September 2003 Archives

Detective Comics

I have been reading and enjoying the Unofficial Guide to the DC Universe, particularly the Who's Who in the DC Universe. I have always been more of a Marvel reader than DC, but it has been neat to see the comics origins of many Sandman characters, such as Lyta Hall and Cain and Abel. I had always caught many of the classical and mythological allusions, but it wasn't until rexently that I have been picking up on the comics allusions. I didn't even know that Matthew the Raven started out as Matthew Cable from Swampthing.

It's an interesting read, even if you only know a little bit aboout comics.

Damn Dirty Apes

For some reason, I can't get "Another Postcard (Chimps)" by the Barenaked Ladies out of my head.


I think I need to stop following the news.

It isn't good for my blood pressure or my digestion.


I have heard many good things about it, but it was not until seeing the trailer that I decided that I must see Russian Ark the next chance I get. I only wish that I had felt that way while it was still playing at the Orpheum. Still, better late than never.


I missed it at the Wisconsin Film Festival, having chosen instead to see the excellent yet brutally sad film about Rwanda, 100 Days. I missed it when it was playing at the Hilldale theater, because I'm dumb, and not as fond of that theater as I should be. I saw that it was going to be playing at the Memorial Union Film Circle in a few weeks, and planned to see it then. However, as my luck would have it, it was playing at the local budget cinema while I was in the area looking to see a film. So, yesterday I finally saw Spellbound.

The film is documentary about eight students, male and female, from various areas, backgrounds, and ethnicities, all on their way to the Scripps-Howard National Spelling Bee in Washington D.C. At times, it would be very easy for a film such as this to creep into Christopher Guest territory; ordinary people, extreme dedication, nerdiness, parents... Yet though you sometimes cringe at awkward moments caught on film, everyone involved comes out with dignity. During the spelling bee scenes, you could actually hear other people in the theater holding their breath while a tough word was spelled, only to sigh in relief or disappointments at the results. I am sure that I wasn't alone in silently mouthing the spelling of some words along with the students.

The speller who moved me the most was Ashley, the D.C. area participant. When she describes her life as being like a movie, with lots of trials and setbacks to overcome, I found myself really pulling for her; not just in the Bee, but in life. I really hope she suceeds, and manages to overcome the many obstacles placed in her path. I was similarly moved by Angela, yet I found it easier to see a happy ending for her. I think the difference was inner-city poverty vs. rural poverty. Neither are easy, but it seems more likely that violence will play a bigger role in Ashley's life than it will with Angela. God bless the children. Honestly, I liked all of the kids, and their parents all seemed like good people, too. It was difficult to watch everytime someone was eliminated from the competition, even though it was inevitable.

There were also some nice interviews with former winners, including Frank Neuhauser, the very first winner in 1925, with "gladiolus". Dr. Alex J. Cameron, the pronouncer (who died this past February), gave some interesting insights into the reasons behind the earliest spelling bees: the fact that education was a means for success and that the ability to read was seen as a major asset.

If you get a chance to see this charming film, I highly recommend that you take it.




Yesterday I had my first meal at Biaggi's, about which I had heard many good things. The restaurant certainly lived up to it's rep, but I was slightly disapointed to discover that it is a corporate (though midwestern)chain. I'm not really against corporate restaurants per se, but the fact is, there are sooooo many excellent, locally owned restaurants in the Madison area that it seems a shame to go the chain route if I don't have to. Still, I was in the neighborhood, and the west side is mostly corporate anyway. When in Rome...

That said, the environment and decor were warm and inviting. The staff was helpful and courteous. I was won over from the first by the generous basket of warm, tasty bread, which came with a plate of olive oil and cheese for dipping. What can I say? Offer me a basket of good bread and I am putty in your restauranteur hands.

For my meal I choose the Portabello Balsamico sandwich, "balsamic marinated grilled portabello
mushroom, eggplant, roasted peppers, red onions and a touch of goat cheese served warm on Asiago ciabatta bread." It came with a serving a homemade potato chips, which were warm, crisp and delightful. For $6.25, it was a decent serving of food. The bread was crisply toasted, though not dry. The portabellos and veggies were piled high, and the "touch of goat cheese" provided just the right accent.

Since the restaurant is corporate, and on the completely opposite end of town from where I live and work, I don't think it is likely to become a regular haunt for me. However, I certainly wouldn't raise too many objections to going again, and would recommend it to others. It strikes me as a decent date spot.

If you are interested in another viewpoint, I was rather amused with Raphael Kadushin's review for the Isthmus shortly after the restaurant opened.



Hearing it

Have I mentioned that I totally love Jason Mraz? Well, I do.


words & music by jason mraz

Was it you who spoke the words that things would happen but not to me

Oh things are gonna happen naturally

And taking your advice I'm looking on the bright side

And balancing the whole thing

But often times those words get tangled up in lines

And the bright lights turn to night

Until the dawn it brings

A little bird who'll sing about the magic that was you and me

Cause you and I both loved

What you and I spoke of

What you and I spoke of

Others only dream of the love that I love

See I'm all about them words

Over numbers, unencumbered numbered words

Hundreds of pages, pages, pages forwards

More words then I had ever heard and I feel so alive

Now you and I, you and I

Not so little you and I anymore

And with this silence brings a moral story

more importantly evolving is the glory of a boy

you and I both loved what you and I spoke of

and others just read of and if you could see now

well I'm already finally out of

and it's okay if you have go away

just remember the telephone works both ways

and if I never ever hear it ring

if nothing else I'll think the bells inside

have finally found you someone else and that's okay

cause I'll remember everything you sang

you and I both loved what you and I spoke of

and others just read of and if you could see now

well I'm already finally out of words.

Copyright 2000-2003 Jason Mraz :: All Rights Reserved


Just after Easter, I had to get my clutch replaced. It was the last week of Choral Union, and the days were starting to get longer and warmer. Now it is the second week of Choral Union and the days are getting shorter and colder. Tonight, while trying to leave work, I discovered that my clutch had stopped functioning. Push the clutch all the way down, and the gears with still do nothing but grind. Not good. Unfortunately, I discovered this a 5:45 PM, and the garage closed for the weekend at 6. The repair is still under warranty, so they towed it for free and told me they'd look at it first thing on Monday morning. Unfortunately, that leaves me without a car, on a weekend that I really needed to get around. :( I also had a 45 minute wait for the tow, and a longish walk home from the garage in shoes that weren't meant for hikes.

I also smacked my forehead into the edge of a door in a darkroom today, giving myself a bit of a welt over my left eyebrow. I'm hoping it doesn't bruise. I'm starting to think that I need to wear a big padded suit at work, like an inflatible Sumo suit, or the stuff that the "targets" wear for self-defense classes.

On the upside, I came home to find a piece of mail waiting for me. That brightened my day considerably.

Historical Lookalike

There is a young woman in my choir who bears a resemblence to the pictures I have seen of the yound Queen Elizabeth I, or more accurately QEI as played by Cate Blanchett. She has long, strawberry blonde hair, and there is something about her eyebrows. I was very amused to discover that her last name was Howard.

Tough Decisions--The Bystander's Dilemma

Tonight, I stopped at the supermarket on the way home from work. I was listening to All Things Considered, so I sat in the car with the radio on for about 15 minutes before heading inside. After about 5 minutes, a car pulled up next to me, and a woman got out and headed for the store. I didn't pay that much mind, until I looked over a little bit later and noticed that there was a small child of about four sitting alone in the backseat.

The car windows were all down a few inches and 5:50 PM in mid-September isn't the hottest time of the year. Still, the sun was still shining brightly, and I was rather warm in my own vehicle, with the window open. Nor is heat the only potential danger to a preschooler left alone in a car, in a supermarket parking lot. I seriously began to consider calling someone, or at least alerting the store. It seemed so stupid and negligent, and could well be a symptom of a greater level of neglect.

On the other hand, I have heard story after story of decent families being torn apart and children being lost in the CFS shuffle. Paired with the fact that I didn't really know *who* to call, and I didn't want to go inside myself and leave the little boy with absolutely no one left to watch him...I was torn. In the end, I decided to wait and keep an eye on him for the last 10 minutes of ATC. If the woman hadn't shown up by then, my choice would be made. She returned to the car at 6:00.

She drove away before I thought to get out of the car and give her a piece of my mind. I wonder if I made the right decision? Part of me says that I didn't. Sure, taking a tot into the grocery store can be a pain, especially if you are in a hurry, but it isn't such an ordeal. Surely the safety of your child should trump convenience. How could you not realize the hazards of leaving a small child alone in your car, in a public place for 10 whole minutes?

I fear that I may have become one of the many people who could have prevented a really bad situation (if not now, then down the road) but didn't. I pray that I am wrong.

A Total Dorothy

Yesterday, in a fit of psuedo-frugality (a "buy one pair, get a second pari 1/2 off" sale) I bought a pair of pretty silver shoes. Strappy, open-toed and high heeled, totally impractical little slippers.

I'm wearing them right now, in fact. Good lord, I wanna go dancing.

Extra Sad

On Friday, I wore all black in honor of the Man in Black, but I didn't really give much though to John Ritter.

Today, I was reading the paper, and saw Ritter's picture in the Entertainmant section. I thought it would be a mention of his passing. Instead I saw that it was in the Birthdays section. He would have been 55 on the 17th. I'm not sure why, but unexpected deaths always seem so much sadder when they happen on or very close to the person's birthday.

Pattern Recognition and The Ad Men

I just finished reading Pattern Recognition by William Gibson. It was my first Gibson, but I daresay it won't be my last. I enjoyed it very much, tearing through most of it in one sitting.

The writing style was not the type to which I am normally attacted, but the story of Cayce Pollard, "coolhunter" was so compelling that it just pulled me along. Not only did the twists and turns of the narrative keep me turning page after page, but the close looks at today's cultures of internet and branding, of fetish and obsession, and the echoes of September 11, 2001 provided me with a way to step back and look that each aspect with a longer view: otaku, Pilates, Starbucks, airport security, and the Michelin Man, together at last.

One thing that made my reading particularly interesting is that I also have Meet Mr. Product: The Art of the Advertising Character by Warren Dotz and Masud Husain, which documents advertising characters from the last century, including Bibendum, a.k.a. The Michelin Man.



Slippin' into the Future

Today I went to see the first workshop performance of Sabina as part of Madison Rep's Fall Festival of the Future.

Sabina tells the story of Sabina Spielrein, and her relationship with Carl Jung and Sigmund Freud (also the subject of the play The Talking Cure). What I saw today was a musical, based on an earlier off-Broadway play of the same name, by Willy Holtzman who also wrote the book for the musical.

The actors read the play at music stands on the stage, while the music director played piano for teh songs, and the director read the stage directions for us. After the play, the writer, composer, and lyricist came up on stage and took comments and suggestions from the audience. They will then be working on the play this week, and performing it again next Saturday.

I enjoyed the show, though I had several suggestions for things that needed further clarity. I would like to attend the second workshop, but that will depend on how busy I am next weekend.

Hey there, who's our team?

The Badgers Badgers Badgers Badgers... (Flash)

[This is a mirror site. The original comes from here.]

via MeFi

Return of the Grease Monkey

I am sure you are all waiting at the edge of your seats to find out how the Jeep is doing. Well, wait no more: It's all better. Got the new belt installed with only some minor swearing. And grease. Lots of grease. Thank god for soap.

Sore Losers

The Republicans don't like it when they don't get their way. In fact, if they can't make things go their way the first time, they'll do it all over again. I mean, how long did they hound Bill Clinton to try and make something stick? In California, the voters chose Gray Davis for there governor in November. The Republicans didn't like that, so they started a recall movement, and less than a year later they are going to do it all over again. How long do you think they will give it if this recall is a "no" or if Bustamente wins?

Then there is Texas. There was a census in 2000, just like there is every ten years. Perfect time to do the redistricting. Pretty traditional. Not that the Republican-lead state legislature could be bothered to do it:

The current Texas congressional map was drawn by a panel of federal judges in 2001 after state legislators failed to do the job.
(italics mine)

Yes folks, the legislators didn't do it in 2001 when they were supposed to, and the buck got passed. Still the job got done. Too bad the Republicans didn't like the results. Now, it seems, they are rarin' to go:

Perry, a Republican, has said the Legislature should be drawing congressional district lines, not the courts.

Um, shouldn't you have thought of that, say, TWO YEARS AGO?!? Bastards, the lot of them.

It's those 12 year-old girls.

Next up: Fake IDs. Underage drinkers, beware!


I've gotten the old belt untangled without breaking anything, so I believe I may very well just pick up a new belt and put in it myself.

I hope.

I scream, you scream

Friday evening I stopped down to the Memorial Union Terrace to taste test the possible new ice cream flavors from the flavor contest. The line was amazingly long, but moved surprisingly quickly. Taste testers were given about a spoonful of each flavor, and a small ballot to mark their favorite. Here's the scoop: (groan)

Der Banana Splitskeller--Vanilla with chocolate chunks, fudge swirl, and pieces of banana, cherry, and pecanc: Good, tasty, definitely invokes the spirit of the banana split. I would not, however, go out of my way for this flavor.

Union Utopia--Vanilla ice cream with a ribbon of fudge, peanut butter, and caramel: Also tasty but nothing to write home about.

Terrace Chairy--Cherry ice cream with cherry chunks: Not a bad ice cream, though not terribly exciting. Certainly nowhere near as fun as my Terrace Cherry would have been.

Rathskeller Razzleberry--Coffee ice cream with raspberries and dark chocolate chunk: Based on the description, I though this was a shoo-in for my favorite. Unfortunately, while it tasted good, the texture left something to be desired. The raspberry seed in particular gave it a gritty crunch that was not very pleasing.

Never Terrace Apart--Chocolate with vanilla bean, malt powder and chopped peanuts: I love the name when I first heard it, but I wasn't too sure about the flavor combo, so I was pleasantly surprised to find that it was my favorite. It got my vote, and I hope it makes the cut.


The Jeep started making a funny noise on the way home last night. When I got home, I checked under the car, to see if something had fallen and was dragging, because that is what it sounded like. Nothing to see, plus it was dark and I was tired.

Today, I headed out to get groceries, forgetting about the noise until I started the car. Once again, I couldn't see anything under the car, so I lifted the hood. Whip*whip*whip!! A busted fan belt was whipping around and around, slapping pther parts as it turned. I turned the engine off, and examined the problem. I'm not sure whether I want to attempt to fix it myself, or take it straight to the shop. On the one hand, there isn't any rain in the forecast until Thursday, so the bike and the bus ought to see me through a couple of days. On the other hand, the broken belt seems to be tangled, and I'm not sure how to get it out with out breaking it. On the other hand...wait, I'm out of hands....on the left foot, it would be far less expensive to do it myself, and a good learning experience. On the other foot, I'd really like it done quickly and done right.

In the meantime, my plan to get groceries has been scuttled. I suddenly wish I had a little red wagon, so I could walk to the store.

Putting Faces to Names

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Tonight was the Madison MeFi meet-up, and it was great fun. It was nice to put faces and real names to the usernames, and to find that they were all cool people.

The only downside is that, having been in a bar for hours, I totally smell like smoke. <gag> I haven't been this smoky-smelling since the last time I saw Pat McCurdy at the Annex. I need some Febreeze.

A Study in Contrasts

Cool summer night. Driving with the top down and the heat on. Such a great sensation. (Get a load of that not-quite sentence structure.) Cool wind swirling around from above, warm air blowing up from below--quite delicious.

It reminds me of when I was a child. My siblings and I liked to sit outside near the dryer vent, in the early spring and the fall. We would warm ourselves in the sweet-smelling, slightly humid hot air blowing out of the vent. Looking back on it, this was probably not healthy in some way or another, but at the time that didn't matter. Nothing like a little Downy-scented warmth the take the edge off of a cold game of tag or hide-and-go-seek. It was a comforting spot.

I miss my dryer vent. But I do like my Jeep.

Another Quiz Result

"You must remember this, a kiss is still a
kiss". Your romance is Casablanca. A
classic story of love in trying times, chock
full of both cynicism and hope. You obviously
believe in true love, but you're also
constantly aware of practicality and societal
expectations. That's not always fun, but at
least it's realistic. Try not to let the Nazis
get you down too much.

What Romance Movie Best Represents Your Love Life?
brought to you by Quizilla

Sing Out

Wheeeeee! I made it into the UW Choral Union again. This semester we will be performing Hadyn's Creation.

Curious Cargo

Yesterday, while biking home from work, I passed a man carrying a bike on the back of his bike. He was riding along with no aparent difficulty, but it was a sight to see.

He had a small cargo rack on the back of his bicycle; the sort that students use to carry books. The second bicycle was lying across the rack, held down with bungee cords. It was percariously balanced, and stuck out awkwardly on both sides of him, yet it worked. I couldn't help but stare as I passed by.

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This page is an archive of entries from September 2003 listed from newest to oldest.

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