Sandy

I’ve got food.

I’ve got water, and beer.

I cleared out my closet so I can use it as an emergency shelter.

I’m ready for Sandy.  I wish work would have announced a closure earlier, but, I can’t get everything I want.

Metro recently announced that it is completely closing tomorrow.  No bus service.  No rail service.

I was surprised when several people on my Twitter feed expressed disappointment that the Metro closure would basically keep them at home.

Erm – isn’t that the point of the shutdowns of schools, and offices? So that people aren’t injured trying to get to or from those places? So that emergency responders aren’t injured trying to help those people?

Do everyone a favor: stay indoors tomorrow. Weather the storm safely. For one thing, if I were an employer, I’d rather my employees be injured trying to get to work than gallivanting around thinking Monday’s an extension of the weekend.

 

Tagg Romney’s “I wanna deck Obama” comment: not a big deal

Mitt Romney’s son Tagg was overheard saying he wanted to punch President Obama after Obama repeatedly called his father out on his lies.

While this is apparently causing a bit of a firestorm, I don’t see the big deal in it.  Here’s why:

1.) People can’t help how they feel.  And frankly, it’s wrong to tell people how they should  feel.  What people can help is how they react to how they feel.  Tagg’s reaction to his feelings was not to engage in violence.  This is a good thing.

2.) While I do feel that what Romney’s campaign has done has been to misrepresent and lie about President Obama’s record, I also know that if someone were to call one of my loved ones a “liar”, I’d want to punch them too.  I can only hope I have Tagg’s self control (or, alternatively, that the people I’d want to punch don’t have Secret Service protection).

For the record, I’m an Obama supporter & donor.

 

 

Argo (2012)

After work today, I jumped the bus and raced up to Cleveland Park to catch Argo at my favorite DC movie theater: the Uptown.  Even movies I only casually want to see, like, say, State of Play, earn my hard earned greenbacks if they’re at Uptown.

It’s the late 1970s.  The Iranian Revolution.  The U.S. embassy is stormed and most of the staff taken hostage.  Six staffers escape to the Canadian ambassador’s residence, but the Iranian government is closing in.  Tony Mendez is an expert at getting people out of rough countries and comes up with a scheme to get these six out: he’ll come up with covers identifying the six as members of a movie production crew and they’ll head out the front door (aka the airport).

In building their cover story, Mendez recruits some Hollywood helpers to actually begin production of a real “fake” movie: Argo, which is described by the characters as a Star Wars rip-off.

Ben Affleck stars – and directs! – as Tony Mendez.  Supporting roles are played by Kyle Chandler, Bryan Cranston, Alan Arkin, John Goodman, Tate Donovan, Rory Cochrane and others.

The film was extremely enjoyable.  I didn’t do a lot of research into the actual events (I know there were some irritation that the Canadians – who were, let’s face it, big time heroes here – got short shrift in the original ending) but I knew that all seven (the six escapees & Mendez) escaped from Iran.  It’s the mark of a good – nay, great – film that the suspense was maintained right through the climax.

The beginning of the film quickly details the history of Iran: how, after hundreds of years of monarchical rule a leader was democratically elected, nationalized Western oil interests, and was deposed in a coup supported by the U.S. three years later.  Several decades later, during the revolution, it’s when the U.S. takes in their puppet leader that the population reacts with outrage.  The film is not sympathetic to Iranian radicals, but it also makes the point that the U.S. is not an innocent.  I’m sure this will rub some people the wrong way.

Stylistically, Argo feels like a cross between a camp sci-fi film and a spy movie.  This is, to be clear, not a sci-fi movie, by any standards, but since Mendez needs as strong a cover story as possible, quite a bit of the early production is shown.  Adrienne Barbeau has a great cameo as a “Space Witch.”

Additionally, two sequences towards the end of the film will make any sci-fi geek’s heart aflutter – first, an impassioned plea in (mostly) subtitled Farsi where the story of Star Wars (not literally, but that’s how I took it) — an oppressed people standing up to an evil empire (the deposed Shah) crosses the cultural divide.  The camera shots during the final text, of Mendez’s son’s sci-fi toys: Star Wars figures, a Spock doll, brought me back to my childhood.

Man, I miss my Star Wars action figures.  Boom!  Zap!

 

 

Bicyclists, Pedestrians, and Crosswalks

I like this weather.  I rarely sleep as well as when the temperatures are in the 30s, 40s, and 50s, and my windows are wide open, and I’m under my comforter and a couple of my grandmother’s afghans.

I’ve been walking to and from work as much as possible. It’s not bad, about two miles, downhill in the morning, uphill in the evening. My usual route takes me south on Connecticut through the intersection with Florida. This is probably the scariest intersection I pass through on my walk, and I’m sure it’s only a matter of time until I see someone hit here.

The other morning I was waiting for the walk signal. I got a bit of a later start than usual so there was a small crowd. A few people hurried across the intersection and were, in my opinion, lucky not to have been run over by a car. When we got the walk light, the woman next to me, took off jogging. I kept a fast pace. She was about ten feet of me when a bicyclist came careening into the intersection. From his turn, it looked like he’d been coming down Connecticut, but it was also pretty clear that he made a remarkably bad decision in not, y’know, yielding the crosswalk to the pedestrians, who had the right of way.

This cyclist — white bike, khakis, blue shirt, white or grey helmet — came remarkably close to striking the jogger.  She jumped back.  I would guess they were less than a foot from a collision.

When I got to work, I spoke to a friend about cyclists running into pedestrians, and she pointed out that as bad as a collision would be for a pedestrian, it would be far worse for the bicyclist, who would suffer the initial impact, would then impact on the ground, and might then have their own bike impact on top of them. Which also makes the recklessness displayed by some DC cyclists completely incomprehensible to me.

Fair note: I’m terrified to bike in this city. And I do see a lot of cyclists who are careful and cautious. But I also see a bunch who don’t seem to give a damn about anyone other than themselves (and these are the ones I tend to remember). I remember reading a defense of the “traffic rules don’t apply to me” mentality in Travis Hugh Culley’s The Immortal Class, and it always just stuck me as sort of “I’m on a bike, fuck you.”

Basically: can’t we all just get along?  Walk when you’ve got the light, don’t run red lights, and if you’re on a bike, man (or woman): yeah, you do still have to stop for the light and yield to pedestrians.