Thursday, October 8, 2009

A Note About This Blog

I created this blog to chronicle my 365 project. Now that I've completed my project, I don't plan on adding any new content to the blog. My plan is instead just to let it be a time capsule of a year in my life. To everyone who has followed or visited my blog, thank you. I hope you found at least one photo here that entertained, inspired, informed, or intrigued you.



Day 365/365 - La Fin, Enfin

And so my 365 project ends as it began, with me standing in front of the Capitol building and sticking out my tongue. When I started this project I fully expected to get bored and give up after a month. Then, when I hit the 3 month point, it started to become a grind. There was no way I was giving up then, however, and rendering the three months of effort to that point worthless. Oddly enough, I think I'm more pleased with myself for not missing a single day than I am for completing the project.

Here's the tally of the photos I took over the course of my project (although given how bad I am at math these numbers are probably more approximate than they are accurate):

Shots featuring me, in whole, in part, or in reflection - 100
Shots taken in restaurants/bars - 25
Shots about plays - 24
Shots at baseball games - 21
Shots including books/magazines/newspapers - 20
Shots about movies - 15
Shots about concerts - 13
Shots in museums/galleries - 12

Plus 4 Navy football games, 2 parades, 2 kickball games, 2 operas, 1 Navy basketball game, 1 circus, 1 carnival, 1 roller derby, 1 Cirque du Soleil and a week in Venice, an Alaskan cruise, four trips to New York City, and one trip to Houston.

No partridge in a pear tree, though. Still, it was a pretty damn good year. Thanks for letting me share it with you.

The End

(Taken with my Nikon Coolpix S200)

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Day 364/365 - Post-It Note Impression No. 12

For the final Post-It Note impression of my 365 project, I figured I was secure enough in my manhood to try a bit of a gender bender. Quick, who am I this time?

(Taken with my Nikon Coolpix S200)

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Day 363/365 - I Feel Like Bustin' Loose...

...bustin' loose. Gimme the beat y'all!

This statue by Michael Lantz is entitled "Man Controlling Trade." It was sculpted in 1942 and, along with its twin, it bookends two sides of the headquarters of the Federal Trade Commission in Washington, DC. But to me, as I near the completion of my 365 project, this statue instead brings to mind a song by another Washington institution -- the Godfather of Go-Go, the Dean of the DC Music Scene, Mr. Chuck Brown!

(Taken with my Nikon Coolpix S200)

Monday, October 5, 2009

Day 362/365 - The Man in the Mirror

For the final 'self-portrait of the week' of my 365 project, we have this shot of me taken in the lobby of my apartment building. It took me forever to realize that those lilies weren't real. It was the fake water that threw me.

(Taken with my Nikon D90)

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Twice on Sunday Bonus Photo - The Secret World of Children

For the final bonus photo from my archives of my 365 project, we have this shot that I took this past summer of children playing inside a moon bounce/bouncy castle at the Arlington County Fair.

(Taken with my Nikon D90)

Day 361/365 - A Good Day for a Long Walk

The weather was gorgeous today, so I decided to have lunch at a riverside cafe in Georgetown and then walk home along the Mt. Vernon Trail. I brought my portable radio with me so I could listen to Charlie and Dave calling the last Nationals game of the year as I walked. The Nats were gracious enough to send their game against the Braves to extra innings so I was able to listen to the broadcast all the way home. Now that I'm home, however, I wish they'd hurry up and finish off the Braves so I can focus on watching the Broncos play the Cowboys.

(Taken with my Nikon Coolpix S200)

UPDATE: The Nats won the game 2-1 in the 15th inning. It was the longest game in Washington Nationals history. After starting this season with a 7-game losing streak, the Nats finished the season with a 7-game winning streak. Baseball is a funny game.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Day 360/365 - Air Force vs. Navy

My friend Chris and I daytripped over to Annapolis, Maryland this afternoon for the college football game between the Air Force Academy and the Naval Academy. His wife/my friend Des was going to come with us, but she wasn't feeling well so it wound up being a guy's day out.

In no way could it be described a sharply-played, well-executed game, but Navy won in overtime 16-13, securing their seventh straight victory over Air Force and putting themselves in the driver's seat to retain the Commander-in-Chief's Trophy for a record-breaking seventh consecutive season.

Go Navy!

(Taken with my Nikon D90)

Friday, October 2, 2009

Day 359/365 - Friday Night, Restaurant Night

When I was a kid I looked forward to Friday nights, because that was the night my family always went out to dinner. I'm guessing we went out to eat on Fridays because that was the day Pops got paid. Generally we didn't go anywhere fancy. There were about 8-10 different local restaurants that we'd take turns making the rounds of on Friday nights. Still, there was something fun and exciting about going out to eat.

Tonight I met my friend Pia for dinner at The Source, Wolfgang Puck's restaurant and lounge in Washington, DC. Pia was running late, so I ordered myself a frou frou pear cocktail and just hung out in the lounge to wait. The photo above is of the corner booth in the lounge. I'd been wanting to try The Source for the past several months, so when Pia said she was going to be in town today and asked if I wanted to meet up with her for dinner it seemed like the perfect opportunity to check it out.

The Source is a very attractively designed space. It's modern, but not cold or sterile. The downstairs portion is occupied by the lounge, with the restaurant upstairs. The cocktails there were very good, as were the appetizers. The entrees are just okay, but the dessert is good. Final verdict -- I don't think I'd go back to The Source for dinner, but I would certainly go there for drinks and appetizers.

(Taken with my Nikon Coolpix S200)

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Day 358/365 - Ra Ra Riot at the 9:30 Club

Tonight I caught Ra Ra Riot's sold out gig at the 9:30 Club. Not to damn them with faint praise, but their concert was by far the best $15 show I've ever seen. I wasn't in the mood for eating dinner at the 9:30 Club, so before the concert I popped into Creme on U Street to grab a quick bite. I'd never eaten there before, but when I saw they had shrimp and grits on the menu that clinched the deal for me. It was creamy and spicy and meaty and the perfect dish for a cool October evening.

There was a bit of a surprise when I got to the club -- they were requiring everyone with cameras to check them at the door. That's the first time they've done that in all the times I'd been there. Don't know why they suddenly decided to do that. There was someone official with a video camera filming Ra Ra Riot's set, so I don't know if that had something to do with the new restriction or not.

Anyhow, that's why we have a shot of my stamped hand holding my concert ticket today instead of a photo taken inside the 9:30 Club. Party poopers. Although I didn't want to eat dinner at the club, I did want to pick up dessert there, so my first stop once I checked my camera was to buy one of their cream-filled chocolate cupcakes. Those things are like cupcake nom-ageddon and they go surprisingly well with bourbon and coke.

Although the camera check policy was a downer, I was stoked to snag a barstool at the counter across from the upstairs bar. That's the first time that's ever happened to me. It kicked ass to have both a seat and a perfect, unobstructed view of the stage for the duration of the concert. Normally I have to stand throughout and I only catch bits of glimpses of the stage and the bands.

The first opener tonight was a band called Princeton. They were mildly unremarkable. The second opener, Maps and Atlases, was considerably better. Their sound was a bit of a mix of Kings of Leon and Vampire Weekend. They did have an unfortunate propensity for self-indulgent collective noodling, though. That's fine if you're just jamming together in your garage, but it can make it difficult for an audience to connect with you in a concert venue. It tends to make the crowd feel more like an intruder than a participant.

Ra Ra Riot had no such problems, thankfully. They have to be one of the only rock/pop bands out there that features both a violinist and a cellist. Not surprisingly, this adds a lush, plaintive tone to a lot of their songs. In their gig tonight they were fast, frenetic, and full of life as they whipped through most of the songs on their debut CD. They bounced and swayed around the stage, high-fived the crowd, lit up like candles of joy and exhiliration, and seemed to be enjoying their show at least as much as the audience did. Their performance tonight was a bouncy, bubbly blast and a heckuva bargain at 15 bucks.

(Taken with my Nikon Coolpix S200)

p.s. -- Only one more week to go until I no longer have to worry about coming up with something to photograph each and every day!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Day 357/365 - See You Next Season

For a good portion of the baseball season, this is my home away from home. This is my seat at Nationals Park in Washington, DC. Tonight the Nats were facing the New York Mets in their final home game of the season. I stayed in my seat for the first few innings but then I got up and walked around the park, watching the game from different areas and angles.

I was trying to absorb as much as I could before the long, dark winter that is the offseason. Not to mention hitting up all my favorite concession stands one last time. Objectively speaking, the outcome of tonight's game was absolutely meaningless. Neither the Nats nor the Mets were fighting for a playoff spot. Both teams have had terrible seasons and the Nats had already wrapped up the worst record in all of baseball (and earned the accompanying first overall pick in the draft).

But for the Nats players and their fans, tonight's game meant a lot. A victory would seal the three-game sweep of the hated Mets and let everyone go home feeling good after a Hindenberg of a season. Going into the bottom of the ninth inning, the Nats were down 4-2 and were facing the Mets' multimillion dollar closer Francisco Rodriguez. Also known as "K-Rod" due to his propensity for striking out opposing batters, Rodriguez set the single season save record last year.

But the Nats' batters didn't give a damn about K-Rod's reputation. They loaded the bases and drove up Rodriguez's pitch count to nearly 40. Then, Adam Dunn drew a walk to force in a run. Down 4-3 with two outs and the bases loaded, Nats outfielder Justin Maxwell strode to the plate. He worked the count full, fouled off two pitches, and then with the crowd on its feet cheering him on, he hit a walk-off grand slam to seize the win.

It was AWESOME. Let's go Nationals! I'll see you next season.

(Taken with my Nikon Coolpix S200)

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Day 356/365 - The Air Force Memorial

This shot is for my father and his father before him. This is the U.S. Air Force Memorial. It is across from the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia. The three metal spires are meant to represent the contrails of three jet aircraft performing the aerobatic "bomb burst" maneuver. The statues are an honor guard of airmen standing watch over the memorial.

My grandfather served with the Eighth Air Force in England during World War II. He was part of the crew onboard a B-17G bomber that flew missions over Nazi-occupied territory. Although he was responsible for dropping the plane's payload of bombs, he was not technically a bombardier. He told me that each flight of B-17s only had one actual bombardier, who was an officer. This was because only one plane in each flight had the top secret Norden bombsight installed. This approach reduced the risk that enemies would be able to recover one of the Norden bombsights from a wrecked B-17.

The bombardier for each flight would use the bombsight to determine when to drop his payload of bombs. Technical sergeants like my grandpa who were on the other planes in the flight would then follow the bombardier's cue and drop their bombs when he did. My grandpa told me that he and his fellow crewmembers flew 12 bombing missions over Germany. He said they got shot up pretty good on their very first mission, but after that they didn't take much damage. He couldn't remember which squadron he was in, but he remembered his B-17 was silver with a yellow tail and wingtips and it didn't have a name.

My Pops also served in the Air Force. He was a darkroom technician at the Strategic Air Command in Nebraska in the mid-1960s. It was his job to develop spy plane photos. The darkroom in which he worked was inside a big vault with a heavy steel door. There were guards constantly on duty outside and a loaded handgun was kept inside the darkroom and the technicians had orders to shoot any unauthorized personnel who entered.

My Pops had one of the highest security clearances a person can have and he still won't really talk about what the photos he developed were. I do know that he was called into duty in the middle of the night during the Cuban Missile Crisis and spent three straight days in the darkroom developing U-2 reconnaissance photos. He has grumbled about the fact that he and his fellow technicians were sworn to absolute secrecy and then a few days later there was the President on tv with a blow-up of one of the photos they'd developed showing it to the whole world. I remember seeing one of the spyplane photos of the Cuban missile sites in my junior high school history class textbook and feeling proud and curious if that was one the shots my Pops had developed.

Although my father and grandfather served in the Air Force, I had to be different and go my own way so I went into the Navy instead. It always gives me an added thrill when Navy beats Air Force in football, as I'm hoping they will do for the seventh consecutive time this Saturday. Some friends and I are trekking over to Annapolis to see the game in person and I've got my fingers crossed hoping the Midshipmen can pull out another win.

(Taken with my Nikon D90)

Monday, September 28, 2009

Day 355/365 - In the Dishwasher

For this week's self-portrait, I decided to revisit my shtick of putting my camera inside various appliances (i.e., fridge, oven, and clothes dryer) and do a shot from inside my dishwasher. Squeaky clean!

(Taken with my Nikon D90)

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Twice on Sunday Bonus Photo - Door to My Heart

This week's bonus photo from my archives is a shot of a heart-shaped doorhandle I took during my trip to NYC over Labor Day weekend.

(Taken with my Nikon D90)

Day 354/365 - Barest Glimmer of Hope

This is the famous Hope Diamond, the largest blue diamond in the world and the subject of a phony curse dreamed up for PR purposes. It used to be set in a necklace along with dozens of smaller white diamonds, but recently it was removed and is now being exhibited in the raw. In another few months, it will placed in a new setting that was selected by the public in an on-line poll. Welcome to the internet age.

The Hope Diamond is the centerpiece of the gems and minerals gallery at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History in Washington, DC. I dashed over there this morning before it got too terribly crowded to sneak a peek and the newly denuded diamond. It looked pretty cool on its own. Afterward, I wandered around and checked out some of the other exhibits, picked up a book on Henry Stanley the African explorer, and then popped over to the American History Museum to see the maritime gallery and Julia Child's kitchen.

Not a bad Sunday thus far. Now it's time to head over to the sports bar near my apartment to (hopefully) watch the Broncos trounce the hated Raiders. Go Denver!

(Taken with my Nikon D90)

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Day 353/365 - Dead Meat

This is the Rough Rider, a gigantic BBQ rib available for $12 from the Teddy's BBQ concession stand at Nationals Park in Washington, DC. It was quite tasty. And messy. I had sauce from ear to ear by the time I finished it.

When eating ribs, I find there's no point in wiping your face until you're done. It's just going to get slathered in sauce again. There wasn't anything short about this rib. It made me think of the brontosaurus ribs Fred ordered in the opening credits to the Flintstones that were so big they tipped his car over.

Although the BBQ was good today, the baseball wasn't. The Nats got clobbered by the Braves 11-5 and lost their 102nd game of the season. On the bright side, this was the next to last game I'll be going to this season, so at most I'll only have to endure one more loss in person.

Thank heaven for small favors. And good BBQ.

(Taken with my Nikon Coolpix S200)

Friday, September 25, 2009

Day 352/365 - A Midsummer Night's Dream

After not having seen any of Synetic Theater's productions in the ten prior years I've been living in the DC area, I seem to be making up for lost time. Tonight I went to see my third production of theirs this year, a silent version of Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream." The story was performed entirely through dance and pantomime with no speaking parts at all.

"Midsummer Night's Dream" has never been one of my favorite of Shakespeares's works and as heretical as this may be to say, I think I like it better without the dialogue. The plot, such as it is, involves a love triangle -- scratch that -- a love hexagon featuring criscrossed paramours, bumbling actors, and warring pixies and sprites.

It's a quick production, running only 90 minutes without an intermission. As is almost always the case with Synetic, the choreography is fantastic. Among the cast the standout performers are the delightfully expressive Helena and the half-Slinky, half-Plastic Man Puck, who moves in ways you wouldn't think a human could absent demonic possession. The play's score is reasonably good and the staging, though minimal, is effective. As is also almost always the case with Synetic, the costuming and make up are sensational.

This one makes up for the lackluster "Lysistrata" they performed earlier this year. Now I'm looking forward to the version of "Dracula" they have coming up next month.

(Taken with my Nikon D90)