Saturday, March 14, 2009

Day 157/365 - Saturday Time Machine

Today was a perfect day for a retro boy like me. I started off by heading over to the Smithsonian Institution's American Art Museum to see the exhibit "1934: A New Deal for Artists." It's a collection of paintings from 1934 sponsored by the U.S. government under the Public Works Art Project, a precursor to the longer term and larger scale Public Works Administration initiative. Participating artists were requested simply to depict "the American scene." Everything else was up to them.

It's quite a good exhibition with some wonderful paintings and excellent discussions of what life was like in the U.S. during the depths of the Great Depression (which should really be called the Terrible Depression instead). It's also a reminder of the importance of art in society, even in tough times. After I finished checking out the exhibit, I headed over to the DC Armory for more retro goodness -- the DC Rollergirls' latest roller derby match. As an appetizer, the Cherry Blossom Bombshells completely crushed the visiting Boardwalk Brawlers from New Jersey in an exhibition match. The main event between the DC DemonCats (my faves) and Scare Force One was a closer match, however. It was pretty hotly contested as well. Two skaters went down with injuries and there were multiple penalties.

In the end the DemonCats pulled out the victory, their second win this season over defending league champs Scare Force One. This was my second trip to the roller derby and this time I sat on the floor of the Armory right at the edge of the track. I was hoping to end up with a rollergirl in my lap at some point, but no such luck. Several did go flying into the crowd just to my left, however. I'll have to remember that spot next time.

After the roller derby ended, I capped off my throwback day with a visit to the American City Diner for dinner and a movie. ACD is a diner in the Friendship Heights section of DC that serves up both classic diner fare and classic movies, which it shows on its deck for free every night at 8:30. In winter the deck is covered and heated, but in better weather I'm guessing it's open to the air. I opted for a very vintage meal of meatloaf, coffee, and apple pie to accompany tonight's movie, "Dial M for Murder" with Grace Kelly and Ray Milland. I'd never seen it before and it was quite good, as was the food. I'm a little bummed that I missed ACD's screening of "King Kong" earlier this month. Now that I know about this place, I'll have to make sure I check their movie schedule fairly often to see what's showing.

(Taken with my Nikon Coolpix S200)

Friday, March 13, 2009

Day 156/365 - Season Tickets

These are the tickets for my 41-game (i.e., half-season) plan for the Washington Nationals. They were delivered yesterday and today I'll take the tickets for the weekday games to work with me to keep in my office. The ticket for Opening Day this year is hard plastic, almost like a credit card, rather than cardboard. That's a first. Also, each ticket has a different photo on it. In the past there would be 8 or so different pictures and they would just be repeated throughout.

It's kind of a silly little thing to get excited about, but those two changes over prior years gave me an extra bit of giddiness on top of my normal excitement about receiving my tickets. It was like the cherry atop my baseball sundae.

Now if the team can just approach something resembling respectability this season...

(Taken with my Nikon Coolpix S200)

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Day 155/365 - Hello to an Old Friend

This was one of my favorite lunches as a kid -- a peanut butter and jelly sammich with cheese curls and chocolate milk. It had been a long time since I'd had it, so when I was at the store earlier this week I picked up the fixin's. It was just as good as I remembered. If I was a condemned man, this might be on the menu for my last meal.

(Taken with my Nikon Coolpix S200)

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Day 154/365 - Weary Wednesday

Today was my follow-up appointment at the dentist's office. She drilled out and replaced three old fillings and then filled two new cavities. Plus they took a mold of my teeth for a mouthpiece thing I have to wear at night. Apparently I grind my teeth. It took about two and-a-half hours all together. My jaw is sore from being pried open that long and my gums are sore from all the pressure that was placed on my teeth.

My teeth themselves feel fine and they certainly look a lot better. The dentist used tooth-colored filling material and it seems weird now to open my mouth and not see my old silver fillings at the back. Plus she was able to spackle over the tooth toward the front of my mouth that was missing a sizeable chunk off the side, so now I shouldn't have to worry about any more bits of it crumbling away. No more food getting caught in the gap, either.

Evidently I have a good tolerance for pain. The dentist said she could count on one hand the number of male patients she's had who didn't flinch or squint when she shoved the needle into their gums to benumb their mouths (and that was after she'd already deadened the surface of the gums a bit with a topical anesthetic). Women patients hardly ever flinch at that, she said. I didn't react when she jabbed me with the hypo, so she told me I could take a shot like a woman. I did grunt a couple times though when she was using the drill and she got fairly deep in the tooth. She just backed out, gave me a couple more shots, waited a sec for it to kick in, and then went back to work.

The photo above is from the centerfield gate at Nationals Park. I was a bit early for my dental appointment, so I stopped by the ballpark on the way and peered through the gate (there were some men working on the centerfield restaurant) and pressed my face against the glass of the team store (it was completely empty) like a hungry man searching for a morsel of food. Less than a month left now until the home opener! To make things even better, the word is that President Obama has agreed to throw out the first pitch. I'm betting I'll enjoy that much more than the two times I saw his predecessor throw out the first pitch, and astronomically more than the year Vice President Cheney filled in.

(Taken with my Nikon Coolpix S200)

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Day 153/365 - Bibliophile

For this week's self-portrait we have me reading a book (whilst standing in my kitchen -- it has the best light and least distracting background). I think I've always loved to read. My sisters liked to play school with me as the student and so they taught me to read before I started going to real school. It made it tricky for my parents though because then they couldn't spell out the things they didn't want me to know about.

I do most of my reading on the Metro, at lunchtime, and for an hour or two before turning in for the night. I read fairly quickly, which was always a definite plus when it came to taking exams. Mostly I read for enjoyment rather than edification. I have to 'read to think' at work, so at home I 'read to escape' instead.

Mostly I read exciting, atmospheric, mysterious, fluff. Anything with adventure, intrigue, and a dash of romance. I really like Alan Furst's books. That's his "Night Soldiers" I'm reading above.

His books are always about spies (typically ordinary people recruited to serve as spies for a variety of reasons) operating in Europe in the years just before and during WWII. They're very langorous and moody and world-weary and reading one is like slipping inside a really good old black and white movie.

I've read three of his books so far. This will be the fourth. They're all excellent, but I think my favorite may be the first one I read -- "Kingdom of Shadows." When I travel I like to read books set in the places I'm visiting. That book is set in Hungary and I found it while browsing through a bookstore looking for something to take with me on a trip to Budapest. It turned out to be an excellent choice.

(Taken with my Nikon Coolpix S200)

Monday, March 9, 2009

Day 152/365 - Squirrel Crazy

I would like to be a squirrel. I realize that squirrels are essentially just rats with fluffy tails, but I'd still like to be a squirrel. Squirrels look like they have fun. They're always chasing each other around the trunks of trees, leaping from branch to branch, and chattering at each other.

Plus, squirrels are similar to some very cool things. They're like furry little ninjas in that they can run up the side of a tree, hang upside down, and blend in with their environment. They're like pirates because they like to loot and pillage bird feeders and they are always burying and digging up their treasure. They can also run across powerlines like tightrope walkers in the circus.

And flying squirrels are even more awesome yet! In addition to all the standard squirrel superpowers as discussed above, they can soar through the air. So if you don't particularly feel like climbing down your tree, running across the meadow, and climbing up the tree on the other side, you just jump off a branch, spread your skin-flaps, and hang-glide your way on over.

Being a city squirrel would be really cushy. You have no real predators to worry about. Dogs may chase you, but they'll never catch you. Plus, if you don't feel like hunting for acorns, you can just go and hang out in the park and some sucker will come along and feed you part of his or her lunch. Ahhh, that's the life. Some people might like to be dolphins or eagles or lions but, as for me, I'd rather be a squirrel.

What kind of animal would you be, if you had the choice?

(Taken with my Nikon Coolpix S200)

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Twice on Sunday Bonus Photo - Columbus Circle

This week's photo from my archives is a shot I took of the globe sculpture and skyscrapers at Columbus Circle in New York City when I was up there to see the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade last November.

(Taken with my Nikon D80)

Day 151/365 - Cake = Yum!

Because I was in Venice for my birthday last weekend, my friends decided to have me over for cake today to celebrate. Desiree and Adriana made me this luscious cake from scratch.

It has a scrumptious mango filling and a fondant covering and it was decorated with some of my favorite things -- Speed Racer, SpongeBob, Patrick, Eve, and Wall-E. It's pure awesomeness, not to mention pure deliciousness.

(Taken with my Nikon Coolpix S200)