January 30, 2012
2012 Washington DC Auto Show
We take a break from our day-job-imposed semi hiatus for our annual report from the Washington DC Auto Show.
As we have reported for several years now, the organizers of The Washington Auto Show have been attempting to lend the event more of a Washington flavor, the better to reflect the unique culture of our nation’s capital. In furtherance of this goal, they decided to reorganize the way you enter the hall. In prior years, when you entered the Washington Convention Center from the Mt. Vernon Square Metro, you simply hung an immediate right. This year patrons are directed to go straight down a long hallway and then turn right.
And then turn right again.
And then turn right again. Careful readers with a natural affinity for spatial relations (and a high resistance to nodding off into boredom-induced comas) will note that you end up in the exact same place, just in a more complicated and circuitous route to no obvious purpose.
Welcome to Washington! Our customs may appear strange at first, but it's just our way.
We did note that along this new route a bag-screening room had been set up, as apparently organizers got wind from Pakistani intelligence that there was a plot brewing to disrupt our nation’s attempt to wean itself off imported oil, perhaps by blowing up a Honda Fit EV.
We did not have a great deal of time to spend at the auto show this year, partly because of the half mile we had to walk just to purchase tickets, but here are some of the things we saw.
Ford is in the process of trying to revive the Lincoln brand and restore it to its former glory when every red-blooded American dreamed of one day being rich enough to park his vehicle in the living room.
Likewise, Chrysler is turning to the storied “Dodge Dart” moniker in an attempt to combine the muscle car heritage of Mopar with the design acumen of Kia.
If you’re a Fiat marketing rep trying to convince Americans that the 500 isn’t a ridiculously tiny toy-like car unfit for American highways, you know what probably isn’t a good idea? Providing interested customers the chance to drive a Fiat 500 in what for all the world looks like a carnival bumper car ride.
“Weeeee!! Look, mommy, it’s just like driving a real car!”
Car makers love to show off “concept cars” at auto shows, not that they’ll ever get built, but to serve as “engineering platforms” to develop technologies that will one day make it into production vehicles. Take this futuristic entry from Ford for example.
We’re pretty sure that that innovative wax job might just make it onto a Ford Focus some day.
The Washington Auto Show is, as always, a good time, and runs through this coming weekend. Just be sure to bring your running shoes and maybe do a little cross training ahead of time if you're planning on entering from the Mt. Vernon Square Metro side.
January 02, 2012
Key West 2012
Yes, it's the same time, same day, and same drink. It is, however, an entirely different airport.
I think it's good to take a walk on the wild side from time to time.
January 01, 2012
Weekend in Pictures – Holiday 2011 Edition
The Question is, Did They Use Snow Krab or Blue Krab?
You know what I really hate? Imitation krab meat. If you’re going to make krab dip, use real krab, not the fake stuff.
When You Think About it, They Already Kind of Walk Like Zombies
Like a scene out of a preschool version of the Walking Dead, we came across this Apocalyptic vista the morning of New Years Eve. What could possible have driven these youngsters to abandon their peddle cars and flee in such disorder?
We’re thinking cooties outbreak.
Bad Business Plan
In a world where having a job is a right, we suppose it makes sense to sell kids a carnival with two workers and only one customer. But that's just for pretend, after all. Right?
Atkins Would be Proud
What’s a perfect side dish for a sausage and egg burrito? Sausage, of course. (In hindsight, I should have gotten eggs, too. And scrapple)
In rural Pennsylvania, you have a variety of choices in bottled tea, no matter whether you like it sweetened, or really sweetened.
Happy New Year, everyone. I’ll be back… soon.
November 14, 2011
Now If Only They’d Bring Back The McDLT
It was a bad week for ‘80s-era icons here at Planet Moron.
First, our alma mater was rocked with scandal when it was revealed that legendary Penn State football coach Joe Paterno treated a credible eyewitness report that his long-time assistant had sexually molested a child with the same sense of urgency and moral outrage one would have accorded to reports that he had been discovered stealing ketchup packets from the dining hall.
Second, and perhaps even more grotesque and stomach-churning, I ate a McRib sandwich, currently making one of its rare limited-engagement appearances on the menu at McDonald’s.
Now, before you jump to conclusions, I should point out that I worked at McDonald’s in the summer of 1979, before the introduction of the McRib, and was impressed with the company’s focus on quality and extensive use of fresh ingredients. In fact, I had trouble convincing people that we used honest-to-goodness eggs that had to each be individually broken open to make Egg McMuffins as if they assumed that the yolk in the center was made out of some kind of advanced polymer (that’s what we put in the milkshakes). No, in my experience, McDonald’s used a surprising number of wholesome ingredients as found in nature.
The McRib was not one of them.
While I never had the distinct honor of making a McRib (after all, I did not have a chemistry degree), I happily indulged in the BBQ-slathered pork-inspired product as a customer, purposefully ignoring the fact that the perfectly formed rib patty was totally devoid of ribs. I never questioned why they put pickles on it (Answer: Shut up, that’s why.) I simply allowed its processed goodness to caress my young palate, which at the time had all the nuance and subtlety of a Michael Bay movie.
And so this weekend, in particular need of the comforting embrace of nostalgia, I purchased my first McRib sandwich in nearly thirty years.
Hey, new packaging. I like it.
Now that really is a tangy temptation!
Okaaaay. Well, let’s take a good look at the side.
That doesn’t look anything like the picture. Fine, let’s open this sucker up…
Oh. My. God. What kind of sadist would make this? What hell-spawn jackal of a demon monster would ever…
Hm. Not bad.
Okay, so the patty was pretty vile, and every time you crunch into an onion or pickle you think it’s gristle (It isn’t. I think.) but the bun was pretty fresh, the sauce was indeed tangy, and, well, it’s a McRib sandwich. Sure, it’s not as good as I remember it, just like the music from the same era wasn’t as good as I remember it either (Get Outta My Dreams, Get Into My Car? Really?). But for a few moments there, Joe Paterno was respected, $200 billion deficits were considered “large," the damage Barack Obama could do was limited to poorly organizing a communty, the World Trade Center was standing, and I still had brown hair.
We will meet again McRib.
October 16, 2011
Weekend Pictorial – College Football Pregame Edition
What could people possibly be waiting in line for at 8:59 AM on a Saturday morning?
The release of the iPhone 4S?
A DOE solar energy loan giveaway?
The answer is actually more pathetic:
It was the highly anticipated routine 9:00 AM opening of the Rathskeller, a famous dive bar in State College, Pennsylvania, home of the Penn State Nittany Lions.
I had just come from my favorite local coffee shop (following a 200-mile drive up from Washington, DC) and so had a muffin and a coffee with me. Regardless, I fell into line, walked by the sign that said, “No outside food or beverages allowed,” gave a “you obviously don’t need to see my ID” nod to the bouncer, ordered a shot of whiskey, and settled in to enjoy my Macgyver Irish coffee..
Joined later by some friends, I went through all the normal motions of a pregame college Saturday tradition, one I have followed for longer than I care to admit, with one exception:
I decided to skip the game part.
For years, Penn State has saddled its fans with ever rising ticket prices, parking fees, a building spree that has pushed tailgaters farther from the stadium and a web of increasingly petty and nonsensical rules including one that forbids setting an EZ-Up tent on pavement and another that forbids the drinking of beer on grassy areas. That resulted one wet Saturday morning in our party having to set up our tent on the median, but having to stand in the rain to drink our beer.
At least when professional sports teams vacuum money out of your wallet they try to throw you a bone, say, more comfortable seats or upgraded beer choices and food. At Penn State you squeeze yourself into the same awful bench seats (seemingly engineered to properly handle the average sized Japanese female), the same awful food and NO beer!
While the stadium still fills up, we did notice an old favorite bar of ours unusually deserted that afternoon:
Regardless, I’ll still make my way back up there another Saturday this fall.
I’d hate to not miss a game.
October 03, 2011
Weekend Pictorial – Art on the Avenue 2011 Edition
We had a Planet Moron family outing Saturday to the annual “Art on the Avenue” festival in the Del Ray section of Alexandria, Virginia.
In a desperate attempt to butch up the widely derided fanny pack, a local artist has created the “urban holster.” Like the “European satchel” which attempted to make it okay for a man to carry a purse, the urban holster appears to be riding a new trend that hopes to rebrand items that are not considered particularly masculine.
You can try this yourself. Too embarrassed to tell the bartender you want a wine spritzer? Tell him you want a “greenhouse gas grape bomb.” Do you drive a Toyota Prius? No you don’t. You drive “canned lightening.” You like to wear lipstick? That’s a .44 caliber cartridge of color, pal.
It could work.
Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds
Question: Who did the most drugs? The artist? Or the Hippo?
Tots for Tyrants!
What did my son make a beeline for the moment I turned my back? A balloon promoting the reelection of our embarrassment of a congressional representative. Not even two years old, and already he’s rebelling. Mrs. Moron later claimed she “lost” the balloon while picking up a boot that had slipped off his foot.
Hey, “accidents” happen, right?
Does it Come With Corruption Cole Slaw?
“Pork Barrel BBQ” had a stand set up in front of their restuarant. They had a stand set up rather than just open the doors to their restaurant because the restaurant, which was started in 2009 with an expected completion date of this past summer, still isn't open.
We think maybe they're taking this whole government-themed thing a little too far.
Regardless, it was a fine, if wet day, and we probably spent as much money on art as we did on food.
September 19, 2011
In case you were wondering why it was more difficult than usual to find a parking space last Friday, it might have been because of “PARK(ing) Day.”
If you are like most Planet Moron readers, your car is currently being held as evidence by the authorities, and so you might not have noticed, however PARK(ing) day is universally known as having possibly the most awkward name of any event in the history of humankind with the possible exception of “24 Hours of Reality.”
“An annual, worldwide event that invites citizens everywhere to transform metered parking spots into temporary parks for the public good.”
Finding a place to park is not in the public good, of course. As an article in Smithsonian Magazine recently explained:
“If aliens were watching the Earth from space, they might well assume that cars are the planet’s dominant species. Humans, they’d quickly observe, seem to exist in order to feed and groom their well-armored masters, and propel them from place to place.”
Keep in mind we are speaking here of profoundly stupid aliens, who despite having mastered technologies beyond our comprehension, still retain the cognitive abilities of a three-year-old.
“The image long peeved Matthew Passmore.”
Imagine how frustrating it must have been for Mr. Passmore to have to observe his fellow citizens going about their daily lives rather than spending their time in more productive pursuits such as “exploring the full dimensions of urban social ecology.”
And so in 2005, Mr. Passmore began the very first PARK(ing) Day. According to organizers, the event is necessary to:
“Challenge existing notions of public urban space and empower people to help redefine space to suit specific community needs.”
There is a possibility that these people have never heard of zoning commissions. But then, we have to remember:
“Cities are built for people, although in past decades large swaths of urban space have been dedicated almost to the storage and movement of private vehicles… that serve a relatively narrow bandwidth of the “public.”
And by “a relatively narrow bandwidth of the ‘public,’” they mean “the majority of the public” in every single major American urban area except New York.
Here at Planet Moron headquarters in Arlington County, Virginia, the local boondoggle known as “Artisphere,” (a name that doesn’t so much roll off the tongue as mugs it) enthusiastically sanctioned the event and even offered to participate:
“Dance Exchange will perform “Rest Easy,” a site-specific installation element of ‘Hammock’ in which Dance Exchange artist Sarah Levitt will seek rest in repetition from 5pm-6:30pm on September 16.”
Alternate title: “Public Employee Union.”
“The stage version of Hammock strips away the high-tech production elements of modern performance, instead focusing on the human body and the stage space they inhabit. Choreographed by Dance Exchange artists Sarah Levitt and Benjamin Wegman, Hammock explores rest as a defiant and aggressive act. The artists describe their process as one that “shifts between rest and productivity, talking and silence, being seen and disappearing, virtuosity and ‘that doesn’t look like a dance,’ changing the world and giving up for good.”
One of the things PARK(ing) Day hopes to promote is “unscripted social interactions.”
It would be interesting to hear the unscripted social interactions of taxpayers once they discover they’re paying for someone to get in and out of a hammock.
But we must remember:
“The vast majority of outdoor urban space is dedicated to the private vehicle, while only a fraction of that land is allocated to open space for people.”
We don’t mean to sound alarmist, but we think the organizers of PARK(ing) Day have been taken over by aliens.
September 10, 2011
If I Didn't Go to the Beach...
The terrorists would win.
September 05, 2011
Labor Day 2011
Like many Americans, we here at Planet Moron visited with family this holiday weekend, in our case, traveling to Pennsylvania to partake in a traditional Labor Day feast.
Mmmm, brats and hot dogs.
And what better to accompany meat sandwiches than a big old side dish of meat.
We were told these were “calico beans.” While I did not look up the meaning of “calico” I assumed it loosely translates into “not a lot of.” This is Pennsylvania you understand, and we don’t go in for these new dietary fads most of which seem to involve an awful lot of things that are not meat.
Of course, if anyone absolutely insisted on having a vegetable, there were carrots.
Speaking of things that are not carrots, if anyone is interested, we noticed as we drove by that the Wesley Yeager VFW Post 606 in Fort Loudon, Pa is having a “meat raffle” in early November.
Have I mentioned lately that I love Pennsylvania?
For those of you who choose to celebrate Labor Day by engaging in endeavors that do not primarily include the consumption of meat, may we suggest that you pay tribute to the original meaning of this great American holiday and join together with Labor Secretary Hilda Solis.
And buy Canadian!
August 29, 2011
Hurricane Irene – Epilogue
For those of you who followed our live blog over the weekend, you have our thanks and gratitude for your well wishes and support. It’s hard not knowing where your next full iPad charge is going to come from, or finding yourself desperately scrambling in the dark for something, anything, that will let you know how long it takes for beer to get warm in a closed refrigerator.
While Planet Moron HQ continues to be without power, that has less to do with the widespread swath of destruction brought on by the fury of Hurricane Irene (or as we like to call it around here, “Really Bad Storm Irene” and more to do with the fact that an old tree finally fell over on some power lines down the street. (As one of the neighborhood dog walkers told me this morning, "I thought everyone had their power back on.")
They are making important progress on repairs, however, having already begun work on marking the area off with yellow tape. And that was all just in the first 36 hours, so we fully expect to have power in time for the holiday. Not Labor Day, probably more like Thanksgiving.
Regarding rainfall totals, based on our “How Much Water Collected in The Passenger Foot Well of our ’97 Grand Cherokee” gauge, it was “a lot.”
As you can see, there is still quite a bit of dampness, and this was after we'd already bailed out the initial 3/8 of an inch. Usually, we expect no more than a quarter inch of water after a storm.
Truly, we are blessed.
We are also relieved to report that cannibalism did not break out in the New York Mercantile Exchange as first feared, nor did hurricane-spawned zombies roam the streets of Queens (those were just Mets fans), but that was almost certainly due to Mayor Bloomberg’s superb preparations in advance of the storm and not the fact that the storm fell somewhat short of expectations.
Finally, no account of a natural disaster would be complete without first blaming it on global warming, followed by the requisite juxtaposition of images of both destruction and rebirth, illustrating that beauty and/or life endures even in the face of great blah blah blah.
We hope to return to our regularly scheduled snark by tomorrow.