Archive for December, 2009

Snowpacolypse 09 DC Style!

On December 19th, the Washington DC area was besieged by a storm of astronomical proportions. It was the 7th biggest snowfall in the history of the nation’s capital. As is often the case with major snowstorms, this storm has garnered several names over the past couple days including the standard if slightly uncreative DC Blizzard of 09 and the Capital Crippler. While these names seem fitting, here’s a list of a few names I’ve also heard in passing. Which one is your favorite?

1) Snowbama!

2) Snowpacolypse

3) DC Shopper Stopper

4) The Beltway Blizzard

5) snOMG

6) The Fender Bender Decade Ender

7) The Decade Dandy

Also, if you haven’t seen this gem of a video yet, check it out!

 

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The Better Mousetrap

About two months ago I walked into my kitchen one night, turned on the light, and was surprised to see a mouse scurrying along the counter backsplash and ducking into the range on the stove. This was the first appearance of the Big Brown One (BBO).

In truth, the BBO wasn’t that big. He was on the smaller side of your average mouse. I let his initial appearance slide — partly because I was hoping that he would divide his time between the three apartments in the building, and I wouldn’t see that much of him. I also didn’t want to upset Sarah, my roommate and ex-girlfriend. From time to time, I would see the BBO scurrying through the kitchen, or along the hallway. Once, I thought I heard a rustling in my office trash, and when I went to check he made a heroic leap a foot and a half into the air, and ran off.

The moment of decision came one night when I entered the kitchen and saw the BBO ducking into the oven, followed closely by a Little Grey One (LGO). He was breeding. It was bad enough that he was living off my spoils: I wasn’t going to allow him to fuck in my apartment. I don’t even fuck in my apartment.

As expected, when I told Sarah about the mice, she initially refused to allow me to get traps. Even after she saw the mice herself, she still imagined them as charming animation, singing duets with their scruffy cat companions and emigrating to the United States to find cheese and freedom. I tried to impress on her that mice spread disease. We could get the plague, for Chrissake. She insisted on live traps. I told her she would have to pay for them.

It wasn’t until the day before Thanksgiving, when I cleaned off the countertops while baking pies and showed her all the mouse shit hidden behind the jars and microwave, that she consented to let me kill the bastards. They loved the shit behind the microwave. Something about microwaves just screams “Shit behind me!” to mice.

I bought four traps. They were the conventional types, made of wood with a metal spring. Baited with peanut butter, I cleaned the kitchen of all food, and laid them on the counter. Within a day they were licked clean. I tried new configurations. They were licked clean. I tried weighting the springs. They were licked clean. The mice licked a half jar of peanut butter off this traps over the course of a week. Finally, I settled on a configuration where the mice would have to walk over three traps to get to the trap with peanut butter. It worked in twenty minutes.

The trap went off when I was in my bedroom, and I heard it from down the hall. Unfortunately, it hadn’t worked as advertised. When I went into the kitchen, the mouse was not in the trap. Instead, he was in the middle of the kitchen floor, eight feet away from the traps: and he wasn’t dead. He had been thrown by the spring, and clearly sustained some level of brain damage. It was my unfortunate experience to have to watch it as it kicked its legs repeatedly, spasmed, and died. It was the Little Grey One.

While the experience was not a pleasant one, I nevertheless set the traps back up and waited to catch the Big Brown One. The traps were licked clean for another week. The BBO was smart. Also, he spawned again. I saw him with another LGO one night.

Three days ago, I got feed up. I hid in the dining room, about fifteen feet away from the oven, and stood absolutely still for half an hour. I waited; this was research. Patience was rewarded when they mice came out and started fucking around on the stove. The brown one, and TWO little grey ones. Three fucking mice. Store bought traps were no longer going to cut it. I was forced to resort to my Boy Scout training, and knowledge of cartoons. I cleared the counter top, and set up a briefcase. I placed peanut butter, bread, and raisins in the briefcase. I taped a weight to the top, and propped it open with a magic marker. I tied a twenty-foot string to the marker, and stood in the dining room with the other end of the string. I waited.

I waited until they came out. One of the LGOs crawled in, and I sprung the trap. You’d better fucking believe that I got him. I dumped him off the back balcony. After that, I think they sensed my presence and didn’t come out. To counter this, I fed the string around the corner and down the hallway. Every hour or so, I would walk to the kitchen and pull the string, shutting the briefcase. Of four times I pull it, I got mice three times. Two little grey ones, and the big brown one — he was last.

There was only one fatality. One of the LGOs got caught in the shutting lid. All in all, though, I caught three mice in a few hours, using the most primitive device imaginable, where the more sophisticated method had repeatedly failed.

I was feeling pretty good yesterday when I walked into the kitchen and saw two more little grey mice running along the backsplash and ducking into the oven. I’ve spent the last two days trying to trap them. The briefcase has stopped working. They’re learning.

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A Cautionary Tale for Lovers

Brought to you by the Bureau of Foreign Youth Exchange Programmes:

“Italy is beautiful,” Amanda thought, as she walked the streets of the quaint Italian village.

It was twilight, the magic hour. The shadows and the cool colors danced on the cream colored walls and played down the tight streets, guiding the local children home for supper. Even though Amanda had been in this European paradise for a couple months now, it was still hard to believe how beautiful her temporary home was. She was grateful to herself that she decided to take a semester abroad and not stay in the states to get those extra credits.

She was tired from her day of study, but the buzz of the local shops gave her a second wind. America did not offer such a vibrant life. The people here used their hands; cooking, baking, constructing, caressing. A simple thing, like a friendly conversation, was handled with grace and dignity. Having seen such elegance, Amanda now saw America as a bloated cow stumbling down a dirt road with no destination. Amanda did not want to leave.

Amanda suddenly stopped in her tracks. She couldn’t believe it, but there sitting at the cafe reading a book, by himself, was Raffaele. Handsome Raffaele. A soft spoken classmate, Amanda had had a crush on him for weeks now.

A second surprise! Raffaele, spotting Amanda, waved her over to sit with him. Before Amanda knew it, she was sitting right next to the young Italian, studying his peaceful brown eyes.

Talking to him in Italian was pure joy, second only to listening to him. She was memorized by his lips as he coolly spoke to her about the test next week, when all of a sudden, she felt his warm hand on her delicate one. Her breath was quickly taken away. She slowly looked down at the two hands touching, and then slowly back at Raffaele. His words of next week’s test were now replaced with words of his affection for Amanda.

Amanda could only smile. She did not know what to say, but did not have to think long, as Raffaele turned her smile into a kiss.

Amanda exploded inside. “Italy is beautiful!” she thought. “I feel like I can do anything. Nothing can go wrong. Nothing can go wrong! I can do anything! I can do anything! I AM ABOVE THE LAW.”

WRONG! Please reference Case 0149.

A Message from the Bureau of Foreign Youth Exchange Programmes:

When falling in love in romantic, foreign countries, you are still subject to the law. The law is enforced by these countries’ governments. There are some cases where claiming insanity has worked, with the accused being diagnosed with the “love crazy” syndrome. However, this rarely works.

If you are young with a virgin heart and will be traveling abroad, it is highly recommended that you avoid falling in love with young, charming foreigners at all cost. If you do fall in love, penalties may include a $500,000 fine or 25-26 years in jail.

Please be advised. Thank you.

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Best of My Decade

So as the end of the year approaches (Huzzah Claymas!), every news outlet seems to put out some sort of look back, best of the year, or greatest/worst of every movie, book, or album. I am a huge sucker for these; it gets me off to no end to see something that I love or hate acknowledged and debated. This year is no different, except now it’s also the end of a decade, and so now we are blessed with lists covering 10 years worth! My only beef with these lists is they seem so limited by category.

If I listened only to music for fun, or took in cinema for my only form of entertainment, I’d be able to produce one single “genre” entertainment list.

But this is not the case. Feeling this was unfair to all the experiences I had ingested over the course of ten years, I challenged myself to create a best of list of mixed media from the past decade that, for better or worse, entertained me. No limits. If it occupied my time in the last ten years, it was up for grabs. Now in some particular order is the:

BEST OF MY DECADE

10. Cloud Tectonics by Jose Rivera (2001)

This play continues to amaze me. Looking for new plays in college, it was the cover art that pulled me in. It was this dilapidated house that held this naked body that seemed to fluctuate in between two worlds. It had nothing to do with the play I am talking about but it led me to the collection. The last play in the trio was Cloud Tectonics, and it was right up my alley. I knew I was going to like it from the start based on the quotes at the beginning of the play from Pablo Neruda and Stephen Hawking. They set the mood of the play. The play is a boy meets girl story that plays with time, love, and sex. Rivera’s plays have been described as “magical realism” and are able to capture the time that passes when you’re with someone you love. Even though I know this play very well now, every time I read it, I feel my heart expand.

9. Old 97’s- Fight Songs (2000)

“All I ever wanted to do, was lie around in bed with you. I was only 19.”

In the early part of the 2000’s, this CD was the soundtrack for my next two years. A combination of love and heartbreak songs so perfect at the time, I should have commissioned them myself, and all of them from an alt-country band in my home state. My move from Texas to the East Coast a year behind me, I felt that this album was a taste of home sent to make me remember to never forget. I gave a copy to anyone with a CD player and a faint interest in the music. And while the best Old 97’s album might be “Too Far to Care,” this one cut me right to the core. If anyone wants a copy of either let me know.

8. A Midsummer Nights Dream (2003, 2004)

I toured with this show for two summers in Boston, and while I do love the play, the main reason it was on this list is the fact that I spent two summers in an amazing city where all I had to do was work on something I was passionate about. It was like college with out all the bullshit. From sun up to sun down, I was building shows, rehearsing, or taking master classes in a number of theater arts. While I still work on shows with people I love, they don’t compare to those summers with free rent, free breakfast, and the words of the Bard.

7. Halo 2 -Video Game (2004)

Ok, I can wield two different guns and kill my friend Joey Klecan who moved to New York to go to pharmacy school? Hells Yes!

This game made me its bitch, from late nights talking to 12 year olds who just pwned me using the noob-combo to the campaign, which let me play as both Master Chief and the Arbiter. While the end of the game was a bit of a let down, the countless hours (I can count, I just don’t want to) online made up for it in every way.

6. Neko Case- Fox Confessor Brings The Flood (2006)

“Everything’s so easy for Pauline …. ”

Neko Case’s first solo album in four years just plain rocks in addition to her voice still being amazing. This is a classic case where an artist grows and leaves a little of the twang behind for the better, and while it might not be in the music as much, you can definitely hear it in her angelic voice.

5. Maryland vs Duke at Cole Field House (2001)

The year before the Terps won the national championship, and I was ready to set fire to anything that would burn in celebration, I witnessed a huge upset at Cole Field House. I had to watch the final minute (what would be called the Miracle Minute) from the top of the student section because I was on my way out.

Thinking we were safe with a ten point lead, the hated Blue Devils took sixty seconds to score ten points to send the game into overtime, they would go on to win the game. They would also win later in the year taking the Terps out of the NCAA tournament, another fan to the flame of the Maryland/ Duke rivalry, which does exist, no matter what Duke says.

4. Doing it!

I got it on more in the last ten years ,with diffrent people, then any other time up till that point. I might not have such high numbers this next decade, and thats really not such a bad thing.

3. Bio Shock- Video Game (2008)

Quite simply marvelous. Part first person shooter, part strategy, part pipe dream, it made me feel like I was playing a movie. The story alone was kick ass , it even made Ayn Rand interesting. Spooky and visually interesting with a moral compass, it created a world that I didn’t want to leave. So much so that when I was close to the end, I would shelve it for weeks at a time. It should be played for the twists alone.

2. This American Life (2000-Present)

It started with a present and a promise. In the early part of the decade, one of my good friends gave me the disc of her favorite radio program, Lies, Sissies and Fiascoes: The Best of This American Life. It just stuck. It was funny and sad, and more than that seemed very honest. I would be the guy waiting on Sunday afternoon to hear the soothing, slightly effeminate voice of Ira Glass telling me stories about other people trying their best or the very effeminate voice of David Sedaris telling me stories of a childhood way more terrible than mine.

I would audio stream my favorites on my PC over and over while in college, and then with the dawn of the the iPod age, podcast them. I also went to the show live this year and sat in the 7th row. Even the TV show was well done. That one about pork farms still sticks with me. Now at the end of the decade, their coverage with the Planet Money people on the Recession is as informative as it is entertaining.

1. Arrested Development-TV series (2003-2006)

I am to blame for the downfall of this spectacular TV series because while it was still on air, I never watched it. For the first year it existed, I didn’t know about it. It was the DVD release of the first season and the fact that I could watch each episode one right after another finally made me take notice. It was everything the critics said and more; funny and smart and substantial.

So many jokes layered in each episode, even on the 12th viewing, you’re finding new things to laugh at. Oh man, I was a huge nerd about this show, throwing out quotes and seeing who could pick them up like we were in some secret club.

“Come ON!

“A banger in the mouth”

“Get rid of the Seaward

“Thank god they have my brands”

Hey Brother”

“Is it?”

“Your gonna get some hop-ons”

“I am having a love affair with this ice cream sandwich”

And I wrote those just thinking about the show. I really hope they make that movie, but until then

“ STEVE HOLT!

 

 

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