Email & Karma Malfunctions

25 November 2008

When LemonGloria wrote of a recent email sent to her new husband by one of his ex’s, I laughed heartily mostly from the uproariously funny manner in which that lady weaves the strings of life into the fabric of poignant humor.  I also laughed at the many speculative reasons one might send an ex with whom s/he has had limited to no contact a picture of you & your spawn after childbirth.  The largely acknowledged reasons had two theories – accidental inclusion or deliberate attempt to demonstrate what one had missed.  In concluded that the latter reason was most probable, I mocked this woman’s vanity, her pettiness, and her general being.

Then karma declared today as the day of retribution. 

I compiled my long email list of invitees to the first ever Bloggerational Ball I am hosting with LivitLuvit and Who Invented Roses.  It was several hours later when I got the email from an ex I accidentally included on the distribution list.  She is delighted to join us she wrote.  I would be more delighted by someone coating my boys in honey and tying me to a colony of red ants than to see her.

I slightly exaggerate.  The problem is I don’t know how much power she still wields over me, and I am not anxious to learn in the middle of a party I am hosting.  I am especially reticent to learn this fact with her dressed in evening wear – I am a sucker for a well dressed pretty face.

So blogosphere, help a man out – play Miss Manners and suggest a graceful manner in which I can uninvited her.


Bloggerational Ball

25 November 2008

Bloggerational Ball 2009


At approximately 12pm Tuesday 20 January 2009, our long national nightmare* will end and at 9pm the Sunday before the first ever Bloggerational Ball begins**.

There is an easy argument that one of the central themes of the Obama campaign was access – access to healthcare, access to great education for all, access to a world where civil liberties are protected, access to a reasonable and progressive tax structure.  With that thought in mind (and several beers and glasses of wine in hand,) a couple of friends – Live It, Love It & Who Invented Roses  – and I hatched a plan for an Inaugural Celebration that is accessible to all and honors the impact that New Media had on this election with the name Bloggerational Ball. 

I should also mention that having been to a few Inaugural Balls in my time, they aren’t nearly as much fun as the after-parties/bars where all of your friends are.  The Bloggerational Ball skips that step and puts you in the room with all of your friends without the bother of idle chit chat with people you will never see again.


The Details:

Time: 18 January 2009, 9pm

Location: Bourbon in Adams Morgan

Attire: Black-Tie Optional***

Cost: $47 (paid via PayPal only)

Food: plenty of snack sized noshes to absorb the booze but have dinner first

Booze: discounted drinks all night, complimentary champagne toast, and my co-hosts and I have already started working on signature drinks for the evening (Never Been Blue a.k.a. The Virginia and A Grateful Canada are a couple examples.  Feel free to email suggestions but please nothing as cliché as an Obamamama – the best drink name suggestion gets a complimentary ticket)

Availability: space is currently limited to 120 tickets, however if there is greater demand it is possible that the party can grow to 240 but please don’t wait.

Who’s Coming – bloggers, commenters, friends, lurkers

How Do You Get a Ticket: send an email to, please list your name, who invited you, and the name of your blog if you have one, indicate how many tickets you will need.  You will get an email with PayPal instructions.  Once you have you have paid your money you will be confirmed for the event.


*that is the last time I will gloat about the election.

** Monday is a national holiday, MLK Day, so no worries about drinking on a school night

*** Not having a tuxedo is not an excuse – remember this is about access.


The Spirit of Christmas Frugal

23 November 2008

I came across a blog post by Missives from the Birdcage about stretching dollars in this exceedingly tight economic climate.  As the holiday season is upon us, it reminded me of the one Christmas when I did not shop in the usual Refugee method – recklessly.

The Christmas after I got married my wife and I decided that gift giving had lost touch with reality and we were going to be much more practical/frugal that year than last.  I had been making my own infused olive oils for cooking for sometime and we decided that if nicely packaged this would make a warm and very personal holiday gift for just about every one the list.

Garlic flavored olive oil was the easiest and fastest to make, but I had also been making: Basil, Jalapeño, Rosemary, and Truffle Oils*. We determined that there would be two tiers to the gift list – top tier recipients netted three bottles while those on the junior tier would get two.  I found some very nice glass bottles on line, made labels which read “Refugee & His Crazy Ex-Wife’s Infused Oils – Merry Christmas” Even with 55 people on the list that year, we averaged about $7 per person.

Infusing Instructions – this article does a better job than I would of explaining the process, and I am happy to provide any additional technical support via email.

What have you, the dozen loyal readers, done to cut costs in years past or are you planning to do this year?


*Only a few people were on the Truffle Oil distribution list or the cost would have been prohibitive.  

I Got Five on It Friday Volume V

21 November 2008

Five Favorite Things That Always Go Together

  1. Grits and Gravy
  2. Champagne and any day that ends with the letter “Y”
  3. Blue lights and basements
  4. Marvin and Tammy
  5. A group of really cool bloggers and booze… copious amounts of booze


Five Things every Gent Should Have in His Wardrobe

  1. A tuxedo that is pressed and ready to go at a moments notice
  2. At least one great blazer that works with jeans, tailored trousers, and everything in between the two
  3. At least one bespoke item – you will never look better
  4. A stack of cotton handkerchiefs pressed into daily service in your back pocket
  5. A cashmere sweater she can wear in the morning (be aware that she will look better in it than you ever have or will)


Five Favorite Quintessentially Cool and Cheap Dates

  1. Kennedy Center Millennium Stage
  2. Very tasty and mostly authentic Jamaican food from Negril followed by relatively cheap beer at the Quarry House
  3. Blueberry pancakes from Eastern Market (more for history than taste) and surfing for bargains at the flea market on Sundays
  4. Any new or closing exhibit at any museum
  5. Drum circle Sundays in Meridian Hill Park followed by Amsterdam Fallafel and a couple of beers at The Reef


Five Items on the Thanksgiving Day Menu I am preparing for a client – yes, I am a chef for hire; no, this menu is not traditional by request of the client

  1. Day boat scallop ceviché with an arugula salad and a smoked bacon vinaigrette
  2. Roasted garlic and potato bisque with homemade lamb sausage
  3. Confit of Turducken (roulettes of turkey breast stuffed with chicken breast stuffed with duck thigh and confited in duck fat) with truffled French fries and spinach, mushroom and goat cheese purses
  4. Selection of cheese from Cowgirl Creamery with truffled honey, wild berry compote, almond slivers, and toast points
  5. Carrot Cake made by this fantastic lady


Five Favorite Baby Making Songs – not that I ever expect to use them for that purpose

  1. Angel – Marvin Gaye (I know you all don’t click the musical links but, seriously, click this one.  Listen to this song.)
  2. How Come U Don’t Call Me Anymore – Joshua Redman’s insanely good cover of the iconic Prince Torch song
  3. Maxwell’s entire first album but most especially the 6th track, Til the Cops Come Knockin
  4. Lover’s Rock – Sade
  5. Windmills Of Your Mind – Sting singing on the Thomas Crowne Affair Soundtrack


Five favorite things that have happened since the election

  1. Watching the energy of a nation spill into the streets
  2. Seeing newspaper covers from all around the world displayed in front of the Newseum declaring Barack Obama the 44th President of the US
  3. Seeing all of the Impeach Barack websites proving the point that so many people, bloggers, columnists, and others made about the myopic blindness of those predisposed against an Obama presidency
  4. Having recaptured the respect of the world
  5. My suit jackets are lighter because I stopped carrying my pocket copy of the Constitution everywhere for protection


Five Favorite things about the James Bond Franchise – in honor of the new Bond flick, Quantum Solace

  1. Daniel Craig is the best James Bond since Sean Connery
  2. My favorite Bond Girl ever is M
  3. Though I dig BMW’s, so glad that Bond went back to driving Aston Martin’s in Casino Royale
  4. Speaking of Casino Royale… so glad the owners of the franchise finally decided to make a GOOD movie that just happened to have a chase scene and a fight or two
  5. Who doesn’t love saying Pussy Galore

 Five Bonus Thoughts

  1. Favorite thing I overheard in a bar recently:

Bar Patron #1: Now that the election’s over, admit it – you would have sex with Sarah Palin wouldn’t you.

Bar Patron #2: Of course I would, I like the dirty librarian thing.  Wouldn’t you?

Bar Patron #1: Yeah, but only anal

  1. I wish I didn’t care that the posts of which I am most proud have received some of the fewest comments.
  2. Did no one catch the acronym joke from the last I Got Five on it Friday or was it just not funny?
  3. Something you should know about reading my little slice of the interwebs: Italics = fiction writing
  4. I am a man of leisure unburdened with the hazards of working for a living
  5. By the by, this is my 100th post – yay me.

The List of Things That Suck – or What Beaujolais Nouveau Inspired

20 November 2008


I received an email from the lovely and Fearless One earlier today.  She wanted me to clarify my position on Beaujolais Nouveau.  We had the following exchange via g-chat:

me:  Beaujolais Nouveau is a joke the Frogs play on the rest of the world to get us drunk on wine that no self respecting wine drinker would touch any other time of the year

Fearless:  I give the marketing people full marks because people are still buying it

me:  people still buy Kenny G albums too


All of this got me thinking about the number of…


Things That Are Wildly Popular and Spectacularly Suck.

Beaujolais Nouveau

Kenny G

USA Today – it’s like People magazine writes a newspaper

People Magazine – doing more to rot our brains than Britney Spears

Britney Spears – ‘nuff said (yes I have admitted to bopping my head to the song Toxic)

$tarbucks – like that shocked anyone

Absolute Vodka – brilliant and artistic advertising, shitty vodka

Lauriol Plaza – the single most over rated restaurant on the planet and yet scores of people wait hours for the privilege of eating their craptastic tex-mex

Fox News – it’s only popular with some but too many people for my taste

David Caruso – perhaps the worst actor on Television

Potbelly Sandwiches – again, people wait in line for this?

Susan Sontag – Crash Davis was right

Khakis – you’re an adult now; please stop wearing Garanamals

Veuve Clicqout – the last time I drank this is a blind tasting I had them bring me a fresh glass because I was convinced I was tasting residual soap – nope that’s just Veuve.

Hennesy – can we all agree to stop taking beverage advice from hip-hop videos?

Reality TV – it’s a guilty pleasure for some because it just sucks so well

Customer Service from Comcast – you made it so easy for me to break-up with television

Drunken Pizza in Adams Morgan – I know anyone who lives in DC area has done it, but please just say no.


Feel free to add to this list via the comments.  For all of the people thinking that they will list this blog, it may suck spectacularly, but it ain’t wildly popular so don’t bother.

The Over-Blogged Coffee Rant

19 November 2008

The subject has been much addressed on each side and while I loathe writing about anything that has been over-blogged I feel compelled to vent about the coffee war.  I was drawn into this unspoken battle by a particularly wordy coffee request from a gentleman in line ahead of me today followed closely on the heels of another gent who provoked my ire a few days prior.

I detest Starbucks for the manner in which it has dumbed-down coffee and added scores of inane permutations to one of god & man’s most perfect creations – a cuppa joe.  I revile the over-roasted beans they use; and I have particular venom for their avaricious business practices that have made the independent coffeehouse largely a relic of days past.    Nor am I too thrilled with myself for succumbing to my baser urges and occasionally frequenting the unavoidable.

Coffee is simple, it has two pure expressions – a cup of French Press and the Espresso. Reasonable adulterations have been added through the years – the Café Americano, the Latte, the Cappuccino and the oh so glorious morning-saving, hangover-correcting Red Eye.  Those expressions come in sizes – normal universally understood sizes – raise your hand if you have a problem with small, medium, and large.

While I can understand and largely pardon the affected changing of sizes to create brand identity, I am done with all of the Half Caffe, two pump shot of bullshit, extra hot, skinny, no foam (as if that really has a place,) what-the-fuck-are-you-talking-aboutiato’s.  The people who order them and the horse that brought you – I’m done with you too.

New Rule – Restaurant Refugee Rule #67 (no you haven’t missed 1-66; I am just guessing there are at least 66 more important rules I would love for society to follow than this) If you can’t determine how to order a coffee concoction in fewer than 5 words, find another drink.  Cotton Candy flavored hot soda comes to mind.  

RRR #68 – if you don’t know what you want to order from the same menu you have seen approximately 9,835 times in the last year, you are not bright enough to exist on this island and I am now empowered by the spirit of Darwin to vote you off by unanimous consent of all those possessing more IQ points than years referenced in Lincoln’s greatest speech.

Mini Burgers are to Burgers as this Post is to Reviews

18 November 2008

I like mini-burgers better than burgers.  Two or three bites of well crafted and cooked burgers are the perfect size for me.  They communicate the flavors the kitchen combined and measure their skill in execution.  It is all I need.  I take the same approach to Restaurant Reviews – sure critics of great skill can write beautifully for 1000s of words about a worthy restaurant – however, I would rather read four or five succinct reviews in the same space. 

As I started this blog with a commitment to providing the more than occasional expert and unvarnished restaurant opinions, this is the first installment of my formal mini-reviews.  I have written very briefly about some of these places in the past, however reviews have a shelf life which had expired and I have expanded more than in the past.  Each Mini-Review provides specific recommendations on the best way to enjoy the meals and an estimate of the cost.  Every other week I will write a new installment of Mini Reviews and they will all have a theme – this weeks theme: Favorites

Favorite for a first date that won’t think I am a pretentious ass for going someplace nice on a first dateMendocino Grille Chef Barry Koslow might just be the most talented chef in DC that is not a bold face name.  It is high quality and inventive Modern American food with a solid nod to classical techniques but presented in a contemporary yet unpretentious manner.  Order anything from the sea as this is a particularly good area for the kitchen.  If it comes from pork, it is also very likely to make you happy.  The wine list is not to be ignored – there are no other restaurants at this level of dining that offer a better wine program both by the glass and bottle. With few exceptions, the prices are exceedingly fair, and the wines abundantly interesting.  Best Advice: 2 apps, split an app, two entrées, cheese plate, bottle or two of wine; not cheap but worth the $200+ it will cost you.

Favorite for a first date that need be dissuaded of the belief that I am a pretentious ass and therefore must be taken someplace with really good food but with more of an edge and not terribly priceyGranville Moore’s – if you haven’t taken a trip to the Atlas District to sample the best Moules and Frites in DC, stop what you’re doing.  Seriously, stop.  Right now.  In addition to excelling at the Belgian staples, the meats (great burger, steak and cheese, hanger steak, and daily specials) kick ass too.  They do not accept reservations; and get busy by 7pm during prime time.  Go early in the week – the Monday HH with $10 Moules is especially wallet friendly.  Bonus – charming but small patio in the back.  Granville’s has experienced some consistency issues (service-wise) in the last couple of months but they are still on this list by virtue of the fact that the food is so damn good.  By the by, this place can qualify as a great cheap date if you avoid the temptation to sample too many all of the craft ales.  Best Advice: Start with a bowl of Moules and a small Frite, split an Entrée, hang out and drink $75+ depending on the beer.

Favorite for good cheap date in a box – Negril Quarry House – Negril specializes in very tasty and mostly authentic Jamaican food.  The décor is more of a carry-out, but they have a number of tables.  Jerk chicken, Goat Roti, and the Ox Tail are their best dishes but be sure to get some of the densely light (I know impossible but true) Coco Bread.  Negril doesn’t have a liquor license so that is when you walk around the corner to the Quarry House.  QH has been around for so long and changed so little that it provides great comfort for anyone with an appreciation for old fashioned neighborhood bars.  One thing that has changed – for which I am very grateful – is the serious upgrade to the beer list.  In a addition to the standard dive bar offerings, the are craft beers from Rouge, Young’s, and other highly regarded breweries.  Added information bonus: it is excactly 13 steps down from the sidewalk to the bar.  Negril: $25; QH: depends on your crowd but beers range from $3 to $8.

Favorite for a second date or a really good steakthe bar at Capitol Grille – it is not often that I will recommend a chain restaurant for anything except using the bathroom during a parade, however, CapGrille does such a solid job with so much that they have been on my favorites for more years than I will admit.  Sunday – Wednesday the bar is most pleasant as it is largely free of many of the lobbyists, the excessively privileged, and the shallow as hair-root women who love them.  I hope you like to share as many of the portions can get Flintstonian.  Easy Instructions (sharing everything): Start with the smoked salmon, have the Kobe Carpaccio if it is available, always get the best Calamari in town (if you like the spice,) finish with the Kansas City Strip (not on the menu but they will make it for you if you ask and it is available,) desserts are optional for all but the most obsessive sweet freaks.  $150 or so depending on the wine.

Favorite after a craptacular day and I need a culinary hugCashion’s Eat Place – I have written about Cashion’s too many times but there is a extremely strong reason.  This is a dining room that is comfortably elegant, a kitchen that is carefully and deliberately ambitious, and has service that is always gracious.  The late night menu (Friday & Saturday after midnight) is the best eating you can do anywhere in DC at that hour.  This place also works swimmingly well for a first restaurant date.  One of the highest compliments I can give this place is in noting some of the culinary royalty with whom I have frequently dined at the bar – my modesty and protecting that of others prevents me from naming names but if I did….    I will caution that like many restaurants the appetizers are often more interesting than the entrées.  My recommendation: 5 apps (2, share, 2), shared dessert, and a bottle of wine – $125 (especially cheap for a four course meal with wine.)