Saturday, December 27, 2008


Merry New Year and Happy Christmas. I'm sick.

This is the first time in about a year and a half that I've been really sick. My uncle tells me that's because I am getting so much Vitamin D from being outside on the bike. My cousin tells me it's because I was getting nearly 2 hours of exercise every day. I think it has something to do with both, plus the extra circulation and respiration.

Supposing that's all true, I'm really regretting taking the shuttle to UMD most of the time in late November and all of December.

This sucks. I was hoping to have more time to update here on Districted during my time away from schoolin'. But I'm quarantined, so I'm going to be posting more on Hatandcoat.

(I'm beginning to think of Hatandcoat as the "interior" blog and Districted as the "exterior." What do you think, o Absent Co-Blogger?)

I spent all day in front of the TV yesterday, watching the House marathon on USA. Yes, I was that miserable. I made it outside today just for a short trip to Whole Foods.

See, I'm in an awkward in-between space right now in terms of insurance. My work coverage ended and my school coverage is going to kick in mid-January (I think). So I can't go to the doctor unless I think it's serious. Luckily, I know what I've got. A sinus infection. Get them all the time. At least I used to, before the serious biking.

I went to Whole Foods, intending to go all out with the home remedies. I got:
  • kombucha (it helped that guy's mom with her cancer!)
  • echinacea & slippery elm teas
  • that probiotic yogurt stuff, immunity variety
  • crackers
  • crackers
  • more crackers (there was a sale)
  • zinc (technically should've been downing it three days ago)
  • olive bread (olives are a mediterranean cure-all)
  • honey (an egyptian cure-all)
  • chicken soup (a Jewish cure all?)
  • lots of other soups
  • chicken pot pie
  • spinach curry (spinach has Vit. C)
  • orange juce (ditto)
  • four apples (an apple a day...)
In addition to all that, I'll continue to neti-pot my sinuses every day... maybe even twice a day. Plus I've got a multi-vitamin (mainly B vitamins... what the hey).

I wish I could be more scientific about it, but I'm just going to throw everything I've got into my immune system and see what happens. And if something bad happens from all these home remedies interacting with each other, well, that's what I get for watching the House marathon.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Baltimore's Own "Sinner"

On Sunday, I went to see "Sinner," a 20-minute short written and directed by Wade Tyree. Wade pulled out all the stops to put this movie together, but I hadn't expected him to premiere it at the Senator. I took this photo of him in front of the marquee, and I quite like it.

It took about an hour for things to get rolling. Then the Senator Theatre manager came onto the stage and addressed the mostly-full theater. His opening was a joke about how nothing had better happen that night, or else all of Baltimore's production staff would be gone. Apparently the room was filled with film crew people and other indie film producers.

The short itself? It was carried by the lead actor, Corey Parker-Robinson. He was on The Wire, which Wade worked on as well. Parker-Robinson was phenomenal and believable throughout the story. I liked Wade's direction as well, and the way he incorporated classic Baltimore scenery: the old warehouse, the park, and of course the diner near the end. Very cool.

After "Sinner" had ended (with much applause), I caught up with some Baltimore people and tried to ignore the Dave Matthews DVD playing on the big screen. Not a very good music DVD choice for the afterparty, I must say. A little while later, I hit the road to go play Settlers of Catan with Hatandcoat.

Passive Review: Dusit [Thai Cuisine]

When a restaurant is two blocks from a Metro station in downtown DC, I don't care. I'll even walk five or six blocks without hesitation down there. But when a restaurant is two blocks from a Metro Station in suburban Maryland, I'm like, "What? 2 blocks? Oh, who wants to go to Wheaton, anyway." It makes no sense, but I feel incredibly put out when I find that, to find good ethnic food, I have to walk a bit in the suburbs.

Today I was Christmas shopping at the Wheaton mall and I decided to visit Dusit, reportedly one of the best Thai restaurant in the Districted area. It's at the corner of University Blvd and Georgia Ave, only two blocks from the Wheaton stop on the Red Line.

It was 5:00 or so and I was by myself, which was fine by the friendly staff. They waved me to a booth and then continued talking among themselves in what I assume was Thai. I flipped through the menu, but I had no idea what I wanted. I put the menu down and the waitress came over instantly. I told her I didn't know what I wanted, but that I like everything, spiciness included. She recommended the Penang Curry. I passively went with it, choosing the shrimp option. I also ordered the Steamed Dumplings (pork and shrimp).

The dumplings were great. They were of the shaomai variety, which can sometimes be overcooked so as to ruin the texture. Dusit's were perfect. The sauce that came with them was strong and salty and sweet.

Penang curry is not normally a favorite of mine, but Dusit's penang is the best I've ever had. It was sweet without being cloying. It was subtly peanutty (with peanut chunks in the sauce as well). And it was spicy, but the spiciness was more of a supporting role than a lead. You can tell that it's hot from the start, but you can taste everything perfectly--it only gets warm in your mouth after the first few spoonfuls.

While I was eating, a woman came in who appeared to know the owner. The owner, a tall woman in a gray dress, sat and talked with the customer about the weather, how she's been, their respective children, etc. I didn't get the impression they were close, but maybe the customer had been a frequent patron a year or so ago. I got the feeling that Dusit would be a nice place to be a regular at, unlike my local 24-hour diner, the Tastee.

In all, Dusit seems worth returning to to sample more food. I won't say they're awesome just yet, but my one entree was perfect, as far as that goes. Walkability is very high, just get over the fact that it's in Wheaton.

French Roads Fail Me

Every time I learn a new trick like a new shortcut or route through this city to take by car, it gets balanced out by frustration with new mistakes.

I was back in DC from watching "Sinner" at the Senator Theatre and I went to play Settlers of Catan with Hatandcoat and our not-frequent-enough Guest Poster. We played until 2am-- GP won the first one quickly, but I won the second game after a long struggle for power. We were in Glover Park, so I had no idea how to drive back to Silver Spring from there. We looked it up, and Google suggested this route:

Looks simple; elegant, even. I liked it. I liked how W turns into 42nd and ends at New Mexico, and how New Mexico ends at American University, right at Nebraska. It was a neat, efficient route.

I, however, ended up doing this:

I must've blown past the Nebraska-Military intersection. And I had had no idea how wise it would have been to take Wise across Rock Creek Park. Let's have a close-up of that idiocy, shall we? (click for even larger hilarity)

Friggin' French-designed state roads and such. Makes one wish one had a GPS thingy... like one that could be used in conjunction with a bike as well... hint hint...

Monday, December 15, 2008

Mixed Feelings

As a blogger who has spoken out against Bush and the Iraq War, I have extremely mixed feelings about this incident.

This kind of dissatisfaction with the US and with Bush is something everybody should expect. Even though we're supposedly doing a lot for Iraq, there's no question that we've also made Iraqis' day-to-day lives hard as well. I assume a lot of people in Iraq would like to throw their shoes at President Bush, especially since he's on the way out. He must be a focal point for their anger. They can focus all their bad feelings about the US on Bush alone, while hoping for better things to come with the new administration (as are we all).

But I'm also horrified at the act. I mean, that was the President of the United States. You don't just throw your shoes at the most powerful guy in the world. It's disturbing to watch Bush have to duck. Protest demonstration or no, don't physically threaten the Prez.

And then I read this transcript (which I'll paste in its entirety) from the Times Online, taken from Air Force One:

Mr Bush: Okay, my opening statement: I didn't know what the guy said, but I saw his sole….I'm pretty good at ducking, as most of you will know —

Reporter: You were quick.

Mr Bush: I'm talking about ducking your questions…I — look, I mean it was just a bizarre moment, but I've had other bizarre moments in the presidency. I remember when Hu Jintao was here. Remember we had the big event? He's speaking, and all of a sudden I hear this noise — had no earthly idea what was taking place, but it was the Falun Gong woman screaming at the top of her lungs. It was kind of an odd moment.

Reporter: Well, not to belabour the point too much, on this man, but I have a serious question about it. Obviously he's expressing a vein of anger that exists in Iraq, and —

Mr Bush: How do you know? I mean, how do we know what he's expressing? Who —

Reporter: We had a translator who said he shouted about the widows and orphans.

Mr Bush: I don't know. I've heard all kinds of stories. I heard he was representing a Baathist TV station. I don't know the facts, but let's find out the facts. All I'm telling you, it was a bizarre moment.

Reproter: I wanted to ask something broader.

Mr Bush: I don't think you can take one guy throwing shoes and say this represents a broad movement in Iraq. You can try to do that if you want to. I don't think it would be accurate.

Reporter: Well, then, separately from him —

Mr Bush: That's exactly what he wanted you to do. Like I answered on your question, what he wanted you to do was to pay attention to him. And sure enough, you did…

[A noise is heard aboard the aircraft]

Mr Bush: The other shoe just dropped. Look, I'm going to be thinking of shoe jokes for a long time. I haven't heard any good ones yet.

Again, mixed feelings. Bush's gut instinct is to (publicly) ignore the act, as if it were a terrorist act instead of a protest, so as not to give it any credence. And then he says "I don't think you can take one guy" and I think, great, not even throwing shoes at the President can make you be heard.

Liberals assume that Iraqis hate us. Conservatives assume that they love us. The obvious answer is that both feelings are there, at probably a ratio of half and half. Bush could never admit to that compromise. That is one thing I can't stand about him. Someone throws shoes at him in a symbolic gesture (see here for the cultural implications), and he just laughs it off, saying he could see their "sole." Good one, Mr. Prez. Good one.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Bad Movies

I went to see Synecdoche, New York at the AFI in Silver Spring. While I love Charlie Kaufman, and while I appreciate the idea of the movie (director wants to make a play about his life, but wants to make it life-sized, on and on, layers within layers)... the whole thing was a long, drawn-out, uninteresting piece of crap, with only glimmers of cleverness that do not outweigh the boringness of the maiin character's long path to death.

I don't have too much more to say about Synecdoche (other than it's pronounced "sin-ECK-duh-key"). A one-sentence review is all you're getting.

In the interest of actually watching good movies, I've joined Netflix. It's a good service, but I wish it had EVEN MORE foreign films, and I wish that everything was streamable.

Rating movies on Netflix is addictive. I've rated 886 movies so far. (Is that a lot?) Let me show you the ones that I rated one-star (which means "hated it"--it goes 1=hated it, 2=didn't like it, 3=liked it, 4=really liked it, 5=loved it).
  • Armageddon.
    Nuff said.

  • Bad Boys II.
    I love the first one for the humor and for Tea Leone. This had neither.

  • End of Days.
    Schwartzenegger vs. the Devil. Right.

  • Expelled.
    A so-called "documentary" about scientists "unfairly" putting down "Intelligent" Design.

  • Face/Off.
    I never knew over-the-top action could be so boring.

  • The Grifters.
    I thought it was going to be a con-artist movie, not an updated version of Oedipus. Grossss.

  • The Hollywood Knights.
    I think I saw this on cable when I was really young. I only rated it "hate" because I'm not into immature 80s screwball comedies any more.

  • A Knight's Tale.
    Chaucer as a cool skinny dude? Medieval people dancing to rock music? Heath was better than this.

  • Mars Attacks.
    One of those movies that you keep thinking, any minute, will become hilarious but never does.

  • Open Range.
    Perhaps I was unfair to this one. It's not Costner's worst.

  • Orange County.
    Unfunny. Chevy Chase high on ecstacy could not save it.

  • Pollock.
    Reaaaally boring look at the artist's life.

  • Portrait of Hell.
    This is a Japanese period piece I watched in connection with a history class. My history class was more interesting and entertaining. Nonsensical story and drawn-out screaming make this unwatchable.

  • A Prairie Home Companion.
    Love the radio show. Hate the movie. Not funny. Not interesting. No plot. No resolution. No Lake Woebegon story, which is the real sin.

  • Pride and Prejudice.
    This is the Kiera-Knightly-Is-Beautiful version, which I detest simply because the BBC miniseries is so amazing.

  • Rush Hour 2.
    The first one was funny and alive.

  • Shakes the Clown.
    Sorry, Bobcat, but you could never pull off a lead character.

  • Shooter.
    Too ridiculous.

  • Simon Birch.
    I hate this movie on principle: it should never have been made. It was based loosely on A Prayer for Owen Meany, one of the best books of the late 20th century. But they drained it of all meaning and made it about a crippled kid. I never saw it and never will.

  • Terminator 3.
    Linda Hamilton said this movie had no heart. Linda Hamilton was being kind.

  • Underworld.
    Vampires! Werewolves! Don't worry about the story, just throw 'em together.

  • The Upside of Anger.
    Ah. This is one of Costner's worst. Makes no sense.

  • What Dreams May Come.
    There are movies that tug at your heartstrings. Then there are movies that try to snake up your rectum and manipulate your heart into emotions as if it were playdough. I felt used.

  • Wild Wild West.
    Robots! Guns! Will Smith!

  • X-Men 3: The Last Stand. No. Do-over. DO-OVER. Do-over, Hulk-style.
I usually can tell if I'll hate a movie or not, so I don't tend to see movies I know I'll really hate. That's why there are so few on this list. There are plenty of movies I'm sure I would not love, but I'm not willing to say if I'd hate them or just dislike them without actually seeing them.

Sunday, December 07, 2008


I'm at the Tastee Diner in Silver Spring, using the wireless network. The Tastee is a 24-hour diner just a few blocks from the Silver Spring Metro station, and its internet connection is free (there's an annoying sign on the door about limiting use to 30min on the weekends, but I'm usually there so late it doesn't matter--it's 2:15 AM now). I'm almost finished analyzing Japanese Twitter users' speech acts. And now I'm completely distracted by the couple in the booth next to mine who just sat down.

The woman is pretty, if a little white-trashy, in her (late?) 30s. The guy has his back to me, is bald, and his neck looks thick with either muscle or fat. I'm somewhat sure they came here hot off the sheets, as they say.

She said as she sat down that she wanted coffee, and he said, "no, you don't want coffee, you should have tea..." Then the waiter came over and the guy said to his companion, "What you want, girl?" She ordered and also asked for coffee and the guy was surprised.

Just a few minutes ago, the guy asked, "How many times did we break up?" The woman said, "Seventeen." The guy said, a little sneeringly, "17? You write that in your diary? How do you know it was 17?" She said "I'm not really sure."

Pattern: when she says something, he repeats it incredulously. They talk about a celebrity, she says "he's my baby," and he says "he's your baby?!"

I have to put in my uncomfortable earphones to avoid the rest of this conversation disaster.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

RCN Might Not Be Better Than Comcast

I have always thought Comcast's customer service was terrible. Despite them having a Twitter account and responding to my calls of distress that way, they took forever to reconnect my service, bungling it all the way for over a month. I've had other friends who were disconnected for over three months until they decided to go with another company. So when I was moving into a house that had RCN already hooked up, I was quite pleased.

RCN was going really well... but now it's been 6 days without internet and I need internet for school. This is so going down on your permanent record, RCN.

I called RCN once to ask what was going on (we had no TV and no broadband connection). The first time, I was put on hold for over thirty minutes, and when someone finally picked up my call, they were less than helpful. They said it was an area problem, but could not tell me any more than that. I hung up, powerless.

I called again two days later (Friday). The woman who answered was much more helpful, even though she had me go through the motions of "power-cycling" my cable box. (I knew it would do no good.) she scheduled an appointment for next week.

If the repairman comes, and if there is no mixup in the system, and especially if the problem is fixed in the one visit, I will have to say that RCN is better than Comcast in the DC area. I will let you know.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Axis Bar and Grill

Location: 1340 U Street NW, between 13th and 14th Streets, near the U Street Metro station.

A small, quietish bar and lounge with decent appetizers and good service. We arrived around 9:30 and were able to secure a bunch of the tables on the upper level. This was key to my enjoyment; I don't like standing around in a crowd. We were able to talk without shouting most of the night, which is also very important to me in a bar. The music was forgettable, but that's forgivable. The atmosphere was a touch classier than your average U street hole, welcoming and not pretentious.

The waitress was cute but a bit too sassy, shushing my friend (whose birthday we were celebrating). She was friendly, though, and, though she seemed busy with the floor below, she made sure to take care of us at our table. She even refilled my water glass multiple times without my asking. And she was knowledgeable about the alcohol; she gave one friend a list of her favorite drinks and how they tasted different from each other. He was pleased with her recommendations.

I had the calamari, a slider (mini-burger) and a bit of the spinach & artichoke dip. The dip was too hot for us hungry fools, burning us as we swallowed it down, but it was all right; the only complaint would be the small amount of toast we received with it. The calamari was above average: the squid was soft and evidently "flash-fried" as the menu suggested, leaving a texture other than the normal deep-fried-tire variety. The sauce was creamy and a bit hard to place--slightly spicy and a little tart. The sliders were excellent and gone in 60 seconds. The meat was flavorful and juicy. The bun was a bit like fat pieces of an Italian baguette--plain, airy, much wider than the mini-burger--but it fit the flavorful contents.

The appetizers were priced appropriately (6-9 dollars) but were not incredibly generous. The entrees looked good but a bit pricey. With Car Bombs costing $10 each, and with us ordering 24 of those through the night, there was no need to consider anything past appetizers.