Archive for the ‘Maryland’ Category

In The News: Buried Dog Turns Out To Be Balloon

I give the Washington Post credit for occasionally posting lighter stories going on around the DC area- like this one that caught my eye:

A resident reported that a white dog appeared to be stuck in heavy snow in a yard; it had not moved in some time, and the caller feared for the animal’s safety. An officer entered the yard and discovered that the “dog” was a metalized nylon balloon with the face of a white dog on it. The balloon had become lodged in the snow.

At least the resident meant well.

Photo courtesy Flickr user Rafael Robayna

Obama’s Remarks At UMD: Good But Not Profound

Photo Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images

Photo Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images

Allow me to be somewhat cynical.

Last night I was driving home from a weekend out in Pittsburgh, the four hour trek gave me a lot of time to think and to catch up on podcasts and other pieces of audio. I loaded my iPod with a couple of recent speeches that President Obama delivered: the recent address to the joint-session of Congress and his speech at The University of Maryland from last Thursday.

I wanted to make sure I had a chance to hear both speeches, the joint session address has been newsworthy thanks to a certain impromptu comment from Representative Joe Wilson. It was almost Kanyesque the way he interrupted Obama’s remarks. I also wanted to hear his speech at UMD because someone at work told me it was one of the best speeches he delivered to the young audiences and it made The Pumpernickel say, “Whatever you may think about the health care debate, the man can give a speech. Not only that; he has the ability to inspire people.”

Sounds like a hell of a speech.

So I was listening to the UMD speech as I was cruising down I-76, and it consisted mostly of the same health care message points delivered in the joint-session address I heard previously. It doesn’t come at too much of a surprise, Obama is hard on the trail spreading his message and pleading his case so one could expect to hear a lot of the same points he spoke a week earlier in Congress. He did work his message to make more of an impact to the younger crowd; my ears perked up when he said, “under my plan, if your parents have health insurance and you’re currently on their policy, you will automatically be able to keep your coverage until you’re 26 years old.” As a quarter-lifer I know how health insurance becomes a sudden worry when you graduate from college.

It’s just that I thought I was going to hear something inspiring, the buzz around me led me to expect another profound, mind changing oration. While the speech was well delivered and Obama did a great job in speaking with the young audience (always cool to acknowledge the teeny-bopper that says, “I love you Obama!”), it’s the same message he’ll say at his next stop on the health-care reform trail.

Now I’m an Obama supporter and I  somewhat understand the idea and plans Obama’s putting forth, I just didn’t think that his particular speech is going to be in his Top-5 greatest spoken word moments as I personally come to expect. I’ll say that since I’ve been somewhat isolated from the political scene recently the expectations were mine alone, built up by the people around me. I’m sure to most others the speech was nothing more than the 24-hour news story of the day.

Barack Obama is a great speaker, I thought the best moment in his UMD speech was at the end when he retold the origins of his, “fired up” slogan/chant. He is an impassioned orator who’s complete body of work should inspire all of us around the country. I guess I am just not as super-enthused like The Pumpernickel who ended her post with, “I feel blessed to be living in Washington, DC at this time in our nation’s history, and to be part the American future President Obama says I will help him to create.”

Am I proud to be living in our Nation’s Capital? Hell ya (especially after spending the weekend in Pittsburgh!) Do I believe we are living in a historic time of change? Absolutely.

I hope however people look past the rockstar appeal Obama has and actually listen to what our President has to say after they are done snapping photos of him. Health care is a very important issue in this country and I hope young Americans pay attention to it.

I feel blessed to be living in Washington, DC at this time in our nation’s history, and to be part the American future President Obama says I will help him to create.

Daily DC Item: Burritos & Books

Photo coutesy of Flickr user thomwatson

Photo coutesy of Flickr user thomwatson

I am always a fan when California Tortilla puts on a great promo, and it looks like they have another great one going on today.

For today only, Wednesday July 22nd, if you stop by any one of their many locations you and buy a burrito- you get a free burrito coupon that you can use on the spot or later (you never know when the craving will return!)

All you have to do is hand the cashier a piece of paper with the password: “Crock Pot.”

The BOGO free deal is in recognition of California Tortilla earning top ranks in Washingtonian Magazine. To me a free Burrito with purchase beats a free pastry with coffee any day!

Also tomorrow next Thursday trendy fashion boutique Ginger is holding a “Books, Jewels, & Cocktails” event at their Bethesda location from 6 -8. You can preview their latest collection and check out Cathy Alter and her new book, “Up For Renewal” which launches in paperback.

DC Video: LeBron James And Cast Of "More Than A Game" Arrive At AFI SilverDocs

Last night I attended the opening night of AFI SilverDocs which kicked things off with a screening of “More Than A Game.” Director Kristopher Belman and the complete cast (including King James) walked the Red Carpet for the press and fans that tried to enter the Press pen to snap photos and scream questions. Sorry guys but I don’t think LeBron is here to talk about Kobe or the Orlando Magic. Also folks, leave the questions to the actual press.

Here’s the some video I shot while I was on the Red Carpet (trust me it sounds cool but I’ve done press lines like this one before, it’s always a fight.)


As of the film I’ll be posting a complete review of that later today, I just got off the phone with director Kristopher Belman and I’m currently trying to finish the piece up before I have to go back to Silver Spring- but I will say this: never has a basketball movie ever made me cry. Ever. Not even Air Bud.

This is an amazing film that’s really more than LeBron, and yes, more than a game. The film will be screening again this weekend, check the SilverDocs website for the complete schedule and ticket information.


SilverDocs 2009 Kicks Off Tonight With A King

2-marquisBefore everyone goes Real World DC crazy this week, SilverDocs is in town again to show you real reality drama.

The Festival will run from Monday, June 15 through Monday June 22 presenting 122 films from 58 countries. Some notable films include tonight’s opening screening of More Than A Game– Kristopher Belman follows five talented young basketball players from Akron, Ohio.  Led by future NBA superstar LeBron James and coached by a charismatic yet initially inexperienced player’s father, Dru Joyce III. King James is expected to grace the Red Carpet for tonight’s screening.

The festival will close with a piece that should be of local interest, The Nine Lives of Marion Barry. As any local should know, the former mayor has had his share of successes, failures, and returns. Directors Dana Flor and Toby Oppenheimer explore this enigma we call Marion Barry. The two directors and Councilman Barry himself should be in attendance this weekend.

You can view the complete schedules of films here. You can purchase tickets at the SilverDocs website, most screenings appear to be in the $10 range but if you are a real docu-junkie you can also get passes to the event, and related conferences and galas.

Amy and I will be in attendance all week so expect lots of recaps, reports, reviews, and if we’re lucky, maybe I’ll get to meet some basketball royalty.

Get Your Redneck On At Kensington Arts’ Trailer Park Musical

Courtesy of Kensington Arts Theatre

Jaclyn Young, Katie McManus, Kat Brais, and John P. Loughney

It’s only fitting I sit here with my wife-beater on as I write this.

Coincidentally it was the same outfit I had on when I trekked up to Kensington to check out Kensington Arts Theatre‘s production of The Great American Trailer Park Musical. I thought it would be fun to dress up and enjoy a show that sounded like it was going to be… quite trashy. I mean with a title like that, you aren’t expecting suspenseful drama.

I was happy to see I wasn’t the only one in costume as I walked in.

KAT truly transformed their space to fit the atmosphere of the show, from the beer cans and beach chairs scattered about to the hour dourves (Pringles and spray can cheese) that was served by the Choreographer (Catherine Oh) who was in bathrobe and curlers.

It was trailer park class I could belive in.

I noticed other audience members were in costume as the show got underway, creating a fun environment to enjoy the show. A show which I was already enjoying well into their first number, “This Side of the Tracks.”

Director Evan Hoffmann brought out all the cliches, stereotypes, and redneck jokes that makes Trailer Park such an entertaining show. The whole performance is a well executed, fast paced romp that is sure to keep you laughing all night. Be sure to keep your ears open, the show is full of clever lines and entendres that makes Trailer Park such a well written piece.

Courtesy of Kensington Arts Theatre

Malinda Ellerman as Jeannie Garstecki

Malinda Ellerman as Jeannie Garstecki is absolutely adorable and performs with energy and passion as the agoraphobic wife of Norbert Garstecki (Patrick McMahan.) In usual white trash fashion, Norbert is caught between his panic stricken wife and his new neighbor, Pippi (Jennifer Lambert), a sultry stripper who is on the run from her crazy ex-boyfriend Duke (John P. Loughney.) The show goes through so many twists and turns you’ll feel like you are on an episode of Jerry Springer… which the show quickly points out in the number “The Great American TV Show.”

The entire tale is told through a trio of storytellers (Kat Brais, Katie McManus,  and Jaclyn Young) who also get their moment to shine through impressions, side jokes, and solos. The three almost steal the show with their antics and reminded me of a redneck version of The Supremes.

Rounding out the ensemble are Darnell Morris and Mark Hidalgo who play rather silent, but by no means unforgettable roles. Pay special attention to them towards the end of the show.

Besides serving the hour dourves,  Catherine Oh has also done a fine job with the Choreography- making creative usage of toilet brushes in the Flushed Down the Pipes number. (A choreography side note, I was personally delighted to see a brief homage to Beyonce during one of the numbers. You’ll have to go watch to see what I’m talking about.)

If you need something to do this weekend I highly endorse escaping the city life of DC and checking out The Great American Trailer Park Musical, it will be a performance you are going to walk out loving.

The Great American Trailer Park Musical
Kensington Arts Theatre
3710 Mitchell Street
Kensington, MD 20895
May 21, 22, 23 (8 PM show)
Adult $20/Students & Seniors $17/Children & Residents $13

Daily DC Item: Ann Curry Explores Darfour Through Photos

Courtesy Washington School of Photography/Ann Curry

Courtesy Washington DC School of Photography/Ann Curry

I learned via Ann Curry’s twitter feed that the Washington DC School of Photography opened a new exhibition of photos taken by Curry. The images were taken during her reporting from Chad and the Darfur region of Sudan. The exhibit opened last Friday and will run through Friday, June 5th. In an interview for Roll Call Curry says, “I’ve been interested in still photography all my life, but I think that I did not take it up in earnest until the night I left for my first trip to the Darfur region..”

As a daily viewer of the Today Show, I’m a fan of Ann Curry and I just might have to take a look next time I’m up in Maryland.

Daily DC Item: Home-made Sex Toy Fail

"aafad 154/365 sexed-up" courtesy of Flickr user lamont_cranston

"aafad 154/365 sexed-up" courtesy of Flickr user lamont_cranston

Looks like somebody may have been watching Burn Before Reading too many times.  I read over at WRC-TV’s website about a southern Maryland couple who were experimenting with a home-made sex toy. According to TheBayNet, the couple were using a sex toy that was mounted to a sabre saw, and gosh darn it the saw cut through the toy while in use.

When I read that part of the story I was immediately grossed out. The woman was airlifted to a PG county hospital and is recovering, albeit probably embarrassed and unwilling to try anything in bed again.

This is definitely one of those, “what were you thinking moments?” I imagine this the work of a young redneck couple (I mean it is southern Maryland) thinking it would be a good idea to save some money in the recession by making your own sex toys. Even as a guy I wouldn’t want a saw in any form anywhere near my sex parts.
In a Daily Item update, remember that guy who punched The Crime Dog in the face? Well he was finally fired for his actions. Now you know that crime against mascots don’t pay. I’m looking at you Thomas Jefferson– you gotta play fair when racing Teddy, or at least learn gansta celebratory moves like Abe.

Making Science Fair

Props to DrBacchus on flickr

Props to DrBacchus on flickr

Do you remember your first science fair project?   All that research in the library, carefully printing your experimental procedure, plotting your results, and the nail-biting presentation for the judges — it’s all coming back, isn’t it?   Well, thousands of students are going through that same thing right now in preparation for the 2009 District of Columbia Mathematics, Science & Technology (DC MST) Fair on Saturday, March 14 at the McKinley Technology High School from 8:30 until noon.

One piece of this is still needed, and that’s judges.  For the senior projects that means very knowledgeable folks; trust me, these kids are sharp!  For the junior projects, more a more general background is needed.  And really, it’s not all robots!  Expertise is needed in animal sciences, behavioral and social sciences, biochemistry, cellular and molecular biology, chemistry, computer science. earth and planetary science, engineering, environmental sciences, mathematical sciences, medicine and health sciences, microbiology, physics and astronomy, and plant sciences. The two top winners here will go on to compete with students from all over the world at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair.

To be honest, the DC fair has been pretty dismal in the past, owing primarily to a lack of staff support.  I’ve judged science fairs across the region for several years and I can tell you that the DC fair has come a long way.  It was still worth going to even when you were lucky to get a printed list of projects, let alone the catered breakfast and lunch, packet and clipboard, and staff support that’s provided today (by the very generous and competent Walter Reed Army Institute of Research).  The reason it’s worth it is simple: the kids.  These are the ones who have the drive to make a career in science and technology and a difference in the world.  Many have had little or no exposure to the S&T community, so the 5 or 10 minutes you spend with them is priceless.

The deadline to register in DC is March 2, 2009.  See you there?

And on the theme of fairness, here are links to other 2009 area fairs and the hours they are open for judging: 

Northern Virginia Regional Science and Engineering Fair at the Wakefield High School, Saturday, March 7th, 9:30 AM until 1:00 PM

Montgomery Area Science Fair at the Reckord Armory Building at the University of Maryland, Saturday, March 21, 8AM until 5:30 PM

Fairfax County Regional Science and Engineering Fair at the Robinson Secondary School, Saturday, March 28th, 7:30 AM until noon

Prince George’s Area Science Fair at the Howard B. Owens Science Center at the PG Community College, Saturday, March 28th, 7:45AM until 1:00PM.

Inauguration 2009: Weekend of Destruction Day 3

To celebrate Martin Luther King Day I decided to be less destructive and more helpful.

That morning I gathered some food and drove down to the Arlington Food Assistance Center where I did my part and donated to the cause.

I then spent the rest of the day in a quiet Inaugural fashion. I went out on a date that included making an Obama themed bowl at Color Me Mine and an evening viewing of Frost/Nixon. Very presidential. I have to say however that Color Me Mine was everything Lazy Monday said it would be.

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