Thursday, May 29, 2008

There is a First Time for Everything

A friend commented on this post about how no one (including me) would answer woman on the bus to a Nats game. She said it reminded her of New York City where no one wants to talk to people on public transportation.

Well, today on the train, I sat down next to a woman who promptly welcomed me to my seat with a very cheery,"Good Morning." I responded in kind. But I have to say that this was a first.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Has it come to this?

Ok, while I'm busy writing about text messaging, my brain has been busy forgetting how to engage in old school methods of communication. I sat down to type a letter and for a brief moment panicked because I couldn't remember which address (sender/recipient) went where. Then I remembered.

But the internet is there to help. In case you've forgotten too,
here's a visual.

Monday, May 26, 2008

A Tale of Two Texts

Yesterday, while eating breakfast after church, I was greeted by a young person who cheerfully told me the harrowing tale of how she almost got caught texting in church. I cannot even begin to recall the ins and outs of all this--

she got a text message so the phone lit up or beeped or whatever, then she answered the message, but by then her grandmother had noticed so she tried to put the phone under her leg somehow, solemnly telling grandma that she was not on the phone in church, but then the phone fell and some other boy in church noticed or tried to pick it up or something (he was sitting nearby to corroborate this story).

Or something like that.

I listened and asked her why she answered the text message. I also suggested that turning the phone off before service would alleviate all of this.

"Is YOUR phone off?" she challenged me. I told it had been until service ended and I stepped outside before coming back in for breakfast.

I don't know if she believed me. But I can see why she was doubtful. After all, I saw the woman next to me was doing something on her phone during service.

In my day, we passed notes. The evidence was immediately visible, but the notes made less noise.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

A Little Whoopi in the Streets

"All Who Wander Are Not Lost"

That was on a magnet at the home of someone I visited recently and it is very true.

After picking up tickets for the Shakespeare Free for All, I wandered across the street into a celebration of the season opener for the Washington Mystics (DC's WNBA team). They'd borrowed the Whoopi figure from the nearby Madame Tussaud's House of Wax.

Then I wandered over to the National Portrait Gallery to check out some of my favorites and to see more of the museum because one never can quite see it all. After checking in on Recognize! Hip Hop and Contemporary Portraiture (yes, LL is still there :-), I wandered over to see Ballyhoo! Posters as Portraiture.

Friday, May 23, 2008

The Power of Suggestion: Bouquet of Beef Jerky

When I was in school, they always made a big deal about brainstorming. So much in fact that I dreaded hearing that very word. Some teacher would get out an easel, a marker and a big sheet of paper and we were supposed to just shout out ideas about some topic or another. But now I really see the value of it. Some of my best ideas come at random. And it seems like people really listen more to my half-baked notions than to the ones that are well thought out.

Case in point: the bouquet of beef jerky pictured above. A beef jerky-loving friend of mine was performing in a concert and as a joke I suggested to some other friends that we give him said bouquet. I was not serious, and yet if you look closely, you can see that there really is beef jerky in that bouquet. Someone else suggested Spam flowers, to honor this friend's other culinary favorite, but alas those still remain a dream.

Thanks to C.L. for making it happen and to M.Y. for taking a picture of it.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Just Give Up Now

The news was on while I was visiting a friend yesterday and they did a "special report" on why staying home for Memorial Day Weekend might not save you any money.

It seems that staying home to save money on gas or to avoid paying extra airline fees to check your luggage, fasten your seatbelt, or breathe the air on the plane will not be enough to avoid impending doom. Why, you may ask?

Grocery prices have gone up. So even if you stay home, you'll be paying extra for hamburger meat and hot dog buns. Experts, including the all important "expert with a British accent" were trotted out to confirm the futility of even attempting to have fun or live a little this upcoming holiday weekend. Prices have indeed gone up, including the prices of certain items that they noted had increased 1% since last year.

So, if the hamburger is going to set you back so much that it will be like filling up your car's gas tank, you might as well get in your car and drive to someone else's house...and eat their hamburgers.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Prince Caspian

I went to the movies yesterday to Prince Caspian and felt rather curmudgeonly as I noted that the matinee price was the evening movie price a few years ago. No one I was with was surprised, so that shows how often I go to the movies. However, I'm sure you have also shake your head and your cane at the sight of rising prices. I had money left on a movie theater gift card, so while I noted the high price, I didn't actually pay that price.

Although I've read all of the books in the Chronicles of Narnia series, I didn't exactly remember the plot of Prince Caspian. I'm nerdy enough to read up on something before seeing it, but I didn't have time for all that. So I went in unprepared and found that the story was familiar. Either I pulled it from some deep part of my memory or I liked it enough so that it seemed familiar.

One could dissect that movie in so many ways...

It is interesting how we often only see adventures as belonging to another time or place. After leaving wartime England for Narnia, the four Pevensie children have to change into their medieval gear before their adventures can really begin. At least one of them was going to battle in the regular world. When he gets to Narnia he has to fight as well, only in Narnia he is leading troops. There is a certain nobility to fighting for a great cause as opposed to say, fighting bullies for the sake of pride. But in the end, there was fighting in all realms, mythical or not.

Still, swords and castles and such do seem much more thrilling than the fight to get home on the beltway or dodging the slings and arrows of corporate fortune to get a paycheck.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Where's the Beef?

I had a few choice topics in mind for a blog for today. But my digital camera ate a few pictures I'd taken (which could be a blog post in itself), so I was left pondering what to write about.

Well, I just got an e-mail that blew all of those other possible blog topics right outta the water.


Yup, that's right. I knew if I kept at it, they'd be coming to me. A restaurant I wrote about maybe a year ago has requested my presence at a contest to decide who fires up the best mound of meat. The contest isn't until October, so you'll have to stay tuned for all of the exciting developments.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Stuff I Saw Yesterday

I spy with my little eye...

A) A 12 or 13-year-old boy with a flower cut into his head. Not only was this flower cut into his head, but it was also dyed--green stem/leaves and red petals. (I so wish I could provide a visual of this, but I can't get involved with taking photos of minors on the street. Believe me, it was a sight to see. The green was bright and the red was poppin'.)

B) A woman on the Metro with a bag depicting this scene:
Complimenting Cartoon Woman: "I love your bag!"
Cussing Cartoon Woman: "Get your own bag, B$%^h!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

An Exciting Account of Things Overheard on the Way to a Nats Game

As I mentioned in the previous post, the other day I went to a Nats game on the shuttle because Metro was experiencing serious delays since they were working on the tracks for the Yellow and Green Lines.

Part 1: Referring to Capitol Hill and the newness of the Green Line
On the shuttle a woman sitting in aisle seat near me (I was sitting next to a window) kept asking, "Is this Capitol Hill?" No one bothered to answer her while we were actually in Capitol Hill. When she did get an answer, we had left Capitol Hill.

The woman next to me started to talk to her and they discussed why they were on the shuttle (again, the track work), and the Capitol Hill-seeker asked, " Is the Green Line new?" At this point I joined in to assure her, that no, the Green Line was not new.

Part 2:Referring to lumping people together, the African Diaspora and things you cannot assume
Lost in thought, I exited the bus and followed the herd towards what I hoped would be the Nats new stadium. (It was hard to tell because at first, it was not in sight). My thoughts were disturbed when I picked up fragments of a conversation between two men, "Black people...They could be from Trinidad or Tobago, Guatemala...even England. You can't assume...they don't want to be lumped in the same category..."

Monday, May 12, 2008

No Peanuts, No Cracker Jacks

This past weekend, I finally went to a game at the new Nats stadium. I'd written a little about it (Root, Root, Root for Three Home Teams), and driven past it, but hadn't actually been inside.

It is a great improvement on RFK. As I approached the Center Field Gate, I heard someone comment that that particular entrance looked like you were walking into a movie theater. I don't know that it has movie theater feel. The entrance does give you a neighborhood ballpark feel, even though most of that attendees probably don't live in the neighborhood.

I don't live very far away, but I chose to trek to RFK and take a shuttle because Metro picked that day to do track work. They warned that people could expect 45 minute delays, so it didn't seem worth it to take the train.

Because a friend's company picked up the tab for the tickets, I decided to make it a true ballpark experience and buy some overpriced food. This didn't happen though because all of the credit/debit card machines in the entire park were down. I was given the option of going to the ATM, but after I saw the food, I thought I'd be better off without it.

Speaking of amenities...they have a playground and their own Build-A-Bear workshop, if you're into that sort of thing.

p.s. I just looked up the score (we left during the 7th or 8th inning): The Marlins beat the Nats 11-0. It was was 10-0 when before I departed. I'd hoped that the Nats would get rid of that goose egg, but it seems they did not.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Where the Tall Grass Grows

There are a lot of things you don't notice...unless they go haywire.

My mother used to say something about how if a man gets a really good haircut you won't be able to tell. It took a minute (well more than a minute) for this to sink in: the implication is that if you are maintaining something it will look good continuously. However, this seemed more like an ideal than something people really put into practice. I was able to tell when most men (even my father) got a haircut.

I thought of this today as I was driving down a street I travel occasionally because the grass on the median was growing wild. It was taller than a small child and looked very unkempt in comparison to the neatly cut lawns on either side of the street.

Someone was not on their job because my drive down this street would have been unremarkable otherwise. And it made me think how unaware we all are of the behind the scenes work that is done to keep things going.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Unaccustomed Earth (in more ways than one)

So I'm reading Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri (great book by the way, every time I pick it up I don't want to put it down) and reading some of the accompanying press that is generated when an author has a new book out...and I am wondering why the media has decided to doggedly pursue the same line of questioning with regards to her writing.

Everyone either asks or refers to other people asking her why she only writes about immigrants from India and their if there is something wrong with that. She is the child of Indian immigrants. And to be fair, her characters are Indian, Indian American and Caucasian, so there is some variety.

No one asks African-American authors why they mainly write about black people. They don't even ask Amy Tan why she keeps writing about immigrants from China. And no one ever asks white authors why most of their characters are white.

But there are a different set of expectations for "minorities" and within that perilous category of minorities, there are different expectations for different minorities.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Ballin'...for Books

A little while back, I ran into a fellow WNBA member at a networking party. The two of us were talking to a gentleman there who asked, "Is that[the WNBA] like the Jane Austen Book Club?"

So cute, aren't they, these men? At least he didn't assume we were basketball players, as someone else did when I ran into that very same WNBA member at a different networking event (oh how the world keeps shrinking). For the record, The WNBA is the Women's National Book Association.

The WNBA is more about writing than it is about reading, although we do promote literacy and sometimes discuss books. It is an org for authors and aspiring authors to network, talk shop, learn about publishing and socialize.

And it is now official, I am on the Board of the DC Chapter, as an "at-large" member. Yesterday was my first, official board meeting. At the moment, I am enjoying the fuzzy, undefined nature of being an "at-large" member.

How did I manage to win such a post? Oh, I really cannot divulge inside organizational secrets. I will say that there were no black pansuits, bad bowling techniques or hanging chads involved.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Country Road, Take Me Home

When I mentioned to a few people that I was going to West Virginia on a retreat with a mentoring program, the reactions were, for the most part, what I expected: Why would you want to go there? and Be careful. As was the case with visiting Richmond, I just like going to places I've never been. If they are tropical and exciting, all the better. If not, it is still good to set eyes on unfamiliar territory. I was only going overnight, it is not like I was doing a foreign exchange program there.

One person, however, did suggest that there was a danger of falling prey to cannibals. This I did not expect. So W. Va. doesn't have a stellar rep, but cannibals? Jeffrey Dahmer wasn't from W. Va and that didn't stop him. I was certain that W. Va was full of fine folks. Although I probably would have reversed that opinion if I'd discovered that one of my fellow humans had attempted to make a meal out of me.

Since I only got a glimpse of W. Va., I cannot write a traveler's guide (but this post is illustrated with a lovely picture that I took). I will say that moments after seeing a Confederate flag license plate got us a little down, seeing an Obama '08 sign lifted our spirits.

I could write many volumes on what a great experience mentoring is. But I'll spare you all that and share one thing. I was intrigued to find out that Tinkerbell (aka Tink) is popular with pre-teen and teenage girls. Something about how she is the only Disney heroine who is sassy and independent. The Tink and Tinkerbell t-shirts I saw attest to the fact that they did not come up with this notion on their own, so the resurgence of Tink's popularity is just an offshoot of the corporate Disney Princess machine. She was once a Disney Princess, but is now the star of the Disney Fairies franchise.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Recognize!: Hip Hop Gets (some of) Its Due

Getting to the National Portrait Gallery to see Recognize! Hip Hop and Contemporary Portraiture has been on my to-do list for a while now. The exhibit ends in October, so of course I've been telling myself that I have plenty of time to see it. This is true, but I hate to have to try and rush there on the last day because I kept waiting. I was there for the final weekend of the Edward Hopper exhibit at National Gallery of Art. The crowds made it hard to enjoy, but I just went for a second look because I'd already visited the exhibit when it wasn't elbow-to-elbow.

But I digress...back to the Hip Hop exhibit.It combined painting, photos, graffiti and the poetry of Nikki Giovanni. It sounds like a lot, but they managed to put it together so it makes sense and it does not take a long time to go through the exhibit.

Some of the paintings (done by Kehinde Wiley) were commissioned for VH1's Hip Hop Honors show and I have to say the paintings are what impressed me most. I was glad to see them being "re-purposed" and displayed in a venue like the Smithsonian. Rap artists were depicted in grand portraits that drew inspiration from older artwork. Ice T was shown in a pose similar to one that Napoleon struck in a portrait and LL Cool J chose to be portrayed in a style taken from a painting of Rockefeller. The painter gave the artists their own crests.

I read about some grumblings about the propriety of including an exhibit showing rap artists at the National Portrait Gallery, and that is to be expected. I'll stop here to allude to my fellow blogger Mary at StellarSelf. She admitted that she avoided the Portrait Gallery because it seemed like it would be boring and she was convinced to go after the museum let Stephen Colbert display his portrait there.

To stay alive and keep going, museums have to make an effort to attract new audiences. The Colbert portrait brought in tons of irregular museum-goers. (I know because they were all crowding near the bathrooms (where Colbert's portrait was placed) with cell phone cameras trying to capture their museum moment with Colbert.) After being drawn in by Colbert or LL Cool J, someone who ordinarily wouldn't go to a museum may wander a little and find more to their liking.

If you're in DC, go see it! It's at the Gallery Place/Chinatown metro stop. If you're not in DC, go to the exhibit website, and check it out. If you're in DC and can't be bothered to go, then you too have my permission to visit the exhibit website.

Special thanks to Mary for letting me "borrow" the picture she took of the LL Cool J portrait in the exhibit guidebook. Good idea. Since I didn't think of it, I am glad to know someone who did.