Nov 25, 2009

Um. Wow.

Dana Perino thinks... No Terrorists Attacked America On Bush's Watch. In an interview about the Fort Hood shootings, the former Press Secretary had this to say:
We did not have a terrorist attack on our country during president Bush's term. I hope they're not looking at this politically. I do think that we owe it to the American people to call it what it is.
And of course, no one corrected or challenged her ... cause she was on Fox News. This is Republican Revisionism at it's finest, people! Get it while it's un-freaking-believable. President Obama may want to reconsider that job offer he made her last week.

Nov 20, 2009

My new life's ambition

... is to eat Linda Holmes' brain. I will then be able to write the hilarious Monkey See blog for NPR. Plus, I will have effectively eliminated my major competition in the field of monkey-obsessed pop-culture commentators. Behold, my nemesis' brilliant work:

Oprah's Long, Long, Long Goodbye.
In 25 years of The Oprah Winfrey Show, there is no emotion that has not been taken out and examined, fondled and caressed, inspected and X-rayed. Oprah celebrates happiness. And sadness. And pain. And fear. And fearlessness. And possibly vertigo and nausea. The Oprah Winfrey Show is where veins are opened.

Into this environment, we now introduce a goodbye that will last for two years.

For all you Oprah devotees out there - I'm sure she would have something to say here about the importance of not taking yourself too seriously. Besides, you'll always be OWN'ed by the Oprah Winfrey Network, coming soon to a cable box near you.


And for those who are wondering, I picked my blogging name (Monkey Sri) before I had even heard about Holmes' blog (Monkey See). Pure coincidence. Besides, her first post (on the NPR site, at least) was in August 2008 and I've been blogging under this nom de blog since May 2007.

Nov 18, 2009

I do try to live a virtuous life, free from the influence of intoxicating substances and mad scientists. How is it then, dear readers, that I find myself at yet another work conference? Much less at one that features the work of post-docs, or as like to call them, The Young People. During the day, The Young People presented their innovative research and stood smiling beside posters covered with diagrams of genetic pathways. At night, The Young People drained the hotel-provided cash bar and crowded the dance floor with their exuberant move-busting. As Detective Roger Murtaugh would say, I'm gettin' too old for this shit.

And that's not to mention the Talent Show, where even us old fogies got involved in poking ribald fun at our science and at each other. Skits in the show featured everything from an homage to Survivor to the full Thriller dance. For my part, I did a passable Kanye West impression ... but perhaps the less said there, the better. The funniest sketch, however, was one on how to deal with colleagues going through menopause, complete with haikus.

change the thermostat?
"go ahead, if you are cold"
pull back bloody stump

I was vaguely horrified, however, when I realized that someone's 8 year-old daughter in the audience. Not only was she exposed to off-color comedy and cursing (not from the menopausal ladies, but still), she is going to have a completely skewed view of appropriate behavior at work. She's going to burst in on her first day wearing a green wig, doing the chicken dance and asking "hey, how do you figure out if your girlfriend is ticklish?!?" You know - just like her father.

That pretty much sums it up.

Buzzwords: number of papers published per year with the corresponding word in its title.
Adapted (read: stolen and messed with) from one of my favorite webcomics, Piled Higher and Deeper.

Nov 16, 2009

Turkey Day II: The Revenging

As with anything I have absolutely no knowledge about, I turned to Google for help in preparing the turkey. Apparently you're supposed to buy 3/4 lb turkey breast (or 1 lb whole turkey) per guest. But when I got to the store the 7.5 lb turkey I was supposed to buy looked rather wimpy. I went for an almost 9.5 lb turkey instead ('cause you can't have success without excess). The next day, I rose at the crack of midmorning so I could have the bird ready by the early afternoon, when my guests were due to arrive. Then, I read the instructions: "Brush with oil or butter and season. Place on wire rack in roasting pan..."

Simple enough, right? Only I didn't have a brush, seasoning, or a wire rack. Oops. I tried rubbing the turkey down with vegetable oil, but I accidentally poured too much into my hand. I panicked and dumped it all on the turkey, drenching it. Not an auspicious beginning. I tried to remove some of the oil, but I only succeeded in further molesting the poor bird. Then I dug through my cabinets and found a chipotle rub that had served me well in the past. Sprinkled that on, and the turkey had turned a lovely light orange color. Faaaan-tastic. As for the pan, I improvised. Perhaps the less said about that, the better.

It was with some trepidation that I put the turkey in the oven at 10 o'clock. It was supposed to need 3 hours to cook, but when I checked it at noon, the little timer had popped out! I turned off the oven and Googled, "how to keep a turkey warm for two hours without drying it to the point of unrecognizability." I got a surprising number of hits. I ended up basting it and leaving it in oven. My friend Rachel was bringing the sweet potatoes, and would need the oven to melt the marshmallow topping (*drool*). I figured we could warm everything up at once, so I tossed the mashed potatoes in there as well.

Once most of the guests had arrived, it was time to heat up the food. I moved the top rack down to accommodate Rachel's casserole dish. Little did I realize, the rack was now sitting directly on top of the turkey. Pressing on the top of the turkey, as it turned out. So much so that when I tried to slide out the bottom rack to retrieve said turkey, only the pan moved. The turkey, perched precariously on my makeshift rack, almost fell out into the oven. In my haste to correct this situation, I jostled the bowl of potatoes and it actually fell out into the oven.

And now I was in a blind panic. Rachel and I yanked her casserole dish out and plonked it on the stove. I then shifted the top rack out of the way, hollering at Doug (who was closest) to move my dish drying rack out of the way. I quickly extracted the turkey from the oven, almost dropping it no fewer than three times. As soon as I got the turkey on the counter top, I whirled back to check the potatoes. Luckily, they hadn't spilled - which was probably more due to their consistency than their flimsy tin foil covering. Final score Sri: 1, malicious Thanksgiving foodstuffs: 0.

Happily, the turkey turned out well. The extra oil made the skin nice a crispy, and it was moist and delicious all the way through. Mmmmmmm. And unlike my family Thanksgiving where we end up with a freezerful of turkey meat, I had only one container of leftovers. Now all I have to do is figure out a way to use the "ruined" cranberry sauce (how I was I to know you were supposed to slice the gelatinous cylinder, instead of just mixing the hell out of the thing?) and I'll be all set!

Thanks to Maggie, Rachel, Doug, Lisa, Amanda, Jays, Susan and Patrick for enabling this mad experiment. And for bringing side dishes. Same time next year?

Say it right - it's CHOW-DAH!

There are so many things I love about fall, especially fall in Virginia. The temperature ranges from Just Right to Sweater Weather. When I was a young nerdling, fall meant the start of school - for someone as scholastically oriented as myself, it was more energizing than New Years. Fall means that my birthday and other winter holidays are right around the corner. And of course, there are the leaves. I think Eddie from Ohio said it best in their song, Old Dominion:
You think that autumns in New England
Are the greatest of them all,
But give me sweet Virginia
For the fireworks of fall!
The prettiest October
In all the 50 states.
Just drive up to the skyline,
Park the car and wait.

But my favorite thing about fall is Thanksgiving. That most American holidays, celebrating the original immigrants, the Pilgrims, being welcomed to the New World by the noble American Indians ... who they would later persecute to near-extinction. Heh heh ... aaaanyway. The food's good. So this year, in anticipation of Thanksgiving at my parent's house, I decided to have some friends over for a full Turkey dinner at my place. Long-time fans of this blog are cringing, and possibly remembering several occasions when I almost set my house on fire. No to worry, my little chickadees. I had everything under control ... mostly.

The thing you should know about me and traditional American food is that I have received almost no formal training in preparing it. I took Home-Ec in sixth grade, but all I learned from that was how to stitch together a stuffed animal when presented with a kit and which fork to use at a fancy dinner. Of course, I promptly forgot these skills, as those situations never came up again. My mom and I make Thanksgiving dinner at home, but she handles all the hard parts - I do things like handing her things from high shelves and making the stuffing from a box.

Therefore, I felt no compunction in purchasing a box of stuffing, potato flakes and cans of gravy. Steamed some frozen veggies and got someone to bring rolls and dessert, and I was basically done. Except for the small detail of main dishes - specifically, the turkey itself and a vegetarian option (I went for corn chowder). For the chowder, I found a nice kosher recipe and made it the previous day. For the turkey ... oh, the turkey.

To be continued...

Nov 10, 2009

Fan Mail! Well, kinda.

Below is an email I received, out of the blue, from my freshman roommate.
dear Sri,

You are a nerd. One who I love and with whom I enjoy spending time, but a nerd regardless. Just wanted to remind you of both.

Now is your opportunity to respond with a bout of wit and pissandvinegar, as you are wont to do.
Not one to leave such a challenge unanswered, I shot back this reply.
You know what? I am a nerd. I read comics and comic books (and know the difference), play video games, and am the Dungeon Master of my D&D group. But in five years all you hipsters will be pretending to enjoy these things ironically. Cause guess what, baby? Nerd is the new black.

Live Long and Prosper,

P.S. I love you, too.

Nov 6, 2009

On your mark, get set, ... POSE!

Last week, my friend Amanda and I went out to a drag race in the heart of DC. Except, not so much like 2 Fast, 2 Furious. Think more ... To Wong Foo.

Yes, I was at the annual Dupont Circle High Heel Race, meeting some of the most impressive drag queens I've ever seen. There were at least two Cruella de Vils, three Octomoms, a herd of Toddlers in Tiaras, and at least two Michael Jacksons. Side note: I know his movie came out yesterday, but it felt a little soon. I even saw an impressive Kali... it felt a touch blasphemous. But considering some of the slokas I've heard written for her, the Goddess probably finds this sort of thing amusing.

We'll know for sure if this guy wakes up covered in boils.

The event was surprisingly political. Someone was handing out "Marriage Equality NOW!" stickers. A candidate for DC Council, Clark Ray, was working the crowd and having his volunteers slap stickers on anyone standing still long enough. Mayor Fenty even made an appearance close to race time.

And of course, a number of contestants had their own agendas.

The best part was the actual race, when something like 100 drag queens tear down 17th street at full speed. We were standing close to the starting line, so we got to see the contestants at their most energetic. Considering the shoes they were wearing, and the fact they had been "working the runway" for two hours already, I wondered if any of them would run at all. But run they did, with much enthusiasm and loss of jewelry. It was a sight to behold - definitely a must-see for anyone in the DC area. It's always on the Tuesday before Halloween. Mark your calendars!

Nov 5, 2009

So very, very wrong

Thanks to Emily for sharing a link to what promises to be a truly edifying conference, titled simply Darwin was Wrong. Here's a quote from the brochure:

While Darwin was right about the ability of populations to adapt in a limited way to changed environmental conditions, he was profoundly wrong on key scientific issues including: the very nature of science itself; the geological time scale; the incompleteness of the fossil record; the complexity of life; the limits of natural selection; the tree of life; race; and the origin of human beings. More importantly, Darwin was wrong about the disastrous social and moral consequences of his ideas. Lastly, but most importantly, Darwin was wrong about God.

Let's set aside the fact that they're willing to throw empiricism out the window so that their "scientific" beliefs will conform to their religious ideologies. The most ridiculous statement in this series of ridiculous statements is the last one - Darwin was wrong about God. This implies that the writer knows the truth, and isn't the Christian God (and many of the gods in other religions) unknowable? And if god is unknowable, how do we know he/she/it exists at all? The answer is - we don't. That's why it's called faith.

Nov 4, 2009


When I was walking home on November 1, I saw that neighborhood stores had already put up Christmas decorations. This made me sad - Fall is my favorite season, and I'm not quite ready to give up Halloween and Thanksgiving yet. Thankfully, a number of my friends have indulged my little whim by sharing Fall-themed costume pics. Enjoy!

Halloween with Harp Lady. Pretty self-explanatory.

Pumpkin time with Fiona, my friend Kara's new dog.

Baby Turkey Face! Quote from her mom, Alli,
"Doesn't she look scrumptious?"

Ah, now I feel better. Thanks to everyone who agreed to share pics!

Nov 3, 2009

There are three kinds of people exiting the Metro. Those that ride the escalators up and down, those that ride up and walk down, and those that walk both ways. I'm firmly in the second category, as it seems the most efficient use of both my time and energy.

But this morning I ran into an acquaintance who is, apparently, a walker. I was engrossed in trying to make appropriate small talk as we approached the escalators, and neglected stake out a spot on the right side (where people usually ride to the top). Before I knew what was happening he was three steps up on the left side, looking over his shoulder expectantly. I had two choices: (a) be lazy/rude and ride to the top alone or (b) drag my fat ass up a contraption that had been designed specifically to prevent such a spectacle.

God forbid I should be rude.

Spoiler alert - I survived. I reached the top, panting as if I'd run a mile and sweating profusely. My acquaintance looked at me askance, as he was not even breathing heavily. Smug, physically fit so-and-so. *shakes fit* Still it was an eye-opener. I need to work out ... just not on a Stairmaster.