Thursday, December 27, 2007

from - The Five Paragraph Bitter Food Critic's look back at 2007


One of the problems with developing a writing persona named the "Five Paragraph Bitter Food Critic" is maintaining that mantle of bitterness even when surrounded by a sea of competence, class and quality. When I started the 5PBFC, I figured that given my average of 4 meals out a week, I'd have at least one clunker a week, thus providing plenty of bitter material. However, as I looked over my 2007 notes of the year, I discovered something quite shocking: I had ten bad meals the entire year; and six of them came from two places, Bangkok 54 and Dad's Backyard Burgers. That means the vast majority of my meals were anywhere from "decent" to "incredible." It's hard to complain about such a high batting average.

Now, I should go off on how absolutely disappointing Dad's was. For a store that took nearly 3 years to build, I would have hoped for a burger experience that doesn't taste like a green onion explosion. My first bite there was sadly the best; repeat visits were lousy and hardly worth mentioning. I'd love to support an independent burger joint, but their burgers tasted more like a kabob-spiced meatloaf - they may want to think about competing with nearby and always packed Merrifield Kabob than routinely-good Five Guys and sometimes-brilliant Elevation Burger. As for Bangkok 54, the former shining star of Northern Virginia's Thai dining scene has declined in terms of food quality and handling; prepare to give birth to a food baby if you eat there and don't stray far from the restrooms, just in case. Their dining room is lovely; it's a shame the back of the house is having issues. They easily have been eclipsed by longtime stalwart Duangrats at Bailey's Crossroads and the newish Mint further up Route 7 towards Seven Corners (review coming in 2008, a.k.a. next week).

However, I will concede to the goodwill of the Christmas season to concentrate on the positive. My dining year started off on a high note with the staff at Bobby Van's, followed by a delicious Restaurant Week experience at Taberna del Alabardero. 2 Amys continued to churn out quality pizzas, Ella's did the same, and the chainy-but-good ZPizza offered a delicious pie with high quality ingredients for a decent price. Matchbox's dining room expansion didn't dilute the quality of their food one bit, and the District Chophouse provided a fine meal in a casual, but classy, environment. My well-publicized visit to La Perla offered better tortellini than expected, and Georgetown's Filomena may be considered hit-or-miss, but I had two hits there in 2007, and enjoyed their good Sunday brunch, too. The new Liberty Tavern in Clarendon offered surprisingly good upscale bar food, though those looking for a quiet meal should head elsewhere - that place is louder than the wails of a screaming child at a southern Wal-Mart. Eamonn's proved to be a welcome addition to the Alexandria scene, and I'm anxious to try owner Cathal Armstrong's makeover of The Majestic with Shannon Overmiller's cooking on King Street in 2008. Hank's Oyster Bar in DC stars in the background with Trio in a new car commercial, and a new location in Old Town is promising. Fogo De Chao and Texas De Brazil fed my churrascaria dreams of well-seasoned Argentinean meat, and Macchu Picchu did a fine job representing South American neighbor Peru. Huong Que at the Eden Center served fine Vietnamese fare on multiple visits, and impressed some good friends from Chicago. Spices in Cleveland Park did a good job of clearing my sinuses while on a first date - yeah, thanks for that, by the way. No, that wasn't embarrassing at all - but damn it tasted fine, and nearby Indique's tamarind-enhanced drinks made even the rainiest of days much more delightful.

Bebo Trattoria opened up with much fanfare in Crystal City, though complaints about lousy service stick to the place like stink on a hobo. The Tortoise and the Hare opened up on Crystal City's 23rd Street, taking over the former space of Stars and Stripes. Can't say I'd complain about that a bit - Stars and Stripes had a big TV and good beer but a lousy crab cake, and T&H is promising a good American contemporary menu. Urban Thai still served quality food at a reasonable price, and the recent expansion of the Crystal City Sports Pub just gives more folks a chance to dine on their good bar food while following their favorite sports' teams. Summer's at the Courthouse Metro did the same, plus they put with my wails of anguish every weekend as I watched my beloved Ravens go from Super Bowl contender to laughing stock of the NFL in one calendar year. Al's Steaks in Del Ray single-handedly made me gain a pound, and that was before I discovered the glories of Gladys Knight and Ron Winan's Chicken and Waffles at the Largo Town Center. In my neighborhood of Shirlington, a new Cakelove outpost opened up; Busboys and Poets put in a second location with some fine Belgian beers on tap; Bear Rock Cafe' offered good sandwiches and breakfast chow, and the brand-spanking new Saigonique fed me a wonderful ginger noodle dish on Christmas Eve in a beautiful dining room. And damn if Weenie Beanie doesn't bring the goods every time I'm craving a half-smoke.

Heck, even the Pentagon got a decent eatery, the All-American Grill. Thank God for Sport and Health or else I'd be the size of a Beefcake-era Eric Cartman.

In the fine tradition laid down by every critic in every conceivable subject, this time of the year demands a "Best of..." list. I could try to spawn an internal dialog about which meal in the previous 12 months was the best, and categorize restaurants by price or location or cuisine. Instead, I'm choosing to look forward to 2008, to which places I missed in 2007.

* Central - we at DCFUD have been trying to have a writers' outing here for months, yet somehow we went to the otherwise-fine-but-it-ain't-Central Malyasian Kopitiam instead of an affordable offering from Michel Richard? We're going this year, kids. Jay, save your money. You're going. Even if I have to carry you in there kicking and screaming. You made me eat at Kam Fong; I'm making you eat at Central.

* The Majestic - the restaurant formerly known as the Majestic Cafe' was a delightful, charming outpost, and the recent takeover and reimagining by Cathal Armstrong should make this one of the best mid-priced restaurants in Northern Virginia in 2008.

* West End Bistro - the early buzz over Eric Ripert's newest restaurant was that the food was definitely good, but not imaginative. I would have to guess that as the staff becomes more situated and comfortable, this restaurant will bring more international buzz to the DC dining scene.

* Hook - Barton Seaver's ambitious plan to serve only sustainable seafood deserves the respect of all diners with a soul. Plus, the guy can flat-out cook.

* Hooked - I grew up next to the Chesapeake Bay. I love seafood. Sue me. And a seafood restaurant out by Dulles and Ace Photo that doesn't have cheap plastic fishnets on the walls and meals made of a mysterious element known as "krab" has my support.

* Station 9 - U Street keeps getting hipper and hipper, and this place promises an updated look on American standards.

And, hopefully the DC area will honor a few New Year's Resolutions, and this year's theme is to be A Little More Like Baltimore:

1) To have a good Jewish deli like Attman's near the Inner Harbor East developments. Sometimes a nice Catholic boy like me wants a good corned beef on rye.

2) To have a decent BBQ place somewhere between Dixie Bones in Woodbridge and Urban in Rockville to compete with Rocklands. They're the only game in NoVA, and while they're a fine establishment, I shouldn't have to long for Andy Nelson's in Cockeysville.

3) To have a pit beef place anywhere. I don't care where, but pit beef is a Baltimore delicacy that should be brought forth to the Nations' Capital post haste.

4) To have more waterfront dining options. The Inner Harbor, Fells Point, Locust Point, Canton, Essex, Middle River - all loaded with everything from mega-chains to cozy family seafood places, and they all have serene water views. DC has a couple of high-end places in Georgetown and Phillip's at the Waterfront. Advantage - Baltimore.

5) To create a vibrant neighborhood near the stadium - granted, this will be a work in progress, but one of the great things about Camden Yards is the proximity to great bars, restaurants and attractions. Making over an area best known for the desperately-missed dance club Nation, light industrial brown zones, and a grouping of *ahem* adult establishments is all going to take some time, but for the love of God, city planners, do not dare turn it into a soulless strip of chains and fern bars. You're trying to do it with Chinatown/Penn Quarter, where fairly soon the only thing Asian in that neighborhood will be the tourists in town to watch the Wizards play Yao Ming and the Houston Rockets. You know darned well Prince George's County will botch it with the National Harbor, as they've failed to put in anything with personality near FedEx Field, and that's been open for almost a decade. But really, DC, you can do it. Look at U Street. Adams-Morgan. H Street. Cleveland Park. Those are areas where the city is trying to express itself with mostly-independent businesses. Don't replicate a Loudoun County strip mall and restaurant park at the baseball stadium and lie to yourself, saying "it's progress." It's regression to a mean, and the city deserves better.

6) To be like bICYCLE. If you ever find yourself on Light Street, south of the Inner Harbor between Federal Hill and Locust Point, you'll see this charming, delicious bistro. It's been open for nearly 8 years, and it's still as good today as it opened. They strive for good food and consistency, and they hit far more often than they miss.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Balmer in all its glory, hon

It has come to my attention that somewhere along the line, OBPOPCULTREF has become less about my easily-diverted and distracted mind and more about a Baltimore Guy living in a DC World. Today's post will be no different - I went to see the Miracle on 34th Street, hon!

Unfamiliar with it? Take a look at this link and my photos from last night.

If you can't get into the Christmas display after might be Jewish, Hindu, or any of a host of religions that don't follow Christmas.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

my pet opossum, Dixon.

I came home from Christmas Shopping on Thursday night to hear a small rustling of leaves on the patio. I looked over, expecting a cat, but instead, found an opossum.

Poor little fella got scared, and tried to run/waddle away, but got somewhat trapped in the patio's courtyard.

Knowing my love of early `90s alt-pop, I promptly named the possum, Dixon. Sorry to my lovely and talented friend Diana Dixon, but this Dixon has nothing to do with you. For instance, you're a blonde, and Dixon is obviously a very mottled grey.

Last night, while walking the dogs, I spotted Dixon hanging around a neighbor's place. Kramer, the Big Dumb Dog, lurched out of my grip to investigate the critter, but fortunately, Dixon spared Kramer the wrath of his claws, teeth and wee beady eyes.

I have seen opossums before, but Dixon seems almost...friendly? Maybe because he lives in the woods by my complex, he's used to humans and enjoys our stash of food.

Maybe he's watched Over the Hedge? Or, perhaps read my glowing review of the movie?

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Thursday, December 06, 2007

more adventures in NFL Network announcing

My ears may be off, but Bryant Gumble just said a player had "a shit injury."

Chris Collinsworth, who I mocked last week, asked Bryant if he was fading, because we don't need to know every injury.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Happier Topic - Avenue Q Rawks My Soul

On Sunday, I went to see Avenue Q at the National Theater with a group from MeetinDC. This heartwarming tale of puppets and humans who live in New York City is filled with wonderfully catchy, naughty and hilarious songs. Perhaps you've seen the web clip of "The Internet Is For Porn" as sung by World of Warcraft characters? That's the same show.

I laughed so hard at this show, parts of my body hurt. If it comes to your town, stop what you're doing, and go see this show.

Or else you'll make Trekkie Monster cry.

I don't often cuss on my blog, but...

Fuck the Patriots. Fuck the paid-off refs who friggin' smoked ground-up moon rocks to see the phantom penalties they called on the Ravens in the 4th quarter tonight.

Fuck the Patriot fans who don't have a single piece of clothing that features the old-school kick-ass Pat the Patriot logo, and instead look like some failed NHL expansion team.

Fuck Belicheat and his hoodie. Looks like he should be moping around on It's 2007; do we need an emo coach? I vote no.

Fuck Tony Kornheiser...while I love his writing, and think he's a fine person, I can't stand him on MNF. His voice makes me yearn for the masculinity that is Bryan Gumble.

Fuck Billick - his complete lack of discipline on that team is so evident; why he can't see it clearly bothers me. Evidently he needs to work on that aspect of the game.

(y'all didn't know I could speak "Billick" did ya?)

Fuck Baltimore...for making me believe the upset was theirs.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

cris collinsworth hates demarcus ware

live-blogging the Pack-Cowboys game...Cris Collinsworth commented on DeMarcus Ware and the good downfield coverage he played. "DeMarcus Ware, what a tool he is."

Thursday, November 15, 2007

As Promised, Something Funny

Well, funny-ish.

I hung out with a group of skydivers last night at Chadwicks in Georgetown. I met about ten of the folks, and nearly all of them were lawyers or legal assistants. One of the few non-lawyers was an actual rocket scientist.

Could the exciting world of law not be nearly as exciting as the LSAT Prep Courses make it out to be????

(or, are lawyers the only ones who can afford the nearly 300 dollar class and tandem jump needed to get started? OR...the gas needed to drive down to Skydive Orange in the more rural part of Virginia?)

Still, I promised that my motto for 2008 will be "Skydive at 35!" My birthday weekend next March will include a skydive.

maybe not my skydive, but somebody's...

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Completely Forgot To Post This - Cars Hit People

On Friday night around 5:45pm, I was driving home on Columbia Pike next to the high-rise apartments. I stopped at the traffic light at Scott Street, a light drizzle coming down from the heavy cloud cover. A woman wearing fairly dark clothing was crossing Columbia Pike, from north to south, at that crosswalk. Another woman, this one clad in a sedan, made a left from Scott on to Columbia Pike, hitting the walker, and sending her tumbling to the pavement.

The Bionic Woman may not be doing the ratings NBC wanted, but this woman must have been made of Jaimie Summers' spare parts. She was unhurt - how, I have no idea. The driver pulled over, and was in tears, but the walker/tumbler/Terminator assured her that she was fine.

I've never seen anybody get hit by a car before...and I certainly have never seen anybody GET UP UNSCATHED after being hit by a car, either.

I view this as a lesson - drivers need to be more careful as the early sunsets of the fall turn daylight into night rather quickly.

AND...folks may think that the all-black ensembles may make them look gorgeous, but flashing a bit of color increases the visibility, and might just save a life.

Sorry for the soapbox. I'll write something funny tomorrow.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Obscure Pop Culture Reference: Minnesota's Worst Nightmare

Obscure Pop Culture Reference: Minnesota's Worst Nightmare

Do you SEE how powerful the Madden Curse is? Even a mere mock up knocks out Adrian Peterson for a week!

This is why, this is why, this is why you suck

Not you, my dear reader, but the general, all-encompassing YOU that is the typical D.C. area policy wonk. Even more specifically, the person who can't wait to use any and every social encounter as an opportunity to pontificate about the glories of their chosen political party.

To be blunt, the Drunken Right Wing Republican Nazi Pittsburgh Steeler fanbitch at Summer's Bar on Sunday afternoon.

Now, to my way of thinking, pretty much any of those above descriptors would be enough to scare me like a little kid watching "The Omen," but this one, much like my school bus, was special.

She was loud. And apparently thinks less of Hillary Clinton than Prime Minister Bhutto thinks of General Musharraf.

As our group of football fans was seated next to her, she sort of glommed on to our party like a barnacle on a ship's hull. And once she started talking, she went from being "mildly attractive" to "Oh dear God somebody stop her from reproducing!"

She told the bar, quite loudly, that Hillary is a whore. She didn't put it lightly; she used that word, and that word had several wingmen, like "F-Bomb" and "C-Bomb."

She told us that the Republicans are the best. The F-Bomb best. That her family back in Pittsburgh was the best. Because they, like Bush, are Republicans. And Republicans are the best. Because they're not C-bombs like the C-Bomb Democrats.

She told us that Hillary was a bitch, and said something about Obama being black-ish or something.

Bear in mind, she said all of these Unapproved RNC talking points in about three minutes, plus other statements, before she simply stood up and walked out the door.

Here's what I don't get - it's Sunday. Veteran's Day. NFL Football is on 20+ TVs in this bar, plus English Premier League soccer. Nobody in a 100-foot radius around her was even THINKING about politics. But she had to bring it up anyway.

The goal of every political party is to win elections. Having a list of negative points about an opponent's policy or voting record is a rock-solid way of proving the superiority of your party. Calling an opponent a C U iN Toledo in the middle of a sports' bar makes you look like a dumbass.

Which, once again, supports my decision to be a registered Whig.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Minnesota's Worst Nightmare

Beware of the Curse!!!

Congratulations on the new single game rushing record, Adrian, but if EA Sports calls, just say no! The Curse is strong!!

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Game of the Century (granted, it's a young century)

If you watch ESPN for more than like, what, 30 seconds, you'll quickly gather that the entire sporting world will grind to a halt to watch the New England Patriots play the Indianapolis Colts this weekend. A match-up of two undefeated teams this late in the season is rare, and the fact that Indy has been very good, while New England has been downright shockingly good, and this game has more hype than a nude picture of a circa 2004 Lindsay Lohan picture.

Let's hope this game doesn't look like a strung-out 2006 nude LiLo photo.

The Colts are playing methodical, yet exciting football. The defense is quite solid, and the offense has been a typical Peyton Manning offense. But the Patriots...they're not just winning games, they are embarrasing the other team. It's like watching a college team playing toddlers each week - it's not even close. New England is winning games by 25, 35, 45 points each week. They are SCARING teams. The Patriots just clobbered a very decent Redskins team this past weekend, 52-7, and the score could have been worse for Washington had the Pats not put in second and third stringers. Tom Brady has more touchdown passes than hot ex-girlfriends...and he has a lot of hot ex-girlfriends. Wes Welker has been every bit as good as his former roommate and buddy, Baltimore Raven Mike Smith, said he'd be. Randy Moss's hands are so amazing, he could catch an STD from a virgin in a different state.

In 20 years, the Patriots will replace "the boogeyman" as a child's nightmare. Parents will warn their brood about the evils of Team Belicheck. Jason Campbell will wander the earth, mumbling like an earthquake victim, mumbling "so...many...fumbles..." over and over again.

DAD: "Eat your vegetables, so you can be big and strong."
UNRULY KID: "I don't wanna."
DAD: "Finish your meal, or the boogieman will get you."
UNRULY KID: "There's no such thing as the boogieman."
DAD: "Better eat your vegetables, or the 2007 Patriots are gonna get you."
UNRULY KID: "eeeek! More Brussel Sprouts, please!"

If I have kids, I'm gonna put pictures of Mike Vrabel around their beds to keep them in line.

If the Colts win this weekend, that's what Super Bowl Champs are supposed to do. If New England wins, nobody, not even my beloved Ravens, will stop them this season. Maybe the X-Men might, but only if Wolverine guards Randy Moss.

Adieu Cingular 3125, Hello ATT Tilt

Replaced my 3125 that was full of fail with the Tilt that is, so far, not full of fail.

Most people who have 3125's love the danged thing. I read so many wireless blog's detailing the phone's strenghts and tons of features. The only drawback was that the microSD slot was under the SIM card, and to switch microSDs required a shutdown of the phone.

My 3125 rebooted for no apparent reason. It refused to recognize the signal towers. It usually couldn't find the microSD card, and instead of saying "I am full of fail and can't find the SD card" it would say "your card is corrupted." Like it was my fault.

The phone had been dropped twice in its year+ of ownership, but the fail had been evident way before the drops. It's basic functionality sucked from day three - PDFs and DOCs wouldn't open, though they were supposed to. It wouldn't sync with any of my PCs reliably.

And I think it shot Kennedy.

In any event, I guess I just got stuck with a lemon, and it was time to go. The Tilt is a dramatic piece of equipment. Touch screen AND a full keypad, easily removable microSD cards, AT&T's kickin' 3G network. GPS hookup

The darn thing even works in my house. Color me stunned.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

"Good Morning America" Laughing While Whale's Vagina Burns

Please, tell me it was just my imagination, oooooh, running away with me.

Please tell me that I was only imagining it when ABC's Good Morning America reporter was cackling like a harpy in front of the burned-out carcass of a San Diego-area house this morning. Some doofus back in the studio made a "TV-friendly joke" (completely forgettable and with no cussing) as they tossed it live to a reporter in the charred hills around San Diego. The reporter in the field was LAUGHING HYSTERICALLY at whatever lame-ass joke it was...five feet in front of somebody's ruined home...and then changed his tone instantly into a somber, reserved pitch.

I turned on the TV before leaving for work. It gives the dogs something to listen to throughout the day. ABC's Good Morning America was on, and I watched this exchange in horror for a few moments before I had to leave for work. I've never seen such insensitive reporting from the site of a major catastrophe. It's one thing to be safely tucked in a studio 1000 miles away to make an inappropriate comment (hola, Brother Wolf Blitzer and your Katrina-inspired "so poor, so black" gaffe), but to be on site, looking at people's lives being destroyed by these fires, and to laugh on what's left of their property... wow.

If I can find this clip on YouTube or something, I'm definitely posting it. Please tell me I was just still asleep, or on Comedy Central or something. Anything.

Don't tell me broadcast journalism standards of taste and decorum are that bad.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

This Generation Needs a New Chris Crocker

It seems like so long ago when Chris Crocker, the little boy who looks a little too much like real woman Rebecca Romjin, told us all, while wearing a touch of mascara and crying like evangelical teenager at a Michael W. Smith concert, to LEAVE BRITNEY SPEARS ALONE RIGHT NOW!

I, for one, heeded his advice. I left Britney Spears alone right then and there, and her life has been going swimmingly since.

But my friends and readers and random strangers I may never meet, we need a new Chris Crocker, somebody to take the reins of a New Revolution, to launch a rallying cry on a viral video that will save all if us from certain terror:

George Lucas is planning a "Star Wars" tv show.


Please, stop.

You've pissed on my beloved childhood memories of seeing your films in the old Plaza theater in Annapolis. You can't leave those movies alone, and you botched the prequels by having too many computer generated characters and not enough, well, plot and story line.

Now you want to put Star Wars on TV full of minor characters?

That show's already been done. It's called "Bad Syndicated Sci-Fi Show That Fans Praise For Its Stellar Writing With Furry Fan Fiction on Message Boards Across the World But the Rest Of America Couldn't Pick the Cast Out of a Police Lineup with Bill Cosby, Leslie Bibb and Clay Aiken."


Tuesday, October 23, 2007

#2 on Catch Up Day

#2) Don't try to slice veggies with a crappy knife.

Or else THIS will happen (WARNING - don't click if you don't like blood)

This doesn't look that bad, until you realize it had been bleeding for 30 minutes prior to these photos.

If the link doesn't work, let me know and I'll make the gallery public, or post it on my Flickr page.

Today is "Catch Up" Day

I have had a lot of things that I wished to blog about, and I'll try to get a lot of them posted today.

#1) From the "Don't Say I Didn't Warn You" file: - CBS has cancelled "Viva Laughlin" after two episodes.

I wrote earlier:

Viva Laughlin - Drama/Musical - This is Hugh Jackman's production of a casino manager in the resort area of Laughlin, Nevada. It's supposed to be a musical drama, and before you can say "Cop Rock" this sucker will be gone. It's got pretty people, it's decently-shot and written, BUT, the idea of having a musical is for song-and-dance routines, right? Except these folks don't dance much, and the singing is actually karaoke. They have the original song going simultaneously, so these actors are pretty much mouthing the words. So, if the actor is singing an Elvis song, Elvis is singing right along with the actor.

It looks pathetic, though Hugh Jackman's cool.

I could have saved CBS a lot of money and a lot of embarrassment if they'd just asked me first. "Telecomic, the Telecomedian, does this show suck?" and I'd have said "Oh yes. Yes it does. Like a new prisoner trying to save his ass."

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Love Didn't Tear Them Apart; Synthesizers Did.

This must be the gloomiest street in America, only because it's blissfully unaware of the entendre.

I saw "The Darjeeling Limited" this weekend, Wes Anderson's latest long film full of uncomfortable silence, awkward characters and inspired cinematography. While I'm not sure if "TDL" is worth a full review - it's a Wes Anderson film; you either like his work or you don't, and you surely know the answer by now - but I was fascinated by the preview of the Ian Curtis biopic "Control."

Here's a Salon piece on the movie, written by an unapologetic Joy Division fan. I was an early convert, as I still have "Substance" and "Closer" on vinyl. As I'm somewhat aware of his story, I figure a Curtis biography would be vital, and past due like a library book.

For those unaware of the power, or, I should say, the influence of Joy Division, I want you to listen to pretty much any new indie rock. Tune your XM to channel 43, XMU, or surf over to Myspace, and search for "I Love You But I've Chosen Darkness." Or, click your iPod over to "The Killers" or "My Bloody Valentine" or "Interpol" or "The Strokes" get the picture.

And then hit up the music supplier of your choice (iTunes, Hypem, Rhapsody) or, better yet, a real honest-to-God record store, and listen to "Substance." It's their best-of, and it's friggin' dark, and bleak and wonderful.

I'm assuming it will play at the E Street Cinemas, The AFI in Silver Spring or Shirlington's Artsy Theaters, but there's nothing listed for it yet.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Sad Day - Red Shipley's Passed

Red was the host of "Stained Glass Bluegrass" on WAMU for years. He passed away the other day from cancer. The story can be found on the Post's Website.

My former stepfather, Butch, who also passed from cancer, was a devoted listener, and any Sunday morning drive with Butch meant Red would be in the vehicle too, playing gospel-flavored bluegrass. As bluegrass and gospel are my two least-favorite types of music next to Phillip Glass experimental pieces, I always hated that show.

But, as a fan of radio, I knew a good, powerful voice when I heard one, and Red not only was a good talker, but was devoted to his subject.

Hopefully he and Butch are talking about "pickin' `n' grinnin'" in a better place.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Dating In DeeCee

I Now Pronounce You over at DCBlogs wrote a wonderful piece about dating in DC, and it's so friggin' spot on, it's like a Dalmatian orgy, except Petey is played by Peter North.

I hear it all the time in DC from men and women alike; dating in this town sucks! All the women are gold diggers and all the men are jerks because they have it so easy since there are 2943 women to every guy. Everyone’s opening line is “so what do you do” and all anyone cares about is what kind of car you drive and who signs your paycheck.

Allow me to weigh in on this;

Shut up shut up oh please for the love of GOD shut up.

I applauded when I read that. I applauded again when I re-read that. I had to comment.

Perhaps the reason why dating in DC sucks is because many of the people who are single do, indeed, suck.

I'm single, and try not to suck. It takes work to not suck. I don't care about my job, my income level, the political scene and what type of car people drive. I'm not obsessed by my stock portfolio, a condo in Columbia Heights or whether my children would get a quality education in DC Public Schools. I haven't waited in line at McFadden's nor have I hit on a woman who is younger than my Cure CDs. I like the music I like, and while the Black Cat and RRH get some great acts, I don't obsess over their schedules like a conspiracy theorist over the Zapruder film. I haven't grabbed the NYTimes Sunday edition and walked to the Starbucks at DuPont to do the crossword puzzle in pen.

And for the love of God, I refuse to see The Capitol Steps. They suck.

I'm 34, and a lot of my friends are within 5 or so years of me. Most of them are single as well, though a couple of married couples are beginning to sneak in. Still, the vast majority of my friends are regularly dating, or, at least attempting to date.

And yes, they gripe about how hard it is to date in this city, too.

Granted, DC does seem to lead the league in workaholics-per-neighborhood, there are way too many lawyers and lobbyists, and the Factory Town mentality of the city (the Factory in this case being the Federal Government) does seem to attract a more bookish sort. However, there are also a ton of unmarried folks looking for love. Surely the sheer population of singles should help, right?

Or, perhaps people are, as the song says and INPY confirms, looking for love in all the wrong places.

I can speak of this with some authority because of my association with MeetInDC. was founded several years ago as a social networking site, but the twist is that this site is for actually meeting people and going out and doing things. It's not about having 1,000 Myspace friends or whose Facebook Wall is more popular. Most major cities in North America have a local chapter, and its spread throughout Asia, Europe and Oceania. This site is about getting a group of folks together and going to the Smithsonian, walking the C&O Canal, or getting buttered at the Brickskellar. Want to try a new restaurant and can't get anybody to go with you? Put an event up on MeetIn and surely some folks would like to come.

I have met some wonderful friends through MeetIn, and have had some fantastic travels with various members of the group since I joined in 2005. I wouldn't trade them, and those who I have become friends with, I cherish.


There's a problem with Meetin. MeetIncest. As with all co-ed social organizations, there will always be a certain amount of dating that goes on within the group, no matter how "non-pickup scene" the group tries to be. College alumni associations, professional trade unions - you name it, and somebody's going to dip their pen in company ink. MeetIn events are often fun dates, like a movie, restaurant, picnic or hike, but without the pressure of a date. Often, such a relaxed atmosphere makes for prime dating, and it's not unusual to see folks spend more time talking to one or two people than to 20 or 30.

The problem arises when people go to events just to meet members of the opposite sex. ESPECIALLY to events where there will be lots of newer members. Then, it suddenly becomes a pick-up scene, and that goes against one of the founding tenets of the group. And the sad part is that not all of the people who fall into this category are bad people. They just want to date somebody but have no idea how to meet somebody outside of the group.

It's pathetic. And, a little bit banal.

This sudden, impromptu pickup joint mentality is brutal. Older members have complained that the group isn't nearly as fun as it used to be, attractive newer members get scared away because they're constantly being hit on, and all that leaves is a core of relatively desperate folks who have either dated their way through the group or who want to.

As you can imagine, this puts a hell of damper on those of us who like to attend events to hang out, meet people and see the sights.

I'll admit, I've dated women in Meetin, but only after we'd gotten to know each other through a series of events. It wasn't like I went to a karaoke night and said "I need me some action. I'm hitting on...this one!" and picked a random girl from the group. There's a big difference between getting to know somebody over the course of a few months and just grabbing a girl for a quick fling.

Is it any surprise that those who complain the most about this being a bad dating town are those who keep going to the same ole' events, seeing the same ole' people, and not doing anything different?


Those who don't study history, especially recent history, are doomed to repeat it.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

End of a (sorta) Chapter (sorta)

I've been a little loathe to blog lately because I have been ridiculously ragged out from my work. Now, this has nothing to do with my Government Overlords, my young coworkers, or even the folks I see everyday.

No, my stress has been courtesy of my erstwhile employer, TeleCommunications Systems. I have worked for them for 2 and a 1/2 years, and they recently lost the contract for the agency I've been assigned to. The agency wanted to clear up their contracts, and TCS was trying to become a sub-contractor. That didn't go through, and TCS lost the deal. The company said they'd try to retain us, move us to other jobs. "We're family" is how our TCS program manager put it. Or, TCS would try to be a sub-sub-contractor.

Can't say I blame them; there's four employees that were up for play, and the Government indicated that they'd like to retain the staff, even though the contract was up for bid.

Still. We're family. Family doesn't let family members dangle in the nether region between "employed" and "unemployed."

TCS, even though they KNEW they lost the bid, lorded the non-compete clause we all signed over us like a pinata. We couldn't sign with the new company without facing a lawsuit; TCS said they'd try to find us new positions within TCS, but we all knew they had no roles for us. This was the story on Wednesday. "'s two weeks of money and hit the road."

Thursday, TCS changed their tune. We'd be let out of our non-competes, and were free to interview with the new contractor.

Friday, TCS laid us off without even learning if we'd signed with the new contractor.

That's a nice family you got there.

Fortunately the new contractor hired those of us on the crew who'd been there for more than a couple of months. I live to see another paycheck.

So, a drop of spilled beer to Clint, the new guy who wasn't picked up by the new contractor...for now.

And, a drop of spilled blood to TCS, who made our last couple of weeks of employment as stressful as possible.

Also, as how all companies have their own lingo, I know there's no way I'll pick up TCS' phrase. Broadstreet gave me "dawg." netINS gave me "my bad." Chili's gave me "buffalo wings." TCS employees use the term "net net" a lot. In a sentence, they say "Look, the net net is that we need to improve our stock options."

Net net.

Kinda redundant, you know?

Welcome to TCS' CorporateSpeak.

So, two and a half years have been wiped clean. I'm waving good bye to nearly 100 hours of vacation time. Two and a half years of stock options, benefits...all gone.

My "family" is kinda dysfunctional, huh?

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

My mother, the Phoenician

The Official Five Paragraph Bitter Mom is moving to Phoenix, Arizona, next week. She just signed a 13-month lease for a two bedroom condo in Ahwatukee, which is apparently a very nice part of town.

It's weird - a woman who, until two weeks ago, had never been west of Columbus, Ohio, is now turning into an Arizonian...Arizonite? Arizonan? Arizonian-American? *shrug*

This should be a good move for her. The people at her new job seem nice, and there's certainly plenty of stuff to do. I'm sure she'll meet lots of active Baby Boomers, many of whom refuse to accept that they're aging themselves.

I think I see why Mom moved there.

View Larger Map

They named a road after her son. How thoughtful!

Oh...wait. There's an IKEA about 4000 feet away. Mom does love the hell out some easy-to-assemble Swedish furniture.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

My state is richer than yours!

The Baltimore Sun reported it a couple of weeks ago, and I meant to write something bitter, sarcastic and snobby about it, but I was too busy rolling in greenbacks to do it.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Getting harder to be an O's fan... last night by Clay Buchholz, in his second major league start.

One more week until the Ravens' season begins. It's only a week. I can wait that long, right?


Thursday, August 30, 2007

I scarred Chatwoman.

From Liz Kelly's chat on the site...L

To the woman shopping with her boyfriend...: I used to bike 300 plus miles a week in my teenage years and 20s, and now, at 34, still look like I'm trying to shoplift a couple of flank steaks in my thighs if I wear normal flat-front pants.

However, I've found that Dockers, of all brands, makes a slightly-baggier, looser fit pair of slacks that doesn't look too bad. Also, Express for Men, if he's got a waist size of 36 or smaller, has some flat-front pants that don't look too bad.

Liz Kelly: Thanks for the help (and for the mental image of someone walking around with flank steaks strapped to one's thighs).

Instant Karma is Everywhere

Instant Karma, my favorite type, is popping up like Starbucks' in the late-1990s. You can't swing a dead cat without hitting instant karma.

For that, I thank Earl.

Instant Karma is a wonderful thing. Who doesn't love a quick pay-off? Let somebody merge in traffic, and somebody lets you change lanes without tailgating or blaring their horn. Help somebody pick up the contents of their accidentally-spilt briefcase and somebody holds the elevator door for you. Good ultimately begats good.

Instant Karma can also be a glorious mix of irony, schadenfreude and spite. Last night I saw a great instance of Instant Karma. While driving on MD 295, an unmarked police officer pulled out from the median strip and started heading down the road. The officer wasn't pulling anybody over; he was simply driving in the same direction as me.

Twenty seconds later, a late-90s Pontiac Grand Am was weaving in-and-out of traffic behind me, tailgating and making ridiculously unsafe lane changes. He got on my tail, and was so close to me that I couldn't even see his headlamps. I wasn't going fast enough for him, so he swung around, passed me and then got back over in my lane, coming scant inches away from my front bumper.

I watched him pull similar manuevers around the drivers in front of me for twenty seconds when he pulled something like that around the unmarked police officer. The Grand Am whipped around him, cut him off, and sped off similar to what he did to me and countless others. The police officer tracked him for a couple of seconds, watched him pull yet-another dangerous lane change, and decided he'd seen enough.

About 90 seconds after the Pontiac almost ran me off the road, he was getting pulled over. How many times have you seen some joker drive like a friggin' maniac, and said "where's the cops when I need them?" Well, evidently, the answer last night was "here."

Good job to the police officer who found this bozo.

Want more Instant Karma? Look at our friend Senator Larry Craig and his recent issues with lookin' for love in all the wrong places.

We've all heard now about his attempted homosexual daliance in a Minneapolis/St. Paul Airport. We've also heard about his staunch anti-gay stance and continued opposition to gay rights.

Methinks the Queen doth protest too much.

The irony is delicious. The karma was instant.

However...I will defend Senator Craig a smidge.

While the whole concept of sex in a public bathroom baffles me (not to mention the obvious logistical and hygenic difficulties), if the toe-tapping, peeking through the stall and roller-bag placement are all widely-accepted signals for gay men to initiate a sexual encounter, then what did Senator Craig do wrong that hundreds of thousands of people do every night in bars, clubs and parties? He made a pass at somebody.

I've made passes at some women and failed. Women and some men have made passes at me, and have failed. Do any of us deserve jail time?

That's like being pulled over for doing 55 in a 55 zone because you *MIGHT* speed.

He didn't have sex with the police officer in public. He may have wanted to, or maybe he would have offered a romp at an airport hotel. The Senator flirted with somebody at an ersatz pick-up joint. His basic act was no different than a guy buying a drink for a girl at a bar and using a cheesy pick-up line.

If the Senator was engaged in public sex and the police found him, then that would indeed be an offense. But has just the *intention* of even wanting sex become a crime?

Thursday, August 23, 2007

30 runs?

Rough, rough day
to be an O's fan...

When I saw the score "TEX 27 BAL 3" on the TV, I thought the Ravens were getting crushed by the Texans.

The fact that there was no football game on TV left me saddened, and shocked.

It's a good thing Wild Bill didn't live long enough to see this.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Instrumental Analysis: Cedars Say Goodbye

Instrumental Analysis: Cedars Say Goodbye

From a local music blog, thought it'd be nice to mark the passing of a local favorite band.

Oh well, I'll always have their e.p. burned into iTunes.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Kid Nation, done before it begins?

From avideo clip, it looks like CBS' Kid Nation might get yanked due to child abuse concerns before it even airs.

Monday, August 20, 2007

The Upcoming TV Season

My beloved roommate works at the USA Today, and she gets advance copies of upcoming tv shows every season. So far, we've got the CBS and ABC slate, nothing from NBC or Fox.

The CBS DVD contains full versions of Big Bang Theory, Viva Laughlin, and Cane.

Big Bang Theory - sitcom - The idea is that this recently-dumped, super hot girl moves in to an apartment next to these super-smart male scientists. Of course, these scientists are horrible with women and have no idea how to talk or interact with them. So, the idea of a vulnerable hottie next to these socially awkward brainiacs could be funny for an episode or two.

The problem with this show is that the smart guys are barely masculine at all - they all seem like the last thing they would be interested in would be a woman. And not because they'd be more into lab work, either. They truly act effeminate, which is almost an insult to the viewer. I'm not sure if that's the acting or directing, but it's a definite flaw. One guy is actually funny, the rest seem lame.

Cane - Drama - It's easily the best looking show on the CBS slate. It looks like a film, and it's the best acted and written script CBS offers. Could be a good show if they don't rush it. Jimmy Smits is a solid presenece on this show, though there has been some concern about him playing a Cuban.

Viva Laughlin - Drama/Musical - This is Hugh Jackman's production of a casino manager in the resort area of Laughlin, Nevada. It's supposed to be a musical drama, and before you can say "Cop Rock" this sucker will be gone. It's got pretty people, it's decently-shot and written, BUT, the idea of having a musical is for song-and-dance routines, right? Except these folks don't dance much, and the singing is actually karaoke. They have the original song going simultaneously, so these actors are pretty much mouthing the words. So, if the actor is singing an Elvis song, Elvis is singing right along with the actor.

It looks pathetic, though Hugh Jackman's cool.

Now, the DVD also contains sneak previews of Kid Nation and Moonlight. Moonlight is the tale of a kind-hearted vampire who solves crimes. Yeah.

Kid Nation is a reality show about children reviving a ghost town.

Yeah. I can't make that up. One could say Hollywood is out of ideas, though it's obvious CBS is. Couldn't they have made another CSI?

Now, for the ABC slate:

Pushing Daisies - Drama - Now this is completely unlike anything else on TV right now, and in a very good way. A young man has the ability to bring people back to life with a single touch, but if he touches them again, they die. If he doesn't touch them within a minute, somebody else nearby dies. He brings them back to life to find out how they died, and to collect any reward money for murder victims. Sounds morbid? It amazingly works. It's sublimely acted and written, and shot brilliantly. Vibrant colors, almost like a Tim Burton fairy tale movie with highlighters. Very likable cast...this could be a great show, kind of in an "Ed" and "Northern Exposure" way. Just don't "Moonlighting" it, because you can see the chemistry between the male and female leads.

Dirty Sexy Money - Drama - Great cast, interesting idea. An idealistic lawyer is hired by a wealthy family (think Kennedy or Rockefeller) and then has to keep them all from getting in trouble. One is on her third marriage, another is a terrible actress with suicidal thoughts, another is a young playboy, and another...well, he's about to be a Senator who's in love with a transsexual.

And he's played by a Baldwin brother. Two Baldwins in prime time!? What a world!

It's interesting...but I think it'll peter out. Too much plot too soon. It's got potential, but I think they'll make the pace far too dizzying. I can tell such things. Can smell it in advance.

Big Shots - Drama - Four youngish, handsome men with powerful jobs and a whole lot of issues. It's pretty sharp, actually. Great cast, sharp writing, not too much given away in the beginning. I was surprised Christopher Titus could act so well, but he pretty much rocks. Dylan McDermott, Michael Vartan, and That Guy From Every Aaron Sorkin Show star.

Sam I Am - Comedy - Christina Applegate is Sam. Sam was in an accident, and suffers from retrograde amnesia. Sam wakes up with no memory of herself or friends or family, and as she struggles to regain her senses, she finds out she was not a terribly nice person. It's cute, but given the amnesia story is pretty cliche, I'm not sure how long this can go. It is funny, though, and I laughed a couple of times more than I thought I would. Applegate is a pro, and she can charm her way through some awkward writing with a smile.

Cavemen - Comedy - Oh. Dear. God. This is perhaps the single worst show I've ever seen. Remember when Fox first got on the air and would play anything? That's this show.

See, Cavemen aren't extinct, they're a repressed minority. Now, take every stereotype you've ever heard about a repressed minority, and that's what happens to cavemen. It's simply a bunch of rehashed jokes with non-clever wordplay.

The only saving grace to this show is that the one caveman who's the political militant bitter caveman is pretty funny. The dorky caveman is a good dancer. The third caveman is just kinda klutzy. And that's the extent of it. I laughed once in the 25 minutes, and that's only because I have a stunted sense of humor, and was thinking of something else at the time.

Otherwise, this thing isn't funny, isn't well-paced, and isn't really quality. However, I said the same thing about "According to Jim" so WTF do I know? `

And the verdict is...

I'm not going anywhere, for now.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Been a smidge quiet

I have been in a weird place recently. And I don't mean to Michael Vick's backyard, either.

As some of my friends know, I wasn't just in Minneapolis to see some old friends and eat some pork. I was there for a job interview. I didn't expect to get the interview, let alone the job, but wouldn't you know it, they offered me the gig!

Telecom, in the Midwest. Hmmm...seems I've done that before.

So, it shocked me even more when I accepted it. Who, in their right mind, moves to Minnesota before the winter?

((other than college students))


Just lil' ole' me.

However, the rub is my lease. I don't have a moving clause in the bugger, and it doesn't look like I'll be able to move without suffering a heck of a penalty. The new company offered to pay some of it, but it's still a lot of cash. More than I feel like losing.

So, unless there's a miracle tomorrow in the leasing agency, I'm going to be here, in the MidAtlantic for a bit longer.

I've been waffling on this potential move for a week. Appears that my decision is being made for me.

Friday, August 03, 2007

From DCFUD - Lookin' California, Feelin' Minnesota


How strange that an innocent trip to the Twin Cities this past weekend would be bracketed two of the biggest news stories of the year.

A simple two-day mini-vacation to see some old friends in Minneapolis and get some good food seemed like a grand idea, and the affordable direct flights to Minnesota courtesy of Northwest Airlines would be a fine way to spend as much time away from D.C. as possible. That is, until Northwest and its pilots decided to come to loggerheads over work schedules the very weekend I would depend on them for transportation. As the Minneapolis/St. Paul Airport is Northwest's major international hub, local and cable news crews descended on passengers stuck in the expansive facility, trying to capture the mess as flights were cancelled like bad sitcoms on the WB.

Once in Minneapolis, I was whisked away to the Mall of America. Apparently it's illegal to visit the Twin Cities without going to this overgrown tribute to America's love of commerce and indoor theme parks. For those who have never been to the MOA, it's basically both Arundel and Potomac Mills combined after hanging out with Barry Bonds' trainer. The Mall changes stores like Sean Combs changes stage names, so while I missed the awesome hot sauce store that was there on my first visit in 1999, I didn't mind seeing the P.B. Loco Cafe' and its selection of peanut butters, ranging from the sweet Raspberry White Chocolate to the spicy Asian Curry, take its place. Waffles served with maple/peanut butter sauce...smoothies packed with fruit, chocolate and incredibly delicious peanut butter...yeah, that place could be dangerous if they opened up a location in D.C.

One place I had to try was J.D. Hoyt's, a casual steakhouse in Minneapolis' Warehouse District, just a few blocks from downtown. The place is nice, though very unassuming. It reminded me of Baltimore's late McCafferty's in the Mount Washington neighborhood, though this place appears to pay its bills. Pictures of the owners, famous guests and happy people dining on steaks the size of pizzas adorn the walls. J.D. Hoyt's is known for their pork chops, ribs and steaks, and the intoxicating mix of Cajun spices and meats from the kitchen made it tough to choose just one entree'. Service as provided by Roberta (though call her Bobby, remember, this place is unassuming) was smooth, efficient and friendly. And, I was pleasantly surprised when a "small" sampler platter of prime rib, baby back ribs and spiced pork chop arrived. Important to note - this "half" rack was the size of a full rack; the prime rib was baked and then lightly seared to temperature, and the pork chop was nearly a pound of fresh-from-the-farm carnivorous pleasure. The meal was solid - the prime rib was not as good as you'd expect from a true high-end steak house, but definitely right for the price. The pork ribs and chops, however, were just about perfect.

The friendliness of the Minnesotans was shocking. Talk flowed freely between tables and the few folks at the bar didn't remain strangers for long. Most conversation revolved around the groudbreaking for the new Twins baseball stadium, just a couple blocks away from J.D. Hoyt's, which was scheduled for this week. Kevin Garnett, the Minnesota Timberwolves star player, had not yet been traded to the Boston Celtics, but the rumors were flying. The chef came out to talk to each table, Bobbi gave me dining and tourism tips, folks at another table asked me for dining and tourism advice in D.C. During the night, a small group of young men came in to toast their Army buddy, just scant days away from being called to active duty in Iraq. People who had just met moments ago bought drinks for the young man, barely 21 years old, and though it was clear some patrons didn't support the war, they all supported their soldier.

So while I was saddened to find out tragedy struck Minneapolis soon after I left, I wasn't surprised to hear stories of heroic actions by folks caught up in mess of tangled vehicles and bridge, tending to those less fortunate. Of people rushing from the shore to help those who might be trapped under steel and concrete. Of prayer circles and support centers for those who may have lost somebody in the Mississippi River.

I drove across that bridge on Monday.

Feelin' for Minnesota

I was in the Twin Cities this weekend. Got to see some old Midwestern friends - not as many as I'd have liked to - but some nonetheless. I was impressed by how much Minneapolis is growing - some of the new designs are very progressive, much more daring than other Midwestern cities (Chicago being an obvious exception). Ate some good meals, met some nice people. I couldn't expect much more from a quick getaway.

I finally got to eat at JD Hoyt's, after almost 10 years of hearing about the place. Food was solid, service was great, and the people were ridiculously nice. The pork ribs, prime rib, and pork chops were all fantastic, though not as spectacular as expected.

And, of course I went to the Mall. Had to get some good peanut butter from their peanut butter store, and to see the Lego store.

I was on that darned bridge Monday afternoon before I left. Very odd sensation, really. Since no specific incident triggered the fall - at least, none that we know of yet - and it is so random, it makes me wonder why it just went when it did. What was so damning on Wednesday as opposed to Monday? Or Wednesday as opposed to today? Or next week?

Weird stuff. It wasn't a near-death experience for me, and certainly not traumatic, but it has made me pause for a second, definitely.

Still, you have to love the Minnesotans. Folks ran down to help those stuck, tried to get others out, assisted the emergency crews - even people who had been on the bridge when it fell helped others who were stuck. Others who couldn't help prayed or comforted those around them.

Doesn't that seem so expected, so natural, for a Midwesterner to act like that? To care for their neighbors before putting their own needs first?

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Lookin' Maryland, Feelin' Minnesota

Going up to the Twin Cities this weekend for a well-earned break and a meal at J.D. Hoyt's and some good ole' fashioned Midwestern hospitality.

And steaks the size of Toronto.

So begins my Season of The Wedding. 4 weddings in six weeks, 3 in consecutive weeks. Brutal. Stephen and Picot. My old old girlfriend Heather. Joey. Eric. It's crazy. I'll be broke and so sick of taffeta. But, such is the issue with having friends. Sometimes you have to stand by and watch them wreck their lives ;-)

Interesting article on how the average German supported Hitler prior and during WWII. The author clearly is not a fan of the current Administration in the US, and makes several points - a couple admittedly valid - on the parallels between fear, lies and propaganda.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Finally Figured Out The Decemberists...

...the modern day version of Prefab Sprout. Songs full of drama and importance and amazing musicianship, but I'll take Paddy McAloons' silver voice over the incessant quavering of Colin Meloy's anyday.

Took me a while to figure it out.

I'll give The Decemberists another listen, past Meloy's voice and see if I can find something new.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Final Chapter of the Last Harry Potter Book Leaked!

BET you're wondering where I got THIS lil' gem? Seems plausible...


Harry wakes up surpised, not to be at Hogwarts, but in a British mental institution. His wizard cape has been replaced with a straitjacket; his wand no longer in his hand, only the cold steel chain of a handcuff. After being pumped full of an ungodly amount of L-dopamine, young adult Harold Potter looks up at Dr. Dreyfus Umbledor, an older Ugandan-English psychologist at the facility who smiled as the young man's eyes widen. "Hello Harold, how are you?" he asked our hero.

"Where am I? Where's my wand? I thought you were dead!" screamed Potter.

"I am very much alive, Harold, though I had to take a leave of absence since my divorce. It seems once again you're alive as well. You've been in a catatonic state for years. It's good to see you, to meet you face to face."

"Why am I bound? What happened to Snape? Where are my friends Ron and Hermione? What has He Who Must Not Be Named done to Hogwart's?" asked Potter.

Dr. Umbledor tossled the thick black hair of his young charge. "Harold, I've watched over you for nearly a decade, wondering what was going on in your beautiful mind. Despite our wonderful advances in mental health since the 1990s, we are unable to truly read minds. We could tell through brain wave monitors that your alpha waves and receptors were constantly firing. Your eye movements have been unlike anything we've ever seen in similar REM moments. It's almost as though you were alive while being completely asleep."

"Why am I bound, Dumbledore? I need to be released! I must fight..." exclaimed Potter.

"You were restrained to keep you from hurting yourself." Dr. Umbledor explained. He reached over to pick up a small hand mirror, and showed Potter the scar. "You gave yourself quite the nasty gash one day many years ago in one of your states. We bound you to protect you from yourself."

"But my friends Ron and Hermione!? Where are they? I must see them!" cried the exasperated youngster.

Dr. Umbledor looked quizzically at him. "Who are Ron and Hermonie?" he asked.

"You don't know Ron and Hermione? My Lord, Voldemort has gotten to you, too! You don't remember your three finest students at Hogwart's?" answered Potter by way of questions. He was convinced more than ever in the evil of Valdemort.

Dr Umbledor chuckled softly in acknowledgement. "Oh, Harold...I apologize. I had no idea that while you were in your state that you could synthesize exterior stimuli and incorporate them into your dreams. Ah, the power of the mind is so amazing! Harold, I'm afraid your friend Ron is nothing more than Ron, one of the janitors here at Azakbhan's Mental Health Facility..."

"Wait," interupted Harry. "you mean Azkaban?"

"Oh my. It appears you picked up on my pitiful trait of mixing up consonants. English is such a hard language to learn. I tried to learn it through music, and for years, I thought Mott the Hoople was Hott the Muggle. I still get them confused" said Umbledor.

"What's a Muggle, Professor?"

"I don't know, but I used to say it all the time. And Harold, I gave up teaching years ago. Hardly a Professor; simply a doctor now. Anyway, as I was saying, Ronald is a custodian here at Mopple's, and he hangs out at the Hero Mine, a comic book store in town. We believed that you could someday hear us, so all of us on staff would tell you stories from our day-to-day lives. Perhaps Ron told you about the store."

"But Hermione was my true friend. She is so lovely, the way she's grown. Her hair so lively, her eyes so brown, perhaps my great love!" extolled Potter.

"Either you read some Greek Mythology before you came here or you're thinking of Ron's tale. It's very much a comic book store, Harold. Full of many boys and men about your age. None of them have ever seen, let alone actually touch, a girl, and certainly none as lovely as you describe."

A wave of realization crashed into the storm breakers on Potter's face. He was wondering if he was under some sort of spell, but he felt a pain in his left shoulder far too acutely to be under one of Voldemort's sinister plans.

"Doctor Umbledor, why does my shoulder hurt so?"

The doctor looked at the young man's shoulder. "While you were sleeping, you were bitten by an exotic spider. Before you were bound, you would constantly itching it. We kept telling you to stop itching it, but you obviously didn't listen. Ron, the Janitor, took special attention to your area, always making sure your room was spotless. He'd tell you in that rough cockney drawl of his 'qwit itchin! Qwit itch!"

The doctor loosened the shackles on Potter's arms. "Here you go, young friend. You don't need these now."

Potter snapped up in bed, and snapped the pencil out from Dr. Umbledor's coat. He started to cast the Spell of Reality he learned while at Hogwart's, but something caught his eye - a pimple-and-pock-covered pig had walked into the room.

"Snape!" snapped Potter. "It must be you!"

"Oh, dear Harold!" exclaimed Dr. Umbeldor. "That's our pet hog, Viktor. He's a bit old, but he provides company to the patients while they sleep."

Potter looked at the walking pork chop. "He's covered in marks..."

"Yes" said Dr. Umbledor. "Warts from when he was a piglet. We couldn't send him to butcher, so we kept him on as a pet."

"Hog - warts..." said Potter slowly. "Quit Itch....Quidditch...Viktor..."

"Yes, Harold?" inquired Dr. Umbledor.

"I'm still a great wizard, right?" asked Potter."

"Wizard? Oh my boy, the only Wizards I know of play basketball back in America, and you're far too young, short and pale to be effective in their game."

"But I'm a champion...Quidditch player..."

"In your dreams, Harold. In your dreams you were legend, I'm sure. This, however" as he gestured around the sterile hospital room, "is reality. It's 2007; we haven't seen a wizard in England since the 1500s, at least."

"My Lord, Doctor...could it all have been a dream?"

"Perhaps," said Dr. Umbledor "it all was what you wanted it to be."

The young man sat back down in his bed. He had just been given news that would shake any lesser man to his knees - that his whole basis of reality was a lie. A figment of his imagination.

"Doctor...thank you" offered Potter, softly.

"You have no need to thank me. You will prove to be a fascinating case. What did you think you were?"

"Well," began Potter, "I was a boy wizard, taught at Hogwart's School...a place for those talented in magic. I was friends with Ron and Hermione and we laughed and we fought evil and you were there as a Professor, but you were white, and you fought with Snape and we were warned of the evil Voldemort..."

Dr. Umbledor roared with laughter. "The evil Voldemort?! That's priceless, Harold!"

The young man looked quizzically at the older gent.

"Voldemort," explained Umbledor, "was the name of my ex-wife's divorce attorney! He tried to take everything I ever owned! You got that evil part spot-on!"

Potter excused himself from laughing, though he wasn't mad that Umbledor was still cackling like an old hen. He realized that his dream world was so much better than the real world.

"My young man," said Umbledor to Potter, with his hand placed on his shoulder "these dreams of yours would make a wonderful story. 'Harry Potter the Prisoner of Azkaban!' has a ring to it..."


Sunday, July 15, 2007

A new device and Decemberists in July

Picked up a new laptop to replace the long-dead but not-forgotten Device Mk. I, the Toshiba Satellite laptop that died back in `06. Best Buy had a pretty good sale on HP laptops, so I purchased one with 2 gigs of RAM, AMD Turion X2, integrated webcam, LightScribe SVS/CD burner and...Windows Vista.

So far...other than being slightly annoying, Vista has worked fairly well so far. The "cancel or allow" thing is pissy, but at the end of the day, it's still Windows. Take it or leave it.

Went to the Decemberists' show last night with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra at Merriweather Post Pavillion. They were all fine and dandy...and boy was I neither over or underwhelmed. I think I was simply whelmed.

They're not a bad band, but boy are they a lot to swallow more than a random mp3. Their lyrics range from preposterous to pompous. They remind me a bit of Crash Test Dummies - the words *SEEMED* important and meaningful until you gave the lyrics and actual read and/or listen. Then, it hit ya like a sledgehammer to the forehead "Hey, this is crap!"

Still, they put on a nice show, and seem like charming folk. The music just ain't my bag, baby. That's what I get for buying a ticket to a show of a band I barely know.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

One of those nights...

1) Rumors in NW DC needs help. The A-Hole to Normal Evolved Human Ratio is SO out of whack there. The place has always been cheesy, but cheesy AND full of pricks...can't handle that.

2) Why do women insist on flirting with the friends of the guy they just broke up with? Honey, I heard the stories. I know why you're done as a couple, mostly because you're probably a dirty, dirty girl who cheated on my boy. So why do you think I'd give you the time of day?

3) MeetinDC - can the obsession with my ass PLEASE stop? I'm done with it. I'm about ready to drop the group completely. Knock it the hell off. Seriously. Next person who grabs my ass is going to get their ears boxed, or a kick in the shin. I'm sick of my ass being grabbed more than antacid at a Mexican food festival. If I wave it at you, then you may proceed. Otherwise....NO!! Bad MiDC person! Bad!

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

oh my DAMN!!! Transformers frickin' rocks!

Finally, a movie Michael Bay didn't screw up!

Shia LaBeouf rocks! Megan Fox lives up to her name! John Turturro is hilarious! Optimus mother-f*ckin' Prime!

Perfect summer movie! The Five Paragraph Bitter Film Critic is harder than a virgin at a gang bang!

I'm writing in exclamation points!

You will love this movie...unless you're a tool. You're not a tool, are you?

Transformers gets 8 Whammies! for the eight different Transformer toys I had as a kid. It could have had nine if I hadn't have lost Starscream in the move to Glenarm Road.
My only complaint...

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Strange...Never a Huge Fan Before...

...but suddenly, I'm digging Alyssa Milano. This picture helps.

Plus, this quote from

ALYSSA MILANO: [Laughs] There's absolutely no pink. Pink offends me. It's the man's misguided answer: "If you make it pink, women will buy it." I'm a traditionalist.

Just say no to Pink.

Dear Bad Driver...

Hi. You may not remember me from our little near-collision in Arlington this morning. Actually, I'm quite sure you don't know who I am because I know you didn't see my car. Well, I shouldn't say I know you didn't see me, but I do know you didn't see the big red STOP sign that you so blythely ran, sending you scant inches away from my bumper. I'm not sure if you heard my tires squeal and my horn blare, but the people around our potential auto rendezvous did. Your mid-2000s tan SUV almost made more of an impression on me than hearing my parents have sex in their bedroom one sleepless night when I was a kid, and trust me, pal, that scarred the shit outta me.

Sounded like my mom was getting stabbed with an ice pick, and my dad was moving around a sleeper sofa. Not cool, bro.

When I spotted you again on Columbia Pike, you were laughing, though nobody else was in your vehicle. Though your rear window is far-too-heavily tinted to see through, your side window showed quite plainly that you're an officer in the United States' Army, and your Pentagon parking hang tag (which, BTW, you're not supposed to drive around with dangling from your rear view mirror. Safety violation and whatnot...) indicates that we must work in the same building.

So, you're in the Army. With all the acronyms thrown at our soldiers, I'm sure you got confused, and thought STOP meant Speeding To Obliterate Pontiacs. It actually means "stop."

Being in the Army makes you some sort of instant hero nowadays. What, with 9/11 and fighting our godless enemies and making sure we have a secure oil stream to ensure you can drive your SUV. Within the Pentagon, rank has privilege, and military law backs that up. However, on the streets, the laws of the military do not circumvent the laws of physics and traffic court. If I wasn't such a careful driver with a trigger finger for a braking foot, you'd have taken out my front end, damaged your precious SUV, and been woefully late for work.

So, please, Mr. Soldier or Army of One or Warfighter or what ever term you prefer - hit the fucking brakes and come to a complete stop.

Do it for the troops.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Don't Even ^&$%@~! Think About Speeding in Ole' Virginny

From this weekend's WaPost...

Say you are driving 78 mph on the Capital Beltway and a state trooper tickets you for "reckless driving -- speeding 20 mph over." You will probably be fined $200 by the judge. But then you will receive a new, additional $1,050 fine from the Old Dominion, payable in three convenient installments. So convenient that you must pay the first one immediately, at the courthouse.

First-time drunk driver? A $300 fine from the judge and a $2,250 fee from the commonwealth.

Driving without a license? Maybe a $75 fine. Definitely a $900 fee from Virginia.


I'm all for improving the quality of life on the highways, but, DAMN!

The article points out several drawbacks to this plan, such as the dramatic burden to the local court system as now EVERY traffic offense would be fought in court, just to avoid these fines. So, on paper, it looks like a potential windfall for the state, but it could end up costing more than it makes.

Also, if I was an attorney specializing in traffic law, I would move to Virginia and set up shop quicker than a jackrabbit on a date. Student loans? Bah! Paid off in a New York Minute! $500,000 condo? Hell, paid off by March `09...

What I see as an unintended consequence, though - how many folks will be unwilling to "move" to Virginia? Live in the Commonwealth but maintain their permanent addresses in other states. Decreased tax revenue from a potential citizen at the expense of a traffic violation. If you're going to have legislation that allows for non-residents to skirt by such fees, while sticking it to your own citizens, that hardly seems fair. Not to mention...a pretty good way to ensure your dumb ass will be voted out of office.

If Virginia is so intent on cleaning up the highways and increasing revenue, here are a few options from yer friendly Telecomedian:

1) Sliding scale of vehicle registration fees. Sort of a combo SUV tax and a way to promote better MPG. Right now, most cars cost 30 to 35 bucks to register in VA, and trucks are $40. I was pretty surprised to see such low fees, especially in a state that usually can't wait to tax the HELL out of its citizens. Offer free registration for purchasers of a gas-sipping vehicle (like a hybrid, turbodiesel, or car with a average MPG over 35 on the highway). Triple or even quadruple the fees for registering non-work trucks or SUVs, and gas-guzzling muscle cars. You figure a good suburban cul-de-sac would bring in a couple thousand dollars in registration fees, as they are people unlikely to be driving without a license or on suspended plates.

2) Motorcycles that weave in and out of traffic like they're reinacting the trench scene in Star Wars can be hit with scalding hot coffee. I hate these guys driving souped-up crotch rockets threading through traffic at ungodly speeds, coming inches away from getting into wrecks with every turn. This behavior caused a fatal accident on the Maryland side of 495 last week...while the motorcyclist got away scot-free.

If a biker is following the rules of the road, great. But this Speedy Gonzalesesque crap has got to stop. Don't want to be hit with scalding hot coffee? Don't drive like an idiot.

As an added bonus, think of the extra sales' tax gained from coffee shops as some people will want to have a piping hot cup of joe at the ready, just waiting for the next prick to zoom by at 100 miles an hour on 95 on a Ninja.

3) Just a thought - make everybody take a new driving test instead of automatically renewing their license. See how it goes. Try it out. You might like it.

4) Lower the Speed Limit During Rush Hours. I can hear y'all scratching your heads, but read this carefully: Traffic is caused my multiple factors: weather, accidents, volume, construction and capacity being among them. We can't change the weather. Accidents tend to happen to even the safest, most careful drivers. Construction delays are often part and parcel of living in a growing area. But volume and capacity CAN be controlled, or at least predicted.

Rush hour in the evening starts pretty much between 3 and 3:30. Part of the initial crush of cars is the high volume of people hitting low-capacity feeder roads to beat the rest of the rush hour that begins in earnest at 4. So, they want to hightail it out of work so they can get to the high capacity interstates and highways before they clog, the idea being that driving at 70 for a couple of miles makes up for driving at 30 for a dozen more.

How many times have you been cruising on 66 or 495 to see a sudden sea of brakelights around the next hill? Part of that problem is the differential in speed. Brakes are vital to avoid accidents and to make sudden turns, but they are often used to modulate speed. This indicates to me that the road is not being used efficiently. Large gaps between cars are neccessary at high speeds to allow safe following distance, and that gaps becomes decidedly smaller at slower speeds. What can set off a chain reaction of braking is somebody driving dangerously down the highway, or a lone police officer on the side of the road. But what really sets them off more often than that? Somebody in the left hand lane needing to get over to the right hand lane for an exit a 1/4 of a mile away. Somebody needing to merge to avoid a lane that ends. When somebody needs to make one of these such maneuvers, they usually make an unsafe lane change. The drivers closest to the incident hit the brakes to avoid an accident. This makes everybody around them panic break in a pack mentality.

Wouldn't it be a much better allocation of vital resources for the Commonwealth to force the major roads like 395, 66, 495 to go to a slower, more reasonable speed limit like 45, and thus giving drivers more room for merging, lane changes and closing lanes? The regulation of traffic speeds allows for smoother commuting and higher road capacity without building another highway.

It's simple physics...and if entire roads can be made for HOV lanes, the speed limits on other roads can be modified too.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

For the Six of Us Who Still Care...

The Caps are unveiling their new jerseys tomorrow for the draft party.

HOWEVER - Caps Nut got them earlier this week, and, uh...

Well, look for your own damned selves.


Dear God.

This looks like the jersey that would come from one of those historic teams form a Canadian industrial town that relocates somewhere in America's Sun Belt. You know, a team that wants its new fan base to forget any ill will from the team's move.

What, pray tell, was wrong with this:

MEMO TO TED: There are approximately 9,000 fans dressed up as empty seats at every home game. Please don't make the remaining 6,000 look at these retreads from the WAC or Arena League.

Anyway, upon giving the unis a third look, I figured out what the design theme was:

GREAT JOB!!! "Ladies and Gentlemen, come on down to the Verizon Center for our Dogfights and Fistfights Promotion. Every time a Cap gets into a scrap, we'll unleash two rabid pit bulls on the opponent! The first 5,000 fans bringing in a Rott, Chow, Shepard or wolf-mix get free admission. That's Dogfights and Fistfights, brought to you by Aquafina. When you need to stash your pot before an international flight, think Aquafina!"

The Caps is idiots.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

The Five Paragraph Bitter Food Critic Vs. The World

I never thought I had much in common with Lindsay Lohan.

She's a young Hollywood starlet and pop star, better known for her hard-partying, relapses into rehab, ever-changing breast size, spectacular rise and fall, and for showing her birth canal to pretty much every actor, athlete and paprazzi in California. I'm more of a brokedown former disc jockey and comedian who couldn't wait to sell out to Corporate America for a stable paycheck. As far as I know, she's done more drugs than a Rick James' groupie, and the hardest thing I've smoked is turkey. But her song "Me vs. The World" from the Freaky Friday soundtrack speaks to me. Well, it doesn't technically speak because I've never heard it, and couldn't pick it out in a police lineup. I just found the lyrics online, and thought "I had no idea I could relate to young Lindsay's plight."

See, "The World" in my case is Reese's. The loveable brand from our friendly neighbors to the North, Hershey (if not the best corporate citizens), has finally released a limited edition Elvis tribute Reese's Cup - Peanut Butter and Banana Creme. One of his favorite treats was fried peanut butter and banana sandwiches. As I have resolved to eat healthier and exercise more, and been doing a fine job of it, these little chocolatey bastards could be my undoing. As a kid, my mom preferred that I ate peanut butter and banana sandwiches, getting at least some vitamins and potassium from the banana slices, benefits absent in most jellies. When mom found these new Elvis cups, she thought it would be nice reminder of my childhood. They're not bad, either, as I was afraid the banana would be too artificial, too overpowering. But the banana flavor is just enough to complement the traditional chocolate/peanut butter balance of a Reese's. One of the few "Limited Editions" that I like.

Plus, this has a picture of Elvis on the package. And it's not like that cop-out Young Elvis versus Old Elvis stamp debacle, either. You can find these with Young Athletic Elvis, Hawaiian Shirt Elvis, and, my favorite, Old Elvis. It's clearly Fat Elvis in all his early 1970s Vegas coked-out jumpsuit glory, maybe not quite as bloated and rambling, but it's clear he's baked... much like Mlle. Lohan.

This limited edition run is hitting stores throughout the region now. Dollar General Stores seem to be a reliable place to find them, though they seem to be allergic to putting a store within the Beltway. If you see them, please share in the comments. Let others find their inner Elvis. Hopefully, Mojo Nixon's vision of Elvis being everywhere can be realized.

Elvis Reese's Cups get 18 Whammies!, one for each of The King's U.S. number one hits on the pop singles chart.

Thanks to The Junk Food Blog and Candyblog.