler imitating floral patterns, the bone stuff, while eye-catching, didn't really speak to me. It wasn't transformed; the bones stood for bones, just in strange configurations.

It was the bug stuff that really spoke to me: delicate backlit sepia pictures of a skull, heart, hand and foot made out of cockroach wings, a brilliant green and gold metallic skull, made out of what turned out to be scarabs, chomping down on a stuffed pigeon. These got at what Halloween is all about for me. Dark whimsy. The invitation to "come as you aren't," transformed into something frightening or gorgeous or whatever you choose. And best of all, wonder. For the cynical, the world can feel drained of magic. What remains buried deep in our brains, however, is reptilian fear, which can override rational thinking and make us dread ghosts and ghouls, the dark, or bugs. The dead bug art churned up my instinctual fear and disgust and, by transforming uncanny dead-alive elements into beauty, transformed that fear and disgust into enchantment.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

More Fall Fun

Guess what this is?


This weekend, Matt and I made a spontaneous trip up north to Frederick, Maryland, and its environs. That there is so much surreality within 90 minutes of Washington (and for a very reasonable price!) has warmed my she-cockles for at least the next month.

Our first stop was Volt, the restaurant I have been dying to visit since Top Chef 2009 (head chef Bryan Voltaggio was the runner-up; his brother Michael won). Me and about 5,000,000,000,000 other people. Getting a reservation is impossible, especially if like me you're about as on the ball as Robert Green, the 2010 World Cup goalie from England.

I called Volt on Friday morning to see if they'd add us to the wait list for the weekend, just in case, and I found out something revelatory from the lady who answered. They have a lounge and bar area. It is first come, first serve. You don't need a reservation, and they serve the whole menu!! Best-kept secret in the entire world of trend-obsessed half-informed DC food snobbery!

Matt and I got there for lunch at 1. There was no competition at all for spaces, and within minutes we were seated at the bar, dining on shiitake veloute, delicate ravioli with frothy sage foam on top, pillowy chevre cheesecake...honestly, I have no idea what I was eating, but it was heavenly. The bartender was as attentive and friendly as any server. Volt lives up to every single bit of hype it has received. I can't believe Bryan didn't beat his brother.

The only problem with the bar area is that you have to share it with all the other "back door gourmet" cheapskates like you. In our case, these included a woman who wordlessly seized all three different bread options when asked which one she'd like, and another who insisted the bartender dump out her mostly-consumed wine and give her a new glass because hers was "sediment-y."

Less worth the calories eaten, but equally riveting, was our dinner destination, the Cozy Village in Thurmont, Maryland, about 14 miles outside of Frederick. The Cozy Village's centerpiece is its restaurant, an all-you-can-eat buffet with various nightly themes (ours was "Land and Sea").

But there is so much more to the Cozy Village.

You see, the Cozy Village is near Catocin Mountain, home of the Camp David presidential retreat. Once, after eating there, a couple of Kennedy's aides stumbled into an abandoned house nearby and ripped down some wallpaper they liked and later, Jackie Kennedy used a similar pattern to decorate a room in the White House (or something). In recognition of this humbling moment of international glory, Cozy Village is also an altar to Camp David and the American presidency. You can stay in one of many presidential themed suites! (All sold out, sadly, by the time Matt and I got there.) Pose under a sign that says "Camp David!"

Read all about our great president's and the palm tree's Herbert Hoover's wife used to decorate her room's in the White House!

...And then dine on fried chicken and whole crayfish! With the heads still on!

I probably seem a little snarky right now. Let me explain. Cozy Village is, in many ways, a nomofomecca ("nomofomo Mecca")--an outpost of homemade root beer and kitsch so profound I wanted to kneel down and make out with the ground when I got there. But when I went inside, I couldn't help but notice there was something a little odd about the Cozy Village, particularly the museum. Something...missing. And it was more than just good grammar on the signage.

Reagan, Kennedy, Ford, Carter, Eisenhower, Clinton, Nixon, very nice...wait. Where was Barack Obama? In a museum about the presidency?

He was in the gift shop. Next to a Jesse Jackson bobblehead.


Anyway, enough with the culinary adventures...this post is already getting too long. Between the best and one of the most interesting meals I've had in a while was the MOTHERF-ING PUMPKIN CANNON. Lawyer's Moonlight Maze [and Pumpkin Cannon] was the reason we went out to Thurmont in the first place. The farm consists of a 7.5-MILE corn maze in the shape of two superheroes and a tank (something I guess you can only appreciate from the air), a pumpkin cannon firing range featuring giant robots made out of old junker cars and oil barrels, and a nice little fire where you can roast marshmallows.

Matt and I totally cheated on the corn maze (our motto: when in doubt, blunder through the corn toward the sound of the pumpkin cannon). Parts of the maze made us feel like we were doomed extras in Battlestar Galactica, as we emerged into a clearing only to see enormous, angry robots looming in the distance.

We had to wait in line for two hours to take aim at those cylon bastards, but eventually we did, and I totally hit one. Look at how mad I made him.

...Yeah, take it.

We weighed driving home to Washington after that, but instead we decided to make it a weekend and keep driving to Gettysburg, which was only 20 minutes or so away at that point. We pulled over to stay at the Eisenhower Hotel and Conference Center despite one Yelp user's warning that he had spent the night there being eaten alive by spiders and spent all of Sunday afternoon communing with Civil War ghosts and lazily eating fajitas. Then we finally came back. I spent the whole drive asleep and snoring with my mouth open, but Matt tells me it only took an hour and a half. Hard to believe this was all so close to DC.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Apples and the Absurdity Addiction

It has been so long since I've been to this blog that my browser was confused when I typed "NOMO" into it just now. "Ann Arbor-based post-afrobeat dance explosion?" it suggested. (I listened. No thanks.)

Here are the past 4 months in a nutshell: DC, Virginia, Jamaica, Switzerland, England, Michigan, mediocre attempt at home tomato farming, successful attempt at home chili pepper farming, kickball league, book club, wine, yadda yadda. Once I let one of these things pass without blogging, I felt like I couldn't write about anything else until I'd blogged about that one thing, and then like so many of the dead hobos I have buried in my crawlspace I couldn't get to them all and I just ignored everything.

BUT NOT ANY MORE! Matt and I went apple picking on Saturday!

Do you know how many apples are in that cart there? Two large garbage bags of apples! $65...of apples! Apples, the cheapest fruit commercially available!

Boohoohoohoo so many apples. We just couldn't stop. There were so many different varieties. Jonagold. Braeburn. Sun Crisp. Pink Ladies "weren't ready" yet and were marked off with yellow tape, but, well, I snuck in there anyway (lacerating myself on several apple trees in the process) and picked the dozen or so that were.

Here is the worst part of it: I AM ALLERGIC TO APPLES. Mildly. (I can eat them, but itchily.) What is wrong with me? Why did I bring home all of these apples??

I think it's because I'm addicted to absurdity. Coors Light, and absurdity. If I have an opportunity to do something in comical bulk or quantity, I cannot say no.

It's not hoarding. I don't want these comical things around forever. It's just, well, the ha-ha factor. It's what guides me through life. The world's oldest ham. My dream vacation: indoor skiing in the desert.

This is why I don't shop at CostCo. It would be a disaster. This is why when Papa John's offered a stupendous twelve-toppings-for-$9.99 deal on pizza on Tuesday, I ended up calling the pizza place to order because the online ordering form only went to 7 and I was just so curious what twelve toppings on a pizza looked like. (It looked like grossness.) This is why the website Great Big Stuff (believe it or not, not NSFW) speaks to me on so many levels.

Anyway, I guess we didn't pick THAT many apples--Matt does eat about six of them a day, and we've already made an apple pie.

Also, when I said "oh my God, why did we pick so many apples" as the lady at the checkout counter rang us up yesterday, she turned to me with a world-weary look and shook her head. "Uh-uh," she said. "This is not a lot of apples. Believe me, this is not a lot of apples." Then she sighed and looked into the middle distance, clearly reliving some past trauma.

...Oh well, at least I'm not alone in my pathology.

* * *

Venue: Homestead Farm. Highly recommended!

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

I'm going to start blogging here again soon. For real! Life has basically been like this cartoon this summer.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

After 25.16 years of being alive, I just watched Pretty Woman for the first time. Is it just me, or is that movie super sexist? But I liked her spunky hooker friend.