31 August 2007

Movie Review: Chicken Little

I went into Chicken Little with low expectations. After all, 1) it was a free movie thanks to a free preview weekend of a variety of STARZ channels on my Dish satellite, 2) it was a Disney animated movie that looked to be aimed at kids, and 3) it was a retelling of a not very exciting fairy tale. I thought, we can always turn the channel if it sucks. In fact, I think I said those very words.

Imagine my surprise when I saw a movie that was incredibly clever, including all sorts of references (from the Spice Girls to Indiana Jones to Barbra Streisand to Gloria Gaynor to AOL, and many more) and entertaining and changed the basic story into a very different one that you'd never find in a fairy tale.

I don't want to give away the story but I definitely recommend this light fare for it's excellent animation, all-star cast with very strong performances from the leads and a small but delightful performance from the late Don Knotts, and many funny gags. It even has character development! Gasp! It certainly can be watched on a number of levels; little kids will love it for different reasons than adults.

I rate it 3 out of 4 jujubees.

30 August 2007

Word of the Day: Interstitial

Somebody used the word "interstitial" in conversation yesterday and I thought "Wow, I gotta find out what that means because it sure sounds cool." So, thanks to Webster's Online...


One entry found for interstitial.

Main Entry: in·ter·sti·tial
Pronunciation: "in-t&r-'sti-sh&l
Function: adjective
1 : relating to or situated in the interstices
2 a : situated within but not restricted to or characteristic of a particular organ or tissue -- used especially of fibrous tissue b : affecting the interstitial tissues of an organ or part
3 : being or relating to a crystalline compound in which usually small atoms or ions of a nonmetal occupy holes between the larger metal atoms or ions in the crystal lattice
- in·ter·sti·tial·ly /-sh&-lE/ adverb"

Clicking on "interstices" gets me "a space that intervenes between things"

How cool is that? So it's all about the connections or lack there of. Huh. Doesn't Dave Matthews have a song about "the space between"? Maybe he just should have used "interstitial" instead.

Wonder if "We found our group's interstitial problems impossible to overcome" is an appropriate usage. Or maybe "The interstitial components of the drumstick make me gag." Or "Your mother is trying to be interstitial with us again." Hm. This is harder than it looks.

The Casual Footwear Trend

What is it with this "casual footwear in the office" trend? I am sick of hearing FLAPFLAPFLAPFLAP as someone in flipflops makes their way down the hall. There's a reason they call them that and it ain't complimentary! In yesterday's conference I noticed several people--men and women-- wearing gardening clogs. You know those big, heavy vented plasticky things that come in a range of strange colors that people wear to pull weeds? When did THIS become acceptable work attire? What's next, paper hospital slippers? Jeezlouise!

29 August 2007

People Die/I Saw KN Today

People die.

Intellectually I know this. Emotionally I don't want to deal with it. But I do. I get angry. If they die suddenly and unexpectedly, like a colleague did this month at age 37, it pisses me off that I had no warning and no opportunity for closure and no explanation of why this person is suddenly gone. If they die slowly, like my boss' father who yesterday began hospice, it pisses me off that he's going to suffer and by extension my boss is going to suffer watching him suffer until he dies. As the minister said in The Big Chill "It makes me angry and I don't know what to do with my anger."

Meanwhile, I am attending a conference today and I saw someone standing with her back to me talking to someone else and I looked at the way she had her feet planted and I thought instantly that's KN. Who is KN? She's someone who used to work at my work site but hasn't been working on-site in years. I had no real connection to KN. She was high up in the hierarchy and me, I'm pretty low down in the hierarchy. We'd been introduced a couple times but I don't think we ever even worked on anything together, just found ourselves in the room at the same time and did the polite thing of introductions. I know very little about KN and don't spend any time thinking of her.

Sure enough, she turned around and it was her.

I say all this because I recognized her from the back by the way she placed her feet, and it wasn't like she was in a tree pose or anything. No one would say "Gee, look how she's standing; isn't that odd." It was just a very minor detail but it was distinguishing. And it occurred to me that if my brain stores how KN stands, such an inconsequential thing and person in my life, then how many millions of little things trigger us about the people we actually love? Is it any wonder that we can't bear the pain of separation?

I've lost a good friend this year and had some sobering news and close calls with other loved ones. I'm angry and I'm sad and it doesn't change anything.

But at least I have a place to express it. Thanks for reading. I promise to talk about something bright and chipper and completely trivial next.

27 August 2007

The Eagles Release Studio Album in October

Not to be outdone by the Backstreet Boys... ;)

LONDON (Reuters) - The Eagles will release "Long Road Out of Eden", their first full studio album for 28 years, in October, Universal Music Group said on Wednesday.

I got the see the Eagles--17th row on the floor-- a few years ago and I gotta say it's one of the best experiences I've ever had in public. They played for hours and the whole audience sang along to 99% of the songs. Freaky! And great fun! They are incredible musicians and even better harmonizers, even after all these years. I got to see them at a benefit so I didn't wind up paying the usual (read "ridiculously high") ticket price and I'm so glad I got tickets. Well worth getting up in the wee hours to stand on line.

Not All Restaurant Week Stories Are Happy Ones

We decided to try another of the restaurants that extended Restaurant Week and we chose Pinzimini in the Westin Arlington Gateway, the area we consider Ballston, for lunch on Saturday. They'd lost our reservation but it didn't matter as the dining room was empty. I have to say, the room was very elegant but that's probably the high point. We ordered off the special Restaurant Week menu but they were out of one of the two appetizers. The waiter came back to the table after we'd ordered to share the news that the tuna wasn't fresh and so hubby would need to go with something else. The something else was the crab soup. When I suggested that perhaps there was another offering since a choice of one wasn't really a choice, the waiter looked at me blankly. Hubby joined me in ordering the crab soup, which was molten and heavy with cream. He got the pizza and I got the pasta. We both got the gelato for dessert. Nothing here was particularly light or flavored in an interesting way. The pizza crust looked under done (sort of a thin gummy consistency) and tasted mostly of sun dried tomatoes and cheese. A few herbs would have been nice. The pasta, again with sun dried tomatoes and cheese plus asparagus, was only slightly more flavorful. Hubby and I both felt ill after this meal--one wonders if the the tuna wasn't the only thing that was going bad in the kitchen--and so I would not recommend this restaurant nor do I think it's worth rating the other features.

This kind of experience, especially coming off such a high like Farrah Olivia, makes me sad. DC is a town you can spend huge amounts of money in for food and when you get really sub-par food it's such a waste.

Important lesson: Just because a restaurant takes part in Restaurant Week doesn't mean it deserves attention.

The Link Between Fat and a Virus

What would it mean to our culture if we thought of fat people as having a virus versus lacking discipline? Juxtapose this snippet with a new study documented in Fitness magazine that says that now women of color are showing just as many body image problems and developing eating disorders at an equal rate to white women. Remember when Anorexia was a rich, white girl's disease? Strange times we live in.

(Excerpt by way of Digg...)

Too fat? Common virus may be to blame: study

CHICAGO (Reuters) - A common virus caused human adult stem cells to turn into fat cells and could explain why some people become obese, U.S. researchers said on Monday.

The research builds on prior studies of adenovirus-36 -- a common cause of respiratory and eye infections -- and it may lead to an obesity vaccine, they said.

"We're not talking about preventing all types of obesity, but if it is caused by this virus in humans, we want a vaccine to prevent this," said Nikhil Dhurandhar, an associate professor at Pennington Biomedical Research Center at Louisiana State University System.

24 August 2007

The Little Plastic Doohickey (Car Window Go Bye-Bye)

I am driving in to work and my rear, passenger-side window drops into the door. Great.

At lunch the mechanic tells me that it's the regulator. They're all made of plastic--the regulators not the mechanic-- and they go very easily. But you can't just order the regulator... you need the whole assembly from the dealer which, on my car, will run me ~$600, and it can't be done before Monday.

Oh joy.

So I picked up the car again so I could get home for the weekend. Not before the mechanic mentioned that the front brakes seemed to be wearing quickly. He says maybe I've got another 3k to go. Grrrr.

I guess I've been lucky in that I've gotten to 100K without replacing a window assembly before. Mother's had two go within weeks of each other and hubby's had one or two go, too.


On the bright side (literally), it's a nice sunny day so I don't have to worry about the rain pouring in as I make my way home.

23 August 2007

Hotel Babylon

I've caught the first three episodes of Hotel Babylon (Wednesday nights on BBC America) and I think I'm hooked. I don't tend to watch dramas but this is amusing enough that I'm making an exception. It's got high production values, a most intriguing cast of characters (the staff of a very upscale London hotel), steamy scenes that will raise an eyebrow or two, and enough plot threads left dangling to keep me coming back in hopes of closure. Oh, but the waiting is delicious, too. ;)

Apparently we're a year behind on this side of the pond. All right by me. I'm glad there's at least one more season beyond the first!

The Backstreet Boys are (Actually) Back

Is your heart throbbing yet?

Yes, the Backstreet Boys, sans Kevin Richardson (second from left in photo), who left the group in 2006, are back and due to release their new album in October.

Boys? I think not. Some of 'em are losing their hair!

Say what you want, they harmonize beeYOOtifully.

It Was Too Good to Last (Ad Skins on YouTube Videos)


YouTube debuts online video advertising strategy

By Michele Gershberg Tue Aug 21, 8:44 PM ET

NEW YORK (Reuters) - YouTube is making its biggest push into video advertising on its Internet site, a key strategy by owner Google Inc to capture an even greater share of Web marketing budgets.

Google has tread cautiously since buying YouTube for $1.65 billion last November, keen to make money off the burgeoning use of Internet video, yet wary of turning off viewers with intrusive advertising.

On Wednesday, YouTube will launch a way to link video clips with advertising it says makes sense contextually, with the aim of spurring viewers to seek more information.

Rather than load a commercial to the start or end of a clip, YouTube will introduce an animated overlay across the bottom of its video player screen.

The overlay appears shortly after the beginning of the clip and invites the viewer to click and watch a commercial or trailer on a new screen that opens within the original viewing box. If the viewer has not clicked on the ad, it will disappear within 10 seconds.

"The philosophy at YouTube is pretty much core to what we at Google do generally, which is that all the ads we serve need to provide value to the end user," Eileen Naughton, Google's director of media platforms, told Reuters.

"Our advertising partners are eager to use YouTube as a branding platform," she said, adding the new InVideo format has signed on 50 advertisers for its launch this week.

In one example presented to reporters, a "how to" clip on evening hairstyles from the Ford modeling agency also offered a glimpse of the movie trailer for the film "Hairspray."

The overlay, or "skin," is a strategy already used by major U.S. television networks to promote movies or upcoming programs. But the limits of traditional broadcasting have not allowed viewers to interact with those ads the way YouTube can.


Media and marketing executives alike have been waiting for Google, the leader in Web search advertising, to make a major move into advertising on YouTube.

With more than 130 million unique monthly visitors, YouTube is competing with Web sites built by the entertainment industry's biggest names and could draw more marketing dollars away from television networks and other channels.

The U.S. market for Web video ads is expected to more than quadruple to $4.3 billion within four years, as users make Web video a regular habit, according to research firm eMarketer.

In YouTube's trials, the format drew more attention than existing Internet banner and display ads, and many more marketers already well-versed in Google's search ad network are expected to come aboard, Naughton said.

The InVideo format will likely be one of several modes of commercial messaging on YouTube.

"In the history of Google, there has never been one 'answer'," she said. "It's not the end-all, but it's a very promising format that we are ready to bring to the market."

The advertising deals are being negotiated by Google's ad sales staff, with the placement of video ads limited to entertainment provided by certain YouTube partners, both professional and amateur directors.

"We're working with select partners ... (including) people who are original content creators who have bubbled up and become popular," said YouTube product manager Shiva Rajaraman. "What we're not doing is throwing this randomly across video on our site."

The company found that 73 percent of Web users who were polled about the advertising said they didn't mind commercial messages as long as the site's entertainment remained free. Some 67 percent said the ads did not interfere with their use of YouTube.

22 August 2007

Don't Know Why There's No Sun Up In The Sky (Linganore)

Amazing what a difference a little rain can provide.

On the plus side, after months of drought we get a few days of rain and the plants and our water budget get a break.

On the negative, we went to the Linganore/Berrywine "Crossing Into Country" Wine Festival over the weekend and the intermittent rain kept 90% of the people away. It's a shame for the hosts that go to so much trouble to get such a lousy return on their investment. This is a great venue for live music (which they had), crafts (yup), and food (that, too) in addition to wine sampling... when it's nice and sunny. We stayed for about an hour but never even put our ground cloth down because the rain kept spitting. We did manage to try all the wines, including the reserves, and it was, well, interesting. They're known in part for non-grape "wines". So if you'd rather have your drink made from Strawberries or Blackberries or such, this is the place for you!

We didn't invest at Linganore (beyond the $10 cover charge and something to eat) but we did invest in a few bottles at Loew Vineyards (check out the surprising "Serendipity") and Elk Run Vineyards (hubby loves their dessert Vin de Jus Glace but we found a few more wines we liked, too.) Both vineyards are in the same neighborhood as Linganore.

Pretty country up in that area of Maryland, even in the rain. Lots of tall trees, cows, geese, egrets, hawks and such.

21 August 2007

Blogging & Privacy

As a relatively inexperienced blogger I struggle with how much to share.

Yes, blogging is all about sharing. At the same time, I don't want stalkers, thankyouverymuch, and I don't want my friends' and family's privacy invaded so I often dither over what to share and how much to share here. I know some people would be delighted to have their name in print or their picture here but then there are others who'd feel very uncomfortable or even angry about it. So, I tend to err on the side of caution.

I know people that plaster pictures of themselves/friends/family and very specific details about their lives (past, present, and planned) on their web-sites and I worry for them. Identity theft is so rampant and when you put information on the web you're inviting access by the world.

I don't have an answer on this. Just a quandary with which I continue to struggle.

20 August 2007

Dean/Life in the Caribbean

Hurricane Dean is plowing through the Caribbean. With each place it goes, I think, what would it be like if I was living there? This is not idyll conjecture as we are seriously thinking about retiring to the Caribbean.

I've never experienced a Category 5, 4 or even 3 hurricane. I doubt I've had a Category 2 to contend with. We've had a few hurricanes here (remember Agnes back in the 70s?) but not so's you'd notice. More like the "Tropical Wave", Chantal, that hit St. Lucia when we were there in 2001. Steady rain but not much else. Not 150 mile per hour winds. Not mudslides and devastating floods. Not in this part of the country.

It begs several questions:
Can we get out of harm's way, say, 25 days of the year in exchange for living in paradise the other 340 days a year?
How far is far enough away?
Can I get to such a level of detachment with my possessions that it wouldn't matter if all my stuff was wiped out (talk about making a Buddhist proud...)?
Can I have enough water and canned foods to survive a while if need be? Generator? Batteries and radio?
Do people really use those new "hurricane proof" awnings? Can we afford it? If we're the only ones in the building with it do we have to worry about the rest of the building collapsing? Do we invite everyone in the building to hunker down behind our awnings?
Do we want to go 17 days without running water, as they did in Cozumel after Wilma?
Can we join/forge community wherever we are such that we are not alone in our efforts? Me thinks, community takes on a whole new meaning in this kind of situation.

On the other hand, I've lived through ice storms and blizzards and wind shears and terrible thunderstorms and heat waves. I've gone days without electricity or running water. It wasn't pleasant but I did it. I have to admit there's a certain pride in surviving hardship and a new appreciation for the elemental things we take for granted (flushing toilets, heat in January, etc.) and the power of nature. And then there are those other 340 days where my view isn't so lovely here as it would be in the Caribbean.

And really, how much stuff do I need? I read in a novel recently "Every thing you have will either be used up, given away or belong to someone else one day." It's true. It's a depressing thought but it's true. So if all we have is each other and the experience of the moment, let's revel in each other and the experience of the moment. Even when the hurricane's a blowin'.

I hope Dean's impact is minimal and that my friends and associates in the Caribbean are safe and sound.

Restaurant Review: Farrah Olivia (Extended Restaurant Week -> Month)

If you missed Restaurant Week like me (I was in New Jersey while it went by), you need not despair. Check the DC Restaurant Week web-site as several of the restaurants have extended by 1 week, 2 weeks or MORE. Some do the whole month of August! So it's worth finding out if that restaurant that sounds so good but looks so pricey is participating.

It is with this in mind that we went to Farrah Olivia located on Franklin Street in Alexandria this Saturday for lunch. They were booked solid for dinner ($30.07 for a three course meal) but we were able to reserve and it was actually quite quiet for lunch ($20.07 for a three course meal).

FO's website says:
An artistic, modern approach to American, French and African cuisine, served in an environment of simplicity, elegance, balance and vitality.

Ambiance: I'd have to agree... pleasantly simple, elegant, balanced and organic. 25/30.

Service: Knowledgeable without being intrusive. Perhaps a little over-eager: the waitress asked if I wanted a second glass of the South African Chenin Blanc with my entree as I was 4/5ths through the first glass. I said yes and it arrived immediately, before I'd finished the glass I had and several minutes before the arrival of my entree. Still a minor point and a problem I prefer to have to the more common issue of not being able to flag down waitstaff at other establishments. 27/30.

Food: Incredible. A range of textures and flavor combinations that transcend the normal experience. The chef, Morou, who is a native of the Ivory Coast, brings exceptional talent and experience from working in famous kitchens such as I Ricchi and Red Sage. And the pastry chef, Leon Baker, is no slouch either. Both create food that is gorgeous to look at and even better on the tongue. Where I still prefer Bebo and Chef Donna's brilliant creations, this was a most impressive and satisfying meal with unexpected spice surprises that really worked and I have to give it 28/30.

Vegetarian: The restaurant has vegetarian choices including a vegetarian tasting menu
that is slightly less expensive than their regular tasting menu. In addition, the waitress assured us the kitchen could work with restricted diets. 18/30.

Cost: Not cheap. This is why we went on Restaurant Week. Still, when I think about how many mediocre meals I've had for the same price or more it makes me fume. This is top quality food, ingredients, presentation and flavor! Worth the extra splurge once in a while (or more if you can afford it.) 22/30.

Bonus: Standards sung by Nat King Cole and Johnny Mathis on the sound system and on-street as well as private parking (with Balducci's, I believe). +5 points.

Overall: 25/30.

17 August 2007

But can you define "the"?? (ATandT Minutes)

I have a rechargeable calling card which is now under the auspices of ATandT. I don't use it often as I have a cell phone and a long-distance deal on my home phone. Once in a while, though, I use the card so I am not running up someone else' bill. Yesterday, my minutes were down to twenty-some and I punched in the option to reload my card with minutes. Except the old spiel was replaced with a new spiel... "ATandT calling minutes are based on a state rate and may reflect a higher charge per minute. To hear the rate, enter the area code you are calling from and press pound." I do, and hear that for this area code three ATandT charge minutes are equal to one minute. What the...!!?? I try my home area code and find that the Maryland area code is a bargain compared to calling from Alexandria where ATandT charges five minutes for one (real) minute. What gets me is that they actually refer to their charge unit as minutes. Huh???? Outrageous.

16 August 2007

Movie Review: Garden State

Recently I saw the movie Garden State on IFC. I've never been a Zach Braff fan based on his long-running stint on Scrubs but I have to say I was impressed here.

Braff wrote, directed and starred in this slowly unfolding story of a quietly troubled young man who returns home for his mother's funeral after being estranged from his family for a decade. This is a film that lingers long after you see it. The characters are quirky and the underlying themes intriguing. Natalie Portman as the compulsively lying but very endearing Sam does a particularly good job.

is running it again tonight. Catch it.

Rating: 4 of 4 Jujubees.

14 August 2007

David Sedaris

Okay, so we didn't spend $53 a pop before Ticketmaster fees to see Kathy Griffin. I guess I shoulda seen her when she was only an F-lister and I could afford her. But we DID get tickets (for somewhat less) to see David Sedaris who is every bit as funny as Kathy Griffin, in a very different way. So that's WAY cool!

5 Things I'm Grateful For

I hear more and more on the importance of gratitude and dwelling on the things that make you happy and how doing this can indeed make you happier and healthier, not to mention making you more pleasant to be around.

Lately, I haven't been doing this. I find myself worried about a variety of issues looming large and generating a lot of venom. Doesn't help. Intellectually, I know this.

So it's time to invite the energy I want by showing my appreciation for all that I have--and I do have so much.

In that spirit I present a quick list of five things I'm grateful for:

1. Firefox (gee I hope the IE police don't hear me)
2. Gooseberries
3. Candlelight dinners with hubby
4. Family
5. A good laugh via a friend

Thank you, Universe!

Mini Movie Review: Bridge to Terabithia

In a word: Don't.

This is a Dickensian little tale that only resembles in the remotest of ways the promise of the fantastic advertised in the trailer. Save your money and your time. See something else. About the best I can say for this is that the two child leads, Josh Hutcherson and AnnaSophia Robb, act without the usual Sarah Bernhardt delivery that kids so often bring to roles.

Rating: No Jujubees.

13 August 2007

Swiffer Blame

Have you seen the Swiffer ads? There's a whole series that has a housewife insulting/belittling/demeaning some cleaning device that is apparently inferior to the new Swiffer device.

I HATE these ads.

Having been on both sides of that conversation--being told in as insulting a manner as possible that I wasn't performing satisfactorily and being the one to tell someone else in as insulting a manner as possible that they weren't performing satisfactorily--I know that no one should ever speak like this to anyone or anything. And every time one of these ads comes on I am reminded of the shame that I have felt and the shame that I have induced when a simple "this really isn't working out" probably would have done the trick. Shaming is one of those manipulative strategies we could probably live quite well, or better, even, without.

I do wonder who this kind of ad appeals to? Cringing certainly doesn't want to make me want to buy a product.

09 August 2007

Yay! I Can Compose!

For over a week I've been trying to use Blogger to post to this blog as I have done many times in the past. Suddenly Blogger was no longer compatible with IE. Not in a big, dramatic obvious way... in a "we'll let you do some things but not the really important things" way. It would allow me into Html mode but not into standard Compose mode. This doesn't create a problem for some but my Html isn't even as good as my German, which is very weak indeed.

I went in search of help. What I found is that there is no one to contact directly at Blogger. You can look at Known Problems and see if one of them is yours and if there's a fix. You can post (haha! ironic, no?) to the Help Group and hope someone notices and responds. I found that my problem was far from a personal problem in the Help Group. One kind soul recommended trying access through Firefox. And here I am. Composing. Giddy with ability again.

It's nice to have an outlet for the little inanities that seem to get blocked up inside me when I can't blog. After a mere year, I grow to miss it when I'm away. Go figure. I guess we all like the sound of our own voice. Except on a tape recording, of course. :)


03 August 2007

We are experiencing technical difficulties

Blogger is having technical difficulties. Makes it very hard to post. Dang it.

D List? I Think Not

What kind of "D Lister" promptly sells out the Kennedy Center and then adds a second show at DAR Constitution Hall and charges $53 a ticket no matter what seat you have in the house? Yikes! And that's not even including the Ticketmaster litany of charges. D Lister? I think not.

02 August 2007

What Basis Celebrity/"I like turtles!"

For the 'I Like Turtles' Boy, 17 Seconds Of Fame
By David Segal Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, July 30, 2007; Page C01

There was a time, not long ago, when a 10-year-old boy could head to a neighborhood fair, get his face painted like a Halloween zombie and blurt out something utterly inane to a local TV news correspondent and nobody would ever think about it again. Oh, there'd be an audience that night, much of which would chuckle and think "Whaaaaa?" But that would be the end of it.

The moment would not endure as a video snippet, posted on Web sites and viewed more than 500,000 times, nor would it inspire T-shirts, or parodies or remixes or mash-ups. It would not lead a company in, say, England to track down the lad and offer him -- or rather, his parents -- cash to turn his baffling three-word apercu into a cellphone ring tone. He would not hear from the Jimmy Kimmel show. A handful of strangers would not call hoping to send him pets.

But thanks to the Internet, Jonathon Ware is a 10-year-old living in the golden age of inanity, when the most random of utterances is celebrated and memorialized. And so anyone can savor Ware's rendezvous with YouTube destiny, a 17-second masterpiece of comic triviality that has turned him into that most peculiar of media creatures: the viral-video celebrity.

Let's take it from the top. It's May 31. Ware and his sisters are visiting the Rose Festival in Portland, Ore. Jonathon has just left a face-paint booth, where he has emerged looking like Bart Simpson remade as a flesh-eater from "Dawn of the Dead." A KGW correspondent is on hand for one of those "Look what's happening downtown!" stories that are a staple of local news. She stops Jonathon and asks him to stand still for a quick, live interview.

When the camera cuts to the kid he is staring blankly at the lens, delivering what one online commentator described as "a 1,000-yard stare," which itself is kind of hysterical because, you know, he's got his zombie on.

"Back here live at the Waterfront Village with my friend the zombie, Jonathon," says correspondent Nancy Francis. "You're looking good, Jonathon. Jonathon just got an awesome face paint job. What do you think?"
Jonathon does not need to mull this one for long. Jonathon turns to the reporter and says, in a voice that is both flat and emphatic:
"I like turtles."

And that's it. Well, that's not entirely it. Francis appears momentarily stunned. "All right!" she says. "You're great . . . zombie," she says, her grammar briefly unglued, patting Jonathon on the back as she stands up. After a quarter-second of blankness, during which she seems to be thinking, "What did he just say?" she gamely returns to her on-air persona. "Good times here at the Waterfront Village, open for the next eleven days . . ."

Fade to black.

The first thing that should be said about this video is that it separates dabblers in the inane from serious connoisseurs. There are people who will watch and decide, "This isn't even a little amusing," and those who will weep with laughter on the first, second, third and 20th viewings. There are, apparently, plenty of the latter. Soon after the clip aired, someone posted it online, and "Turtle Boy" quickly assumed his place in the pantheon of unwitting digital heroes, alongside Dude Who Juggles to the Beatles, next to Boom Goes the Dynamite Guy, and most recently, Vapid Anchor Babe Interviewing Holly Hunter. Unlike these people, though, Jonathon wasn't demonstrating a talent (or a lack of talent), nor had he sought out his moment of fame (or infamy). He was just a youngster colliding with a desperate reporter.

Which makes the fallout from his appearance seem like the purest possible form of inanity -- meaninglessness squared. One fan spliced Jonathon into the guest spot of a recent and hostile interview conducted by Bill O'Reilly on "The O'Reilly Factor." (An increasingly irate O'Reilly appears to grill Jonathon about Iran and he bats away each question with "I like turtles.") Someone else did a Turtle Boy version of "The Shining," wherein the word "SELTRUT" is painted on a door, instead of "REDRUM." This list could go on and on.

Within a few weeks, the fuss was loud enough for KGW to return to the air with the clip, this time pleading with Turtle Boy, or his friends or family, to get in touch with the station. The Wares missed that broadcast, but a friend of Jonathon's sister caught it and sent a message via MySpace.

"She basically wrote to say, 'Do you know your brother is famous on the Internet?' " recalls Kim Ware, who is 16. "We were stunned."

The Wares called the station, which dispatched a reporter the next day. In the meantime, a ring-tone seller in the United Kingdom got in touch, as did Jimmy Kimmel's people, as did a nature show doing a segment about turtles. Someone started selling "I like turtles" T-shirts with Jonathon's face on them. Jonathon doesn't have an agent yet, but his parents are thinking about it.

"It sort of caught us by surprise," says Tina Ware. "Every day when I come home, there's a message from someone else on our answering machine. I just heard from a radio station in Grand Rapids."

Then she summoned Jonathon to the phone. At first, it sounded like he wasn't interested in conversing. It turned out that he was pretty busy.

"I'm scooping my dog's poop," he said.

Ah ha. He then explained that he'd been caught off guard by the reporter's question that day at the fair, and since he'd just seen an exhibit at the fair about turtles, the critters were on his mind. The notoriety has been fun, he went on, especially getting recognized, which happens a lot, considering that he was wearing face paint during that interview. A bunch of kids he didn't know surrounded him during a trip to the mall over the weekend.

"They were like, 'I like turtles, too!' "

Jonathon sounds game for whatever comes next, but he does have a goal: He wants to be on "Ellen." He's a huge fan of "Ellen."

"I just e-mailed her," he said. "She's rad. She's cool."

So, opportunity knocks, Ms. DeGeneres. Invite Jonathon to the show, paint him up as a zombie and give him a three-word script: "I like Ellen."

It'll ruin Oprah's whole day.

01 August 2007

Proof MeetUp

Went to Proof at 775 G Street NW (a block from the Gallery Place metro and right across from the National Gallery) last night for a Virginia Wine Meetup. Nice bunch of people and Proof was also a good experience over all.
First the bad:
The bar is small in footprint making for a very crowded, noisy experience and making it hard to not be in the way of the hurried and harried waitstaff. We were constantly being shepherded this way and that.
Now the good:
Lots of very tasty wines in your choice of 2 oz, 4 oz, and 6 oz servings that range from very reasonably priced to quite pricey. This is a great way to try some new options without the big commitment of a full glass. Most people tried 2 oz versions of a variety of wines but I was so smitten with the Viura I'd tried a sip of that I quickly upgraded (they'll do that, too) from a 2 oz to a 4 oz and followed that up with a 6 oz of same.
Plus the menu looked quite nice. We tried the cheese plate and got a wonderful selection of 3 cheeses (an ash-rind goat, a cow and a sheep's milk) which was served with raisin bread crisps, a fruit chutney and a honey. It was all delicious.
Odd but wonderful coincidence:
This is the second time I've attended a wine meetup with the group and the second time I've been given double the cheese I'd ordered complements of the establishment. Last time was at EatBar, where a mistake was made by someone new in the kitchen. This time, I'd ask for additional toast when the cheese plate arrived so it would be easier to share. The waiter said he'd get it for me. Then 20 minutes later he came back with a whole new cheese plate, apologizing because he'd forgotten about the extra toast. Honestly, so had I, but since he'd gone to so much trouble to get me another cheese plate I didn't want to offend him by refusing it. ;)

DC Restaurant Week, August 6-12!

During Washington, DC Restaurant Week, 170 of Washington, DC’s finest restaurants offer 3-course lunches for $20.07 and 3-course dinners for $30.07. Washington, DC Restaurant Week is a great opportunity to experience Washington, DC’s best restaurants at affordable prices.
Cuisines include Contemporary American, Mexican, French, Mediterranean, Italian, Southern, Seafood, Spanish, California, Pan-Asian and more! Dates: August 6-12, 2007.
A complete list of participants is now posted at opentable.com. Be sure to make your reservation early.
Please note that not all restaurants participating in the DC Restaurant Week, offer the Restaurant Week menu at both meals. When you make your reservation you should confirm with the restaurant that they are participating in Restaurant Week. Washington, DC Restaurant Week is produced biannually by the Washington, DC Convention & Tourism Corporation and the Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington.

So get out there and eat!