Saturday, July 25, 2009

Day 290/365 - Keep on Trekkin'

This is part of a larger Shepard Fairey mural pasted on the side of an alley in the Dupont Circle section of Washington, DC. During the summer and fall, I try to go on a photowalk through a different part of the city once a month or so. However, I hadn't been on one yet this summer and given that today is supposed to be about the only dry day for the next week, I decided to grab my gear and hit the streets.

I started out in the U Street area and then moved on through Shaw, Logan Circle, and Dupont Circle before ending up in Farragut. All told, I walked just over three miles, explored some parts of the District I hadn't seen before, had lunch and dessert at Circa, picked up a book at the store inside National Geographic HQ, and took 130+ photos (84 of which turned out to be worth keeping). If you haven't gone on a photowalk where you live I highly recommend doing so. It's a great way to learn a city -- just get yourself a map, grab your camera, and go. There's always something worth photographing just around the next corner.

(Taken with my Nikon D90)

Friday, July 24, 2009

Day 289/365 - Jazz in the Sculpture Garden

Jazz in the Sculpture Garden is a free outdoor summer concert series in Washington, DC that is held every Friday evening in the National Gallery of Art's Sculpture Garden. I think that makes reason number 2416 why it's pretty damn awesome to live/work in DC. This concert series has been going on for years, but tonight was the first time I'd been. The Young Lions were playing and they were pretty good.

I got there an hour after the concert started and by that time people had parked themselves in nearly every available inch of the garden. There were people picnicking, people dancing, people drinking, and people just hanging out and enjoying the music. Now that I've been, I'm going to have to come back and check out some of the remaining concerts in the series this summer. I'll have to try and get there earlier, though, so I can stake out a good spot.

Normally there are long, arcing jets of water spraying across this fountain, but they turn them off for the concert. In wintertime this fountain is converted into an ice skating rink. That's something else I haven't been to check out yet, but I plan on doing so this winter.

(Taken with my Nikon Coolpix S200)

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Day 288/365 - Hat Trick

I had trouble thinking of something to shoot for today's photo, so I fell back on an old game I used to play when I was cooped up indoors during my high school years and got bored. To wit -- get a hat, turn it upside down, and try to toss a pack of cards into it one by one.

Not the most scintillating of past-times, but it gave me something to do while I was waiting out the rain delay of the Nats-Cardinals game on tv. Plus, it gave me something to shoot. When I played this game in my younger days I used my genuine Indiana Jones felt fedora, now long since lost. This time I had to make do with the synthetic straw hat I bought to keep the sun from baking my brain when I went to Egypt several years back.

This hat came with an olive drab (accent on the drab) hat band that was kinda bleh, so I took an old cloth belt that I'd bought in the Caribbean when I was in the Navy, cut it to the proper length, and glued it together. Voila, instant tropical-flavored hat band! This shot wasn't rigged or staged, btw. Those are how (and where) the cards actually landed. Looks like my aim hasn't improved much since high school.

(Taken with my Nikon D90)

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Day 287/365 - Rockin' the Red Loft

Our office, including our summer interns, headed out to Nationals Park tonight to catch the game against the Mets. We got there about 90 minutes before first pitch and hung out in the Red Loft bar drinking and gabbing. It was a fun night out and it got even better when the Nats beat the Mets 3-1!

(Taken with my Nikon Coolpix S200)

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Day 286/365 - Belgian/Baseball Self-Portrait

In honor of Belgian Independence Day, this week's self-portrait is an homage to Belgian surrealist artist Rene Magritte's painting The Son of Man. Given that I don't own a bowler hat I decided to put an American twist on it and substitute a baseball cap and then, in keeping with that theme, I swapped out a baseball for the green apple.

Happy Independence Day, Belgium!

(Taken with my Nikon D90)

Monday, July 20, 2009

Day 285/365 - Nerdvana

This is one of the bronze lion statues flanking the entrance to the Corcoran Museum in Washington, DC. Given the look of wide-eyed wonder on his face, he seemed the perfect subject for today's shot. Tonight I attended a rather interesting lecture about Howard Carter, the discoverer of King Tut's Tomb, at the Corcoran. It was delivered by an author who had recently written a biography of Carter tracing his life from his childhood as the poor grandson of a gamekeeper who drew portraits of people's pets for money, to his becoming the most famous archaeologist of all time and a man who charged $10,000 per speaking engagement.

As tonight's outing goes to show, yet another of the innumerable advantages of living/working in the DC area is the fact that, if you were so inclined, you could attend a lecture or presentation every night of the week and twice on Sunday. There are lectures on art, science, history, books, politics, music, and a thousand other things. They are held at museums, galleries, coffee shops, bookstores, offices, and an endless stream of other locales. No subject is too esoteric, no topic too wonkish, and no theory too farfetched. It's like geek heaven (or maybe given that most lectures cost to attend, Disneyland for dorks).

The statement that "DC is like Hollywood for ugly people" gets thrown around ad nauseum, but I think it might be more accurate to say that Hollywood is like DC for dumb people.

(Taken with my Nikon Coolpix S200)

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Twice on Sunday Bonus Photo - Run Away with Me to Paris

For this week's extra photo from my archives we have this collage shot I took of photos from my trip to Paris several years back, along with the accompanying bit of drivel that inspired the shot. Not sure what lead to this. It just popped in my head one night while I was eating dinner at a Lebanese restaurant. Go figure.


Run away with me to Paris and we’ll live la vie Bohème
We’ll be poor as church mice, free as birds, and happy as clams
I’ll grow a beard and learn to smoke a pipe
You’ll buy a beret and pastel skirt and ride a bicycle everywhere
We’ll live on baguettes and cheese and crepes and love
I’ll write obscure poetry and mutter darkly of ‘revolution’
You’ll make charcoal sketches and utter ‘merde’ under your breath
We’ll drink large glasses of wine and little cups of coffee
I’ll scowl and have a quick, cynical, barking laugh to mock the world
You’ll pout and have a sharp laugh of merry abandon to puncture my pretension
We’ll walk hand-in-hand beside the Seine and sit in the sun at sidewalk cafés
We’ll whisper ‘je t’aime’ and shout ‘vive l’amour fou’
We’ll live and laugh and love as though nothing else mattered or had ever mattered
Run away with me to Paris

(Taken with my Nikon D80; underlying photos taken with a Pentax K-1000)

Day 284/365 - (500) Days of Summer

Today was another day that was too beautiful to let pass by without getting out and enjoying it, so I decided to head to Bethesda. My friend Pia had raved about Ali Baba's Falafel in Bethesda and the arthouse movie theater there was one of the three in the area showing (500) Days of Summer, which I'd been anxiously awaiting. Who am I to resist kismet?

The falafel was the second-best I've ever had (first best is still L'as du Fallafel in the Marais section of Paris) and while I was sitting there on the curb scarfing it down who should walk by but Pia? She and another friend of hers were there perusing the goods that the outdoor bazaar at the Farm Women's Market had on display. We chatted for a bit and then I did my own turn of perusing the wares before heading down the hill to the movie theater.

After buying my ticket I still had some time to kill before the show started, so I popped into the Gifford's next door and got myself a peanut butter cookies and cream ice cream cone. Yummmmmmm. The movie turned out to be as good as I'd hoped. It was sadder and more realistic than most romantic movies. It's a non-linear, out of sequence narrative that charts various events over the course of a guy's life in the five hundred days that pass after he meets a woman named Summer.

There are sweet, romantic, happy, funny scenes and bitter, cynical, sad, funny scenes -- with the latter predominating toward the end. The casting is perfect. Even though Zooey Deschanel doesn't fit the cookie cutter Hollywood sex object mold, she's completely believable as the irresistible attractive and destructive force in the guy's life. The lead characters are both annoying and likeable in their own rights. They're much like real people in that regard.

The movie's bittersweet love story of a quirky couple and scrambled narrative style are probably most similar to another movie I loved, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Even the soundtrack for (500) Days is awesome, with the exception of two snippets of Patrick Swayze warbling "She's Like the Wind." Gack. The excellent group dance scene set to Hall and Oates "You Make My Dreams Come True" in the middle of the movie atones for even that horror, however.

I'll be curious to get a woman's perspective on the film to see if the apportionment of blame for the couple's problems is different from the female point of view. I put most of the fault on Summer, while recognizing that the guy had his own share of issues. I could maybe see the pendulum of blame swinging the other way, though.

(Taken with my Nikon Coolpix S200)