Thursday, December 01, 2005

WOODLEY PARK: Singing Escalators

THIS SIGN HAS BEEN AMUSING ME as of late. If you can't read the text it says:
Please be aware that although you may hear a "singing" noise from this escalator, while it may be annoying, it is safe. The "singing" noise is common on long escalator units.
As a resident of Woodley Park, I have gotten to know the little quirks of our neighborhood escalator, one of the longest on the continent. (The escalators at the Wheaton station on the Red Line are the longest in North America) They do make some noise from time to time, but nothing that would jump out at me as "singing."

Now if you go to the Tenleytown-AU station on the Red Line, you will think you're listening to a New Age recording of whales under the sea. That to me sounds more like singing. Though the whales sound like they may be in the process of being harpooned by Captain Ahab. In reality, it's just moving pieces of metal making the machinery operate properly.

If only WMATA could join forces with the National Zoo to replicate Butterstick's juvenile barking in the Woodley Park escalator bank, to prepare zoo visitors for their panda visitation ...

In related news, WMATA informs us that the much-loved, much-feared Woodley Park-Zoo/Adams Morgan station elevator to Woodley Road will be undergoing reconstruction. For those who live on or north of Woodley Road, we will be denied our sometimes-quick shortcut to the surface. Hopefully, the display inside the elevator car will be fixed. Whether you're going to the surface or the station, you're always going to Level "K" ...

ARCHITECTURE: 2005 Gingerbread White House Violating Centuries of Pythagorean Tradition

SCANDAL AT THE WHITE HOUSE! For this year's White House gingerbread house, seen here in this White House photo, take a close look at the North Portico. (Or take a look at page A22 of The New York Times' national edition for a better view.) Its pediment is the shape of an equilateral triangle. Architectural purists well know that what we see is the incorrect shape and it is well evident that the person in charge of crafting this year's proportionally warped gingerbread house, whether it was executive chef Christeta Comerford or first twin Jenna Bush, should go back to their high school geometry of Western Civilization class.

When James Hoban designed the executive mansion more than two centuries ago, he was inspired by classical geometry. And most Greek and Roman pediments are governed by the so-called Golden Section, that divine proportion or golden ratio that we see best in the Parthenon in Athens and reproduced in countless buildings for centuries and centuries. But not here in this gingerbread house.

Pythagoras believed that reality is controlled by a numerical reality, "except that numbers were not units as we define them today, but were expressions of ratios," according to Wikipedia. The White House apparently doesn't believe in Pythagoras' wisdom, or else we would be seeing a much different gingerbread house. The office of the first lady has three more Christmas seasons to create a more realistic gingerbread White House.

"Golden Ratio" [Wikipedia]

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

PM LINKS: Odds 'N' Ends

1.) I'M NOT SURE WHY, but I've always been a sucker for down-the-staircase photos, as seen above. Nice work, DCJohn.

>> "Staircase" [Prod and Ponder]

2.) WOW, WHO KNEW WORDS AND PHRASES CAN CATER TO AN ELITE AUDIENCE? Via Curbed, Gawker and others, a certain real estate advertisement in the back of The New York Times Magazine for One Carnagie Hill in Manhattan is getting quite a bit of attention. And Copyranter reads between the lines.

>> "CLEARLY defining your target audience" [Copyranter]
>> "How Do You Get to Carnegie Hill? Practice, Practice, Practice (Being an Asshole)" [Curbed]
>> "An Upper East Side Life, the Flip Side" [Gawker]

3.) I DON'T WATCH "LOST." Or much television for that matter. Strike me down, I'm prepared to face my fate. Fortunately, if I were to try to jump into the must-watch ABC series, all I need to do is read this:

From Papermag:
OK, they're trapped on an island. Big deal. Why do I care?

Because this island is crazy! First of all there may or may not be a monster on it. Secondly, we just found out that the island is a science experiment gone wrong. ... Finally, there is a group of "others" on the island that have kidnapped survivors of the crash and killed other island-dwellers. They are scary and some don't wear shoes.
This is why I don't like to fly. I may have to deal with living on an island with scary people, some who don't have proper footware ...

>> "Lost for the Lost" [Papermag via Daily Refill via Information Leafblower]

4.) YOU MAY REMEMBER that before Thanksgiving, I mentioned that the play of one of my old high school classmates, Noah Haidle, got a tepid review on the cover of The New York Times' Arts section. Well the New Yorker has given "Mr. Marmalade" a much better review.

>> "Bleak House" [New Yorker]

FOOD: Rachael Ray's $40 D.C. Day

I'M NOT SURE WHAT COMMANDED ME to watch the Food Network last night. But at 10 p.m., I watched as food personality Rachael Ray traveled through Washington, D.C., eating on just $40 a day on her show aptly titled "$40 a Day." It was truly mind blowing.

She traveled all over town, meeting new friends on Potomac River tour boats, in Dupont Circle and at Adams Morgan's Madam's Organ who pointed her in the right direction to the best and cheapest food in town. Let me summarize Rachael's extensive culinary tour ...

1.) Her concierge at the Sofitel told her that she needed to check out that cool hip neighborhood Dupont Circle I've heard so much about. And then she came across Teasim and had a chai tea and a ginger scone. Breakfast. Done. And of course, everything was fantastic ... and cheap.

After walking around in the circle itself, random pedestrians told her she needed to go over to Georgetown for lunch to that vaunted and classic neighborhood institution Clyde's ... which now has an empire of locations in the District and in suburban Maryland and Virginia. For $10.50, she got grilled sirloin steak with summer vegetable ragout and steak fries. Rachael was ever so excited about going to a real power lunch spot (all the way in Zone 2). She was visibly giddy when she saw men in suits and ties eating their power lunch. She commented after the meal that she wouldn't "veto" Clyde's by any means because the place is "bipartisan" plain and simple. And since Clyde's is in a "student neighborhood," it's always gentle on the wallet. Lunch. Done.

3.) After going on a Potomac River cruise, a local friend she made while on the trip suggested that for dinner, she go to Jaleo. But Rachael was concerned about cost. After calling ahead, Rachael found out that Jaleo offers a culinary concept from Spain called "tapas." Sounds exotic, eh? Especially in Penn Quarter, "which means New Arts District," Rachael informs viewers. And at Jaleo, you can get plates of tapas for $5 or less. Cheap, exotic, and with Flamenco dancers, you can't go wrong. Rachael watched Chef Rodolfo make calamares a la Romana with aioli. Then she also dined on an endive salad with oranges, almonds and goat cheese. Dinner. Done. (I know that when I'm lonely, tapas for one in a lively Penn Quarter restaurant always cheers me up.)

4.) Now I thought that for dessert, Rachael would head over to Love Cafe for a Warren Brown cupcake. But my assumption that there would be cross-Food Network personality pollination was wrong. Instead Rachael headed up to Adams Morgan, that multi-ethnic neighborhood with so many bars and restaurants. At "the club," which turned out to be Madam's Organ, Rachael heard that she really needed to head down to 15th Street NW to the Hotel Washington and have dessert on the Sky Terrace. Rachael was running low on cash, but fortunately, the good folks at the Hotel Washington decided to make a banana flambe for one. Perfect. Cheap dessert, flaming bananas and prime views of the Washington Monument in view of the camera. Rachael said that if she were a local, she would never get tired of the view. She was inspired by our city and our food.

Please note that Rachael was not observed drinking anything, except the chai tea at Teaism. Maybe I'll try to reproduce Rachael's culinary budget feat someday ... but only if it is on a Sunday when Clyde's does half-price wine.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

MEDIA: Eye Level and Post Mashup

IT SEEMS THAT GOING AWAY FOR THANKSGIVING can cause problems keeping up in the blog world. So with that, I'd like to point you to two new media developments that 1.) have been reported elsewhere or 2.) were buried in my inbox. (Thanks DCist for the former, Kriston Capps for the latter.)

1.) The Washington Post Co., always very much forward-looking in the online media world, (Disclosure: I am an employee of The Washington Post Co.), has recently launched Post Remix, its official "mashup center." To those who don't know what a mashup is, the Post describes it as a place that spotlights "projects that independent Web developers have made with Post content." For instance, take a look at this News Cloud using Post content. Or Ted Gilchrist's Botcast Network, which will process Post article feeds through text-to-speech software so you can listen to Post articles instead of reading content.

I'm excited to see what the Adrian Holovaty, an "editorial innovator" for the Post digs up for Remix. When DCist learned of Post Remix, it "feared this would be one of those desperate, cringe-inducing attempts at modernity, akin to your mother casually saying "bling bling.'" Rest assured, Mr. Holovaty is very much keyed into editorial innovations. After all, he did pioneer Google mapping technologies for among other cool projects.

2.) Then Grammar.police's Kriston Capps makes his Smithsonian blogging debut at Eye Level, the blog for the Smithsonian American Art Museum.
Over the long term, Eye Level will look at both art and museums, offering the kind of close examination that new media affords, in part simply to find out how new media can enhance the museum's role.
Kudos to Kriston and the Smithsonian.

ON THE ROAD: Odds 'N' Ends

GREETINGS EVERYONE. I am back in the nation's capital safe and sound, after a record-shattering 10-hour road trip from Michigan to the District. I have a lot of stuff to catch up with, so this will be brief.

- MY PERSONAL COMPUTER is having issues and refuses to cooperate with me, so my posting frequency may decrease as I figure out what my course of action is.

In the meantime, I have some photos from Yesterdog posted on Flickr.

- NOW THAT IT IS THE HOLIDAY SEASON, I must wonder after coming across numerous all-Christmas-music, all-the-time radio stations, what happens to those stations in the off season? Do easy listening stations with names like "The River" just switch over, or are those Christmas frequencies just dormant for the rest of the year?

- DRIVING UP 24TH STREET near Connecticut Avenue last night, I noticed that one of WMATA's problematic Orion II buses for the No. 98/Adams Morgan-U Street Link was broken. This came just a few hours after passing through suburban Cleveland on the Ohio Turnpike where on private property adjacent to the highway's right-of-way there was a stripped down Orion II bus for sale. The squeaky Orion II bus' days must be numbered.

- SO WHAT DO YOU LISTEN TO when you are driving with a sometimes particular octogenarian? Well my great aunt appreciated me digging out the soundtracks from "L.A. Confidential" and "Swingers." If you ever find yourself in the same situation, consider those options. If you have access to a DVD player for your car, "A Philadelphia Story" would make for a good movie too.

Monday, November 28, 2005

ON THE ROAD: Heading Back to D.C.

EAST GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- Good morning. It's rather ugly out here in western Michigan with low clouds and rain ... A perfect way to start off an 11+ hour road trip back to the East Coast. This weekend's wedding in Milwaukee was a good time, with yours truly serving as a groomsman. I even had the pleasure of dancing briefly with, among others, the wife of one of the brains behind the DeLorean of "Back to the Future" fame. (Not the wife of the late John Z. DeLorean, but the wife of his one-time chief engineer.) Fun times for all involved.

And congrats to Nick and Kate. Come up to Washington whenever you get a chance.

I made my way back to Michigan from Milwaukee yesterday via a traffic jam on the Edens Expressway, a brief stop in Streeterville and some deep dish at Giordanos. (My apologizes to rj3 of Thrown for a Loop ... since he lives in Streeterville ... and Catherine of Unrequited Narcissim for not being able to spend more time in Chicago to say hello. The stop in Chicago was not planned and my mom had some lamb korma waiting for me on the other side of Lake Michigan. But perhaps you weren't even around anyway. I'll try to make it to Chicago this winter sometime.)