Andrew Lindemann Malone's Internet Playpen
Movie Reviews

Tuesday, 5/25/04: Posting Up

I would love to say that I wrote such a good review that they simply had to put it over a review by Joe Banno, who I've read for a long time and whose mad review skillz I both respect and try to learn from. But the real reason is that they had art for my review, so it went first. Nevertheless, it's another one, and that in and of itself makes me happy.

 

Wednesday, 5/19/04: Yakety Yak

Today, without having planned to, I wrote a little piece about talking to other people in the workplace. It's called "A Little Less Conversation" and it's available to you now, in record time! This proves once again the old maxim that the most satisfying writing is that which takes the least time. Wait, I don't know if that's an old maxim. Or even if it's true. But it's nice to have prose come out without having to apply a vise to my cerebral cortex, which was what was going on this weekend when I was writing reviews for Jazz Times. That was wack.

 

Tuesday, 5/18/04: Meniality

Right now I am listening to Olivier Messiaen's "Quator pour le fin du temps" and washing my dishes. (Well, I stopped washing to write this, but I have a dish I just dried and the dishcloth I used in my lap.) As a gorgeous, passionate melody spun from the clarinet, I asked myself, "Why are you doing dishes while you listen to this music?" Then I answered: "Who the [expletive] else is going to do them?"

Today I ran a little over 2 miles in 16:40 for Federal Fitness Day. This is a full 2 minutes less time than it took me last year. That made me pretty happy with myself. So I guess I've come out even today.

 

Tuesday, 5/11/04: Posted Again!

This time I got a whole link to myself. At some point this will become routine, but I won't stop, can't stop linking, baby. 'Cause that's how I get down. This concert made a nice Mother's Day outing for me, my mom, my sister, and my almost-brother-in-law.

I have something else almost done that I'm going to finish up and post when I get back from work today, so check back at about 6 pm.

The new thing is an In My Changer. It's got O.C., Beethoven, and Smetana. Slicker folks than I, such as my editor Chris Porter and the generous, witty soul behind Kittytext, are posting MP3s of songs they write about on their websites. I feel like this would be a pain in the ass, since my six-year-old computer does not have (a) iTunes or (b) the hard drive space necessary for a truly useful MP3 collection and thus lacks (c) the vast majority of music I listen to. When I get a new computer, I will reconsider this, but classical sounds horrible to me on MP3, so the decision might not be in favor of the new music-writing modality.

 

Wednesday, 5/504: Absolutely Free

For the past two days, I've been in kind of a random stupor at work, and so I'd like to refund the tax dollars you spend on paying me to each of you. Dividing my salary by the population of the United States and by the 365 days in a year, we come up with a per-capita Andrew salary of .00000038 cents a day. So, for my two random-stupor days, I am prepared to refund each of you .00000076 cents. Don't all line up at once!

 

Monday, 5/3/04: Posted!

For the last month or so, many of you have listened patiently to my accounts of trying to hook up with the Washington Post as a stringer to review classical concerts. These accounts have been laden with conditionals, because I am a cautious, cautious man; particularly when it seems like something as fun as writing for the Post might lie within my grasp, I am not going to count my chickens before they hatch (particularly if the eggs are from a country where high-pathogenic avian influenza currently exists, but that's beside the point). Well, guess what? It's on, people! Fourth item down.

Yes, I was like a kid on Christmas morning this A.M. as I looked for the paper.

For profesional reasons, I now renounce the Spam-O-Matic's Official Celebrity Crush on Nurit Bar-Josef, who as you will remember is the concertmaster of the National Symphony Orchestra. The renunciation of this crush eliminates any possible conflict of interest that might otherwise have existed if I were to review one of her concerts. So there. If anyone has a nomination for a new Official Celebrity Crush, please e-mail me. Someone who doesn't play classical music professionally would be good.

 

Thursday, 4/29/04: Just Reading the Post

The snakehead is back, beeyotch! For those of you who don’t know, the snakehead is a Chinese-Korean fish-thing that has huge ugly teeth and can crawl for short distances on land, and bites like hell. A lone fisherperson found it in Wheaton Regional Park, which significantly reduces my desire to try to run up there from my apartment on Sunday. Of interest to the massive segments of the population that dread the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area’s upcoming cicada infestation is the fact that the snakehead is a ravenous devourer of both native fish and insects. That means that after the snakeheads wipe out all the fish we actually like, it’ll be a full-bore Battle of the Plagues, baybee! Let’s just not let the snakehead take over the area like the brown tree snake has taken over Guam. Those invasive species are nothing to play with. Please fully fund APHIS for FY 2005.

• In another scary local story, a handicapped girl is wheelchairing in the middle of the street to get to her school, which is two blocks away. Does that sound like a good idea to you? It didn’t to Montgomery County, which planned to put sidewalks in to facilitate not only her rolling but her fellow children’s strolling to school. It does, however, sound like a good idea to other residents of the street, who have blocked construction of the sidewalks because they think the sidewalks will kill their trees (despite MoCo’s plans to route the sidewalks around the majestic oaks or whatever they are), depress property values, and impose upon them the staggering additional labor of shoveling their new sidewalks. Yes! Those are all compelling reasons to keep a street unsafe for children!

Sidewalk ender Fiona Morrissey says “We were a very happy community before all of this started, but it's opened up a hornet's nest,” and adds, “If this issue is framed in a 'Little Handicapped Girl vs. Property Values' or a 'Save the Trees vs. Little Handicapped Girl', the emotional verdict will always favor the child.” You know why that is? Because regardless of the procedural victory you may be able to win, you don’t have a moral leg to stand on. Step aside for the children, and then look up the definition of “community” in the dictionary.

• Finally, Dr. Gridlock informs me today that the license plate “CAVSUCK” is perfectly legal in the gun-totin’, alcohol-everywhere, tax-raisin’ state of Virginia. Does this mean I can move to the VA and get a license plate reading “DUKESUX”? I must investigate.

 

Tuesday, 4/27/04: Prose for Days

There have not been many updates over the last two weeks. This has been said by some to be true. And it is true. I regret any times I may have implied otherwise. But we have to look forward, to the future, for it is in the future that we will make what will one day be our past. If you want someone to blame — well, I'm not going to mention any names, but it should be noted that during the previous presidential administration there were precisely zero updates on this page.

The fact is, I've been running around stressed out a lot over the past two weeks. Some of this stress was due to apartment searching, which I have called a temporary halt to in the hope of sqeezing some drops of enjoyment out of life. The amount of money you can pay for a nice apartment in the District of Columbia is staggering, and the amount of money I persuaded myself that I was willing to pay for such an apartment was pretty staggering too, at least in my pinchpenny universe. I almost signed a lease at one place until, after I expressed my interest, the management company informed me of several substantial additional fees; I pulled back on the suspicion that, as my dad later put it, "this could be the start of an abusive relationship." Now I don't know what I'm going to do, except quit combing the apartment ads for at least a month. I could probably deal with that stress, but I'm feeling stress from other things I don't want to talk about on the Internet. So I'm'a pull back a bit.

If this site had a mission of some kind, a task to do, I'm sure I'd be gung-ho about fulfilling it. But this site is like me: confused by the vast array of possibilities open to it. I've been somewhat reluctant to put up anything I consider "random" content, but maybe I should be less reluctant, or more reluctant. I don't seem to enjoy writing movie reviews anymore, so I don't do it, but most people who come here appear to come here looking for movie reviews. Etc. As you can see, I'm in one of those essentially uninteresting twenties morasses. If I know nothing else, I know that those don't lend themselves to even the most modest kind of art, which is all you can do in a blog — unless you're getting a cumulative effect from frequent updates, which this site never will.

But I still like to sling prose, and there are still things that I think are interesting in the world, and I will attempt to address those more frequently. Amazing as this may seem, the Spam-O-Matic doesn't exist solely to provide you all with my writing; perhaps its most important functions are to provide a place without editors where my prose can live and to serve as a gentle urge to engage in the activity I love most in this world (yes, more than eating pie, and I don't have a girlfriend). We'll see what happens.

If that is one confused series of sentences, well, I can't help myself today.

 

Sunday, 4/11/04: My Full Endorsement

On the all-too-likely chance that you should come here attempting to satisfy your time-wasting desires only to find no new content, one of the sites you should hit up (besides all the sites listed on this page) is Wonkette. Ana Marie Cox, editor of the site, was charged in December with the mission of treating politics, political culture and D.C. with all the seriousness they deserve, which in these times means smartass takedowns of idiotic comments, heavy play of the most minute gossip tidbits, and of course all the homoerotic political humor anyone could ever possibly want. Plus she, unlike the New Yorker, actually corrects hip-hop spelling errors when certain people with much less popular sites point them out. All of which is to say, my browser frequently beats down the path to her virtual door.

The weekly highlight of Wonkette is undoubtedly "Thursdays with Tina," in which Cox smacks around that indescribably vapid column Tina Brown is for some reason allowed to write in the Washington Post's Style section. Brown's irrelevant prattling is truly a destructive, quarantine-significant fungus (such as Phytophthera ramorum) on the mighty oak that is the Post, a fungus for which some sort of treatment should be required before articles contaminated with it are allowed to move interstate (or intrastate if the State in question has established regulations equivalent to or more restrictive than the relevant Federal regulations), a fungus that apparently can only be neutralized by the determined application of Cox's destructive wit. I'll use whatever damn metaphors I want to, thank you.

 

Saturday, 4/10/04: The Bridge is Over

I have written a devastating critique of a New Yorker article that is unavailable on the Web, so none of you will be able to read it unless you are Lexis-Nexis or New Yorker subscribers. I was just that annoyed. The article is called "Midtown Keeps on Fakin' It," and it chronicles an article-long hip-hop bungle from the magazine that spelled "Wu-Tang Clan" without the hyphen, which is kind of like discussing poetry and hyphenating "William Butler-Yeats," until I brought it to their attention.

Yesterday, speaking of hip-hop, I was at Tower after I realized that the play I had a ticket for and that I thought was at the Kennedy Center was actually at Catholic University's Dance Place. That was a bit dumb. Anyway, they had Bad Boy's Greatest Hits on the CD listening station, and I was surprised when I remembered just how much Bad Boy dominated rap and R&B for the couple years when I was getting my license and graduating from high school. They had some nice beats from before Puffy gave up on original production completely and just started straight jacking the classics, some interchangeable sweet-singing girl groups like Total and 112, and the Notorious B.I.G. Recording empires have been built on far less, I am sure.

 

Tuesday, 4/6/04: Your So-Called Painful Life

Have you ever been sad? Do you think the suffering of people around you is way less important that your suffering? In the first advertisement I have permitted on this site, the Spam-O-Matic is proud to offer the Traumometer, the only instrument devoted to making quantitative comparisons between your sadness and the sadness of irrelevant others. Check it out.

 

Friday, 4/2/04: Five O'Clock Friday, Part 2

DJ Dirty Rico is on the wheels of steel holding it down [etc.] right now as I type this on WPGC's old-school Five O'Clock Friday. It's been a blazing 40 minutes — we went from Prince to 80s Janet to house to a little suite of mid-90s dance classix including "Daisy Dukes," "Tootsie Roll," and, finally, "Cotton-Eyed Joe." This somewhat unlikely choice was played straight for a while and then, amazingly, mated perfectly with the introductory horn riff from Stevie Wonder's "Sir Duke." After the first horn lick played, Rico dropped a little sample of a slow kid saying "Whaaaaat?" I nearly fell over laughing. Now we are into the go-go portion of the show, which is always fun, but someone needs to document these inspired alchemies. And that someone is apparently me.

Two odd conversations in or near the Metro today:

1. Getting off a Green Line train to Branch Avenue, seeing a couple young teens waiting to get on:

Teen #1: Hello (with a big happy smile).

Me: Hi.

Teen #1: Vote for me! (even bigger smile)

Teen #2: (somewhat shocked yet amused look)

Me: (turning and walking up the stairs to the Red Line) Okay!

2. Walking up 11th Street towards Metro Center, seeing a tall man in a weatherproof jacket and jeans:

Man: Hey, big man.

Me: (still walking) Hey.

Man: I remember you — from Adams Morgan.

Me: Never.

Man: Never?

Me: (suddenly remembering that I have in fact seen this man before, late one night, as I picked my way up 18th Street going back to the Metro from a bar, but immediately dubious as to the value of a follow-up conversation) Not much (spoken over my shoulder as I continued walking towards the Metro).

 

Wednesday, 3/31/04: Look! New Content!

Finally, another In My Changer! The IMC is probably my favorite thing I made up for myself to scribble down, because I get to write about music I like. This one's evenly divided between hip-hop and classical, which is appropriate. It got long, but there's still some stuff I need to cover. Musically anyway, it's been a good couple months for me.

 

Sunday, 3/28/04: The Final 2.7%

In my bracket where I chose the teams I actually thought would win, I have all the Final Four teams correct, so I have vaulted from my previous very poor showing (pretty much every team I picked to go somewhere other than the Final Four lost) into the 97.3rd percentile in ESPN's Tourney Challenge. There are only 67,590 people ahead of me, baybee! In my bracket where I tried to concoct a scenario in which Maryland would win its second championship in three years, I'm in the 14.5th percentile. We'll be back and loaded for bear next year.

When I got out of the shower today, I didn't want to put on pants, and then I continued to not want to put on pants. I thought briefly (ha!) about titling today "Special Pantsless Edition" and narrating how my pants-free life was going at couple-hour intervals. But then I thought too much about it and put some pants on. The lure of convention is strong in this one.

 

Friday, 3/26/04: Do You Know What Time It Is?

I would like to take this opportunity to recognize WPGC 95.5's Five O'Clock Friday old-school mix as one of the joys of living in the D.C. area. Whether they're rocking old electronica like that "Perculator" song and go-go classics like Trouble Funk's "Backstabbers," digging in the less-dusty crates of the mid-90s with Biggie's "Warning" and Redman's "Tonight's Da Night," or simply playing an inexplicable but fun Heavy D medley, they provide a reason to take off a half-hour early on the last day of the workweek and shake my ass silly in the privacy and comfort of my lil' apartment. PGC house DJs like Dirty Rico, the Superfunkregulator DJ Cee-lo, and DJ Flexxx hold it down, with occasional guest spots from local luminary DJ Kool; the radio personality is normally Easy Street, who (as the radio tirelessly reminds us) invented the car-phone check-in and runs it better than anyone. There is no better way to usher in the weekend.

 

Wednesday, 3/24/04: Trying

If you're me, some days you wake up ready to conquer the world and some days you're just happy if you can get through without having a panic attack. The last few days have been more like the latter than the former, which explains why I have all this stuff I want to write but can't turn the corner on it. I'm going to chill and just work on getting back to where I can do my thing for the next few days, which probably means no blogging. One love and peace to all.

(Note to prospective employers, if any: I always make my best effort to turn the corner if I'm getting paid. That's part of why I'm so exhausted at the end of these days lately; I'm giving work all I got and ain't got no more when I get home. The gift and the curse of the Spam is that both the responsibilities and rewards here are intangible.)

 

Tuesday, 3/23/04: Yet More Apartment-Building Bitching

Last night I found out that if there is a sufficiently big hole in your apartment you can be woken out of a sound sleep by people talking at a normal volume next door. Specifically, I found this out at 1 am, when the woman next door was talking with a friend near the common hole we share and I had forgotten to close the door to the closet with the hole in it. But today I did regain access to one of my closets. I stuffed a whole buncha crap in there, and now the apartment looks oddly empty, since the stuff had been out for a few weeks. Needless to say, right now I am very tired and not about to write any of the crap I want to write.

Today did bring one valuable lesson: compared to a lot of people, I have no right to bitch about this apartment.

 

Sunday, 3/21/04: Standing in the Parking Lot While Everyone's Dancin'

I'm glad this weekend is over. I had a fun Friday, but then on Saturday I went to the Pittsburgh Symphony concert at the Kennedy Center and got a spitball thrown at me during Beethoven's Symphony no. 8 — yeah, I think it was a spitball. It was a wet piece of tissue that was wadded up and thrown at me and hit my leg, and I'm going to let Occam's Razor declare that it was a spitball because I have no idea what innocent context could have produced that result. I looked around and tried to figure out who would have done that, but no one looked embarrassed, and I eventually moved out of my good seat to a worse seat from which I could not see the pianist's hands to avoid further spitballing. Anyway, then I came home from the concert just in time to see Maryland fail to pull out another miracle and therefore lose to Syracuse, which means Matt Bonesteel will be beating his chest and taking on all comers in the Washington Post's college basketball chat (which is too bad because the Post's college basketball chat is normally awesome). Then I got a stomachache.

Borger Management finally compensated me for my trouble connected to the electrical fire in my apartment — two months ago! At least I think that's what this check is about. I'm still outta here as soon as I figure out a few other things.

I have an immense amount of stuff I want to write for fun over the next week. I'll do as much as I can and then put it up here.

 

Thursday, 3/18/04: Piecing It Together

Credit where credit's due: Today, while I stayed home to watch the Maryland game, workers came in and filled three of the four extant holes in my apartment, promising that they would come back tomorrow to finish actually priming and painting the new drywall they cut today. I do not attribute this to the management office so much as I attribute it to the maintenance personnel, who have generally been quite courteous to me when I've seen them and have dispatched their tasks in a timely and effective fashion. If only they were more promptly dispatched when things go wrong.

Maryland needed some fixing for much of the game today, as the Terps went through what seemed to be a dogged refusal to run the flex offense, whose relentless application had led to monster games for Jamar Smith and John Gilchrist and the toppling of three ranked opponents over the weekend. Instead, few entry passes were thrown, and those were quickly thrown back out so that Gilchrist, Chris McCray and Nik "Ladies Love My Nonthreatening Caucasianness" Caner-Medley could try long outside shots. We made just enough and beat a scrappy University of Texas-El Paso team 86-83, but this will not be sustainable against Syracuse on Saturday. Fortunately, Gary Williams is a good coach.

I stayed home instead of going to some local watering hole to watch the game because I was still shaking off some short-term death cold I got at the University of Maryland's Career Fair yesterday. (As an employer, not a job-seeker. APHIS needs bodies.) As I have ranted about excessively before, college students are walking germ reservoirs because they sleep four hours a night and subsist primarily on Pop-Tarts and Easy Mac. I'm trying to figure out which potential employee gave me the death cold; I think it was probably the one who cursed at my co-worker and me while discussing the job opening. Cursing is not a good way to make a first impression on people who are going to have to work with you, job-seekers! I wonder if the Career Center covers this handy hint or if they figure no one is that stupid.

As long as I'm obsessing about my alma mater, I should mention here that the Maryland Cow Nipple, the University of Maryland's finest and only humor magazine, has put out a truly outstanding issue for the month of March. Particularly side-splitting is Dan Zytnick's article "Metrosexual sexually assaults Metro train," which should give Metro's board of directors a bunch of new ideas for closing certain revenue shortfalls.

 

Tuesday, 3/16/04: It's the Terps, Baby

What Maryland did this weekend beggars the imagination. I thought they had a shot at winning the tourney, but in that biggest-fan way that you always think your team has a shot, not in any kind of realistic sense. I watched all three games and, at the final buzzer when Duke went down 94-87, I felt that wonderful lift of an upset victory, that sense that anything in the world is possible if you keep your head up, play smart and hard, and take advantage of the openings the world leaves you.

Did Maryland students set up shrines to Gary Williams and John Gilchrist in the wake of this amazingness? Did they look to Mike Grinnon's two free throws in OT, swished home with all the assurance you could ask for, and set themselves to working ever-harder in the hope that one day they would have a shot (or two) at greatness? No. They swarmed Route 1 and lit a bonfire and jumped on cars. I guess what Maryland did this weekend was pretty commonplace to inspire such a commonplace reaction. Or maybe Maryland students are just stupid. Anyway, I wrote a short humor item about that. It's probably not as much funny as it is bitter, though.

I now have four holes in my apartment: both closets, the bathroom, and the hallway. Currently half of the clothes I have on hangers are piled on my loveseat, since there is nowhere for them to hang from that will not block workers if they ever decide to actually repair one of the closet holes. This is in addition to the boxes from the hall closet that are now lining my hallway and the clothes and suitcases from my dressing closet that are blocking my access to my bookshelves. I spoke to a woman from Montgomery County housing who told me that Georgian Towers and Borger are not obligated to provide a rent abatement for this, which would explain why they aren't. I'm just noting this in case I haven't been clear enough about my current distaste for the management office here and Borger Management.

 

Thursday, 3/11/04: Public Service Announcement

Today I walked into my apartment to find most of the stuff I had just put back into my hall closet emptied out onto available flat surfaces, and a hole in the wall in my hall closet, while the emptied-out dressing closet remained untouched. That's right: The memo from management told me to empty the exact wrong closet, thus costing me an hour of putting things away and taking them out, for absolutely nothing.

I am not going to blog this further unless something really interesting happens. But I am going to put this fully Googlable text on the Internet for prospective renters to see:

DO NOT, UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES, RENT AN APARTMENT AT THE GEORGIAN TOWERS, 8750 GEORGIA AVE. AND 8715 FIRST AVE., SILVER SPRING, MD 20910. THE MANAGEMENT STAFF DOES NOT CARE ABOUT ITS TENANTS, AND BORGER MANAGEMENT BACKS THEM UP IN THEIR APATHY.

 

That does feel better, actually.

 

Wednesday, 3/10/04: There's Still Something Missing

Last night I had to get an article ready for Jazz Times, NAFTA's Jazz Magazine, which would normally be enough to occupy an evening, except that I had gotten a memo from my apartment building stating that the riser pipe replacement ("Three Weeks and Counting!") would require me to move all my stuff out of my dressing closet. Formerly, I had been instructed to move all my stuff out of my hall closet, so it was out in the middle of my apartment, but now they needed the dressing closet, so I moved all the stuff back into the hall closet and then emptied (most of) the dressing closet. Also I have a huge hole in my hallway where they replaced the first set of riser pipes, and on Monday I acquired a new huge hole in my bathroom where they're going to replace the second set of riser pipes. They never went into the hall closet for the two weeks they demanded I have everything out of there, and they haven't yet gone into the dressing closet, or for that matter the kitchen, which I was required to have all my stuff out of for two weeks also. They went into the bathroom after they sent the memo indicating that I no longer had to keep my stuff out of there. The hole in the bathroom is big enough that I can see a tiny corner of the kitchen in the girls' apartment next door. ("Girls Gone Cooking!")

I continue to look for apartments that may be available in May.

I know this page is screwed up. I'll fix it eventually. All the text is still there, though.

 

Tuesday, 3/9/04: It's Getting Irradiated in Here

Those of you who subscribe to the Washington Post may have been surprised to see today, on the front page of the Business section, a whole article about a regulation written by the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. Yep! That's what I do: write regulations for APHIS! And while I would never assume public responsibility for the writing of a rule in a way that could result in me being named the defendant in a lawsuit, I can say that I know the writer of this regulation quite well, and the writer of this regulation had no idea that anyone besides sweetpotato farmers (yes, the GPO makes you spell it "sweetpotato") and Public Citizen cared even an iota about whether you can irradiate sweetpotatoes moved interstate from Hawaii as an alternative to fumigation with methyl bromide. But apparently it's front-page-of-the-Business-section news that you now can!

The article quotes both the sweetpotato growers and Public Citizen; the sweetpotato growers' quote is from their comment on the interim rule for the public record, while PC, which has a spokesperson, contributed a little bit more. However, the article does not quote the affirmation of the interim rule, in which the writer of this regulation (let's call him TWOTR) absolutely destroys all arguments made by the commenters. Very few commenters will ever be able to take TWOTR, 'cause he's a true masta of this regulatin' game. You, being inquisitive people, will no doubt want to read the interim rule and its affirmation to get the whole story.

I have been asked by TWOTR to point out a couple errors in the article:

  • The article states that APHIS proposed to allow for the use irradiation in June. In fact, APHIS published an interim rule, which is effective at the time of publication.
  • The article quotes John Clark, president of the irradiation facility in Hawaii, as saying "It was our request to move on [the rule] and our diligence in sitting on them to see that it kept moving forward. We hired people to make sure it was moving from desk to desk. We pushed it." TWOTR would like it to be known that no man or woman has ever "sat on" TWOTR and found that to be an effective strategy for anything, except getting his or her ass kicked. TWOTR moved on the rule because TWOTR was told it was a high priority for the agency, nothing else, and is a bit insulted that John Clark thinks TWOTR needed to be sat on to do what needed to be done. And nothing was going to move out of there if TWOTR didn't make it move. Word.

Wednesday, 3/3/04: Domestication

WE WON! WE WON! Eat it, Wolfpack! Julius Hodge: You'll never escape the curse you incurred when you clotheslined Steve Blake! Billy Packer thinks we're in the tournament now, but I want us to beat Virginia in order to seal the deal and reassert our regional superiority.

On Sunday, I wrote one of those 100-word "Life is Short" things that the Post runs on the front of the Sunday Style section. And it's pretty good! The problem I'm having now is that I think the piece might be a little too insightful (though at least it's insightful about me, and not a public damnation of my too-absent spouse, as Marnie E. Strum dished out last week. "Just before I fall asleep, I remember my girlhood dream-life. Remember the feeling-talking-spiritual-connected man I pictured marrying. I dreamed of evenings spent talking about life, art, music, children. By morning, he is at work again, and I am a single mom in a big house in a great neighborhood." Damn). But now I've spent all this time fine-tuning my 100 words, and it seems like a waste not to send it in, even if it is in the hope of publicly disclosing a fact about myself that I think some of my immediately family, much less most of my friends, doesn't know. What should I do? Who knows?

I know damn well that I need a new apartment, because the one I'm in had an electrical fire because of negligence by the management office and they still haven't compensated me for squat or fixed all the damage. When I move out, I will tell this whole story on its own page through the increasingly belligerent letters I have sent to the management office since the incident. But right now: I'm looking for an apartment downtown to move into towards the end of April. 16th and U has been the epicenter of my search, which has rippled out for blocks. I want the Green Line, a gym, and a grocery store nearby, so I can sell my car and live as an urbanite; I want to pay about $1000 for a studio, so I don't go broke and don't have to buy any new furniture. If anyone can help me out in this search, I will publicly acclaim you on this very website as a true friend of my safety and my living situation. I'll write limericks for you. I'll review movies you want to see. I'll bake you cookies. Think of something you want that I'm actually good at and I will provide it.

Right now I am terrifically keyed up for the N.C. State-Maryland game, which we (Maryland) must win to retain hopes of being in the NCAA tournament. I love our boys and will root for them to the death, but I am fearful as well. If only we could bring in Steve Blake, Juan Dixon, and Lonny Baxter (SILVER SPRING, REPRESENT!), like the Wizards now have! Then we'd kick ass. If the Wiz get Chris Wilcox, look out for them in the East Regional.

 

Monday, 3/1/04: Behold a Cool New Section! Behold!

I like saying "Behold!" way too much lately. Anyway, I have started a new section in The Rest of Our Culture called, with my typical punchy brevity, "Reviews That Involve Massive Conflicts of Interest." The first review in that section critiques "The Spy Who Shagged Me," the new show by American Univerity's Washington College of Law's Law Revue, if that was enough possessives. It features Robert Kahn, who you will remember as the co-namer of the Film Threat Forecaster. Robert did an excellent job, and at this point I feel driven to write about everything I really enjoy, 'cause it's fun to spread good cheer. (I'm also using "'cause" in my writing way too much lately.) To my other friends who have creative activities that I am privy to — don't be surprised to find a review in this section, unless you explicitly forbid me to write one.

 

Sunday, 2/29/04: Little Golden Statues Everywhere

The Academy Awards are on right now, and here sits your movie critic composing a nasty letter to his landlord rather than waiting on tenterhooks for the results. I never could summon much interest in the Oscars; the event seems composed of one part recognitiion of artistic excellence, one part popularity contest, and one part marketing-driven voting for marketing tools, and those are two uninteresting parts. This is not to say that people who actually do get into the Oscars are stupid, of course; I know several people who are smarter than I who watch the Academy Awards devotedly. But the fact that I can't get into them probably explains a lot about why I didn't pursue movie criticizing more aggressively when I got out of college, and why I write so few reviews now: I love movies, but not "the movies" so much. Also I am lazy and like to make the government money rather than competing with people who have actually spent all their time and money watching the cinematic canon for the few financial table scraps given to film critics.

BTW here's the non-broken link to my redesign of my staff's website. Check, check it out if you haven't already.

 

Wednesday, 2/25/04: Stringing It Out

Terps won yesterday. Jason must have dressed better.

Yesterday I watched cellist Gary Hoffman give such a great performance that I had to review it. In the end, though, I ended up writing more about violinist Hilary Hahn in the double review, because her performance was more curious. Plus I have some notes about the ads in Playbill, which are not written for anyone under 50 or with a net worth of under $500,000, as far as I can tell.

I hate to admit it, but I'm already getting sick of the Film Threat Forecaster. The reviews come out and then I look like an underinformed person. Are these helpful/entertaining to anyone? Let me know.

 

Sunday, 2/22/04: I'm Always Proud to Be a Terp, Because At Least I Didn't Go to Duke

Maryland lost embarrassingly to Duke today because Jason Walther wore a blue shirt to the bar we watched the game at, despite the facts that (a) Maryland wears red, (b) Duke wears blue, and (c) Jason was rooting for Maryland. You may think this is BS, but nothing normal could explain how badly we played. Also, given the suboptimal results against North Carolina and now Duke, this new Maryland T-shirt I picked up in Vermont may be trouble. I'll continue to update this story as more becomes known. In other game-watching news, I ate 20 wings in about an hour, which was a lot worse than Sonya Thomas' 167 in 32 minutes, but it must be noted that I was fighting nausea when I watched us try to make make entry passes from the top of the key. I love the Terps, though. We'll be better next year.

I keep forgetting to actually link to the Web manifestation of my recent publication in the Silver Spring/Takoma Voice. Here it is. It's a bit different from the article I submitted, but that's what editors do. I just sent the monthly culture column in to them, so we'll see how that goes.

Right now what I need to do to have a good life is to throw myself headlong into doing stuff I like, so there will probably be a lot o' writing next week. Watch this space.

 

Thursday, 2/19/04: One If By Land, Two If By Zzzzzzz

I'm not doing the Film Threat Forecaster tonight because I'm really exhausted, even more so than I was last night. This is not a good week to have my Very First Culture Column due to the Silver Spring/Takoma Voice, either. But I will sleep tonight and tomorrow and try to get the prose back.

 

Wednesday, 2/18/04: Cash Rules Every Grant-Reviewing Mechanism Around Me

Today I went to a meeting about a proposed project that everyone in the room was enthusiastic about and that needed funding. I was the only person in the room who lacked authority to fund things. I felt like I was at a party where everyone except me showed up with a bottle of wine, while I brought a Snak-Size bag of Cheetos, which I then ate in the foyer while greeting my host. The meeting featured a lot of me imagining things I shouldn't say as other people talked about funding, like this:

Official From Another Agency: I'm certain I can get you the funding if you don't get this grant.

Me (thinking): You're covering my share, too, right? 'Cause I'm po'.

Another Official From Another Agency: You're looking for [a number many times my annual salary], right?

Me (thinking): I'll throw in twenty bucks. Don't leave that on the table.

In other news, Kittytext has resorted to the dirty tactic of using short, sweet, intriguing reviews of CDs to indirectly remind me to write more about music. I promise to try to do this soon. I'm very fond of Kittytext. In other other news, I'm exhausted.

 

Thursday, 2/12/04: Don't Be Cinematically Afraid, Be Ready

The Weekly Movie Preview has transformed into the Film Threat Forecaster, complete with a Film Threat Advisory Index graphic that I'm putting up here because I spent too damn long making it not to showcase it as much as possible and because I'm proud of it, especially given my general lack of skill with Adobe Illustrator. Read the story of the Film Threat Forecaster on the index page, and read the Film Threat Forecast for the movies being released tomorrow in (appropriately enough) the February 13 edition. I can honestly say that my skills at film threat forecasting are at least as good as the CIA's skills at predicting where we're going to find WMD.

I won't be around to provide content again until Wednesday, but given typical lacunae at this site, you probably would not have noticed. I'm just rubbing it in your faces that I get to take a mini-vacation. I'm going to Vermont, where I will play Ping-Pong and look at scenery and try not to think about my apartment exploding.

 

Tuesday, 2/10/04: Dreamweaver, I Don't Have to Dream Alone

My redesign of my staff's website is now up on the APHIS website, about nine months after I was done with it. Whatever; I was positively giddy when I saw my handiwork in place of our old broken-down site. Plus, it meant that all that labor I undertook to learn Dreamweaver to make this site (yes, this site was designed by me and not by monkeys with HTML training) has actually now enhanced my resumé. Take a glance. (Yeah, I know all the dates are wrong. These are the things you don't notice on a site draft if you have no formal training whatsoever. I'm going to fix them first thing tomorrow.)

 

Sunday, 2/8/04: The Chili con Queso-Melting Pot

You know, a lot of people always want to give America a bad rap. And, it's true, we have been screwing up pretty much across the map lately. But whatever else you want to say, America will always be the land of opportunity. Just ask Sonya Thomas, a 99-pound woman born in Korea, who came to this country in 1997. Last year, Sonya found out two very important things: that Americans will pay to see people gorging themselves on ridiculous amounts of food if you time them and call the whole thing "competitive eating," and that she kicks total ass at it.

Capping a blazing run through the competitive-eating circuit — which, by the way, pits men and women directly against each other as a matter of course — Thomas won Wing Bowl XII over men weighing three or four times as much as she does by eating 167 chicken wings in 32 total minutes, including an overtime round in which she dethroned the reigning champ by two wings. One look at the picture of a triumphant Sonya in the article linked to above, and three thoughts will come to any patriotic American's mind:

  1. God bless the U.S.A.!
  2. Where did she put the wings?
  3. No, seriously, did she hide them or something? There's no freaking way 167 chicken wings can fit into that woman.

Maybe a native-born competitive eating champ would take the country that gave him the opportunity for granted. But not trailblazer Sonya Thomas. As she says, "In the U.S., if you have the desire, you can do anything!" Like beat the boys at their own game by downing 23 barbecue sandwiches in 12 minutes. Or eating 7 3/4 pounds of turducken in 12 minutes (hey, John Madden, Sonya's coming to the bus for lunch). Or annihilating the world record by devouring 64 hard-boiled eggs in 6 minutes and 40 seconds. "Eggs are easy to eat," Thomas explains. "I could eat 80 or 90." For pursuing her dream and fulfilling the promise of her unlikely talent in such a spectacular fashion, Sonya Thomas is my new hero.

(For those of you keeping track, the official celebrity crush of the Spam-O-Matic is still National Symphony Orchestra concertmaster Nurit Bar-Josef; Sonya Thomas has filled the previously vacant hero slot; and Tom DeLay and George Soros are Children of Satan II: The Beast Men. Wait. I need to move that thing away from the computer, and into the trash.)

 

Saturday, 2/7/04: The Meat in the Bun

Okay! Ha ha! That story didn't fool any of you, did it? I don't have a magic stick, no matter what Janet Jackson tells you. The real tale of my Yakiman adventures is now up. In an effort to make up for all that time of yours I didn't waste while I was away, it's really, really, unnecessarily long. This entry also will mark the end of awful beef puns on the Spam-O-Matic, unless we discover another case of BSE, in which case this promise is void.

More interesting news: My dad informs me that an edited and expanded version of "Silver Spring Independent Restaurants vs. Soulless Corporate Invaders" is in the February issue of the Takoma Voice, and presumably in the Silver Spring Voice as well. (Right now, that link only has January content, though.) I did most of the editing and all of the expanding; my dad says my name was printed as "Andrew Lindemann," which was not an edit I made. As soon as I can find a copy of the February issue and verify this, I will figure out what happened. Nevertheless, it's another publication.

I found a Lyndon LaRouche publication on the Metro on Friday. Its title: "Children of Satan II: The Beast-Men." From reading the table of contents, the Beast-Men in question appear to be Tom DeLay and George Soros. He pre-empted the Simpsons tonight. Can we get some kind of injunction on this cottonhead?

 

Wednesday, 2/4/04: Yeah, I Got Beef

The mountains around Yakima, Washington were bare of vegetation, but their bleak surfaces still concealed a mystery, a mystery that had occupied all our waking hours for the last month and had caused a national crisis for the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. Somehow, somewhere, a prion was living up there — a malformed protein that was sneaking into the brains of local cows and causing them to develop a fatal brain-wasting disease known as bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or BSE. The locals called it "mad cow" and shuddered when they spoke its name out loud. They told tales of Holsteins going about their milk-producing business for 30 months or more, then suddenly getting a feral glint in their eye and swinging their bovine bulk around wildly, trying to destroy whatever they could, before their brains rotted from the inside out.

The prion meant business. It wouldn't stop unless we stopped it. That's why we were here.

Trained epidemiologists led the search party, brandishing shoulder-mounted rockets, flamethrowers, and sprayguns filled with powerful disinfectants in case the portable enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay kits we had brought along revealed that BSE-causing prions might be present. We didn't have time to send samples off to the National Veterinary Services Laboratory in Ames, Iowa for final immunohistochemical testing. If it might be there, we had to eradicate it.

As the writer, I was given a pad, a pen, a map, a canteen, and a whupping stick. The whupping stick had belonged to the lead epidemiologist a number of years ago before her weaponry had been upgraded. Still, she said, "this thing has a kind of magic in it sometimes. If it sees something it needs to kill, it'll let you know. Just watch what's around you and listen to the stick."

Right now, all I could hear was the tread of my feet on the rocky ground, the gentle slosh of water in the canteen (some of my colleagues had already traded in the water for bourbon, in case it came down to a fight and we needed to sterilize wounds), the scratch of my pen as I recorded our route as quickly as I could for future reference, and the muffled curses of the epidemiological search party ahead of me. We weren't having much luck. The prion was microscopic and a devious little bastard. It had hitched a ride from Alberta to Canada to cause this ruckus, and while we hadn't been able to find it since the first cow went mad, we knew it was lying in wait for its next victim. We also knew that if it got to any of us, it would change tactics and give us variant Creutzfelt-Jakob disease. And if you get vCJD, you don't get over it. You get dead.

As the moon rose over the mountains, the epis up front were discussing regrouping at the base and sending out another search party to the south. Suddenly I felt as if I had been struck by lightning. My vision, which had been adjusting to the moonlight, cleared instantly and darted to a crevasse about fifty yards distant. There was enough cover between me and the crevasse to go in for a closer look. I ran to a nearby boulder and sat to catch my breath.

"Andrew!" the epi who had given me the whupping stick whispered. In the quiet, her whisper carried easily to me. "What are you doing?"

I looked at her and pointed at the stick, then at the crevasse. She nodded, unlocked the safety on her flamethrower, and took up a position to provide cover. A few hand gestures later, the rest of the epis were arrayed around the crevasse, while I had scrambled up to a small bush a few feet from what the whupping stick seemed to think was the prion's hideout.

After taking a deep breath and trying not to think of how much I valued my cerebral cortex, I sprang out from the cover of the bush and leapt at the crevasse. There I saw the sick deformed mass of amino acids, twisted up and around and back on itself in ways coded in the DNA of neither man nor beast, looking at the lead epi wielding the flamethrower ten yards away. It never saw me draw back the whupping stick, but it turned in time to see it bearing down on its disgusting assembly. There was a flash of white light, and a crack like the skies themselves had split, and then nothing: a small black spot on the rock, a wisp of smoke drifting into the night sky, and my heart pounding like it was trying to escape my ribcage.

"Did you get it?" one of the epis said, while another dropped his phosphorous grenade and scooped up the earth in sterile vials.

"You don't have to send those to NVSL," said the lead epi, who had stood up and was staring in wonder. "BSE just got its ass eradicated."

Okay, that's not how it happened, but I am home, because we did such a terrific job that there were no more successes available for me to report. I have a file full of observations about the task force and Yakima, and after a few additions and edits so that it doesn't get me fired I'm going to post it.

 

 

All this tasty writing ©2002-11 by Andrew Lindemann Malone. All rights reserved.