30 June 2011

Five Reasons Montréal Métro Is Better Than Washington Metro

  1. The wait for a train on Montréal Métro was never longer than 5 minutes ... on a holiday weekend no less! Good luck getting that kind of time from Washington Metro.
  2. Compare this, one of Montréal Métro's most cavernous stations, to this, one of Washington Metro's most cavernous stations.
  3. Montréal Métro's station names are concise while still giving even the first-time rider a sense of place. Very much unlike Washington Metro system's unfriendly and unwieldy naming convention.
  4. TV! In the friggin' stations!
  5. Because it's on rubber tires, the Montréal Métro sings a comforting tune as it arrives and departs. Nothing at all like the screeching and wailing of Washington Metro's trains.

21 June 2011

Music Video Friday: Perform This Way By "Weird Al" Yankovic

I know. I know! This isn't Friday. It's Tuesday. But I couldn't post a video this past Friday, so I'm playing catch-up. Please enjoy this heartfelt offering from one of my generation's greatest performers.

10 June 2011

Music Video Friday: My Time By Dutch Feat. Crystal Waters

This weekend is Capital Pride in the Nation's Capital. When I was a younger, less experienced homosexual, I participated in a lot of Pride activities. It was a way to be around like-minded people ... people who were otherwise mostly invisible. I was somewhere I could fit in and be my complete self openly and without fear. Yes, the world was a slightly different place back then.

As I've gotten older and more secure in the "complete me", I've found myself having less and less to do with Capital Pride events. It's not that I think it isn't still important to associate with people who are more like you. But I honestly have no idea what the point of it all is and I haven't found anyone who can tell me outside of established talking points. Even though my opinion of the festivities may have changed, I certainly do not begrudge those who do still enjoy it all.

To those of you who will be out and about showing the world how proud you are of being Out And About, this one's for you.

08 June 2011

Toute Nation A Le Gouvernement Qu'elle Mérite

The post's title is a quotation by Joseph de Maistre in his Lettres et Opuscules Inédits, Vol. 1, Letter 53, written on 15 August 1811 and published in 1851. The English translation reads, "Every nation has the government it deserves".

Monsieur de Maistre was giving voice to his dislike of democracy, thinking instead that hereditary monarchies were "a divinely sanctioned institution" and "the only stable form of government". He believed that "the social legitimacy of government must therefore be based on compelling non-rational grounds, which its subjects should not be willing (or allowed) to question". Any input or questioning from the masses would only "lead to violence and chaos".

That's all very interesting, Diarist. But what does this have to do with the District, its mayor, or its city council?

Upon the founding of the United States, we turned our back on monarchies. We believed that the People held the wisdom of how they should be governed, and not some man (or woman) holed up inside a castle somewhere. Thus our form of representative democracy was born. What was formed for the nation also became the blueprint for every state, county, and city.

Uh huh. Still not following you here, bud.

I love democracy. I believe that our Founding Fathers got it right and Monsieur de Maistre was a bit off track. That said, I also believe that the People tend to get it wrong from time to time. Democracy is messy and, if the participants aren't paying much attention, can have ... rather untidy consequences.

Which is what leads me to my city.

You may not be aware, but my city's government has been rocked with several lapses of judgement fairly recently. It's a shame that such a rash of highly unethical behavior is going on because we were doing very well for a while there. But now ... now we are being visited by the spectres of the 1980's and the mid-1990's. Trust me, faithful readers, those were not happy days for the District of Columbia.

Let's just have a quick look as some of the goings-on in the past nine months, shall we?
And, really, that's only scratching the surface of how bad things have gotten with our top city government officials.

Look, Washingtonians, our city government is rotten and infested with the worst type of vermin. It is more commonplace to see budget cuts and tax increases coupled with even more ineffectual returns on our financial investment. (Make no mistake of it, people: Your tax dollars are an investment in your city and your government.)

Weak leaders with weak minds and weak resolve.

But you know what really pisses me off?


Yes, you! District residents are the epitome of the ol' axiom, doomed to forever roll the stone up the hill only to watch it roll back down to the bottom come day's end. You constantly elect people to office who fail you. And when the next election comes, you elect the fools again hoping that, maybe this time, they'll do right by you.

They. Won't.

These people are in it for them and theirs. They don't give a rat's ass about you, your struggles, or your needs. And if Rome should burn around their blatant and criminal disregard ... what, they worry? Their abandonment of their real duties is made obvious at how they repeatedly, quickly, easily, and flagrantly flout the rules of law ... actions that would land you or me in jail quicker than you can say, "My kidneys made me do it".

Our swamp is putrid and it needs to be drained. We need to rid ourselves of the career politicians who are in it for themselves. We need to clean out the corruption and usher in stewards who will act in our best interests.

Otherwise, notre ville a le gouvernement qu'il mérite.

06 June 2011

The Washington Post's 2011 Post Hunt


That is the only word I can use to describe this year's Post Hunt.

I've participated in every Post Hunt since the first one in 2008. (I realize I didn't post a recap of last year's. My bad.) I've had a blast every year. The Endgame has always been exceedingly difficult to decipher. And the first five puzzles were very challenging but not impossible to figure out. My team always succeeded in solving at least four of the five puzzles (but never the whole shebang.)

But this year. This year.

As I have said before, the puzzles in past years were very challenging. But this year, IMHO, the Creators seemed to make it a point to force us puzzlers to think much farther outside any imaginable box to reach the answers. I seriously caution you, Creators, that this will dissuade the casual puzzler from participating in the future.

My team didn't stick around for the final clue. (Because, really, what was the point when we could see the answers in today's publication?) It's a shame, really. Apparently, one didn't really even need to solve the five puzzles to solve this year's Endgame, according to the comments. That, my faithful readers, is no bueno. (Though it definitely explains the overly large crowd of people sprinting past The Corner Bakery, where we were finishing up our lunch. That never happened in years past ... you'd see maybe three or six groups making a beeline like that.)

And what about those five clues in the magazine? What exactly did they have to do with the Hunt? From what I could see, they had absolutely nothing to do with it. I understand, and appreciate, red herrings with my puzzle events. I think they are a vital part of making puzzle events like The Post Hunt work. I just happen to think that there was a major imbalance in the "red herring to actual clue" ratio this year. And it all started with the magazine.

Hey, I'm not complaining ... much. I enjoy The Post Hunt. I enjoyed it again this year. But only because I got to spend the afternoon with some people I enjoy. I honestly think that the Creators dropped the ball and phoned it in this year. I certainly hope that they do a better job next year.

03 June 2011

Music Video Friday: And I'm Telling You I'm Not Going By Jennifer Husdon And Jennifer Holliday

You may have heard that Jennifer Holliday will be headlining this year's Capital Pride Festival on 12 June. And I think I just heard a few of you ask, Jennifer WHO?

Ms. Holliday is best known for originating the role of Effie White in Dreamgirls back in 1981. Her biggest selling single was one of the signature songs from that show. I think you may have heard of it.

You'd be forgiven if you thought that Jennifer Hudson popularized "And I'm Telling You I'm Not Going". She most certainly did give it to us back in 2006, judging by all the awards she won for her show-stealing portrayal of Effie White. But upon seeing and hearing Ms. Holliday perform, one can't help but think that perhaps Ms. Hudson was simply parroting greatness.

And that's not a bad thing, really.

Thanks For The Notice, But ... Really?

The news broke early Wednesday afternoon that the headliner of this year's Capital Pride Festival isn't who we thought it was. At the time, I didn't mind the 11th-hour switch. I mean, it isn't like the person who's stepping in is an unknown talent or hasn't been professionally active in a while.

But the more I thought about it, the more it started to stick in my craw. See, Capital Pride's main act historically hasn't been a person who would be considered a current top artist. Usually the main act is a washed-up performer, a "legend" who doesn't have much else going on, someone who hasn't been culturally relevant in over 10 years. I'm not saying this is true of Ms. Holliday ... because it isn't. She has been very active in music and film, even releasing a gospel album in April. She is a great choice for the headlining performance.

But she's no Kelly Rowland.

It was good of Ms. Rowland to let the organizers know of the scheduling conflict and that she had to back out. I wouldn't necessarily say that she "took the high road"; she merely paid the most basic courtesy by simply informing. If she wanted to take the high road, she would not have agreed to perform at Capital Pride at all. It's not like she didn't know she wanted to be a judge on X-Factor. Gigs like that just don't sneak up on you. You start actively going after a job like that as soon as the rumor of someone leaving hits the street. She knew she wanted the X-Factor job more than she wanted to sing at Capital Pride. So, she should never have said yes to the committee.

Maybe it's the District native in me. Maybe I'm reading too much into this. Maybe I've let the decades of snubs by popular artists, thus having to settle for 2nd- and 3rd-Tier acts, build a large chip on my shoulder. Look, I get that stuff happens. I understand that scheduling conflicts arise. And I can see how things can get overlooked. But I can't help but feel that this cancellation smacks of disrespect for the homosexuals of the Washington Metropolitan area.

01 June 2011

Rule #1 To Hole Digging: When You're Over Your Head, Quit Digging And Call For A Ladder

The strength and courage of Walter Washington. The political acumen of Marion Barry. The ... um ... the ... (let's just move past the forgettable Sharon Pratt Kelly). The financial mastery of Anthony Williams. The risk-taking assertiveness of Adrian Fenty.

These are the positive qualities that the citizens of the District of Columbia wanted in their mayor.

As City Council Chairman for four years, Vince Gray showed flashes of all of these qualities. And so, in 2010, Vincent C. Gray was elected the sixth mayor of the Nation's Capital (seventh if you count Barry's mayoral tenures separately).

As mayor of this great city, Vince Gray has embodied traits of his predecessors ... all of the bad traits. His tenure thus far has been full of missteps, mistakes, mistruths, misspeaking, and Miss Greene.

The man pledged to make D.C. "One City" under an ethical, efficient, and transparent city government. So far, the mayor has delivered not one of those.

Listen, Vince ... may I call you Vince?

Vince, we're both D.C. natives. We both know that the people of this great city can be very forgiving. Why, just look at that eternal recipient of community grace on the City Council. Yes, the District residents can be very forgiving.

They can also be spiteful and vengeful. I mean, let's not kid ourselves here. The biggest reason you got elected is because Adrian Fenty was such a dick. Don't misunderstand me; he was a fine mayor. I'd argue that he was the second best mayor this city's had. But he had no people skills. And we both know that the people will not be ignored.

Or, maybe you don't know. I thought you did. But you're not doing a good job of listening to the beat on the street. You're in a deep, deep, DEEP hole right now yet you persist in digging deeper. And I, quite frankly, can't understand where this is coming from.

This person holding the Executive Pen is not the same person who wielded the Legislative Gavel. The latter person heard what the people had to say and did his best to give them what they wanted so long as it was in the best interest of the city. That person was able to articulate himself, his positions, and his decisions to the people. And when the people disagreed, he was able to help them see the big picture.

But this guy you've become ... he's a lost, hot mess. We, the people you serve, have no idea what the hell it is you're doing there in the Wilson Building. We see confusion. We see a mayorship adrift. We see the wheels spinning with nothing accomplished. And what we're seeing, if I may be blunt, scares the shit out of us. We refuse to live through A Nightmare On 14th-And-Penn 3: The Respite Is Over.

Rediscover that man who was once the City Council Chairman. Purge your ranks of those "trusted" advisers who are steering you into the rocks. Surround yourself with smart people who care more about this city then they do their own political careers. Communicate clearly with the citizens of your city. Make smart decisions. In short, get your act together. And do it quick. Because the people out here are starting to oil their torches and sharpen their pitchforks.