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Pre-Oscar potty: A photo dump of area facilities

Using public restrooms can certainly be a crapshoot. In my quest to quickly distinguish men’s from ladies’ lounges — or spotlight the creativity behind lavatory door design — here’s more signage I found clogging my phone.

Unfortunately, I forget where I shot this first pair. Based on the embedded info, it was around the time I reviewed “Forever Plaid” at Olney Theatre Center. So let’s call it that. (If my theater dates recall where we went out drinking afterward, that may provide a clue.)

Penelope Cruz

Penelope Cruz … why? (2013 Photo by Terry Byrne)

Penelope Cruz  is instantly recognizable … but who’s the guy (below)? Anybody? Looks like a young Paul Newman. Please let me know your theories in the comments.

If you had to choose someone emblematic to mark a restroom male or female, who would you choose?  Also curious: How is a user supposed to know that the guy isn’t intended to lure in the females, and vice versa?

Am I missing a joke here? So many questions … so few readers … so unlikely to get a response. (Is there an echo in here? That’s why I like bathrooms.)

Mystery guy at Olney Theatre Center

Mystery guy … who? This signage MAY be on the Olney Theatre Center’s men’s room door. I can’t remember. (2013 Photo by Terry Byrne)

Meanwhile, this sign in the stall at Smashburger in Fairfax, Va., earns a rave review.

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(2013 Photo by Terry Byrne)

And given this is Oscar nominations week, let’s shine the spotlight on the bathrooms at Bow Tie Cinemas in Reston, Va. Simple branding, symmetrical aesthetic … if they gave out Academy Awards for bathroom doors, this coulda been a contender.

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FOR MORE PUZZLING BATHROOM DOORS:

Donde esta el bano, por favor?

The lady or the tiger? Still wrestling with restroom doors

How about you? Seen any gems to share?

Donde esta el bano, por favor?

Putting aside my obsession with what goes on inside men’s rooms (See “The Daily Journal Urinal: Who knew?), I’m freshly fixated on how owners of establishments, typically bars, seem to go out of their way to disguise restrooms. It’s enough of a challenge to navigate one’s way to the potty after American-style partying, but having to puzzle out which door is for men and which is for women (The Lady or the Tiger?) seems a dangerous hurdle in emergencies.

Is this a sign that strict lines of gender matter less and less in modern society and that it wouldn’t much matter if we chose the wrong door?

These recent examples go way past Damas y Caballeros. If you enjoy these, please send me yours, so I can compile them. Maybe I’ll even sign up for Pinterest for this.

Starting with the highly judgmental World of Beer (this shot was taken in Evanston, Ill., but they’re the same in Arlington, Va.). They also have those machines on the wall that you stick your legs through and they vacuum-pressure things dry and shut — at least I THINK that’s what those machines are for.

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What language even is this? Greek to me. Photo by Terry Byrne, 2013

At Piero’s Corner, an Italian restaurant anchoring Fairfax, Va.’s Main Street, these made me LOL. Go ahead, read them aloud:

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Photo by Terry Byrne, 2013

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Photo by Terry Byrne, 2013

The dignified Samuel Beckett’s Irish Gastro Pub in Shirlington, Va., caters to linguists. Luckily they come with translations, if you can decipher the script after one too many Black & Tans.

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Photo by Terry Byrne, 2013

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Photo by Terry Byrne, 2013

Finally, these are clearly labeled, but I wasn’t sure what to make of the preponderance of ants near the ladies’ room at the Artisphere in Rosslyn, Va. Is it because women are sweeter and they’re following the sugar trail, or are men’s rooms too toxic even for insects? Perhaps the buggy décor simply helps cut down on lines, weeding out the squeamish.

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Somebody call sanitation, the ladies’ room is crawling with ants! Photo by Terry Byrne, 2013

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Photo by Terry Byrne, 2013

Somewhere deep in Fairfax County, Va.

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Ya think maybe at least someone could BUY an apostrophe? (2013 photo by Terry Byrne)

Spied this cozy neighborhood near the intersection of Reston Parkway and Lawyers — yes, lawyers — Road. It’s no wonder our county taxes are so high.

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Weirdly, the houses on this street weren’t nearly as obnoxious as the McMansions lining Reston Parkway. (2013 photo by Terry Byrne)

UPDATE: Since writing this post, I now live in Reston, not far from this spot. It was a sign. (OK, so I rash-judged it a little …)

Sticker shock: Block the vote vs. rock the vote

So here’s a political stumper. I’m driving behind this guy, befuddled by his bumper sticker. It’s in Romney blue, using the serif font I associate with the GOP presidential ticket, only it says “Obama for CHANGE.” I get a little closer to examine. Whoa, too close, sorry. … Yep. That’s exactly what it says. But it’s creating some left-lobe dissonance. There’s something not quite right about the “C” and the “G.”

Not quite right because it’s left, As in Communist left. The “G” is a hammer and sickle and the “C” has a menacing star tucked in.

Ah, I get what’s happening, a little reverse psychology attempt. Clever.

More and more I’m seeing bumper stickers with blurry messages, and I doubt it’s just my vision.

Not sure I totally get the thinking behind co-opting an opponent’s slogan and twisting it — aside from the pure capitalist gain of selling more bumper stickers. We Americans definitely do buy into a joke like nobody’s business. Exhibit A: the T-shirt industry. We will pay $22.95 to rent a jokey T-shirt that we can, basically, wear once, because after that, everyone’s heard that one.

What was in this particular motorist’s mind? Maybe he’s not a committed voter, still making up his mind, and wants to engage in some dialectics, have it both ways. Doubtful. No undecideds buy bumper stickers. Bumper stickers take commitment, because they don’t always scrub off.

It could be an attempt to cut down on road rage while getting one’s point across in election season. The blood pressure doesn’t go up as high when you see a “friend” vs. “foe” jettisoning past illegally on the right.

Supposing it’s just the old bait-and-switch game: You lure people in, then spring a trap, like a jack-in-the-box – gotcha! A little political playfulness, no harm, no foul.

’Cept sometimes the messages are definitely out of line. A few that stopped me:

 It seems to be saying: “We’re all Americans first.” A nice positive message. Yet I dunno, somehow seems racist. Are the “birthers” putting this one out?

That one is DEFINITELY the birthers, but who’s the idiot? The bumper sticker writer. At least they got the “its” correct.

Does this mean Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan are a couple of squares? Or mathematicians?

Again, I can’t tell if that’s a positive or negative thing, like “He’s bad, unh, so bad, unh, you know it.”

Along the same lines, I’m fairly certain this is an anti-Obama sticker, but it could also mean, yay, stimulus, job creation! 

This is old, but nonetheless confusing. Is Obama supposed to be God? The was a campaign button, so it’s not as if someone could be mad he won and wear this, after the fact. The “GD” could be used in the sense of, “Wow! You go girl, America.” That would require a comma, though, so beats me.

You get the drift. No doubt you’re familiar with the hope-change/forward-backward stuff. Not gonna post that because I don’t want to come down on either side. And there’s SO much of it being shoveled.

Increasingly, only tricky, defensive politics is at play, and not just among politicians and their clever messengers. How long have you been hearing neighbors say, “I’m just gonna pick the lesser [or better] of two evils” or “Well, I don’t like my guy, but I gotta vote against the other guy.” Forever, right? When’s the last time you felt honestly good about voting?

Everyone says do your duty, vote, vote your conscience. But I get why people sit it out: A negative vote, intended just to cancel out someone else’s, nurses negative feelings. Doesn’t feel so good. Hurts your pride.

People say: “We need a third party. They’re both corrupt.” Yet voting your conscience to boost a third-party candidate or even just to mix it up a little for the majors can be a losing strategy if you later feel your vote was wasted, or you helped the team you didn’t want to win.

Then, if the game goes into overtime, as it did in 2000, you are less likely to vote your conscience next time up. It happened to my husband; he writes about his Nader eclipse here. (Views expressed in his blog are not necessarily views shared by me. He just really needs the page views.)

So, non-voters: I hear ya. Still, you oughta rally. This here is your locker-room pep talk. The guilt of gumming things up because you voted your conscience can’t be any worse than the guilt you feel sitting on the bench all season and still collecting a “participant” trophy. You gotta play to win.

The gummed-up bumper stickers, though, just add to the confusion. They may score points for cleverness, but not votes; no one following you in traffic is gonna follow your lead at the polls.

They’re only gonna laugh.

THE BEST STICKER OF ALL. I WIN.

Signs from God at the Reason Rally

This was the photo used on the cover of the National Atheist Party’s newsletter … and there we are! Me, proud in my Northwestern U purple T-shirt, hands on my hips and smiling, with my husband midsentence behind me. Our redheaded girl is to the right in photo — you can see just part of her head, standing in front of her tall friend Andrew (black hair and sideburns).

A popular — rather, prolific — sign at the Reason Rally read: “God Hates Bags.”

Upon arriving at the National Mall, we overheard someone explaining that sign, meekly saying they couldn’t get away with writing the word that rhymes with “bags,” blah, blah, blah.

Well, I wasn’t sure how I felt about it, as I wasn’t sure where they were coming from or who was mocking whom. We are so trained to try to put people with signs in boxes before deciding what to think.

One of the speakers saved me the trouble, giving it the right context: “I see there’s a typo on your sign. Should say: ‘God Hates Facts.’ ”

(And I have removed the entertainment I’d posted here previously, because it seems a certain madcap genius is also litigious. Sorry, Tim Minchin fans. )

9 signs (and co-signs) of our times

I’ve noticed that common street signs have undergone a reflective upgrade, from Cheez-It yellow …

 

… to NEON CHARTREUSE YELLOW (paint chip, below).

 

 While we’re at it, why not update the signage art to be more reflective of our times? For instance:

1. School crossing.

Gone are the days kids carried books and eagerly darted to class.

Nowadays, they are plugged-in, tuned-out and let their fingers do the walking on touch-screens. 

2. Pedestrian crossing.

 Yesteryear’s jaywalker.

Today, we’re talking WIDE TURNS and possible Hitchcock sightings.

3. HOV lanes.

Haven’t seen this yet, but give it time.

4. Four-way intersection.

Pretty straightforward? Well, in Northern Virginia, some intersections are so terrifying, we all could use a little dashboard Jesus. (That’s “dashboard cheeses,” for pals Treva and Patty.)

 5. Deer crossing.

Artist’s rendering evokes merry ol’ Rudolph, plump and ready to roast. 

As development encroaches on their space, they look like a new species, perhaps something out of Somalia.

6. Here are signs I simply find puzzling:

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How do they know there isn’t anyone crossing?!?!

7. HUH? “Inherently”? Is that really a “traffic-sign” word?

8. I thought the phrase was “Share the ROAD,” bikers. Must be backlash for the 51,000 bikers injured yearly in traffic (2009 National Highway Traffic Safety Administration data).

(This photo courtesy of this website; happy browsing!)
 

9. And finally, a cause I can get behind. Don’t know about, you, but I am sick of it and soon might be seen on the streets carrying this protest sign.

Bonus feature: Here is a shot I took in the woods behind our home in Fairfax, Va., of an actual hungry deer, foraging around high noon, perhaps posing for a new sign. Poor thing.

(Photo by Terry Byrne; all rights reserved.)