Saturday, December 20, 2008

Day 73/365 - At the EagleBank Bowl

I'd never been to a college football bowl game before today. This morning, the Inaugural EagleBank Bowl was played at RFK Stadium in Washington, DC between Wake Forest and the U.S. Naval Academy. I bought my ticket for the game just as soon as Navy accepted the invitation to play.

I'd also never seen a football game at RFK and I hadn't been back to that stadium since the final home game of the Nationals' 2007 season. It hadn't changed much. As soon as you exited the Metro you still had to battle your way through the pushy hordes of ticket scalpers and hucksters selling knock-off hats and t-shirts that were crowding the sidewalk. That's definitely one thing I don't miss now that the Nats have moved to their new digs. The concession stands also ran out of hot dog buns at half-time, just like they always used to do during baseball games. That's another thing I don't miss.

The weather wasn't too bad at kick-off, but by half-time the temperature had dropped noticeably. The stadium was only about one-fourth full. There seemed to be fewer Wake Forest fans there, but they definitely went home happier than we Navy fans did. Navy lead 13-0 at one point, but the offense just never could get going all day and eventually the defense wore down and got picked apart by Wake Forest's passing game. The final score ended up being 29-19 in favor of Wake Forest.

Oh well, at least they beat Army this season. Go Navy!

(Taken with my Nikon D80)

Friday, December 19, 2008

Day 72/365 - Bright Lights, Big Screen

My favorite movie of all time is the Frank Capra Christmas classic It's a Wonderful Life. I've seen it about a zillion times before, but always on tv. I'd never seen it on the big screen in an actual movie theater until tonight. Just across the DC border in Silver Spring, Maryland is the AFI Silver Theatre -- an old art deco movie palace restored and operated by the American Film Institute. It's a lovely old structure with a gorgeous main auditorium and is an outstanding place to see a movie.

I met up with Erin M. in the theatre lobby. She planned this trip to the movies as an outing for the DC Social Group on Flickr, but through the process of attrition it wound up just being me and her there tonight. That was fine. We had a great time anyhow. She thinks it's the best movie ever made as well, so since it was just the two of us we didn't have to deal with any non-believing cinematic heathens pooh-poohing our adoration.

It was very cool to see it on the big screen. The lighting and shading seemed better and I noticed a lot of little details in many of the scenes that I had never noticed before when I watched it on tv -- like the skull and crossbones patches on all the boys stocking caps at the beginning, the little skull carving that was on Mr. Potter's desk, and the way Ernie the cop shot out one of the lights in the 'Potterville' sign when he was shooting at George during the 'alternate history' sequence.

Yes, it's maudlin; yes, it's simplistic; yes, it's far-fetched and full of logic holes -- but it makes me laugh a lot and cry a little and for that I love it. I love it.

(Taken with my Nikon Coolpix S200)

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Day 71/365 - A Capitol Christmas

This is the Christmas tree that stands in front of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, DC as mirrored in the waters of the reflecting pool. I set the self-timer on my camera and put it on the edge of the reflecting pool basin and let it do its thing in order to avoid winding up with a shaky, blurry shot. Wish I'd bothered first to make sure I had the camera straight. There were some people there with a tripod though and I was getting in the way of their shot so I tried to be quick about it.

Even though there's only one week left until Christmas Day I still haven't been able to muster up a lot of holiday spirit yet. Once you become an adult you kind of lose Christmas a little and I don't think you fully get it back again until you have kids. You can recapture a bit of it by going home for the holidays, but during those years where you don't go back and spend the day with your family, Christmas just winds up sort of empty feeling.

Tomorrow night though I'm going to see It's a Wonderful Life at the AFI Silver, a really cool art deco movie palace in Silver Spring, and I'm hoping that will help jump start my Christmas spirit. It's my favorite movie ever and I've never seen it in an actual theater before, so I'm pretty excited.

Remember, every time a bell rings an angel gets his (or her) wings.

(Taken with my Nikon Coolpix S200)

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Day 70/365 - Lawyers on the Loose

Today was my office's holiday party. We had lunch at Tuscana West and then 'neglected' to go back to the office. Whoops! My six person section decided to go to the restaurant a bit early for a 'meeting' and a few aperitifs. That's how we roll.

It turned out to be a pretty good party. Because we work for the public rather than the private sector, we have to pay for our holiday parties ourselves. This one only cost us $27 each and the food was quite good. You have to get to these parties fairly early so that you can avoid being stuck sitting next to people you don't really want to spend two hours with. Made that mistake once.

Organizing these things is always a bit of a struggle. The tightwad old fuddy-duddy segment of our office never wants to pay much and won't go anywhere remotely non-mainstream. They were appalled the year we went to a Moroccan place and had to eat with our hands. Thankfully my boss finally stopped volunteering me for the party planning committee. Even when these parties are kind of lame they're still worth attending, though. I always just look at it as though I'm buying myself a half-day off. That makes it a bargain at just about any price.

(Taken with my Nikon Coolpix S200)

Day 69/365 - Colbie Caillat in Concert

Okay, I'll admit it -- I really like Colbie Caillat's CD Coco. Everyone has to have their own musical guilty pleasures and I've always had a weakness for treacly, over-emoted soft pop. If you haven't heard Colbie Caillat's music (which would be surprising given that her single 'Bubbly' got beaucoup airplay), she sounds sort of like a cross between Jack Johnson and Belinda Carlisle. Plus she's hot, and that doesn't hurt.

I have a CD player in my bathroom and I like to listen to it while I'm getting ready for work in the morning. So far my two favorite CDs for getting the morning started are Corinne Bailey Rae's eponymous CD and the aforementioned Coco. They're both really pleasant ways to ease into the day. It's tough to be grumpy in the morning after having heard either Corinne Bailey Rae's "Call Me When You Get This" or Colbie Caillat's "Tailor Made."

Anyhow, Colbie Caillat was live in concert tonight at the 9:30 Club in Washington, DC and I went. The shots I tried to take inside the club kept coming out blurry, so finally I just said 'screw it, I'll play around a bit and see what sort of cool effects I can get by slowly moving my camera in different directions while the shot exposes.' The intentionally blurry shots definitely came out much cooler than the unintentionally blurry ones. Turns out imagination can be a fairly effective camouflage for poor technique.

Getting back to the gig, I still really like Colbie Caillat's music but I feel sort of bad that I didn't especially enjoy her show tonight. Her voice was quite good and she seemed really nice, sweet, and earnest -- she was just a rather uninspiring performer. Her on-stage routine primarily involved walking slowly from one side of the stage to the other, with an occasion shoulder dip or shallow knee bend thrown in. Not exactly the most dynamic approach to showmanship. She reminded me of the animatronic robot actors at the old Hall of Presidents in Disneyland. Interestingly, the only times she really seemed to put any oomph into her performance was during a pair of covers -- Bob Marley's 'Turn Your Lights Down Low' and Roberta Flack's 'Killing Me Softly.'

Otherwise she was just sort of unremarkable. Still hot, though.

(Taken with my Nikon Coolpix S200)

Monday, December 15, 2008

Day 68/365 - Elevator Funhouse

I've been wanting to do a self-portrait in an elevator for a while now, but it always turned out that there was either someone in the elevator or I had the angle of my camera wrong and just wound up with a shoot of the elevator ceiling. I'd made a few attempts at this in the elevator at home and the one at work, but no joy. Then this morning in the elevator of my apartment building I finally got lucky -- I was the only one in the elevator and I actually managed to get myself in the picture. Bonus!

Previously I had given some thought to just riding up and down in the elevator until I got an empty one and I got the shot right, but that would've seemed like cheating. It was more fun to just keep trying until I finally got it right.

(Taken with my Nikon Coolpix S200)

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Twice on Sunday Bonus Photo - Beauty Mark Triptych

This week's extra photo from my archives is actually three different treatments of the same photo. This mural of Marilyn Monroe is high on the side of a building in the Woodley Park section of DC. The graffiti isn't an offical part of the mural, but it does seem to go well with it. It is on the top edge of the wall of an adjoining building and is about 30 feet or so from the mural itself. For the top photo, I used the sepia effect in Picasa, for the middle one I used the glow effect in Picasa and for the bottom one I used the negative effect in an old version of Microsoft Photo Editor.

(Taken with my Nikon D80)

Day 67/365 - Pub-A-Dub-Grub

There's a sports pub a few blocks away from my apartment and it serves as my neighborhood hang-out. I go there at least once a week, usually on the weekends. I go to watch the Nats or Broncos games, and if there isn't a game on that I want to see then I just take my most recent issue of Entertainment Weekly with me and read that while I eat. Then when I'm done I always leave my magazine behind on the table and the waitresses take it and read it when things are slow.

Today it was a Broncos game. They were playing the Panthers and getting whupped. As usual, the defense sucked. They were down 27-10 midway through the third quarter when I gave up and went home. Oh well, at least I got to scarf down an order of crab dip and some buffalo chicken tenders with cole slaw, all washed down with Backdraft Brown on tap. On Sundays here they put sheets of plywood over the pool tables and turn them into communal dining tables. That's generally where I sit to watch the game. I pretty much have to go here to watch the Broncos play seeing as how all we get on tv in this area are the games of crappy east coast teams like the Jets, Dolphins, and Ravens. Bleaahh.

Given that I was born and raised in Missouri, I'm not sure how I wound up being a Broncos fan. I suspect I might have started rooting for them just to aggravate my big brother, who is a diehard Chiefs fan. Every season when the Broncos came to town he and I would go to the game and I'd cheer for Denver and he'd cheer for KC. Denver usually won back then so he'd threaten to make me move and sit somewhere else in the stadium or threaten to drive off and leave me stranded in the parking lot. Even now, if my team loses on Sunday he calls me to rub it in and if his team loses I do likewise.

Ahhh, there's nothing quite like brotherly love.

(Taken with my Nikon Coolpix S200)