Saturday, April 11, 2009

Day 185/365 - Saturday Night Geek Out

Tonight was one of the geekiest and most entertaining nights I've had in a while. My friends Des, Chris, and I went to the Medieval Times dinner show at Arundel Mills Mall in Maryland to eat with our fingers, cheer for the Red Knight, and watch dudes poke each other with lances and whack each other with swords. Then it was off to Dave & Busters to drink (more) beer and play video games.

There was a trivia game I really wanted to play, but I was never able to snag an open spot. And I know I could've rocked at that game, too. Instead I spent most of my time playing a submarine game where you torpedo passing ships in order to win tickets. I wound up with 500 tickets, but they didn't have much worth getting at this D&B, so I just decided to hang on to them.

Then we capped the night off with more drinking at my friends' place while we played Rock Band and Lego Batman on their Wii. It's a bit sad for someone above the age of 15 to admit that they stayed up until 4:15 in the morning playing Lego Batman on the Wii, but I don't care. I had a blast!

(Taken with my Nikon Coolpix S200)

Friday, April 10, 2009

Day 184/365 - The True History of Coca-Cola in Mexico, A Comedy

The effects of global commerce and corporate imperialism might seem an odd subject for a comedy, but it makes for a very funny play. Tonight I went to see Gala Hispanic Theatre's production of "The True History of Coca-Cola in Mexico." In keeping with the theme of the evening, I decided to have Mexican food for dinner before the show so I wandered a few blocks up from the theater's location in the Columbia Heights section of Washington, DC to Taqueria Distrito Federal.

It's tough to find good Mexican food in DC. While there are many people in the area whose families immigrated here from Central American countries such as Guatemala and El Salvador, not many people have immigrated here from Mexico. As a result, most of the local Mexican restaurants are operated by Central Americans. The food is a bit more authentic than Chi Chi's, but it's still not the same. TDF is the real deal, however.

It's a small place, only a half-dozen or so tables inside and three on the patio out front. It's fast, cheap, good, and authentic. Well, as authentic as Mexican food gets in the U.S. anyhow. I don't know if you can ever exactly duplicate a national or regional cuisine in a restaurant in another location. It never tastes quite the same for some reason. TDF is definitely good, though. I ordered the Combo #3, which is five tacos, the dessert of the day, and a drink for only $13. It was one of the cheapest pre-theater meals I've ever had.

TDF has about a dozen different types of meat fillings for their tacos and you can pick and choose what you want in them. I opted for two pork tacos, one chicken, one bbq goat, and one bbq beef. The chicken one was a little dry, but the others were yum. The dessert was a tasty slice of flan and my drink, given the play I was seeing, had to be a Coke.

As I learned from the play, Mexico's per capita consumption of Coke is second only to that of the U.S. "The True History of Coca-Cola in Mexico" is a two-person play about a filmmaker and a performance artist from Seattle who decide to go to Mexico to make a documentary about American cultural and corporate globalization as symbolized by Coke's infiltration into Mexican society. The pair of actors that form the cast play a wide range of parts throughout the course of the play, including: the filmmakers; the tourists, farmers, and resort community workers they interview for the documentary; various figures from Mexican political history; and, in one particularly hilarious scene, the characters on a telenovela.

In their quest to document the extent to which American corporations have exploited and manipulated the Mexican people, the two filmmakers (who despite their loudly professed ideals are just as ignorant, patronizing, and chauvinistic as those they criticize) themselves exploit and manipulate a family of poor farmers in order to jazz up their documentary. While they start out to be liberators, in the end they wind up being just another kind of oppressor (although that's a fact that they themselves never seem to recognize).

The play is quite good and flows well, with the exception of a music video recreation scene at the end of the first act that just doesn't fit and doesn't seem to serve much of a purpose. The two performers are excellent and the set design, though simple, is effective. Gala Theatre itself is housed in an upstairs portion of the old Tivoli Theatre, formerly the most opulent movie palace in DC. Some of that opulence survives in the ornate ceiling of the theater, but it's not much compared to its former glory as revealed in the historical photos that line the walls leading to the theater.

"The True History of Coca-Cola in Mexico" is part ironic comedy, part satire, part history lesson, part political argument, and all good. And if you go to Taqueria Distrito Federal for dinner beforehand, it's even better.

(Taken with my Nikon Coolpix S200)

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Day 183/365 - Halfway Home

For this week's self-portrait we have me standing in the middle of the George Mason Memorial Bridge (aka the 14th St. Bridge) that links Virginia to DC. Not only am I in the middle of the bridge and the middle of the Potomac River here, this is also the midpoint on my walk home from work. It's 50 minutes from my office to this point, and another 50 minutes from this point to my apartment.

This seemed like the perfect spot for today's shot given that this marks the midway point in my 365 project. I've got 182 days behind me and another 182 days ahead of me. I never thought I'd make it this far. My guess was that I'd quit the 'photo a day' thing after about a month. I'm glad I decided to do a 365 project, but I'll also be glad when it's over. It's gotten to be a bit of a grind.

Some people go on to do a second and third year. Not me. It'll be nice to be able to go back to taking a photo when I feel like it rather than having to do a shot each and every day. I may do a second 365 project 5 or 10 years down the road, but I don't see myself doing another one any sooner than that.

(Taken with my Nikon Coolpix S200)

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Day 182/365 - Post-It Note Impression No. 4

I hadn't done one of these in a while, so I figured I was overdue for another Post-It Note impression.

Quick, who am I this time?

(Taken with my Nikon Coolpix S200)

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Day 181/365 - Big Change

This is a close-up of the change dish sitting on my dresser. I need to take all this change to the grocery store and dump it in the coinstar machine and convert it into real money. You'll notice there are no pennies here. That's because I throw pennies away.

People always look aghast when I tell them that. I just don't see the point in holding on to pennies. It's not worth the effort. Whenever I get pennies back from a purchase, I dump them in the trash. I've been doing that since I was in high school.

Hanging on to pennies is more trouble than it's worth. You save them up for years and put them in a big jar or something and after all that time what do you have -- a few bucks. Ehh. The return isn't worth the hassle.

(Taken with my Nikon Coolpix S200)

Monday, April 6, 2009

Day 180/365 - High Brow/Low Brow

Today was a pretty apt summation of my random and eclectic interests. This afternoon, I attended a rehearsal of the Simon Bolivar Youth Orchestra of Venezuela in preparation for their concert tonight at the Kennedy Center. Then tonight, I met my friend Chris at the theater in Georgetown to see the new "Fast & Furious" movie. Both were entertaining in their own way.

The Youth Orchestra was excellent. The kids were very skilled, talented, and energetic and the conductor was so lively it looked like he was dancing at the podium. The movie was escapist fun. It's essentially a two-hour long adolescent male fantasy of fights, guns, good buddies, fast cars, and hot women.

It's good to be well-rounded.

(Taken with my Nikon Coolpix S200 and processed using Microsoft Publisher)

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Twice on Sunday Bonus Photo - Shadow Over Venice

For this week's bonus photo from my archives we have a shot I took on my recent trip to Venice. This was taken from the campanile, or bell tower, in the Piazza San Marco and shows a broad view of the city and the shadow of the tower itself.

(Taken with my Nikon D80)

Day 179/365 - Are You Ready for Some Kickball?

I obviously wasn't, given the way I looked like a discombobulated doofus at the plate. Today was my kickball team's first game. We pretty much got clobbered. I'm not exactly sure what the score was because Adriana and I were chatting and lost track of the innings, but I do know they scored a bunch and we didn't score any. That's a sure recipe for losing. Especially against a team as competitive and hardcore as our opponents were.

We barely made it once through our kicking order and in my one turn at the plate I let one go by for a strike, took one for a ball, hit another off my knee for a foul, kicked another one foul, and then when I did finally make legal contact it was just a weak dribbler back to the pitcher and I was out by a mile.

I did a bit better during my one inning in the field when I played short right field. All I did then was run over to back up first a couple times in case of an overthrow that never happened, but at least I was in position anyhow. I definitely need to work on my kicking. Turns out that adults pitch the ball much harder and with vastly more spin than do the 6th graders I last played against about 20 years ago. Go figure.

After the beatdown, we adjourned to the Exchange, the official after-game bar for our division, and went through pitchers of beer like Sherman going through Georgia. At the bar we played the drinking game flip cup against the team that had just beaten us at kickball. They're the nefarious team in purple on the left above.

I'd never played flip cup before and I was only slightly less abysmal at it than I was at kickball. That will certainly be much more fun to practice than my kicking will be, though.

(Taken with my Nikon Coolpix S200)