Friday, January 26, 2007


It's taken a long time, but I'm finally going camping a deux.    It's odd that for an activity that in principle is so important to me, I've never taken a girlfriend camping, but I guess the timing or urge has never worked out.   I'm oddly not all amped up about getting cuddly, or about seeing the particular forest, or having Coleman-stove pancakes and Nutella; in fact I'm pretty stressed out about the whole affair.

Initially the plan was to do solo camping this weekend.   I'd take off work early Friday, car-camp Friday and Saturday nights and get a long hike in on Saturday.   Yes, it's cold, but relatively clear.   I've wanted to lose my solo-camping virginity for some time now, and it seemed like a great idea, as I've hit a confluence of gear-ness where I have everything I need.    But oddly the subject of camping came up separately with the new(ish) girlfriend, and she seemed pretty psyched to get a little trip in.   My immediate doubts as to whether she could handle a really cold night out when she gets cold in my to-me-toasty apartment were immediately squelched, and I don't doubt her.    But she's not an experienced camper and I've basically been given carte blanche to get things organized. 

So, obviously, I'm stressed about minutiae.  What we're eating, what the fire situation is, what the disaster-preparedness situation is.   It's new to me.   My camping experience is twofold: with my parents, who are ubercompetent, or with buddies who are far more expert than I.     I guess the point is that I associate camping with backpacking or drinking, and I'm a little lost when neither intense physical exertion nor irresponsible inebriation (or both) is going to be the point.   Note the common thread of the pushing of personal limits.   Camping solo, the screwups are mine to deal with, but now, if the camp stove breaks, we're both screwed, and I don't dig on that.   So I'm hammering on details to make sure everything goes smoothly, because there are expectations.    And bears.   And rednecks.

Anyway, I'll try to post and let everyone know if drunk Maryland hunters kill me or I freeze to death.

Sunday, January 21, 2007


I'll have to figure out how to live with the fact that I can't include label information for Blogger Beta when I do post-by-email. Hopefully it won't mean that you RSS feedreaders will see duplicate posts days after the fact when I decide to add labels. I like the idea of labels.

Of course, I could just suck it up and not do post-by-email, but then I'd have to sign out of my non-anonymous Blogger/Google account and sign into this one, and, urrg. No comment yet on the fact that I have to enter Gmail's rich-text version to add basic html like italics and links to my posts.

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas

It snowed today, while I assembled IKEA furniture and watched playoff football.   Some of you may recall that I made two ill-advised bets in Vegas after Christmas with funds garnered from a double whammy of getting the victory and the over in the Holiday Bowl.    The first-- NYG to win the Super Bowl at 40-1-- was laughable; they faded away miserably in the wild-card game.   The second was one I seriously intended to win: NE at 6-1.  And right now I think I've got that locked up.   Peyton's got too much baggage to win this one, and I'll give you two great quotes to help us laugh at him:

We're talking about our idiot kicker who got liquored up and ran his mouth off.

I'm trying to be a good teammate here. Let's just say we had some problems with protection.

Of course, as I type this, it's now a one-possession game and Peyton's driving.   I'm calling it now: he runs for President within twenty years.

So this post isn't about Peyton.   I want every post to have a purpose, even if it's grousing about the people in my building who annoy me or carrying on about some date.   But that's for another time.   We have a film review today at Katzenklavier,  from a live viewing referred to in an earlier post.

I  chose a terrible venue to see Children of Men.    The Dupont Loews is a little art-house with what seem like twelve-foot-high screens and theaters that feel like screening rooms.   It's basically a first-run version of the Academy, which some of you may know.   The advantage of the Academy was that it was poorly attended, and you could find yourself alone in the theater, except for the mice, and as long as they're not too active it's a great way to spend an evening out solo or dated.  

Oh hell, they've tied it.   I'm such a jinxer. 

I sat up front and was privy to the annoying conversations of Dupont couples and groups, mostly drunk and younger than me; I was honestly surprised at how well-attended it was, considering the schtick of the film: both serious and genre.    Yikes.    I won't spoil anything not already in the previews, which is a blessing and a curse.    The setup: 2027 or thereabouts, and people stopped having babies 18 years ago.   The world is in flames and this blessed isle, this white rose, this fried gobbet of fish, this England is the last bastion of civilization.   Except even they've tended toward martial law as everyone else in the world tries to emigrate there all while everyone becomes understandably crushingly depressed.

Clive Owen plays this guy, who's a run-of-the-mill bureaucrat, long grown out of his youthful activism.    He's brought out of what basically is him running the clock out on life by his old flame, Julianne Moore, who he hasn't seen in twenty years and is running a revolutionary organization.   She convinces him to use his influence to get traveling papers for someone, and the movie takes off from there.   This someone is a macguffin-- a pregnant woman, the first in almost twenty years, and the film follows Owens' journey to get her to some offshore research installation.  

Tom Brady steps up.     This is gonna be a good one.     There's a challenge on this TD, though.

The feel of the movie was remarkably similar to 28 Days Later but is helped by a much stronger sense of characterization and, let's face it, not being about zombies.    It was a little tough for me to accept Owen as a good guy after having seen Closer (in the theaters, twice) wherein he plays perhaps the least broken member of a colossally broken foursome (Julia Roberts, Natalie Portman, Jude Law).     I wish I had read my dad's copy of Herbert's The White Plague when I was younger; I seem to remember it had a very similar plotline.    Maybe I'll order it from Amazon tonight.  

There are so many nice touches that mark great worldbuilding in a film like this: little scenes or characters that build a sense that there's real subcreation going on and the storytellers have put a lot of thought into everything.   I'm talking about Julianne Moore's character, Michael Caine's hinted-at past, Owen's brother/friend who collects art rescued from the torched cities of Europe, the subtle hints that it's the near, not far future, and the constant attention to detail in every scene, even when attention to detail means making everything as dirty as possible.   I particularly liked the understated religious symbolism throughout-- the baby born to save the world arriving in "such mean estate", and Clive Owen taking a bullet in the side as part of saving the life of mother and child...maybe I've taken one too many English classes, but as a result some of the scenes that could have been treacly and eyerolling were quite moving.

Indy's making another move.   Damn.

The refugee camps that feature very obvious Abu Ghraib references rang a bit of a wrong note to me; I don't like being preached at, and it could have been handled with more delicacy.     But that's a quibble. If you're at all into well-done sf, you should see this, and even if you think sf is all about Ren Faires and doors irising into crappy libertarian commentary, you should still see it: it's great filmmaking, too. 

It's stopped snowing.   Not soon enough: the commute in the morning will still be insane.   I'd better go stock up on bread, milk, and toilet paper...if there's any to be found.   It was two whole inches of powder, after all.

And now another Holy Roller to tie it up! Somebody wake me up.   

Tuesday, January 16, 2007


Hey, it's my first book-related post. 

A couple years ago (okay, four) I picked up Waging Modern War by the-word-made-flesh Wesley Clark, partially out of military history interest, and partly out of some sort of personal library affirmative action for non-fiction, which I typically ignore.   It seemed like it would be a good read, being a story of the Kosovo campaign (which he was SACEUR for) and the lessons drawn about modern warfare, and how they'd be applied to the War on Terror that the US found itself involved in at the time of the book's publication (2002).   A choice quote:

The range and intensity of the challenges we face is increasing.   They defy easy solutions or simple responses.  The fight against Al Qaeda is not finished.  Long-standing quarrels in the Middle East are boiling, amidst the continuing efforts by several states to acquire more potent weapons of mass destruction.  There are even longer-term problems associated with political and economic development if we are so [sic] survive and prosper in a global community.  In developing the right strategy to meet these challenges, we would be well-advised to digest the experience of the 1990s and the lessons of the Kosovo campaign.

I can't read this book.   It'll be too painful.   It's hopelessly irrelevant now-- not only did the War on Terror take a path that Clark at least isn't going to admit to knowing about in this book, it makes us look so bad. Who knew that the problem wouldn't be ignoring the lessons of Kosovo, but ignoring the lessons of goddamned Vietnam?  

I'll soldier on a little way, mostly to get his perspective on the Big Dog, and hell, to read Clark talking about himself (I have a sizable man-crush on him, as I do on any Rhodes Scholar who gets wounded in Vietnam, teaches at West Point, goes to the Army War College, then commands a battalion, brigade, then division before really getting started) although when I read things like this I just want to cry:

Why did this new style of warfare emerge, this aversion to casualties, the reluctance to put ground troops into the fight, the reliance on airpower, the continued tension over unintended civilian casualties, and the frictions and constant scrutiny by the press? 

I don't know, Wes.   But it didn't stay around for long. 

Monday, January 15, 2007

Me and every other blog

A disturbing Modern Love in this weekend's Times.    I read it and felt sorry for everyone concerned.   But the story's a little more complicated, and a lot less rosy for the man involved than Cross' portrayal.   A post at Daily Kos is spittle-flecked but makes the obvious point that the facts of the case are different than Cross describes.     Amusingly, Camille Paglia also weighed in, in her typical soft-and-fluffy fashion.   One suspects she was looking to rant, and didn't do much digging.

I have an instant dislike for this Cross person, but something rings true in her writing, that obviously doesn't resonate with the Kos poster-- the personality of the boy when she was with him.   

My useless intuition in this case is that this guy was wrecked with remorse for what happened, and then completely confused at how to deal with women afterwards, and he ran into absolutely the worst possible next relationship (not to be construed as apologetics for a convicted sex offender). But my intuition told me the Dukies were guilty, guilty, guilty, and it looks like I was pretty off the mark there, although the moms interviewed on 60 Minutes last night left me feeling ill.

Nothing is creepier than Cross' final line: "I wish he had found me first."

Sunday, January 14, 2007


This post was written in Dupont Circle, while I waited for a few minutes before going to see Children of Men.    DC is unseasonably warm today, and what really bugs me is that it's humid.   How a city can be sixty pleasaant degrees and I'm breaking a sweat walking a leisurely twenty minutes downhill is just beyond me.    It's possible I'm just hella out of shape, but I walk everywhere in this damn town and while I won't be playing any contact sports or running a marathon anytime soon, I'm hardly pathetic.   So yeah, humidity BOO.  

The football games were adequate today.   I wasn't hung over, but the fancy Lebanese restaurant food left me feeling unnaturally delicate.   I had a shit-ton of hummus and the lamb osso bucco, so I probably only have myself to blame for my soda-water and bits-of-lettuce football-watching diet.    Maybe some coffee an' a doughnut, too, but that was before I really felt the full onslaught of last night's culinary extravaganza.    I'm a little sad about the Chargers losing because I have two close friends who live and die by the Bolt being Back (or not) and they'll be bitchy for a while about this.    

I have no NFL loyalty of my own and merely imprint onto my nearest friend like a gridiron duckling.    This means that my hierarchy of fan-hood goes something like this: the Chargers and NY football G are tops, followed by vague support of the other three NFC East teams, with some love for the Packers and Bears thrown in there, as I have Midwestern roots.    I also liked the Patriots for a while but I've largely been cured of that, with the exception of this playoff season, when I have $50 on them at 6-1 to win the Super Bowl.   Fight on, Mr. Brady.  

As much as I've been dating lately, I haven't forgotten the pleasure of going to the movies by myself, which, speaking of, it's time to do.  

Mental note: I'm alone now, but don't ever sit with a date on the benches surrounding Dupont circle.   The area's lousy with mice and I've seen three scurry across the benches adjacent to me in the last ten minutes.   This hot DC date tip is one in a series; next, what to do when you find out your date is a Republican staffer!

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Delicate times

It's not altogether appropriate that I start the real posts on this blog with pre-date ramblings.   I'm supposed to lead with a clever book review, or a tale of personal woe and redemption, or something funny having to do with my work.    But no.   By puttering around on the internet before a hot date I  consign this blog to the confessional.    At least I can be pompous and call it a roman a clef, although I'm probably misusing that.

It should be obvious, by the way, that this blog is anonymous.   If you know me don't be a jackass.

Several weeks ago, before Christmas actually, I spotted a pretty girl on Nerve.   I paid to send her the usual brief e-mail, the usual basic hi with a touch of wit, the specifics of which I don't remember.    The online dating scene is weird, not in the least because of the gender dynamics, which are positively Victorian.    I've totally bought into it; I don't expect girls to respond to winks, and I don't sweat it if they don't respond to e-mail, ever.    On the depressing side I appear to have no respect at all for the girls who contact me, which means I've totally bought into the system.    But they're few and far between.    

I'm holding some kind of perverse pride in that of the four girls I mentally placed as being the highest on the cute+interesting+sane scale, I've had dates with two.    I feel like a bit of a catch, these days.    

A second date with one of them is coming up in a few hours.   She declared after a fun couple of drinks at the place downtown that she'd like to see me again, and further declared that it would be at one of DC's posher establishments.   I of course reacted poorly to this, as I react similarly poorly to the whole East Coast urban-achiever vibe of men always paying.    Being a bright girl, she sensed something was up and coolly informed me that it's DC's Restaurant Week, where posh eateries offer a $30.07 prix fixe.    It's a total scam at the midrange eateries, but if you're going somewhere where the entrees are usually in the $30-$50 range it's awesome.   Correspondingly it's the Wheel of Pain itself to get reservations at a decent hour.  

We waited until yesterday to deal with this, so we're eating at 10:30; drinks in Georgetown beforehand.    Outfit: khakis, black semi-hip dress shirt, grey sport coat.     I'll admit up front that each of those three items are the only ones of their class that I own (although I do own several blue and white dress shirts.)    My stated promise of preppifying myself after moving East hasn't yet materialized.     My shoes are decent although scuffed.   Hopefully she won't notice.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Another test

Maybe now italics will work? or maybe a link? Posting by e-mail is fun.

Hello, world

Hello, world