Sunday, January 18, 2009


I worked on my laptop most of the day Saturday, after sleeping 'til
noon. After hitting the gym for a while, I went to the Black Cat
to catch the Raveonettes show. U Street was crazy- lots of Obama
shirts for sale, lots of spontaneous yelling in the streets. The
show was sold out, irritatingly; I had checked that afternoon on the
website to see that it wasn't, but I guess I didn't take into account
out-of-towners (of which there are currently millions) making
last-minute plans.

I hung out with another dude outside the club to hustle extra tickets-
he got one pretty quickly, and after another fifteen cold minutes I
scored too. My savior was pretty pissed- it sounded like he had been
stood up. I offered him $20 for the tic ($17 fv) and he shook his
head and gave it to me. "Merry Christmas," sez I. Nickel Eye
opened up- awful name, immediately evoking Nickelback. Solid rock n
roll, good slide and hollow-body country-feel to some of the songs.
Probably 200 people watching, which was fine, but I was irritated by
the maybe seven or eight hipster chicks with SLRs jostling around the
front. That, combined with the surprising tightness of the band,
made me suspect they weren't just a regular opening band. Turns out
I was right- the frontman is the bassist from the Strokes, or
something like that.

I ended up chatting between sets with a couple, lawyer-types, who went
on about how they had seen the R'ettes at sxsw, which, great, but man,
so much indie-rock namedropping. Turns out they lived down the
street from where I lived in Boston back in 98-99, and went to grad
school at BU. Some girl next to us joined the conversation, and
they did the "I saw the Pixies at thus-and-such secret show" or "I saw
thus-and-such back then at Paradise or Avalon." I miss the Middle
East and TT the Bear's a lot, so I just basked in the Boston nostalgia
for a while. The other girl went to Clark, though, which raised
unpleasant memories (ex-girlfriend a Clark dropout).

The Raveonettes played a short set (45 min) which was fantastic. The
total loudness, think J&M Chain with a Nordic ice-queen singer,
really isn't captured on their studio work. I'd heartily recommend
them live. Some more fog would have been nice, but then again I'm a
bit of a sucker for fog machines- too many Sisters of Mercy shows.

I got out 'round midnight and was going to head to U & 12th for a
party with a friend-of-a-friend who had mentioned it to me, but by the
time I got there she was leaving. I should have just gone to Ben's
Chili Bowl, as Our Lord and Savior did the other day, but just split a
cab home and watched the Galactica webisodes with a few Longhammers.

A good night.

Saturday, January 17, 2009


I've been on a savagely depressing movie kick lately.     Last week it was The Last Picture Show, which was worth maybe a quarter of the Christmas Chivas (courtesy of Cricket's folks).   It's always a shock how prevalent nudity was in early 1970s (Oscar-winning!) cinema, but hey, it kept me from wanting to kill myself from angst while watching it.    It was really good, though: I'd never heard of Timothy Bottoms before, but apparently he was a bit of a star back then.    A young Lebowski was also awesome.     Cybill Shepherd is the girl who Bottoms and Lebowski fall for.   She apparently hooked up with the director, Peter Bogdanovich.    Good times. 

 I only after realized that Bottoms played the dude in Johnny Got His Gun, the movie made from the good Dalton Trumbo book, most famously used (and now owned) by the guys from Metallica, everybody's favorite has-beens, for their change-your-life-good video for One.

Although this is cool too: One with Legos.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

i'm back

I'm watching a creepy-as-fuck movie called "Don't Look Away" with
Donald Sutherland and (I think) Julie Christie. Some Unfogged
thread led me to it. What a crazy times the 70s must have been:
nudity in the movies, weird-ass outfits, and (although I'm not
finished, I suspect) the god-damned Devil.

I saw the holy one speak in Manassas on Monday night before Election
Day. The wait was too long, the warmup speeches execrable, and the
smooth-jazz entertainment pathetic. But his speech was good, even if
it was his standard wall-street/main-street Fire It Up Ready To Go
bit, and I couldn't resolve him b/c of distance and failing eyesight.
America, Fuck Yeah.

I figure we'll be pissed at him in about a year. The gay marriage
thing is a pretty big clue.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

I have become what I most abhor

The barbecue on Saturday wasn't much fun.   I took a forty-five minute Metro ride for the privilege of walking twenty minutes through the miserable swampy weather to the place in Ballston, where I hung out with some beltway bandit grown-up-geeks and their children at a backyard barbecue.   The most fun I had was talking to a child by the beverage bucket about ice.  

Me: "ice is really crazy, huh"

Kid: "Mmmm  yaaaa"

Me: "how do you figure it floats?   what does that tell you about the nature of the solid state vs the liquid?"

Kid: "ice melty.   Kittycat!"

So, I did the proper thing: I stayed an hour, made chitchat, and did something I've never done before: took the sixpack I brought back with me.   Nobody had touched it (still in bag), and it wasn't really a beerbecue anyway.   I know it's a mega douche move, but a) sometimes a man has to go with his gut and b) it was really good beer.  

In other notes, my work is glacially productive, my girlfriend is in San Antonio, and my knee hurts.    

Also, why the fuck do old people like Panera so much?   Every time I go there for a work-escape for reading and scones and decent coffee, it's swarmed with the elderly.    What gives?

Finally, I just read this Feynman quote, which I like: he's a guy I pretty much roll my eyes at, and get sick of people worshipping him, but he hits this spot on.   I know it's pompous, but I'm kind of a pompous guy myself at heart.

I would use the words of Jeans, who said that `the great Architect would seem to be a mathematician.'  To those who do not know any mathematics it is difficult to get across a real feeling as to the deepest beauty of nature.  C.P. Snow talked about two cultures.  I really think that those two cultures separate people who have and have not had this experience of understanding mathematics well enough to appreciate nature once.  

It is too bad that it has to be mathematics, and that mathematics is hard for some people.   It is reported--I do not know if it is true--that when one of the kings was trying to learn geometry from Euclid he complained that it was difficult.   And Euclid said, `there is no royal road to geometry.'  And there is no royal road.   Physicists cannot make a conversion to any other language. 

I'm such a slut for secret-knowledge aesthetics.  

Thursday, July 3, 2008


A dude was shot thrice in the belly near my apartment the other night.
I only know because he's a blogger. He survived, but it's scary:
I'm a few blocks from 17th and Euclid, which is the shithole corner
where it happened. Right up the street from the new Harris

I generally don't have much regard for "safety" as such when I'm by
myself. Either I'm foolhardy or I have good intuition; I'm not sure
which. I've lived in cities-with-muggings since I've been 17 and
never been mugged, despite being the sort of person who is out late a
lot, quite often inebriated as well. A friend suggested it's because
I'm larger than average, which I think is bullshit.

It's July 4th weekend. Cricket is in Boston for a bachelorette
party. I'm gonna work work work, although there might be drinkies
tomorrow night; some suburban friends of mine are going to the
fireworks and want to drink the pain away afterward, the pain of
course being sitting on the National Mall with 100,000 people for
eight hours. On Saturday a fellow from my Boston years is having a
barbecue with his wife in Arlington. Should I go? It could be a
welcome social event, or a dull bear-trap!

Friday, June 20, 2008


I'm flying this weekend to SeasideTown, MA, for the wedding of Cricket's childhood friend.   It should be fun, although her parents'  housecats give me the wheezie, and I hate not being at my charming best when I'm with the parents.   I'm stressed, a little, because this is the sixth weekend of seven I haven't been able to work, and that gives me the Fear pretty bad.    I had a major piece of equipment break in my lab yesterday, which lowered morale further.    

On the plus side, I have a wireless router now, and am bit-torrenting the shit out of like 10 Galactica episodes.   Go, me.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Start rich, stay rich

After a conference where I gave not one but two short talks, which were well received even if not well understood, I ditched the final schmooze and hopped in my car to join my Cricket at the Princeton reunions.   These are strange affairs: it seems most of the people who go to Princeton delight in returning.    I went to a large (yet fancy!) public school, so reunions are the sort of thing reserved for Greeks, which I was not.   GDI, in the parlance of the time.  

Princeton reunions are very cultlike.   Everyone comes back for their mod-5 reunions, and each of those gets a huge tent.   There's a lot of drinking.   There's a ridiculous P-rade.  

Jakov, physicist and class warrior, joined me, so that in the moments when Cricket was overwhelmed with Princeton glee and forgot about me I would have someone to talk to.    We were both pretty shocked at the larval ruling class making beasts of themselves.   Then again I'm a bit of a hypocrite, and made a beast of myself.   A hell of a good time, actually.

We lunched at her Eating Club.   Great catering.  I enjoyed the wood-paneled library. 

Would I send my kids to Princeton?   Hell yes.   Am I a little bit bitter they didn't accept me for undergrad?   Yeah, a bit.    Is the Princeton thing a feature or bug re: Cricket?   Definitely feature.    Do I reserve the right to be a little weirded out by the whole thing?   Yeah, a bit.

On the way back to DC we hung out in Philly (her flying out of Philly to Chicago) with her bro and his wife and kid.    He's younger than me but has been in the Navy for N years and went to Annapolis.   So he feels older.    I envy him his permanent job, but not necessarily the stress of having a wife/kid/new house/new job combo.   Will that be me in a few years?