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Bloomsweekend

Posted by – April 12, 2015

National Arboretum

I’m doing the smart thing this year and waiting for peak tourism to subside before seeing the cherry blossoms, even if it means missing peak bloom. We did hit the National Arboretum for the first time last week, though. Blooming flowers were scare, though the Korean azaleas were out – and the old sandstone Corinthian columns that used to be part of the U.S. Capitol (until 1958) were impressive.

Other things in my line of sight that didn’t include the Basin cherry blossoms have included the following:

The new Daredevil series on Netflix

Wilson Fisk

This is one of the best casting jobs on a Marvel production yet. And I don’t just say that because people keep messaging me to tell me they think the guy playing Foggy Nelson looks like me. It’s heavy on violence – much heavier that Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. on ABC ever will be, for instance. But it nails the Hell’s Kitchen of the comics. And I wouldn’t be sad to see Vincent D’Onofrio’s Wilson Fisk (show above) become a fixture within the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

The world of Metro

D.C.’s entering a brave new world on Monday with Metro reintroducing automated trains to the Red Line. That news came on the heels of word that plans to only run eight-car trains by 2020 area getting scaled back. Though Metro anticipates 84,000 new daily weekday trips by that year, which means capacity shouldn’t be ignored.

DC Comics closed up shop in NYC

I hope the move to California is good for everyone who followed DC’s offices out of Manhattan. But the city is going to be a different place now. And I echo Marvel’s sentiments.

 

 

Book critic Salman Rushdie

Maybe the best story I read this week was about Salman Rushdie’s three-star review of To Kill a Mockingbird on Goodreads. Hey, at least he’s being honest about how he feels. More online reviews should reflect that level of candor.

Google wants Android Wear to communicate with iPhones

If this Verge report is true, it could be one of the best developments in recent years for mobile and wearable devices. Apple making iTunes available to Windows computers changed the game – even if the software eventually became a bloated jungle (a “toxic hellstew,” even). As was the case for Microsoft and Apple before, Apple letting Google release that app will be good for both companies (and consumers) in the long run. Here’s hoping Apple does the right thing.

Where my head’s at

Posted by – April 4, 2015

I’ve been telling people for a while that there are reasons to be skeptical about D.C.’s new streetcars. But the fact is that the city has already encouraged a huge development rush along H Street, and the fact that the line hasn’t opened yet (and that public officials have implied it might not open at all) does a disservice to the businesses there that have sacrificed street parking and patience while waiting to see a better public transit option in the area.

That’s why Mayor Muriel Bowser’s commitment on Tuesday to not only open the line, but also expand it to Georgetown, should be good for everyone involved – especially given that hundreds of millions of dollars have already been spent to get things up and running.

Here’s some more recommended reading:

Cars as property vs. cars as a service

I know many friends and family members who would turn red in the face if you told them that they couldn’t repair and replace parts on their own cars. With computers becoming more and more infused with how cars function, there’s an important legal battleground being set up to determine who gets to do what with automobiles. Here’s a quick briefer on the crucial place where copyright and cars intersect, in case you want to catch up.

The art of He-Man

It’s pretty much impossible to overemphasize how great of a decision Dark Horse Comics made in picking Tim and Steve Seeley to do the writing duties on the new art of He-Man book that’s coming out this month. I’m really looking forward to seeing that.

April Fools’ Day

I actually really loathe April Fools’ Day. But the dev team at Streetwise pulled off a respectably executed gag on Wednesday by getting Clippy to show up in our CMS. I stand impressed.

 

As if I needed one more reason to loathe April Fools’ Day with every fiber of my being, WordPress

A photo posted by brianwarmoth (@brianwarmoth) on

 

Chess for peace

The leader of the World Chess Federation thinks he can get North Korea and South Korea to participate in youth chess matches against one another. It’s certainly no crazier than Dennis Rodman’s basketball diplomacy dreams, but I suppose that if anyone can pull it off, it’s Kirsan Ilyumzhinov.

Crowler canning at the DC Brau brewery

Posted by – March 7, 2015

I read about these new cans a few days ago. We went out to the DC Brau operation in the eastern part of the District today and picked up a couple of them.

Meet the Crowler. Part can. Part growler.

A video posted by brianwarmoth (@brianwarmoth) on

From the work desk

Posted by – March 1, 2015

D.C. has some tough issues on its plate right now. Here are few that I looked at over the last week:

From the work desk

Posted by – February 21, 2015

Dupont Circle
In between snow doses from the sky this week, I learned during some national research that the Santa Barbara-Santa Maria metro area is sometimes referred to as the Santa Maria-Santa Barbara metro area. For the record, I’m not a fan.

Also, here’s a rundown of some D.C.-related things I covered:

January Love List

Posted by – January 10, 2015

Seems like I’ve been bouncing around nonstop since the holidays began, but here’s what’s been in my recreational diet of late.

FILM

Inherent Vice

Inherent Vice (2014) – All due respect to Paul Thomas Anderson, but I went into this one a little skeptical about how well Thomas Pynchon’s Inherent Vice was going to translate to film – and it did feel condensed. That said, the tightly crafted shots and character performances from Joaquin Phoenix, Josh Brolin and a handful of others kept the frenetic plot-twisting from the book alive and meaningful.

The larger plot is a massive, rickety construction for presenting everything that’s worth watching here. But that was kind of already the case in the novel. The leaps of logic and motivation just aren’t super-sensible, and that’s partially due to the detective noir genre that Pynchon used for the story, as well as compression of the longer story that leaves out conversations and beats from the original work.

What works the best is the perpetual vinegar-and-oil-splashing of contrasting and conflicting elements that keep the story alive. It’s a roller coaster and a poem about what makes America tick, and it’s funny while being tragic and gorgeous while being vulgar. Go see it for yourself.

BOOKS

Alias Omnibus

Alias Omnibus Marvel’s Max titles may be among my favorites that they’ve put out in the last couple of decades, but I somehow never got into Alias when it was originally in print. Then, by the time the omnibus collection got popular, I was late to the game again, and it was already going for way beyond my budget on eBay.

This is the kind of book that celebrates what Brian Michael Bendis writes best. It’s detective fiction. It’s crime fiction. And it’s stacked with little quips about Marvel history.

Superhero Afterlife

The Superhero Afterlife A. David Lewis generously offered me a look at this one ahead of its release in November. It’s a critical look at the different ways that the afterlife gets depicted in superhero comics. Notably, he gets into really interesting territory here, picking apart what death means in serialized fiction and what resurrections and multiple planes of existence mean to notions of self—particularly through models of understanding that will make sense to Derrida readers. And that definitely worked for me.

It’s an exploration worth reading for Thor lovers, Greek myth lovers and comics folk in general. (Also, there’s a great little Fantastic Four/Wizard Magazine-related flashback that I’m glad he reminded me about. Thanks, A.D.)

George Washington

Washington: A Life I’m knee-deep in this one right now. Maybe it was visiting Washington’s Mount Vernon estate last year. Living in D.C. was probably also a motivating factor. But Ron Chernow’s biography has a been a really enlightening read so far. I’m amazed about how many holes there are to fill in from Washington’s early life—but I probably shouldn’t be, given how long ago we’re talking about. It’s a solid, even-handed look at his rise to power, strengths and weaknesses.

Talking DC transportation issues on FOX 5

Posted by – January 4, 2015

If you blinked, you might have missed my two appearances last week on FOX 5 WTTG to discuss transportation issues in in Washington, D.C. It was a real pleasure to sit down with Steve Chenevey and Allison Seymour to talk about getting around on New Year’s Eve and the current state of D.C.’s streetcar project on H Street.

Here’s the clip with that first interview.

DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

October Love List

Posted by – October 11, 2014

Amid travels over the past month, here’s what’s been rolling by in front of my face.

BOOKS

Digital Death

Digital Death A. David Lewis, one of the co-editors on this collection of essays, was kind enough to let me read through an advance copy a few weeks ago – and it really is an excellent piece of work. Its essays’ authors address a strong series of questions about how concepts of death have been altered by technology. These issues include how we memorialize loved ones, how we speak about death and how concepts within our daily lives and writing (especially online) may be evolving.

With Apple entering the smartwatch market soon and wearable tech pushing the Quantified Self movement into bigger, more mainstream places, a lot of what gets discussed in Digital Death challenges the reader to confront some ideas that are worth exploring. For instance, when you look back at the now Internet-famous story about a son racing his deceased father’s ghost in an Xbox game they used to enjoy playing, there’s a seed of something potentially a lot bigger going on. One of the essays in this book deals with where our data from social networks and other places goes when we die – and who should have the right to use it or own it when we do pass on.

The idea that we could soon be in a place technologically where people could preserve more complex digital ghosts of their loved ones and interact with them introduces all kinds of concerns and dilemmas. I mean, if a company like Google or Facebook has the data to render such a ghost, should it have to get legal permissions to do so? What does it do to the mourning process if such ghosts become crutches for bereaved people who don’t want to let go? (And who’s to say there’s any moral imperative or requirement that they should have to let go?)

Anyway, this is a great book, and I highly recommend checking it out.

Nixon and Mao

Nixon and Mao: The Week That Changed the World – This 2007 book by Margaret MacMillan was my companion for down time during the Iceland trip. I’m a sucker for Richard Nixon history – particularly when it involves vignettes like MacMillan dishes out. One of my favorites comes early on regarding an exchange between Nixon and Ford about Henry Kissinger:

“Henry is a genius,” Nixon told Gerald Ford as he was preparing to hand over the presidency, “but you don’t have to accept everything he recommends. He can be invaluable, and he’ll be very loyal but you can’t let him have a totally free hand.” He advised Ford to keep Kissinger on as his secretary of state but hoped, he told an aide, that the new president would be tough enough. “Ford has just got to realize that there are times when Henry has to be kicked in the nuts.”

Those moments of Nixonian candor alone are worth the price of admission for this book, but it’s also a trove of research and historical explanations that illuminate the world stage today – both with its explanation of Russo-Chinese relations and the culmination of events, factors and people that made Nixon’s trip to China possible.

TV

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. I’m two episodes deep into the second season and can’t get enough of this one. Parts of the first season dragged a bit, but I’m constantly impressed with how many story elements the show can keep spinning in the air at once. Also, Lucy Lawless and Patton Oswalt have been a huge gust of wind in its sails. I’m glad I hung on through the end of the first season and even happier that it came back with an Absorbing Man story that was better than any I’ve ever read in the comics.

APPS

Slack

Slack – I’ve been using Slack recently in place of email for a lot of work things, and I’m pretty sold on it so far. At face value it seems like standard reinvention of chat rooms and instant messaging, but I love it as a group communication tool. Totally beats massive email threads – hands down.

What Happens in Iceland

Posted by – October 5, 2014

Blue Lagoon, IcelandWe got back to D.C. last week from Iceland last week. If you follow either of us anywhere else, you probably caught a glimpse of what we were up to – but if you didn’t, here are the highlights in a Flickr album.

August Love List

Posted by – August 3, 2014

I’ve run into a handful of people this summer who asked me what I’m reading lately. It seemed like a roundup might be in order. Here’s what I’ve been looking at and listening to lately.

FILM

Snowpiercer

Snowpiercer (2013) – Bong Joon-ho had a heck of a time getting this film to the U.S. market, but I’m glad it finally arrived. The story’s parallels with BioShock have been documented elsewhere, but it seems to have struck a chord with fans of that series (a group to which I belong). I was actually more entertained by parallels with The Truman Show (1998), and the graphic novel‘s now on my to-read list.

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014) – When this franchise got rebooted again in 2011, I honestly walked away pretty indifferent to the project. The new installment worked a lot better for me, though. Part of that was do to the much richer cast of characters – but Dawn also had a really rich sense of place and setting. Much like Snowpiercer, the locations in the story where the action was taking place added layers of history and drama what the actors were doing. This is the Bergman fan in me talking right now, but I really love when films can minimize the number of locations they’re set in make what does get used as memorable as possible.

MUSIC

Boris

Boris – I just saw this Japanese group at the 9:30 Club Saturday with The Atlas Moth and Sub Rosa, and it’s been a while since I’ve had the pleasure of getting hit with a wall of sound that deep. The band’s newest album’s called Noise, and it’s beautiful.

APPS

NPR One app

NPR One – The team behind this app deserves a lot of credit. The old NPR app on iPhone had become a huge mess for me over the past year or so. For some reason, it had problems resuming play with one given station and I’d have to start playing another station and stop it just to be able to begin playing the first station again (Don’t worry, it was just as confusing as it sounds). Then, there were really odd issues with advertisements playing repeatedly (Seriously, one time I walked to work and heard the same government contractor ad more than ten times amid quick excerpts of the WAMU broadcast I was trying to listen to).

This One app is the real deal, though. It streamlines the entire listening experience, personalizes content in a meaning way and does some really interesting things with interactive mic-enabled functions. (Just don’t be surprised when robo-voices in the ads start talking to you.

I really can’t adequately express what a breath of fresh air this has been (no pun intended). And it’s got a lot of potential.

GAMES

Hearthstone

Hearthstone (Mac/iPad) – I am super late to this one, but it’s my new unwinding habit at night before I go to bed – and I was never a serious CCG player. Still, I cannot for the life of me beat the spiders in the story mode yet.

BOOKS

The King in Yellow – After finishing the first season of True Detectives, I decided to dive into Robert W. Chambers’ world here. His writing is so incredibly fresh after more than a hundred years. Can’t recommend this one enough.

Weapons of Mass Diplomacy

Weapons of Mass Diplomacy – Here’s another one I was late to, but Christophe Blain and Edward Gauvin did an absolutely stunning job with this graphic novel. Its expressive, animated visual language and insights into the sausage factory behind diplomatic decision-making made it one of the best reads I’ve picked up recently.