#Snobraham2014

Incoming to the DC area tonight is the biggest snowstorm in four years.

I am ever so excited.

Work hasn’t announced a closure yet. Well, officially. The big boss ordered pizza for lunch for everyone in our division (200+ people) and closed the office at 4 so we could all get home safely.

I’ve got toilet paper. I’ve got bread and milk. Bet your ass I’ve got beer.

With Presidents Day on Monday, this could be the start of a five day weekend.

I love snow.

The Monuments Men (2014)

I was going to lead this post off with the Churchill quote, about how he’s asked how can money be spent on the arts during a war, and Churchill replied, “What then are we fighting for?” Too bad, it’s a made-up quote. Oh, the internet.

I went up this afternoon to see The Monuments Men at The Uptown. What isn’t to like, right? Based on the non-fiction book by Robert Edsel about a team of art specialists put together to recover what the Nazis had looted and stolen from across Europe, co-written, directed, and starring George Clooney, with a supporting cast including Matt Damon, John Goodman, Cate Blanchett, Bill Murray (!!!), Jean Dujardin (the guy from the silent film The Artist, also starring Goodman), and Hugh Bonneville (from Downton Abbey, as a washed up drunk offered a chance at redemption).

It isn’t that the movie is bad. It isn’t even that the movie isn’t good. It’s that the movie doesn’t feel cohesive – story? We can work something together! And I don’t know how I can make this claim as I haven’t read the book, but it feels like if I had read the book, I would understand better how what amounts to an hour and a half of almost seemingly unlinked vignettes link together. Call me silly, but I think I should be able to watch a movie without having to reference a book to try to puzzle my way through the plot – there’s a whole bit about Matt Damon being smuggled into France with the French resistance to get him into Paris ahead of the Allies, but when he arrives in Paris, he’s in full uniform, sort of implying the Allies are there too — did the American troops just arrive earlier than expected? Was Damon delayed? It wasn’t clear to me.

I think, when people are making films of non-fiction books, there’s a tug of war between scripting a good movie, and scripting a historically accurate movie. Monuments Men makes the case that if you’re interested in being historically accurate (and I can’t say – haven’t read the book), just make a damn documentary.

I didn’t feel like I’d wasted going to see the film. At the same time, I would have been happy waiting until it was out on DVD or streaming on Netflix.


And ironically, as the movie was about art, can we talk about the missing artwork at The Uptown?

The Uptown, built in 1936, is a historic movie theater in Washington, DC, located in Cleveland Park (near the Zoo). Cleveland Park, waaaay back in the day, was where the hoighty-toighty of the District would take their summers to escape the city heat. The theater is a single screen with a large balcony, owned and operated by AMC. After my own heart is this little fact: the Uptown was one of only 36 theaters in the U.S. to screen Star Wars on opening day in 1977 (it would, of course, go wider).

The first movie I saw at The Uptown was Dances With Wolves, and this had to be 1989 or 1990. Went with my folks. I remember being bored to tears by the movie; I was like twelve, okay? I found an appreciation for it in later years. The second movie I saw here was Contact, with a couple of friends. And then I moved to DC many years later, and live only a short walk away. I can’t even count the films I’ve seen here in the last five and a half years: The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises; Harry Potter 6 and 7 and 7 part 2; Oblivion; Argo; State of Play; Star Trek Into Darkness; Hunger Games; Skyfall and Quantum of Solace; American Hustle; Red Tails; more that I’m sure I’ve forgotten.

It used to be that the upper level of the theater, behind the balcony, there were large posters of classic films. I mean, classic if you grew up in the 80s and 90s: Back to the Future, Cape Fear (which I’ve never actually seen), City Slickers. And when I say oversize, I mean larger than your regular 27×40 movie posters.

Well, sadly, they’re gone. I noticed for the first time that they were gone when I went to see American Hustle on Christmas Eve. There was repair work done to the theater (notably to a bannister that looked like it had been ripped off the wall and was sort of gently placed back in the wall), and maybe a fresh coat of paint, so I thought perhaps the posters had been taken down temporarily and would be back up at some point.

Well: six weeks later, still no posters. It’s ironic to go to a movie about recovering lost art and realize that the theater you’re seeing it in is suffering from some lost art of its own. Hopefully those posters will find their way back to The Uptown.

Help My Buddy Find His Stolen Bike

Help my buddy Matt locate his beloved, stolen bicycle:

So, it turns out that my bike (which was stolen last September), was fenced, ‘donated’ to a local Arlington bike shop, then sold at an off-site event that said bike shop was hosting at Big Bear Cafe in the city on December 7 2013. If you see it, please let me know.

matt cooley bicycle

This picture was taken by a buddy working for Capital Bikeshare who saw it on the corner of M and New Jersey SW on December 17th 2013. A stolen property report and the serial number of the bike are on file with the Fairfax County Police Department and with MPDC, so if you know who’s riding it around, please let them know they’re riding my baby and I’d really love to get it back! Share, circulate, etc. Thanks everyone!

If you see the bike, or know who “owns it”, you can contact Matt here!

precocious

I was at Target yesterday morning. By this point, I was in the checkout lane. It was 8:20 or so. Early. I’d unloaded my cart: a kitchen cleaner, a bag of cat food, a bunch of Hot Wheels cars for my niece’s Christmas gift, two rolls of wrapping paper under my arm.

A woman with one item asked if she could cut in front of me so she could get to her bus. Sure.

The cashier started ringing me up. A woman came in line behind me and unloaded some Monster School toys. The cashier asked her if her daughter, who was standing next to the customer, was a fan. Another Target employee came over.

“I don’t understand,” the customer and both cashiers said, referencing the popularity of what I assume is a TV show.

“You just don’t get it,” the little girl rolled her eyes.

Really Shaken Up

Thursday night was the holiday party. This is my second holiday season at work, but the first holiday party I could attend – I was at a funeral during last year’s. I was one of the first in, I was one of the last out. Traffic in Foggy Bottom, courtesy of a bomb threat at the Swedish Embassy (in Georgetown), was a slog fest. Got on a bus with a couple of coworkers. Got home eventually.

Today was a relaxed day. Many were already starting their holiday vacations, not to return until the new year. Many spent the day de-cluttering file cabinets and cleaning desks. I stared at spreadsheets and databases and wondered why the time moved so slowly.

A good friend of mine was back in town from San Francisco, where she moved earlier in the fall. Happy Hour at 5, and I ducked out 4:30, walking to 20th & M to catch the number 37 bus.

An ambulance, a firetruck, and police cars were on the street, lights flashing. 20th Street was reduced to one lane northbound. I crossed to the north side of M Street. There was a red scooter. Broken glass. A sock. I crossed 20th.

A former coworker of mine was at the bus stop. We worked together at Border’s. We sometimes see each other on the L-route buses.

“I saw what happened,” she told me. “The woman on the scooter was clipped by that car.” She pointed. “The car was turning right from the wrong lane, she was on the inside lane. He didn’t hit her that hard, just tapped her, but she went down and skidded across the road. I called 9-1-1. Helped lift the scooter off her. Her leg is all fucked up, her arm is broken, her shoulder is dislocated.”

She pointed at a guy standing on the road, the driver. “He handled it right. He stopped. I’m really shaken up.”

The 37 still wasn’t coming. A dude in a suit started cursing.

“I don’t understand why that ambulance isn’t moving. She’s been in there for ten minutes. I think they should take her to the hospital.”

A guy got out of the back of the ambulance. He was smiling. “Maybe they gave her pain-killers?”

An older fellow with a big shaggy gray beard observed, “That’s a good sign.” The D6 pulled up and almost pulled away. He jumped off the bench and started screaming at the driver.

“He is so drunk.”

The police stopped traffic so the ambulance could back up and drive away on M Street. The police waited as a tow truck worked to load the scooter.

There was still no bus.