Saturday, September 29, 2007


Sunshine reads a selection of her poetry tomorrow night (Saturday, September 29th, 2007) at the first anniversary celebration of the lit periodical Cave Wall (here is the official announcement). The reading will be at seven pm at the UNCG Faculty Center on College Avenue, located between the Alumni House and the campus' nine-story library. Here's the UNCG website for those who would like to identify the building by sight. Today, however, Sunshine went to class once more, like normal, while I cleaned the house and gassed up the car for the big trip to Greensboro. Since Sunshine gets out of work before five thirty today, we can maybe make it to town before midnight. That's all there is to say about today, really. Yesterday there was more: I ate yet another Sizzex salad before hiking all the way to the I.M. Pei building of the National Gallery of Art1 to see the current Edward Hopper exhibit. I've been really excited about seeing this ever since Sunshine's mom told me about it last week. It did not disappoint. First, Hopper is very much up my artistic alley, centering as he did on poly-spatial areas opening into one another, the trapezoidal geometry of light on architectural planes, and an almost film noir narrative interaction between the mysterious denizens of the above. It was nice to see his work in person. I was surprised to discover that his most famous painting, Nighthawks,2 isn't all that big: just about a meter wide. After the museum I hoofed it up the red line to meet Sunshine at Dupont Circle, where I had some nachos before attending the first half-hour of another going away party for one of Sunshine's coworkers, and that before meeting yet another coworker for a light dinner at Raku. Whew. [Cavin]

Friday, September 28, 2007


The other movie I saw yesterday was David Cronenberg's violent post-Sopranos mobster mash Eastern Promises,* a recent addition to the director's latter-day tradition of preventing the auteur trappings of his earlier career in an attempt to introduce a surgical leanness into the storytelling. Kudos: it's a bold thing for a successful artist to simplify; I'm interested in his experiment even if the initial results have felt more like practicing than moviemaking. At the beginning of Eastern Promises, a bleeding woman staggers into a pharmacy in some Russian quarter of London. She's rushed to hospital where she dies one minute before she delivers an unhealthy baby girl. Night nurse Anna (Naomi Watts), in an effort to locate some family for the baby, steals the Cyrillic diary out of the corpse's purse and takes the law into her own hands. It isn't long before she stumbles into the restaurant headquarters of the local Russian don while attempting to translate the indecipherable book. Here the narrative splits in two, following the unnecessary and meddlesome cipher Anna on one hand while discovering the oriental mysteries of alluring Russian black hats on the other. Besides cultural mythmaking (in this case, the glorification of Russian prison and criminal cultures), there is very little to darkly comic portrayals of the gangster point-of-view that cannot be seen on HBO. The white hats are supposed to illustrate the dangers of an accidental brush with ruthless villains, but that story soon peters into predictably rosy earnestness. Can nothing save this movie? How about one virtuoso performance by Viggo Mortensen as the checkered thug Nikolai, immediately out-done by Armin Mueller-Stahl as the syndicate leader? Also, the graphic violence really gets under the skin here. One brutal sauna knife fight has to be seen to be believed, speaking of skin. [Cavin]

Thursday, September 27, 2007


Now that it's fall, it is not altogether gratifying that the weather has become very hot again. Today was sun-blasted and completely without any kind of breeze. That's not to say that I did not have a pretty cool day: I returned to Silver Spring for a couple movies. It's not impossible that today was the last time I'll do that for a long time. I hold modest hope of seeing Ang Lee's Lust, Caution (2006)1 between its October twelfth opening and my departure on the plus-or-minus seventeenth, but I'm not sure where I'll see it. Or if. I tried not to be too maudlin at Starbucks. I bid adieu to the oddly triangular Asian Bistro. Then, possibly, my final movie of 2007 was the Ron Howard-produced documentary In the Shadow of the Moon,2 an extravaganza of NASA stock footage highlights and famous Apollo astronaut heads. I'm not certain that I'm comfortable with the word documentary here, though I can't think of a better one. The movie supports the first person anecdotes of the moon shot participants with a medley of the best-looking space program footage you've ever already seen before; doing so in a way that subverts classroom accuracy in favor of emotional or visual impact. This isn't necessary a complaint. It creates a dynamic illustration of the astronaut's recollections rather than a document in its own right. Fair enough: spacemen are a super cool bunch, especially General Mike Collins, as erudite and entertaining as any wide-eyed boyhood aficionado could possibly dream. I place value in primary sources, and I could listen to astronauts talk all day long. The photo montage, just icing on the cake really, culminated in the coolest disclaimer: this film was shot entirely on location on the earth, the moon, and in space. [Cavin]

Wednesday, September 26, 2007


After yesterday's reading, we headed into the Farragut neighborhood for a going-away party honoring Sunshine's coworker Matt. Matt is the guy who drove me into México when I met Sunshine at the border in 2005. In Monterrey, he left about three weeks before we did; he is doing the same now. His party was nice, and full of people I've been meaning to meet for quite some time. It was held at another branch of the crappy gimmick joint Vapiano's, where patrons are issued silly little credit cards at the door. These keep track of each purchase, and must be presented here and there around the room's adjacent food stations (one for pizza, one for pasta, one for alcohol, etc). It really sucks. What interests me: after all this hoopla, basically designed to eliminate classical restaurant excesses like a wait staff, at the end of the night they still have the gall to present me with a bill that includes a tip line. Tip who? What surprises me is I actually did tip. The drinks were excellent. I hope that bartender gets a better job soon. Last night juxtaposes nicely with tonight, when we went out to a special goodbye dinner with our friends Ian and Christina at the local frat Mexican restaurant Sombrero Hut, a couple of blocks away from the unit. This is the couple who accompanied us to see Grindhouse back in April. They are leaving at the end of this month. Apparently, one has to be pretty close to the actual day of departure to be the star around here. I will be saying goodbye to people beating me over the border until the first week in October. Dinner was nice. I washed down California-style burritos with a DC-style Mojito toast to safe travel. [Cavin]

Tuesday, September 25, 2007


First, an admin announcement: Sunshine will be reading in Greensboro, NC this coming Saturday (September twenty-ninth) in celebration of the first anniversary of Cave Wall, a literary journal that published a couple of Sunshine's poems in its inaugural issue. The link above will take you to the official website, where the official announcement indicates the reading will be held at the UNCG faculty center at seven pm, but also neglects to give an address or directions to where that center is located. I don't know either. I suggest those needing directions follow the "contact us" link at the bottom of the official Cave Wall sidebar, or just call me Saturday. I'll mention all this again at the end of the week. Speaking of readings, Sunshine and I met just north of the Van Ness Station this evening for a spectacular reading by Haitian-American author Edwidge Danticat1 at the Politics and Prose Bookstore.2 Ms. Danticat is an excellent resource for the kind of human interest creative writing that straddles the line delineating fiction form non. Her work often centers around her experiences of Haiti, where she lived until she was twelve years old and where she visits infrequently still. She grew up in a tough spot: her neighborhood of Bel Air, along with more notorious Cité Soleil, sees the brunt of Haiti's chilling gang-related drug violence as well as the equally devastating coalition-led antidrug violence. Her new book details the story of her father and uncle, brothers who took separate roads to the US thirty-five years apart. The selection she read was a harrowing story of people trapped between the two very frightening aggressors I mentioned above. Ms. Danticat is a charming and gracious speaker who manages to relate heartbreaking things with an empowered candor. I was very impressed. [Cavin]

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Autumn Equinox*

When I finally got out of bed Sunshine was down at the nearest roller rink. I took a really long shower. This exciting blog material details exactly what both of us will wish we had time for over the next month, but this is the last weekend we have free to do them. The word free is maybe misapplied, of course, since we had plans on both days; but we were free to make plans this weekend, which is just enough liberty for me to use that description anyway. I came out of the shower wrinkled up and Sunshine returned from the rink with a bruised behind. Then she busied herself making tortellini salad for a pot-luck gathering being held just downstairs in Oakwood's lounge. We bought salad ingredients after derby yesterday. These pot-luck things usually consist of people I've heard about, but rarely met, who are leaving town in a few weeks. I spend the first hour learning the faces of people I've little chance of seeing again for several years. The people I do know well are people I met at other events just like this, months or years ago. Sometimes, I spend the last hour of such gatherings saying goodbye to those officers leaving soonest. Since we infrequently manage to make the salad and attend these things, it may be my last chance. Today's pot-luck was easier: we're among the ones leaving soon. I didn't have to pay attention to other schedules, I just bid everyone goodbye. The food was precisely what a southern picnic consists of: several potato salads, pasta salad, tofu salad, cookies and grilled meat. After saying goodbye to everyone, I headed off to eat some auxiliary food at Lebanese Taverna. Sunshine, filled with grilled meat, stayed at home and did laundry. [Cavin]


While waiting for the outbound train shortly after nine last night, Metro Center Station, another train pulled halfway up the inbound platform and stopped. This train's lights were off; it was parked to limit access to only the first car; the other cars extended off into the tunnel beyond the platform. The windows were fogged so I couldn't see in. When the doors opened, a uniformed man with a submachine gun stepped onto the platform. Other men proceeded to load a wheeled cart onto the train. Then the guard stepped back inside, the doors shut, and the train went on its way. Bizarre, huh? There were several of us gaping on the platform, and one guy went to ask what the hell was happening. Apparently, it was some kind of armored shipment. A money train. A little wild west for downtown DC on a Friday night, no? Never mind that subways offer little besides strategic choke-points, but what necessity exists? We don't have cold hard cash-only casinos or whatever amassing daily deposits. Maybe there's a secret route between the US Mint and the Treasury? Through the District's largest Metro transfer hub? Today, we returned1 to Dulles SportsPlex to see the DC DemonCats valiantly challenge undefeated Scare Force One in District roller derby's final regular season bout.2 My Cats lost ground right off, but then held the spread for the first half. My pick for MVP goes to Racy DC with Camilla the Hun a close second scorer for the Cats, matched by Harley Quinn and Meatball jamming on the Force. Both teams had nearly impenetrable defense, especially the Force's hulking Six5onSkates. After halftime, the DemonCats returned too mad and penalty after penalty forced their scorers onto the bench while Scare Force One, skating unopposed, won by over fifty. [Cavin]