April 27, 2010

Counting Down

Today was the last day of classes for my undergraduate career. I also turned in paperwork confirming that I will be attending the Graduate Department of History at UB in the fall.

The secretary reminded me to send nice letters to the other schools that accepted me; I've not done that yet, so I think I'll write them now.

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April 25, 2010

Classic Magic

This is apparently the only known footage of "The Great Cardini" aka Richard Valentine Pitchford. There is no dialog, just magisterial sleight-of-hand.

What I like best is the nonchalance with which he does the tricks. Most magicians want to give the impression that they have control of powers beyond that of ordinary folks. For Cardini, the magic is something that happens against his will. He came home from a party, and is tired and a little drunk. He doesn't want all those damned cards that keep appearing in his hands, and is vaguely irritated as he is forced to hand deck after deck to the footman (played by his wife). He is trying to get rid of a billiard ball, and gets annoyed that it keeps reappearing in his other hand. He wants to have a relaxing smoke, but more and more lit cigarettes appear, no matter how many he tosses into the spittoon. That's what makes the jump from skilled technician to performer: Pitchford creates a persona, he assumes a role, in which magic simply happens.

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Sixteen Arms of Determination

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April 22, 2010

Simon and Garfunkel Had a Song About This

One of my profs cancelled class today, so I didn't have a particular need to be anywhere this morning. I set my alarm to "wake to music" and figured I'd get up whenever.

"Whenever" happened later than I expected, because my favorite radio station was broadcasting dead air. It wasn't even static, just silence (and my receiver has no squelch, so it must be the station broadcasting a carrier wave. I got up and went about by day, but left the radio on out of curiosity. At 11:30AM the station abruptly started up again, in the middle of the song. After twenty minutes, there has yet to be a DJ explaining anything, it's just music. Perhaps I shall never know the cause of this auditory mystery, the strange case of the radio that was silent.

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April 19, 2010

Never Change, Buffalo

Iggy, an old buddy of mine, had a job interview today. Wanting to look neat and professional, he shaved off the beard he's been growing for the last six months. The first question the interviewer asked him was "Where is your playoff beard?"

Lucky for him, I've been hearing there's a nationwide nurse shortage. With his shiney new RN certification, I'm expecting he'll get hired despite is visible lack of loyalty to the Buffalo Sabres.

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April 18, 2010

The Producers

I saw The Producers this weekend, the 2005 movie based on a Broadway musical that was itself based on a 1968 movie. That's an unusual pedigree in my experience.

Anyway, it's a singing comedy about a pair of Broadway producers that go about intentionally creating a flop. The plan was to raise far more capital than required for the show, then when it flopped, the investors would be unsurprised at not getting back their investment. The producers would raise $2 million, spend as little of it as possible, and abscond with the leftover capital.

The score was excellent, with witty songs and competant orchestration. The casting, though… I've got issues with the casting. Nathan Lane was excellent, unsurprisingly, as musical comedy is his thing. His producing partner was played by Matthew Broderick, whose singing did not impress me. The love interest was Uma Thurman who has been creeping me out for many years. Her singing was decent, but when she had dialog her accent came and went, which was distracting.

All in all, I enjoyed it, but I wish it'd had a better cast. The best people in it, aside from Lane, were Jon Lovitz and Will Farrell, who both had rather minor roles.

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April 16, 2010

Decision Time Approaches

I went three-for-three on grad school acceptances. Now I've got about ten days to decide between University at Buffalo, University of New Hampshire, and Drew University.

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April 13, 2010

Strange Criteria

UPS sees no reason not to leave a box full of $300 of Amazon.com books right on my doorstep. The Amazon box with a $6.50 combination square, though, that requires a signature.

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April 07, 2010

Slice of My Life

Today was interesting. It was cloudy but warm when I got up this morning, so I hopped on the bike to ride to school. Half-way there, I saw a rapidly-approaching storm front. I made it under cover just before hail arrived. Roughly 1cm hailstones, so it wouldn't have injured me, but it surely would have been uncomfortable and made for slippery riding.

I came to a realization when turning some books back in at the library. Tuesday night I'd turned in a paper about Ten Nights in a Bar-Room, a temperance novel. Twelve hours later, I discovered that I'd misspelled the name of the novel's author at every internal citation in my paper, which must have been at least twenty or thirty. Whoops. It's a decent-sized class, so perhaps by the time the instructor reads my paper he'll be so tired he doesn't notice.

I wasted half of my twenty-minute lunch break signing the Class of 2010 buffalo. [Er, the Class of 2010 Buffalo? I wonder if "Buffalo" is part of its proper name.] It's a life-size statue of a bison, painted in the school colors, that every senior can sign with a black marker. The signing started at noon, so only a dozen people did it before me. I laid claim to an excellent bit of fiberglass buffalo hide, a white patch on the right side of the head. I wonder if later signers will simply cover my name? I hope not, I might have to hunt some people down, since their names will be right there…

In my evening seminar we got our second paper back, worth 30% of the grade. Mine was eight pages on The Warwolf, a novel by Hermann Löns, and how this historical novel related to the construction of cultural memory about the Thirty Years War. Eight pages of text, two of references, and the only thing that the professor wrote on it was "Quirky but excellent. A" which I shall gratefully accept, even though I'd've appreciated more detailed feedback.

That seminar lets out at 7 PM, and it was still raining. I faced a choice: wait for the rain to let up, or bike when there was still daylight. I chose daylight. I hit all the green lights going off campus, which is a downhill run, so I had a good head of steam. I came up on the corner of Rensch Road and Sweethome, slowed down for my turn, and abruptly remembered that bicycle caliper brakes have reduced functionality when things are wet. Luckily no one hit me as I failed to maintain my line within the bike lane and wandered far into the vehicle lane. Sorry, drivers! I will accept the finger emblems as tribute to the clearly-evident fact that I am number 1!

Now home, damp but intact, it is time to study for a German test on Friday, and to write a paper due the same day. The happy life of a college student!

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April 06, 2010

Breakfast Sandwich Wars

This is the best ad I've seen in quite a while. It's obvious that the new Burger King "breakfast muffin sandwich" is a total rip-off McDonald's Egg McMuffin. Rather than disguise that inconvenient fact, BK makes a joke of it. Well done!

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