I think he'll be just fine.
Friday, May 30, 2008
I think he'll be just fine.
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
The Smithsonian Folklife Festival is an international exposition of living cultural heritage annually produced outdoors on the National Mall of the United States in Washington, D.C., by the Smithsonian Institution's Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage.Each year, the festival picks a few areas of the world to examine in-depth, and there's generally tasty food involved. Last year, they had home-made candy! What's not to love? But in recent years, it seems like they're running short on ideas. I was pretty surprised when they highlighted the culture of Virginia last year, since even the less-than-intrepid tourist need travel less than two miles to go over the river to see the actual state itself. That said, maybe the Virginia culture section wasn't for the tourists, but for the citizens of DC, like me, who are more than a little reticent to go into Northern Virginia. If a festival about Virginia means one less trip through Northern Virginia, then thanks is in order.
But this year, they're really pushing it. Bhutan? Fine. Texas? Iffy, considering the current political climate - not to mention that it would have been a lot more interesting when Molly Ivins was alive, but fine, I'll play along.
Not to get bogged down in the details, but don't you have to have life in a given place to have folklife? And on top of that, sitting mere yards away from the festival, don't we already have an entire museum devoted to air and space? Maybe you don't realize that's the museum's mission- after all, with a trick name like The National Air and Space Museum, it's hard to tell what they're all about. I have a feeling this part of the festival is a thinly veiled excuse to jack up the prices on the astronaut ice cream they sell in the gift shop. For $15, I could just gnaw on my own pinkie finger and have the same amount of fun. Score one for anthropophagy.
Friday, May 23, 2008
- It's been a while since I've felt so good about forking over $10 to see a movie. This movie is fun. Not good, fun.1
- The most disappointing part of the movie was the complete lack of the triumphant, full-out theme song scene at the climax.
- Cate Blanchett: spine-tingly. Cate Blanchett's diction coach: confused.
- When Ridley Scott was pitching Alien to studios, the story goes that he promoted it with just a single tagline: "Jaws... in space." This movie was kind of like that, but with Commies, too. And also, Scientology. And less Jaws.
- I'm pretty sure George Lucas masturbates to aliens every night. CGI aliens.
Thursday, May 22, 2008
A bureaucratic paperwork mistake reportedly has lawmakers and the White House scrambling to sort out Wednesday's presidential veto of the $290 billion farm bill and subsequent override by the House.
House Agriculture Committee leaders said a clerical error omitted the 35-page trade title from the copy of the bill sent to the White House. Congress is required to provide exact copies of its bills for the president to approve or veto.What do you want to bet that to make up for such clerical whoops-be-doobies, the next iteration of the farm bill sneaks in a $376 million dollar appropriation to import, train, and certify a cadre of copy specialists from Iowa and Kansas?
Do you think the people working on the House Agriculture Committee ever refer to their work as pork farming?
On the bright side, there's now one job loss that can't be blamed on the economy.
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
I have two weeks to prepare the budgets and the reports and the lists and the smickedy and the smackety before I hop on a plane to Copenhagen to help run a fun-filled svoortvermooermblingandglooermblingsaardons (that's Danish for Week O' Endless Meetings and a Very Special Tour of the Inside of the Convention Hall).
I don't think I'm the only one feeling slightly addlebrained with all the hustle and/or bustle going on. Yesterday, one colleague noted about the headquarters hotel, "FYI, the Imperial has a special on couples therapy." It's worth noting according to their website, the Danish version of "Therapy for Couples" gets you:
- Breakfast buffet
- Champagne in the room
Another colleague, I.E., is going to race in a triathlon shortly after we get back. So on top of getting her respective smick and smack together for Copenhagen, she's training twice a day and fund-raising for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Being the lazy slob that I am, I appreciate it when other people put in the hardcore do-gooding effort but are still willing to dish me out a piece of the goodwill pie if I just fork over a little cash. Maximum results, minimum effort, it's almost like I win the race, too. So yesterday, I e-mailed I.E., "If one were to donate to your race, to whom would one make out a check?"
Her response: "Do you mean the triathlon? Or African Americans?"
Do you think that would count as a credit to her race?
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
Is it the Pope? An astonishing 75,000 turn out to hear Obama speak - as Clinton draws just 1,000What they may not have noticed was that Obama's opener was indie rock superpower The Decemberists. Translated to baby boomer speak, that's like having the Rolling Stones open for Ted Kennedy. But it's nice to see the Dems FINALLY playing the "I want your vote" game. Hillary can say want she wants about her "electability," but if she can't garner votes through well, the electoral process or through some state-of-the-art pandering, she's not going to beat the Republican machine (albeit it looks like not even the Republican machine can beat the Republican machine). As for Barack and his legions of yindie and DINKy fans, you gotta admire the man who knows how to build a constituency. Sure, it's a tactic, but it's damn good one. If there's one thing that has historically brought the peoples together - black, white, man, women, blue, red, muppet, fraggle - it's free concerts with ten minute sea shanties.
A record crowd of 75,000 gathers for Obama in Oregon
Obama Takes His Message To Record Crowd
Monday, May 19, 2008
Monday's raid on the Agriprocessors plant, in which 389 immigrants were arrested and many held at a cattle exhibit hall, was the Bush administration's largest crackdown on illegal workers at a single site. It has upended this tree-lined community, which calls itself "Hometown to the World." Half of the school system's 600 students were absent Tuesday, including 90 percent of Hispanic children, because their parents were arrested or in hiding.
...[The] raid on the largest employer in northeast Iowa reflects the administration's decision to put pressure on companies with large numbers of illegal immigrant workers, particularly in the meat industry. But its disruptive impact on the nation's largest supplier of kosher beef and on the surrounding community has provoked renewed criticism that the administration is disproportionately targeting workers instead of employers, and that the resulting turmoil is worse than the underlying crimes.
The yellow, italicky emphasis is mine. Out of everything going on in the story, that's what they're worried about? Kosher beef being disrupted? Fair enough, the nation's ballpark dwellers must not be disappointed, and it pains to even think about the repercussions this might extend to the ratpiss beer industry. Truly, we have a national tragedy on our hands. Let's get another emergency stimulus package out there - a pack of Hebrew Nationals and a case of Miller Lite for every American!
On a side note, Postville might want to reconsider changing that town motto, since it doesn't seem like they going to be able to live up to that whole "Hometown to the World" business.
Friday, May 16, 2008
I rode my bike on the way back. Whooooooa, let's scooch back for a second. My whoozawhat now? Yup, I'm such a good American that rather than using my stimulus check to pay off my credit card debt (my original plan), I decided to celebrate Ride Your Bike to Work Day a week early and buy a bike made in China. Go America!
I've spent most of the week questioning my purchase. It hasn't been a whole lot of fun so far. Riding around is an uphill battle, and not just because Northwest DC mysteriously seems to be laid out entirely on an incline. I'm from Chicago, a place so flat that you can see the Sears Tower to your right and the Rockies to your left. I don't really do hills. And while physical therapy is great for correcting a gimp walk, but it's not so great for building cardio endurance. The difficulty of riding is compounded by the eighty pound lock I have to carry around on my back. Through my wheezing, I have to keep reminding myself that it was just a few months ago that I could barely walk, so I'm lucky to be riding at all, and that the lactic acid burning my hamstrings is a privilege. My heart rate is also tripled by the fact that DC drivers are fueled by schadenfreude and really, really want to knock me over. And when I'm not actively riding my bike, I'm terrified it'll get stolen, like my last one did. They say DC is a bike-friendly town, but I've been on edge all week.
So last night, after riding some time on Wisconsin Avenue next to a semi (harrowing), I turned onto Garfield, which has a bike lane. A cab full of rowdy drunks drove by me with the windows open and the boys reaching their arms out of the car, ostensibly trying to knock me over. The passengers yelled at me to get on the sidewalk. I passed the cab at the next light; it then passed me again with the yelling and the reaching. Again, I passed them at the next light. The dance continued for a few miles until I stopped next to the cab at the intersection where Calvert meets up with Rock Creek Parkway. I asked the passengers how it felt to know that they had to pay twenty bucks to get to their destination slower than me. I didn't stick around for their response, and last I saw, they were stuck behind me for good at yet another red light. I felt pretty pleased with myself. The glow washed off this morning as I rode to work in the rain. Too bad my Earl Blumenauer bike pin doesn't keep me dry.
Thursday, May 15, 2008
I don't go to the Nissan Pavilion. I have never been to the Nissan Pavilion, and yet I have no doubts that I would abhor the experience. Driving by, I've seen the traffic snarled up for miles and miles and known deep in my heart that the Nissan Pavilion would make me nothing short of miserable. I've been told that my close-mindedness is preventing me from seeing some choice concerts, but those opinions are wrong.
For those of you who don't know, the Nissan Pavilion is a special portal to hell located just off Route 66 in Upper Elevated Bumblefuck, VA. Sometimes Mephistopheles needs to raise funds, so he convinces bands to hold concerts there by telling them that it is an environmentally-
friendly concert venue. Naturally, people who believe that sitting in a car for two hours somehow helps global warming, much like people who believe that putting polar bears on the endangered species list is racist, are highly susceptible to devilish trickery and/or willing to say anything for a piece of that giant Exxon Mobil pie. Somehow, Thom Yorke fell for it ('ware the side effects of meloncholia, kids).
The concert went down last Sunday as DC was in the throes of a Nor'easter. Does a storm have to come from the Northeast to be a Nor'easter? If so then this was probably more of a Mid'ester. Either way, there was flooding and hail involved. I spent the evening curled up on the couch with my girlfriend, watching delightfully bad movies, and slurping homemade lentil soup and rice pudding made from scratch. The Object, who left the house around 5 p.m., texted me around 9:30 to say that he had just gotten in. I believe two and a half of those hours were dedicated to driv-dling along 66, and two of those hours were dedicated to standing in the driving rain to go through a poorly managed security line. When he finally got it, he discovered that the only alimentary comfort was soggy popcorn and that to slake his thirst, he'd have to plunk down ten bucks for a shitty beer. Another text buzzed at 11:01, saying that they were leaving. He finally rolled in the door around 1 a.m., sodden and defeated. So, for roughly 90 minutes worth of music, he suffered through about 720 minutes of sheer misery.
Sounds not unlike material for a Radiohead song, no?
In any case, the next day, another friend of mine reported that part of her group hadn't even gotten in. They had supremely VIP expensive seats, which ostensibly included VIP parking, which didn't evidently exist. Apparently, one of the roads was closed due to flooding, and parking management detoured cars either ad dexteram, allowing people in, or ad dexteram, on the road back home. I'm not making this up. The whole thing sounds like an awfully biblical powertrip, whatwith the flooding and the judging.
So no refunds were issued to the legions of hapless slobs who didn't get in, albeit Thom Yorke evidently dedicated a song to them, which is close to getting your hundreds of bucks back, right? But this news just in: those fans who were turned away can get a lawn seat at a concert in New Jersey. So, to recap, to make up for the hell of sitting on 66 for four hours, those shut out from the puddly gates are being rewarded with the chance to sit on I-95 for eight hours. 'Ware the karma police, event organizers...
So, my close-mindedness about Nissan Pavilion prevented me from being subjected to a flood, a pneumonia relapse, and $10 beers. Blessed are those who see and don't believe.
Photo Credit Here!
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
I think there was some sort of message our educators were trying to foist on our impressionable young minds as we prepared to go on to Bigger and Better Things, but I can't recall what I was supposed to glean from the experience. Maybe that love can and should die by the end of the movie/high school? Or perhaps it was some kind of metaphor about high school being a sinking ship and that it was ok to push anyone out of our way in the quest to survive the icy depths of the University of Illinois, where we were expected to attend and achieve Great Things that would reflect well on our alma mater to justify the price of exorbitant real estate taxes? Jeez, if that's the stuff my educational system was coming up with, it's no wonder I'm incapable of crafting a decent metaphor.
It doesn't much matter, since I wasn't really paying attention to what I was supposed to learn from the experience; I was just stoked about the prospect that in the course of just one evening, I could be so lucky as to guzzle some beer, make out with a cute guy, smoke some shitty pot (oregano), ruin a handmade dress, and puke over the side of a boat. Alas, things didn't pan out quite that well. I probably should have guessed that when my date showed up an hour and a half late in a 1986 Pontiac, at which point, my father, four of my five older brothers, and the father of the kids I baby-sat for two doors down all lined up to grill my date. My mother just stayed in the corner and prayed the rosary for my soul.
That was just the beginning. It got worse, involving equally disturbing drug overdoses (not mine, fools) and mosquito bites (those were mine; oh, the humanity!). It's worth noting that my date, a boy I'd been dating for about a month (five years in teenager time), had the class not to dump me until the next day.
The good news is that, as a society, in just ten short years, we have made significant progress in the advancement of prom themes; today's youths can contrive a memory through a whole host of the latest pop culture prom themes. I might even go back for a chance to wrap my arms around that special someone, dancing under the twinkle of the disco ball to Johnny Greenwood's mesmerizing score. Oh yes, There Will Be Prom:
Ladies and gentlemen, I have traveled across half our state to be here at your prom this evening. I had some outstanding PE credits that I had to see to at Coyote Hills High. When I tell you that I am your Prom King, you will know that it is true. I am a family man and I will be a family Prom King. This is my date and partner, H.W. I can guarantee you that I will begin dancing by no later than the tenth song. No other Prom King and Queen can make you that promise. Let's say, you have a prom date, and I have a prom date, and my arm reaches across the gym, and it starts to dance with your prom date. I dance with your prom date! We dance all night!
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
Here's what happened yesterday: the Object of My Affection had some smickety-smackedy nonsense that he needed to take care of at Target. We walked in, and there, standing by the purse department with his brother, was Ben Olsen. Not wanting to seem like slobbering fans, we atrolled up to him with deliberate nonchalance and ever-so-careful cool. The Object, a lobbyist, immediately started schmoozing. I couldn't get a word in edgewise - partly because the Object was speaking for the both of us and too busy working his schmagic to notice that I wanted to chime in, and partly because some primeval, junior high school girl side of me got tongue tied. Not wanting to seem like a tool, the Object finished his remarks and quickly pulled me (still with mouth agape) away to run our errands.
I fretted this way and that, kicking myself for not saying all the stuff to Ben Olsen I'd always wanted to say. It wasn't completely the Object's fault, but I still took the opportunity to blame him. This went on for several minutes as the Object compared prices on iPod armbands or whatever the hell we were there for. I finally gathered my courage, and relying on skills I haven't needed since high school, proceeded to stalk Ben Olsen through the aisles of Target. I finally approached him, apologized for the stalking, and told him what a big fan I am. "And not to sound like a total cliche," I said, "but you're also really helping me out. I'm going through this shitty injury of my own, so it's helped to see you working through yours."
[Yes, it's true. Ben Olsen is a gigantic inspiration to me. He's working through his injury with graceful humanity, and I let that drive me. Going from being an athlete to a gimp is a constant exercise in learning how not to be disappointed in yourself, and the pain doesn't always make for the clearest lenses. So every day when I'm doing my monotonous, hellish, and stupid physical therapy exercises for my hip and clinging to the idea that if I do this long enough, maybe one day I'll get to run again, I look at that picture of Ben Olsen, grit my teeth, and keep going. You can make fun of my Lifetime Movie of the Week tendencies, but I don't limp anymore so the joke's on you. Um, sort of.]
Rather than seeming annoyed or dismissive about the slobbering girl in front of him, Ben broke out into a warm smile and said, "Really? That's cool to hear; thanks." Feeling like less of a Compleat Dork, I eased up, and we started chatting. He mentioned he was buying a fan for his flooded basement, and I exclaimed, "Oh, poor Zach Wells!" (He's the DCU goalie who rents the basement floor of the Olsen's Shaw townhouse, which Ben's brother, Jeremy is doing a hell of a job making gorgeous.)
"Wow, you really have done your homework," replied Ben. Feeling awfully proud of myself, I said, "I told you I'm a serious fan. Our birthdays our even a day apart!"
"So your birthday is May 2nd?" he replied.
"Oops, two days apart."
We ended up chatting about the team and the neighborhood for a little while, then I decided to let them shop for Zach Wells in peace. We patted each other on the back and wished each other well in our respective recuperations, and parted ways. He was a genuinely nice guy and didn't seem harassed at all, qualities I appreciate in the people whom I spend an absurd amount of time obsessing over. You can take the girl out of Chicago, but you can't stop her from being, at heart, an obese, beer-guzzling, sausage-gobbling superfan. You just might need to tweak the details a bit.
Friday, May 09, 2008
Apparently, someone else in the neighborhood is willing to admit she plays, and she's got a pretty damn accurate account of the way things work - albeit, she forgot to chronicle the stoners in the Amsterdam Falafel shop, which is an 18th St. institution. A word of caution to my new neighbor - sooner or later, everyone has their turn on the other side of the cameraphone. You just never know when someone's going to bet you five bucks that you can't eat two Jumbo Slices, and that's a bet you can't pass up.
Wednesday, May 07, 2008
Perhaps free trade agreements with Rhodesia, Wallachia, or the Crown of Aragon? Oooooh, my Bohemian ancestors - who, ironically, came to this country and became staunch suburbanite conservatives - would be pretty excited at the possibility of an international shout out, too!
Meanwhile, back to the Mesopotamian Liberation... As moral and just humans, in the name of democracy, the US must return stability to Babylonia and Byzantium!
Tuesday, May 06, 2008
I bet those approximately 310,000 people who would lose their jobs over 3-4 years as a result of the holiday would be pretty damn happy for us and our good fortunes. They'd probably be pretty stoked, too, since losing your job in a shitty economy means you get a loooooooooong holiday. Let's just hope we don't decide to go on an unemployment benefits holiday, too.
If McCain is so keen on giving Americans a break, it seems like a much better way of going about it would be to put a Kit-Kat bar in the pockets of every American. In fact, the whole "holiday" is the sort of thing that sons of nebulous former Kings of Nigeria tend to concoct. It's great politics, true, and it has definitely made people excited about Hillary again.
But I'm worried that if the gas tax holiday goes through and Hillary gets elected, it'll set a precedent. Next thing you know, I'll be getting these sorts of official government emails from her administration telling me that she's a top official of a western superpower, and that during the last military regime, the government started a war with the tiny, helpless nation of Iraq, set up companies and awarded themselves contracts that were grossly over-invoiced in various areas of the administration, and now in order to support the troops, I have to use my bank account to transfer funds to the Clinton foundation. You know, for America.
Jeez, no wonder the Clintons don't want to disclose where their foundation funding comes from.
Sunday, May 04, 2008
Eight Belles collapsed immediately after crossing the finish line, and was euthanized shortly thereafter." --Mark Halperin
Thursday, May 01, 2008
It's not every woman who appreciates the honor and distinction that is a video shoot with the Muppets. I wore an outfit not unlike the blue jumpsuit in the 1-2-3-4 to my college senior dinner, although I hope Holly H. never puked on Feist - or Stephen Colbert, for that matter. I'll also take it as a personal shoutout and endorsement of my lifestyle that she released her last album on my birthday.
But at the end of the day, it gives me great comfort that another person in the world has a tendency to inspire people to "hurl Molotov cocktails into yoga studios."