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Monthly Archives: May 2008

Vacation Update

May 28th, 2008 - 8:42 pm

Alive, well, extremely tan, slightly hungover… and home.

Bravo, Met!

May 25th, 2008 - 8:40 pm

Anthony Tommasini at the New York Times reports on the success of the 2007 – 2008 Met live HD broadcasts.

In his mission to reinvigorate the Metropolitan Opera, Peter Gelb, who completed his second season as general manager on Saturday night, has inaugurated outreach campaigns and digital-media ventures that are the envy of the opera world. There have been the enormously popular live high-definition transmissions of broadcasts to movie theaters worldwide, and the Met’s lively 24-hour station on Sirius satellite radio. Mr. Gelb has proved a master of marketing and drawn high-profile directors from film and theater into the house.

The Met’s transmissions of eight live performances to movie theaters reached 908,000 people, more than the total number who attended performances at the house this season (about 850,000). The transmissions do not yet earn a profit, but they do pay for themselves, Mr. Gelb said, through ticket sales and rebroadcasts on public television.

The 2006-07 HD broadcast attendance was around 325,000. Attendance almost tripled in just one year.

The Met has released the schedule for the 2008 – 2009 season which will begin this September. Bring it on!


Natalie Dessay in “La Sonnambula” (The Sleepwalker)

Vacation Update

May 25th, 2008 - 12:13 pm

In case you were wondering, Mexico still does not suck.

Checking In from Mexico

May 22nd, 2008 - 12:15 pm

We’re alive, well, and extremely tan.

Congress gives itself a do-over

May 21st, 2008 - 9:38 pm

How much money are we paying these people?

Congress gave President George W. Bush an incomplete version of the $289 billion farm bill, a mistake that would erase his veto and may require lawmakers to pass the bill again, lawmakers and congressional aides said on Wednesday.

A spokeswoman for House Democratic Leader Steny Hoyer said “a likely option” was to pass a new version of the farm bill on Thursday. Two Republicans said Congress may have to repeat the entire process of sending the five-year bill to the president. A final decision was expected to be reached overnight.

While sorting out the farm bill, Congress may need another stopgap bill to keep Agriculture Department programs running. The latest short-term extension expires on Friday. Congress is scheduled to recess on Thursday for the Memorial Day holiday.

“It looks like it may be back to square one for them,” said White House spokesman Scott Stanzel, who suggested Congress could clean up the “bloated bill” that it originally passed. “We haven’t found a precedent for a congressional blunder of this magnitude.”

Man, how I love the music of the 1980s. Here’s a warm embrace from Laurie Anderson to enjoy with your cocktails this evening. Smoking or non-smoking? Ha. Ha. Ha. Ha. Ha. Ha. Ha. Ha. Ha. Ha.

O Superman

NYT Trips On It

May 17th, 2008 - 9:39 am

She probably doesn’t realize it, but Julie Bosman at the New York Lying Times has stumbled upon the answer to the question many boring people are asking, “Why is Hillary losing?”.

Famous for her 16-hour days, her unflagging energy and her willingness to shout into a microphone until her voice gives out, Mrs. Clinton finds herself encountering long odds and a dwindling bank account.

That’s it! Shouting into a microphone. That’s the answer. Think about it – how often has a screamer won the presidency? People just don’t like being yelled at. Microphones can pick up whispers, there’s no good reason to yell into them.

Sean Penn said:

”I don’t have a candidate I’m supporting and I’m certainly interested and excited by the hope that Barack Obama is inspiring,” he said, but went on to accuse him of a “phenomenally inhuman and unconstitutional” voting record.

”I hope that he will understand, if he is the nominee, the degree of disillusionment that will happen if he doesn’t become a greater man than he will ever be,” Penn said. “This is the most important election, certainly in my lifetime, and maybe ever.”

My Hollywood gibberish dictionary is at the cleaners (I spilled pomegranate juice on it while trying to figure out that recent Harrison Ford episode at the chest waxer) so could someone please translate that into comprehensible English for me?

Deep Breath

May 14th, 2008 - 9:07 am

I’ve listened to the late Lorraine Hunt Lieberson perform this Handel aria approximately 1,326,400 times. I listen still.

h/t: Opera Chic

Primary Day Redux

May 13th, 2008 - 12:24 pm

Yes, I’m liveblogging the West Virginia primary all day at PJ Media.

Going Green?

May 12th, 2008 - 9:10 am

Peel & stick solar cells for your roof? Anything that can cut down on our gas bill in the winter has got to be good.

No word yet on price or residential uses, but I guess I can wait.

Hair o’ the Dog

May 12th, 2008 - 8:39 am

Vodka: Is there anything it can’t do?

(Hat tip to Jeffrey Haemer, who asks, “The Daily Green? Coincidence? I think not.”)

Caption Contest — THE WINNER!

May 9th, 2008 - 11:15 am







Walter in Denver with: “You had me at ‘tax the wealthy.’

…This Can’t Go On Either

May 9th, 2008 - 10:24 am

Buick, Pontiac, GMC… all going the way of Olds? That’s the rumor.

Breaking the Girl

May 9th, 2008 - 10:16 am

Who can force Hillary to quit? It’s more women’s work, says Peggy Noonan.

Knock It Off

May 9th, 2008 - 9:47 am

Hey, Traditional Values Coalition — I don’t need three copies of each of your (completely unread) press releases in my inbox. So now all your emails get permanently deleted before I even get a chance to see them.

Welcome to the Idiot Box, guys.

Hillary’s Downfall

May 9th, 2008 - 9:24 am

The subtitles are so very not safe for work. And your hysterical laughter might not be, either.

(Hat tip, Fake Steve.)

(more…)

In Praise of Doing “Women’s Work”

May 9th, 2008 - 8:53 am

At five years old I once refused to help load the dish washer, on account of it being “women’s work.” I’m sure I picked that up from dad, who might have been joking but certainly shouldn’t have been. And now? I’m the one who usually washes the dishes. And cleans the counter and the kitchen table, too. That’s not to say that Melissa is lazy or I’m Super Duper Domestic Guy — far from it. It’s just how I like it now.

With baby, wife and pets, there’s not much time left for the luxury of being alone and maybe getting a chance to listen to my own music. I don’t have enough knowhow or patience to work on my own truck, and modern vehicles are too reliable now for weekly maintenance, anyway. And how many shelves can you build for just one house? So much for hiding out in the garage. And I refuse — absolutely and utterly refuse — to take any pleasure, ever, in yard work. I’d rather do my own dental work, with aluminum tools, than mow a lawn or rake any leaves.

But you know what’s great? Household cleaning. Ironing, especially. I wish I were making this up.

Can’t iron with a two-year-old anywhere near — they’ll grab a good hold of that power cord and give it a solid jerk. And ironing shirts requires too much attention to carry on an adult conversation. Not the way I do it anyway.

I’m not kidding about that attention thing. When I iron, I’m ironing. I used to be so bad that I’d crease and iron the back box pleat, all the way down to the shirttail. At some point around 30, I decided maybe that was taking things a little too far, at least on sport shirts. Dress shirts? Next time you see me in a suit, wait’ll I take off the jacket and check for yourself. Until then, I ain’t sayin’ nothin’.

But give me the bathroom to myself, one of the many For Steve Only playlists on the iPod nestled in its Bose dock speakers, and half a dozen shirts to iron… and for the next hour, I could be 23 for all I care. It’s the same music, the same alone time, and the same (completely anal retentive, perfectionist asshole) activity as I enjoyed those 15 [cough, 16, cough . -ed.] years ago. Ironing is even better than vacuuming, which makes too much noise for a good iPod jam session. (If you prefer a loud stereo to wearing headphones, that is.) Though being all domestic now, I do get to chase the dog around with the damn noisy thing, which is a bit of a plus.

Oh, and, yeah, it really does take me close to an hour to iron six or eight shirts. 40 minutes if I rush. It’s not just because of the box pleats. Take the cuffs, for example. I don’t like to have creases in my cuffs, but I also don’t want the cuffs to wear out prematurely. So — the cuffs get buttoned before they go into the wash, then unbuttoned on the ironing board so I can iron them out flat. Then they get buttoned back up before the shirt goes on the hanger. The sad part is, when I put on a shirt, the first thing I almost always do is… you guessed it: Roll up the cuffs.

Washing dishes rocks, too, it really does. If you’re getting married or already there, buy yourself some Calphalon or other high-quality cookware. The brand name isn’t important. What is important is that you own a lot of stuff you’ll need to hand-wash. A two year old can’t help you with that, and believe me your wife will be happy to leave you be for a while if you’re washing dishes. Is that water too loud to hear the music? Then turn it up! Again, odds are you’ll get no complaints from the missus. I even get away with listening to Steely Dan or Bauhaus real loud when I’m tackling domestic chores. And unlike raking leaves, I don’t have to rake any leaves.

Guys, there’s nothing wrong with doing so-called women’s work. It’s one of your last chances to be a man.

Getting Wronger All the Time

May 8th, 2008 - 5:20 pm

I used to be of the opinion that tilt-rotor aircraft would be in the Marine Corps future, but that the V-22 Osprey wasn’t the right plane-chopper-thing. Too expensive, too unreliable — another case of young technology being pushed too far. Here’s more evidence I got that one wrong:

The MV-22s proved easier to maintain than the CH-46 aircraft they are replacing. The MV-22s needed 9.5 man hours of maintenance for each hour in the air, versus 24 hours of maintenance for each hour the CH-46s fly. These helicopters are all over twenty years old, which adds a few hours to their maintenance requirements. While the MV-22 required less maintenance than expected, the dust and sand in Iraq led to some engines being replaced earlier than expected.

Those complicated tilt-rotors require less maintenance time than the helicopters they’re replacing? That’s one hell of a plane-chopper-thing.

Killer Weed

May 8th, 2008 - 3:48 pm

Rob and Shewie, a couple buddies of mine from behind the Redwood Curtain way back when, once made a bong out of Lego and aluminum foil. But this is out there:

Two men and a juvenile are accused of digging up a corpse, decapitating the body and using the head to smoke marijuana, according to court documents.

I’d have said “three juveniles, two of legal age,” but that’s a minor quibble. What were these guys smoking? I mean, before they decided to smoke stuff out of a human head?

And am I the only one finding it near-impossible not to make a “dead head” joke?

…This Can’t Go On

May 8th, 2008 - 1:00 pm

Imagine if a giant cyclone struck Zimbabwe, but nobody noticed. That’s practically what’s going on there right now:

Some 40,000 farm-workers and their families have fled their homes in Zimbabwean election violence, a trade union official says.

“They have been accused of voting for the opposition. Most of them are either on the roadside or sheltering at some farms,” said Gertrude Hambira.

What the story doesn’t make clear is which farmers are fleeing. Are they the next-to-useless, can’t-even-feed-themselves farmers installed by “President” Mugabe after he drove productive farmers off their lands? Or are they some of the last remaining farmers who are actually capable of growing, you know, crops?

I suspect it’s the latter — Mugabe’s loyal thugs should have no reason to leave. If that’s the case, then Zimbabwe’s long downward spiral is accelerating.

New Blogs

May 8th, 2008 - 11:41 am

Tomorrow’s news — today!

NBC and Microsoft Hate You

May 8th, 2008 - 10:29 am

Now we know the real reason NBC pulled its content off of Apple’s iTunes Store. Read:

NBC Universal’s decision to offer TV shows at the Zune Marketplace has been largely motivated by its willingness to bend on anti-piracy measures, the New York Times states in a talk with NBC’s digital media head, J. B. Perrette.

Microsoft confirms the report and says it has been evaluating a filtering method with the broadcast giant that would screen pirated copies of videos from Zune devices, similar to methods in the works by Google and others to prevent unauthorized uploads.

Apple’s DRM is pretty obnoxious, but it’s also pretty easy to remove. And Apple has never tried to control what content (legal or not) I can copy to my iPod. Or even how many iPods I can move content onto. And Apple has certainly never installed some kind of video-recognition spyware on my computer.

I thought Microsoft was supposed to be moving away from DRM. Instead, they’re tightening the screws.

UPDATE: Microsoft denies it has an agreement with NBC to filter content, but left themselves plenty of wiggle room.

Domestic Bliss or Not

May 8th, 2008 - 10:07 am

If I ever get fat, it’ll be because we live eight minutes away from Bella Panini. They have some of the best pizza in Colorado. Which is a bit like bragging about being the tallest building in Tulsa, but still, Bella makes a damn good pie. Never heard of it? That’s because it’s a little mom’n'pop joint in Palmer Lake, which is a town you’ve never been to and probably never heard of. But for a no-stoplight town nestled in the bosom of the Front Range, it features some good eating.

Didn’t mean to talk about last night’s dinner. The real excitement around here is in the basement, where I keep my inner child chained to the water heater. I’m kidding about that last part, but one of the water heaters is on the fritz.

Got in the shower this morning and had to turn it all the way to hot, just to get the water comfortable. That’s not right. We keep our heaters on the “B” level, meaning that all the way hot is very hot indeed. You can’t just jack it up and jump in like a drunken frat boy. You’ve got to work your way up to it. And that, only when you really need to pound some sore muscles into submission.

So the shower was warm enough, if only just. Melissa asked if we should call the new plumber, who is doing the bathroom in the new basement, or somebody else. Answer: Anybody else. I’m still mad at the new plumber.

First time he came by to put in the tub and stuff downstairs, he noticed our water heaters were turned up too high, and weren’t set at the same temperature. Wastes gas, he told me. “Oh, sure, fix that please,” I told him. Then he fixed it way too much.

Ever get in the shower just a few seconds too early, and get that slight-but-still-unpleasant chill until the hot water kicks in all the way? Of course you have, we’ve all done that one.

Imagine an entire shower that feels like it’s going to warm up any second now, but never does. After I dried off, and stopped cursing, I went downstairs and cranked the heaters back up to B. Which can’t be wasting too much gas, because I think the knobs go all the way up to 11. Or at least to D.

Problem solved.

Next time the plumber came over, to fix a couple minor things the inspector noticed, he turned the water heaters back down to Just Cold Enough to Really Piss Me Off. He didn’t ask. He didn’t tell. He just decided where my water heaters should be set, and screw whatever I might think.

Needless to say, I got another cold shower. Also needless to say, we won’t be hiring him again. He can save the planet on his dime, not mine.

Anyway, today’s shower wasn’t that cold. Even with one of the heaters putting out cold water, the temp was still (barely) high enough for comfort. But it was obvious something was wrong.

Went downstairs expecting the worst — a giant flood. Pictures and CDs ruined. Water ankle deep. Raw sewage. Crocodiles, maybe.

Took a look at the heaters. All valves open. All pilot lights lit. Opened the taps to see which one was cold. The first one dumped a stream of hot water at my toes. The second one… trickled, then stopped. It was bone dry. With open valves. Go figure. It’s probably something horrible, like an alligator stuck in the pipes.

Anyway, the old plumber is here and I’ve wasted enough valuable blogging time on stuff no one could possibly care about, including me. But just in case you missed the message: Don’t hire any hippie plumbers.

I had to look up the word ‘prolier’ just now, glad I did, means a member of the proletariat, which explains why I had not heard the word ‘prole’ before, I’m successfully weak in Marxist terminology.

Then I read the occasionally indispensable George Will today (“Yankee Fan Go Home“) and this

“We,” says Geoff Garin, a Clinton strategist who possesses the audacity of hopelessness required in that role, “don’t think this is just going to be about some numerical metric.” Mere numbers? Heaven forfend. That is how people speak when numerical metrics — numbers of popular votes and delegates — are inconvenient.

followed by this

Most of all, she was too late in understanding how much the Democratic Party’s mania for “fairness,” as mandated by liberals like her, has, by forbidding winner-take-all primaries, made it nearly impossible for her to overcome Obama’s early lead in delegates. If Democrats, who genuflect at the altar of “diversity,” allowed more of it in their delegate selection process, things might look very different. If even, say, Texas, California and Ohio were permitted to have winner-take-all primaries (as 48 states have winner-take-all allocation of their electoral votes), Clinton would have been more than 400 delegates ahead of Obama before Tuesday and today would be at her ancestral home in New York planning to return some of its furniture to the White House next January.

got me to feeling so good I have decided to leave my friend’s apartment in DC (I’m here for a brief vacation) and go to the National Mall to join the other proletariaters people who happen to be there today. Maybe I’ll see Christopher Hitchens. That would, like, totally rock.

Required Reading

May 7th, 2008 - 1:14 pm

Hitch:

Of all the slogans that Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Hussein Obama might have picked to distinguish themselves from one another, “Prolier Than Thou” was probably the least convincing.

Read the rest here.

No Zune Jokes Please

May 7th, 2008 - 9:48 am

What hath the iPhone wrought? Some pretty hot competition, that’s what.

Pre-Post Mortem — AGAIN!

May 7th, 2008 - 8:48 am

I’m not sure how Hillary can stay in the race. She could only “eke out” a win in Indiana, just weeks after Obama did everything short of go door-to-door and personally insult each and every rural voter — and lots of city people, too. And to lose North Carolina by 14 points after putting in a strong campaign there… I just don’t see her rationale.

Oh, and she’s now loaned herself another six million dollars. Sure, Bill is good for it — but so what? What’s all that money going to buy her? When Teresa Heinz Kerry loaned John those millions to keep running in ’04, he still had a shot. All Clinton has is the faint (and growing fainter) hope of turning the superdelegates her way.

Ain’t gonna happen. Not after yesterday.

Then again, can you picture her dropping out? Like Paul Krugman predicting recessions, I’ve predicted four or five of the zero times Clinton has bugged out. Will she do it this time?

It’s got to happen — but I don’t see that, either.

I do know this much. I’ll be in Denver for the convention. Because there’s something I can’t wait to see.

Small Town News

May 7th, 2008 - 6:21 am

We’re so far out of even the ‘burbs now, that when Google News runs local headlines for us, they say things like “Top 5 Places to Hike with Your Dog.”

And it stays up there on Google for days.

Quick Question

May 6th, 2008 - 5:03 pm

Does Al Gore really want to be remembered as the guy who walked over 50,000 still-warm corpses to drive up the shares of his investment fund?