28 February 2007

File under "Duh..."

So apparently some would-be sorority sisters are complaining that they were rejected because they weren't "pretty enough" or "slim enough." Hello? You are actively participating in a system that was built to maintain class distinctions and outside of churches remains one of the most racially segregated institutions in the United States and you are shocked, shocked to discover there's discrimination among your erstwhile "best friends forever"?

Catch a clue. The entire Greek system thrives on exclusion and narcissistic aggression. Why do you think the males engage in homoerotic rituals of physical degradation every year? The pledge period basically consists of enough time for the members to decide if you've got the money, restricted worldview, and fashion sense to hang with them. The "tragedy" of the students interviewed is that even though they were already members of Delta Zeta, they and 20 others were kicked out by the national. They allege that all the overweight and 3 of 4 minority members were the ones asked to leave.

Let me explain slowly. Being surprised at this turn of events is like being a Log Cabin Republican and being surprised that your party panders to the homophobic right.

27 February 2007

This is just to say...

This morning was a glorious morning to be on a bike. If I hadn't already missed most of last week due to family illnesses, I'd have probably called in sick just to take a ride down the GW Parkway, or maybe down to Hains Point. Either way, it would have been better than coming into work.

We only had a few weeks of real winter weather, so I'm not complaining about that. It was just beautiful whipping around Dupont Circle this morning with the sun behind the fountain. Seriously you know it would be good riding along the Potomac right now, in the few months we have before the air sticks to you like a wet shirt.

Let me leave you with this gem from Edna St. Vincent Millay:


To what purpose, April, do you return again?
Beauty is not enough.
You can no longer quiet me with the redness
of little leaves opening stickily.
I know what I know.
The sun is hot on my neck as I observe
The spikes of the crocus.
The smell of the earth is good.
It is apparent that there is no death.
But what does that signify?
Not only under ground are the brains of men
Eaten by maggots.
Life in itself
Is nothing,
An empty cup, a flight of uncarpeted stairs.
It is not enough that yearly, down this hill,
Comes like an idiot, babbling and strewing flowers.


26 February 2007

Now, where was I?

I apologize to the tons of loyal readers I've disappointed by my (nearly complete) absence over the past two weeks. It's amazing how little internet access they let you have in rehab.

Hey, how about those Oscars (tm)? I thought the best part of the night was when Martin Scorsese stabbed Francis Ford Coppola in the neck with his pen, screaming, "That's what happens to backstabbing weasels!" And then they cued the music, so I'm not sure if Coppola lived or died. I found out, though, that both movies I saw in theaters this year were Oscar nominated for something or other: Pan's Labyrinth, which actually won 3 awards, and Cars, which I don't think won an award.

Recently, we've been watching some movies, but it's been with our son, so most current movies are off the table. However, we have an extensive backlist of videotapes and dvds to choose from, and two weeks ago we watched A Little Romance, with Laurence Olivier and a very young Diane Lane. Charming. We followed that one up with The Princess Bride, which was one of those films I'd missed when it came out. Very enjoyable. No one does campy Errol Flynn better than Cary Elwes.

Unfortunately, I don't think I'll be pulling out Taxi Driver or The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly for family film night anytime too soon.

21 February 2007

Another thing that pisses me off.

I work in an building with one of those automatic door openers that's clearly marked with a handicapped signal, because it's intended for use by people who have motor function issues that would make it difficult for them to open the door manually.

It is not intended for lazy fucks who probably would park in handicapped spaces if they weren't afraid of the fines.

And for heaven's sake, when someone in front of you has already opened the door and is holding it open, don't be such an asshole that you pound on the automatic open button, you lazy privileged fuck.

Thanks. I'm done.

15 February 2007

Just a little whining and complaining...

Yesterday morning we piled in the car to run a few errands. Now anyone who's from a reasonably northern section of this country would scoff at the dusting of snow we had out there. In fact, to arrive at my ancestral home, you have to drive approximately three hours northwest of here, yet it seems that those three hours make all the difference. Apparently anyone born or raised below the Mason-Dixon has no idea how to drive in the snow.

And I don't give a shit if you happen to drive some German engineering marvel: if you can't drive in the snow you are simply a more dangerous idiot when behind the wheel of that car, or worse yet, SUV. Fortunately most people are scared stiff to drive and stay at home, which is where the hell most of them belong anyway, but you have an adventurous few who through their cluelessness endanger every pedestrian, driver, and parked car out there.

Not two blocks from our house, we get the green on 18th Street. I'm pulling into the intersection when coming down 18th Street with no apparent ability to stop at the red light is a Maryland-tagged Audi. The driver flashed a sheepish grin as she slid through the intersection as if the rules were suspended because she's too much of a fucking idiot to realize she can't drive 40 MPH down 18th Street with snow all over the road and have any sense of control over her car.

I would like to propose a licensing system whereby you have to pass a snow-driving test in order to be able to move your car around in the snow. The first test would be to see what you do when your car is stuck, because I am goddamned tired of watching people stuck in icy patches flooring their gas as if spinning the wheels faster is going to do anything other than create more slick ice.

Oh, and I'm not giving the new mayor any high marks for the city's snow plowing efforts this time.

13 February 2007

Some blogs I have known...(aka stealing other people's ideas post)

That was some snowstorm. I'm surprised teh internets are still working, what with the strain all that snow and ice must be putting on the infrastructure. But I'm not going to write about yet another ridiculous winter scare forecast; having lived in the District for 13.5 years, I'm used to the ridiculous amount of time local newscasts devote to the weather and the endless hype that surrounds any possibility of precipitation.

No, today I am going to write about the brilliance of this. Just a little bit maybe. Momentary Academic has taken a 1980's tearjerker hit, the titletrack to a popular movie, and redone it as a spare guitar/vocal arrangement. There's a hell of a lot more vulnerability in this version than in the Phil Collins original (which has its own merits, but Phil does menace far better than he does vulnerable, in my opinion). Speaking of Phil, it's hands down true that his 80's solo stuff is far better than his 80's Genesis stuff. In fact, the only Genesis I like at all is the Peter Gabriel era stuff, when they were so hopelessly art rock that you had to either be stoned to the bejesus or a poet/instrumental snob to enjoy them.

Which by the way leads me to this. Mr. Lonnie Bruner of Adams Morgan writes that music is no longer central to his life. Looking at my own life, I have to agree. I remember a time when music was pretty much the only thing that mattered in a real way to me (sure I wanted to do well in school, stay out of trouble, fall in love, but that's all on the side), and I'm guessing that time spanned somewhere from high school to a few years following college (although to be fair, after two years of college music had to share the limelight with a few other "deeply felt interests."). To me, there are still crucial bands, but they are crucial more to me on a personal level than they are as saviors of society. There is, after all, the only band that matters.

That's all for now.

12 February 2007

I was having a good morning until...

As is usual, my son got on his bike and I put my daughter on my bike and off we went to school this morning. It was warmer than normal (this winter I've taken the bus two or three times and my wife's dropped us all off once or twice), so it was almost pleasant on the ride down the hill to his school. The school sits on one of those one way streets that's single lane but is used by so many commuters to get across town, and the commuter in a good mood is a rare thing indeed.

It just so happens that on Mondays the schoolchildren assemble, weather permitting, on the playground outside the school and have a short assembly: announcements, class presentations, etc. This morning weather permitted, and the children were assembled listening to the principal. The traffic on the street was bad, and this one driver, all alone in his Maryland tagged light green Saab, decided that right in front of the school he needed to lay on his horn. Repeatedly.

Surprisingly enough, the gridlocked traffic didn't dissolve at the blast of the trumpet like the walls coming down at Jericho, but that didn't stop him. On and on he pounds on the horn until I go over to him and ask him (I paraphrase now), "WTF is wrong with you, you idiot?" and I point at the children at assembly. Mind you, I'm on a bike and am in no way responsible for his delay, but he looks straight at me and lays on the horn. I laughed at him and turned back to the assembly.

The great irony -- actually it's probably not ironic, just what you'd expect -- is that at that moment the children were having a moment of silence for the six year old DCPS student killed in a crosswalk on his way to school by a Takoma Park driver.

09 February 2007

Remember last time BushCo "proved" something about Iraq?

Fresh on the heels of four years of falsehoods and bumbling, the Bush Administration has launched a new dog and pony show, with new Defense Secretary Robert Gates asserting that the US can "prove Iran's Iraq role" according to the Washington Post. Uh huh. Where have I heard all this before? Maybe it was Colin Powell's "proving" that Saddam Hussein had mobile chemical labs (which had to be represented by artist's renditions since they didn't actually exist -- that should be clue #1 that you are bullshitting).

Now Gates is trotting out this year's model, with bold assertions and less than bold backing facts. Viddy this:
Serial numbers and markings on explosives used in Iraq provide "pretty good" evidence that Iran is providing either weapons or technology for militants there, Defense Secretary Robert Gates asserted Friday.

Offering some of the first public details of evidence the military has collected, Gates said, "I think there's some serial numbers, there may be some markings on some of the projectile fragments that we found," that point to Iran.

Serial numbers would provide good evidence, except the Secretary doesn't seem terribly firm on their existence. Note the qualifiers "I think" and "may be some markings" that Gates inserts into his exuberant assertion.

Does this administration think they'll have any backing to go into Iran even if it turns out that all of the bombs were personally signed by Ahmadinejad with a sharpie? Do they understand they're now running on fumes and they're hundreds of miles from any gas stations?

Here's another tidbit from our dear leaders:
He [Gates] and other U.S. officials have said for some time that Iranians, and possibly the government of Iran, have been providing weapons technology, and
possibly some explosives to Iraqi insurgents.

If you were to replace "Iranians" and "Iran" with "Americans" and "United States" and strike "Iraqi insurgents" in favor of "repressive but business friendly governments and drug-running murderous business friendly thugs," you'd basically have US foreign policy in the third world for at least the last 70 years.

08 February 2007

Space Oddity

Can someone please inform me why the hell this story is front page news for one day, let alone multiple days? So a person who happens to be an astronaut allegedly went batty and tried to kill her alleged love rival. Someone needs to tell CNN, Washington Post, and NASA that love triangles happen everywhere everyday and there's nothing special about being in space that made her do it.

It's one of the great tragedies and one of the great beauties of our lives as humans that emotions can trump rationality: desire, love, passion, jealousy, apeshit stalking and murder plotting -- all of that defies reason. Read your Lacan, NASA. Or maybe your Nietzsche.

I don't know. I suppose it sells papers.

07 February 2007

Ode to Inconsistency

How I curse you, L2, most capricious of busses,
you of the infrequent stops and skipped promises.
I despair of reading yet another 9x line marquee
still each time my pulse quickens in my hope
to read your name writ bold atop your broad face.

Bah, you have dashed my hopes!

Twice, you have dashed my hopes
and I look to my feet
like a scorned suitor, his rival
escorting his love through the dance floor.

Then, like the sun cresting the hills at dawn,
you appear, come rumbling past the post office into sight.

I am saved, dear diesel-scented mistress of my desire!

05 February 2007

So how was the weekend?

We went to the Jasper Johns exhibit this weekend at the National Gallery of Art. I was unimpressed, and I like Johns's work. I think the problem with the exhibit is that it's too repetitive: two rooms full of targets, a few more of the "red, yellow, blue" motif, and then some body images. All in all, the repetition doesn't build meaning but rather implies, incorrectly I would add, that Johns is a one-trick pony.

We couldn't resist taking the chance to see the Matisse cut-outs, which are only open for a portion of the day:

Don't worry: I didn't use a flash. I am astounded by the amount of flash photography that goes on in art museums. I'm also astounded that the guards often don't say anything about it, or that museums don't have policies against it (the NGA doesn't bar flash photography, while the Smithsonian's American Art and Portrait Gallery does).

For children, the NGA has a "picture hunt" checklist that asks you to go from gallery to gallery: they give you the gallery number and the artist and painting names, and you go hunt it down. Our son was magnificently happy with this activity, and we went end to end after the paintings. The Shaw Memorial was on the list:

Doing the search made me realize how deep the NGA's collection is. I usually hang out in the late-nineteenth-century and twentieth-century areas, so I hardly ever venture to the western end of the West Building. Several of our paintings were down on the western end, though, so we meandered over there to seek out such gems as Sodoma's St. George and the Dragon, which is not to be confused with other versions (for instance, it wasn't the version that our son has seen a million times reproduced to ridiculous size in the NGA concourse cafeteria):

It was a good way to spend a Saturday.

03 February 2007

Ladies and Germs, my 500th Post.

To my millions of readers, I say thank you. Thank you for making it all worthwhile. I've hit 500 posts in just under two years (twenty days under two years, thank you very much) and what's more I've reached this milestone on my birthday. So obviously the stars are aligned etcetera etcetera.

Blogging has changed my life in so many ways, whether it's the all-night cocaine-fueled orgies thrown at a blogger's posh Georgetown rowhouse or the more mundane "picking up an 8-ball and a hooker because it'd make a good blog entry," I truly have to thank the blogger for making it possible.

I promise that the next 500 posts will take this medium to the next level, with naked photos of myself and various lawmakers and priests, my favorite recipes, and of course regular guest blog entries written by Jesus Christ, Mohammed, and Odin (Mohammed is a little worried about his entries because, as he says, "my followers take everything so damn seriously," but Jesus told him you can't "let the haterz get to you: people have been killing other people in my name for several centuries, too, but you gotta remember you write for you, not for them.").

02 February 2007

Groundhog Day musings that have little to do with groundhogs

OK, I have to admit that I find the whole Groundhog Day euphoria hilarious. Growing up, we all followed the doings of Punxsutawney Phil, but then we followed the doings of Punxsy high school athletics also. I suppose the regionalism of Punxsutawney Phil exploded after the Bill Murray vehicle Groundhog Day, and now he's a national phenomenon, rating video coverage on the Washington Post and CNN sites.

But enough of that. Has anyone else noticed a trend of "dandyism" on campuses? This morning, after walking back from my class, I noticed two young men out for a stroll. One of them was clearly a dandy. He wore trousers and a jacket with a little silk handkerchief poking out of the breast pocket, a V-neck sweater with a tie tucked underneath it. He also wore black leather gloves. The silk tie was a vibrant shiny green, while the silk handkerchief was more of a turquoise or aqua tone. The other, I believe, was a dandy in training: he had the jacket, but his jeans marked him as something of a dandy wanna-be. Their conversation was about what one had written in his diary the night before.

Diary? My assumption immediately turned to the possibility that I'd happened upon two collegiate literary stars, you know the kind that are probably affiliated with one of the many literary magazines around campus. I though very much of Freddie Miles in The Talented Mr. Ripley:

01 February 2007

RIP Molly Ivins

Molly Ivins has died of cancer. Ivins brought humor and plain language as an antidote to the false erudition of the gasbags who dominate the opinion columns of most newspapers. Ivins lived the lonely life of a Texas liberal, laboring on in a state dominated by knee-jerk reactionaries that produced perhaps the most sad spectacles of our epoch, the idiot-king George Bush II.

Here's a bit from a 2001 column, but it's amazing apt to describe the current drive of the Bush regime:
Karl Rove, the man known as "Bush's Brain," would never do anything mean, dirty, petty or tacky. I say this because one of the things I have learned from Rove and Karen Hughes--counselor to His Bushness and also known as Nurse Ratchet--is that if you say something often enough, like "compassionate conservative" or "leave no child behind," the reality makes no difference; people remember only the slogan. (One of the funnier slogans, from Bush's last run for governor, was "end social promotion." Social promotion is the story of Bush's life. The Lege [Texas Legislature]just ended ending social promotion--it doesn't work.)

Just as true now as then...

Now we're left with stuffed shirt frauds like George Will. God help us all.