You will be happy to know (won’t you?) that I don’t have limes’ disease or a secret form of mononuclewhosis. These are two of the solutions to my medical-mysterious palette of symptoms we can rule out from my recent trip to the dracula. Two down, how many to go? I only go to the dracula every year or three, so the screening process may take a while. Another theory: ADD. Yes, ADD could be making my feet hurt, according to this particular dracula.

Diagnoses like this is why I prefer the witch doctor.

So I was reading my blog over the weekend, catching up on what I was doing two years ago, and I realized that history is repeating itself, as usual. Can you say that again, history? I wasn’t paying attention. Two years ago, I had just sped through the latest Harry Potter and was waiting for the arts festival they throw outside my front door to be over. Ditto! Two years ago, I was reveling in my new iPhone and confronting rogue City Council Presidents.

No, wait, that was two days ago. Two days ago, I was walking Goblin Foo Uvula down the street, and we encountered Stephanie Rawlings-Blake. “I’d like your support in the September 11 primary,” she said. “I’m still thinking about it,” I said, which is true because, while some people I’m associated with said I should vote for the other guy, I have yet to do my research because I have been too busy researching limes’ disease.

Instead of persuading me on the issues, she touched my Boston terrier on the head with two fingernails and said,

“What a cute, uh, pug. What’s his name?”

“Um, Goblin,” I said.

“I have a _______ [I forget which relative she mentioned… cousin, sister-in-law, etc.] who has a pug named Ash. She treats that dog just like a member of the family! Drives me crazy.”

“Hmmm,” I said. My “pug,” who has had birthday parties and an entire wardrobe of capes and fashion wings, rolled her eyes, and we beat a hasty retreat.

When we got home, I sent an email to the campaign of Michael Sarbanes, the chief opposition for the office of City Council President:

I just ran into Stephanie Rawlings-Blake while walking my dog in the vicinity of Artscape. She seemed like a rather no-nonsense person, which I appreciated, but then went on to call my Boston terrier a pug and relate the story of one of her relatives who had a pug that she treated like a member of the family. She did not seem to think this was a good idea. Given that my beloved Boston terrier was standing on her foot, this didn’t strike me as very diplomatic. My question is, how does Mr. Sarbanes feel about Boston terriers, pugs, and other canines as family members and citizens of Baltimore City?

This is obviously the major issue of the day.


Friday Soupacabra Blogging

This one holds a grudge.


I Also Walked 25 Miles to School, Uphill Both Ways

When I attended the Johns Hopkins University in the, ahem, last century, it was shall we say a study in austerity. Being known as one of the few top-name schools that did not inflate its grades fostered a cutthroat academic atmosphere undiluted by the remotest of amenities offered to its students. During my time there, we were voted one of the bottom three schools in America for a fun and comfortable student life—beating only two military academies—and the neighborhood that surrounded the campus reflected these conditions exactly. Parking was a nightmare, crime was rampant, and one needed to travel for many miles to find that most civilized of modern wonders: a coffee bar.

I mention this because I recently visited campus for one of the first times since I graduated and found myself wondering if I had accidentally wandered into a theme park. Gleaming new buildings arranged around gorgeously landscaped new quads, crisscrossed by charming brick pathways. Cafes at every turn (including in the library!). Outdoor seating with umbrellas. Renovations everywhere. The surrounding neighborhood received a similar facelift, with new residential developments, better local businesses, and much improved parking. I kept expecting Mickey Mouse to pop around for a photo op.

The funny thing is, my time at Hopkins was one of the best periods of my life. It is true that there was nothing to do in the area, and the stress on my mind and body approached the level of Jupiter’s atmospheric forces, but it was the last time I could spend my time learning for the sake of knowledge and had a group of friends who could drop everything for a late-night excursion. Hell, it was probably the last time I had enough energy for a late-night excursion of any sort.

Yesterday, I bonded with a coworker over the simple pleasures we found as children. I did have my Star Wars action figures, but if I could persuade my mother to give me a piece of string to play with, I was equally happy making it into a grappling hook or using it for a microphone cord. If I had had too many bells and whistles, I think I may have grown up to be a different kind of person, and perhaps the same sort of thing could be said for my college experience. The young Hopkins academics of today have all the comforts of a luxury resort, but they will never forge their character on a five-mile commute for coffee that was not squirted out of a vending machine.


Night Terrors

One week after the Fourth of July, Goblin Foo Uvula would like to officially announce that she is Not Scared. You may be scared of the bang-bang-banging fireworks that continue to punctuate our evenings here in downtown Baltimore, but not Goblin. If upon hearing a firework, she comes running to find you, it is only to make sure that you are OK. Those body tremors and her folded-down bat ears are just manifestations of her limitless concern.

She is also Not Scared of thunder, gunshots, big dogs, babies, and the vacuum cleaner.

This has been a message from Goblin Foo Uvula (new name: Sparklellogram Spiderweb, Voodoo Priestess).


Friday Chewbaccacabra Blogging

Jwer is not aging well.


Oh, Say Can You See?

If you are reading this in America, it is the Fourth of July. You foreigners might have a different name for July–like Julio or Harmony J. Pumpernickel, DVM–but it is still just a regular day for your sorry souls, whereas here in the fatherland, it is a glorious celebration where we get explosions dancing across the sky as opposed to car bombs ramming into buildings. Go team!

Keeping exactly in the spirit of this occasion, I will report that I learned via this person that one can go to this site and create a “Simpsons avatar.” This is what you would look like if you lived in a magical land where everyone has four fingers and all of your problems, no matter how bizarre, can be solved in a half hour.

Here is a creature that would be ravishing no matter what dimension he occupies:



Goblin loves rats. She calls them “nighttime squirrels,” and one of her most triumphant moments in this lifetime was getting to lick one in Central Park. Rats can be nice. Rats spelled backward is STAR. But my neighbors use rats to enforce their fascistic tendencies. Do not let your dog poop in the alley or else there will be RATS. Do not leave garbage outside overnight or else there will be RATS. Do not paint your window frames that ghastly color or else there will be RATS. I picture the Wicked Witch of the West twirling around her garret room, launching her pretties out to punish an untidy world. “So, they’ll leave a pile of leaves on their back porch will they? Well, we’ll see about that!”

You know where this is going. Last night, Rob and I saw Ratatouille, a docudrama about a rat with high standards who was True To Himself and went on to Show Them All. He did this with help from an impressionable doofus, the tiny ghost of a famous chef, and Janeane Garofalo. The movie is absolutely enchanting, although I recommend you not see it sitting next to twelve toddlers who spend it sneaking out of their seats and meandering around the aisles.
Afterward, inspired by the rodent’s culinary delights, we went across the street to a fondue restaurant. I have never had fondue and was horrified to discover that one of the courses involved dunking raw meat into boiling cholesterol, two ingredients I spend my days actively avoiding. But I soldiered on because it was ultimately yummy, and if a rat can do it, I can, too. I may have liked the cheese course a bit better, though, because it came with celery and I could pretend it was healthier. Pretending can be nice. Pretending spelled backward is GNIDNETERP.


(Following is a photo I took of the cheese fondue because it was yummy. More on this later.)