Black Watch

Shock and awe, ringing ears, and profuse swearing – key elements that made the National Theatre of Scotland’s production of Black Watch simply captivating.

I know what you’re thinking, nothing is that good, these statements are like the drivel on film posters “A Must See!!!” or “Two Thumbs Up.” In this instance, the production (it’s more than a play, and I certainly wouldn’t detract from it by calling it a musical) in parts rivals the impact one would get at a screening of an action film. It’s the real deal, and as one of the reviews said, “Beg, steal or borrow to get yourself a ticket,” The News of the World.

Black WatchFrom the moment of seating in the Sidney Harman Hall at the Shakespeare Theatre, one is in the midst of the action, loud bagpipes play and roboscans fill the stage; which I would characterise as abbreviated in the round, audience seating behind what would be the traditional proscenium, and also in the expected area in front of the stage. With the troops wagon on stage right and scaffolding on either side, one had a real sense of depth on an otherwise bare stage. Suspension of disbelief was not an issue here. Continue reading

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Working on it…

I know the point of a blog is to have fresh content all the time, and I knew this would be a problem when I started this page. That said, once I finish reading the current book I am on (a long-term effort over the Christmas holidays and into the new year), I will work on new content. Promise.

PS – Go Frogs

First Drive – BMW 335d

This morning, I took up an offer at BMW of Arlington (soon to be BMW of Alexandria) to test drive a 2011 BMW 335d.

The model we took out was a black four-door saloon, with the sports and cold weather packages. Shod in pretty nice 18’s with low profile run-flat PZeros (I think).

For about $52k, this isn’t a cheap motor, especially considering this wasn’t even optioned out to the limit, but it is a nice ride.

After pressing the start/stop button and starting it up without a wait for glowplugs, I half expected a pretty loud noise until it warmed up. It was quiet, just about as quiet as my funfer is in the morning. That was impressive.

Venturing onto the roads, we took it on the secondary roads before having a pretty good run on I395 and I495. I let the car shift itself until we hit the on-ramp for the highway (only autos are available – for shame BMW-USA), then put it into sport-shift mode. The car has paddles on the steering wheel, and given the sport-size wheel, everything was in reach and really comfortable. I kept catching myself going for the clutch and gear stick, but that was inevitable.

Putting your foot down, even in the sixth at moderate speed, the torque is quite impressive, almost pulling like a 540i. Considering this is a normal automatic gearbox, not an SMG or DCT, the shifts are remarkably responsive. You quickly forget you are driving an oil burner, and it corners  well (some Dinan parts would spice it up) – that’s more a testament to the large shoes as opposed to the (blech) run-flats I suppose. Turning the nanny switch off, I imagine this is a car that could spend a lot of time going sideways on a track day.

I found the visibility not as good as the 5 series – but that’s inevitable given the car’s smaller size.  A diesel coupe would be a definite win too. It seems that they really restrict the range of diesel (and small in general) models for the US market. Hopefully this tide is shifting as people want small, fun, economical cars.

Bottom line, if this car had a more appealing interior (this one had saddle brown leather and wood trim), this is one I could definietly see myself in. There are tons of incentives too, so this could be a pretty reasonable car to purchase in late-December if one is so-inclined to take advantage of the tax perks.

Still, I say that now, but I cannot wait for the new 1 Series M Coupe to come out, hopefully in Q1 2011.  That will be a car for a test-drive and euro-delivery.

A Great Post from Greater Greater Washington

Following the Securitisn’t series from a while back, David Alpert at GGW has a great post following the capture of alleged terrorists plotting to engage the Metro system in DC. A great line, sure to infuriate Bill O’Reilly:

Instead, they typically just end up being suspicious of people who look Muslim.

Snippet and more:

Overreactions already beginning to nonexistent bomb plot

Following news that the FBI orchestrated its own, fake Metro bombing plot to catch a potential terrorist, Metro transit police are already pondering instituting useless “security theater” methods like random bag searches.

NYC subway bag inspection. Photo by Runs With Scissors on Flickr.

Bag searches look good but don’t do anything. Anyone can simply turn around and enter a different station. If someone wanted to bomb a station, they just wouldn’t do it when the bag searches are taking place. As I discussed on yesterday’s Kojo Nnamdi show, we’ve spent far too much money building security barriers around buildings or running big “show of force” exercises.

Read on… http://greatergreaterwashington.org/post.cgi?id=7897

September Primary Elections

Wow, what a night, and what a morning. Talking heads will have no end of items to chat about today. Are the tea baggers doing long-term damage to the Republicans? With empty suits like O’Connell winning in Delaware, one has to wonder. Likewise, are NYers really ready for Paladino?

Closer to home, the Maryland gubernatorial rematch between Ehrlich and O’Malley might be one of the better, and hopefully more civil general election battles.

Closer to home, Mayor Fenty losing his election will be national news, not to mention a case-study for years to come about how one can: have one hell of a mandate, win every precinct in the city, and have residents believe you a doing a good job – yet because do forget to do the basics, and some good old retail, you lose everything. People can handle an aggressive go-getter who rolls over the Council, but not if you don’t tell the base why. His evasive nature ended up being his undoing.

From WaPo: How Adrian Fenty lost his reelection bid for D.C. mayor.

Making the Switch – Droid Update

So I made the switch today. After several weeks of trial, including some travel, I handed in my trusty blackberry to use the Droid incredible as my primary work mobile. Thanks of course to Derrick, for making it all click.

The devise is not without some drawbacks, which I will get into on a future expanded post.

In the meantime, I’m off to the marketplace to check out more apps.

(posted via WP for Android)   

World Cup 2010 – Hangover Edition

A billion viewers can’t be wrong!

Off the top, fair play to Spain, they proved they are the best and took the high road against a Dutch team who played like louts and should have ended the game with nine players on the field. Luckily it didn’t go to penalties, there would have been riots if Holland won over Spain.

Match ref Howard Webb is getting hammered from all sides – so he must have done something right…with 14 yellow and one red card, it was a tough game to officiate but the consensus is that de Jong should have been shown the red. Guardian has a good write up on the ref’s dream job here: http://www.guardian.co.uk/football/2010/jul/12/howard-webb-final-nightmare-yellow-cards

The 2010 World Cup will certainly be memorable, but not really for the football. It is great that Spain now has a seat at the table with those other teams bearing a star above their flag, but the incessant vuvuzelas drowning out the fans passion won’t be missed. This was certainly a politically and culturally successful tournament, but game was lacking, from bad referee calls, to just plain boring games. Commenters on 606 had it right when they quoted Inter’s Jose Mourinho as saying the UEFA Champions league is bigger and more important than the World Cup. The semis and quarters had some gripping games, Japan and Ghana putting in some great efforts, and the young German team has a very bright future.

England’s miserable performance won’t be missed, the question being will they learn and put forth a more creative performance in the coming tourneys. I like my analogy about the 2004 Team USA Olympic basketball team and England’s performance as a team – the difference being that at least the US dream team got a bronze. Still, even the Three Lions woes pail in comparison to the embarrassment that was the the French performance. We’ll see what Fabio brings to the next games – and what lessons have been learned when England take on Hungary in August.

Sepp is going to have to give in on goal line technology, whether it’s a ref in the stands, or watching the line from behind the goal, or a box on the sidelines, something has to change. The purists will disagree, and the implementation will be a big debate, i.e. will each manager have three calls per game, one call per half or some sort of other hybrid way to object to calls. As long as the pace of the game doesn’t suffer (think NFL) because of reviews, this may help balance the outcome of some of these games. FIFA claims they got 96% of the calls correct in the tournament, that four percent is the kick-in-the-teeth for the offended parties though.

I suppose when things are new, people will complain, but it seems like the Jabulani ball was a bit of failure. Hopefully a ball players can find more predictable will make for a better tourney in ’14.

There is someone who got it right the whole tourney…Paul the Octopus – if anyone deserves the golden boot, it is him, the marvelous mollusk, an English transplant in Germany, beat 300-1 odds to nail all of the final games. Fair play. If we can keep him alive another four years without him being eaten or whacked by the bookies, I think we may have another champion.

Here’s the premier league starting back up, with the Toons back in the top flight, and to the Euro competition.