Posts from January, 2009

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dma 2009: revolution or evolution

Thursday, 29 January 2009

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Presentation today with the fine people at Planit, an agency out of Baltimore. All my slides are mixed into the main presentation, but they are the case studies around registration form testing, landing page to donation form conversion, social media (flickr, facebook widgets) and lifecycle emails.

the darker side of the inauguration

Thursday, 22 January 2009

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we had a lot of time to think about the inauguration on our way out of the mall … it took us over an hour to go two blocks, and then another couple to get back to civilization (or lunch, at least).

ironically, the thing that stuck with me — more than the speech, the people, the hope — was the complete lack of respect the people on the mall had for the President until around 12:03 pm.

living in my own little world, I’d never really thought it through … sure, he had bad approval numbers, sure my hippie-prog friends had little respect for his policies on, well, anything.

but he was still President, right? i have always firmly believe that you have to respect the office, even if you believe the occupant doesn’t respect the office himself.

there is a basic level of civility that is needed to maintain ourselves as a nation, and violating that civility doesn’t no good in our efforts to establish a new tone of mutual respect in the nation’s Capitol.

now, don’t get me wrong … i didn’t hear anything that wasn’t shouted at Clinton eight years ago, but that’s not the point.

it’s very difficult to take the high road on an inclusive society, when we are exclusive ourselves. in the same way, we can’t fight intolerance with intolerance, regardless of how intolerant we feel the last eight years have been.

i already have conservative friends predicting assassinations, preaching the apocalypse, and plotting out their future lives in foreign countries — which is ironic because the best place for conservatives right now is probably France.

by being intolerant ourselves, we not only excuse this type of behavior, we encourage it. now, i’m about as opposed to neo-cons as anyone, but even I was able to give Bush the benefit of the doubt for his first two years in office.

if we really are going to bring change in Washington, it can’t just trickle down from the top. this started as a grassroots movement, and that’s the only way real change is going to succeed.

ben affleck likes having his picture taken, and other life lessons

Wednesday, 21 January 2009

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we scored some tickets to the “google ball” through the lady sparkler’s work — she actually asked *whether* i wanted to go (crazy lady!).

it wasn’t a ball as such (no obamas, so no dead swan dress) but was instead billing itself as a sort of pre-/post-ball party for the other (more official) balls.

the space was gorgeous. big enough to be spectacular, but small enough to be (surprisingly) intimate. and, to be fair, i didn’t even know the space existed (it’s in the old IRS building at the corner of 15th and Constitution).

we heard rumors that fancy-pants people would be there, but assumed they would be all roped off in some back room. it was great enough to have an excuse to dress up, but … i mean, JOHN PODESTA was there. and *WOLF BLITZER*!!!

anyway, the conversations were progressing along nicely, when the lady sparkler suggested our little group take a lap around the place. in a back room, the lady sparkler spotted ben affleck, and then it was all over …

i felt safe in my relationship, because i knew that she was only talking to him to get matt damon’s phone number … but it turned out that she wanted a picture, too.

she negotiated her way up to him, and tugged on his shoulder. i have no idea who he was talking to (someone later told me it was his brother Casey) but he barely broke (conversation) stride as he turned around, looked dashing for the picture, and went back about his business … not at all disturbed to be accosted by my wife.

john cusack, on the other hand, turned out to be a bit of an #$%. my beloved slid in for the kill, and he started negotiating with her about whether he would take the picture or not … i finally just took it, and think the expression is, well, perfect.

we actually ran into good friends shortly afterwards who gave us their tickets to a real, official ball (dead swann dress included). we headed over not too much later, but it turns out that the obama’s were gone even before we had the tickets in our hands.

still, one heck of an evening … especially riding home on the metro in our prom attire, with not a single raised eyebrow.

damn, i love DC.

live: the obama inauguration

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

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[Photo]
ECPA20090120_1727, originally uploaded by [ecpark].

again, i tried to live blog, but there was little chance with the telecom issues down on the mall. we’ve got an inaugural ball tonight (not one that he’s going to) so more thoughts later. here we go:

5:12 am we’re up: go, go, go, go!
5:35 am people are so … happy. I am sleep deprived, but “people” are awake, sunny and happy.
5:44 am green line, Columbia heights station to l’ephant. trains are crowded, but not slammed.
6:15 am tons of people backed up getting out of l’efant. saw man with “bush is a punk assed chump” bumper sticker on his back. nice.
6:22 am in silver ticket screening line. line “starts” at third and independance. we’re on independance, a little before sixth.
6:43 am 20 ft closer.
7:10 am another surge. now we are *halfway* to fifth.
7:24 am cops need to chill with the sirens. we’ve heard it before. hundreds of times. all this morning.
7:32 am saw James carville, walking *away* from the Capitol. he did NOT look amused.
7:41 am it’s getting markedly colder… just dipped below 20 degrees.
8:12 am through the gates! onto the mall! storm the reflecting pool!
8:33 am so, we went up to the front section, but all the spotsleft were obstructed views. picked a spot a little farther back, but with good view of the Capitol/jumbotron.
9:12 am people have started singing (good) but first up is “if I had a hammer” … (bad)
9:18 am “this little light of mine…”
9:35 am “American Pie…” dear god.
9:48 am people are booing Gingrich. we’re with a nasty, petty bunch.
10:08 am Muhammad Ali just walked in … “Ali! Ali! Ali!”
10:24 am john cusack? john cusack!
10:41 am biggest ovation so far for ted Kennedy, tho ho-ho dean wasn’t too far behind.
10:48 am huge jeers for liberman (youch!, but a great, warm reception for colin Powell. I guess the US took his side in that whole Bush/Powell divorce thing.
10:51 am hova! hova! encore, do you want more …
10:59 am well michelle’s dress makes up for that election night shag rug disaster.
11:01 am bush is smiling so much he looks vaguely unbalanced.
11:12 am bush one ain’t looking too good. didn’t realize he was hobbling so much. he needs to get health tips from jimbo carter, who looks like he could build a house, today, single-handedly.
11:15 am can’t wait to see how hilary is announced. mrs. clinton? secstate elect? oh right, senator… (oops!)
11:20 am catcalls for the bush twins. easy boys, this one’s taken!
11:29 am try as I may, I can never get my hair to look like Lynn Chaney’s.
11:35 am dick Chaney looks even meaner in a wheelchair. looks like old man potter from “it’s a wonderful life”
11:42 am di-fi not looking so good, either. she’s hobbling more than bush one.
11:52 am ick. not enchanted by that convocation. gene Robinson’s at the concert was 10 times better, and way more appropriate. too Jesus-ified doran official state event.
11:55 am sing it areatha! first time Obama has smiled was at the end there.
12:00 pm that whole “you may now be seated” thing is getting old for the odd million or so of us stuck back here in the fields.
12:02 pm damn, yoyo and yitzak’s fingers look *cold*.
12:07 pm I think I like Obama *more* for flubbing the oath.
12:28 pm  great speech. hit all the right notes. little bummed his first words were “I’m humbled by the task ahead” as opposed to being humbled by the moment, his surroundings, the warm reception, his colleagues, etc. more thoughts later.
12:34 pm it’s begun to snow 🙂
12:43 pm me and my two million closest friends have decided to leave, starting riiiight about … now.
1:14 pm we made it one whole block!
1:28 pm there is something creepy/apocalyptic about “evacuating” the mall through an interstate highway tunnel. don’t get me wrong, it was a brilliant idea … but still creepy.
2:18 pm well, we walked up the 395 tunnel (goes under the mall, following what would be third street) up to N street, and across to Scott Circle … where I just ordered a beer and a hamburger. god bless America.

inauguration tickets

Monday, 19 January 2009

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n5409143_32670501_3448i’ve got a nice pair of inauguration tickets in my hand, courtesy of the immortal jojo, who will *easily* go down as the very best middle sister in the history of the sparkler family.

we headed over to Capitol Hill today, a little after lunch, to pick up said tickets from jojo’s member (who is super cool himself, and someone i worked with a lot back in the days of comrade bernie sanders).

we got there a little after 2pm, thinking it would be an easy in-and-out before they shut down around three … but instead, we walked straight into the fourth circle of hell.

the metro platform was backed up, with an easy hundred people waiting to just get *out* of the turnstiles.

it only got worse when we got topside.

there are probably three entrances to each of the three house buildings, so a total of nine different paths to get to your tickets. when we arrived, each of the lines had hundreds (if not thousands) already lined up.

i was surprised, but then i started doing the math … 435 members of the house (times) two-hundred tickets per member (equals) approximately 87,000 tickets.

factor in that (a) everybody had to be present to pick up the tickets, (b) they only allowed one day to pick up the tickets, and (c) there was only six hours in which to distribute them …

a little more math reveals that the powers that be thought *each* door/security queue/metal detector could move just about 2,000 people *every* hour.

i’m sad to say they were wildly, and stoopidly optimistic.

now, there is a happy ending … because we lucked out. i worked in said house office building for four years and i knew it had a back door … and thought to check to see if there was a line there.

we also lucked out, because the throngs were so bad at the front (it went up and down the length of the building twice) that they decided to open the back door (where we were looking) at the exact moment we arrived.

we were (maybe) fifty or sixty people back from the door when it opened.

after that, it was all gravy.

we just had to find our room, the lady sparkler had to pretend she was her sister (we had an old passport for ID that it turned out we didn’t have to use) and i had to smile, nod, and say “duude” a lot (trying to pass myself off as a left coaster).

it wasn’t until we walked out the front that we realized how incredibly fortunate we were. there was an easy two thousand people waiting to get in just that *one* entrance.

i would love to know how late those offices had to stay open tonight. my guess was that there was a line well past dark.

first the bus yesterday, now the tickets today. let’s see if the luck holds through tomorrow …

live: obama inaugural concert

Sunday, 18 January 2009

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[Photo]
Obama Inaugural Conc, originally uploaded by [ecpark].

Live blogging the Inaugural Concert on the mall today. Actually, not live blogging — because AT&T can’t maintain a #$%& signal on the mall — but kept blogging into my iPhone and uploaded it after the fact. Here you go:

11:01 am on the 42 to the inaug concert on the mall. there is standing room only two stops in.
11:42 am made it through security. no where near as nuts as I thought. no bags … except purses, shoulder bags, backpacks, bodybags …. *sigh.*
12:10 pm lots of jumbotrons. early tweeters said there was only one. were they trying to drive down attendance?
12:18 pm pre-flight entertainment has started. wonder if they will use the same 20 songs from the manassas rally.
12:35 pm why does my blanket always end up as a prime cut through for people wandering the venue?
12:38 pm elmo leading a chant of “we are one.” sweet Jesus, take me now.
12:53 pm it’s nuts down here on the mall. two hours ’til showtime, and the place is packed.
1:10 pm amy Hawthorne!
1:25 pm The Lady Sparkler flipping out that people are stepping on her blanket. gonna be a long hour-twenty.
1:52 pm Yup. same soundtrack.
2:10 pm just noticed snipers on top of the Lincoln. btwn that and the low planes coming in to national, I’ve become temporarily distracted by mundane safetly concerns.
2:20 pm convocation.
2:31 pm nice reception for the first couples.
2:36 pm denzel actually got more screams than Obama did in our little section. ear drums bleeding from pre-teens behind.
2:44 pm Bruce Springsteen and a 100 person gospel choir. Sparkler’s happy. I think we can leave now. Oh, wait. Not until U2.
2:49 pm mlk3 just mentioned the peace corps and half the crowd holla’d. think there are hippies around?
2:52 pm jamie foxx doing an Obama impression is creapy good.
2:56 pm clapping with gloves on makes people sound stupid.
3:00 pm some just screamed “run forest run” when tom hanks took the stage.
3:06 pm is it too much to ask for ATT to keep a functioning network for 2m people in then mall?!?
3:11 pm I’m in such a good mood today, that I don’t even hate James Taylor … well, not *as* much.
3:19 pm at the climax of mellencamp’s “pink houses” we had a dramatic fly-over by a perfect formation of 20 very confused looking Canadian geese.
3:22 pm wow, the Daughters of the American Revolution just got thrown under the bus for denying African American singer Marian Anderson the right to perform at Constitution hall … in 1939. ouch.
3:25 pm someone just asked if josh groban was an American idol winner. ouch.
3:28 pm Is that the guy from “Harold and Kumar escape from Guantanamo bay”? what do you have to do to not deserve to appear at this thing?
3:32 pm tiger woods? hmm.
3:41 pm Garth Brooks singing American pie? this is the atlanta-olympics-memorial-36-white-pickups-stuffed-with-cheerleaders moment of the afternoon.
3:43 pm nope. garth brooks just medley-ed into “shout.” *this* is the stuffed-with-cheerleaders moment. I guess “pie” was just the white-pickups part.
3:47 pm celebrity #239 and #240 just spoke. can you imagine how big the greenroom must be?
4:01 pm not one, but TWO songs by U2? Sparkler has left her mind. I repeat. Sparkler has left her mind.
4:07 pm how do you follow that? two tethered eagles? ick.
4:10 pm or, maybe, Obama?
4:18 pm great speach. well written. made up for the awkward eagles thing.
4:24 pm sing-a-long. I get the feeling I am in kindergarten, and beyonce is my teacher (WOHOO!)
4:35 pm walking out.
4:38 pm there is a boy on a leash rolling around on the ground like a dog. interesting lesson in socialized behavior.
4:46 pm no way we are getting on public transportation. no way.
5:10 pm wow! made it on a bus. a metro manager stopped a south bound S2 and turned it around in the middle of L street. it has these fuzzy seats, as if it were a charter. strange.
5:16 pm Being interviewed by the Washington post. can’t wait to see how that story pans out. (pdf)
5:21 pm final thought: if this many people showed for the concert, the inauguration is going to crazy. CRAZY!

west side story @ the national theatre

Tuesday, 13 January 2009

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l24159207410_3395west side story is a bit of a sacred cow for me, having seen it performed (quite literally) over a hundred times in at least half a dozen different venues.

but, someone is giving it a go and sending it back to broadway. it’s hard to revive a classic … each of us has waaay to many preconceived notions about how the production should go.

as with the original staging 40+ years ago, the out of town previews are here at the national threatre before the show heads to broadway in the spring.

first the good things:

they obviously cast the show based on the singing and the dancing, and both were top shelf through out. the orchestra was great, the sets and lights were good enough to move the story along but not so much to upstage the story.

did I mention the music and dancing were superb? the dance hall scene was perfection on a stick. (everything good is even better on a stick.)

but best of all, they didn’t screw with the show. the play wasnt set somewhere crazy like last year’s super bowl (the jets weren’t the giants, the sharks weren’t the patriots, and Eli manning wasn’t tom Brady’s star crossed lover.)

they also had an interesting language twist, in that much of the puerto ricans dialogue was spoken in Spanish and (more importantly) many of their songs were rewritten for the mother tongue as well, including show tune standard “Sesiento Hermosa” (“I Feel Pretty”).

fwiw, the linguistic face lift largely worked, boosting the show’s authenticity. i was skeptical, and i will say it felt forced in spots — mostly when there were too many Spanish words to smush into the English-paced music — but that could just be because I am white … and know every last syllable of the original production.

now time for the bad stuff:

they cast the show for singers and dancers. which means that precious few (past the very solid principles) could act their way out of a wet paper bag. there was at least one kid on the jets who i am sure started acting last Tuesday.

To make matters worse, there were a few scattered portions of the production that seemed to have no direction at all, which is disturbing considering it was directed by Arthur Laurents who crafted the original book.

two examples: the ode to officer krupke was basically sung at the audience, almost in a concert staging. there was none of the great repartee that i came to expect from the last 100+ productions.

then, in the quartet scene, anita sang her part (usually done in a négligée from her boudoir) from a highway overpass instead. she was still acting like she was in her bedroom, but the skimpy costume on an overpass shifts the meaning of “anita’s going to get her kicks tonight” to someplace I wasn’t prepared to go.

anyway, there were definitely a couple of places where i was biting my lip, but overall it was a solid production. maybe not a Broadway production (more on that later) but certainly a respectable regional production.

unfortunately, the two 40-something suburban house cows sitting behind us probably wouldn’t agree with such a rosy assessment … which was fine until they laughed their way through the whole death scene.

and by laughed, I mean cackled.

the started roaring with laughter when tony got shot. when maria was halfway through her soliloquy — the hardest scene in musical theater if you ask me — they were still kvetching. towards the end, I had finally had enough …

s.h.c. #1: “get your stuff ready. we’re going as soon as he kicks it for good.”

s.h.c. #2: “it can’t possible come fast enough!” more cackling.

me: turning around. “could you just leave now? leave. please.”

tony “kicks it” as it were. the cows get up to leave…

s.h.c. #1: to me … “next time, pick on someone your own size, you @$&#%.”

(oddly enough, she was my size, and then some.)

anyway, it was that kind of a night… which that makes me a *little* nervous about the show’s chances on broadway.

I know out of town previews are always dicey — and things will tighten up — but I’m worried about whether the show can make it with the type of cynical, over-stimulated audiences my house cow friends represent to me.

the staging wasn’t elaborate or expensive, and the show couldn’t have taken that anyway. there isn’t a big gimmick or hook. the book hasn’t been rewritten to tell the hidden story of chino’s childhood abuse by maria’s illegitimate father. enrique iglesias isn’t playing bernardo, and there is certainly no heart-wrenching robin Williams cameo as the lovable, but befuddled “doc.”

personally, these are all pluses in my book, but it’s not exactly following the new prototype of how to succeed in this brave new world of the great white way.

well, we shall see. for the show’s sake, i hope the cows won’t come home to roost.

anarchy and chaos in mount pleasant

Monday, 12 January 2009

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img_1696_smanarchy and chaos has broken out in our quiet little corner of mount pleasant.

our building is replacing each of our 35 year-old (single-paned, leaks like a sieve) windows, and workers are up and moving (and banging, and crow-barring) at 6:45 each morning.

as if that wasn’t enough excitement, D.C. has decided to rebuild Park Road between us and Columbia Heights as part of a streetscape project. We’ve got new storm drains going in, new (shiny!) marble curbs, and sidewalks are being widened for better pedestrian flow.

of course, that’s another cacophony of sound each morning (7:00ish) as the jack-hammers, earth movers and angry commuters all battle for auditory supremacy.

obviously, the lady sparkler and i are adult enough to see the benefits coming after the passing trauma, but the big loser in all this is Emily the Cat.

the poor thing thinks she has been shipped off to a war zone.

we took her to the vet today, and no kitty prozac for now … but she has a follow up appointment this weekend, so she may still get the good stuff if keeps at it.

knitting and snowing

Saturday, 3 January 2009

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100_0074two signs of the coming apocalypse: it’s snowing at the beach, and i’ve learned how to knit.

the weather down this way has been crazy. in the last month, we’ve had just as many days above 60 as we had below freezing. it’s rained, it’s typhooned, it’s snowed, it’s blizzard-ed.

i wouldn’t be surprised to see dennis quaid snowshoe by, murmuring about having to save Jake Gyllenhaal (tho, to be frank, i would toss Jake back and focus my attention on saving Emmy Rossum).

i digress.

the lady sparkler and i are spending the long weekend on the coast of Delaware with Lighting Chick Knits, whose sister happens to have a house out here with a spectacular view of the sound (pictures of the view on facebook).

much as her blog would suggest, Lighting Chick Knits, well, knits. and, being the Renaissance man that i am, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to add another tick to my “wide, not deep” resume of skills, probably best symbolized by my musical skills (guitar, bass, piano, violin, and harmonica) or my interest in foreign languages (russian, arabic, spanish) — all of which i can “do,” just none particularly well.

and so it is with knitting … i am neither exceptionally good or exceptionally bad. knitting fits nicely into my need for immediate gratification, but my skills are no where near the point they’d need to overcome my internal demand for perfection.

we’ll see. so far, i’ve made it through 20 rows of a scarf, which is just enough to make smallishly-sized bookmark … which seems like a just reward for annihilating the last remaining shred of my masculinity.