December 13, 2005

Back now

I didn't mean to take a weeks-long break from blogging. I can't even say I was really busy; a lot of it, I was just distracted. A quick rundown of what I saw and did:

Rent
I went home for Thanksgiving on Wednesday and we went to see the movie version of Rent. The music was great, but parts of it didn't totally make sense. Then someone pointed out that the characters are all supposed to be 17-20 years old. That made a lot of things clearer. Very angsty, but sort of immature, you know? Anyway, now I need to see La Bohème.
Harry Potter, take 1
Pretty much as soon as I got home I started reading book 4 in preparation for the movie. I quite liked it. Although I've heard everyone saying for years now how "dark" the series gets in book four, I don't think that's exactly true. Book 4 is really two books in one: a 500 page book, the "real" book 4, more or less like the first three; and a 75 page book that should be entitled "Book 4.5: Everything changes". The last couple chapters fundamentally shift several alliances and signal a sea change in how the series is going to go. A number of people have told me that I wouldn't be able to keep up my "eh, I'll read the next book before the next movie" pattern after book 4, and they're right. I have to read book 5 really soon now.
Thanksgiving
Mmm, sweet potatoes. Boy, are my cousins all getting tall.
Harry Potter, take 2
Day after Thanksgiving, we went to see the movie. It was fine, I guess, but not nearly as good as the third movie. While I'm not averse to changing things in order to fit the medium and time frame better, it just wasn't done as well this time. They partially left the reporter in, but didn't really do anything with her. They made Beauxbatons into an all-girls school full of flakes and weaklings, introducing a sexism that wasn't really in the book. They made Harry's motivations a lot more ambiguous than in the book, especially towards the end of the maze. Because they omitted all the "book 4.5" stuff, Dumbledore's speech at the end doesn't make much sense. Oh well, win some, lose some.
Visit
After the movie, we went to visit Loren and those taller people she lives with. She's so adorable! And those taller people make good cocktails, too.
Wicked
Saturday, then, we went to see the musical Wicked downtown. I read the book a couple years ago, and had heard a couple of the songs off the soundtrack, but I still wasn't sure if it would be any good. It was! They did a great adaptation, among other things fixing the ending, and it preserves all the counter-cultural flair of the original. Imagine turning the Wizard of Oz into a commentary on governmental control and the seeds of fascism—and with music!
The trial
The audiobook for the trip home was one of the mysteries I'm so fond of, except that in addition to drafting a whodunit, author Robert Whitlow was pamphleteering. We got to see how every character's life was better for being born again, or worse for not being. The rest of the book was fine, I guess, but by the end all the witnessing was getting pretty tiresome. (And the epilogue was glurgy beyond belief, oy.)
Grading
Also sleeping. But grading was most of what I did for that first week after Thanksgiving. The wages of procrastination is... a helluva lot to do right there at the end.
A Phule and his money
The third book in Robert Asprin's series. Fun as extremely light reading that you don't want to think about very much. I haven't done enough of that lately.
Concert
I joined the Galesburg Community Chorus this term, and our concert was the 3rd. We sang the Schubert Mass in G, the Vivaldi Gloria, and a few carols. It was the first big ensemble I'd been in since graduating Quincy; lots of fun, although I actually sang better in the dress rehearsal than in the concert itself. :P The CD sounds ok, though.
Civ III
I'd had a serious jones for a game of Civ since well before Thanksgiving (thanks to everybody talking about the release of Civ 4). I didn't dare install it until my grades were in, though. I sat down to install it on my laptop... only to discover that my DVD drive is busted. Won't spin up a disc. It worked as recently as the first week of November, but no longer. SO frustrating. I ended up going in to my office, installing, and playing there until six in the morning. Then, in a brainstorm after I got home, I realised that if I VPNed in I ought to be able to remotely mount my work machine's drives on my laptop, and the Civ3 CD was still in the CD drive, and sure enough, I was able to remotely mount it and install to my laptop. So over the course of three days I probably got forty hours of playing in, mostly sating me. :)
Lilypond
A while ago I discovered LilyPond, a music engraving package in much the same way that LaTeX is a text typesetting package. I have a lot of fun playing with it, understanding how it works, and contributing documentation. This is how geeks relax, folks.
Fac search
The CS department is doing a faculty search, so I get to go through all the applications and rank them. There's a Dilbert cartoon that keeps popping into my head during this process: "Hey! Dot matrix!" Not quite that bad, of course, and there are a few promising ones. But, boy, the middle and bottom of the application pool, yikes.
House walk
The Galesburg Civic Art Center has a neat fundraiser they run each year: they get five houses in town to let people wander through, and then they charge those people $12 to see all five houses. The houses on the tour range from grand to cozy, but there's something to see in all of them; the ones you expect to be plain are sometimes the most interesting ones to see inside. It's fun hearing people say "ooh, check out this bathroom!" or "what a great place to put an office!" The last house I went to was Steve Jones's, and it has a pump organ that he'd had restored, and the guy that restored it came to play for a while. Really cool.
Same time, next year
Sunday, I was following my usual routine, and sitting in Uncle Billy's reading the Zephyr, when I noticed that Coffee Bean is putting on a show next weekend. No wait, this weekend. Crap! No—I'm in luck, they have a Sunday matinee. Which starts in 25 minutes. Run! As it happens, I made it to the show (in the community room of the mall) with minutes to spare, and settled in. The premise is that each of six scenes take place in the same hotel room, five years apart, as discussions between a man and a woman in a deep long-term relationship. They're married—just not to each other. The two actors did a pretty good job with it; I think the guy overdid the guilt scenes a bit, but mostly they hit the full range of emotions right on. The rapport was excellent, and it was easy to believe that the two had been a couple for a long time; I found out later that the actors had been dating for several years. How did I find out? Well, at the end of the show, the guy signals to the sound tech to cut off the music, pulls out a speech from his pocket, and starts reading it. And he proposed! Right there in front of the audience! She was totally stunned. Most of the crew didn't even know about it, and of course the audience wasn't expecting anything of the sort, although his moms in the front row were well-prepared with cameras, so presumably he'd clued them in. :) He was heard to say afterwards, "That was what I was so damn nervous about all week." I bet.
Still no roof
But there are hints of progress. After the 30th—which was itself the first time I'd seen the roofers in two weeks—it snowed, and it's been snowing every few days since, which makes the roof too treacherous to work on, I guess. But today I was awakened by clomping on my roof, and it was the head roofer guy shovelling off snow. He promised that the crew'd be back tomorrow (today, now) to continue work, and that they would subsequently be tarping it each night, so they'd be able to clear any snow each day. Why they didn't do that in the first place, I have no idea, but at least they're doing it now. I again have hope that this thing will be done before March. Ideally, by the end of the week. Then I can actually start planning my budget again.

Now, this week, I need to get cracking on stuff for next term. Once I go home next Monday, there will be no work done (whether I want to or not) until at least the 2nd... and classes start the 3rd. Wish me luck!

Even now, in the nostalgic glow of nonpartisanship, I am tempted to point out that, in his otherwise carefully composed self-encomium, Clinton's "working together, America has done well" is a prime example of a dangling modifier. It could be corrected by changing the subject "America" to "Americans" or "the American people," which would be a plural subject that could be "working together." But in the father of our country's paraleiptic tradition, I will pass over this grammatical lapse in utter silence. --William Safire

Posted by blahedo at 3:31am on 13 Dec 2005
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