Wednesday, March 31, 2004


Oh, so Michael and Catherine get to road-trip out to see shows and leave me behind? thanks, guys! Then again, I've seen one sub-par Sweeney already, and that's really enough to last me for a while. Glad to hear that the new Cy Coleman musical sounds good; Bob Gunton has a great voice (gosh, have I heard him in anything since the Sondheim Evening concert album?), and Coleman deserves a better show than The Life or Lawyers, Lovers & Lunatics (what's with the "L"-shows, Cy?).

I may never be as cool as Catherine, but I've got one over on her. Thanks to the magic of ebay, I am now in possession of a collection called "Fantasia" (apparently pronounced "Fantassya") featuring assorted Hebrew versions of songs from (mostly) children's movie musicals ("Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang" with Israeli accents is going right up on the list of things that prove that truth is stranger than fiction). What this means, however, is that with this and Dudu Fisher's album, I now own two different Hebrew translations of "Over the Rainbow!"

So there.

Thursday, March 25, 2004

Fury and Fear

This was supposed to be a different post.

I was supposed to write about my eight-hour (with frequent junk-food breaks) chemistry marathon, and the frequent aspersions that I cast on the legitimacy of my instructor's lineage. I was going to write about the joy of being in a piano bar for the first time in months, seeing Maggie Wirth, Luke Sandford, and assorted old friends at Rose's Turn and Marie's. I was going to make an amusing crack about The Lovely Wife(tm)'s squealing reaction to meeting the legendary Michael Dale.

But I can't.

Reading The NY Times's coverage of the Israeli Army catching and disarming a young Palestinian potential suicide bomber, my mind and emotions are in complete turmoil. Yes, this is not the first time Palestinian terrorists have recruited youngsters, but seeing the photos of a scared barely-teen wearing an explosive vest, then stripping to his underpants as armed soldiers crouch behind concrete bunkers, machine guns at the ready, has me in a complete whirlwind.

The easy emotion is fury. Rage at the heartless cowards who would send death on the body of a child, who would consider this act a thing of religious beauty if it had succeeded. There's plenty of that, but there's more. It's easy to hate a faceless enemy. But this is a young boy. Imagine being a soldier, in full uniform and gear, having to aim a machine gun at someone half your age, preparing to make the moral decision to pull the trigger if needed. The sheer "what the @#!! is WRONG with this world?!" factor.

My regular political readings on Israel range from the extreme right to the extreme left. I consider myself an "intellectually honest liberal Zionist," if you must have a label on me, but I can't see how anybody doesn't read something like this and scream in anguish. I don't care where your political sympathies lie; a child was used as a weapon, and someone had to be ready to kill him for it. What the @#!! is wrong with this world?

Tuesday, March 23, 2004

Dum de dum dum...

After eight years of post-high school edumacation, I'm getting my first-ever take-home exam this evening; expect much hollering and wailing for the next 48 hours...

Update: The exam is every bit as fear-inducing as, well, as I feared, but I'm hoping that a couple of hours' work following a good night's sleep will reduce the stress factor. If, by some miracle, this whole thing gets finished by tomorrow evening, then I expect to be doing some heavy research into assorted ethanol compounds.

Sunday, March 21, 2004

PCB Party

Boy, this "I'm gonna be honest" thing can really be annoying: instead of sleeping on the job (like any good midnight shifter should be), I'm waiting for a soil sample to finish up a two-hour extraction on the mighty Soxtec system (geez, I had no clue the durned things cost that much... whatta gyp!). Big-time feh, since I've got a last-minute "let's try to see if we understand anything" study session this afternoon.

Celebrity-spotting this week: sat next to disgraced former NY Times journalist Jayson Blair on the subway, talking to what I would assume was his agent/ press rep. Cared too much about getting off my tired feet to move (really not impressed with the guy... lying, plagiarizing, disgracing your employer and then writing a tell-all doesn't win you brownie points in my book). Celebrity #2: Local legend Steven I Weiss of some YU blog made an appearance at shul this afternoon, although he didn't recognize me (c'mon, Steve! I'm one of the only forty-gazillion blogs you link to...)

Tuesday, March 16, 2004

Campin' out

TLW bought us the Camp DVD the other day, and I finally sat down to watch it. For those who don't know, Camp is an independent film focusing on a group of talented teens in a summer drama camp (Camp Ovation, loosely based on Stagedoor Manor). The usual teen sturm und drang gets interspersed with some great musical numbers (and a fantastic All About Eve homage sequence), and the occasional actual heartfelt scene. I'm kinda annoyed by the whole "everybody who loves musicals is gay" theme (wonder why?), as well as some of the stereotypes (which are even more exacerbated in one of the deleted scenes, a sports sequence which could've been lifted out of The Broken Hearts Club), but the better parts of the movie more than compensate. The "Ladies Who Lunch" sequence is still the best, funniest, darned thing I've seen in ages, except for maybe Joanna Chilcoat's rendition of "And I'm Telling You". Fave extra: the "making of" sequence, in which we get to see Jerry Mitchell choreographing "Turkey Lurkey" ("Head! Head! No Head!")... ah, much fun; now, back to orgo...

Thursday, March 11, 2004

Look out Kasparov...

... ok, so not really. In my oh-so-copious spare time, I've been trying to up my chess game a bit. I still stink, but I've now beaten jchess on both its lowest and second-lowest settings, all by my lonesome. Doesn't mean I'll be able to do it again, and I still can't see openings well, but it's nice.

Any recommendations for a good starter book on strategy, or some decent chess puzzles?

Tuesday, March 09, 2004

Hands of Manos

Still recovering from post-Purim cleanup: One would think, wouldn't one, that there should be some kind of balance in the mishloach manot universe (for all the goyim out there: mishloach manot, or shalach manos, are gifts of food that Jews go around giving each other, often delivered by children in costume... think of it as trick-or-treating in reverse). For each gift received, you give one back, and so, on balance, you should have as much food left (with perhaps some variety) as you started with. But this never happens. Looking at my living room table, I see enough candy to warrant a 50-foot "no diabetic" zone, sufficient chocolate to keep a teenager in acne for months, and a tottering mess of baskets, tins, plates, and creative containers. There's also a snack box of some health drink which scares the daylights out of me (I'm not really sure what "soy complex" is, and I don't really wanna know). I would guess that, to balance this, someone on the mishloach manot circuit is now looking at a bare room, wondering how come nobody loves him/her.

Full-fledged "head go 'splodey" feeling yesterday, after five hours in the library covering about 25 pages of aldol reactions and their variants. This class is not turning out to be all fun and games. You'd think that a course entitled "Organic Synthesis" would be an easy, lah-dee-dah class, wouldn't you? Urgh.