Tuesday, May 19, 2009

An Empty Chili Bowl -OR- The Sound of One Hand Clapping

The turgid Rock Creek Park here in Washington, D.C., flowing in upper Northwest along Beach Drive from a stock internet photo (although it looks like that this week with all the rain we've had).


OK, I'm finally getting around to my planned Sunday / Monday entry, except it is quarter after one in the morning on Tuesday. And before I post them (in the next entry), I first want to take a detour and embed a video I found online of an old Saturday Night Live "Mr. Bill" skit.

For those of you who don't know, Mr. Bill was a brightly colored Play-Doh doll and the macabre skits featured him; his dog, Spot; and sometimes his companion, Miss Sally.

Mr. Bill was always placed in the most violent and ghastly situations by the serene voiced but truly sadistic "Mr. Hand" (played by an actual human hand), ostensibly at the behest of the evil Mr. Sluggo, another Play-Doh figure.

Invariably, Mr. Bill (who speaks in a sort of high-pitched squeal), after starting out so happy, ends up splattered, mutilated, or otherwise violently maimed (but never quite dying).

Each time something hideous happens to him, and over which he has no control, he screams his signature "OH, NOOOO!"

I think there is some DEEP symbolism in there about "the Hand of Fate" -- or maybe a GOD at once sadistic and indifferent -- and how such an entity screws with (some) humans. It is best not to have such a theology ...

Anyway, I saw the skit "Mr. Bill Builds a House" last night and found it online:

The direct URL is here.


Speaking of the strange and fickle Hand of Fate, this past Saturday I went -- wholly against my initial will -- to the annual DC101 2009 Chili Cook-Off. My attendance was requested, nay, demanded by my friend Joe S. He also paid for the tickets and much of the beer.

The pictures that follow were mostly taken by me with my crummy cellphone camera but several were taken by Joe. I think it's pretty obvious which ones he took, but I'll still point them out.

The annual DC101 Chili Cook-out is an annual high cultural event -- held again classy style in the trashy parking lot of old RFK Stadium out there in a ghetto-y section of D.C. near the SE/NE boundary.

The crowd there -- as pictured above near one of the beer lines at 4:21PM -- was something else. It was hard to believe those are all my fellow countrymen or that there are THAT MANY white trashy folks within, say, a 75-mile radius of D.C.

Sure, there was a little of this among the guys present:

But mostly they looked like this:

And there were places like this:

The chili sampling section featured a whole range of businesses and charities (such as the National Kidney Foundation) that demanded a $1 donation for a tiny paper cup of chili. About that, there were very few fellow gay guys there, at least ones that I recognized.

Above is a picture of Yours Truly, Regulus, sampling a bit of chili. I look so frickin' old lately and my hair is going gray/white like crazy.

Oh, yes, NASA had a presence, too, or at least NASA Federal Credit Union (I don't think they've been Federally bailed out no-questions-asked yet).


Here was the "PHC" stand:

I think PHC stood for "pretty hot chili." Don't ask what was under those kilts.

This is one of Joe's pictures with its far better clarity.

It was very hot all afternoon. While the shade air temp probably peaked around 82F (at DCA), there on the parking lot it was easily 95F in the hot sunlight and humid. The bottom line is that it was sweltering and I got a mild sunburn.

The crowd was beer-swilled and sated on chili in the hot sunlight by about four PM.

I think these two people knew I was taking a picture. I don't like when that happens. I try to be discreet with photographs (esp. since I don't want to piss anyone off when taking a picture).

Joe and I left around 5PM as a thunderstorm was approaching and we headed two Metro stops over to Eastern Market where we went to Mr. Henry's.

Here is Mr. Henry's, a mostly gay bar and restaurant located at the corner of 6th St., SE, and Pennsylvania Ave, SE, in the Capitol Hill section of D.C. I rarely make it to Capitol Hill. It's like a whole different city there.

About the weather, we ended up with drenching showers on Saturday night into Sunday morning with approx. 1/2" of rain at DCA and IAD and 1/4" at BWI. This rainfall actually put DCA into the year to date surplus column for the first time this calendar year.

This is noteworthy since Jan, Feb, and March collectively among the driest such 3-month period on record at DCA (I believe it was 4th driest, and the driest at IAD with its record length stretching back only to 1963) and as recently as early April we were 50 percent below normal at DCA.

Anyway, as of midnight May 19, we are at 14.50" at DCA (+0.10") 15.35" at BWI (-0.29"), and 14.02" at IAD (-0.97").

The interior of Mr. Henry's looking at the downstairs bar.


On Sunday, I went to Phil and Stephanie's house for a small dinner party for one of their friends who is back from Dubai. It's a complicated story that I can't explain right now.

LP and I went to Phil's together but before that, we drove over to Peirce Mill, a historical relic of a 19th Century grist mill that is the last surviving one in the District of Columbia.

Peirce Mill is located at a narrow neck of Rock Creek Park -- which otherwise forms a great green gash and a significant physical barrier between two different parts of upper Northwest Washington -- in between the Mount Pleasant from Cleveland Park.

The place is named for the Peirce family who had a plantation there in the 19th Century. The ADC Metro D.C. Map actually "corrects" the spelling to "Pierce."

Here the Rock Creek -- which gives Rockville, Maryland its name, I believe -- tumbles over a roughly 10 foot high dam that creates a sills. The dam was built circa 1904 and is actually the most recent in a long series of man-made obstacles that were originally constructed to create a spillway to turn the old mill's water wheel.

For some reason, the (rather dirty) water was incredibly frothy at the bottom of the sills. I don't know if its all due to pollution (nitrogen and other fertilizers) or some natural foam, or some combination.

Here the foam gathers in a huge "sudsy" mass a the "entrance way" to what is the ONLY Denil Fishway here in the District of Columbia. Constructed in 2006, it supposedly allows Rock Creek fish -- specifically, alewives and blueback herring -- to swim around the approx. 12 foot high barrier. The WaHoPo had an interesting and informative article about it from March 2007.

Here LP surveys all the invasive plant species that grow in the wilds of Rock Creek Park and pretty much around our whole area (although the kudzu problem is not nearly as bad as it is in the Deep South).

Here LP does what he does best -- tackling invasive plant species.

We then drove to the Van Ness Giant along Connecticut Ave., NW, to buy some food for the dinner party.

I think it was graduation time at the Van Ness campus of UDC or American University.


I didn't take any pictures of the dinner party but I got a picture of Canes Venatici ...

This is Phil and Stephanie's dog Oliver and Phil's sister's dog, Esau. That would be the shaggy Akita. They are watching him while Phil's sister is out of town.


OK, I think that's all for now. Just a few more pictures:

The leafy walkway to the house at the corner of Hopkins Ave. and Knox Rd., College Park, Md., May 18, 2009.

I went to College Park earlier today where I got zilch for my returned books at Terp Note / Bookholders.com -- just a scam "promissory" note in case the books are actually sold I could theoretically get up to $70 for the three they took. I actually dropped off seven books, thinking they'd be worth something (based on the Web site and ISBN number I entered), but I failed to take into account "cash now" versus a theoretical value if they are used again (which is what the Web site gives).

Disgusting and depressed, I had lunch in the shadow of the UM Memorial Chapel Steeple on this fine, breezy, cool, lovely spring day.

The world is so vibrant and lush green right now thanks to all the rain. Temps. were only around 62F for a high. The summer heat, humidity, and shit has yet to take firmly hold.

Graduation is Friday and I am going -- but to help out rather than participate in my own ceremony. I'll talk more about that in my next entry along with my job searching and all of that.

Here I am looking old and tired eating my BLT outside earlier this Monday. I made it to the gym, though that is running out.

My next planned entry will probably be around Thursday.



krzysztof said...

How come I never went to Mr Henry's?

к.нео.физ.де.му said...


i've been to mr henry's - nana nanana! :)


you are the last person i would expect to see at the chili cook-off, i never thought i was your cup of tea...

did you see that we had a record low at bwi, set early tuesday morning? i actually saw frost in the open kinda depressed grassy area at the intersection of rt108 and rt29 at about 6:15 am... :)

how about that? must be the absence of sun spots... :)

how come you don't call back?

be good!


Regulus said...

Kristof -- Because, baby doll, I didn't want you to think I was just going there because of the name...

Mike G -- Good talking to you on the phone earlier.

Yes, it was exceptionally chilly and that was certainly frost that you saw in suburban Maryland. BWI got down to 38F on the 19th, which surpassed the previous daily record low of 39F set in 2003.

Let me know when you are going to be in D.C. again.

krzysztof said...

Yeah, the name sounds vaguely familiar...

In other news I'd like to report that I'm sitting in the patio of one of Old Gdansk fine restaurants and one of our fine pigeons just emptied his bowels all over my laptop. Everybody else around here seems to think this is hysterical. My sense of humor doesn't stretch that far

Regulus said...

Thanks for the visual, baby doll.

Anonymous said...

I hope pulling weeds isn't the ONLY thing I "do best!" - Yrs LP

Anonymous said...

ok ok I visited. c

Regulus said...

No, LP you are good at many things.

C. -- THANK GOD. It's about time.