24 December 2009

Merry Christmas!

Today is Christmas Eve, which means tomorrow is Christmas Day. I want to focus more on the message of the day than on the day itself because I know that not all of my readers (and most definitely not all of my non-readers) are Christian and not all celebrate Christmas.

So in that light, I wish you all peace and joy and love. Enjoy this time of year and remember to share the love with friends, family, and even strangers.

My final gift to you is a song that I loved as a child. It brings back memories of everything that is right with Christmas.

Merry Christmas, one and all!

07 December 2009

A Christmas Shout Out To My "Old Line State" Peeps

I was born in our nation's capital but I was raised in Southern Maryland. In case you didn't know, Maryland is famous for its blue crabs. And what's the first thing you think of when you think of Maryland blue crabs? That's right ... CHRISTMAS!!!

No, seriously.

Penned and recorded by David DeBoy in the summer of 1981, "Crabs For Christmas" is the story of a department store Santa in Houston, TX who is accosted by a Baltimore man. Now this poor man is so very far away from home and wants nothing more than a pile of steamed crabs and a beer for Christmas.

Touching story, no?

Alright, so it's not the Nativity Story. But it's a funny, catchy tune and probably the only Maryland-themed Christmas song out there. And as someone who grew up where the blue crab is king, this song brings a smile to my face and a warmth to my heart. I hope you enjoy it every bit as much as I do and that it finds its way into your regular Christmas music rotation.

Oh! And if you'd like to purchase your very own copy, you can find the CD on David DeBoy's website. (Sorry, folks. There isn't a purchasable digital download of the song.)

04 December 2009

More Christmas Music Recommendations

A couple years ago, I listed a countdown of my most and least favorite Christmas tunes. You can find a roundup of my Top Five lists here. With Christmas soon upon us, I've decided that I should offer you some more holiday music to enjoy.
  • I'm a big fan of Harry Connick, Jr. He's released a few Christmas albums during his career. My favorite of these is When My Heart Finds Christmas. The album recalls some of the great Christmas songs that were recorded during the 1940's and early 1950's by the likes of Frank Sinatra and Ella Fitzgerald. While it was difficult to single one song out, I have been able to do so. His rendition of "The Blessed Dawn Of Christmas Day" is one of the most emotionally delivered songs I've heard.

  • Bob Dylan is not a singer. What he is is one of the greatest songwriters to have ever lived. He has penned some of the most iconic American music you'll hear. But he is not a singer. That is what makes his album Christmas In The Heart such a disappointment. The album is too richly produced for his weatherd, ragged voice to stand up to. It sounds like a Traveling Wilburys album without the benefit of having the other Wilburys present to record, which wouldn't be completely possible anyway. Still, there is a pearl amongst these swine, the playful romp "Must Be Santa". Writen in the style of "The International Friendship Song", this tune takes off in pure polka style and doesn't stop until the end (as all songs should, I suppose). I defy you to listen to this without wanting to sing along.

  • Originally released exclusively at Hallmark stores as A Christmas Album and re-released as James Taylor At Christmas, this is yet another album that should be in your Christmas music collection. Like the Harry Connick, Jr. album, it was difficult to pick one song out of so many. But I've settled on "Baby It’s Cold Outside", a duet that pairs James with Natalie Cole. The samba shuffle gives a cozy feel that enhances the playful back-and-forth between James and Natalie. The chemistry between the two singers feels real … you can tell these two had a blast working on this song together.

02 December 2009

A Continuation Of The Discussion

This past Tuesday, the D.C. City Council passed the bill to legalize same-sex marriage in the District. It is the first of three final hurtles to jump before homosexuals can marry in the Nation's Capital. Today, The Washington Post posted an article that explains how some black residents, especially those who lived through and fought during the Civil Right Movement of the 1960's, are none too happy that this struggle is being compared to that struggle. It's something I've heard many times before, from blacks and whites alike. But in this article, one piece jumped out at me like a neon green dot on a grey wall.
"You can choose to be gay or not," Marshall Brown said. "You can never choose to be black or not."

Not so, his son said. "People are born that way," Kwame Brown said. "That could be a generational difference between the way he thinks and the way I think."

"That's a fair argument," the father said when told of his son's view about sexual orientation. But the elder Brown wasn't about to equate gay rights with the civil rights movement.
I'm glad that the Elder Brown can see the merits of the "people are born that way" argument. It was his next statement that gave me pause.
Homosexuals, he said, "can hide it so easily, but we can't hide that we're black."
So here are the big questions that beg to be asked:
  • If blacks could have hidden easily their blackness ... that is, if they could have used a cream or other such ways to hide the color of their skin ... would they have settled with the laws of the days before the Civil Rights Movement?
  • Would the lighter-skinned among them have sold out those of their brethren who were to the extremes of the color human spectrum in order to just fit in and work with the system that existed at that time?
  • Would they have simply accepted their situation or would they have still fought to make things better, equal, and more perfect?

I think I already know the answer. Which makes their arguments all the more ridiculous.

13 November 2009

To Appease The Masses (And Just To Post Something)

I know. My last post was almost a month ago. I haven't had anything to say. So, in the spirit of keeping this blog alive and because I laugh every time I see it, here is my favorite commercial of the year. Enjoy!

19 October 2009

It's Halloween, People!

I saw a news segment on CNN on Saturday that made my brain hurt. It seems that there are some people out there who are none too happy with a certain Halloween costume.
Immigrant rights activists are calling on U.S. retailers to stop selling two controversial "Illegal Alien" costumes that have surfaced for Halloween, saying the outfits are a broadside attack on illegal immigrants.

The "Illegal Alien Adult Costume," manufactured by Forum novelties, includes an orange jumpsuit, similar to prison garb, with "Illegal Alien" stamped in black across the chest; a space alien mask; and a fake Green Card. The "Illegal Alien Mask with Hat" also includes a space alien mask, this time with a dark handlebar mustache and a baseball cap.
Now, I happen to slightly agree with their position on the mask with the mustache. That one is pretty blatant and I can understand the outrage. But an alien in a jumpsuit and a fake green card? Come on, people! Lighten up! That's funny stuff! Have people forgotten about a certain movie and its sequel that deal with aliens that illegally reside here? That was the first thing I thought of when I saw that costume. That the first place some people go is instantly insulted is simply sad.

This outrage has caused some of our retailers to pull the costume from their stores. And I think that's a shame. So I'm supplying you with links on where you can purchase your very own illegal alien Halloween costume.

And, because this has stuck in my craw so deeply, I'm giving you an added bonus today ... a music video!

15 October 2009

Bad Blogger! Bad, Bad Blogger!

Yes, I know. I've let this site sit stagnant and cobwebby for roughly a month. I wish I had a good excuse, but I don't ... I've been a victim of the daily grind of life. In my absence, I have missed posting about a great many happenings in the world, a couple of which I want to comment on quickly.

First is the recent death of wrestling icon and music video regular Captain Lou Albano. World Wrestling Federation (WWF) (later to become World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) due to a lawsuit from the World Wildlife Fund) was just coming into its own in the late 70's to mid 80's. They were on TV every weekend. They were appearing in music videos. Why, the wrestling stars of that day even had their own Saturday morning cartoon. And Captain Lou was right in the middle of it all. It's trendy to mock or even criticize wrestling today for its over-the-top antics and its violence. But while the current level of "realism" didn't exist back then, the over-the-top antics and personalities most certainly did. And back then, it was good clean fun. Captain Lou, along with all of the other wrestling stars of those days, will always be a part of me because he was a fairly big part of my childhood.

The other thing I'd like to comment on, and would have done on Random Music Tuesday if I had had the time, is the 30th anniversary of the Fleetwood Mac album Tusk. The album had been compared to The Beatles (a.k.a., The White Album) due to the experimentation of the band and that it was a double album. I suppose it's up to us, the listeners, to decide if it is a good album or not but one cannot deny the power of the title track. How many other Top 10 hits can you name that makes use of a college marching band?

And with that, I would be remiss if I didn't give you something from the album to listen to. So, without further ado, here is "Tusk".

15 September 2009

Home Movies

This is by far one of my most favorite commercials of all time. Wouldn't you agree, Tuffie?

Random Music Tuesday: "She Wolf" by Shakira

Releasing her third English album and her sixth album overall, Shakira has completely transformed herself from a gritty girl rocker to a sultry dance-pop sex kitten. To quote the artist, this song is about "a more animalistic side of you, a more primitive side … an animal person in a way, So when you understand these things you forgive yourself every time you screw up, you say, It wasn’t me, that was the she wolf … that was the animal in me, that wasn’t me, I have nothing to do with that".

Um, okay.

So it doesn't really matter what the song is about. What matters is the music. And the music is quite catchy. If you haven't heard it, here it is. Take a quick listen.

My only beef with the song, and the one part that cracks me up inside, is that pathetic excuse for a howl in the chorus. Really, Shakira? You're a friggin' she wolf. Let it out! Let it out! Let it out! If you don't know how to, take the following ... the textbook, the master, the one any future howlists should try to emulate.

Warren Zevon - Werewolves of London

14 September 2009

R.I.P., Patrick Swayze

Patrick Swayze died tonight of pancreatic cancer.

I may get some ribbing for this, but I liked Patrick Swayze. He was one of those actors who showed equal parts strength and vulnerability. I think he was one of the more underrated actors because he happened to get typecast after "Dirty Dancing" and "Ghost". But just read the reviews of Swayze's performance in "The Beast" and you'll see that he wasn't just a romantic lead. In fact, he never took himself too seriously. Which leads me to one of my most favorite Patrick Swayze moments ... one that involved a certain TV show, a certain physical comedy actor, and a certain night club.

Vaya con Dios, Mr. Swayze.

Dear Washington Capitals

Thank you for my 2009-2010 Season Tickets. They came in on Thursday and I am ecstatic to have them! I remember when my 2008-2009 Season Tickets came in. They arrived via UPS in one of their plastic envelopes; inside were the tickets, a letter from you thanking me for being a fan, and a wonderfully useful shoulder bag (perfect for a sleep-over or a jaunt through the city.

This year's tickets, as you know, came in a large UPS box. The box had a good deal of heft on it. Then I opened the box and found within it another box. And it pretty box it was too!

I was so excited to receive this box! Whatever could be inside? A keepsake ornament? A metal box in which to keep this year's tickets? A t-shirt? I opened the box and found ... a piece of filler paper and this ...

No keepsake ornament. No metal box in which to keep this year's tickets. No t-shirt. Just the filler paper, the letter, the guide, and the tickets.

Now, I'm not the most environmentally conscious person on the planet, but even I can see what a waste this packaging was. Why did you send such small items in such a large box? That doesn't make any sense, especially not from an organization that has lately been priding itself with its lack of waste.

Why, Washington Capitals? Why?!

If you read this (and I know you don't) and if you'll take my advice (which I know you won't), PLEASE do not do this again in the future. For one, it's extremely wasteful. For two, after raising the expectations of the season ticket buyer who has received the package, it's a big disappointment to your fans.

The Diarist

11 September 2009

This Infamous Day

Today is the eleventh of September. You probably already knew that, unless of course you live life without calendars or are so far removed from civilization that time holds no meaning to you. This day will be filled with tributes on the television, over the radio, and across the Internet to those who fell in those terrorist attacks in New York City, Arlington/DC, and Stonycreek Township.

Last year, I wrote a remembrance to that horrible day eight years ago. I had written a tribute every year and I honestly thought about skipping a tribute this year. I couldn't see the point of rehashing and reliving that day. I couldn't find a reason for posting something. Besides, I couldn't think of anything more to add to what I've already said.

Except this.

Time has a nasty habit of dimming the memory, of easing the sense of urgency, of numbing the pain. With each year that passes, I fear that we lose the harsh, cruel lessons we learned on that day.

And for that reason I post this. That day is as real to me now as it was then. I haven't forgotten. I hope you never do either.

11 August 2009

Random Music Tuesdays: "My Maria" by Brooks & Dunn

One of the longest running and biggest country music acts in the business is ending. Brooks & Dunn has decided that after twenty years of sweet music it is time to break up the band.
"This ride has been everything and more than we could ever have dreamed ... We owe it all to you, the fans," Kix Brooks and Ronnie Dunn said in the message. "If you hear rumors, don't believe them, it's just time."
While not a big fan myself, I do appreciate when musicians can play together and stay on top of their game for as long as these two men have. And so, in honor of such a long and illustrious career, I offer you one of their biggest hits.


My Maria - Brooks & Dunn

29 July 2009

More On Texting While Driving

Remember this? Apparently, the states cannot be trusted to make what laws they feel are best for their people ... thus this.

28 July 2009

Random Music Tuesdays: "Common People" by William Shatner

Wait, Diarist. William Shatner?!

Yes. William Shatner.

Now I know this flies in the face of all that is good and wholesome in music. I know that Shatner is known more for the cadence of his delivery than for his singing chops. (Don't believe me? This live performance is infamous!) The absolute failure of his first music album should all but ensure that his name should never, ever grace anyone's music list.

Yet here is is. This week's Random Music Tuesdays choice for your listening pleasure. And he would never be here were it not for the saving grace, musical genius, and production skills of one auditory visionary who saw the potential in Shatner that none other in the universe could see.

And for that, Mr. Folds, I thank and salute you.

Because Has Been has got to be one of the best albums you've never heard or owned. (And if you have heard it and/or own it, you'll no doubt agree with me whole-heartedly.)

This isn't a review of the album. (Mostly because, if it were, it would be about five years late.) No, I believe that this album can speak for itself. There is so much heart, so much emotion, so much raw power in it to be ignored. And, like the Borg, resistance to it is futile.

I know you're still skeptical. That's why I've brought this offering. The opening track is such good fun ... and the vocals are so emotively powerful ... that all of your skepticism will be swept away. So listen to the track. Then buy yourself a copy and see what you've been missing these past five years.

Nassif Building Returns to Life

Well, it isn't the Nassif Building anymore. Now it's called the Constitution Center. And it's much prettier with this facelift.

Before ...

After ...

Now all they need is a tenant.

The New "Drinking And Driving"

A recent study has shown that texting while driving is not one of the best ideas.
After examining the behavior of truck drivers covering more than 6 million miles of road, the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute concluded that people who send text messages while driving are 23 times more likely to be in a crash (or what they call a near-crash event) than nondistracted drivers.
I have been guilty of texting while driving, though lately I've been severely curtailing my texting time to red lights. But even that is not a good idea, since fourteen states plus the District of Columbia have banned texting behind the wheel.

The message in all of this? Don't use your cell phone while driving unless it's an absolute emergency.

14 July 2009

Too Soon?

My answer, in a word, is YES! People, there's a reason parks, monuments, airports, et cetera are named after people after history has borne out that person's worthiness of such an honor. It's so that we don't look back in embarrassment on an emotional mistake. I strongly urge my city council to postpone this proposal at least until the man is out of office.

Random Music Tuesdays: "Somnambulist (Simply Being Loved)" by BT

This week's featured song is by another hometown star, BT, who hails from Rockville, MD. It's probably his most famous song and holds the Guinness Book of World Records in 2003 for the largest number of vocal edits in a song . Plus it's catchy. So enjoy!

Somnambulist (Simply Being Loved) - BT

07 July 2009

Random Music Tuesday: Michael Jackson

Today, in case you didn't know, was the final send-off for Michael Jackson. In honor of one of the world's greatest entertainers ever (and because I've already said my peace), I offer not a song from the man but something marginally better. Because while imitation may be the greatest form of flattery, spoofing is the greatest form of honoring.

06 July 2009

Busted ... Yet Again - UPDATED

It seems these days, my councilmember has been spending more time fighting for his freedom than he has been fighting for the benefit of the Ward he was elected to represent. I guess he simply has too much time on his hands ... and we all know what they say about idle hands.

Seriously, Ward 8, can we finally say enough is enough and elect someone who actually bring some positive attention to our neighborhoods instead of appearing in mug shots? Is there any way we can forcibly remove him from office? I know the man created the District Youth’s Employment Act of 1979 (a.k.a. "the summer youth work program"), which gave a great number of District residents their first job and important first steps toward a brighter future; but he's been riding that PR gravy train for thirty years. He has done nothing over the past twenty years but make our city (and our Ward) a punchline. He is an embarrassment and a distraction. He has to simply go away.

We need and deserve better than this.

UPDATE - 13:17: Right on cue, we have dueling stories. one version came from one of the horses' mouths. The alternate story came from the other horses' attorney's mouth.

02 July 2009

The Stella Awards

I got an email today from a friend about this year's Stella Awards. I found the email so funny that I was going to post it on here. Unfortunately, while quite humorous, the list was totally bogus. So I found the real site with the real awards. And now, here for your ready pleasure, are the latest (2007) Stella Awards Runners-Up and Winner. (And, believe me, you'll love the winner since he's a hometown boy.)

The TRUE Stella Awards -- 2007 Winners
by Randy Cassingham
Issued February 2008

Unlike the FAKE cases that have been highly circulated online for the last several years (see http://www.StellaAwards.com/bogus.html for details), the following cases have been researched from public sources and are confirmed TRUE by the ONLY legitimate source for the Stella Awards: http://www.StellaAwards.com. To confirm this copy is legitimate, see http://www.StellaAwards.com/2007.html.


2007 Runners-Up and Winner:

#3: Sentry Insurance Company.

The company provided worker's compensation insurance for a Wisconsin "Meals on Wheels" program. Delivering a meal, a MoW volunteer (who was allegedly not even wearing boots) slipped and fell on a participant's driveway that had been cleared of snow, and Sentry had to pay to care for her resulting injuries. Sentry wanted its money back, so it sued the 81-year-old homeowner getting the Meals on Wheels service. It could have simply filed for "subrogation" from her homeowner's insurance company, but by naming her in the action, it dragged an old lady into court, reinforcing the image of insurance companies as concerned only about the bottom line, not "protecting" policyholders from loss.

#2: The family of Robert Hornbeck.

Hornbeck volunteered for the Army and served a stint in Iraq. After getting home, he got drunk, wandered into a hotel's service area (passing "DANGER" warning signs), crawled into an air conditioning unit, and was severely cut when the machinery activated. Unable to care for himself due to his drunkenness, he bled to death. A tragedy, to be sure, but one solely caused by a supposedly responsible adult with military training. Despite his irresponsible behavior -- and his perhaps criminal trespassing -- Hornbeck's family sued the hotel for $10 million, as if it's reasonably foreseeable that some drunk fool would ignore warning signs and climb into its heavy duty machinery to sleep off his bender.

But those pale in comparison to...

THE WINNER of the 2007 Stella Award: Roy L. Pearson Jr.

The 57-year-old Administrative Law Judge from Washington DC claims that a dry cleaner lost a pair of his pants, so he sued the mom-and-pop business for $65,462,500. That's right: more than $65 million for one pair of pants. Representing himself, Judge Pearson cried in court over the loss of his pants, whining that there certainly isn't a more compelling case in the District archives. But the Superior Court judge wasn't moved: he called the case "vexatious litigation", scolded Judge Pearson for his "bad faith", and awarded damages to the dry cleaners. But Pearson didn't take no for an answer: he's appealing the decision. And he has plenty of time on his hands, since he was dismissed from his job. Last we heard, Pearson's appeal is still pending.

Copyright 2008 www.StellaAwards.com -- this message may be forwarded as long as it remains complete and unaltered.

Good Morning ... WTF?! (Explosion On Good Hope Road SE)

My condo building was evacuated around 07:00 this morning by D.C. Fire and Rescue. One of the units on my floor exploded. I have no word yet on the cause of the blast. Only the owner of the unit was injured; his injuries were not life-threatening. The rest of us are standing around outside, waiting on more details of what happened. I hope to have more later.

-- Post From My iPhone

UPDATE - 08:43: Around 08:00, we were allowed back into the building. It appears that roach bombs were the cause of the explosion. Apparently, the unit owner wasn't home when the exterminator visited our building a bit ago and so still had roaches. The unit owner had one roach bomb in the bathroom and two in the kitchen (in cabinets). The fire investigator believes that the stove's pilot light ignited the chemicals from the roach bombs. I was with Regina (the condo board president), Vernon (our maintenance guy), and 7th District Police Officer Schramm when they went into the unit. I took a look around (from the outside of the unit) and listened to their conversation. And let me tell you, we were lucky. The unit owner has crap piled up all over the place, with a couple walkways between the piles of crap. There were paint cans under the dining room table. There were all sorts of chemicals in the kitchen (where the explosion apparently originated). If any of those other chemicals had exploded ... if any one piece of the crap in that unit had caught fire ... well, this would have been a vastly different post.

Oh. Yeah. And the roaches survived the whole ordeal.

UPDATE - 15:08: My photos are on WJLA's website.

UPDATE - 03:47: DCist links to the WJLA website, siting that WJLA was reporting the story ... which is true ... except that The District Diaries reported it first (and as it happened) then tipped off WJLA.

Oh. Yeah. And yes, IntangibleArts, the bugs are all OK. For now.

30 June 2009

Random Music Tuesdays: "You're The Only One" by Maria Mena

Okay, technically this a love song ... or at least a song about romantic relationships. But that's not how I was introduced to it. And that's not the message I took away from it. This week's song is about finding that person who gets you in ways that no one else in the universe ever possibly could.

Maria Mena's song "You're The Only One", from her 2004 album Mellow, was written as a love song. But this song was brought to my attention by First Brain. And he's the first person I think of when I hear it. Because to me, this isn't a romantic love song but a platonic one ... a song for those lucky people who have that person (friend, love, whatever) in their life who simply gets them ... no explanations, no excuses, no editing.

First Brain, this week's song goes out to you. I hope life treats you well and that you accept the best that life offers you.

Youre The Only One - Maria Mena

29 June 2009

Love ...

  1. requires constant communication and reassurance to flourish, much like how a plant needs light and water to grow.
  2. is alive and subject to the same rules as any other life on earth.
  3. is universal.
  4. should not be attached to strings but far-too-often is.
  5. , along with Time, can heal any wound.
  6. is painful and worth every moment of it.
  7. stands by you even when it isn't easy to do so.
... is not ...
  1. vacuumed sealed.
  2. universally understood.
  3. up for negotiation.
  4. to be taken for granted.
  5. static.
  6. limited to one plain of being.
  7. to be hoarded away like a life's saving because ...
... Love is best spent on others, and ...
... Love is what you bring into my life and I cherish it more than I can often express.

26 June 2009

In Memoriam

I know yesterday saw the deaths of two icons. But, at heart, I'm a musician and an entertainer so I have my bias. You will forgive me that (because it's my blog).

Michael Jackson, in his later years, was a target of ridicule and law suits. Perhaps it was justified, perhaps it wasn't. For the record, I have made my fair share of pedophilia jokes. Even counting all of that, Michael Jackson rises amongst the highest firmament of entertainment stardom. His songwriting, his singing, and/or his dancing has inspired countless performers after him. And his album Thriller is the best selling album of all time ... ever ... in the entire world, if not universe. He knew how to write. He knew how to sing. He knew how to dance. If he could have fit acting and ending war in there, then we'd call him a god.

Yet he is a god. He climbed to heights of fame and fortune and popularity that many of us aspire, in some fashion or another. He was not just America's, like Elvis ... he was the world's. He could weather any storm and still be loved.

And his music.

MJ was a musical genius. His songwriting. His ability to capture a hook. The way he could manipulate you into empathizing with the message he was trying to put across.

And his showmanship, to include his dancing and stage presence. What? It's been ages since you've seen him perform? You're too young to remember? Well, sift through these videos and witness the man who has inspired so many entertainers you see today. When he danced, MJ defied the laws of physics. I remember the first time the world saw the "Moonwalk". There was a universal gasp, followed by "How the F*CK did he DO that?!"

He wasn't perfect. But then, who among us is. What he was was good at what he did. And what he did was bring some joy and some magic into our lives. And that, my faithful readers, is enough to take a moment and reflect on who we are and what we are doing to influence those around us.

I mourn the loss of another innovator. I mourn the loss of another musical genius. I mourn the loss of another entertainer who will inspire another generation to keep the arts alive. I know you mourn with me.

I will leave you with the first popular music video (or popular music anything) my father and I shared. I don't quite remember how old I was ... perhaps twelve or thirteen ... but I remember being up way too late on a school night. I remember sitting in the living room with my dad. Just the two of us. I remember MTV being on, which was a major oddity in my house. And I remember this video coming on. My dad said something along the lines of, "This guy's a bit of a fruit. And I don't like this song ... it's pretty demonic. But he can sure dance." And he and I watched the entire video. It was the first time that my parents implicitly let me enjoy secular music. It was the first time I was permitted to enjoy modern music openly that I had enjoyed privately with my oldest brother. It was the first time I was introduced to the music of Michael Jackson.


25 June 2009

Oh, The Possibilities Of An Epic Fail ...

... even more so than some other films he's helmed. Don't get me wrong, his first two films were pretty darned good. But then ... well ... imagine, if you will, a high cliff and a roadrunner and a coyote. 'Nuff said for how he's fared since then.

Still, while he may have written the screenplay for the movie, he's working from the story from the television series. As long as he is faithful to the source material and doesn't try to get all creative and shit, I think he'll be fine. Because this series was one of my most favorite of all time. Hell, I was even pleased with the series finale. (And those of you who really know me know that I'm typically disappointed with how people wrap things up.)

So, as my personal motto goes, I'm hoping for the best but expecting the worst from this.

Don't you !@#$%^& disappoint me, bi-atch!

(Click here to see what I'm all worked up about.)

23 June 2009

Another Burton Masterpiece Coming Together

I'm a huge fan of Tim Burton, ever since he directed his first major motion picture lo so many years ago. His latest endeavor had been in the "next movie to be made" rumor mill ever since American McGee got his (deliciously) creepy hands on the material and fashioned a newer, darker story. Burton's newest baby seems to be coming along just nicely and I, for one, cannot wait until its release in 2010!

A Moment Of Silence

Our hearts go out to those in yesterday's MetroRail accident, especially the families of those whose lives were lost. It's a very rare occurrence in the D.C. area for anyone to die on the MetroRail system (not counting those idiots who try to kill themselves by purposefully jumping onto the tracks).

Yet, while this is sad and a tragedy, we would like to give throw our support behind Metro. With five rail lines and hundreds of bus lines carrying hundreds of thousands daily, it's a huge testament to the men and women who work for Metro that events like this don't occur more often. Ours is one of the safest (and cleanest) in the world.

18 June 2009

Really, PETA? Really?

You know it's a slow day at the office when you can't find anything bigger to speak out against than the death of a fly. It's not like the thing would have survived the month even in the most perfect conditions.

Am I the only one who thinks PETA jumped the shark on this? (Oh, yes, that pun was totally intended.)

17 June 2009

The Time Is Almost Nigh

Here we are, two more days a few short hours until the Blessed One smiles upon us fortunate few who have been deemed worthy for laying several hundred dollars at the Altar of Jobs. Upon hearing rumors that the All-Powerful Jobs would bless his chosen people with his goodness, I was excited. That was until I learned that I was not truly one of the chosen for I had not evolved enough.

Well, I am now appropriately evolved. And I am beside myself in anticipation of the glorious day! My only fear is that the line to the temple could be quite long, and I am not the patient disciple I once was.

Still, it is only once a year that our Most Benevolent One smiles upon us mortals. And so I shall wait for however long it takes the blessings to flow from Mount Macintosh to my humble symbol of devotion.

Praise be to Jobs and peace unto you.

09 June 2009

Random Music Tuesdays: Album Review: "Rocket 88 - Tribute To Ike Turner" by Mr Groove Band

I believe this is a day of firsts for The District Diaries' Random Music Tuesdays. I believe this is the first time I've featured an artist more than once. This is also the first full album review I've done. Ever.

I was asked by a good friend to take a listen to Mr Groove Band's latest offering and to share my thoughts on the album. (I may be mistaken, but this might be the first outside review of the album. Yet another first? How cool is that?!) So I received my advance copy and have listened through it once or twice (or a dozen times).

As stated before, Mr Groove was featured in a Random Music post almost a year ago. The band has been working on a tribute album to Ike Turner and, based on the response to "Papa Was A Rolling Stone", asked vocalist Darryl Johnson to do the heavy vocal lifting. The album is complete and is now going to press.

The album is titled Rocket 88 - Tribute to Ike Turner and will be distributed by ZOHO Music, a New York based independent record label specializing in latin/jazz, blues, R&B, and classic/southern rock genres. The band consists of Tim Smith (bass), Roddy Smith (guitars), Tim Gordon (sax and woodwinds), Donnie Marshall (drums and percussion), Tony Creasman (drums and percussion), and Darryl Johnson (lead and background vocals). Guest performers are Audrey Turner, Bonnie Bramlett, Rick Jackson, Mark Stallings, Rob Ickes, and The Groovehouse Horns.

Now I have to admit that I'm not terribly familiar with Ike Turner's music. While I did recognize a couple tunes, most of the album was completely new to me. On the whole, the album works. The band has a great mix of dirty funk ("I Smell Trouble", "I Wanna Take You Higher", "Come Together"), smooth soul ("No More Doggin'", "Rock Me Baby", "Nutbush City Limits"), and rollicking R&B ("Rocket 88", "Taking Back My Name") ... sometimes all in the same song ("River Deep, Mountain High"). The band rocked out on such a fun instrumental piece ("Funky Mule") that I found myself getting lost in it with every hearing. It was also a touching nod to include a toe-tapping piece by the man-of-honor himself ("Prancing"). The band does a great job interpreting the songs in ways that made me experience feelings that I didn't anticipate. And Darryl's vocals capture the meaning beneath the words and the notes, oftentimes laying it right on your lap and daring you to turn away.

But not every song on the album worked for me. While funky in that 70's sort of way (and I'm a man who likes his 70's funk), I didn't quite get "Bold Soul Sister". I can't put my finger on why exactly but that's the way it is sometimes. And this incarnation of "Proud Mary" just didn't hit the spot for me, not even close. While I understand that you can't make a carbon copy of a famous tune, I don't think it's too much to ask that it's a bit more honest (and recognizable) to the original. It's in their attempt to stand apart from Tina's shadow that the band has their only great misfire.

Still, two not-so-good songs out of thirteen is pretty darn good. Darn good enough that you should pick yourself up a copy of Mr Groove Band's Rocket 88 - Tribute to Ike Turner when it's released on 11 August 2009. I think you'll enjoy it as much as I did.

Oh ... don't worry, my faithful readers; The Diarist got your hookup. You can get a taste of the album by listening to the selections below.


08 June 2009

Fire Chief, Surprised By Ash, Proclaims Sky Is Falling

Thank the gods that we have a top fireman who is watching out for public safety. The last thing this city needs is an epic-disater-in-the-making.
D.C. Fire Chief Dennis L. Rubin yesterday ordered that all fireworks displays at Washington Nationals games be suspended until a safety review can be conducted, after fireworks debris landed on him as he watched a game, a department spokesman said today.

Rubin, who regularly attends Nationals games, was sitting in Section 130 yesterday when the Nats were facing off against the New York Mets. At the conclusion of the national anthem, there was a fireworks display as is customary, said department spokesman Alan Etter. As the debris fluttered down, it found its way to Rubin in his seat.
As you can see, Mr. Rubin had some sweet seats at first base, which are no where near where the fireworks are.

Now, I was a season ticket holder last year and my seats were in Section 141, pretty much directly beneath the fireworks. I had attended several games where the ashes fell from the sky onto us fans. And let me tell you, not once did any of us feel as if our lives were in jeopardy. Yes, ash is dirty. And, yes, it's a little startling the first time it happens. But that's how it goes sometimes. For Mr. Rubin to play the power card, covering it in the blanket of "immediate concern for safety", over something that has been happening for at least the past year (or longer ... I can't believe this never happened at RFK Stadium) is simply ridiculous and yet another example of our city leaders acting like that one kid in class who's put in charge while the teacher steps out for a minute.

Seriously. When will the insanity end in our local government?

05 June 2009

Sorry For The Delay, But My Transcriber Was Selected To Work In The Obama Administration

Now look here, Diarist - we are busy people with busy lives doing busy things with other busy people. We do not have the time to sit around and wait for you to post something worthwhile on this blog. If you do not get your shit together and soon, we just might have to go find somewhere else to loiter. Capite?

Sì, capisco. There's no need to get all Sopranos on me. Now, call off your cousin ... I like my knee caps in the front of my legs (and in one piece). Thanks.

I know I've been a bit M.I.A. the past couple weeks. (That's "M.I.A." as in "Missing In Action", not "M.I.A." as in ... um ... M.I.A..) I have also been a bit busy as of late. Last week saw me prepping for a new contract. This week (and many more weeks to follow) sees me traveling to the wilds of my neighboring Commonwealth. (I don't care how many multi-laned streets or how many Starbucks or how many buildings taller than ten stories you have ... if I have to drive and my commute is more than twenty minutes, yo ass is in da boonies!) So I have been a bit busy myself. That's life. We live, we learn, we adapt. So buck up and "Do The Darwin".

I do have some special posts that I need to write and put up here, the first and foremost being my first-ever album review. Just kick off your shoes (on the tile, not the carpet, thank you), hang tight, and make yourself at home. The white wine is chilling in the fridge; the red wine is on the rack, the liquor is on the bar; and the good stuff is locked up, so don't even think about it.

Unless you've known me por siempre or you have a crapload of time on you hands (and nothing else more exciting to do), I seriously doubt you've read everything on this blog. And if you have, I doubt even more than you've checked out every one of the fine blogs I've recommended there in that right-hand column.

I will post again. I promise. You have the run of the house (that's not locked down) in the meantime. Enjoy yourselves. And mind those dirty shoes.

26 May 2009

Random Music Tuesdays: I Got Nothing

Sorry, kids. The past two weeks have been far too busy for my liking and I haven't had time to post what I've wanted to post. So next Random Music Tuesday I will have something special for you ... a whole album review.

Ooo! That sounds so epic for you!

Well, yes. It is. I haven't reviewed an entire album before so I plan on taking a few days writing it. I want to do it all good and proper like.

But I won't leave you wanting for music. Nosiree, not on Random Music Tuesdays. Enjoy!

The Washington Post's 2009 Post Hunt

If you've been a long-time reader of this blog, you will remember that I did The Post Hunt last year with a few friends. If not, you can read about it here.

Well, I did it again this year as well. Three of the original four members of Team Awesome were present. Member number four moved far, far away and so wasn't available. Instead, we incorporated four other people to join in our quest of solving this year's Post Hunt.

I'm not going to go into too many details. Anything about the Hunt, including answers, can be found on the official Post Hunt page. (Though it should be noted that one of our teammates is prominently featured on the video explanation for The Human Statues Puzzle.)

I wasn't really into the Hunt this year. Perhaps it was because of the size of our team. Perhaps it was because I felt disconnected from everything. Perhaps it was because of the overcast, clammy, cool day. Perhaps it was because of the boring-ness of the puzzles this year. For whatever reason, this year's Hunt didn't do it for me. But I still plan on Team Awesome (perhaps capped at five people) pursuing the fame and glory in solving next year's Hunt.

Oh, in case you're wondering, we didn't solve it again this year. And we got one of the clues wrong. So yeah. We'll do better next year, I hope.

12 May 2009

Random Music Tuesdays: "Say" by John Mayer

This week's song is a lesson for us all to learn. Yeah, it's John Mayer, King of Shmaltz. Yeah, this song was featured in The Bucket List. And, yeah, the song is sappy enough to cover several dozen stacks of flapjacks. But the message is true ... say what you need to say.

Say - John Mayer

So True

10 May 2009

Star Trek - The Spoiler-Free-ish Review

*** WARNING: While I won't be going into plot details, I may spill a hint or two about the movie. If you haven't yet seen the movie and you wish to be surprised when you do, you might want to stop reading this review now. But if you don't care, by all means, read away. ***

Star Trek has been a major part of the American psyche since 1966 and has permeated our lives in ways many of us don't even realize. Cell phones, Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), speech translation devices and web sites, and GPS are all technologies that we have today thanks to the vision of Gene Roddenberry. Quotes such as "Live long, and prosper", "I'm a doctor, not a ...", "That is illogical", "Are you out of your Vulcan mind?", "He's dead, Jim", "There seems to be no sign of intelligent life anywhere.", "Beam me up", and "Space, the final frontier ..." are part of our American vernacular. Everyone knows that the unfamiliar red-shirted security officer accompanying the main characters on an away mission will be the only person to die.

I said all of that to say this ... if you profess to know nothing of the original Star Trek universe, you're an idiot and a liar. The original series (and movies) set the tone, the pace, the humor, and the rules of interaction for its other Star Trek children. If you've seen Star Trek: The Next Generation, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Star Trek: Voyager, or Star Trek: Enterprise then you've seen the original Star Trek series.

And I said all of that to say this ... the Star Trek of J.J. Abrams universe is not the Star Trek you've come to know, not completely.

In other words, forget about 90% of everything you've come to know about Star Trek. That universe has forever been altered.

I'm not going to go into details about the hows and whys because I would like to keep some mystery for those of you who have not yet seen the movie. Suffice it to say that time traveling is involved. Now I'm not fan of time travel as a plot device. I think it's lazy writing. Write yourself in a corner? Time travel! Run out of ideas? Time travel! Want to relive the past? Oh, now that's too easy. But this movie, this plot, this time travel ... these writers have incorporated it in a way ... the only way I've ever seen ... that says, "Yeah, we did this. And it will change everything." And, boy, does it ever!

Of course, there are things that will not change. The Kirk-Spock-McCoy ménage à trois bromance is not in full bloom, but the seeds have been sown. The crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise will become the close-knit family we've always known. And our favorite characters will continue to spout out those oh-so-famous catch-phrases we've come to know and love.

Trekkers and Trekkies, or anyone who is familiar with the original series, will be severely rewarded with little here-and-theres sprinkled throughout this film. Abrams, his writers, and his cast have tons of hat-tips to the original series and cast. Watch for nods to Star Trek: The Wrath Of Kahn, Star Trek: Enterprise, the original series pilot "The Cage", the TNG double episode "Unification", and the original series episode "The Trouble with Tribbles", to name a few. Also, the new actors pay homage to the original actors without becoming parrots or caricatures.

As a hardcore Trek fan (though far from being a Trekker/Trekkie), I'm pretty well versed in all things Trek. I've seen all the various series (except for that horrid Star Trek: Enterprise). I've seen all the movies. I get upset with things are not right or out of line with Roddenberry's vision.

Until this movie.

It's so well written, so well directed, and so well acted. And SO MUCH BLOODY FUN! Abrams has resurrected this dying franchise and is poised to shape it in his own image. And that's not a bad thing.

Do yourself a favor and go see it.

09 May 2009

Random Joke Friday! (One Day Late)

A drunk and a preacher were driving up a mountainside in different vehicles. The drunk was swerving from side to side; the preacher was driving straight and true. All of a sudden, the preacher lost control and drove off the edge of a cliff. The drunk noticed the preacher going off the edge, so he stopped his car and went to see if he was all right. He noticed the preacher was climbing up the hillside. He yelled down at the preacher, "Are you alright?"

The preacher replied, "Have no fear my son. I had the Lord riding with me."

The drunk then yelled back, "You had better let Him ride with me next time, 'cuz your gonna get Him killed!"

06 May 2009

A Belated Birthday Wish

I so totally missed this, but it's not completely my fault. I don't drive as much as I used to and so didn't get the memo. In any case, happy 40th birthday, WTOP! Here's to 40 more!

Another Site That Occupies My Time (EXPLICIT)

I have several sites that I frequent to escape the mundane reality of ... um ... reality. One of them is Zero Punctuation, a "groundbreaking video review series starring Ben 'Yahtzee' Croshaw". It's called "Zero Punctuation" because the reviews go by so quickly that you get the sense he did it in one breathless take (which we all know he didn't, thanks to modern technology). I get so much joy out of his reviews mostly due to his wicked sense of humor. But you have to listen carefully or you'll miss it.

Below is his most recent video game review. It's quite funny. But be sure to listen to it in a place where swearing is encouraged. If you like it, go check out his other reviews.

05 May 2009

UPDATED - One Step Closer

The D.C. Council voted unanimously (until they didn't) to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states. It passed without debate (until it did).

I was equally pleased and confused that there wasn't at least one vote against. But then again, the change to the marriage law was added as an amendment to the "Disclosure to the United States District Court Act of 2009". I can see how one could be confused.

UPDATE: What did I tell you? I wasn't joking about Barry. From the article linked at the beginning:
UPDATE: D.C. Council member Marion Barry (D-Ward 8) has now asked that the gay marriage bill be reconsidered. He didn't realize what he was voting on before.

He just gave a speech saying he is going to vote against it so it won't be unanimous vote. The council is now debating the bill.

UPDATE: I am always amazed at how my councilmember can find a way to play both sides of any issue.
Although he has been a longtime supporter of gay rights, Barry said he voted against the bill to satisfy his constituents in Southeast Washington.


But Barry said he disagrees with the ministers' antics today at the Wilson Building, saying the chaos "sets the movement back."
At least Mr. Barry "disagrees" with "antics". Good thing these Bible-thumpers were protesting in an orderly fashion or the police would have had to have gotten involved ... oh, wait.
After the vote, a large crowd of opponents, led by local ministers, began yelling, "Get them off the council!" referring to the members who supported the measure. The crowd caused such a ruckus that security guards and D.C. police officers had to be called in to restore order.
Additionally, it would be nice if the one dissenting voter would help to keep order instead of using inflammatory language that could be misconstrued (I'm sure) as advocating violence.
Barry predicted today there could be a "civil war" in the District if the Council decides to take up a broader gay marriage bill later this year.

"All hell is going to break lose," Barry said while speaking to reporters. "We may have a civil war. The black community is just adamant against this."
"All hell is going to break lose." "We may have a civil war." Fine calming words for a city that is still known for its violence.

Random Music Tuesday: Bonus Video: "Stand By Me"

This was sent to my by a good friend. The link he sent me is here and I fully agree with it's title - this is the best video I've seen today.

Playing For Change: Song Around the World Stand By Me - Watch a funny movie here

Random Music Tuesdays: "Now I Can Dance" by Tina Arena

This week's song is as random as it gets. I had no idea what I was going to feature this week until just a moment ago, when this song started playing on my computer as it shuffled through my music library. It mostly reminds me of Basilio, since he was the one who introduced me to this song. To him, the song has literal meaning ... beginning, discovering, and living a new life far from family and long-established friends. To me, however, it has taken on a more symbolic meaning ... beginning, discovering, and living a new life far from the one I had lived for most of the past decade. I haven't physically moved but I have embarked on a new journey mentally and emotionally. I hope that you can pull some personal meaning from this song as well.

Now I Can Dance - Tina Arena

Happy Cinco De Quatro

Thank the gods that we no longer have a bumbling idiot for a President anymore!

UPDATE: Welcome, peeps from Bore Patch. Thanks for dropping by. Feel free to browse around. Mi casa es su casa. Mind the shoes, though.

01 May 2009

Random Joke Friday!

Things to do at Wal-Mart (or Target, for you foo-foo types) while the Significant Other is taking his/her sweet time:

1. Get cans of cat food and randomly put them in people's carts when they don't realize it.
2. Set all the alarm clocks to go off at ten minute intervals throughout the day.
3. Make a trail of orange juice on the floor leading to the rest rooms.
4. Walk up to an employee and tell him/her in an official tone, "I think we've got a Code 3 in housewares," and see what happens.
5. Tune all the radios to 98 Rock or DC 101; then turn them all off and turn the volumes to "10."
6. Challenge other customers to duels with tubes of gift wrap.
7. Put M&M's on layaway.
8. Move "Caution: Wet Floor" signs to carpeted areas.
9. Set up a tent in the Camping department; tell others you'll only invite them in if they bring pillows from Bed And Bath.
10. When someone asks if you need help, begin to cry and ask, "Why won't you people just leave me alone?!"

28 April 2009

Random Music Tuesdays: "Angel On My Shoulder" by Kaskade Featuring Tamra Keenan

I have my beau to thank for this week's selection. It's a song written and mixed by Ryan Raddon, better known by his stage name Kaskade. This mix is taken from the song's single, but the song comes from Kaskade's fifth album Strobelite Seduction and features Tamra Keenan on vocals.

Kaskade has quickly become one of my favorite dance music mixers. I hope you enjoy this as much as I do.

Angel On My Shoulder (Extended Edit) - Kaskade