Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Rock the Vote, DC!

Getting cranky/
Need a spanky
"Don't Touch My Bikini" -- The Halo Benders

Just a little bit past the two-hour point of the voting process The Halo Benders came on just in time to remind me that I was indeed getting cranky. And no, thank you, I didn't need a spanky. I would have liked to dole a few out to the poll workers though. Holy Christ. I'm down with the vote. I've never missed the chance to hit the polls and put on my sticker. I got a degree in Poli Sci. I interned for a senator. I understand bicameral legislature. I went to the bars to watch the debates because that's what you're supposed to do in DC. I get it. Then why can't the people who run the polls get their act together and make the whole thing a bit easier and a bit faster? This was the longest I've ever waited in line to vote for anything. I've also never seen lines like this aside from waiting for concert tickets.

I arrived at my appointed polling station on M St. at 8:15am or so. I was feeling pessimistic because of the news reports, but knew I had to do my civic duty. I walked down M St. and saw the line that awaited me. I passed the church and kept walking, then made a left onto 15th St., and kept walking. I finally stopped a few feet from L St. Not a good sign. Luckily, the temperature was pretty decent, I had tunes, a newspaper, some homework, and a cup of coffee. The line didn't move much but I just kept reading. I felt accomplished when I made my way back to M St. Finally around 9:15, I entered the church and noticed my friends Doug and Gretchen walking out. Odd, I thought, considering they were behind me in line. Apparently, the people with last names in the middle of the alphabet were pulled out of line because the line inside was empty for those letters. Cursed by my name! Bugger. Oh well. I figured, "I'm in now. How bad can it be." Well, the A-B line was 2nd longest, only beat by the S-T. So I waited and waited. The hour was nearing 10:00 and my feet were tired, my bladder was getting full, and I was hungry.

After finally getting checked in at the alphabet desk (took over 20 minutes), I got to get into the next line to wait for a ballot. That took a bit over 15 minutes. Then I finally got to get into another line to wait for a kiosk where I could fill in my ballot. DC uses a paper ballot where you connect a broken arrow with a pencil to indicate your choice. Of course they were out of "privacy folders" when I received my ballot, so I had to wait a few minutes for those too. The girl in front of me was getting a little lippy with the lady behind the table. "This early on Election Day and you're already running out of stuff?????? Not a good sign." I agree. Next, I filled out my ballot and then got into yet another line to submit it into the tally machine. There were two machines. One was broken. A tech showed up as I was standing in that line. Finally, success! My ballot was inserted and I received my sticker. I then walked out looking as miserable as everyone else I saw. Yay democracy.

So, overall yes, it's great to vote. You should all vote. We need to do that brand of business. I voted; therefore, I have the right to post this blog bitching about election day. If I hadn't voted, I'd have no right to bitch. The process was just too slow. The flow of traffic was a giant cluster eff. Plus, what was with all the people taking pictures??? Do you really need to document how long the line is for posterity? The media was getting on my nerves too because they kept pushing through the church to get shots of the crowd. Not sure what stations the media were from, but I'm guessing it was nothing you'll likely see, unless you watch the Kazakh Broadcasting Channel. Or ZNN (Zimbabwean News Network).

OK, after class I'm heading to the DCCC election party. Cuz nothing says HAPPY ELECTION DAY than a bunch of drunk politicos waving little flags and drinking free booze ;) Actually, I went last year, or whenever Nancy Pelosi took charge and it was solid event. I remember being on stage waving one of those little flags. We'll see how tonight goes. I have a feeling the celebration will be even stronger.


Saturday, October 11, 2008

Is Atlanta Radio Q100 Playing Games?

There's a radio station down in Atlanta called Q100. I don't know anything about it because I don't live in Atlanta, though I did see a couple of shows down there that I really enjoyed. Anyway, the station had a contest where people submitted videos of themselves singing New Kids on the Block (NKOTB) videos. The videos were voted on, with the winner ultimately winning a trip to Las Vegas to see NKOTB. My friend's friend, who lives in Atlanta, told my friend Dave about the contest knowing that Dave had made a video of a NKOTB song--"You Got It (The Right Stuff)". Dave told us about the contest and drummed up some support. Easy cheesy, right?? (I learned that from "My Name is Earl").

So was it easy? Apparently not. The finals were down to five contestants. People went on the Q100 and voted on their favorite video. The contest ended with a winner to be announced on October 6th. On Oct 9 I asked my friend Dave if he heard anything about the contest and he told me that another group, #5, had won the contest. I thought that was odd. Dave was able to link back to the poll survey results and showed me why he was dismayed. His video had won by a long shot--42% vs. 14%--against video #5, who won.

So what's the deal Q100? Why did video #5 win when clearly #4, Dave and my friends, won (purely based on votes)? I'm calling bullshit for now, unless there were more voting factors that you failed to make clear. Fair is fair and you should at least explain how the other people won. So how 'bout it? What's the dilly?

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

You're all "Perfect From Now On"

I headed to the 9:30 Club last night with my friend Doug to see Built to Spill, Idaho's finest export since the potato. They were performing "Perfect from Now On" in its entirety. Playing a whole album is a bit of a trend these days. Liz Phair just did "Exile in Guyville" at 3 shows, including D.C. And yes, I'm pissed beyond belief that I missed it. A bunch of other people have done it recently, but you'll have to research that on your own. I'm too tired. Anyway, for reasons not entirely clear, we almost missed the BTS show, and that would be unacceptable. We've been skunked the past few years because they come to DC around 4th of July, which is when a bunch of us go on vacation. Yet here we were with the opportunity to see them, and nobody was out of town, and we almost didn't go. Long story short, I got out of class early, called Doug, said, "HEY! We goin' to Built the Spill or what?" Within a couple minutes the decision was made. And I'm glad of that. And how's this for signs that shouldn't go unanswered? Monday morning, "Car" comes on my iPod on the way to work. Tuesday morning, "Car" comes on the radio. Hmm, lookit that.

I've seen BTS a couple times in the past and they never let you down. And last night was no exception. The whole show was rock solid, start to finish. The Meat Puppets opened. I don't know a ton by them, but I know some of their stuff. I was doubly impressed with the half hour of their set that we caught. Those boys know how to rock, and bring out the twang. That part surprised me a bit. And how's this for more alignment of the stars. Last night I saw the Meat Puppets. Today is the 17th anniversary of the release of Nirvana's "Nevermind". The Meat Puppets performed on the Nirvana Unplugged session back when MTV still played music. Wow! See what I'm saying here?? Watch the signs people.

But I digress. So BTS really wailed it out for the entire show. "Stop the Show" was an intense and dirty highlight. The last song, "Untrustable/Part 2 (About Someone Else)", was hardcore as well, but then it got better. I told Doug how much I hope they play "Going Against Your Mind" after the album. Later, he said he now has it in his head. Uh oh. So they're cranking Untrustable and all of a sudden the opening riffs from "Going Against Your Mind" burst out. Awwwww, shit. Yes. Here's YouTube video of the song (this isn't from last night)

I still remember the first time I heard the song. They played it at a show before the album "You in Reverse" was released. We headed up to Philly to see them at the Electric Factory in 2005. As usual, we were running late because we pregamed too long. As we walked into the club, there was a song that reminded me of motion. That's the only way I could describe it. I had no idea what it was, nor did anyone else. The following year I kept hearing the song on the radio prior to the release of "You In Reverse" and it all came rushing into my head. The song is peerless. It'll get you going like nothing else. And last night they crushed it. I cranked so hard that I actually hurt my shoulder (not the first time that's happened). But it was worth it. Following a quick break, the boys came back out and did "Car" and then a sweet 20-minute "Virginia Reel Around the Fountain." Wow. What a show. See?? "Car". I heard it twice, they play it.

Another interesting note was that from my perspective, the 9:30 was sounding better than usual. I'm not sure if they made some changes, but damn, the sound was tops. Good for them. Glad to see those $6 beers are going to something useful!

So, if you have the chance, go see BTS. You won't be disappointed. Unless indie jam bands with intelligent lyrics aren't your thing. Doug Martsch, the lead singer, also has some solid solo stuff. We went up and talked to him after the show. See, these guys ain't no fancy band with Cristal and all that crap. The picture above shows Doug taking down his own guitar setup after the show. He spent quite some time talking to anyone who was there. Great guy. I shook his hand AND got his guitar pick. Awwww yeah. I'll add that to the one I got from Vince Neil when he opened for Van Halen in 1990something and the one from the Goo Goo Dolls when they still rocked.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

SF Outside Lands-Day 2

Yesterday was Day 2 of Outside Lands. It went much better than Day 1. I'm talkin' night and day. After picking up some food, so we could avoid wasting time in the lines, we made our way to the park. The lines on the way in were quick and we made our way to the Sutro Stage, which as a nice hill that gives a decent view of the stage. We set up shop on a blanket and settled in for Devendra Banhart. He's pretty eclectic and I dig his music for the most part. He did a great set, including a cover of Mungo Jerry's "In the Summertime". Next up was M. Ward. He rocked and threw in a couple of mellower tunes. Surprisingly, he had two drummers, and the sound was tight. I really dug his show. Rather than moving stage to stage we just stayed at the Sutro stage for a few shows. Next up was Regina Spektor. She plays all her own stuff and mostly performs with just her voice and a grand piano. There were a few times when her sound got drowned out by the blowback from the other stages, but she powered through. By this time our group of 4 had become a group of 8 or 10 as friends arrived. The party was groovin'. While waiting in a bathroom line, I also got a treat of being able to hear nearly all of "Low Spark of High-Heeled Boys" from Steve Winwood's set from one of other stages. No "Back in the High Life" or "Valerie." Sadly.

After Spektor, we made our way to the Lands End stage for Ben Harper. After some crowd wrangling we found some friends at a nice spot and created our own little ghetto. The rest of the crew trickled in. Harper did what he always does--rocked. He makes you think too. But in a good way. We held our ghetto in preparation of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, who were closing Saturday's show. I've never seen Petty (I don't think), but he's the kind of person whose songs you know. He wins the prize for yesterday. I was far more impressed than I thought I'd be. At one point they took a break to fix something on the piano and they came out with Steve Winwood. That was a treat.

Time is running short, so I'll finish this later.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

SF Outside Lands-Day 1 Impressions

So yesterday was Day 1 of the OutsideLands Festival at Golden Gate Park in San Francisco. The festivities began with a pre-game party at a friends friends house. It was a nice mid-afternoon get together before heading to the Park. Following some shenanigans there, we began the 25-30 minute walk to the park, with a road soda for each of us in our backpacks (you can drink once you get in the park).

Anyway, the streets and trails of the park were pretty crowded with people making their way to the festival grounds. Friday's shows were slated to begin at 5:00. The lines to get in weren't bad at all and security was all but non-existent. We waited in line for a spell to get our ID wristbands, heard Black Mountain while waiting, so that was band 1. Once we regrouped we headed over to the Lands End stage all the way at the other end in the Polo Field. There we caught Manu Chao, but mostly while waiting in the painful line for food and beer. Those basic tasks took close to 40 minutes. Next up was Lyrics Born, on the Avenues Polo Field stage right nearby. If there was a saving grace for the day, it was LB. He rocked. I've never seen Lyrics Born before because he rarely makes it to the East Coast. He rocked and was well worth the hassle. Joy, his backup singer, has one of the best voices in hip hop, or any other music style, and can bring a chill to you. And she did.

Following LB, we moved over to the main stage to see Radiohead, with a "quick" pitstop first. Yeah, no such thing as quick. The polo field was surrounded by porto-potties, but had one access point to get to them. People were climbing over or under the fences to get to them. We headed to the end point of the fence only to be greeted by massive lines. Me and my friend Shane went to the woods, as were most men, and some women. A fence had been knocked down and people were walking in at will. Two dudes walked by and said, "See? I told you we didn't need tickets." Nice. That's what $250 gets you if you play by the rules. Anyway, we attempted to meet with some friends, via text message. The stage area was overly crowded and it was hard to move from the back of the lawn towards the front where our friends were. We pushed along as best we could, but it was in vain.

Overall, the main stage was as shitshow. The sound got knocked out twice during two separate Radiohead tunes. The band was unaware and you could see them still rocking on the video screen. The other big problem was that for a field that big there were only two video screens, on either side of the stage. Radiohead was doing a four-image split, kind of Beatleseque. It sucked. The sightlines were horrid, and the crowd was kind of crappy. The most interesting thing was the girl who was doing interpretive dance to each song. I never saw someone interpretively dance to "Idiotique." But so it goes.

Overall, unimpressive first day. Let's hope Day 2 is better.

And now I must go to get ready for another day. Links and photos to follow.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Morning Hookers and Burning Towels

So we're out for a morning walk today and heading up 9th St. or somewhere near Chinatown, and I'm shocked to see a hooker trying to turn a "trick", as they call it in industry parlance. Or so I'm told. I guess I was surprised because it was around 7:00 am. Though prostitutes are an industrious lot, if we're to believe "Hookers at the Point", they just strike me more as a night-time industry. Kind of like rats, or club kids. Or aliens ("They mostly come out at night. . . mostly"). Regardless, I haven't seen many hookers in the DC area in general. I know that my area (Logan Circle) used to be ripe with them, and I'm not overly surprised that there's still action around Shaw or Chinatown, but still? The morning. Odd. What made it really funny though was the song that came on the iPod as I was getting ready for work. Remember "Are You Ready for the Sex Girls?" by the Gleaming Spires? It was featured in Revenge of the Nerds. Here's the video if you need a refresher course.

And speaking of odd, I was coming home from class last night trying to find a parking spot. As I headed up Vermont Ave, I saw some smoke near the corner of the street. Since the top was down on the War Wagon I was able to smell burning quite clearly when I rounded the bend. There was a bunched up towel sitting on the street smoldering. For some reason, it didn't faze me. This is also just a few feet from where the kid was murdered last Thursday. It hasn't taken me long to realize that Logan Circle is a different world than my old place in Georgetown. Oh well, flavor is what makes the world taste good. Unless it smells like acrid smoke from a burning towel on a 90-degree night.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

The Mean Streets of D.C.

So yesterday morning, a 22-year-old girl was killed in Dupont Circle while riding her bike to work. Run over by a garbage truck. Damn. Then yesterday evening while walking to dinner, there was a guy laying in the street. He had just been sideswiped and wiped out. From what I can gather, the driver took off. Then tonight on my home from school I saw a car on the side of Pennsylvania Ave with its flashers on. There was a cyclist laying on the street writhing in pain, his bike wrecked pretty good, and another bike on the ground. My best guess is that the driver hit both of them. Must've just happened because the ambulance wasn't even there yet. Moral of the story? ALL PARTIES NEED TO BE MORE CAREFUL!

My order of most common transportation is 1) walking, 2) driving, 3) cycling. As a consumer of all three conveyances, I get pissed at everyone and I often fear what's going to happen. For starters, drivers don't pay attention to people who are walking. They cruise through crosswalks or breeze through stop signs with nary a care. Then you get the walkers who don't pay attention to the drivers. When I drive I shouldn't have to wonder if somebody is going to dart across 14th St. Which brings up a good point--we recently moved to Logan Circle and I'm amazed at how many people just cross 13th and 14th St. wherever they want! Jaywalk if you want, but do it when there's no traffic. It's at a point all over the city where people don't even look to see if they have a "walk" sign. The cops have begun ticketing for jaywalking and I'm all for it. Mind you, I'm a hardcore jaywalker myself. The difference is that I'll jaywalk against a signal if there is nobody around. I don't do it in the middle of the street. Usually. And then there is cycling. I hate riding my bike on DC streets. The drivers suck and pay attention to nothing, so it's a crapshoot. Plus the walkers are all over the place and you never know if they're going to jump in front of you. Yet on the other hand, I can't stand the cyclists who ride in the middle of the street and then just disobey the traffic signs. If you want to ride down the street, you best pay attention to the signals and stop signs. Don't be that asshole who gets hit by a car and then ticketed for disobeying the law (it happens. Happens for jaywalkers too).

So there it is. My PSA for the day. Pay attention, everyone. And wear your helmet if you're a biker. And a word of advice to the people who turn left on a red to a one-way in DC--it's against the law. Just a bit of fair warning. I'll link if I can find it, but I know this from a friend who got ticketed. I thought you could turn left on a red in DC too.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Back and Forth We Go

People say that they wish I'd keep up more with this blog, a.k.a., "the fun blog," as opposed to "the serious blog." Wellllll, I try, but it's not easy. I have to keep up on my other blog on a regular basis because it was actually created for classes that I'm taking in grad school. Welcome to the digital age where your homework is now completed on a blog! Anyway, it's tough to flip and flop between the two, and it's especially hard when you still have no Internet at home because Comcast is a shitty company! I guess I could maintain one blog, but where's the fun in that! So if you're looking for a fix and you can't find it here, feel free to visit the "serious blog." It's really not too serious. Plus, my professor said, I'm "the first person in [his] class to categorize a blog entry as 'F******." So that's pretty cool.

And here's some amusement for the day. Take this online caffeine test to see if you have a problem. This morning I clicked 192 times in 30 seconds, which means I'm "A vibrating crackhead." This afternoon I tried again and got 200, which means I'm "Near Death--Delusions of Godlike Power." Flattery. It means everything.

The Caffeine Click Test - How Caffeinated Are You?
OnePlusYou Quizzes and Widgets

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Checkmate, Ronald. Checkmate. Now get me a coffee.

As I got off the metro at Ballston today with a sense of annoyance (Orange Line was late, people were moving slower than molasses in Antarctica), I was greeted by one of my favorite sights--people handing out free stuff! Workers from Chick-Fil-A had giant coolers filled with steaming hot chicken biscuit sandwiches. Awwwww yeah. After my usual breakfast of a tiny bowl of Kashi and a cup of coffee I gladly took the handout and headed to the office. I informed my co-workers that there was booty downstairs and they said that all the goodies were gone earlier. I said it's out there now. Somebody went down only to discover that they were indeed all out again. Oh well. Ballston is a busy metro station.

And here is how Ronald McDonald was bested. McDonald's is doing a promotion today where you get a free chicken biscuit sandwich with the purchase of a medium or large beverage. It's a new product for McDs. The Ballston Mall food court has both McDonald's and Chick-Fil-A. Chicken sandwiches are Chick's bread and butter. Ah hah! See? They're trying to make you remember to go to Chick-Fil-A for all your chicken needs. Whatever. Free chicken is free chicken. The sandwich I got this morning was delicious, especially once I doused it with Tabasco.

On a further topic of free, Dunkin Donuts is giving away free iced coffees today from 10AM til 10PM. So go get your Dunkies' on.

And speaking of coffee, I had a delicious cup yesterday. I went to The Daily Grind on North Quincy St., which is a few blocks from my office. (Just saw that one is being built even closer--oh boy. Don't stop the excitement.) I went there once before but don't often visit because it's further than the other joints right downstairs from me. I got whatever the drip of the day was (Italian something or the other). Damn. I have to say that it was one of the finest cups of coffee I've had. The flavor was outstanding and just tasted really coffeeish. I also got a cinnamon strudel or coffee cake or something. It too was flavorful and really hit the spot.

Wow. What's next. My life just gets better and better.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Dumping the Body

"Everyday I'm dumping the body"
The Tragically Hip--"Locked in the Truck of A Car

I haven't been to the ol' blog here in a while because I've been spending a lot of time at my other blog. (Shhh, don't tell this one because I don't want a jealousy quarrel!) I figured this story is a doozy to come back with. As usual, there is a song that complements most aspects of my life. This line from the Hip doesn't fit completely, but it still is relevant to this situation. And we're off.

I spent Saturday in the house with the S.O. We've been packing and throwing crap away to get ready for our move in 2 weeks. After a full day of work we decided to order in some dinner and watch a flick (If you haven't seen it yet, check out Into the Wild--great movie.) We grabbed the bags and bags of garbage and paper recycling and headed out to the dumpsters in the back of the building. I threw out some trash and then held the lid open on the paper dumpster so she could throw out some newspapers, phonebooks, and what not. As we're talking I looked down into the dumpster and noticed what looks like a pair of legs twitching slightly. I took a double take and realized that there was definitely a pair of legs in jeans curled up as if in the fetal position. I couldn't see a head or torso or anything else. Knowing that it would do no good to make mention yet, the S.O. just keeps throwing trash in. I shut the lid and she looked at me wondering what was up. So we started walking towards the building and I said, "I think there's somebody in the dumpster." She says, "WHAT!?!" I repeat myself and we both high tail to the apartment. She asked me again what I saw and I said that I saw a pair of legs that kind of moved when we threw the phonebooks, etc. in.

Now, I don't know about the rest of you, but a few thoughts run through my mind if I see a body in a dumpster.
1) Somebody dumped a dead body into the dumpster.
2) Somebody threw an injured person into the dumpster.
3) A bum crawled into the dumpster to sleep.
4) Any variable of the above scenario.

A body in a dumpster is simply not a common occurrence in Georgetown. Sure there are bums who wander around, but Georgetown is very affluent and relatively safe (aside from that murder that occurred last year 2 blocks from my apartment).

As we were inside the house, I figured that I should probably call the police. I didn't know if the guy was hurt or what, and I certainly wasn't going to check on my own. So I called 911 (first time I ever called that number by the way!) and explained to dispatch what the problem was. The lady repeated what I said in an incredulous voice, "There's a body in a dumpster behind your apartment??" She said she'd send police and then transferred me to the ambulance dispatch so I could give them the details as well. Around 3 or 4 minutes later I heard sirens and then the dispatch called back to get exact directions to the back alley of our apartment. A few minutes passed and I decided to head outside to check out the scene.

The cops were parked near the dumpster, but they and the EMT guys were checking the building next to mine. So I walked up and said, "Hey. I'm the one who called." The police came over and I pointed out the correct dumpster to check. An EMT followed me and stood aside from the dumpster lid and popped it open. He yelled out, "Yep. Here he is." He shined a flashlight in the dumpster and yelled at the guy to get out.

So out pops an upper-20s, lower-30s Hispanic fellow who was completely out of it. The cops asked him what he was doing and he said he was just resting. Considering we had thrown phone books on his body, he must've been more than "just resting". The cops checked his ID and assured him they're not with ICE. They told him he shouldn't be sleeping in dumpsters and they can bring him to a shelter, etc. One cop asked him if he is drunk and he said he doesn't drink anymore. Mmmhm. OK, maybe he wasn't drunk, but he was on something. So after a spell, I checked to see if they need me for anything. They took my name and numbers and thanked me for calling the police. They ran his ID and continued talking to him. And that was it. (I don't know where they took him after I walked away.)

The take-aways.
1) I was very impressed with the professionalism of the folks at 911.
2) The cops and EMTs had a very quick response time. That's reassuring.
3) It was a very weird feeling to see somebody in a dumpster, who may or may not have been dead or injured.
4) I think a phonebook to the head would be very painful.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Greenpeace and Muffies

I work in Ballston (for those non-DCers, it's a neighborhood in Arlington) right near the metro stop and the mall. Greenpeace always has people on the streets stopping people for petitions or fund raising or whatever they're doing. I occasionally change my walking route to avoid these people. But not often. They usually try to stop you with something like, "Do you have some time for the environment?" Or "Do you care about the environment?" You get the point. My problem is that I usually break into a big grin when I see these kids. They misinterpret that as my joy at wanting to stop to answer questions or do whatever they're doing. The reality is that I'm usually thinking of what I consider funny responses when they try to stop me. I usually just say, "No time right now." A question for the masses though: Is it inappropriate to simply respond with a deadpan, "Fuck the environment."? That's what I really want to do. Or if they say, "Do you care about the environment?", can't I just say, "Ummm, noooooo. Not really." I wouldn't do that though because I do indeed care about the environment. Hell, I just reused a ziploc bag today! AND I didn't burn any styrofoam with an aerosol can of Aquanet and a match. So I get a reward!

And to that end, I did indeed get a reward for myself. I had the yen for a little treat of the pastry nature. Generally if I feel like I want a cakey type of treat, I'll get something in the carrot or red velvet cake family if I can find a suitable offering. I also enjoy anything in the pumpkin group. Serendipity was with me on that front because I happened to walk into Panera Bread to see their offerings and imagine my surprise when I spied something called the Pumpkin Muffie! Admittedly though, I did not enjoy actually asking for a "pumpkin muffie." What a horrid name. The product was kind of like the top of a muffin (all cake, no stump. Similar to Elaines' idea in Seinfeld). It was OK I guess. Nothing to write home about though. Just OK. Then I took a brief walk and got a cup of coffee because Panera's coffee is OK, but not great.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Oh yeah. Now for the stupid cold

So I've been figuring that I'd get sick for a while. I don't think it's possible to go an entire season without catching a cold at some point. As usual, I've been putting my faith in Airborne, or its cheaper generic equivalent if need be. I don't know if this stuff does anything, but I sometimes take it anyway. Last Thursday I finally succumbed to the sick that has been floating around everywhere. I even had a fever for the first time in I don't know how long. I'm on the mend now, but still not top notch. For those of you who don't know, Airborne has been ordered to pay $27 million in a class-action lawsuit. If you've taken the stuff, you can get a piece of the pie. Visit here for details.

And on the topic of colds and sickness, will you idiots please stay home when you're deep into it?? For the love of Christ. Not a single one of you out there has a job that is so important that you can't miss a day or two of work. (In your mind you might, but in reality you don't.) Think of it as a little holiday with NyQuil hallucinations to sweeten the deal. And if you are going to go to work, cover your fucking mouth when you cough and/or sneeze. Seriously. I am so sick of assholes out there coughing and hacking and blowing snots with their yaps wide open. What's the matter, hands too full of coffee and iPods? Tough. Cover your mouth, you swine. Otherwise, I will blame you explicity when we have some kind of epidemic.

And my apologies to those of you who do cover up. I get really cranky when I'm sick and need to school the idiots.

Stupid cold. Stupid drivers

I've been waylaid for a little while with a nasty ass cold/flu hybrid that's been floating around. I knew it was inevitable that I'd get sick, so I'm not surprised. I'll get to more about that shortly.

First, I'd like to say thanks to the ignorant beotch who almost sideswiped me this morning causing me to skid on rocks and dirt and then ram into a curb. Pardon my French, but you are a stupid shit. Here are a couple of things you should understand about driving in the U.S.
  1. A green light means that I can go when I'm supposed to go. It is not a pretty color to look at. I may be mistaken, but I'm guessing that green means go in China too, and red means stop there too. And that red means you should stop and/or yield to the huge flow of oncoming traffic.
  2. When somebody is laying on their horn because you are obliviously going into their lane, that means maybe you should take your head out of your ass long enough to check around you to see what the ruckus is all about.
  3. When you nearly cause an accident and somebody has hit something (luckily only a curb this time), you should probably stop in case there is damage. I have no idea if there is a law to this, but maybe it falls under some kind of hit and run umbrella law.

Luckily, there was no damage. Of course as luck has it, I recently got new tires which were very expensive. I'm grateful that they're made of Kevlar. Maybe that helped prevent a blowout or cracked rim. I don't believe I ever saw somebody as oblivious as this lady was this morning. She just continued driving into my lane with no signal, no looking, nothing. I'm grateful that my cool head prevailed and I didn't uselessly chase her down to scream at her (that never accomplishes anything). As luck had it, she was going in the same direction as me, so I was able to catch up to get her license plate number in the event of damage. I can't tell if she recognized my vehicle as the one she nearly hit, but I'm happy that she appeared to have a bit of fear in her face.

And so, to the lady in the gray Toyota Corolla, Virginia tag # KGC 8842, I would like to say FUCK YOU! You should not be allowed behind a Big Wheel.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Bear and Fog City

"You could say I became chronologically "fucked-up"."

The Tragically Hip "Locked in the Trunk of A Car"

Blogs are supposed to be written in real-time. But that’s not always possible, so here is a story that was written (mostly) on February 8. But I’m posting it on February 19. Oh well. Time is tight. And if you’re confused now, get ready because the next post will be going back to February 4. So keep up, will you?

It’3:58 AM PST in San Francisco. The city is blanketed in fog and I can hear the foghorn sounding in the Bay every twenty seconds. This much I know for sure. I should know as we just got home about 20 minutes ago. The night began with dinner with my friends Pappy (you can see his picture in the Boston story below) and Kelly. We went to Q, a solid little hipster restaurant in Richmond that reminded me a lot of Philly. I had fried chicken with tater tots and roasted veggies. And country gravy that I’d love a shot of right now. My friends live in the Haight. After dinner we dropped Kelly off at home (hey, some people have to work) and me and Pappy headed to Haight St. to figure it all out. The first stop was Alembic, which is owned by the same folks who own Magnolia, a great organic brew pub up the road. I had the Kalifornia Kolsch, which was served in a small glass because it’s supposed to be enjoyed cold. Next stop was Martin Macks, a nice dive that apparently used to smell more like vomit a little while ago. No worries because it sure smelled like piss in the johnny. The juke was solid and we waxed political while taking care of some Newcastle Browns. After a while we went across the street to the Gold Cane. The bartender sported a white beard and we all had a chuckle that the three of us wore beards. As we ordered a bear, I noticed Bear on the other side of the bar.

But I didn’t know it was Bear yet. So let’s track back. My conference (the reason I was in SF) ended around 4:00, so I decided to wander around Union Square and do some shopping for a bit. After that bag of fun, I got a snack and took a seat in Union Square. A fellow who can only be described as “true San Fran hippy” sat down nearby with a bite to eat. A busker was belting out a long tune on a bagpipe somewhere nearby and was really going to town. After an eternity he finally finished. The hippy said something to the effect of, “Jesus, that guy has a lot of wind.” So that got us talking about whatever. I told him that I was staying in the Haight and he said that’s where he lives and a good place to see is the Golden Cane, where you can hang out in the back and smoke pancakes. A new term to say the least, but it cracked him up, so who am I to disagree. So that is how I met Bear, although as I stated, I didn’t know he was Bear yet.

When we did get to the Gold Cane, he remembered me—no small feat considering his condition. The ol’ boy was completely boffo. To give you a picture of this guy, he was probably 5’10, 230 lbs (with a pronounced gut), long curly hair held back with a bandana. He also wore a few tshirts, suspenders, vest, and a leather jacket that had various buttons and military pins on it. A site to behold. When the bartender began to kick us out at 2:00, the regulars were attempting to get ol Bear to leave because he sure as hell didn’t want to. He wasn’t mean, he was just loud and loved to tell rude stories. A guy I could get behind to say the least. My last sight of Bear before we left was him blowing out some candles from the bar and putting them in his pockets. It’s not like they were special candles or something. I don’t think I ever saw someone steal a candle that was likely still dripping in wax, but so be it. And that brings us full circle to the foghorn.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Greetings from God's Waiting Room!

So I'm here in Fort Walton Beach, Florida to attend a work meeting at Eglin Air Force Base (the photo is an aerial of the area). I get to go spend the next two days learning about Web content migration and content management. For February, the weather should be warmer, but apparently a cold snap came through. Well, I guess 60 degrees isn’t so bad, but 60s at night would be really sweet. I haven’t been to Florida in a really long time, so it’s kind of nice to be here I guess, although my time will be spent in conferences all day.

After I checked in and got myself organized I decided to head out for dinner. I looked online to see what is near my hotel (which is actually right on the beach) and found a place called Old Bay Steamers. There were many positive reviews, and it was nearby, so I figured I'd give it a shot. After missing the restaurant and ending up in what was apparently the strip club zone, I found it after a few turn arounds. Being a true jackass, I'm not mature enough to go to a place called Old Bay Steamers and not make a million jokes in my head about the Cleveland Steamer. The fare was all types of steamed crustaceans and shellfish and whatnot (no fried crap, as their motto goes), so I was pretty psyched. I opted for the "Little Steamer". Again, I was barely able to order without laughing. Jokes aside, the meal was incredible. For $22 you get mussels, clams, oysters, whole red shrimp, snow crabs, corn on the cob, potatoes, and salad. And you got a lot of everything! It was typical steamed seafood with some butter, lemon, and Old Bay-like seasoning on the shrimp. Mmmm, it hit the spot. It reminded me of the typical steamed meal you get in the Outer Banks. Old Bay Steamers also went to a new level by giving a pair of kitchen shears to open your food. Damn that worked well! I also got a slice of key lime pie to go. Mmmmm. Limey.

A funny thing happened at dinner. I brought a book called Wikinomics with me so I could do some homework while eating (it’s my technique to not feel like a loser while eating alone). The staff was beginning to clean up and there were only a few people still eating. The hostess was sitting a few stools away from me eating dinner as well. She asked me what I was reading and I told her, “Wikinomics”. She asked me what it was about and I told her that it’s about various Web 2.0 applications and how they are affecting business. She laughed and said, “Ohhhhh. I thought you said ‘wicca’, like those people who practice witchcraft as a religion.” I said, “Nooo, wiki like Wikipedia.” Then we laughed and I had my last crab leg and left. Yeah, that was a good time.

And so (wait, scrap what I said above about not being in Florida in a long time. I was just in South Beach last year around this time). . . And so, I'm hoping that tomorrow I have a chance to see the ocean tomorrow. Well, the Gulf, which is still the ocean. But you get the point.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Free Flat Earth Veggie Crisps

Go to http://www.flatearth.com/ to print our a coupon for a free bag of their baked veggie crisps. I've had them before and they're a pretty tasty snack. Free is even better.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Kate Nash--I'm diggin' her sound

Comparisons are inevitable when discussing musicians. One band or singer inspires another and so on down the line. (Even an “original” has to find inspiration somewhere.) What then of one of my new favorite addictions? Well, as all the media is saying, and anyone with ears can tell, Kate Nash will have to be compared to Lily Allen. Of course, that is solid company to keep. It’s kind of an odd notion that two contemporaries would be compared, but that’s how it goes. And I’m not saying that one inspired the other, just that they’re similar.

What’s their sound? Poppy, good stories, simple melodies. Lily Allen is more cheeky than Kate Nash. Kate sings with a bit more conviction in a narrative voice. One thing that is noticeable from both singers is that you can actually hear their English accents, which makes their songs very distinctive. Think about how many Brits lose their accent (unless you really strain to hear it) when they sing. Can Kate and Lily both have been cut from the same cloth as The Slits (which is one of the first female Brit bands that jumps in my mind)? Not likely because The Slits were more on the ska/punk fusion end of things. Two other female English singers that hit it big in recent years were Lady Sovereign and M.I.A. And yes, I’m aware that M.I.A. is from Sri Lanka, but she is so via London. But those two can’t be confused with the singer/songwriter sensibility of Kate Nash and Lily Allen. They both rocked out in the hip hop style, with a touch of garage.

Kate Nash’s sound reminds me more of a poppier Kasey Chambers (Australian). The guitar has a solid bit of jangle to it and it’ll get your toe tappin. Kate also has some tunes that sound like they’re straight from the disco, or could turn into a nice disco remix. (Remember, discotheques are still popular in Europe.)

Anyway, just do yourself a favor and check out this video that has a medley of her songs from her album “Made of Bricks”. Have a listen and see what you think.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Super Bowl Commericials

View commercials that aired during the Super Bowl from the past 10 years on this Website. Go back and watch ads from before the birth of the Internet. Also, check out ads from the heyday of the Internet--see if you can recognize any of the companies that blew their whole load and are no longer with us (uhhhh, pets.com anyone???). To really go back in time, check out the ad from 1984 where Apple tells us that MacIntosh is coming. It's spoooooky. OK, not really. It's more cheesy than anything, but still pretty poignant considering the era.

Monday, January 28, 2008

The Ice of Boston

Hey! The ice of Boston is muddy
And reflects no light, in day or night
And I slip on it every time.

--Dismemberment Plan “The Ice of Boston”

Having just returned from Boston yesterday (Sunday) means I had those lyrics in my head nonstop last week. Yes, if you’re going on a roadtrip you need to have some music set up as a playlist in your iPod, CD, MP3 player, mixtape or whatever medium you use. And if you’re like me, you’ll also have the music in your head. Anyway, the D Plan’s “Ice of Boston” is just what the doctor ordered to head to Boston in the middle of winter. “Shipping Off to Boston” by the Dropkick Murphys is a great choice as well, but a bit on the chin, what with Jonathan Papelbon’s dancing after the playoffs win this past year. Mind you I’m not giving short shrift to the Murphy’s or Papelbon, I’m just saying that the D Plan was most appropriate right now.

Anyway, the crew flew into Manchester, NH, on Friday night and the evening degenerated into a 4:00 am rager. No worries though because we had no need to leave for Boston ‘til mid-day Saturday. After much nip playing, we got on the road, 5-strong, and zipped along 93S to Boston. The sun was out, but the air was chilly and the body knew that it was going to be even worse come nighttime. The whole reason for this mad rush down the highway was to see the SO’s brother (Shane Papatolicas--check out his music Website here) open for Seeking Homer at the Paradise Lounge. In addition to the other concert attendees, there would be about 35 or 40 of us representing from DC, NH, and Maine to support Shane.

We arrived at the Embassy Suites right across from the Charles River, and with a great view of Boston. After checking in and having a few pops in the hotel lounge we made our way to the Sunset Grille for dinner for 30. The place was pretty solid because they had a huge beer list similar to DC’s Brickskellar and RFD. If nothing else, I loved the fact that the place served yards of ale. You don't see those around too much anymore. Following dinner and beers, we made the freezing walk over to the Paradise Lounge for the tunes.

The Music:

Shane Papatolicas at the Paradise Lounge, Boston, MA. January 25, 2008

I’ve seen Shane play a number of times before and he always impresses. This show was probably above average though. Maybe it was the excitement of having so many friends and family members in the audience. Who knows. Either way, he did a great show with a mix of old and new tunes. My only beef was that the venue only allotted him 35 minutes. Frankly, a little extra would have been nice, but what are ya gonna do.

Shane was followed by The Grift, a Burlington, VT jammy outfit. I’m still unsure what to make of them. Some of their songs sounded really good, others didn’t hit the mark. Seeking Homer came on last. Even thought I’ve heard their music in the past, they were not what I expected. That’s not an off-handed insult, or compliment. It’s just that I had a hard time getting a grasp on them. The band has a huge following all over New England and New York, but they haven’t branched out all that much. If the band made it big at some point, their music and popularity would be on par with a Jimmy Eat World. In other words, everybody would know them and their music would be playing at beach clubs from Dewey Beach to Avalon and everywhere in between and out to the other coast. I’m not saying that’s a bad thing at all. I’m just saying that their sound was a bit of throwback 80s hair with mid-2000’s pop, and a fair amount of jam in the middle of it all. Regardless, the show was a blast because of all the people we had floating around.

Going to Boston of course means that the best of Trashachusetts will be in effect. And it was. Oh yes indeed. Guys and girls both were representing their trashiest best. I’m talkin’ big hair, do rags (on the men), tight, acid-washed jeans, and so on. That just adds to the flavor and you have to expect it in Boston, especially at a concert venue. Anyway, the night ended with some much needed grease and a nightcap, followed by some even more necessary sleep.

Sunday morning I was greeted by a call from my friend at 11:00 saying that there’s a surprise awaiting me out the window. So I crawled out of the warmth of the bed and opened the blackout shades to see a white-out flurry blowing in the sky and the Charles absolutely covered in snow. You can see the after effect in the pictures above. Dag. So much for a leisurely brunch with bloody marys served with colossal shrimp! After a brief powwow, we decided to get on the road sooner rather than later in case the snow kept up and slowed our drive back to Manch. We made our way to the lobby and were in the car on the road by noon. We ended up having a not-so-tasty meal at a restaurant inside of Manchester Airport. It was disappointing to say the least. The flight was delayed slightly and we got into BWI about an hour and change later than anticipated. The crappy lunch was overshadowed by the deliciousness of Henry’s fried chicken. But wait. That’ll be a blog of its own. Awwww yeah. Let’s just say that my jacket still stinks like grease. And that’s a good thing.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

RIP Sam the Butcher

"Like Sam the Butcher, bringing Alice the meat."

--Beastie Boys, "Shake Your Rump"

Sadly, Sam the Butcher will now only be bringing Alice the meat in syndication and in the immortal lyrics of the Beastie Boys. Allan Melvin, best known for playing Sam the Butcher on "The Brady Bunch," died of cancer at 84 on January 17, 2008. Melvin is also remembered by anyone who spends time in TV Land--"All in the Family," "Gomer Pyle, USMC," and "The Dick Van Dyke Show." He also voiced Magilla Gorilla.
Cheers to you, Sam. . . .

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Buxom Blonde Beauty Boffo for Buffalo?

So I was looking at a photo slide story on Yahoo about actresses caught on film without their makeup (Oh. Don't pretend like you didn't read it.), and one of them was of the lovely Katherine Heigl. I did a double take because in the picture she is wearing a Buffalo, New York, hat. Way to go Katherine. Givin' the Ruff Buff some propers, eh? Of course now I'm curious what connection, if any, she has. Oh well. One more thing to ponder on this snowy day. . .

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

You want free? You want deals? You want beautiful women?

OK, I've heard of the South Beach Diet, but I have no idea what it is. I don't particularly care either, but I guess I'll find out thanks to this past Sunday's coupon section. There were a few coupons for some South Beach products and the words "Free Sample Kit" caught my eye. If you go to their Website, you can get free samples of their newest items. I like free. I like food. So it was a no brainer for me. We'll see in 4 to 6 weeks.

And speaking of great deals, Harris Teeter has two half-gallon Silk Soy milks for $5! Damn good price considering a half gallon is usually $4.19.

As for the beautiful women, that's your problem. Try the Tom Vu method. He'll show you everything you need to know.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Smell that? It's warm weather.

Although I have a love/hate relationship with DC, one thing I've always enjoyed is odd days like today when the temperature is close to 70 deg. In January. Growing up in Buffalo, that was a luxury that I cannot remember--ever. Buffalo is in the 50s today, which is pretty warm for January 7, but they'll get smacked with more cold, and probably snow, in a couple of days. [The date of the Blizzard of '77 was January 28, so there's still time.] Here in DC it's not uncommon to hit the 60s and 70s between November and March. It doesn't happen too often, but it's often enough to feel good when you get that day that is downright warm. Today I took a walk around Ballston and had to take off my suitcoat and roll up my sleeves because it was so warm. I also had a nice exchange with a guy (principal maybe?) over by Washington-Lee High School. I think that the warmth just brings out the best in everyone.

So get out there and take a walk. Tomorrow is supposed to be even warmer. Enjoy it while you can. The rest of the week will still be decent, but not short-pants decent. God, I hate pants.