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20 May 2008

Very professional.

My morning routine consists of hitting snooze between 2 and 4 times (inclusive), walking to the shower with my eyes closed, eating a vitamin, getting dressed, and then plopping down in front of the computer for 20 minutes before I leave the house to see what the Internet has been up to overnight. I don't usually put shoes on until right before I leave, around the same time I put my phone and keys and wallet into my pockets.

This morning it was kinda cold in the apartment, so mid-Internetting I put my slippers on. Then, when it was time to go to work, I just got up, walked out of the house, got into the car, and drove to work. Still in my slippers.

18 May 2008

The opera.

I went to see Verdi's Macbeth last night at the Met. I'm going to do a bullet point thing here, but before I dig into it, I want to say unequivocally that although I'm not much of an opera buff, I had an awesome time.
  • There was a guy there in a cape. In the audience. And not the kind of cape you'd expect in the Grand Tier of The Metropolitan Opera. A cape like it just came out of a square-shaped costume package from the Halloween store. It still had all the fold marks, and it was clearly made of the kind of material out of which only Halloween Dracula costumes are made. At first, in fact, I thought it was a costume. But then I followed him long enough to see him talk to someone, to see if he was wearing fake fangs (what, intermission is long), and he wasn't. He was just wearing a costume store cape. I wanted to take a picture so bad.
  • I like the company numbers a lot better than the solos. I think this lands me in the minority of those that end up at the opera house, but it's true. When all those people are singing at once with their big opera voices, it's awesome.
  • I've always known this about myself, but last night really cast it into stark relief: technical prowess impresses me a lot less that does...pretty melody. The gasps and whispers and shouts of "BRAVO!" after each run-filled solo were well deserved to be sure, but I was, for the most part, the most pumped after the company pieces and when the orchestra was doing its thing. The one exception, I suppose, was towards the end when Macduff finds out that his family has been murdered. That guy's voice was totally boss and rad.
  • There's very little acting in opera.
  • The director made some strangely anachronistic decisions. For example, the armies carried rifles, not swords, and in one scene, drove a Jeep to battle. Most of the bad guys wore black leather jackets. But still, many scenes took place in the castle, and all the murders still happened with knives. When Baz Luhrmann reinterpreted the world of Romeo and Juliet to fit it into a modern gang war, he really took great pains so that it would make as much sense as possible. Here, it felt like someone just said something to the effect of "Guns are cooler than swords. Give them guns." Which, I mean, come on, is totally fine with me.
  • Some of the things they do with the set at The Met are really cool. I remember thinking the same thing the only other time I've ever been.
  • I hadn't read Macbeth since 9th grade, which was like 13 years ago. I had totally forgotten that Macduff was not "of woman born" because he was born by Cesarean section. I can't be the only one that wants to call bullshit on that, right?

12 May 2008


So I have ants on my desk at work. Not huge ones, just little tiny ones. And not swarms, just a few crawl by a day. I don't know what to do about them, really. I put a couple traps down, and I've made sure there's no food around for them to find. Still they march ever onward, in search of that which they will not find, destined only to meet their untimely end by my Wrathful Hand.

The killer inside me, long dormant since I moved away from Queens (where things like this used to happen), has reawakened. I kill without remorse; I kill without pause.

I've noticed something strange about the oozing corpses of my foes. They smell like nail polish remover. At first, I had assumed that that the smell was coming from elsewhere. But as the bodies piled up, it became abundantly clear. It was my own lethal hand that smelled of acetone. My own, unpolished hand.

So yeah. Apparently this isn't news to anyone who hangs out with ants a lot, but it was news to me. My first guess, which wasn't too far off, was that I was smelling a very concentrated amount of the chemical ants use to make trails other ants can follow. It turns out ants produce a lot of chemicals other than that one, and what I'm really smelling is a cocktail of all those different acids, that just kinda happens to smell like acetone to me. Thanks, Internet!

Money quote from The Straight Dope: "That smell coming off those crushed ants is not just the smell of fear and death, but also the smell of true cleanliness and health." Read the whole explanation to find out why.

06 May 2008

On gas.

I'm really sick of reading about Clinton's and McCain's gas tax ideas. So, I figured I'd write about them, so everyone else that's sick of reading about them can roll their eyes and click on by. I promise not to make such topical distractions a habit on this, my largely self involved corner of the Internet.

It just won't work. Economists say so. Most intelligent people I've spoken to about it say so. Hell, Obama knows it won't work because he tried some similar shit in Illinois and it didn't work. What's more, it seems even Clinton and McCain know it won't work, but can't resist the opportunity to prey on public anxiety for political gain. It's exactly the kind of cynical pandering that makes me so sick to my stomach about our political system, and what bother me most about this particular steaming pile are the Lilliputian dollar amounts that are being touted as relief.

Most people that would benefit at all from this "relief" of $30 or so are about to receive checks for $600 from the federal government just for filing their taxes. That kind of money is relief. I'm looking forward to that $600, and although I certainly would be able to think of a few things to do with $30 other than light it on fire if someone handed it to me, the notion that my vote might be bought for the phantom promise of such a paltry sum really irks me.

Look, if you really want to propose a solution that would never get through our bureaucracy anyway just to grab the votes of at least a few simpletons, aim high.

How about this?

How about you repeal the sales tax on the purchase of all vehicles (new and used) that get over 35 miles per gallon? Now that would save some people a lot of money on gas, not to mention encourage a shift in public thinking to prioritize fuel efficiency over the ability to drive the kids to the soccer game through molten lava. My car gets about 36 miles to a gallon (for real, I keep a spreadsheet) and although I do a lot of driving for work, rising gas prices haven't really hurt me too badly yet. I still fill up for about $35.

Hell, take it one step further: waive the sales tax for new cars only if the car gets better than 35 miles per gallon and is made in the USA. Create some jobs in Detroit!

Sure, not everyone can afford to buy a new car. Or a used one. But there's going to come a time in the not-so-distant future when people are going to have to seriously weigh the cost of maintaining a gas guzzler against the cost of junking it and getting a car with some fuel efficiency. Why not give a few people a head start?

Unreasonable? Sure. You could drive a Hummer through the holes in it. But if someone started stumping with this sort of plan at least it would pique my interest, not just ignite my utter seething contempt.