Saturday, February 7, 2009

Day 122/365 - Museum Peace

Late last year they finally finished up the renovations to the Smithsonian National Museum of American History and I hadn't been by to check it out since the makeover, so today I decided to go and pay it a visit. It doesn't look much different than it did before. There's a new atrium entryway, but that's about it.

It's still a museum in search of a point. There are some interesting exhibits there, but it's a haphazard jumble of random items. Imagine a museum for cool and odd things you bought off eBay, and that would be the Museum of American History. It's the museum for 'stuff we didn't know what else to do with.'

My favorite part of the museum is still the transportation section with its old trains and cars. And the original star-spangled banner of national anthem fame is always neat to see, even if they won't let you take photos of it. After finishing with the Museum of American History, I ambled over to the National Gallery of Art to check out a couple photography exhibits and a cool lighting display in the tunnel connecting the two wings of the gallery that just about everyone on Flickr had been shooting.

It turned out to be a lot of fun to shoot and I went through the tunnel three times just so I could get the shots I wanted. It was a nice relaxing day for me and great way to finish up the first third of my 365 project.

(Taken with my Nikon D80)

Friday, February 6, 2009

Day 121/365 - My New Digs

Today I finished hanging the last few pictures on the walls of my new office. After being there for ten years, I finally managed to finagle myself a window office. The guy who had the office before me moved to a different floor and although he is a really nice guy, he's a total grubby, packrat slob.

I let the office sit empty and air out for a few weeks once he hauled all his stuff out. Plus I made them swap out his desk for mine. I didn't want his grimy furniture. The final step in the decontamination process came earlier this week when I bought a bottle of pine sol, scrubbing sponges, and rubber gloves and used one of our trash bins as a bucket while I scrubbed the mysterious stains and caked-on gunk off the walls, door, lightswitch, and doorhandle.

Now at last everything is in place and I can enjoy my new space. There's not much of a view given that I'm on the atrium, but I don't really care about that. I'm just thrilled to have some natural light instead of toiling in a flourescent zombie cave. Plus I love the little nook with the table and chairs where I can sit while I eat lunch, read, and listen to music playing from my computer speakers.

It was a lot of work getting the office fit for human habitation again, but it was worth it.

(Taken with my Nikon Coolpix S200)

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Day 120/365 - Happy Flickrversary

Today marks my one-year anniversary on Flickr (something which I discovered quite by accident this afternoon). I uploaded my very first photo to Flickr a year ago today. Twelve months and more than 4200 uploads later not only am I still at it, but I'm nearly one-third of the way through a 365 Project. That's something I never would have envisioned embarking on a year ago.

So in honor of my first flickrversary, I treated myself to a red velvet cupcake from Starbucks this afternoon. It was excellent.

(Taken with my Nikon Coolpix S200)

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Day 119/365 - The Winter's Tale

My friend Pia and I went to dinner at Two Quail and then saw Shakespeare's 'The Winter Play' at the Folger Theatre tonight. Neither of us had been to Two Quail before and Pia had a $25 off coupon, so we decided to check it out. It's a cozy little place that would probably be the perfect setting for an afternoon tea, but as a dinner spot it was 'meh.'

We started with the coconut shrimp appetizer and it was good, but the entree's didn't measure up. I had the spotted trout and Pia had the quail. My fish was overcooked mush and tasted to strongly of lemon and even Pia's quail was on the mushy side. Don't know how they managed that. Both dishes were accompanied by plain white rice and sauteed veggies, which is the sort of thing you'd expect from a cafeteria rather than a serious restaurant.

Now that I've been to Two Quail, I don't see any reason to go back. I can't recommend it as a dinner option unless you like overcooked, oversauced/seasoned, overpriced (even with a $25 off coupon) fare. Thankfully the play was better, although still flawed.

'The Winter's Tale' is one of Shakespeare's later plays. It's a seldom-performed work that's a tale of two halves. The first half is a dark, potent, dramatic tragedy that stands up as well as any of the playwright's earlier works. The play then does a 180 in the second half and turns into a sprightly, romantic, romp of a comedy and then concludes with an ending that is too pat, neat (and quite frankly, ridiculous) to be very satisfying.

You have to give the old boy credit for being ballsy enough to try something as adventurous and experimental as penning a half-tragedy, half-comedy late in his career, but even his skills weren't quite up to the challenge. The dark first half is by far the best part of the play and it alone is worth the price of admission, particularly if you can snag discounted tickets to the show from Ticketplace or Goldstar.

As per the norm with the Folger, the performances are very good. In particular the actors portraying the mad, paranoid, obsessive King of Sicilia and the righteously sharp-tongued firebrand Paulina wring every drop from their roles. The only let-down in terms of the cast comes from the actress portraying the persecuted queen Hermione. She's excellent in the trial scene, but comes across as stiff and stilted in the casual scenes that open the play. She plays much better at being tormented than contented.

'The Winter's Tale' is a flawed work, but even a flawed work from a genius is worth seeing -- especially if you've never been to the Folger's Elizabethan Theatre. It's a hidden gem that recreates a Renaissance theater of the type that would have staged Shakespeare's works during his lifetime, albeit with a concession to modernity in the form of seats on the main floor rather than standing room for the 'groundlings.' Going there always makes me feel like I'm inside the movie 'Shakespeare In Love.'

(Taken with my Nikon Coolpix S200)

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Day 118/365 - Passion Pit at the Black Cat

I headed over to the Black Cat tonight to see an electropop triple bill consisting of much buzzed-about headliners Passion Pit and opening acts Cale Parks and Paper Route. It was a young and studiously hip crowd. It's entirely possible I was the oldest person there, including the bartenders.

I had thought about skipping the openers and just showing up for the headline act, but I'm glad I didn't. Cale Parks turned out to be a one-man trippy, trancy groove fest and Paper Route cranked out pulsating, pounding, rave rock (think Jimmy Eat World meets Prodigy). Generally I'm not that into electronic music, but both of these acts were well worth the 15 bones it cost to get in the door.

I have to confess to being a bit underwhelmed by the Cambridge, Massachussetts-based Passion Pit, however. From the three tracks they posted on their myspace page I thought they would play chilled out electronic lounge music, but in person they are far rockier and fast-paced. They came across like an electronic, falsetto, less-funky version of Vampire Weekend.

Passion Pit is a perfectly fine band and they seem like an energetic, earnest group of guys (although you would be hard-pressed to find five nerdier-looking dudes on stage anywhere), but I don't think they quite live up to the 'next big thing' tag that has recently been stuck on them. Hopefully some of the buzz that has descended upon Passion Pit will trickle down to their tourmates Cale Parks and Paper Route. They're certainly deserving of a bit more hype. Passion Pit, perhaps a bit less.

They were still good, though and I hope they ride this wave as long as they can because they seem like friendly, down-to-earth guys.

(Taken with my Nikon Coolpix S200)

Monday, February 2, 2009

Day 117/365 - Reason No. 912 Why I'm An Idiot

Apologies for the somewhat gross nature of this week's self-portrait. This is a close-up of the left side of my mouth. This is the point where I confess that I haven't been to a dentist since the exit dental exam I received prior to leaving the Navy. That was in 1994. Yep, I'm an idiot.

I'm a guy, so I don't like going to the doctor or dentist unless something is really wrong with me. I believe this qualifies. As you can see in the photo above, I am missing a sizeable chunk off the side of one of my incisors. I first lost a little piece off this tooth about a year and a half ago, but it didn't hurt and it didn't cause me any inconvenience so I didn't feel any need to get myself to a dentist, pronto. I figured I'd eventually get around to making an appointment.

Then about three weeks ago I lost another little chunk from this tooth. Now I was starting to get a bit concerned. Plus food was getting caught in the gap and that was bothersome. But still I didn't feel the sense of urgency to find myself a dentist. Then last Thursday night I lost another chunk off of this tooth and now the gap between it and the neighboring tooth was seriously big. I was officially concerned at this point.

So Friday morning I got on my dental insurance company's website (yeah, I've had dental insurance for about four years now but I still haven't bothered to go to the dentist -- that's the special kind of stubborn and stupid I am) and found a dentist. When I tried to call and set up an appointment, however, I couldn't reach anyone. Today I finally got ahold of the receptionist at my prospective dentist and made an appointment for next Wednesday morning.

Hopefully I won't lose another chunk off my tooth between now and then.

(Taken with my Nikon Coolpix S200)

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Twice on Sunday Bonus Photo - Fairy Tale Tree

For this week's bonus shot we have a picture I took of a tree and bird's nest on the DC Social Flickr group photowalk yesterday. I love the way this shot turned out. It looks like it belongs in a scene from a fairy tale movie.

(Taken with my Nikon D80)

Day 116/365 - Sleepyhead

I was really tired last night. After I got home from the photo group meet-up I spent a couple hours going through the shots I took and then while they were uploading I stretched out on the couch and fell asleep. It was 8:30. I woke up at midnight, stumbled into the den to make sure the photos had uploaded all right, and then wandered off to bed and slept like the dead until 8:00 this morning.

So I had an absurd 11.5 hours of sleep last night. And it was worth every minute of it. Quite a rock-and-roll life I lead, huh? Asleep by 8:30 on a Saturday night.

(Taken with my Nikon D80)