Note From Jon


Monday, July 23, 2007

Professional Scavenger Hunters

In our Scavenger Hunting debut, Team Om dominated the annual West Potomac Rugby Scavenger Hunt Fundraiser. Thanks to careful planning and reading the rules we finished with 123 points (to 2nd place's 81.5 points). Our softball inspired team consisted of myself Jenn, Joel and Mary's dog Reagan.
Our strategy was to read the questions carefully and come up with our route for the day and then have as much fun as possible along the way. The two key points we settled on were that we all needed to be in every picture to double the point value and that we had to make our way to the embassies (the loophole of the hunt appeared to be Ben awarding a point for each embassy!), and I'd say that strategy paid off. Although a good number of our points came from the embassies (and I have 37 more shots just like the one of us in from of the Chilean embassy!) we only spent about a half hour up there so we definitely didn't sacrifice the fun of the full scavenger hunt experience to win. We also couldn't have pulled it off without our official mascot Reagan (a natural redhead) who kept us relaxed and quite approachable by everyone we had to interact with (including a woman who filmed us for the Travel Channel as we scavenged around Eastern Market - she was drawn to us by Reagan and not the three of us making mooing noises as we put some folk-art hermaphrodite cows in compromising positions to check off the photo requirement which was listed as... "With Cow Sex"). Shown are some photos of us "Petting a Pug", "In a Convertible" (a Jennifer in a Convertible.. sofa), "In a Fountain", "Playing Chess in Dupont Circle", "A Bowling Pin (3 points for holding it)", "Wearing a police hat", "With a person on the street named after their home state", and of course "1 point each embassy" (there's Luxembourg, Turkey, Togo, and Sudan in a single shot!). For our efforts (and $20 each donation) we were rewarded with $100 (which turned out to be $80 when I actually counted it later - I swear!). And of course I took the opportunity to jokingly declare myself a professional scavenger hunter on the Travel Channel! We'll be back next year to defend our title... but for now, I'd better focus on getting some sleep before flying to Africa in the morning. Next post to come from Senegal Insh'allah...

On The Fringe

It turns out I planned my trip to Africa one week too early because I leave before the Fringe festival and Tour de France finish. In fact in less than twelve hours I will be on a plane bound for Senegal (well it will be bound for Atlanta, but after a layover I will be bound for Dakar). So unfortunately I won't get to devote as much time to my thoughts on the 2nd Capital Fringe Festival as I'd like.

Overall the shows I saw (and it was a limited selection) fell into the middle range compared to last years shows (upper middle actually), with no play quite as impressive as Bartleby (though Trixie Tickles was awfully close) but nothing nearly as bad (alright, as unenjoyable for me personally) as The Play About the Hurricane.

Here's what I saw in roughly the order I appreciated them:
- Cautionary Tales For Adults and the Many Adventures of Trixie Tickles put on by Bouncing Ball Theatrical Productions (7/22 9:30pm at Source Theatre). From a pure enjoyment standpoint this did actually top Bartleby (although I appreciated some of the ensemble and staging elements of Bartleby more). I particularly loved the second play with Trixie Tickles (Casie Platt) who Darren and I now both have a little crush on (along with her mom - Alessandra Migliaccio). Highlights included the creative use of the red rope during Cautionary Tales, especially as the entrails of the lion eating Tammy, mother of twins Timmy and Tommy. The opening song of Trixie Tickles was amazing, as was the song Trixie's mom sings to her about not pooing with lines such as "You lose a little part of you, when you poo" and "Everyone who's ever died is watching you, when you poo". Added bonus for sitting in the same front row as Regie Cabico, who is one of the poets on HBO Def Poetry Jam and who's poem "You Bring out the Writer in Me" was on my cell phone (but for some reason it wasn't playing or I might have really creeped him out by walking over and showing him his video on my phone!).

-Abstract Nude by Gwydion Suilebhan (7/20 5pm at Source Theatre). This was a last minute decision when I saw a post writeup from last year's fringe that the staged reading of this show was "The find of the Festival". It was well worth the early trip up to U St. and I was amazed to find the show nearly packed for a 5pm performance. The show was great and was Darren's favorite since he felt it was more challenging to pull off well than Trixie Tickles. Everything worked well for me except for the very end where it felt a little overly theatrical to have each character come forward with their monologue, the final monologue was especially jarring since it seemed out of character for the son. However the point of the final monologue - that the painting which was causing so much trouble for everyone didn't mean anything to any of them was a good one - although it would have been nice, as Darren pointed out, if somehow the audience could have come to that realization on their own.

- Breadhouse presented by Journeymen Theatre (7/20 8pm at Ebeneezer's Coffee House). First off, it was great to discover Ebeneezer's Coffee House tucked next to Union Station. We had high hopes for this show after Journeymen set the bat last year with Bartleby (did I mention I liked Bartleby :-p). Unfortunately the material just didn't have the same potential. This show seemed to me to be an example of excellent execution of a below average piece. The script didn't have particularly standout dialouge and the plotline was about as straightforward and uninspiring as I remember. Thankfully the actors really squeezed just about every last laugh out of the show and as negative as the review may sound so far, it was a lot of fun to watch. My favorite part was when the "director" of the play within a play gives the horrible "actors" masks to wear and they are suddenly transformed into brilliant performers. Loved Teresa attacking Chad with her lighter. And, of course, the witch trying to blow out the fire in the oven that she was just pushed into was classic.

- Kuon Kukki: The Legend of Hamachi and Unagi presented by The Informall Theatre Company (7/20 10:00pm Wooly Mammoth Mainstage). Despite having the most potential to pull a "Hurricane" on us, Kuon Kukki wound up having plenty to appreciate. Overall I think if the show were cut from 1:15 to 45 minutes and the acting tightened up a bit, it could really shine. In particular I would edit down the Bush/Cheney scenes (and not because of any political issues I have with it, as would be obvious if you know me) because they seemed to drag quite a bit. Highlights for me were the scene changes done in traditional Japanese style with deliberate rhythmic steps (or quite humorous shuffling). And the scene which I appreciated most of the entire festival was the Dragon Kufuku, with it's ensemble movement, eating of the Samauri, and then shitting the Samauri right on through. Good Times!

- Nutshell presented by DC Dollies & The Rocket Bitch Revue (7/21 9:00pm Woolly Mammoth Mainstage). I had some problems with this show... but there were some great lines and moments and although the play as a whole didn't work for me I was glad I went (especially when I found Mimsi had auditioned for it). My issues: I couldn't find the benefit (or even the connection) of all of the Hamlet lines. Things like the male "spam" beating up the female "spam", and the death of the expedition leader felt the most "Hurricane"-like of anything we saw this year. The show was too funny to be a drama, but too serious at parts to let you fully enjoy the comedy. It was too absurd to be a normal play, but also too normal to really be the kind of experimental theatre that I appreciate. All that aside, here were some of the lines/ideas that I did like: The elephants referring to Peanuts as "Golden Infinity Nuts", Eliot getting trunk slapped for joking that Asian elephants are better at math, "Privacy is something Americans want for themselves... but not for others", "Preventative Tuskectomies" (although here is where the drama/comedy line blurred to the point where I didn't know if this was a joke or a legitimate proposal! - research required), references to the Woolly Mammoth play about "the dysfunctional family" which fails to narrow anything down, the director coming up with the whole "Hamlet is dyslexic" thing and ostrich tipping, the hyenas as the office cleaning crew, and Mundy Spears portrayal of the Tall White Bird.

Well, I hate having to wait until next year for another Fringe festival but at least if the attendance and overall quality of the shows I was at is any indication Fringe should definitely be back and stronger than ever in year three...

Saturday, July 14, 2007


Water ruled the Fourth of July week with trips to a lake, river, ocean, and even the bay all within 7 days.

We kicked off the week with a trip to Darren's parents' house on the Lake of the Woods. Things didn't go quite according to plan as I spent most of the day programming Mr. Biggs' remote as his birthday present (from Darren mind you...). I missed the winery festivities but finished with plenty of time to enjoy the lake (well except for being featured on the next Fox special "When Alexandras Attack") and take the ubiquitous Pontoon boat tour of the lake. We capped the evening with some bacon wrapped shrimp which Mary brought.

As usual I spent the Fourth tubing down the Shenandoah River. This is probably the 5th year in a row I've done this but this was by far the largest group I've taken. Somehow we managed to get 23 people on (and off) the river, got everyone fed lunch, and the only casualty was a pair of ABs sunglasses (sorry AB, I'm usually pretty good at rescuing sunglasses from the bottom of rivers as April and Mary can attest). The water level was about normal this year and we did the three mile section from marker 16 to 19 with Shenandoah River Outfitters. It's all flat except for Compton Rapids right about mile 17.5. As documented by AB, we managed to get all the coolers safely through Comptons and pulled up on the right beach just below the rapids (which is the wrong side since it's private land as opposed to the park land on the left bank - but we only got shot at a couple times so it all worked out). This spot was perfect for lunch (except for some bugs) and was much easier than eating on the river with a group this large. There is also a path from here back up to the top of the rapids for anyone who wants another go. We did the 10:30 trip again this year which meant we met at my house at 7:30, actually got on the road by 8:00 and arrived at 10:00 giving us time to park, sign in, organize
coolers and make the 10:30 trip (well except for George who arrvied at 10:30 and still made the 10:30 trip - nice timing George!). We were on the river much longer than I remembered (from 11 to 4 - albeit with a half hour lunch stop) and got back to D.C. about 6:30. We made reservations for the first time this year because our group was so large and we knew of another group of 40 who had discovered our secret tradition and were coming on the noon trip. The evening ended with what might become a future Fourth tradition of riding bikes down to Iwo Jima to see the fireworks with a stop by Carvel on the way home - but somehow next year we have to find a better way to leave than trying to ride through the mass of people leaving (it was about 15 minutes of trying to ride at the exact pace that the crowd was walking - any slower you fall over, any faster you run over someone (which was tempting) and occasionally darting through an opening between people). While no one seems to be impressed, I will document that while Dharma, Eric, Darren and I biked down, Jan Louis, Hilary, and George hitched a ride separately with Mary down to Iwo Jima. With thousands of people mulling around we didn't have any expectations of meeting back up with the lame car riders, not only did we find them, but of every blanket spot in the entire area, we picked one that happened to be right next to them without seeing them there. Surely someone will be impressed by this improbable occurence!
Playmate shot for Tigerbeat -- Different from pissing IN the river? -- Cutest Siblings?


Saturday Jeffrey organized a day trip t
o Chincoteague Island. It turns out Chincoteaugue is a bit farther than Assateague and we spent four hours in the car... each way. Thankfully we had a FUN! carpool and the ride turned out to be just as enjoyable as the beach (which is a good thing since the drive was longer than the time at the beach). Still I wouldn't hesitate to do a day trip again if you've got a fun carfull (Eddie Murphy's Delirious, and Journey sing-a-longs help too). Probably the most important thing to know about making a day trip to Chincoteague is that you need to leave D.C. early. Not because of Bay Bridge traffic but because of Chincoteague parking. We left D.C. at 8 and arrived at noon and about three cars behind us they started instituting a one car out- one car in policy due to parking which caused a frustrated line of cars. Four hours to go to the beach is one thing, four hours to drive and sit in a car line for another hour only 5 minutes from the destination is another. Jan Louis and I had strapped our bikes to the back of Sally (his car) and we took an hour and a half journey around the island (about 10 miles with plenty of stops to see ponies, herons and the Chincoteague lighthouse - remember to bring cash, it costs $4 to climb the lighthouse. We did a loop from the beach up to the black duck trail which cuts across to the wilderness loop, around the loop and back by the lighthouse before coming back down along the road towards the beach, around the Woodlawn trail to see some wild (summer sausage eating) ponies, and finally back to the beach). The afternoon was spent bodysurfing in the ocean (as illustrated by Mary's photos) before we headed back around 6pm. Dinner was probably 30 minutes from Chincoteague at a place called (I believe) "The Upper Deck" which had remarkably fresh Ahi Tuna (which they overcooked despite me pleading for them to barely sear it - the fact that it tasted good even overcooked gave me an idea of how fresh it really was) and probably the best cornbread I've had in my entire life (grits were mixed inside the bread).

We're coming more often

Technically I never got in the water (or even walked on the beach), but Sunday I went to our beachhouse on the Chesapeake Bay. While I didn't get any pictures I did learn a valuable plumbing lesson that I need to remember (really you can stop reading now unless you care about plumbing). When you buy a new tub faucet set it comes with a whole new piping assembly so unless you a) are replacing the same brand faucet (and they haven't changed their standard) or b) plan to have full 360 access to cut out/unsolder the old assembly and install and solder the new one, you'd better plan on repairing the old faucet set. That of course isn't easy either since if your faucet set isn't a name brand or is more than say 7 years old (ours was both) then Lowe's or Home Depot probably won't carry it and you'll have to go to a plumbing supply house (which is of course closed on the weekends). Anyway simply replacing the O-rings on the existing valve stems "appears" to have fixed the immediate problem of water leaking from the spigot which should allow us to have the new well put in.

P.S. Blogger sucks, it took me 3 hours to post this, mainly because their interface for manipulating photos is pathetic and well yeah I write too much (I have to drag each and every photo down the entire entry a couple lines at a time because photos aren't 1) inserted in place and 2) dragging the photo outside of the small, unresizable text window, doesn't scroll it. And of course once I post this in a minute none of the photos will be where they are in this preview. Bad blogger. Bad.).