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"Before you know it as the years go by, you're just like other people you have seen, with all those peculiar human ailments. Just another vehicle for temper and vanity and rashness and all the rest. Who wants it? Who needs it? These things occupy the place where a man's soul should be." -- Henderson the Rain King

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

F-L-A Bound

Tomorrow I head out for a short trip to Florida for a family reunion at Gold Head Branch State Park. I'm looking forward to seeing family and spending some quality time in Gainesville. Not sure if I'll have internet access while I'm down there, but if I do I'll try to post an update or two.

Monday, July 25, 2005

http://www.jamiecampbell.name

You can now reach my blog by browsing to http://www.jamiecampbell.name. I registered the domain yesterday using GoDaddy.com. For less than $20/yr. I was able to set up a private domain name which redirects to my blog on BlogSpot. Pretty cool stuff. If you're unfamiliar with the .name domain extension, it was one of the extensions added by ICANN in 2001, and is meant to be used by people hosting their own personal sites (such as this blog).

Given that the name was still available, it looks like I was the first Jamie Campbell to register it although there are clearly a lot of other Jamie Campbell's on the internet -- for instance http://www.jamiecampbell.net is already taken by a rock singer in California.

Thinking about the fact that there are so many other Jamie Campbells in the world reminded me of an old British TV show called Are You Dave Gorman? in which the host, Dave Gorman, set off around the world to meet other people who shared his name. I always thought that was a really cool idea, so in that spirit I'd like to invite all Jamie Campbells of the world to unite (or maybe just drop me a comment on my blog). Together we can't be stopped!

Here are some of the myriad of name-mates I happened across while Googling my name. Sadly, I don't show up in the results until page 5...ouch.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

For Squirrels a.k.a. Subrosa

A couple of weeks ago I posted about bloom., one of my all-time favorite Gainesville bands. Writing about them reminded me of another great Gainesville band called For Squirrels.

In October of 1995, For Squirrels released a wonderful major label debut on Sony 550 called Example. The album got rave reviews and featured a hit single, 'The Mighty K.C.'. Just when the band appeared to be poised to hit it big, they suffered a tragic van accident which killed two band members and the band's tour manager. Surviving members Travis Tooke and Jack Griego continued to make music and in 1997 reformed as Subrosa releasing a highly highly underrated album titled Never Bet The Devil Your Head.

While looking around to see if I could find any info on what the guys in Subrosa have been up to lately, I came across a great site called ForSquirrels.net that contains lots of info about both bands as well as downloads of a variety of live shows, side projects, and even Subrosa's unreleased album Revlover. Also on the site was the excellent news that Travis has just finished recording a new solo album which is currently in the process of being printed!



Subrosa - Jack, Travis, and Andy

Saturday, July 23, 2005

NCAA Football 2006 and Action Replay

Today I started playing NCAA Football 2006 on the XBox. Although I've only played one game so far my first impression is that it seems like a pretty solid improvement from last year's version. Since Heisman mode is the marquee feature this release, I decided to give it a go first. After running the training drills, I ended up building a Running Back who got a scholarship to Kansas State where I now plan to run the option like nobody's business. Working my future star up the Heisman ranks should provide a fun distraction as I focus on the real challenge of building yet another Gator dynasty.

The best part is that when I got the game I also bought an Action Replay device which allows you to download game cheats from the internet and then transfer them to an XBox memory card using a USB docking device. One of the limitations of the NCAA games has always been that they can't include real player names in the game, so you end up with guys with names like 'QB #12' instead of 'Chris Leak'. Using the Action Replay, I was able to download the full rosters for every college team from FKRosters.com and then save them for use on my XBox's harddrive. Now when I play I have all of the real player names for every team! In the past I've spent multiple hours typing in the names of all of the Gator players, so I was thrilled to spend a little extra money to save me from having to put in all of that effort.

Only 41 more days until the real Gators' season starts!

McSweeney's #16

Book #34 of 2005 was McSweeney's #16, which comes in a wonderfully packaged cloth-bound edition that does indeed include a comb (as promised) as well as a deck of cards that can be shuffled into any order and then read as a story.

I'd say the quality of the stories in this edition are pretty average fare in McSweeney's terms, although that's not necessarily a bad thing. By far my favorite was Kevin Moffett's 'The Medicine Man' which happens to be set in Flagler, Florida not very far from the rural area in which I grew up (The story even name checks Palatka!). I'm not positive, but based on a piece about Gainesville's Friends of the Library Booksale that Moffett previously published in The Believer, I think he may even have attended my beloved UF. Anyways, Moffett's story is a delcious view of southern lifestyle with an interesting cast of characters all written in the familiar voice of home.

My second favorite story this month was Roddy Doyle's 'Home to Harlem', a story about a black Irish man who comes to America to half-jokingly study the influence of the Harlem Renaissance writers on Irish Literature and ends up discovering a lot about himself (boy that sounds cheesy, but you'll have to take my word for it that it's really not). Other stories I particularly enjoyed were 'Mudder Tongue' by UW alum Brian Evenson and "Driveway" by fellow blogger Pia Z. Ehrhardt.

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Wednesday, July 20, 2005

The Hype Machine

I recently found out about a wonderful new music archive called 'The Hype Machine'. The site tracks posts on several MP3 blogs (Scenestars, Gorilla Vs. Bear, Think Tank, etc.) and then presents the songs that people are posting about in an easy to consume manner. By checking out their Popular chart, you can find out what people are listening to and check out music by bands you may not be very familiar with. Very cool!

Monday, July 18, 2005

Streaming Goodies

Some good downloads/streams for your listening pleasure:
  • Whiskeytown: Live on KMTT, February 13, 1998 - acoustic versions of '16 days' and 'Theme For a Trucker'
  • Okkervil River: Live on KEXP - live versions of 'For Real', 'Some Weird Sin', 'Song of Our So Called Friend' and 'The Latest Toughs'
  • Art Brut - 'We Formed a Band' video. This song rocks! I've got a blog, I've got a blog. Hey look at me, I've got a blog.
  • Death Cab For Cutie - Check out their new single 'Soul Meets Body' from their major label debut Plans due out August 30th.
  • Black Mountain - Free MP3 downloads of 'Druganaut' and 'Heart of Snow' from their excellent debut album.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Yesterday I saw Tim Burton's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Given Burton's previous history working with Johnny Depp and Danny Elfman, Roald Dahl's excellent book, and the wonderful 1971 version of the film, I was expecting a masterpiece. Unfortunately, the movie didn't live up to my lofty expectations. Burton's take on the story was interesting and Depp's twisted Michael Jackson-esque portrayal of Willy Wonka was fun to watch at times, but overall the film lacked the charm of the original. Probably the biggest disappointment to me were the Oompa-Loompas whose new songs sequences paled in comparison to the simple nursery rhyme like songs used in the original. The wonder that was "Oompa Loompa Doompadee Doo" has been replaced with CGI Oompa-Loompas head banging to 80's hair rock, copying the Beatles, and dancing to disco. Sad.

On the bright side, before the film we saw a preview of Burton and Depp's next project, a stop-motion film titled Corpse Bride. From what I saw in the preview it looks a lot like The Nightmare Before Christmas, which means it's time to get my hopes up again!

For more detailed reviews I'd recommend checking out MetaCritic.

Superstud

Superstud: Or How I Became a 24-Year Old Virgin was book #33 of my 2005 50 book challenge. Superstud is a hilarious pull-no-punches memoir by Paul Feig, the 17th funniest person in L.A. (according to Los Angeles Magazine) and creator of Freaks and Geeks, one of my favorite TV shows of all time.

Although the book seems to have received pretty mixed reviews, I thought it was excellent. Feig had me cracking up again and again as he details out his excruciating experiences growing up as a self-described geek, an experience I think most people can identify with. My favorite chapter was 'The Annotated Nancy', in which Feig weaves excerpts from his personal journal (circa 1981) with commentary on how naive and cringe-worthy he finds the entries now. From budding young love to terrible break-up we get to hear all about Nancy in the words of the adolescent Feig.

Superstud can get a bit graphic at times (on par with something like American Pie), so it may not be for everyone, but if you're not easily offended and you get a kick out of looking back on the awkwardness that is high school then I think you'll enjoy this one.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

MLB Extra Innings

About a month ago I got the MLB Extra Innings package. It's awesome! Definitely recommended if you're a baseball geek. On most nights I get somewhere between 6-12 games to choose from. It's been a blast being able to watch the league's best players do their thing on a nightly basis rather than just catching the occassional highlight on Sports Center. Tonight was a great example of the goodness that is Extra Innings as I got to see a good chunk of Rich Harden's amazing 7 1/3 perfect innings against the Rangers, while still keeping an eye on the M's game to see if Rafael Palmeiro would get his 3000th hit. Can't wait to watch the playoff race, now that I can actually follow some teams that might be in the mix. Mmm...baseball heaven.


Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Great Wall Jump

I'm not a big extreme sports fan, but I've gotta admit the videos of skateboarder Danny Way jumping the Great Wall of China on a skateboard ramp are pretty frickin' cool.
"I came to China with a goal and that was to jump over the Great Wall" - Danny Way

Monday, July 11, 2005

Portland, Oregon

"Portland, Oregon and sloe gin fizz, if that ain't love then tell me what is." - Loretta Lynn

This weekend we went down to Portland, which has now firmly solidified its place on my short list of cities I'd ever consider living in.

On Saturday we had lunch on Nob Hill at Papa Haydn, an excellent restaurant with great desserts (Question: Why does every town feel compelled to have a Nob Hill? Was there a great explorer named Nob who had a propensity for discovering hills or does every city just want to be San Francisco?). We then spent the evening shopping at Powell's City of Books, a 4-story bookstore the size of a city block, and the largest independent bookstore in the United States! After shopping we ate dinner at Plainfields Mayur, hands down the best Indian restaurant I've ever eaten at. I had the Royal Biryani which is a festive Indian dish that is usually reserved for special occasions and comes topped with an edible silver leaf!

We stayed at the Heathman Hotel right in the heart of downtown. After making the reservations I found out the hotel is supposed to be haunted, but fortunately it turned out to just be a charming old hotel with great service.

On Sunday we had a delightful vegan breakfast (Biscuits and Almond Gravy!) at Paradox Palace Cafe and then headed over to Stumptown Coffee for a much needed caffeine kick. It was nice to see that the good folks in Portland take their coffee as seriously as we Seattlites do. After coffee we went shopping on Hawthorne Boulevard which had lots of good boutiques, a smaller Powell's and several CD stores. We ended the day by walking around the International Rose Test Garden in Washington Park.

Portland - City of Roses

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Like A Rolling Stone

Book #32 of 2005 was Like a Rolling Stone: Bob Dylan at the Crossroads by Greil Marcus.

Like a Rolling Stone is a book about Bob Dylan's song of the same name. Part social critique, part musical scholarship, and part esoteric rambling, the book examines the song from various angles in an attempt to examine its place on the throne as the greatest song in rock n' roll history.

There are lots of great musical references and trivia in the book mixed with moments of brilliance where Marcus provides keen insight into Dylan the man and Dylan the myth. Unfortunately for me the good moments were outweighed by longer sections in the book that seemed to wander off into unrelated topics that shed little light on the song and frankly just weren't very interesting. Unless you're a huge Dylan fan, I'd recommend saving the $25 and just reading the CNN summary instead. You'll learn a lot of the same stuff in a lot less time.

My favorite part of the book was the Epilogue in which Marcus has transcribed the tapes from the existing 'Like a Rolling Stone' recording sessions and weaved in his own commentary to help place context around the recorded dialogue. In this role Marcus' musical knowledge shines through and really gives you an insight into how the song came together. NPR's website has a nice long excerpt that contains most of the chapter, as well as a link to the song in case it's been awhile since you've heard it.

If you want to learn more about the book, MetaCritic is a good resource for more detailed reviews.

Turn Two for Preparedness!

In what has to be one of the weirdest cross-promotions I've seen, the Seattle Mariners have partnered with the Department of Homeland Security and others to award a two-person disaster supplies backpack for every double play turned by the Mariners at Safeco Field this season. The backpack includes such as exciting items as matches, dust masks, a pry bar and a deck of playing cards. You too can take action to get prepared today! Weird.

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Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Mid-Year Top 10

Here's my mid-year Top 10 music list:
  1. Okkervil River - Black Sheep Boy
  2. Ryan Adams - Cold Roses
  3. Sage Francis - A Healthy Distrust
  4. Bright Eyes - I'm Wide Awake, It's Morning
  5. The White Stripes - Get Behind Me Satan
  6. Black Mountain - Black Mountain
  7. Damien Jurado - On My Way To Absence
  8. M. Ward - Transistor Radio
  9. Beck - Guero
  10. Scott H. Biram - The Dirty Old One Man Band

Honorable Mention: Clem Snide - End of Love, Magnolia Electric Company - What Comes After the Blues, Decemberists - Picaresque, Fiery Furnaces - EP

To soon to tell: Common - Be, Caitlin Cary & Thad Cockrell - Begonias, Son Volt - Okemah and the Melody of Riot

Drivin' and Bloggin'

Traffic sucks but mob blogging rules!

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Viva La bloom.!

Today I was pointed to a recently posted Suicide Girls' interview with Devin Moore, the lead singer of bloom. , one of my favorite bands of all-time. Back when I was in college in Gainesville, Florida, I used to watch them play all of the time at the Covered Dish along with other local favorites such as For Squirrels, Less Than Jake, Whoreculture, and Noah's Red Tattoo. For a long time I even ran the band's official home page, much of the content of which has since been umm repurposed and now lives on here (Viva La Internet!).

Although bloom. had some moderate success in the late 90's and even at times appeared to be on the verge of hitting it big, they were unfortunate to be caught up in just about the worst possible time for the music industry. bloom's Pixies-like garage rock sound was exactly the opposite of the direction the radio was headed as major labels focused their efforts on bland rock bands like Creed, Staind and Nickelback, and sugary pop bands like Third Eye Blind, Matchbox 20 and Sugar Ray.

After Devin and drummer Jeff Lataille graduated from UF, the band went on a temporary hiatus. Since then garage rock has come back with a vengence as bands like The White Stripes, The Stokes and The Killers have been dominating the charts. Last year bloom. reunited to put out O Sinner, their first album since the unreleased Recognition of a Japanese Zero and 1997(?)'s Veda Hubbell. Since reuniting the band has toured with the Suicide Girls, opened for Urge Overkill and Guided By Voices, played at SxSW, and will soon be opening for Dinosaur Jr. Here's hoping they get the accolades they deserve this time around. Viva La bloom.!

Ward Sutton

Tonight we saw political cartoonist Ward Sutton read from his new book Sutton Impact at the Elliott Bay Book Company. Sutton presented a slideshow that spliced together information about his history as a cartoonist, political commentary, and examples of his work featuring a couple of his friends providing live renditions of the dialogue.

It's always interesting to listen to cartoonists talk about their work as you realize just how much thought and effort goes into each of the finished pieces that you see on the page. In a way it's like poetry I guess, in that you're trying to condense big ideas into as small an amount of space/words as possible. When it's done well it's pretty impressive.

Monday, July 04, 2005

Fun 4th of July Fact

An interesting bit of trivia that I was reminded of while reading Founding Fathers is the fact that John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, key participants in the creation of the Declaration of Independence and long-time friends, both passed away on July 4th, 1826, exactly 50 years after the Declaration was signed. What are the odds of that?!


Running With Scissors

Running With Scissors, a memoir by Augusten Burroughs was book #31 of 2005 for me.

Here's a quick overview from the author's website:

The #1 bestseller, Running with Scissors is the true story of a boy whose mother (a oet with delusions of Anne Sexton) gave him away to be raised by her unorthodox psychiatrist who bore a striking resemblance to Santa Claus. So at the age of twelve, Burroughs found himself amidst Victorian squalor living with the doctor's bizarre family, and befriending a pedophile who resided in the backyard shed. The story of an outlaw childhood where rules were unheard of, and the Christmas tree stayed up all year - round, where Valium was consumed like candy, and if things got dull, an electroshock-therapy machine could provide entertainment. The funny, harrowing and bestselling account of an ordinary boy's survival under the most extraordinary circumstances.

The book has drawn a lot of comparisons to David Sedaris' writings, which I think is a pretty accurate assessment. Both author's have a similar sense of humor, so if you like one you'll probably like them both. Much like Sedaris' works, I found Running With Scissors to be mildly amusing, but not nearly as hilarious as I would expect given all of the accolades they've received. Burroughs was even selected last year as one of Entertainment Weekly's Top 15 "Funniest People In America". Anyways, if you'd like you can judge for yourself by reading an excerpt from the first chapter, "Something Isn't Right".

Much like everything I've been reading lately, it looks like the book is currently being made into a movie. The film is currently scheduled for release some time next year and stars Annette Bening, Gwenyth Paltrow, Alec Baldwin, and Joseph Cross as Augusten.

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Books #1-30

Here's a quick recap of the first thirty books of my 2005 50 book challenge.

  1. What's the Matter with Kansas - Thomas Frank
  2. How We Are Hungry - Dave Eggers
  3. The Wilco Book - Wilco
  4. The Polysyllabic Spree - Nick Hornby
  5. Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim - David Sedaris
  6. Ticket To Ride - Larry Kane
  7. Hobart #4 - Various
  8. McSweeney's Quarterly Concern #15 - Various
  9. Forced Entries - Jim Carroll
  10. Imperial Hubris - Michael Scheuer
  11. The Plot Against America - Philip Roth
  12. Platform - Michel Houellebecq
  13. Slapstick - Kurt Vonnegut
  14. Fever Pitch - Nick Hornby
  15. Poets on the Peaks - John Suiter
  16. Cannery Row - John Steinbeck
  17. Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs - Chuck Klosterman
  18. Waxwings - Jonathan Raban
  19. So You Wanna Be A Rock & Roll Star - Jacob Slichter
  20. Everything Is Illuminated - Jonathan Safran Foer
  21. Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail - Hunter S. Thompson
  22. Invisible Monsters - Chuck Palahniuk
  23. The Devil Wears Pinstripes - Jim Caple
  24. Stranger Than Fiction - Chuck Palahniuk
  25. Naked Pictures of Famous People - Jon Stewart
  26. The Winter of Our Discontent - John Steinbeck
  27. Haunted - Chuck Palahniuk
  28. Thirteen Days - Robert F. Kennedy
  29. A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole
  30. Founding Brothers - Joseph J. Ellis

Founding Brothers

Book #30 of my 2005 50 book challenge was the 2001 Pulitzer Prize winning Founding Brothers: The Revolutionary Generation by Joseph J. Ellis.

Founding Brothers examines six different stories that shed light on who our Founding Fathers really were and how the helped shape our country in its infancy. The six stories discussed in the book include the duel between Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr, the debate about where to put our nation's capital, the decision to avoid the topic of slavery that would eventually result in the Civil War, the writing of George Washington's farewell address, John Adams' Presidency and his close partnership with his wife Abigail, and the correspondence between John Adams and Thomas Jefferson in the waning years of their lives.

The book is written for a general audience, so it's very accessible and surprisingly entertaining. My favorite part was the wonderful first chapter about the duel between Hamilton and Burr. Although the rest of the book doesn't quite live up to the start, it's still very well done and would have to rank as one of the better history books I've read.

If you're interested in learning more about the book I'd recommend checking out the New York Times review or reading an excerpt from the the preface.

A Confederacy of Dunces

Book #29 in my 2005 50 book challenge was the 1981 Pulitzer Prize winning novel A Confederacy of Dunces, by John Kennedy Toole.

Most of the book was written by Toole in 1961 while he was serving in the Army in Puerto Rico teaching English. In 1966 the novel was rejected by Simon & Schuster. Three years later Toole committed suicide, never seeing his book reach publication (there's a subtle joke about this in Sideways). After his death, Toole's mother began working tirelessly in an attempt to get it published. After seven years of rejection she finally was able to convince novelist Walker Percy to read the book. Percy, who only relented because he was tired of turning her down, read the book and was blown away. With his support, the book was eventually published by the Louisiana State University Press, and the rest is history.

The novel's main character is Ignatius J. Reilly a Quixotic, selfish, over-educated, oaf of a man who lives at home with his mother in New Orleans. The novel is a tragi-comedy with many subplots, but most of the story revolves around Ignatius' journey into the work force and the hilarious calamities that ensue. It would be difficult to explain all of the various twists and turns in the book so I'll skip that here, but if you're interested there are plenty of online reviews available which go into more depth about the plot.

From most of the reviews I've read it looks like people either love the book or hate it. I don't know if I'd go quite so far as to say I loved it, but I definitely enjoyed it quite a bit. Given the glowing reviews the book had received I had very high expectations coming in, which usually only leads to disappointment. Fortunately, in this case the book was able to live up to most of the hype, and ended up being well worth reading.

There were plans in place to make a movie version of the book starring Will Ferrell, Lily Tomlin, Mos Def and Drew Barrymore, but those plans have recently fallen apart due to politics over the property rights.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Thirteen Days

Book #28 of my 2005 50 book challenge was Thirteen Days: A Memoir of the Cuban Missile Crisis by Robert F. Kennedy. The book gives a thrilling insider account of the thirteen day period in October of 1962 when the world stood on the brink of a Nuclear War after the U.S. intelligence discovered evidence of a build up of Soviet missiles in San Cristobal, Cuba. Over the course of the crisis, John F. Kennedy and his advisors have to quickly evaluate the situation and make critical decisions on how to respond to the threat at hand. The diplomacy tactics executed by both Kennedy and his Russian counterparts (led by Nikita Khruschev) would decide the fate of the world. RFK details the thinking behind each decision as well as the debates that went on before arriving at those conclusions, all in a simple matter-of-fact writing style that works oddly well with the gravity of the situation.

Part of the reason I was interested in reading this book is because I only had a vague understanding of just what the Cuban Missile Crisis was all about. Given the historical significance of the events that took place, it seems like something everyone would have studied in school, but I would wager that I'm not the only one in my generation who is woefully ignorant on the topic. I read an interesting book a few years ago called Lies My Teacher Told Me : Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong which talked about the fact that most schools don't ever get around to teaching history from the latter half of the 20th century because a) they tend to go chronologically and usually run out of time before the end of the school year and b) because history book publishers tend to avoid including much about modern history in an attempt to avoid controversy over events that people are likely to remember vividly and have passionate opinions about. At any rate, RFK's book definitely filled in a lot of the gaps for me and gave me a much better understanding of the events that occurred, and although I've always admired JFK, I now have an even deeper respect for him and Robert. I'd definitely recommend this one.

Friday, July 01, 2005

Washington D.C. Trip Review

Our trip to Washington D.C. was a lot of fun. This was my first time visiting the city, so there were lots of sights to see and not nearly enough time to take everything in.

We stayed at the Hyatt in Arlington, VA just across the Potomac River from the city. The hotel was okay, but wasn't anything special. The worst thing about it was that it lacked a swimming pool which was a pretty big negative given the 90+ degree weather while we were staying there.
Getting around D.C. was really easy as you could take the Metro everywhere. For $6.50 you can get an all day pass which allows you unlimited rides for the day. Our stop was called Rosslyn and was located just a block away from the hotel. It featured the longest, steepest escalator I've ever seen which would take you from the train level up to the surface.

Here are some of the highlights of things we saw on the trip:

Day 1

  • The Mall - The Mall is the area of D.C. where all of the Smithsonian museums are located. We started our day there wandering from museum to museum. While we were in town, the Smithsonian Folk Life Festival was going on, so while we walked around we were able to catch pieces of the festival as well.
  • Freer Art Gallery - The Freer Art Gallery is best known for it's Asian Art exhibits, but we were most impressed with their collection of works by James McNeill Whistler and the famous Peacock Room.
  • Smithsonian Air and Space Museum - Highlights of their exhibits included Charles Lindbergh's Spirit of St. Louis and the original Wright Brothers' plane. I also enjoyed seeing the space exhibits and the dismantled Cold War missiles.
  • Smithsonian American History Museum - I had high hopes for this one, but didn't find it to be overly impressive (though it was the end of the day and we were pretty tired). Most interesting things we saw were Abraham Lincoln's hat and the American flag that was draped from the Pentagon on 9/12/01.
  • Capitol Building - To tour the Capitol now-a-days you have to stand in line for tickets at 8am EST. Yes, that's EST. In other words for us West Coasters who sleep until noon, not a chance.
  • Washington Nationals Game at RFK Stadium - The game we went to was the Blue Jays vs. the Nationals, and although the Nationals are in 1st place in the NL East, neither team is exactly what you'd call exciting. The game itself turned out to be pretty good, but the stadium is terrible. Bad concessions, crappy seating...it was like the Kingdome all over again. When we were leaving I noticed Secret Service men hanging out by one of the side exits. Turns out Condoleezza Rice and George W. were at the game too! Only the second game Bush has attended at RFK this season.
Day 2
  • Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History - Lessons learned: 1) Kids love dinosaurs 2) Kids know more about dinosaurs than adults will ever know.
  • Washington Monument - Much like the Space Needle, you can see the Washington Monument from everywhere in D.C.
  • White House/Visitor Center - The White House Visitor Center turned out to be pretty lame.
  • Old Post Office - So here's the thing. In D.C. when someone says 'the mall' they're talking about the place you go to see a museum. When someone says 'the old post office' they're talking about a mall. Got it?
Day 3

Day 4

  • Ford's Theatre - The theatre in which John Wilkes Booth shot Abe Lincoln. Seeing this was the highlight of the trip for me, as the place is just oozing with history. I'd definitely get the tour as it's well worth it. Downstairs in the museum they have the gun Booth used, Lincoln's jacket, and a whole bunch of other fascinating relics.
  • Peterson's Boarding Place - The house Lincoln died in. It's literally right across the street from the theatre.
  • International Spy Museum - Another definite highlight. This new museum showcases spy tools such as lipstick guns, bugs, and buttonhole cameras. The museum is very well done with lots of interactive displays and neat uses of technology. Scary thing for me was seeing some of the spy tools from the 80's and realizing just how much more advanced the currently classified stuff must be!
  • FBI, Department of State, Department of Commerce, National Archives, Library of Congress, and other buildings - I'm a dork. I totally dug looking at these buildings and thinking about all of the important things that go on inside them.
  • Supreme Court - We walked by the Supreme Court just before their rulings on Internet Copyright law and display of the Ten Commandments was released. There were tons of reporters huddled outside waiting to cover the story live as soon as the news came out, so it was fun watching them as they prepped their speeches, readied their cameras, etc.
  • Freedom Park - Got to see a cool display of several large pieces of the Berlin Wall.
  • Theodore Roosevelt Island and Memorial - Roosevelt's memorial is on a small island which you can walk to via a foot-bridge from Arlington. The island is a nice park which makes you feel like you're in the woods rather than in the middle of the city.

Although we got to do a lot, there were a bunch of things we didn't get to do too. If I ever go back I'm definitely going to try to get out to Arlington Cemetery, visit the Jefferson Memorial, and try to do tours of some of the buildings.

Funny side note: On the way back to Seattle, we were on the same flight as Freddy Adu and the rest of the DC United soccer team as they were heading to Chicago to take on the Fire. In case you're wondering, despite Freddy's million dollar Nike contract he still flies coach like the rest of us :-)