Thursday, November 27, 2008

Joelogon's Theorem of Turnpike Conservation, and More Notes From the Road

Posited: Any time you save by avoiding the Delaware Turnpike, you will lose on the New Jersey Turnpike.
This Thanksgiving, I skipped the nighttime drive and came up from DC on Thursday morning (leaving later than I'd wanted, naturally). I also decided to try out the Washington Post's suggestion to skip I-95 and most of Delaware by taking Route 50 across the Bay Bridge.

I even cut through DC to skip the Beltway entirely. I almost got away clean, but made a wrong turn and ended up spending more time than I would have liked going through Capitol Hill neighborhoods at 35 mph.

Route 50 was fine, save for a left-lane Scion that decided at the last moment that he needed to exit to 495, cutting across 3 lanes, almost causing two accidents (me being one of them), and still missing the exit. Last I saw, he was sitting on the shoulder past the exit, no doubt getting ready to shift into reverse.

Confession time: I'd never driven over the Bay Bridge before. In fact, I don't think I've ever spent any time on the Eastern Shore. It, and the drive on 301 was uneventful -- I spent a little too much time going 35 through small towns, though on the plus side, I did accidentally avoid the Route 1 toll.

The Delaware section was mercifully brief, yet even then, I ran into some congestion at the splitoff for the Delaware Memorial Bridge.

Some other observations -- for a time, traffic was moving too fast to Twitter, so I recorded some voice memos for later transcription and further elaboration:

12:00 noon: Cherry Hill. The Cherry Hill water tower used to have the town name marked in big, red, block letters (all caps, of course). To be honest, it was kind of ugly, but now, as part of the ongoing march to a universally-branded America, it's also marked with an "American Water" logo.

Also, it was at this time, along the 4-lane stretch of the southern NJ Turnpike, that I restated my preference of surfing into those strange, empty stretches that sit in between two long packs of cars. They never last.

12:10 pm: iPod Isolation. In the old days, after we got tired of talking and ran out of music (which happened), we were forced to listen to the local radio landscape (corporate radio homogenization notwithstanding... but that came later).

With the iPod and satellite radio, now, you can travel in your own little audio bubble, with a soundtrack that's the same from coast-to-coast, north-to-south.

Would I go back? Probably not, though I did get perverse pleasure driving that stretch of the North Carolina/Virginia border that, due to geographic and atmospheric anomalies, only allowed you to get one country music station, and one Christian evangelist proselytization station.

12:51 pm: In full crawl mode. When you get old and resigned, you realize that, in a traffic jam, with rare exception, all advantages are momentary: It really doesn't matter what lane you're in -- you can't hit just the peaks of the traffic waves, and you end up seeing the cars over and over: The Cadillac SUV, weaving back and forth in its lane like a Formula One racer warming up its tires; the dirty Durango; the Nissan Versa; the Scion with the rear fender panel pushed in.

1:23 pm: Sign of the Times. The DJ, looking for contest winners, asks for, "The 92nd texter," not caller.

There were also a couple of Twitter posts with a florid lack of consequence (though, in a correction, the Fountains of Wayne TV ad song I mentioned isn't actually a Christmas song -- it's just used in LL Bean's holiday ad. I was probably conflating it with Alien for Christmas.)

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The Prescience of Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!

Went to go to see the Washington Psychotronic Film Society's showing of Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! at its original time (Tuesday nights) and new location, the Meeting Place.

The bar is kind of a weird -- it's literally a dive (underground), pretty no-frills. The regulars at the bar were mostly black, contrasted with the mostly-white hipster archetype movie-goers. (Apparently, there's also a goth-y dance party on Saturdays to throw in the mix, too.)

Movie turnout was pretty good, between 30-40 people. The movie was shown on a flat screen in the corner; at times, it was kind of hard to hear, especially with noise from the bar (there's no separation between dining room and bar), though outside a few laugh lines, this isn't really a dialogue kind of movie.

The movie itself is... well, I've seen it before (years ago, at a theater in New York, also with a crowd of urban hipsters). The plot is laughable and serves only as a vehicle for Russ Meyer's visual titillation -- the eye candy started out as pure exploitation, but time has pretty much tempered it down to schlocky camp (with go-go boots, as well as hepcat talk and bad Italian accents). And Tura Satana's karate *CHOPS* to the ribs are more Austin Powers than Austin Powers.

Anyway, here's the laugh line of the night:
"Women! They let 'em vote, smoke and drive - even put 'em in pants! And what happens? A Democrat for president!" - The Old Man

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Things That Are Upcoming: Blogs and Boobs

A few things coming up that are upcoming:

* Wednesday, 11/19, 7pm -- a two-fer at RFD near the Verizon Center: The November Washington Blogger Meetup (in the front room, look for me with my iBook), for socialization and knowledge transfer. Then, in the back room, there's the November Web Content Mavens meeting, on "Why Every Organization Should NOT Focus on Creating Communities."

* Friday, 11/21, 8pm -- After a long hiatus, it's the return of the DC Blogger Happy Hour, at Bourbon in Adams Morgan. Bring all your pent-up DC blog scene drama.

* Tuesday, 11/25, 8pm -- The second Washington Psychotronic Film Society showing in its new home, The Meeting Place, featuring Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! A must-see for fans of really bad karate, Russ Meyer, camp, and huge boobs.

* Thursday, 11/27, all-day -- Thanksgiving. But you knew that. (Also, if you're going to be around, Friday, They Might Be Giants will be at the 9:30 Club, playing Flood in its entirety.)

Looking out a little further (January), the Raveonettes are playing the Black Cat again. Other than that, all the bands I currently follow are either dead, skipping DC, or broken up, so... yeah.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Hook 'em, Pixels

Earlier today (just like I'd Twittered), I discovered that, at maximum extension, my "hook 'em horns" fingerspan is about 550 pixels wide (inside edge to inside edge).

Here's the photographic proof (reading the numbers off of the MeasureIt Firefox extension):


Knowing this is almost, but not entirely, useless.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Things That Annoy Me About Terminator: Sarah Connor Chronicles

[Spoilers for Episode 2.8, Mr. Ferguson Is Ill Today, airdate Nov 10, 2008]

I've been trying to like Sarah Connor Chronicles. Really, I have. And I do like certain things about it. But a few things about the plot are really starting to get to me:

* Too much time travel. Yes, of course it's a time travel show. But there are so many resistance fighters/Terminators traveling back to the past, there must be airport-style TSA check-in queues at the time machines. (Though, to be fair, time travelers go naked, which we don't have to do. Yet.)

Instead of being an insurmountable barrier, time travel is now a minor inconvenience. It turns "I came across time for you, Sarah," into "I went a couple blocks out of my way for you, Sarah."

* Too many Terminators. Just like the Borg in the Star Trek series, Terminators are best used sparingly. (Understandably, this is especially a problem for the Terminator universe -- in Star Trek, there were plenty of other villains to use. Which is why it was extra grating when they kept bringing out the Borg whenever they needed a ratings kick.)

If you go to the well too many times, you water down the... water. Because you have to keep figuring out ways to escape, or beat, what is supposed to be an inexorable, unstoppable foe. Which means that an unbeatable foe not only becomes beatable, but routinely beatable. Which means that...

* It's too damn easy for the good guys to kill Terminators. In tonight's allegedly-climactic, far too John Woo-ish church shoot out, Cromartie, who we've previously seen take out 20 heavily-armed FBI HRT guys without breaking a sweat (in what was, admittedly, a very cool scene), gets taken out by Sarah Connor, David Silver, their two submachine guns, and River Tam's three, count 'em, three, shotgun blasts.

(Though to be fair, Cromartie did have to expend considerable effort maintaining his Jesus Christ pose.)

Earlier, we've seen Terminators locked in a bunker, steamed to death (or was it electrocuted?) in a nuclear power plant, taken out by a .50 caliber sniper rifle (presumably, why California, pandering to the Terminator lobby, banned them), stiletto-heeled and pretzeled by River Tam, and given the Chromartie Kali ma! One-Point Palm Exploding Heart Technique.

Pretty soon, they'll just go *bing* and fizzle out when the warranty expires.

* Regular Terminators should not be sent back to impersonate specific people. If Skynet can cook up T-800s (or T-888s, whatever) to send back to specifically impersonate specific people at specific points in time (the nuclear plant guy and Agent Ellis), it really knows too much. Impersonation is supposed to be done by the shapeshifter models, like Shirley Manson and Bloodrayne.

* Enough with the future factions. Man, everyone is stealing from The 4400 these days. First it was Heroes with that ripped-from-promycin "Everybody gets a power" storyline; now it's Sarah Connor Chronicles with the dueling future factions sending machines back. Pretty soon, it'll be Temporal Cold Wars and Evil Leapers and the future High Fructose Corn Syrup faction sending back Terminators.

Lastly, a few secondary annoyances:

* Until tonight, I thought that Cromartie was played by that guy from Sports Night. (He's not.)

* Terminators are too gun dependent. Way back in the original Terminator, T-1-0-Ahnuld could have just punched Linda Sarah Hamilton Connor's heart out in the Tech Noir club, but nooooo, he had to stop to reload his Uzi. Same with the Sarah Connor Chronicles pilot -- Chromartie could have just been Inappropriately Close in the Classroom Teaching Terminator and then just whipped out the Super Soldier Billy Miles-patented Denogginizing *JUDO CHOP*, instead of having to pull out the inconveniently-holstered quadracep Glock.

* The Fox Terminator Wiki (a WetPaint wiki & discussion board) is overloaded with crap widgets. It's really annoying and takes forever to load.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Tales of Kickball Glory, Part XXVIII

We had a kickball playoff game tonight. It was kind of iffy for a while, seeing as how we dug ourselves into a 4-0 hole after the first inning. But we stuck with it, held on, and went into sudden death rules after 6 innings. And we won.

(Also, it managed to stay comfortably over 60°F, which is nice for the first week of November in Virginia.)

My own performance was somewhat lackluster on the offensive side -- I had a fly out that (unintentionally) became a sacrifice RBI, as well as another fly out that just... sucked.

However, on the defensive side, one play that didn't suck, came when I was fielding at first base. The kick went to third, and the throw to first went slightly... wide.

I dove and managed to stop the ball, but I ended up hitting the deck, with my head was closer to the base than my feet. So, I cradled the ball to my body with my right hand, then with a fervor (I was told, later) seen only in Press Your Luck contestants giving their best "Big Bucks, No Whammies!" slap, reached out and tagged first base -- with authority.

I made the play, and (I was also told, later) took some of the wind out of the other team's rally.

Plus, I later made the last out of the game.

Adult kickball, as I like to say, is 30-45 minutes of light- to moderate-physical activity, followed by 3 to 4 hours of heavy drinking.

But every once in a while, it offers a bit of redemption.

Things I Don't Want to Deal With Right Now

Just a partial list of things I should be dealing with, but choose not to:

* Raking the leaves.
* Repairing the roof [Basically, just choosing between proposals and signing on the line that is dotted.]
* Adding more insulation to the attic.
* Fixing my credit rating.
* Saving the date for my 20-year high school reunion next year.
* Damage controlling my 401k.
* Taxes.
* Dealing with my fear of dying.
* Dealing with my fear of dying alone.
* Thanksgiving.
* Fixing personal e-mail schema.
* Relaunching my blog in a fashion that distinguishes my silly catless cat-blogging from everything else.