Tuesday, October 31, 2006

God I love Chipotle

IMG_6544.JPG, originally uploaded by CaseWriter21.

I don't think I've enjoyed Halloween this much since I was a little kid, experiencing the thrill of getting FREE CANDY for the first time. You see, Chipotle (one of my favorite restaurants in the world) has a special Halloween deal which is only known by hard core Chipotle fans who subscribe to their e-mail list: Come in dressed up as burrito, and GET A FREE BURRITO. This is essentially the new Adult version of Halloween; I no longer care about getting free candy, but dangle a free burrito before me and I'll do pretty much anything you want. Want me to dance? I'll dance. Want me to dress up as a burrito? For the love of God, I'll do it!

My tin foil cap facilitated the acquisition of two free burritos -- a steak/barbacoa version from the Dupont Circle location, and a chicken/guacamole version from Woodley Park. At each restaurant, there were very few people in line when I showed up at 5:45 and 6 pm, respectively, and I was the only one wearing aluminum. I was seriously planning on getting a third burrito, but alas, when I drove past the Tenleytown Chipotle shortly after 7, the line was out the door and several of those waiting were clad in foil. Apparently word had gotten around.

Oh well -- I still got two delicious burritos, one of which I had today and the other I will devour tomorrow. I'm already looking forward to next year... I've gotten lots of burrito costume ideas from flickr, and some of them are incredibly inspired.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Happy Halloween from BeforeISleep.net!

IMG_6540.JPG, originally uploaded by CaseWriter21.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Rudy versus the Garbage Bag

This is just adorable. Watch Rudy flee as I try to put him back in his cage.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Happy Birthday to Me

IMG_0027 3, originally uploaded by CaseWriter21.

I turned 27 the other day, and invited some friends over for a Poker Party (TM) and some fun. I believe my invitation, sent out to some two dozen people, implored the invited guests to "bring a friend or two, a smile or two, and a bottle or two." Alas, only 5 people responded, none of them brought a bottle or a friend (let alone two), and only 3 or 4 brought a smile.

The party was definitely one of the weirdest parties I have ever had, and I blame this on the low turnout. Six people do not a party make, especially when only 3 of the attendees actually agreed to the $5 buy-in for a good game of poker. Shortly through the game, our resident New Yorker tired of tormenting my parrot with Evil Stuffed Animals, and began strategically placing firecrackers throughout the apartment, including but not limited to in the stove burners. When Anthony and Bekah left to go buy a birthday cake, Rich convinced us all to find out what would happen if we put foil in the microwave. I happened to think this was a Very Bad Idea, but the Vocal Minority usually outshouts the Silent Majority, as seen in the following video...

Alas, the supermarket had closed at 11 pm (not 12 am as the Web site said), so I never did get that birthday cake. But that's okay; before the party, Anthony, Gweepay and I went to Lauriol Plaza, where Mexicans sang happy birthday for me as they presented my Birthday Flan...

Here's hoping Year 27 has a little more structure than Party 27.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

150 Things

The idea for this post was stolen from a friend, who, upon reading her list, I discovered, has never taken a midnight walk on the beach. Unacceptable.

Items in italics are those to which I answer "yes."

1. Bought everyone in the bar a drink
2. Swam with wild dolphins
3. Climbed a mountain
4. Taken a Ferrari for a test drive
5. Been inside the Great Pyramid
6. Held a tarantula
7. Taken a candlelit bath with someone
8. Said “I love you” and meant it
9. Hugged a tree

10. Bungee jumped
11. Visited Paris
12. Watched a lightning storm at sea
13. Stayed up all night long and saw the sun rise
14. Seen the Northern Lights
15. Gone to a huge sports game
16. Walked the stairs to the top of the leaning Tower of Pisa
17. Grown and eaten your own vegetables
18. Touched an iceberg
19. Slept under the stars
20. Changed a baby’s diaper
21. Taken a trip in a hot air balloon
22. Watched a meteor shower
23. Gotten drunk on champagne
24. Given more than you can afford to charity
25. Looked up at the night sky through a telescope
26. Had an uncontrollable giggling fit at the worst possible moment
27. Had a food fight

28. Bet on a winning horse
29. Asked out a stranger
30. Had a snowball fight
31. Screamed as loudly as you possibly can

32. Held a lamb

33. Seen a total eclipse
34. Ridden a roller coaster
35. Hit a home run
36. Danced like a fool and not cared who was looking
37. Adopted an accent for an entire day
38. Actually felt happy about your life, even for just a moment
39. Had two hard drives for your computer

40. Visited all 50 states
41. Taken care of someone who was drunk
42. Had amazing friends

43. Danced with a stranger in a foreign country
44. Watched wild whales
45. Stolen a sign
46. Backpacked in Europe
47. Taken a road-trip
48. Gone rock climbing
49. Midnight walk on the beach
50. Gone sky diving
51. Visited Ireland
52. Been heartbroken longer than you were actually in love
53. In a restaurant, sat at a stranger’s table and had a meal with them
54. Visited Japan
55. Milked a cow
56. Alphabetized your CDs
57. Pretended to be a superhero
58. Sung karaoke
59. Lounged around in bed all day

60. Played touch football

61. Gone scuba diving
62. Kissed in the rain
63. Played in the mud
64. Played in the rain

65. Gone to a drive-in theater
66. Visited the Great Wall of China
67. Started a business
68. Fallen in love and not had your heart broken

69. Toured ancient sites
70. Taken a martial arts class

71. Played D&D for more than 6 hours straight
72. Gotten married
73. Been in a movie
74. Crashed a party

75. Gotten divorced
76. Gone without food for 5 days (not drink)
77. Made cookies from scratch
78. Won first prize in a costume contest
79. Ridden a gondola in Venice
80. Gotten a tattoo
81. Rafted the Snake River
82. Been on television news programs as an “expert”
83. Got flowers for no reason
84. Performed on stage
85. Been to Las Vegas
86. Recorded music

87. Eaten shark
88. Kissed on the first date
89. Gone to Thailand
90. Bought a house
91. Been in a combat zone
92. Buried one/both of your parents
93. Been on a cruise ship
94. Spoken more than one language fluently
95. Performed in Rocky Horror
96. Raised children
97. Followed your favorite band/singer on tour
99. Taken an exotic bicycle tour in a foreign country
100. Picked up and moved to another city to just start over
101. Walked the Golden Gate Bridge
102. Sang loudly in the car, and didn’t stop when you knew someone was looking
103. Had plastic surgery
104. Survived an accident that you shouldn’t have survived
105. Wrote articles for a large publication
106. Lost over 100 pounds
107. Held someone while they were having a flashback
108. Piloted an airplane
109. Touched a stingray
110. Broken someone’s heart
111. Helped an animal give birth
112. Won money on a T.V. game show
113. Broken a bone
114. Gone on an African photo safari
115. Had a facial part pierced other than your ears
116. Fired a rifle, shotgun, or pistol
117. Eaten mushrooms that were gathered in the wild
118. Ridden a horse
119. Had major surgery

120. Had a snake as a pet
121. Hiked to the bottom of the Grand Canyon
122. Slept for more than 30 hours over the course of 48 hours
123. Visited more foreign countries than U.S. states
124. Visited all 7 continents
125. Taken a canoe trip that lasted more than 2 days
126. Eaten kangaroo meat
127. Eaten sushi
128. Had your picture in the newspaper
129. Changed someone’s mind about something you care deeply about
130. Gone back to school

131. Parasailed
132. Touched a cockroach
133. Eaten fried green tomatoes
134. Read The Iliad - and the Odyssey
135. Selected one “important” author who you missed in school, and read
136. Killed and prepared an animal for eating
137. Skipped all your school reunions
138. Communicated with someone without sharing a common spoken language
139. Been elected to public office
140. Written your own computer language
141. Thought to yourself that you’re living your dream
142. Had to put someone you love into hospice care
143. Built your own PC from parts
144. Sold your own artwork to someone who didn’t know you
145. Had a booth at a street fair
146. Dyed your hair
147. Been a DJ
148. Shaved your head
149. Caused a car accident
150. Saved someone’s life

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Harry Potter Must Die, and other life lessons learned at Jesus Camp

A Film Review by Gweepay

I enjoyed the film, “Jesus Camp,” the other night at one of DC’s premier indie theaters, which I can only identify as the one sort of near Metro Center. Given what I already knew about Christian fundamentalists, based largely on my experiences in the midwest, including their ultimately unsuccessful attempt to recruit me in college, I can safely say I wasn’t overly surprised by anything that I was presented with in this documentary-of-sorts on the manner in which fundies indoctrinate and, quite frankly, psychologically abuse their kids.

Fundamentalism is, you see, the natural enemy of empiricism. The empiricist comes to his conclusions by a) gathering as many facts as possible, b) applying logic and reason to those facts, and c) reaching the logical conclusion. The fundamentalist, on the other hand, starts with the conclusion, which is understood to come from the mouth of the deity himself, and forces the facts of the world into a framework that allows that conclusion to remain true. Fundamentalism involves the absence of synthesis and skepticism; it sacrifices logic and reason on the altar of certainty.

So what does “Jesus Camp” tell us about the predetermined conclusions of these particular fundies? Well, we learn that these sects are first and foremost rabidly anti-science. The thought that the creation stories in Genesis (yes, there are two, and they contradict one another) are anything other than literally true isn’t something these fundies are even willing to consider. We even get to see a video shown to the kids at the camp of indoctrination, narrated by some guy in a really bad dinosaur suit, that explains to them why the earth cannot be more than 6,000 years old. The kids are also taught that sex is bad, homosexuality is bad, ghost stories are bad, and, my favorite, and I paraphrase:

“If Harry Potter were alive during Old Testament times, he would’ve been put to death for witchcraft!”

This is funny because we all picture Harry, donning his big dorky glasses, tied to a stake, attempting to blow the fire out while thinking of the appropriate spell which will turn the fire into party streamers or some such thing (hey, I’ve never even READ Harry Potter! How am I supposed to know what he can do?).

But the Potter quote simply reinforces my point about the fundies.

The bitchy, corpulent cult leader who barked this nuttiness at the kids wasn’t incorrect. It was actually an element of Old Testament law that held, and I quote, “Thou shalt not suffer a sorceress to live,” (Exodus 22:18). This command supposedly came from the mouth of God himself, and came along with a number of other commands, including those littered throughout the OT commanding the Hebrews to take the land that God had given them, and if any of those darn natives made any trouble, to commit genocide against them. As God supposedly said to Saul, King of Israel: “Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass,” (1 Samuel 15:3).

Now, does the notion that God, this infinite being who put into motion the countless number of complex processes that led to the development and maturation of the universe, would instruct his followers to commit genocide seem a bit, well, illogical to you? It certainly does to me. And as an empiricist, I can question the Bible and choose not to believe any or all of it depending on the conclusion I reach after applying reason to the facts that I know about the world. And as I learn more about the world, I can synthesize and change my mind. But the fundies, you see, can’t do this. If they admit that a single word in the Bible isn’t literally true, their entire worldview collapses. So to them, God really would’ve preferred that poor Harry Potter be put to death had he lived among the Hebrews at Sinai, provided that he couldn’t turn into a seagull and fly away as the angry mob shook its collective fist.

So now do you see how destructive fundamentalism can be? And remember, this entire movie demonstrated how the fundies were indoctrinating children with this mindset. Not adults, but children. Despicable.

That said, I did have one problem with the film, a common problem that I tend to have with all indie films that attempt to point out the evils of the extreme right. The problem is that generally speaking, the only ones who will put the time and energy into taking on extremists are other extremists. We see this in all the Michael Moore movies, where Moore cleverly shows us the idiotic nature of many on the far-right, but then attempts to indoctrinate us into embracing the ideologies of his own far-left. The answer to crazies with assault weapons becomes the repeal of the Second Amendment. The answer to the Bush foreign policy becomes pacifism. The answer to the military-industrial complex becomes to burn all our weaponry, retreat from the world, and let “men of peace” like Hugo Chavez, Kim Jong Il, and Iranian leader Ahmenagiamdifdidad run things. Please.

In “Jesus Camp,” the leftist message was all too clear: the dangerous way in which the fundies were conflating religion and politics would result in such “evils” as the advancement of the pro-life movement or the appointment of more dastardly Justices like Sam Alito to the Supreme Court, who dare to view the courts as something other than an Olympian superlegislature through which the imposition of leftist policy should be a given. Again, hand me a barf bag.

The conflation of religion with politics is always dangerous. There’s a reason the Founders inserted the Establishment Clause into the First Amendment. And seeing the cult leaders in “Jesus Camp” drag onto the stage a cardboard cutout of George W. Bush, complete with smirk, bordered on the absurd. All of that said, there was an impled message in the movie, at least in my view, that supporting judges like Alito or viewing abortion as something a bit more morally complex than a standard medical procedure is just as irrational as believing in Creationism or stoning gays or offing Harry Potter. And that view I cannot accept.

The fundies are wrong to marry their particular, corrupt brand of Christianity with political conservatism. And secular conservatives should resist the temptation to ally with these types in exchange for votes, as the result will end up being bad for somebody, and, as usual, that somebody will probably be the American people. But the makers of “Jesus Camp” were equally wrong to attempt to marry views such as a respect for life, for federalism, for judicial restraint, and for separation of powers with nutty Christianism. The two are not one and the same. And, God-willing, they never will be.

Matt's thoughts

I generally agree with Gweepay. I already knew that crazy people were teaching their kids crazy things, but the thing that troubled me the most was that these kids were smart. They weren't white trash with 80 IQ points; they were inquisitive and well-spoken. With a proper education, they could grow up to be scholars, working at universities and helping humanity to figure out Why Things Are. Instead, they are getting indoctrinated at tender ages, and will grow up to be Preachers, trying to convince the next generation that everything in the Bible is true, Jesus is really the savior, evolution is a total joke, and that kids can close their eyes and open their minds and speak in tongues to praise God. ("Ooooh-lakalakalaka-mejaaaamba!" Yes, I'm serious, people were actually doing this in the movie.)

In short, some very smart kids are being completely hoodwinked, and in the process We, the rest of Society, are being robbed of some of our Nation's intelligence.

One last thing: I found it quite ironic that the people at Jesus Camp would have Harry Potter put to death for dealing in spells and sorcery, while at the same time their own descriptions of how the world was formed essentially boils down to Magic. You can't have it both ways. Or can you? Is God the only person who is allowed to perform magic? Is that why little Harry would be put to death?

Saturday, October 14, 2006

First Thing I See in the Morning

So, the incredibly bright sun woke me up this morning, just as it does most every morning here at The Brandywine Apartments, and guess who or what was staring me in the face from about two inches away on my pillow?


That's right, my parrot! This was at once unnerving and adorable, but soon my brain kicked in and asked a very important question: Just how did Rudy get out of his cage and up on my bed? As my brain awoke, it then realized that Rudy had, in fact, broken out of his cage by pushing the food dish away and crawling through the resultant hole. Freedom!

I got up and fixed the food-dish-hole, and by this point Rudy was so excited to see me up and about (God knows how long he'd been staring at me -- sometimes he does it for hours from inside his cage), he took off and started flying circles around my room without stopping. Flap-flap-flap-flap-flap-swoooooosh! went Rudy, circling the perimeter of my room twice before landing on the top of his cage. As I went to go pick him up, he did it again! Flip-flap-flip-flap-whoooooooooosh! went the orange bird flying two fast circles around my room yet again.

When I plopped back in bed, he started squawking. Very Loudly. At 8:45 in the morning. What a way to start a Saturday.

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Friday, October 13, 2006

Anthony's Crazy Theory of Justice

Do you think that it is constitutional (and/or a good idea) for a court to give a convicted rapist the choice between life in prison, and surgical castration with ten years' probation? Discuss.

Sunday, October 8, 2006

Help edit my Match.com profile!

Have you always wanted to know what it was like to create a "Match.com" profile but been unable to act on the impulse due to fear and/or shame and/or your significant other? Do you secretely wish you could peruse Internet dating sites while your lover is away, with only that wily Internet history function thwarting your plans? Well friend, your pal Gweepay feels your pain. And that's why I've decided to give you an excuse to both visit America's premier web-based dating site AND take part in a fun project by helping me, Gweepay, edit my Match.com profile.

You see, my profile has gone through a number of iterations, with each enjoying varying levels of success when it comes to luring in Match girls. Indeed, this latest profile has been far more successful than most of my previous ones, generating at least a few electronic "winks" from females, as well as an email or two. But generally speaking, my conversations with these women are all for naught, as the vixens who do choose to correspond with me usually fall off the face of the earth after nary a few emails, apparently changing their minds irrationally, as women are wont to do. And in the unlikely event I DO convince one of these girls to accompany me for coffee or equivalent, the result is almost always an utterance of my official BeforeISleep catch phrase: "What a bitch!"

So, gentle reader, here's your opportunity to give your old pal Gweepay a hand. Help me help you help me.

The profile can be found here.

Some common critiques include the following:

1) At least two individuals have questioned my sanity for including anything relating to "September 11th" in my Match.com profile. Apparently, this is sort of like having a "Pearl Harbor. We remember." coffee table book as a conversation piece at a party.

2) At least one person thinks that much of the implied humor is only effective if one already knows my personality, and that without that foreknowledge, many of my tongue-in-cheek remarks could cause me to come across as an asshole.

3) A number of critics have suggested that instead of using the "what you do for fun" section simply to amuse myself, I should probably include activities that women could imagine doing with me. I'd prefer simply to amuse myself. Hmm, maybe it's not so surprising that I'm single.

4) At least one individual suggested that it was a clear and blatant lie that I exercise "1 to 2 times per week." I suppose this is true, but show me a relationship that's not based on massive amounts of deceit and I'll show you a, well, a functional relationship I guess.

I think my single biggest problem when writing such a profile is striking just the right balance regarding humor. Considering that my quirky take on life is integral to my personality, it's probably important to try to display as much of that as possible in my profile in order to accomplish the twin objectives of weeding out women who would be turned off by that as well as reeling in those who find my sense of humor the ultimate aphrodysiac. The problem is, most clever commentary by nature has a double-meaning. There's the intended figurative meaning, which is funny, and the unintended literal meaning, which is often downright offensive. Knowing women the way I do, I suspect many of them, when faced with this double meaning, will naturally assume the worst, especially without being able to analyze it against the backdrop of my personality and temperment. But the only alternative is to write a completely mundate, boring profile that will simply blend in with all the others.

So, what are your thoughts on all of this? Feel free to comment in the, er, comments section. If the revised profile ends up generating a great deal of success for the Gweepmeister, you'll be rewarded with a glossy new holiday card this December!

Thursday, October 5, 2006

The Surprise

The Big Surprise of the week: I am shorn. That's right. As you can see from the picture to your right (and the several scary LittleMatts hovering above), I have not only shaved several months worth of hair off my face, but also several years off my appearance. Instead of the manly early-30s look I was pulling off, I am again a victim of my patented BabyFace(TM), appearing to be 20 or 21 at best. My goal is to be carded when I go to my next R movie.

It's interesting how few people noticed the change. My roommate notice instantly, of course, but at work things were different. Only three people noticed that the beard was gone; several more (including the head of the legal department) had the sneaking suspicion that "something" was "different," but they couldn't quite place it. Once I told them, of course, they hung their heads in shame and disbelief that they could miss such a huge change.

The general consensus is that it was a good move, though I looked fine with the beard. Part of me now feels like, "It's good to be back!", but I know I'll feel much better once I drop some pounds.

Monday, October 2, 2006

BeforeISleep.net has a new feature -- contributors!

Special announcement: There will be CONTRIBUTORS to beforeisleep.net

Sunday, October 1, 2006

CC-riding at Eastern Market

09302006(002).jpg, originally uploaded by CaseWriter21.

Since I was introduced to it several months ago, Eastern Market has become my favorite Saturday morning destination in DC. There are always fruits and vegetables to sample, paintings and jewelry to admire (and hope to someday have the cash to purchase), and Clinton the Fourth to ride like a wild bull. Clinton (known to his college friends as CC) works at Uncle Brutha's Hot Sauce Emporium -- one of my favorite stores in the World -- and never shies away from providing a wild ride, either through several pepperrific concoctions he doles out from behind the counter, or through piggy-back rides through the Market. Highly recommended.

Creepy Curmudgeonly Congress-Critter Caught Communicating Crudely

This ain't Mr. Smith's Washington, that's for sure.

Veteran Congressman Mark Foley (Pedophile-Florida), who had amassed a dozen-year tenure in the House and who had been considered a potential candidate for the U.S. Senate as late as 2003 resigned in shame just days ago after a 16-year-old male congressional page went public with accusations of sexual advances by Foley. The page, whose name is being withheld by the media, and who I will thus refer to as, "Cute Buttcheeks," became quite understandably creeped out following a number of emails and internet chats with Foley, in which the legislator somehow morphed into Austin Powers' evil pedophile twin, inquiring regularly whether or not the youth was indeed "horny" at any given time and discussing other unsavory topics such as self-pleasure and fetishes. Buttcheeks proceeded to do what any of us would do: save the IM conversations and emails and forward them to congressional staffers, who, after laughing non-stop for at least 27 consecutive minutes, alerted the powers-that-be to the situation, culminating in a quick resignation by Foley.

A couple of thoughts on this whole incident. First, I remember what it was like to be 16. It was pretty darn cool. I didn't have to work, my parents paid for stuff, and I hadn't experienced any actual relationships yet, meaning my soul was still intact. In retrospect, 16 was a pretty nice age. But I digress. The point is, I tend to agree with Bill Maher's statement about teenage boys being "victims" of sexual predators, and that is that these 16-year-old boys who are taken advantage of by hot, blonde, leggy, thirtysomething teachers trying to re-live their glory days aren't really victims of anything, and are basically just living out every teenage boy's fantasy, which is to sleep with the hot teacher. It's harder for women to understand this dynamic, because I suspect that a 16-year-old girl taken advantage of by a 36-year old male teacher would actually be quite the victim in that circumstance. A lot of it has to do with the natural and innate ability of males to divorce and compartmentalize sex from emotion, something that has spawned generation upon generation of bitter females. The point is, I remember being 16, and if a hot female teacher had come on to me, I'd still be recounting the story every chance I got with male compatriots.

But how does this all relate to Foley and Buttcheeks? Simple. If Buttcheeks is not just a 16-year-old, but a gay 16-year-old, I suspect he wouldn't exactly be traumatized by an older male figure coming on to him. I suspect it would be a lot like what straight male 16-year-olds feel when an older woman comes on to them, which usually leads to a round of high-fives with their friends. I'm not saying this to excuse Foley's behavior in any way. None of this changes the fact that Foley acted in a manner that was grossly inappropriate and that involved abuse of power to the extreme (trust me, you don't get much more of a power differential in life than that between a United States Congressman and a 16-year-old page). But what I am saying is that there are many more things we have to know about Buttcheeks before we can make the blanket diagnosis that he will need years of therapy to overcome all of this. It's possible he will; it's equally possible he and his friends are laughing about all of this right now.

My only other thought on the matter has to do with one of the bizarre subtopics of the Instant Messenger conversation between Foley and Buttcheeks involving fetishes. For some reason unbeknownst to me, Buttcheeks decides to share with Foley the fact that he has a "cast fetish." Foley, who may be a pedophile but is no weirdo, is confused, and asks Buttcheeks to elaborate. Buttcheeks goes on to explain that for some strange reason, "casts" turn him on. People wearing casts. The thought of wearing a cast himself. And so on. Buttcheeks then goes on to attempt to redeem himself with a lame embrace of the whole "Catholic girl" thing (something I think we can all agree on). Foley seems unimpressed.

The point is, I think the worst part of this whole ordeal for Buttcheeks is that now everybody knows he has a cast fetish. His mother knows. His siblings know. His grandparents know. ALL of his friends know. His teachers know. EVERYBODY knows. And you know what that means. That means whenever anyone sees this guy for at least the next few weeks, if not months, if not years, they're going to have two words running through their mind: Cast. Fetish.

At this point, I know what you're thinking. You're thinking, "come on Gweepay, a hotshot correspondent like you just HAS to be able to produce the transcript of the IM chat between these two clowns!" Friend, I've done you one better. Attached to this post is an audio re-enactment of the real, actual IM chat between Foley and Buttcheeks. Listen to your heart's content. In the re-enactment, the part of of Foley will be played by Yours Truly, the part of Buttcheeks will be played by BeforeISleep.net Editor, Matt, with sound effects provided by Rudy the Parrot. Enjoy!