Archive for January, 2006

Your unnecessary P offends me

The bar-restaurant Champps seems to be all over the metro area, what with one close to my girl’s home at Pentagon Row and one near my workplace over in Reston. In reality there are only five of them, but it seems like more since I can feel the eyecancer growing every time I look upon that sign. Why? What purpose does that serve? It just looks wrong in every way. It bugs me so much that I almost wrote a little poem about it. A haiku to annoyance. A free-verse rant about your spurious P and Mazda’s Millenia’s missing N and the tumor that grows behind my eyelid every time I gaze upon this wrong-ness.

Instead I will just grit my teeth and mock you here. Mock mock mock.

Monday Night MC Trivia Fight

You fancy yourself a MC? You think you can be a real-life VJ? How about one who can handle a crowd? A drunk, trivia-demanding crowd? A Commander Microphone if you will? Is that you?

If so, you need to find your calling. A calling that will get you free drinks, dinner, and $25. That would be the MC spot at Wonderland Ballroom‘s Monday Night Trivia Fight. If last night was any indication, you better really be able to fight too. Like fight for your right to be right. Fisticuffs almost broke out when the winning answer to “The islands named after dogs” was revealed to be the Canary Islands.

Apparently a tangential link to the Latin word for “dog” was decreed as proof of Canary Islands as a correct answer – against the much more logical Labrador or Aleutian Islands. Okay, so maybe I was so drunk as to confuse the Aleutians with the Afghan hound, but so what – I was still closer than the Canaries, which are named after the bird, not the dog!

Even the Wikipedia backs me up! Note is says: “The name derives probably from a north African tribe (the Canarii) or possibly the Latin term Insularia Canaria meaning Island of the Dogs,” There is at least a beer’s difference between “probably” and “possibly”.

No matter, you too can be the center of controversy; I mean attention, at the Wonderland Monday Night Trivia Fight. Just be brave (or insane) and sign up. I did, and now I am on tap for February 13. Are you?

Yahoo to your traffic rescue!

While its Bars & Clubs search needs refinement, Yahoo Maps Beta is a new & improved Yahoo Maps that now sports a handy “Live Traffic” function. Click that and you can see an assortment of traffic bottlenecks in real time. This would be good to check before that morning commute.

I just checked it now – 11pm, and there are only NoVA traffic problems, which I think means it only works in NoVA vs. only NoVA has traffic problems. Still, that’ll be valuable for my morning-afters with my NoVA supermodel harem.

New book about Metro coming in March

George Mason University professor and Washington native Zachary M. Schrag will be publishing his new book The Great Society Subway: A History of the Washington Metro this March. It will be the first book to independently tell the story of the second largest subway system in North America. Previously, Dr. Schrag created the Web site Building the Washington Metro.

If you’re going to be rude to your customers…

you’d better not be drunk.

A cashier at the Gallery Gourmet Market in the basement of Ivory Tower was detained Sunday night after University Police was called due to inappropriate remarks he made to customers. GW spokeswoman Tracy Schario said the man was “clearly very drunk.”

I look forward to this level of policing extending past the university grounds. Like, say, arresting people who are being jerks during the anthem.

One More on the Mall

The Board of Regents of the Smithsonian have announced the new site for the National Museum of African American History and Culture. It will be located at the corner of 14th and Constitution, on a five acre plot located about 1000 feet from the Washington Monument. Though the Mall is already crowded, and I’m sure this will have a detrimental effect on traffic on that major corridor, it’s nice to see the Smithsonian expanding their museum options for our tourist friends.

Lunching Walk

The weather today is nothing short of outstanding, a taste of spring in the midst of winter here, and so several of my cohorts and I took a walk at lunch. DC is such a walkable city, with broad sidewalks and gorgeous façades (okay, okay, not all of them, but more here, I’d say, than in many other American or European cities), there’s good reason to take a nice constitutional. Days like today, that remind us that all of winter’s gloom is nearly behind us for the year, are truly special in this city of ours, for in addition to walking past a store owned by a man who loves to shtupp his employees, you can also get stun guns, marital aids and martial arts equipment.

100% of the yum at 50% of the price

My dinner on Thursday was at a DC restaurant I have taken a real shine to, Galileo. This was my second experience there and they showed consistency with my last visit. Part of this is good: everything we had was at the worst very good, and more often excellent. The other half of that consistency was unfortunate: service is very uneven. I’ll elaborate below the fold.

If you have any interest in Galileo, however, you should sign up for the email list by sending a message to You’ll get a message every week or so about what’s going on with the lunchtime grill as well as special events and promotions. I encourage you to sign up – its how we got Thursday’s meal at 50% off, including wine.

Behind the Red Door

Yesterday afternoon I joined a glowing friend of mine for a spa afternoon – the perfect Sunday indulgence. She chose Elizabeth Arden’s Red Door in Friendship Heights, to which I’d never been.

Spas are strange places. It seems to me there’s a lot of effort that goes into relaxing, and sometimes, a lot of attitude.

My best spa experiences in DC have been at places that are dedicated to a truly tranquil environment, where they wrap you in cosy robes with slippers and gently usher you from treatment to treatment as if you were both engaged in some sort of quiet temple ritual. That was my experience once at Christiane in Georgetown, where I was wafted from a massage to a vichy shower to manicure/pedicure so seamlessly and with such hushed reverence I began to have delusions that I was being reborn as Aphrodite.

I certainly didn’t feel like a goddess’s avatar as I was chided twice at Red Door, first by the receptionist and then the nail technician, for committing the ghastly sin of being fifteen minutes early for my appointment.

The Corner Pays Pretty Well

All you’re trying to do is get a little change of scenery from your office by going to the coffee shop downstairs and you end up overhearing way too much information about the place you get your latte. The Corner Bakery at 19th and L is right below the building I work in. Occasionally I need to get out of my work space, away from an off-the-hook phone, and away from never-ending e-mails to concentrate. I had to read through a report, and CB and a coffee was going to let me do that in half the time it would take me up here.

While sitting there comparing notes, annual reviews for Corner Bakery employees ensued and I witnessed (read: eavesdrop on) the last two of the morning. I’ve worked at my share of restaurants during high school and university, but this was quite the review process. First, most of the employees at this Corner Bakery speak English as their second language. I love these folks – I see them a couple times a week, and they recognize most of their customers. It’s a friendly place to eat, and because we work upstairs they are familiar with much of our staff.

But you know those people that think because someone speaks English as their second language that speaking LOUDER to them will help with that? Well, talk to the CB manager, because he’s the president of that club. Listen Captain Ridiculous, if they don’t understand what you’re saying, it’s because they don’t – yelling isn’t helping.

That said, I overheard these employee’s entire review, and here are a few data points that you can take or leave. The last one has particularly relevant customer ramifications:

– Corner Bakery – when it comes to quick serve restaurants – pays pretty well. These employees were making over $8 an hour, most in the $8:25 to $8.50 range after being their less than a year.

– Corner Bakery likes to see smiles on their employees.

– Office Space is a movie that they not only like, but might possibly show in their manager training sessions (i.e. comments like, “Yes, hello, how are you feeling, let’s sit down and talk,” and then jumps into a scan-tron style review)

– Look for new uniforms in your local Corner Bakery within the next 10 to 14 days.

– And here’s the kicker… they are having a glove problem. Oh yes, I heard an employee chided for not wearing rubber gloves, then proceed to argue the manager that they aren’t comfortable, and then to have him tell her that she had to and that he was going to “start” being serious about this. Hmmm…

Take what you will from this, the most important thing to me is this glove ditty. I’m not sure what to think, although I’ll say I’m a little grossed out.

(This is actaully kind of funny in light of my inside scoop on their store.)

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