Thursday, January 31, 2008

Sundial

I just moved into an office after more than 3 years in a windowless cubicle. New office has a window and an angled view of the Capitol Building, which is pretty cool. What's especially neat is knowing the weather and time of day without using my computer. This south-facing office gets lots of light from the mysterious yellow ball in the sky throughout the day, so I decided to build a sundial one day. For some reason, I half-expected it not to work. It does. Minor triumphs like this make life worth living; well, that and buffalo wings.

This means it's almost 2:30, which it was. Rock.

Oh politics.

Ever since we started to think that there probably weren't any weapons of mass destruction in Iraq (besides our army of course) I've skewed leftward and, um, upward (?), distancing from my Republican roots. It's not surprising I considered myself a Republican. Everyone where I grew up was a staunch Republican with varying degrees of conservative dogma.

For example, the other night I was around my parents' friends in Baltimore when one of them came up to me and said, "Hey! We have the same birthday! And we share it with Rush Limbaugh!" In Washington, outside of the Caucus Room or some other Republican haunt, this statement would have carried the implication that Limbaugh's a pompous demagogue. Forgetting my environment, my reflex was to say, "That's unfortunate." The woman promptly huffed off. Somehow I never bothered to think that someone could still seriously consider a man like Limbaugh to be a positive figure. Now that I have realized this I'm sort of depressed.

Similarly, I quit watching Fox News years ago because I realized it was essentially a flag-waving, jingoistic wad of propaganda. It made the invasion of Iraq look like a fucking videogame. I remember sitting at a bar watching the tanks triumphantly roll through the deserts and cheering them on while drinking my $1.00 beers (it was an AWESOME happy hour special). Over on CNN, they were a bit more skeptical of the war, so I didn't even bother to watch it. Why should I waste my time with those left-wing nay-sayers; they're just bitter they lost the election (even though they actually won it). "Just wait until they unearth the nuclear weapons," I thought. Say what you will about CNN--"Communist News Network" or twatever you want to call it--they were right to be skeptical. And I'll emphasize that they were only skeptical, because being adversarial to the Administration at that time was considered "un/anti-American" in those few years of McCarthyist patriotism. Sure, overall, CNN may have a leftward lean, but on the bidirectional seesaw of mass media political ideology, Fox News sends it careening into the stratosphere. Since I'm going to be taking a grain of salt anyway, I'd rather take my political and social commentary from conceited middle-left pundits than exuberant right-wing nationalists. At least I'm given the option to filter out the conceit.

Now, I still treat Fox News with scorn and contempt, but I've also realized that it's just as self-polarizing to blank out the praddle coming into my right ear as it was to do so for my left ear years ago. So, I'll watch a few minutes of Fox News now and then just to contemplate what they're going on about. For instance, John Bolton, the former U.S. Ambassador to the UN, was being interviewed by someone two days ago on FN. He said something like "the NIE [National Intelligence Estimate] report has been the most damaging thing to our country's foreign policy in a long time." I think I might have yelled at the TV then. If you don't know, the NIE report represents the collective wisdom of our entire country's intelligence resources and said what every right-wing asshole doesn't want to hear: Iran hasn't been working on a nuclear weapon since 2003. Whoops. But, rather than showing weakness and accepting the facts, our former UN Ambassador prefers to stammer in disbelief that this report had the nerve to even exist! What especially pissed me off was that the Fox News anchor agreed with him. If we just wanted to to hear what we wanted to hear all the time then I don't even know why we'd spend billions upon billions of dollars on intelligence programs. Unfortunately, I think this interview is quite representative of the Administration that I used to support. As infuriating as this is, it's useful to try and see where the Republican establishment is getting its information from.

A final fit of anger erupted from me during the State of the Union address, during which Bush contradicted his own record and wrongly chastised "Congress" for not fulfilling his wishes. The fact that he uttered ideas of fiscal restraint was beyond laughable. If you're looking for that extra trillion dollars or so to fix things in our own country that desperately need fixing (social security, health care, infrastructure, education, security, immigration, etc...), you might want to check that big hole in the ground in Iraq we've dug ourselves into. Fiscal restraint, fuck you Bush, seriously.

What should be particularly depressing for "true Republicans" is that this Administration isn't really Republican, or at least so they say. Being sponsored and supported by the Republican National Committee largely undermines that argument. And the fact that political camps evolve ideologically over time is another point against [e.g. the Democratic Party under Woodrow Wilson successfully resegregated the federal government so that whites and blacks couldn't work in the same offices]. Here are your Republicans.

This Administration has shown that it is indeed possible, in 6 years time, to take an overwhelming majority and turn it on its head through gross incompetence and a sense of righteous entitlement. What was hailed as the New Conservative Movement is now fractious, irreconcilable, and irreperable. I guess it should be somewhat comforting that this camp evolved itself out of power, but then again, we still have another goddamn year to go.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Did Hertz just threaten me?

Is this a promise or a threat...or both?



Thursday, January 17, 2008

a weekend in the city

I'm headed to New York tomorrow for the weekend. I haven't been up there since last February I think, and I remember it was utterly frigid. I always complain that it's always cold when I'm there, and judging by the snow squall outside, this time will be no different. Fortunately, my winter jacket is out for repairs, so all I have is my Fall/Spring jacket. Looks like it'll be a weekend of the collared-shirt-under-sweater nights for me, as if that'd be different anyway.

Anyway, I'm looking forward to seeing everyone, meeting my friend's new kid, and going to my cousin's BBQ restaurant in Crooklyn (Fette Sau).

GRE

I'm taking the GRE in about an hour. I don't like standardized tests, but I've studied a lot for this one so hopefully it'll go better. 5 hours from now I'll be either really disappointed or really appointed. All I gotta do now is "rock it!".

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Here's the rub

BBQ master and attorney Kevin J. Flay, Esq. came over a few months ago to enjoy some Brice Lord-style ribs, which, probably to his surprise (and mine), he enjoyed thoroughly. I promised Mr. Kevin, Esq. the recipe for the rub I used, so here it is.

1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup paprika
3 tbsp black pepper (coarse is better)
4 tbsp kosher salt
2 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp onion powder
2 tsp celery seeds
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 finely-grated dried chipotle pepper

Just put it all into a bowl and mix it real well with your fingers until it looks like something you would probably buy off the shelf. Rub it into whatever hunk of beast you want to cook an hour or more before you cook, if you have time, to give the oils in the seasonings some time to mingle with the meat. Or, just lick your forefinger and run it through the rub and eat it raw, as Mr. Kevin, Esq. did before getting yelled at. Disgusting.

This recipe was slightly modified from the one given in Steven Raichlen's "How To Grill" book, which is highly recommended by the staff here at End The Cola Wars!


Tuesday, January 08, 2008

"Cyanide and Happiness"

I did a rare browse of College Humor today and came across this online cartoon strip series called "Cyanide and Happiness". The name was enough to get me to check it out. Some of it's pretty funny. This one made me laugh out loud.


Monday, January 07, 2008

Movies

I saw a bunch of movies while I was away on travel thanks to unusual access to Blowtime, Skinemax, and HBO (sorry, no clever pun), and the lack of internet at the hotel in which I stayed. I don't feel like giving lengthy descriptions of movies and why I did/didn't like them, so here's a quick summary.


Lord of War: Nicholas Cage as Nicholas Cage in every other movie, but playing a gun runner this time. Supposedly "events" in the movie were based on real events, I'm not sure which ones, though. A pretty good movie with a blatantly obvious political/social message; still worth a view.


Edmond: William H. Macy plays an unusually violent and sociopathic professional living in NYC. Some shit goes down, his psycho switch trips, and people end up dead. Similar office-dude-gone-batshit work was done in Falling Down, but it's still an interesting watch. His character's rambling speeches are meaningful and lucid only to himself, and the movie feeds the darker desires in watchers' id.


Saw II: I never saw any of these slasher/thriller movies because they looked too reliant upon gore and the short attention spans of today's youth (cue me waving a rolling pin over my head at some kids who just ran their BMX's over my lawn), but I'm glad I was more or less forced to watch this. It has some stupid super gorey/fucked-up scenes, but all in all it's a good thriller with a neat little twist whereby some fucked-up asshole named "Jigsaw" masterminded the kidnap and imprisonment of a bunch of teens in an equally fucked-up dungeon and forces them to try and get out by facing some pretty fucked-up situations. It's pretty fucked-up. Naturally, Jigsaw gets the last laugh since there's two other Saw movies following this one.


Survival Island: Some Hispanic guy, a bikini model, and Billy Zane get stranded on an island after a shipwreck. The title of the movie is about as deep as the movie goes. If you're on a business trip and nostalgic for USA's Up All Night, then you should take the opportunity to watch this.


Friday the 13th Part 2: I never really saw this when it came out 27 years ago, and I didn't really have any desire to see it this time either. I watched about a total of 15 minutes of this interrupted by switching to Survival Island for beach scenes, and it was more than enough. For 14 of the 15 minutes the filmography was too dark to tell what in the hell was going on in the scene, and for the other minute teenagers were screaming. Sweet. It certainly justified the 20 or so additional sequels.


I think I saw some other movies, but I don't remember them, so it's probably not worth my, nor your, time.

American Gladiators

During the run-up to last night's climax of the long-awaited return of American Gladiators---which, by the way, Took It To The Max---we were teased by limitless replays of the original series. The contestants always had a knack for being chodish and plum dumb (see Purple Roundy, whose name is pronounced exactly as you'd expect). So, I thought I'd share this quote from some contestant on the original series who, naturally, ended up losing.

"I'm gonna win this. I was inbred for competition."

Maybe that's why he lost.


Purple Roundy trying to see past his ridiculous mustache and back-length curly hair during The Assault. "Assault" turned out to be a bit of an overstatement in this particular case.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

RIGHTEOUS!


It is an excellent thing when your team has lost its last 4 bowl games (including 3 Rose Bowls) and then wins a big upset. It is an excellent thing when your retiring coach and exceptional senior class wins their last bowl game after an underwhelming season. It is an excellent thing to beat the Heisman winner at a venue that is essentially his home field and breaks everyone's preconceptions about your style of play. And it is always an excellent thing to beat the obnoxious Florida Gators, who before the game were jumping up and down on your team's logo in the endzone. Congrats to the team and coaches, it was an excellent game.

Story.


Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Dear DC cabbies...

One last word of thanks for ridiculously ripping me off the entire time I've lived here in DC. Tonight, I paid $13.50 to get from DC to Arlington but $19 to get from Arlington to DC. To my taxi driver this evening: you and your fake family can fucking go to hell, since I'm sure it's just an excuse to squeeze out those extra bones from my non-profit salary. Yes, I chose that job, but you also chose to be a greasy longhaired pennygrubbing-whore-asshole. It may surprise you, but this city was not intentionally built to only support taxi drivers. I really hope you and your family starve to death on the marginally-fair meter system imposed upon you later this year. You, and only you (my taxi driver tonight), I seriously hope you go to fucking hell. Fuck off and die. I would love to salt [sugar] your gas tank.