The Daily News

Thanks to an incredibly thoughtful friend, I got tickets to see “The Daily Show” tape here in DC yesterday and watched Jon Stewart interview the President live. The experience itself was a bit surreal. I’ve seen live tapings before. I’ve actually seen Stewart tape live before, back when he had a show on MTV. But this was unique in that I had never seen Barack Obama before in person.

We waited outside for about 2 hours before we could file into the theater. We were in the VIP line which – while a touch exhausting – was apparently not half as tiresome as having to wait in the general admission line which didn’t necessarily guarantee entry. Our biggest complaint was that the audience coordinators waited until right before the doors opened to tell us there would be no use of restroom facilities inside the venue. That led to a mass mad dash to a bar across the street as the front of the line started to work its way through security.

Once inside, we waited another half hour or so to be let into the theater itself. Then there was another long wait before the warm-up. All the hurrying up to wait was understandable as security had to sweep the building and then take its time with attendees, but it did feel like a very long afternoon.

It’s comical to see all the Monday (Thursday?) morning quarterbacking that went on today seeing as how very few of the people commenting on the interview were actually there. Stewart had a great opener that you didn’t see because the interview itself ran long. He kicked off with a segment called “Let’s Keep The President Waiting” and killed a few minutes with various stunts and a random local news report on National Pasta Day. Then he welcomed the President, and what you saw on TV began.

As someone who has been frustrated with this Administration, I thought Stewart did a great job. He pushed back at all the right moments and didn’t let the President get away with blanket statements like, “There are lots of things we’ve done that you don’t know about.” That got exactly the follow-up it deserved. The other two big slips were when Obama said Summers did a heck of a job (which while the President said it was an intentional pun, no one I was with believed that to be true), and when he said “Yes we can, but…” All in all, I thought Stewart navigated the interview beautifully.

Obama looked tired and defensive. I don’t know what he expected, but there were no softballs. And while much of what he said was true (or close to true), there were times I was not pleased. For example, when he said we got 90% of what we wanted in health care reform, and it’s not fair for people to dwell on the 10%, I was afraid the ultra-sensitive overhead mike might pick up the unladylike expletive I muttered under my breath.

When the interview ended and Obama took off, Stewart stuck around. He answered lots of questions from the audience and even indulged the couple launched at him from your typical DC d-bags. In response to one in particular, he had what I thought was the line of the night.

This young lawyer asked Stewart – and I’m totally paraphrasing from memory – if using the comedy card was working for him. The gist was to accuse Stewart of being a journalist but using the title of comedian to get away with stuff, and it was an atrociously thinly veiled reference to Stewart’s appearance on Crossfire more than 6 years ago. Dwell much, dude?

Anyway, Stewart explained that he is a comedian, and he and his staff proudly work on a show that uses comedy to draw attention to news and issues they care about very much. He explained that comedy often can be tougher than straight punditry (because he has to take the time to process and restructure in his head before he comments on something). And even though he has no interest in being anything other than exactly what he is, that does not preclude him from having the right to expect more from the media and call them out when they’re being lazy or unhelpful.

“I have a job,” he said. “I’d like them to do theirs.”

I’ve always adored Stewart for being a smart comedian, but after last night, I have a newfound appreciation for just how smart a man he really is.

Image courtesy is anonymous b/c pictures were strictly prohibited, and I don’t want to get anyone in trouble. But I can assure you this was taken inside the theater, and it was not taken by me.

DC Dissected

Local peeps will get a kick out of the latest from Brightest Young Things. This is their take on where to go and what to avoid this weekend in each DC ‘hood:

UPDATE: A friend on FB pointed out they recommend Royal Palace. I missed that. It’s kind of a funny reminder to always read the fine print.

Deja Bullsh*t

From an AHIP press release I just received entitled “AHIP President & CEO Discusses Health Insurance Industry’s Perspective on Health Care Reform”:

“Health care costs are crushing our economy and placing too heavy of a burden on hard working families,” said Ignagni. “We cannot wait any longer to address this issue. We have to get the growth of health care costs under control if we are going to have a sustainable health care system and a strong economy.”


Ignagni stressed that a workable and sustainable solution for health care reform will be a uniquely American blend of public and private influence to preserve benefits for employers and consumers and foster innovation.

Karen Ignagni’s been saying the exact same thing for years, using the exact same words. I think everyone’s well aware of the health insurance industry’s perspective on health care reform by now.

DCCX Stills

Click on the image to see the full set.


Happy Monday. Little treat for you this AM. Yesterday, I went to see Cyclocross for the first time. It was very cool. Cyclists take three laps around a 2 mile course with sharp turns, dips, stairs, and short hurdles. They periodically have to dismount and then remount the bike in one fluid motion as the obstacles make it impossible to ride the course straight through.

It’s just as challenging as it sounds, and these men and women are clearly in very good shape.

I took a lot of pictures, but the most fun was playing with video. This is my first stab at iMovie and the ending’s a little abrupt, but all in all, I’m pretty pleased with how my little DCCX recap came out. Enjoy!

The Unwatchable

I think Glenn Beck is dangerous and have no interest in encouraging anyone to listen to him ever.

However, via TVNewser, Beck spews a rare nugget of truth in calling out CNN for giving Eliot Spitzer a show:

“Then they go to Eliot Spitzer. There’s a change, if you just have a guy who frequented hookers on by himself. But you can’t do that. That’s too risky. ‘Let’s not have the hooker guy on by himself, let’s have some chick on with him. Now America will watch!’”

I flipped on Parker/Spitzer for about 10 minutes one evening about a week ago out of morbid curiosity, and it was exactly as expected – uncomfortable, unprofessional, and entirely inappropriate. I’ve seen cable access shows with better flow. Neither of these people is fit to be hosting a television program on a national news network. In the short amount of time I managed to tolerate the spectacle, I heard Parker ask a French philosopher why he believes some Americans are disillusioned with President Obama. Here’s a thought. Go to the source. I don’t need someone’s opinion as to why something is if it’s provable. Do the legwork. Talk to the people who are actually disillusioned.

The second cringe-worthy moment was when Spitzer told his panelists (which included “America’s Next Top Model” personality and former supermodel Paulina Porizkova) that the conversation was getting too heavy, and they should lighten it up. Apparently, Spitzer (and/or the producer in his ear) believes substance is problematic.

Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve seen a promo for this abomination of a show in which Parker comments that because she’s a journalist and Spitzer is a politician, they don’t always trust one another. Really, Kathleen? That’s why you can’t trust Eliot Spitzer?

Client 9 – the new documentary about Spitzer from Alex Gibney – the guy who made Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room – is set for theatrical release on November 5th. I haven’t heard or read enough about it yet to know whether it’s legit (at least one Republican strategist cries foul), but I do hope it reopens the conversation about Spitzer’s crappy, illegal behavior. It can’t hurt to remind CNN – a network that once bragged it was “The Most Trusted Name In News” – why a man who frequented prostitutes, humiliated his wife, and was forced to resign his governorship never should have gotten his own television show in the first place.

Now that Jon Klein is gone, CNN execs would be wise to get this disaster off the air asap.

Picture of the Day

Did no one at the company see a problem with this?

Lice, Mice, and Other Disturbing Critters

I had an interesting long weekend. It started with catching “The Social Network” Friday night and ended with fielding a text message late Monday night from a boy who has no business owning, let alone using, my number anymore.

Let’s start with the movie. I liked it. I know a lot of it was exaggerated for dramatic effect, and I know there has been some criticism of how women are portrayed, but it’s a Hollywood film, and I am totally alright with some suspension of reality for the sake of entertainment. If you’ve seen the movie, you should also read the Vanity Fair piece on Sean Parker. It’s interesting.

Saturday night, I went out with a close friend and a couple of friends of hers whom I’ve met once before. They’re terrific. They’re also parents, and the woman launched into a hysterical monologue about her ongoing battle with lice. Every time she thinks she’s killed them for the last time, her kids come home infested again. She’s run experiments like dropping a bug in a mug of water to see if it would drown. It didn’t. It just swam unfazed for more than two hours. I heard all about over-dried bedding, frozen hair accessories, and toxic shampoo. It sounded miserable, but this woman has such a great sense of humor about the whole ordeal that I couldn’t help but think, “Now that’s the kind of parent I’d like to be – one who takes it all in stride.”

Sunday night I had dinner with a new friend who took me to a lovely restaurant I’d walked past several times but had never been to before. The food was interesting, and the wait staff worked hard to present a refined dining experience. However, they’ve got a mouse. Or several mice. It was tough to tell as the little sucker(s) kept darting back and forth along the floorboards. We were the last two people in the place, and that’s when the mouse (mice?) came out to play. Surprising, yes. But what was even more shocking was the server’s nonchalant reaction to our discovery.

“Yes, we have mice,” he said. “It’s just that time of year. Oh well.”

Color me picky, but I’m not okay with rodents dashing through any dining establishment. To my companion’s credit, even though the conversation was still in full swing, he saw a mouse cross the floor and head our direction and suggested we exit before one of us (namely me) had a close encounter of the creepy kind.

Speaking of creepy, I’m totally over unsolicited late night text messages. If it’s too late to call me, it’s too late to text. And if you suspect I’d have no interest in speaking with you if you did call, save us both the trouble and lose my number.

I don’t have time for crazy.

You Are Where You Eat

I’m back.

I celebrated my birthday by spending five great days with Levana in Vermont and Montreal. We’re both big walkers so there was a lot of that. There was also a lot of eating.

The food in Burlington was incredible. All fresh. All local. In Canada, we continued the trend with everything from chocolate to traditional French cuisine to the infamous poutine.

Here’s a brief photographic culinary recap:

1. It rained all day Friday so we up to Waterbury and took the Ben & Jerry’s factory tour. The best parts were the free sample and the soggy trek to the Flavor Graveyard.

2. En route to Montreal. Basket in the back seat filled with honey crisp apples, blue cheese, and a loaf of caraway, salt, wheat and rye bread picked up at the Farmers’ Market before departure.

3. A little dessert before dinner. A stop at Juliette & Chocolate where we ordered two hot chocolates – one hazelnut and one caramel – and a brownie a la mode with milk hot chocolate to pour over top. That brownie was sin on a plate.

4. I don’t have photos of the official birthday dinner at L’Express, but it was spot-on. On Sunday, we went for poutine. Levana had the classique (just cheese curds and gravy). I went for the mexicana which also had hot peppers, tomatoes, and black olives. I thought it was going to be kind of gross since I don’t tend to eat food that heavy, but I was wrong.

I’ll spare you the rest of the sightseeing pics, but I do want to share a cool video. This is the drum circle held on summer Sundays in the Parc du Mont-Royal: