Here you will find many of the insightful articles and books discussed at our weekly tea gatherings.


1 April 2003

Ah, it seems like just last week that I was surrounded by my good friends Yael, Chris-u-lonic, Fred, Brooke, Carla, John (!), Melissa (!), Andri, my own self, Jason, Walter, Andrew, Maureen, Maggie, Sacha, Robin, and first-timer Joe. My memories of Tea are hazy, but I think it went something like this . . .
David:   Gosh, I'm sure looking forward to doing another Tea Reader!
Jason:   But David, isn't next Monday night the championship game
of the NCAA tournament?
David:   Gee, I guess it is. However, nothing is as important as writing the Tea Reader!
Maureen:   That's true. Still, you're so awesome that you deserve to watch the big game.
David:   Hmmm, I don't know. What do you think, Carla?
Carla:   You always do the Tea Reader, David. Take a break. Watch the game.
David:   Well, OK, but if the first half is a blow-out, I'll write the Tea Reader during the second half.
Chris:   No! Even if play in the first half is very one-sided, and a team that rhymes with "Beer-a-cuse" is trouncing a team that rhymes with "Kan-sas", you should keep watching. It could come down to the wire, you know.
David:   Say, Chris-u-lonic, that's pretty specific. Do you know something the rest of us don't?
Chris:   Ummm, no. . . I don't know what you're talking about.
David:   Hmmm, OK. No Tea Reader, then. I feel sad, but you've all convinced me. You're the best friends a fellow could have!

Then we played some of our own favorite games, including Maggie-pass-around, Ask Amir, and Incriminating Quotes of Andri.

Oh boy, I sure hope the game is entertaining! See you next week.



25 March 2003

irls and boys, do you enjoy stories? I know you do. Gather round, then, as I tell a tale of tea, of men and women, passion and pathos, of accusation, betrayal, and revelation.

Our story begins on a Tuesday evening, as such stories often do. Prince David of Hyattsville and Princess Andri of Cyprus arrived promptly at the hour of eight, where they found Lady Brooke, her squire Frederick, and a strange man perusing the wares of Mr. Franklin's General Store.

"Greetings, Lady Brooke! Who is your gentleman guest this eventide?", asked Prince David, bowing.

"Fred", she answered.

"Two Fredericks, one on each arm? Surely you jest my lady!" the handsome prince replied.

"Nope."

"Oh."

"Please stop bowing."

At this point the servants, having prepared the grand dining table, guided our friends to their seats. Soon they were joined by Sir Christopher of Ulonia, Captain of the Royal Guard and master of courtly intrigue.

"Hello, friends! May I sup with thee?" he inquired.

In a voice rich and exotic, Princess Andri responded. "Please do. I wouldst ask thee to doff thy cap, sir, but I see that some knave has hadst the better of thee, and taken it from atop they head! Who shall guard thee, who wouldst guard us all!" she laughed.

"Do not mock me! Seriously. Our Queen, in a fit of rage and bile, forbade me to wear my favorite hunting hat, though I know not wherefore. Be kind, then, and stare not at my bare pate."

Before the Princess could inquire further, however, the fanfare of trumpets filled the air, as Queen Carla the Cruel and King Thomas the Terrible entered the banquet hall! All rose from their seats, and cowered, knowing not the Queen's fickle mood.

"Be Well, subjects! Sit, then, that the King and I might enjoy your noble company! Too long has it been since we have dined together."

And at that the others sighed a sigh of relief that echoed through the chamber, and considered their good fortune. But no sooner had they returned to their seats than the Queen, in her most horrible voice, shouted,

"Sir Christopher! Where is thine hunting cap? How darest thee appear before us with naked skull!"

"But, your highness . . ."

"Silence! I will brook your insolence no more! Off with your . . ."

But at that moment, Shagstaphone Goatsward McPuffinstuff, the court jester, entered with a crash, a bang, and a Bruce, who was the Royal Toymaker. The Queen, most amused, forgot her wrath, and laughed, and so, too, did her subjects. All smiled, but for King Thomas, who never smiled at all!

Then Lady Jessica of Columbia arrived, and curtsied. And at this Shagstaphone Goatsward did smile, for he loved the fair maiden, and would fain have kissed her then, but he was shy before her, and felt a bit gassy as well.

So his heart did leap when he spied a smile upon Lady Jessica's visage, a smile directed his way! So happy was he that he took no notice of the august entrance of Lord Sacha and Lady Robin!

"Robin!", shouted Prince David, as Lord Sacha heartily greeted one and all. "I bring good tidings, friends! For, upon my good word, I didst see the royal carriage of Farringtonia on the way! King Andrew the Awesome and Queen Maureen the Magnificent do approach, and ask permission to join Queen Carla and King Thomas this night!"

"It is a fair thing," said Queen Carla, "that friends should drink and dine together. All from Farringtonia are welcome at this table."

"You speak for us all, good Queen", replied Lord Sacha, "and well said! How well said thou knowest not. For King Andrew and Queen Maureen bring the newest member of Farringtonia, Princess Maggie!"

At this there was a great cheer, and a hurrah, and even Lady Brooke, whom Prince David had spied sulking, did smile when the royal guests arrived.

There was a great feast, then, so great that to this very day it is remembered throughout the land. Much was eaten, much imbibed, and much burped.


So thoroughly did the guests enjoy themselves, in fact, that they little noted the late arrival of the Brothers Rust. The siblings, Jason and Walter, had long awaited this moment. Secretly, in the distant land of Damascus, they had plotted and schemed, planned and prepared for what would follow.

"King Thomas, Queen Carla, ho!" Jason called forth.

"Gentle sir, I didst not see thou enter! You and your brother are welcome here!", the Queen said, for she was very happy indeed, and the spirit of the vine was within her.

"I thankest thou Queen Carla, and beg your pardon, your highness. Might I inquire of thee, for a moment, your wise council?"

"Certainly, loyal subject. Silence all! Jason of Damascus does wish to be heard. And, so, speak."

"Your highness, I bring grim news, and do require your help, but I know not whether I am worthy to ask."

"You knowest I am kind, sir. Ask, and I shall answer."

"Queen, I am but a humble subject, and bother not a soul. Yet some sinister fiend visits a plague upon the House of Rust!"

All gasped, and then silently listened.

"Fortnightly, without fail, I find a strange dust has been left upon the lintel of my bedroom window. It is no ordinary dust, though. It is dark, and soft, and it were well were it only so. But this dust dost maketh me sneeze! I sneeze, and I sneeze, and I sneeze and I sneeze! I become weak, nearly faint, and I shake at the knees!"

Queen Carla was furious. "What evil scoundrel would do such a thing?"

"This, I wondered, Queen, for many a night. But I now knowest who torments me so!"

"But speaketh his name, and he shall be killed on the spot!" the Queen declared, nigh unable to control her rage.

"Queen Carla, Queen Carla! This villain has a name . . . and his name is . . . King Thomas!"

At this Queen Carla shrieked! Lady Jessica swooned, and fell into Shagstaphone Goatsward's arms. Princess Maggie cried! Prince David hid under the table and trembled. Sir Christopher was so surprised that, forgetting he had no hat, did attempt to pull it down over his head, only to give his ears such a tug that he cried in pain!

Meanwhile, King Thomas's eyes filled with a fiery rage. He stood back from the table, and, with a bone chilling sound, unsheathed Excalculor, his magical sword.

"Curses! You fool! How didst thou know it was I! Tell me this, before I slay thee, and your death shall be quick."

"Ha HA!" said Jason. "It was but a lucky guess! Thou art but a simpleton, King Thomas!"

The King with both hands lifted Excalculor high above his head. All stood, fixed fast to the floor, and waited in horror for Thomas to strike the fatal blow.

And, then, a most wonderful thing happened, boys and girls. King Thomas, the king who never smiled, laughed. At first it was a little laugh, a quiet chuckle. But it grew, and it grew, and soon it was a giggle, a loud, high pitched, girlish giggle!

And an infectious giggle, at that. For soon Jason laughed, and then Brooke, and King Andrew, and Queen Maureen, and the Jester, and Bruce, and Sir Christopher, indeed everyone was laughing.

King Thomas sheathed Excalculor. In good humor he put his arm 'round Jason's neck, and with his knuckles, did rub the top of his head!

"'Tis too bad I haven't a hat, like Sir Christopher, to protect my scalp. Oh, but you have no hat good sir! Ha ha, ha."

As a single tear slowly slid down Sir Christopher's cheek, everyone laughed anew, and a good time was had by one and all.


4 March 2003

Laissez Les Bon Temp Rouler!

Some have asked, "Tea Reporter: What has become of the Tea Reader? Why is it seldom if ever updated? Have you been traveling? Drinking? Getting it on with the ladies?" The answer to all these questions is a resounding "Yes." But that's not why the Tea Reader has been on hiatus.

Desperately, and for some time now have I wanted to update the Tea Reader. Week after week I awake in the night with a start, as brilliant Tea ideas dance through my head. I turn on the lamp, grab my parchment and quill, and, then, just as I am ready to lay down some cold comic genius, I remember ...

Carla. Carla won't let me update the Tea Reader.

I am haunted by these words, as Carla's floating head slowly materializes inside a thought bubble: "If the Tea Reader is updated, you will perish, David! None shall usurp my fame! I will rain pestilence, burning hail, and Ensure down upon thee. Remember this, trembling scribe: you must never update the Reader! Never update the Reader! Never update . . . Also, be well!"

Alas, no longer can I remain silent! There is too much to tell, and too little time in which to tell it! Carla be damned! The Tea Reader shall be updated once more!

*lightning*

*thunder*

The evil spell is broken!

And so: David, Andri, Chris, Yael, Carla, Thomas, Brooke, Fred, Jason, Walter, and Jessi gathered upstairs at Franklins for the first Tea of March, 2003.

Even now, some are unnerved by this report. "Where were Andrew and Maureen?" these anxious souls wonder. What of Cliff? Sacha? And who is this "Jessi"? Is she a mid-season replacement, or a figment of the imagination?

This last question is most easily answered. "Jessi" is Jessica Burgess, debutante, bon vivant, and heir to the Burgess shipping empire. She joined the Tea crew last week, and hopes to make frequent appearances in the future. When not dreaming of ways to spend her inheritance, she pines for her true love, Goat Boy, who made a brief appearance in Season Two.

Andrew and Maureen would surely join us, were it not for a very special addition to their lives -- a cute, adorable addition, who is not quite ready for Tea (but quite ready for milk!).

And Cliff? Cliff was in Australia. His journey down under was the subject of some debate. Specifically, why would he abandon his loyal friends for sun, sand, and women? Some argued that Cliff simply wanted to have a good time. But this begs the question: how can a relaxing day under the warm Australian sun surrounded by scantily clad women with funny accents be more exciting than Tea?

To be precise, how can it more exciting than Mardi Gras Tea? To wit:


In fine Bourbon Street tradition, the women of Tea bared their bosoms to the gentleman passerby with bead, trinket, or ten dollar note to offer.

As expected, the ladies were quite desperate to see David's manly breasts, but he remained chastely defiant:


Interesting note: these images were produced with a pinhole camera using Daguerreotype plates.

Other random bits: David shared a mnemonic device for remembering the Cranial Nerves. Carla brought a sacrilegious Brahma finger puppet ( to learn more about Brahma, click here.) Yael, when told the technical term for a stamp collector, responded "I would guess a philatelist collects blow jobs", to which David, recording this quote in the Tea Journal, responded, "That's going down!" Tom and Carla lent Jason a copy of Capital IA: the Industrial Archeology of Washington D.C. Yael suggested People of Tea trading cards. Finally, Yael (guess who sat next to the Tea Reporter) brought this very, very disturbing image to our attention.

Stay tuned next week for an all new episode of the Tea. Assuming Carla doesn't smite me, that is. Be well!


27 February 2003

Listen hippies, I'm working on something.

In the mean time, this is a correction, courtesy of Tea's own Chris-u-lonic:


4 February 2003

[WARNING: This edition of the Tea Reader contains language that some viewers may find objectionable. The Tea Reader is intended for readers 23 and older. It is recommended that parents of Tea participants "turn-off the Internet" and watch Sixty Minutes II, or a special edition of 20/20, instead.]

Friends, neighbors, and countrymen gathered again from far and wide to renew their spirits and enjoy some of that old time Tea religion. This was not a "fancy" tea. There was no special occasion, no birthday, no announcements, no births, deaths, and what have you. No lollygagging either, for that matter. Just the basics.

We had a pretty good turn out, though it could have been better. Sure, such fine individuals as Cliff, Andrew, Maureen, Brian, Marvella, Brooke, Fred, Chris-u-lonic, Tom, Carla, David, Sacha, Robin, and Jason showed up. But where was Yael? Why was Andri "not feeling well" ? What was Walter's excuse? Chris and Jen? John? Melissa? I'm talking to you! And what the hell happened to Dreen?

Hrmmph.

Those who did attend, including our waitress Melissa, and interested third parties, are all invited to enjoy the following artistic representation of actual Tea Quotes, courtesy of Chris-u-lonic. Those who should have come, but did not, avert your eyes, or use Post-It notes to cover the monitor. Laggards like you don't deserve to enjoy the creative output of our productive Tea members.

(For extra fun, see if you can guess who uttered these bon mots!)

Now, imagine if you will that an adorable sprite or pixie hovered over those gathered at Franklins last week. Here are some of the amusing topics of conversation this bored creature might have heard.

Carla badgered David about not updating the Tea Reader, going so far as to threaten him with the deactivation of his button on the CarlaZone! On the other hand, she got the business when David timidly suggested that Thomas's undershirt would be brighter if Carla separated her whites from her colors when doing the laundry. Needless to say Carla was taken aback. The daughter of Amelia guilty of such an obvious domestic blunder! Even humble Jason separates his laundry.

In further laundry-related Jason news, another package of mystery lint arrived in the mail! Who would torment our dear comrade so? And why? Speculation continues, and it has escaped no one's attention that the lint samples have been uniformly dark. This and other data lead TBI (Tea Bureau of Investigation) profilers to the following conclusions:

The lint-a-bomber
  • is between the ages of 20 and 35
  • listens to Joy Division
  • is probably male, but possibly female
  • has a mustache
  • drives a white van
  • enjoys reading and hanging out with friends
  • drinks Fanta

The Tea Reader will continue to follow this story as new developments arise.

Andrew informed us that Shrimping is destroying the Earth. However, he offered no evidence to support his assertion. Chris-u-lonic noted that a black fungus is decimating the world supply of bananas. Some day soon there may be no bananas at all. This made Cliff cry.

Brooke made sure we all knew she has some part of her anatomy pierced and adorned with a Tonic Girl, Sir. I don't think this kind of topic is appropriate for our family oriented readership, but Brooke insisted.

Ahh, the never ending joys of gaming. Tired of Settlers of Catan? Does Seafarers of Catan have you in the doldrums? Is "been there, done that" your world weary response to the question "Sir, might I interest you in a game of Starfarers of Catan?" Too impatient to wait for the August release of "Apartment Dwellers of Catan?" Fear not, for Chris and Jason informed us that Settlers of Canaan is on store shelves now! What's more, it is totally awesome. As one of the twelve tribes of Israel, battle your kinsmen for control of the Holy Land. "Take that, Zebulon!" "I never liked your stupid haircut anyway, Naphtali. Here, have a mouthful of locust." You get the idea.

Ahh, too much talk, too little space in which to record it. Our discussion of the NPR PRSS distribution system and David's treatise on conic sections will have to be left to the imagination.

Until next week . . .


14 January 2003

Another week with Tea, and another week without Internet. Tea flourishes, while the Tea Reader suffers, a schism which can lead only to greater and greater psychosis . . .

A robust crowd gathered this week for a special Birthday Tea. David, whose birthday coincided exactly with the date, graciously shared the evening's festivities with Andrew, whose birthday would not occur for another four days, and Cliff, who may have been born in late January, though no one can be sure.

As evidence of the warm regard in which he is held, just look at the marvelous people who came to David's celebration: Carla, Thomas, Yael, Cliff, Andri, David himself, Chris, Jenn, Brooke, her friend Marvella, Brian, Marc, Christy, Jason, Walter-u-lonic, Maureen, Andrew, and, making her first appearance in three months, Dreen.

The love was palpable that evening. Before the formal celebration began, Yael, who you may recall recently celebrated a birthday with her Tea buddies, expressed gratitude to Thomas and Carla for their lovely gift, a video recording of PBS's The Way We Live Now. One can imagine a diligent Tea reporter with Internet access heading now to pbs.org to learn more about this remarkable program. However, if I recall correctly, The Way We Live Now tells the tale of two lovers: one, a neurotic nineteenth century British playwright named Arthur Wellington, the other his licentious laundress, Claudia Grimstead. When not fighting with each other or making passionate love, the two secretly pursue Jack the Ripper through the London sewers. Worry not, I shan't reveal the ending!

Speaking of mysteries, Jason introduced a real life who-dunnit. In the mail he recently received an envelope with no return address. Inside he found a ziplock bag filled with laundry lint, accompanied by an anonymous note suggesting he use the lint to make blankets for his Star Wars figures. Jason thought that David might be the mystery mailer, but I know this to be untrue. Reliable sources suspect Carla, or Chris-u-lonic, who was mysteriously absent that night.

Once Andrew finally showed up, we were able to commence the gift giving. Cliff began by unwrapping Thomas's and Carla's gift, a black T-shirt with the universal power symbol emblazoned on the front. Brooke's beautifully wrapped present turned out to be a carefully decorated cigar box, complete with furry lining and covered in a marvelous collage. David bought Cliff a solid-gold Byzantine wine chalice, believed to have once belonged to Emperor Constantine.

Next Andrew opened his gifts. From Brooke he received another beautiful box, and from Thomas and Carla, a Blickey. David gave him the only existing copy of Da Vinci's Leicester Codex, and a movie pass good at any AMC theatre, nationwide.

Lastly, it was David's turn. Thomas and Carla bought him not one, but two books, The Joy of Pi, by David Blatner, and The Elusive Quest for Growth, by William Easterly. Brooke presented David with the third and best box of the night, this one lined with denim from a pair of her own Levi's 501 Blues. Finally, Cliff and Andrew gave their friend a pack of Juicyfruit gum and a roll of Scotch Tape, respectively.

At this point, it appears I had a bit too much to drink. My handwriting suddenly becomes that of a young woman's, and in it are recorded these words:

Brooke --> "tuesdays are dressup day!"
Jason --> "now that I'm unemployed Tuesday is bathe-day!"

CLIFF JUDGE is the most EXPLOITED member of tea. Each week he dutifully counts the money, and his reward is to put in extra money at the end as needed.
   This is OUTRAGEOUS! The delinquent members of tea must start paying up!

Other items of note: Yael is thoroughly enjoying Sea Biscuit: An American Legend, by Laura Hillenbrand. Our waitress was named Tricia. And nobody could remember the name of Quincy's assistant (Sam Fujiyama).

Join us next week, then, as we return for our regularly scheduled birthday-free Tea.


7 January 2003

Well, the mother f*cking cable modem is not working again. Another appointment has been scheduled. Comcast blows. I ought to get DSL.

 
Untitled by Ingrid
Let's see then, there was some sort of Tea last week. I even scanned in original artwork from Brooke, and Ingrid, our waitress. It's downloading as we speak, at about 1.28 kB/sec.

Did I mention I'm upset?

Tea tea tea.

I'm just not in the mood.

Thomas, Carla, David, Cliff, Chris-u-lonic, Walter, Brooke, Andrew, the mysterious "Chris M.", and your angry servant attended. Maureen and her crew came to Franklin's, but chose not to sit with us.

G*d Damn Mother F*cker I hate Comcast! We're now down to 950 B/s.

Nothing happened at Tea. I talked about my trip to the International Spy Museum, until everyone grew bored. Brooke visited another medical school, in Cleveland, and while there checked out the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The best part, she said, was the Mary Prankster bumper sticker on a van in the parking lot.

Andrew explained that he's a first adopter when it comes to PDA and phone technology. There'd be more details here, but Brooke was taking overly cryptic notes.

723 B/s. Seriously.

When I said, earlier, that nothing happened at Tea, I lied. Something did happen, something momentous, something to warm the cockles of our collective Tea Heart. Ingrid --

Stop the presses! I'm up to 999 B/s.

-- Inrid, a waitress new to the Tea group, informed us that the kitchen and wait staff know us! The kitchen staff even expect us, and are surprised when we mix things up. For example, they couldn't understand why we didn't order Thai vegetarian pot stickers this week.

Carla #1 by Brooke

Our dear Carla believes we may be nearing the two year anniversary of our little gathering. David offered to check his email archives to find the exact date, but forgot to followup. In other Carla news, we were told that while she was in Old Town Alexandria, a man on the street approached her and asked for directions to a local prison. It seems he had recently been discharged from his previous incarceration and was expected to report to his new home behind bars that day. Remarkably, the state of Virginia trusted him to voluntarily deliver himself into custody.

Of course, he should have high-tailed it to Lanham, MD and gone wilding at Comcast's regional offices. While there, he would have had great fun smashing desks, breaking down partitions, throwing computer monitors out windows, setting things on fire, and so on. . . Ahhhh.

601 B/s! Hot diggity damn!

Listen, kids: I'll Photoshop the scans during lunch.

I give up. Happy New Year.





Philanthropist Treats Friends to Dinner, Drinks


By David Eisner
HYATTSVILLE, Dec. 10

In what some here are calling the single most generous act of 2002, local philanthropist Clifford Judge paid the entire check after an evening of drinks, dinner, and desert at Franklin's Restaurant and Brew Pub, sources present at the gathering said today.

Offering no explanation for his donation, Mr. Judge ignored repeated requests that he pay for only his portion of the evening's expenses. When thanked, the Maryland thousandaire made dismissive hand gestures and insisted that his actions deserved no special praise.

Although in the past some participants in the weekly gathering have payed for items that others ordered, this is believed to be the first time an individual has covered the complete bill. While the total value of food and drink purchased has not been disclosed, experts familiar with past bills at Franklin's estimate the number to be between one hundred and two hundred dollars.

'Totally Awesome Guy'

Friends of Mr. Judge who were present expressed both confusion and gratitude. "I was like, 'Cliff, you don't have to do this.' But he insisted on picking up the tab anyway," said longtime friend Andrew Farrington. "I gave him a big hug, and you could tell he was embarrassed. But whatever, I would hug him again if I had the chance."

Brooke Decker, who has known the evening's benefactor for several months, expressed surprise. "I remember asking myself, 'Why is he doing this? It must be because I kept lifting up my sweater.' But then why would he buy everybody else's food, too? So I think it's probably just because he is so cool. I was really impressed. Cliff is a totally awesome guy."

Longtime friend Maureen Smith shared her thoughts on why Mr. Judge might have acted so. "I wasn't as shocked as others. I've observed Cliff's generosity on many occasions in the past. One time, for example, we were both at the supermarket, and when it came time to pay for my groceries, I discovered I was about a dollar short. I was ready to put back one of the items I'd purchased, an onion, but Cliff said, 'No, no, I've got it. Shhh. I said I've got it.' Yes, this whole thing is definitely a lot like the onion."

Birthdays Offer Possible Explanation

Event organizer Carla, who asked that her last name not be used, suggested what many feel is the most plausible explanation for her friend's charity: the celebration of the birthdays of regular attendees Thomas Edwards and Yael, who also asked that her full name not be used. "I'm not sure why everyone is so confused," Carla said in an exclusive interview. "This was Cliff's birthday gift for [Thomas and Yael]. I mean, yes, it's an awfully large gift, but you can see why he did it. Maybe he was making up for other people, too. Like David. I don't think he got them anything. He likes to tell people he is getting them a gift -- he just didn't have time -- but then he never does. Cliff would never do anything that cheesy."
 

A source present at the meal confirmed that two birthdays were celebrated, though Tuesday was not the actual birthday of either Mr. Edwards or Yael. "I think they had birthdays sometime that week, which was close enough. People were like, 'Hey, Yael, I know it's not your actual birthday, but Happy Birthday anyway."

Walter Rust, attending his third consecutive Tea after an extended absence, confirmed that Thomas and Yael received other gifts. "Yeah, my brother [Jason] gave Tom this geode, but I'm not sure how he's supposed to break it open. And Jason gave Yael this mug with all the U.S. Presidents on it. It was pretty cool. How come I never get anything that cool from him?"


Humanitarian
Cliff Judge
When asked if any other gifts were delivered, Mr. Rust responded, "Umm, I think Brooke gave Yael something, too. She showed her her breasts. Oh, no, that was for everybody. I think she gave Yael a plant." Chris and Jenn, a couple who often attend, confirmed that the plant was a wintergreen variety of mint.

A Close Call

Mr. Rust's brother, Jason, expressed great relief when he learned that Mr. Judge would be paying for his share of the tab. "I had a lot to drink, and I kind of lost track of how many beers I ordered. So when the bill came, I didn't think I'd have enough to pay. I wasn't sure what I was going to do. Walter told me I should say T'Pol [a character from the "Enterprise" Star Trek series] was on TV, and then jump over the rail when everybody was looking away. But I have a trick knee. Anyway, Cliff is the man!"

Mr. Edwards, while admiring his geode, questioned the propriety of Mr. Judge's actions. "I think it was a nice gesture, but society is best served when economic players act in their own self interest. I worry that the Tea group will become reliant on Cliff's services in the future, and may fail to consider the true cost of menu items when selecting a meal. According to a recent study by the Cato Institute, Norway had the lowest rate of dinnertime charity in 2001, but the most efficient allocation of appetizers, beverages, and entrees -- more efficient than Germany, in fact, which surprises many people when I tell them."

Although Mr. Judge was unavailable for comment, a spokesperson from his office read a prepared statement this morning. "Mr. Judge would like to thank his friends for their kind words. He knows they would do the same for him, and suggests that all breathe deeply, relax, and come over one day for some of his pancakes, which are excellent."




3 December 2002

UPDATE: Maureen, who is a nerd, saves the day with this contribution.

I'm afraid there will be no issue published this week. Yours truly is moonlighting as a volunteer webmaster, and he has a deadline to meet.

Here's a photograph from a recent tea, though. Is that something?


26 November 2002

A brief report his week, as your humble servant's Internet service has taken a holiday break. Grumble grumble. No links this time.

It is just as well -- nothing of great interest happened at Tea. The bare essentials, then. The people: Carla, Brooke, Thomas, David, Andrew, Maureen, Brian, Jason D., Sacha, Mikey, Janet, Jason, Walter, Cliff, David, and newcomers four: Bruce, Susan, "Gecko" Sue, and Jason D. Melissa, our waitress, served us capably.

The birthdays of some Tea participants were recorded. For posterity, they are:

Susan: 9/16
Brooke: 11/13
Bruce: 12/1
Thomas: 12/9
Yael: 12/13
David: 1/14
Andrew: 1/18

Maureen was the best dressed. Some otherwise sane people had some crazy ideas. Andrew patiently explained that the world is actually controlled by the secretive [Bilderburg Group]*. Everybody else knows the [Bavarian Illuminati]* are running the show. Thomas sincerely believes that the Bush administration's primary foreign policy goal, after September 11th, is to promote democracy throughout the world by means of a Democratic Domino Theory. Apparently we're going to war with Iraq to promote democracy there, after which all the other autocratic regimes in the world will tumble, one by one, sometimes with the aid of a little American military persuasion.

I still can't read [Slashdot]* on Andrew's new cell phone.

Carla is fascinated by the [Necrocam]* concept: a web cam mounted in a coffin, so that all could watch a human body's gradual decay.

Andrew has never seen a Star Trek movie.

Gecko Sue has a bug bag, just like Brooke. Sue also wins the Most Shocking Behavior Contest: she lost her virginity with two guys and a Philipina Hooker. Jason came in a close second, having lost his virginity with only one guy and a Philipina hooker.

We spent $173.15 at Franklins this week.

By far the coolest event of the evening came after Tea, when all were invited to see Maureen and Andrew's new house. It is utterly amazing, and just plain awesome.

Special Tea

This past 30th of November many gathered for a special Holiday Tea at the newly opened [Lupo's Italian Chophouse]* in College Park. What the gathering lacked in that olde time Tea feeling it more than made up for through the presence of very special guests Karen (!), Laura, and Alex, who traveled from Michigan, Brooklyn, and Brooklyn respectively to join in the festivities. Brian brought with him the equally special and always entertaining Skyland, a new Tea participant with both the coolest name and the lowest age -- younger even than Brooke!

Also present were Yael, Walter, Jason, David, Thomas, Carla, and John.

Please return next week for our regularly scheduled report. Woo ha.


* Do it yourself hyperlink: Perform a Google.com search on the enclosed text, and then click on the first link that looks promising.

19 November 2002

Another Tuesday night, and another Tea. Some said this institution was a fad, a flash in the pan, that we were fickle, that we would grow bored, lose interest, and abandon our weekly ritual. Those nay sayers were sadly mistaken, and no further evidence need be gathered than this impressive roster of those who journeyed into the chill November air to share in conversation and comraderie. They were: Andrew, Andri, Brian, Brooke, Carla, Cliff, David, Jason, Maureen, Mikey, Robin, Sacha, Stacey, Thomas, Yael, and newcomers Janet and Chris-u-lonic.

From the Head Department

In a transparent attempt to emulate his hero Chris-u-lonic, Andrew came to Tea wearing a stylish Irish cap. Together the two looked as cute as buttons and had heads at Franklins turning all night long!

Yael asked, "What color is my hair?", to which she received a resounding "Brown!" The question, our friend soon revealed, was prompted by the comments of a Washington, D.C. Sushi waiter. Yael and some friends had attended Uni, A Sushi Place recently, and on that occasion conversed with their server. On a subsequent visit, Yael was surprised to hear the same waiter greet her with a hearty, "Hello, Yael!" When she expressed her amazement and asked how he had remembered her name, the waiter responded, "Oh, red-headed Jews are easy!" Tea readers may rest assured that at least two of the three attributes ascribed to Yael are inaccurate at best.

Brooke brought the DSM with her, and some took the opportunity to compare the findings of web-based personality tests taken earlier that day in preparation for just such a discussion. In a result surprising to many, Carla was found to be the sanest of those who took the test. Brooke, in a result surprising to fewer, was the craziest. The rest, in a result surprising to none, fell somewhere in between.

Table Troubles, Take Ten

Once more, the shear size of the group presented a challenge to Franklin customer and employee alike. The ten-top at which we were seated soon proved inadequate when late-comers like Brian arrived one after another. Mr. Franklin, the proprietor, apologized when he saw that some were forced to stand, and confided that earlier in the day he and his staff pondered whether to save a section for us, even though we had not made our customary reservations.

It was our good fortune, then, when a large group at that very moment left the restaurant! Arrangements were made, and soon all took their seats at a sprawling ell-shaped arrangement of tables that followed the natural contours of the dining room. This took the conversational conundrum to a new level, though, as those seated at the far ends of the table were aware of their mutual presence only through word of mouth.

Several novel solutions to this problem were proposed, but only one was in fact used. In the theoretical realm, David first suggested a system of bulky ear-pieces, like those used in the U.N, to wire together the group. He then changed his mind and recommended that several 802.11b wireless-enabled laptops be brought to tea and connected in an Ad Hoc network. Each laptop would serve as a hub of communication for those in the neighboring service area, and long distance discussion would then be mediated through inter-laptop chat. Thomas suggested an even better solution: equip the laptops with webcams, and setup live video-conferencing between the ends of the table. But only Andrew had a plan both practical and practicable: for much of the evening, he and others in the cell-phone set called each other and passed around their handsets that we might share witty insights and trade pointed barbs no matter where we were seated.

Two of the phones present that evening were Andrew's and Sacha's spiffy new 3G handhelds; Andrew's a Samsung SPH-a500, and Sacha's an Ericsson T68i. Equipped with color screens and fancy ringers, these technological marvels were all the rage.

Notable Quotables

Of Yael's return to Tea, Cliff commented, "Yael's absence lessens us, and her presence morens us!" Sacha asked "Carla, why is your water brown?" to which Carla responded, "Because it's ginger ale." And Andrew inquired, "Why does it have to be long and skinny?"

Maureen (and Andrew)

Maureen wisely chose to seat herself by the Tea Scribe, and he recorded much that she said. Early in the evening she observed that our waitress, Kira, was Tony Soprano's type. Later Maureen let it be known that her Word Racer rating is an astounding 2189. And if that weren't enough, it seems that Maureen is also a very poor driver.

At some point in the evening, Maureen and Andrew hijacked the Tea Ledger, that they might clutter its pages with their drivel. For the record: Tea is about Andrew and Maureen. The two noted that "Jason 'Phatt Beatt' Rustt regaled Stacey and other lucky members of tea w/his mad beat box skeelz." Maureen would like us to know "Andrew looks really hot in silk long johns," and that "Chris speaks in crazy gov't gibberish. [He said] Nigeria has a naturally occurring critical mass of Uranium." At this point Andrew took the helm and remarked: "Andrew & Maureen get keys to they new hizzy next Tuesday morning -- come by after TEA!!!" Harrumph! In all seriousness, though, Mazel Tov to the new homeowners!

Fonts of Knowledge

Finally, Andri and Yael were kind enough to share some of their expertise with those who would but shut their mouths, and listen. At David's request, Andri the economist patiently explained the difference between Socially Optimal Outcomes and Efficient Outcomes. Yael, on the other hand, discoursed on the deficiencies of Microsoft's Arial font, with it's poor kerning and lack of character (no pun intended!). To use Arial simply because it was "thrown on" a computer, she said, would be akin to buying a picture frame and leaving the sample portrait in place. She suggested the Frutiger font as a suitable replacement. Yael, who is never lacking in character, was also voted Best Dressed Tea Member, 19 November 2002.

As the hour grew late, and the Franklins staff asked us to kindly leave, another successful Tea came to its conclusion. Having payed the $288.48 bill, we ventured homeward, some in pairs, and others alone, but all eager to return next week to our friends' warm embrace.




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