Thursday, September 25, 2008

Alpha Dope

Here's a revelation: Bush is a horrible speaker. But I'm starting to wonder if it's on purpose. Check out this video:

I don't buy the presenile dementia.

I also remember him speaking just fine when they showed him chatting in a clip from the early 90's in michael moore's film. Is it his swagger? Is it a game where he proves to himself and his inner circle that he can talk like that in public and STILL be THE most powerful human? Is it a persona that he's put on like Stephen Colbert has? Does it serve some political purpose to be that way? I know when I talk to someone that stupid I lose interest and stop asking questions. Is that his way of deflecting media scrutiny?

I wonder this because I was watching Colbert last night and they showed a clip of him saying something incredibly stupid. I don't remember what it was, but it was indeed hilarious. But you'd think by now, nearing the end of his second term, if it were a priority he'd develop some clue about how to speak well in public. But no. I mean, we've had YEARS now of absolute gems. And they haven't trailed off as far as I can tell. Every time he breathes in public, he provides late night fodder. Obviously the Harvard MBA is not as dumb as he comes off. I'm thinking it might be deliberate.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Standout Indian Food?

Most Districted people who like Indian food don't really have a favorite Indian restaurant. They typically say, "Well, it's always pretty good, because I like Indian food."

Come on. I want to know where the best Indian food is. The standout Indian place.

Heritage India is good, but they're only slightly better than Delhi Dhaba. Mostly they're pretending to be upscale Indian. What's that? Indian food ingredients are the cheapest ever, right?

Taj Mahal, right next to Heritage India on Connecticut (south of Dupont Circle) is a good place to go when you're hungry; at lunch they have an all-you-can-eat buffet. But I know it's not awesome. Some dishes taste worse than storebought varieties.

I went to Ghar-E-Kabab this weekend in Silver Spring. It's Nepali-run but serves mostly just Indian food. (I was disappointed; I loved my Nepalese curry place in Toyama, Japan. Shout out to Chatori-Katori!)

Ghar-E-Kabab was tasty. The spinach curry warms the mouth with a nice, subtle spice. The chicken curry was simple and good. The nan was just okay. The waiters, kinda pushy. The overall meal was not standout.

I know where to go for kabob food. Ravi Kabob. It also has Indian food. It's in a strip mall in Virginia somewhere. It's too far for me to go just when I'm craving curry, but it is "standout." I want a Metroable standout Indian place in MD or the District. Too much to ask?

Friday, September 19, 2008

I Ain't 'Fraid o' Nuthin'

Play by play of the 13 question quiz:

1) Both. Proceeding to just pick one.

2)Don't know the answer - "When you raise taxes in a bad economy you eliminate jobs." Don't know if that's true. Is it always true? is it true in our situation? Is there someone who can answer this for me and show me the reasoning? Feel like both options are a starting place for further readind, not a dividing line.

3) Iraq issue, general stance: we NEVER should have gone there as far as I can tell, but since we are, it might be our responsibility to not leave until they are stable. I forget the terminology, but I lean toward progress based withdrawal vs timetables. I feel like this is a talking point from a year ago, though. The statements here don't seem to make assertions, just statements about attitudes. I'd like to know what the proposals are. Does Obama want a precipitous withdrawal? I chose the Obama statement, but I wouldn't want a sudden withdrawal.

4) Iraq: Man, I wish I could sit and pick the brains of people who are in the know.

5) Healthcare: my attitude predisposition led me to click Obama's, but is it the most practical? I don't f***ing know.

6) How to pay for Healthcare: I don't know. Neither statement makes sense, but the McCain seems to make less. This goes back to taxing the rich just because they have the scratch. Lame. I still chose the Obama one, though.

7) Immigration: Chose the Obama one, but only because I had a convo with roommate and her boyfriend about this issue recently. They won me over. If I had a conservative roommate, I'd probably have a different view.

8) Earned Citizenship: I think I chose the Obama one, but I am NOT qualified to weigh in here. It does seem impractical to me to deport 12 million people. I don't know what illegal immigration does to our country. I can tell you that the restaurant industry would cease to put food on the table and wash dishes so abundantly.

9) Abortion: Obama. I don't see any gray area on this one.

10) Gay Marraige: Both are anti based on these quotes. That's stupid. Why not? Oh, right, we're a religious whackball country and letting a man and a man f*** under a holy or pseudo holy union would alienate too many.

11) Global Warming: I don't know about this one. I do think that this is probably a political issue more than a scientific one, but we obviously need a hard reduction on carbon emissions. Which approach is more practical: Hard cap or whatever else the other one asserts? The hard cap says 80% below 1990 levels vs the other's 60%. Let's see, which is the greater number... Duh. Of course I want the greater reduction. Is it practical? Who the f*** knows? I'm going to click with the optimism that it is.

12) Judges and the court: ??? Well, both sound great. I guess. I don't understand. I'm going to close my eyes and click. Almighty prejudice tells me that I don't want hard-line conservatives in those jobs. Stance subject to massive change.

13) Commander in Chief: Both statements are vague. Close eyes and click.


I'm an Obama-ite. I must admit that I enjoyed this quiz very much.

And in response to my assignment: the speaker of the quote was pretty obvious most of the time.

Challenge for My Co-Blogger

I took this quiz at ABC News that is supposed to help you pick the candidate that you most relate to. It shows you quotes from the two presidential candidates (the two that matter, that is) and you pick the quote that you like the best.

Since I have a decent working knowledge of the candidates' policies, I was able to figure out who had said what before the quiz revealed it in the answers. Still, there were some that I was stumped by.

My Challenge: Hatandcoat, take ye this quiz, and report back. You don't have to tell us which candidate ABC News picked for you. Your challenge is to see if you can predict who said what. This will give us all insight into how aware you have become.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

I Am Not Spartacus

I don't wholeheartedly identify with liberal thinking like my Mom and my Co-Blogger. I might, I just don't think so at this point.

Here's one issue that my instincts say bulls*** to: the death tax. I'm also not generally a fan of requiring the wealthy to pay much more in taxes just because they can. Those are more conservative viewpoints. If I made a senseless amount of money I would voluntarily give that money but I don't see what right I would have to require the same of the guy down the hall in my luxury high rise.

I remember finding a website once that layed out all the basic political philosophies in a paragraph each. I think libertarian was my most fitting one. Basically they say "do whatever you want" both socially and fiscally. So, socially liberal and financially conservative. Sounds great, but I have genuinely disliked libertarians I have met.

I am chewing gum right now. I remember seeing a special about how Japanese swordsmiths work. They fold the metal over and over so it gets harder and harder. I want to try that with this gum. I'm using my tongue and teeth to make it happen.

Duh, it won't happen, now that I think about it. I'll have to resort to my favorite gum chewing activity. I make it a long string, paste it along my front teeth, flatten it out with my tongue, and blow so that it pops in about 8 different places. Kinda satisfying. I also like the satisfaction of eating baby carrots so that the crunch is extremely loud. I make my mouth a cavern so that it echoes. I probably doesn't make any difference, but it feels like it does.

If I were a superhero I would be "Lord of Chaos." I used to have a fantasy about being able to control random events in the environment so that they'd follow my will. So, if some foe across the room were bothering me I'd be able to drop a marble 1/2 foot in front of me. That marble would cause a stir of dust, which would make a tiny flock of dust mites to run to my right, they would run onto a bristle in the carpet which would bend and on and on until gust of wind picks up a used fork and hurls it a my foe's forehead. People would totally underestimate the Lord of Chaos to their demise.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Who's Ugging Whom?

Rode the Metro today, no bike. I don't bike when it's wet out.

At my stop, a couple that had been chatting the whole way on the train stepped out onto the platform just ahead of me. They were still talking. They took the down escalator, but then they faced "The Conversation-Escalation" problem.

When two people who are conversationally inclined get onto the DC Metro's escalators, they only have two polite options: standing on the right on different steps, or walking down together on the left. If it's not rush hour, no one's going to kill you if you want to talk to your friend on the same level, blocking the left (or passing) lane... as long as you move over when we tell you to. But during busy times that's not an option, and your conversation must suffer a brief respite.

This couple obviously had not planned well. They took the escalator two abreast, but the girl got stuck on the right while the guy went down on the left. I noticed the girl's annoyance, so I let her ahead of me in the passing lane with a "Go ahead."

She said, "Thanks a lot. Ugh." She went in front of me and followed her guy. I kind of forgot about it. Then she said, "I wasn't ugging you."

I realized she was talking to me. I said, "Huh? What did you say?"

She said "I wasn't ugging you. I was ugging him, for going ahead. You know, it could have been interpreted..."

"Oh," I said, "Don't worry about it." I hadn't thought she was ugging me. I thought she was ugging the situation, the Metro, the escalator rules, her guy, anything other than me. After all, I was the one who let her in. In this town, that's something to be really thankful for.

But now I know a new word. Ugging. To ug. I'm thinking a lot about words these days. See my post on Hatandcoat, which I put up just after this one, for more wordmania.

Time to Opine

Ok, two paragraphs in and I already have a reaction: Creationism.

I have long thought that I don't have any political opinions. It seemed that political opinions, for those interested, come from the same place that makes people say "I like/dislike [such and such a movie/dessert/book]." Unfortunately they do and people, it seems, act on such opinions without facts and think-through. A given issue seems answered by their unconscious brain as soon as a given topic is discussed. That's exactly what I want to avoid. Of course, the opposite end of the spectrum is me who eschews the whole damn thing because I don't feel for anything.

But on the issue of creationism I think I'm a knee-jerk liberal on this one. When I think about the issue, albeit infrequently, I think "Ok, you creationists are wrong. It's clear. Can we please stop talking about it? Please? I don't want to hear about it again." The best word to describe my feeling is bored. But I'm realizing that since I have such an opinion and others out there have the exact opposite opinion, that's what makes it a political issue. Thus I have a political opinion. I don't know how to go about suggesting how my stance should be implemented nationwide and I don't know how to go about properly insulting those who disagree with it, which seems the real point of politics. I realize that there are MASSIVE aspects of this issue eluding me as I write this post, but I also do realize that I have a starting point - my own opinion - to go about doing research if I'm so inclined.

I also realize that I don't fully understand what "creationism" means as I write this. That is an important point for me. I'm taking a stance on a political issue with incomplete knowledge. Before I would engage a creationist on any sort of debate I will have to do a lot of reading, but to think privately on this issue I am very comfortable with my stance where it lies.

Yes, I did need to spell all this out, if only for my own understanding.

I must regret that I have told my family about this blog. I was going to make an off color joke earlier that would have made me laugh while writing it, but I had to censor myself. Drat! My Dad just sent me an e-mail the other day telling me that he gets updates about my life from these blogs. That's cool, but I miss smut talk sometimes.

Hi, Dad.

Got the Go-Ahead: Political Post

(Update: Please ignore the positive spin I tried to put on Palin. She is horrible. See my latest post on her:

I kind of love I was thinking about writing a post about Palin and all the slightly incorrect statements out there, and they went ahead and did a video on it:

I'm guilty of Palin-paranoia as well. One of the first things I heard about her was that she supported teaching Creationism in schools. She actually only said she didn't think it should be forbidden from debate if students want to discuss it.

The next thing I heard about her was the book-banning thing. What actually happened was that Palin asked a librarian if she would agree to ban books from the library if the administration asked her to. The librarian said she would not agree to ban anything. Then Palin tried to get the librarian fired, but enough people supported the librarian that she was able to keep her job. Was there a correlation? Maybe.

Recently Palin said that the Iraq war was "a task that is a task from God," but she went back on herself: check it out here in her interview.

So Palin is not the demon we fear. But my problem with Palin is this: she's still scary. She is willing to discuss banning books, if that's what her constituents want. She has appeared to change tactics and beliefs from election to election, if that's what will make her win. When she has power, she doesn't appear able to wield it impartially (see librarian-firing above and "troopergate"). She's wishy-washy on gay couples' rights: no they can't be married, yes they should be treated equally (see here). Honestly, Democrats don't know what to make of her. The only thing they can stick to her is her pro-life-ness and her NRA-love.

I see an ideologue without an ideology of her own. She appears to stand for something, but I don't know what it is. I just know that she isn't standing for my beliefs (freedom of speech, not banning books; greater separation of church and state; not drilling for oil when we need green energy; politicians working for the American people and not on tasks "from God").

I see the same kind of thing in McCain. I don't believe that his stance on "moral values" is real. But I do know that he is not going to be a good President, for the very reason that his "values" aren't his own.

Liberals are scared of Bush, McCain, and Palin because liberals value freedom of and from religion, not just freedom to be Christian. Liberals think that elected officials should be accountable, not free to fire contrary librarians and public safety officials. Liberals value intelligent and independent decisionmakers, not "deciders" who need to consult with Karl Rove every time they make a move. And liberals like books so much that the mere mention of "banning" horrifies them into a fugue state. They won't care if it was a rhetorical question, Sarah; it was the wrong rhetorical question for a leader and possible VP to ask.

I ain't sayin' Obama/Biden's the Second Coming, but they don't scare me nearly as much as McCain/Palin.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Learn to Drive, Jackass

Here's why I don't like road rage: if you're in the car with the ragist it kills the mood. If I'm in the passenger seat and the driver is reacting every 8 seconds to minor infractions outside our cab, I don't know what to say or do with myself. I'm at a loss for words. I try to respond with a "yeah" or "that guy is seriously dumb" to show some solidarity, but it feels awkward and forced. When I think about it I suppose that that other guy shouldn't be cutting over two lanes while leaving oil slicks behind and throwing pennies at other cars, but to be honest I don't care in the least. I'm generally wanting to ride and chat but a conversation interruption makes me have to pause against my will. Bull.

When my driver is mad I generally find something within the next 5 or so minutes that he/she should not have done. Not because ragists are bad drivers. It's just impossible not to f*** up while driving in some minor way all the time. And a little less often, bigger mistakes are inevitable too. Hell, I'm sure Aak's been rear ended on his bike a few times by some perfectly conscientious vehicle operators. But if I point such things out right after a flip out, I'm jeopardizing later ride offers. My roommate tells a story once about how her ultra-logical android friend made such a comment to her after a rage. This friend is no longer alive.

I suppose post-rage awkwardness goes for raging in general, not just while driving. I've been the awkward observer before, but I've been the flip-out artist as well. If I'm watching, say, super bowl XXXIX and Donovan McNabb is moseying up to the line taking his sweet-ass time while the clock is ticking, I'm going to explode. I don't care if he's sick and vomiting on the field. When I do flip out and see awkward silence in anyone around me I feel terrible. I want to crack a joke and break the tension, but it's too late. It's a very unfortunate feeling. Fortunately all my experiences with such things have been minor because I do not have an especially rough temper.

Really, the friend is fine, btw. She's out in California getting her PhD in Physics. Don't even get me started on California drivers.

A Couple More Things That Need To Go: What I Hate about You

Revisiting and continuing the list from last month:

1. Ironic strike-out text in blogs.

2. "I just threw up a little in my mouth."

3. Putting your Facebook status to "is" or "just is." That is seriously lame. In the past 72 hours, six different people on my friends list have put their status as "is." And I don't have that many friends. (I guess I'll have fewer if they find out I'm calling them lame. Oh well. At least my Facebook homepage will be infinitesimally less lame overall, then.) Be more descriptive, or don't update.

4. Commercials that resort to using the song "What I Like about You" by The Romantics. A non-exhaustive list on Wikipedia includes 8 products that this song has been used to hock. It's used in movies nonstop. A few years after the song's release, The Romantics actually filed a lawsuit against their managers because the song was licensed for commercial use without their consent. THAT WAS IN NINETEEN EIGHTY-SEVEN. I heard the poppy little ditty in the background of a Papa Johns' commercial last week. Advertising companies, there is more music in the world. Resorting to "What I Like about You" is a give-up move.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Review of Jerry Springer: The Opera

Read "Jerry Springer" and "the Opera" together and you think "low-brow" meets "high-brow." That could be interesting, right?

No. It's low-brow all the way to hell.

If you're like me and have already gotten a handle on the "voyeurisma" and patheticness that talk shows like Jerry Springer's perpetuate, then "Jerry Springer: the Opera"* will not make you think at all. Well, maybe you'll think "oh, I guess this is entertaining... sometimes..."

I don't care that it made fun of Christian stuff, that it portrayed Jesus as kind of a jerk, etc. I watch South Park. Making fun of Christianity can be really funny, especially when the jokes are incredibly wrong. Too bad "Jerry Springer: the Opera" wasn't written by Matt Stone and Trey Parker. They would have made it great. (Hint to Stone & Parker: rewrite it as a movie! I'd watch that.)

I don't care that the profanity is unrelenting. It was so filled with curses that they became boring. It was funny when the chorus said "a Chick with a Dick." It got less funny when they repeated it over and over again with the same intonation.

That was "opera"? Trite white-trash cliches repeated in various registers in an "operatic" style? I'm not an operagoer, but I've listened to a few. I didn't know what the singers were saying, but it sounded like something interesting at least. Again, I'm not an expert, but I also don't think you can call this play an "opera" without actual opera singers and a bit more grandiosity in the music.

I think "Jerry Springer: the Musical" would have been a better thing to write. Then the writers would have been under some more obligation to write lyrics that were interesting. Or that told a story.

My Final Negative Thought: There was a point at which I turned to my date and said, "Did we accidentally sneak into The Producers?" There is a recurring number that sounds just too much like "Springtime for Hitler." There's even a similar dance number.

But there were good things: several of the actors were good. Jerry was fantastic and delivered lines like a champ. The Devil was perfect and deserved a better show. All of the ensemble played their parts well. Diaper Man was hilarious. Diaper Man's lover sang a nice song, the only nicely written one in the play. The energy of the cast punctuated the boring profanity and made me smile in spite of myself.

But apparently other audiences found this catastrophe great. It's been selling out all over. They extended the run here in DC (until today, so this review's a bit pointless). The popularity of this unthoughtful, boring, low-shock-value "opera" reminds me of the movie within the movie Idiocracy. You know, where the most popular movie of the future is called "Ass" and is just a 90-minute-long shot of an ass. When it farts, everybody dies laughing.

*I guess the Studio Theatre has a resident geek; this production has an extensive writeup in the Wikipedia link.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Perceived Impoliteness

Today I had to get from College Park to Dupont Circle in 45 minutes or less. I got my bike gear (helmet, bag, padded shorts), biked to the College Park on the Green Line, and took the Green to U Street.

In the Metro, I've been barked at for walking my bike up the stationary stairs, so I usually stick to the elevators, even when I'm in a rush. I also use the handicapped gate to enter and exit the stations with my bike. It's the only way I can enter or exit. The other gates are just wide enough for my bike, but the good people of Metro really don't like it when bikers use those.

So I went over to the only handicapped gate on the 13th Street side. There was a tall, skinny white guy who was slowly walking toward the gates on the other side (coming into the station). I was going faster. The guy lingered in front of the handicapped gate on the other side, making no move to use it, but looking at me. I put my Smartrip card on the panel and opened the gate.

The guy then looked pissed off and says "Oh, sure."

I ignored him and continued through the gate. He stayed where he was, right at the exit of my gate. I squeezed past him, my elbow lightly touching his arm. He said, "Uh, excuse me?!" I ignored him and went on my way.

I'm relatively sure that he will tell his friends that he met the rudest biker ever today, who took his gate, didn't apologize for it, and nearly knocked him down. According to this guy, I was impolite.

Was I?

I'm guessing that he was a transplant from a more verbal city. In DC, our mottoes are "Don't Talk to Me" and "Get Out of the Way." Those aren't my mottoes, though. I just don't talk to the crazies. A man who wants to use the handicapped gate when all of the other gates are free, and who then doesn't make a move to use it but just stands in the way of someone who needs it, is a crazy.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

He Used to be a Caveman. But Now He's a Lawyer.

So, for some reason I have found myself referencing early 90s Saturday Night Live sketches
in conversation a lot. So much so that girlfriend has come to wonder what I spent my whole childhood doing other than watching comedy. Part of that is because in the same way that when you learn something new you see it referenced a lot all of a sudden, I've found it also true that once you bring up a topic it can come up again and again in your own mind for a little while. But it's also true that I did watch a good deal of SNL when I was younger. And I'm happy I did.

The early 90s...that was the original cast for me. My parents used to wonder how I could be entertained my that crowd while all the good originals were gone. Fair enough. I just look back so fondly on Chris Farley, Mike Myers, David Spade, Phil Hartmann, Adam Sandler, Rob Schneider, Victoria Jackson, Julia Sweeney, Chris Rock (briefly), Kevin Nealon, Ellen Cleghorne, Dana Carvey, and Tim Meadows.

Sketches off the top of my head: Unfrozen Caveman Lawyer, the Denise Show, the Tim Meadows Cyrano Debergerac skit with Alec Baldwin, the Chippendales sketch, Chris Farley Show (it had its moments), Middle Aged Man, Wayne's World, Deep Thoughts, Mr. No Depth Perception, Frank Sinatra Meets Sinead O'Conner, Opera Man, Nat X, The Hollywood Minute, The Chris Farley Weekend Correspondent who said everything in quotes, Van Down by the River, Mike Myers' Hyperactive Kid, Simon, Joe Montana as the really honest guy, Hot Button, and so much more.

I knew someone who claimed that the rule of thumb was that if the title of the sketch described the whole joke of the sketch, that meant it sucked. Generally true. But sometimes that's what made it funny. Like Unfrozen Caveman Lawyer. You knew what was going to happen every time, but Phil Hartman carried it off so well.

Some of those sketches are only funny in retelling. They're kind of boring to actually watch.

I have heard that SNL is good again. I'm skep. I haven't watched it in ages, though. I flicked it on the other night but lost interest and did something else while it was in the background. It seemed boring. I do want to see Michael Phelps when he hosts, though.