l33tminion: (L33t)
London was pretty cool.

I really liked the Google office there (at Belgrave House, accross from Victoria Station). Seemed like a really cool place to work, and the food was fantastic (including a juice bar with one of these nifty machines).

Was good to see Xave again. We spent some time wandering the city, visited the museum at Bletchley Park and the Royal Observatory in Greenwich. We saw Tom Stoppard's The Hard Problem (broadcast in cinema by National Theater Live), doesn't hold a candle to Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead but it was reasonably good. And we also saw a production of Wicked at the Apollo Victoria Theater, that was a really good show and the staging was brilliant.

The European Lisp Symposium was a very interesting conference. I particularly liked the talk on Clasp, an LLVM-based Lisp implementation featuring tight C++ interoperability. (It's not quite there yet performance-wise, but some of the features excite me: Being able to write Lisp macros in place of C++ template libraries, being able to introspect C++ code in Lisp, being able to compile C++ modules into Lisp code and then use LLVM-based debugging and profiling tools that work across that boundary in a seamless way. Good stuff.) Also, the talk about the Woo HTTP server (a pure-Lisp implementation that beats Node.js on performance benchmarks) was impressive and full of interesting ideas. And I enjoyed my colleague's talk about debugging SBCL garbage collection.

I really enjoyed London, I got the sense that I'd enjoy living there as much as I enjoyed visiting. Wonderful food, beautiful architecture, friendly people, really pleasant to travel around.

My trip back was uneventful, after some annoying flight delays (a few passengers missed the flight and their luggage had to be removed, then another passenger had to disembark for medical reasons, forcing them to search the luggage again).

Work's been interesting. Lots to do.
l33tminion: (Train)
Life has been busy, but it's still a bit much to keep up with it all!

At work, it's performance-review time, I'm once again (1.5 years after my last unsuccessful effort) going up for promotion, and I think my case is strong this time. But explaining my work in a high-stakes way to a group of people who probably don't know anything about my work, well, that's way more stressful than doing my work is at the worst of times. Still, most of my work for that is done, and my actual-job work has been going well.

Last weekend, Julie and I went to NYC. Got a much-needed mini-vacation, got a bit of rest, ate some amazing food (Indian Road Cafe is a beautiful spot with an amazing brunch, the chicken and waffles at Sweet Chick was phenomenal, Puddin' continues to be my top candidate for the next fancy-desert trend, the sandwiches at Xe Máy were amazing, and Booker and Dax's cocktails set the standard for bartending-meets-mad-science). Was lovely to see Nikki and Emmett again, with time for actual conversation (last time I saw them was at the wedding, which was wonderful but a bit of a whirlwind). We saw the all-star-cast version of Waiting for Godot, excellent acting and a way weirder play than I remembered (and I remembered it as pretty strange). Missed Boston's St. Patrick's Day Parade (just as well), but managed to have some good beer.

Today, finished playing a run of Jenna Moran's awesome, meta-fictional (meta-ludological?) aptly-named tabletop game WTF with Xavid and Co. It was fun, and quite playable, even without the supplement (which we didn't need, but makes some amount of sense now that I've played the game).

Looking forward to another weekend.
l33tminion: (L33t)
Intercon (live-action gaming convention) was this past weekend, and it was fun!

Friday evening, played in "Last Fair Deal Gone Down", which had a story about supernatural deals gone wrong, an evocative setting out of American folk music and blues, and the best use of in-story music in a theatrical game that I've seen. Included one character singing O Death as they attempted to ward off a supernatural ferryman, which made for a really great scene.

On Saturday, I was looking forward to playing "Heithur" since Andrew, a friend of mine, was one of the people writing/running it. I certainly liked the characters and setting (supernatural noir in a setting where Norway instead of Britain became the great power of the world). But there were some real glitches in how it was run, so I didn't enjoy it nearly as much as I'd hoped.

I really liked Xave's late-night game "Persona: Too Late" (based on the video game series, especially Persona 3 and Persona 4). Really captured the feel of the source material in a remarkable way, and ran pretty smoothly for a first run without much prior play-testing. Plus the midnight time-slot was perfect for a game set in "the Dark Hour" (lots of fantasy stories involve some supernatural place imperceptible to most, in Persona 3 that place is a supernatural 13th hour inhabited by vengeful shadows).

Also played in one of the Iron GM games (a game-writing competition where games are written from some strange set of story elements in 24 hours one weekend and then run the next) and a game based on The Thin Man movies (which wasn't very well tuned but certainly captured the setting well).
l33tminion: (L33t)
Thanksgiving break was great. I really enjoyed spending time with Cleveland friends and family. Though the travel itself was a bit exhausting, the trip was a nice break. We saw some plays that my sister, Melissa worked on in some capacity, a Cleveland Playhouse production of "Venus in Fur" (Melissa is interning at the Cleveland Playhouse this year; that one was a fantastic show, with amazing acting and staging) and a convergence-continuum production of "Fool for Love" (she did fight direction; I didn't find that play quite as compelling).

Since I got back, work has been all right, but stressful. My workouts have resumed, that at least is going great. The weather was that sort of mild winter weather that seems so much warmer than the first time in the year those temperatures came around, clear skies turning to fog later in the week. I was expecting to wake up to serious snow today, but the weather must have taken an unexpected turn, since things stayed dry. We didn't miss the nationwide cold-snap, though, winter is back.
l33tminion: (Conga!)
Two weekends ago: Whale watching with Julie's lab cohort (quite a sight to see the humpbacks playing), Sunday brunch, saw Headhunters (suspense-thriller about a corporate headhunter who moonlights as an art thief, thought it was okay), gin and tonics made with Ethereal Gin (Batch 5) and Q Tonic, and a dinner in JP.

Last weekend: The American Craft Beer Festival (interesting and tasty), a trip to NYC with Julie to see some shows with her dad (a great small-box production of "The Fantasticks" and saw "The Book of Mormon" (hilarious, brilliant, and about as irreverent and lewd as you'd expect from anything by Parker and Stone)), and a fancy English tea.

This week: MIT commencement stuff!
l33tminion: (Train)
Thanksgiving break was very good. Relaxing as usual. Cleveland is much the same as always, and it was interesting to make introductions, and to catch up with siblings and assorted friends.

The train ride went smoothly in both directions. I brought far more entertainment than I needed. Conversations with other passengers were interesting. The economy, the job market, and Occupy seem to be on everyone's minds.

Yesterday evening, I went to a poetry open mic at a local gallery. The feature was a friend-of-a-friend putting on his one-act commedia sketch Arlecchino am Ravenous (Arlecchino being the archetypal harlequin character).
l33tminion: (Slacker Revolt)
Education: An essay on why going to any non-top-tier law school is a one-way ticket to penury. Ditto (most of the time) for getting a PhD. An article on the overuse of homework in elementary school.

Music: A love note sent indirectly, a twist on the multitrack music video, an OverthinkingIt essay on the song Like a G6.

The Internets Attack: An article on memetic epidemiology in the Cooks Source plagiarism scandal (more background on that), and a hypothetical story of a flash mob gone wrong.

Clowns Attack: Clowns versus clowns, an anarchist army of rebel clowns.

Politics: Why the health care bill won't be repealed (basically all of it is popular), an article on the downside of diversity, an article on the reaction to deadly airline terrorism before 9/11, an article on pilot unions and airlines.

Food: Making porchetta, omelets inside the egg.

Clothes: A post from the author of Dresden Codak on costume and character, a talk about fashion and free culture, more than you ever wanted to know about men's dress shoes.

Other Interesting: Augmented reality for the colorblind, The World's Greatest Drunk, a psychological history of David Foster Wallace, translating early modern philosophy texts from English to English, a video asking "what do sex workers want their significant others to know?" (produced by Scarlet Alliance, a sex workers' rights organization in Australia).

Finally: Denki Groove's latest video, Fake It!
l33tminion: (Slacker Revolt)
Things I saw in the past week or so:

Gallagher (the comedian): Tells a joke about how other comedians tell jokes about things about the comedian the audience can't relate to. Then tells a bunch of jokes about being old and constipated. Does the usual "I'm so edgy, you're so PC" routine, but seemed to fail to realize that basically every other comedian has exactly that same routine and the reason his jokes got a mixed response was that even the funny ones were barely funny. DJ tells me this guy was worth watching back in the day. If so, I recommend the reruns.

RED (movie): Lots of old stars in a fun, over-the-top action movie. Also a great example of an adaptation that does very well by the original source material while changing that source material almost completely.

Inside Job (movie): Saw with Film Club. A pretty clear and sober look at the recent economic crisis in classic documentary form. Worth watching, though it's rather depressing.

Cabaret (theater): The ART's production was amazing, Amanda Palmer is brilliant, so was everyone else. Was just able to get tickets to the encore benefit performance, and it was well worth it.

That aside, I've been helping Xave and Patti move to their new place (same neighborhood). And I'm ready for my weekend in DC, though I've perhaps done way less advance planning than would make sense.
l33tminion: (Wings)
Yesterday, went with Shoshana and Xavid to see Sleep No More, quite a remarkable production.

Imagine Shakespeare's Macbeth crossed with Hitchcock's Rebecca, directed by someone massively influenced by Hitchcock, with a minimalist approach to dialog and an obsessive concern for the details of the setting.

I'm often less than enthusiastic about Shakespeare adaptations. I've seen too many that are just clumsy skinnings of Shakespeare plays (here's looking at you, Great Lakes Theater Festival), where the set and costuming are changed to be incongruous to the play but the characterization doesn't make it work. An adaptation should either build something meaningful on top of existing material or challenge that material in some significant way. "[Shakespeare play] but set in [20th century decade]" just doesn't cut it. Nor is your play laudably "post-modern" just because your set looks like the aftermath of some natural disaster as painted by Dalí.

Sleep No More is a meaningful adaptation, though. What's interesting is that it's not so much an adaptation of Shakespeare. Sure, there's the relative absence of dialog, the vivid choreography, the exceptional set, but from a narrative and character perspective, it's a pretty conventional telling of Macbeth. What's more significant is that it's an adaptation of theater itself.

The play (if "play" is still the accurate term) is spread out through a dark, abandoned school converted into a gigantic set. The conventional border between actors and audience is absent, replaced by white masks, silence, and the guiding presence of the unspeaking, black-masked stewards. The audience wanders the building, or follows members of the cast.

Of course, there are drawbacks to this format. Spreading the narrative out over a large space means that each audience member only gets fragments of the story. I'm still not quite sure how the Hitchcock movie plot elements were woven in (if they were), though perhaps I'd have a better idea if I was familiar with the movie in question. The ending also seemed abrupt and a bit confusing, though beautifully staged.

But those drawbacks are more than balanced out by the format's strengths. Changing the conventional boundaries of theater and giving the audience only simple, ambiguous* rules (be silent, mind the stewards, explore, don't get in the way of the cast) to replace well-understood social conventions creates an awkward but anticipatory state. That affect is magnified when the new boundary, too, is blurred. While the audience members play the role of silent, observing ghosts, this is Macbeth. Quite a few of the characters can see ghosts, especially the manipulative witches. Audience members, in their exploration of the setting, push back. Despite the denotative masks, it becomes less and less clear who is an observer and who is, in some sense, part of the production. And there was (at least for me) a growing temptation to bend the rules. There was one scene in which a character receives a phone call in an otherwise empty (filled with ghosts) room. The phone rings, he hesitates, and in that moment I was struck with an almost overwhelming temptation to pick up the phone and hand it to him. (I didn't, but perhaps I should have, for some value of should.)

Definitely see it, if you get the chance.

* Note that I'm not sure to what extent any ambiguity was intentional on the part of those introducing they play, the venue was quite crowded and they were hurrying.
l33tminion: (Default)
The weekend was good. The conference was very interesting. I also saw FWOP's production of Picasso at the Lapin Agile, which was quite excellent.

I have a job interview on Friday for ITA Software, a phone interview a week from then for The Open Planning Project, and my information is in to Google, so all is going well on the job search front.

I bought some business-casual clothes, too, so I'm not lacking that anymore. This Friday's interview is casual dress, though.

My first SCOPE design review is tomorrow.
l33tminion: (Default)
The last few days have been all about the arts. Three days ago I saw "Saint Joan" at the Shaw Festival in Niagara on the Lake (an excellent performance with some of the best set design ever), I saw "Ragtime" yesterday, and I went to the Ohio Light Opera with my family today to see "Princess Ida". After the play and dinner, we went to a Cleveland orchestra concert. So I've been keeping busy.

Tomorrow I'm getting up early to go visit Hale Farm so I can see Dan on the job.
l33tminion: (Why Me?)
Wednesday: Hung out with friends, went to IHOP.

Thursday: Got some legal paperwork out of the way, bought some expensive trinkets so that my mom won't worry about me having sufficient Cleveland memorabilia to give as gifts, saw New Stages (theater festival run by Shaker schools for one-act, student-written plays; fantastic as always).

Today: Horrible stomach bug. At least there's a silver lining... better to get sick before traveling than during. Also, I finally got my visa, so I'm ready to go.

Finally, a comic for your enjoyment:
Comic )
l33tminion: (Default)
Today I went with Barry to see a production of Martin McDonagh's "The Pillowman". That was definitely some of the creepiest theater I've ever seen. It wasn't as intense as "The Beauty Queen of Leenane" (another of McDonagh's plays; the most intense piece of theater I've seen to date), although perhaps it was more shocking. Regardless, it was a good, powerful play; I recommend it.

On the minus side, Barry didn't give me a ride back to school (he had some other theater performance to go to). Instead, he left me at some random bus station in the middle of Boston, and I got a ride from an Olin friend back from the T. All that wouldn't have been so bad if Barry had told me about that plan in advance.

I've got at ton of work to do this weekend, including two tests. I'm going to be so hosed tomorrow...

Last Friday, I went to a meetup for the Boston Japanese + English Language Club, which was cool. Also, I've officially been accepted by IES Tokyo.
l33tminion: (Default)
I forgot to mention that on Friday I saw a comedy show by these guys, and it was hilarious.

I also forgot to mention that I'm applying for a job at IBM (and I really hope I get it). I still have no job offers, unfortunately, but I'll figure things out.
l33tminion: (Rainbow)
Nothing much interesting happened this weekend, except for the Open/GLEE drag show ("Dare to Diva"), which was entertaining. I'm mostly mentioning this so I can plug All the Kings Men. They performed at the show, and they were extremely talented. If you get the chance to see one of their shows, I recommend it.

Schwing!

Nov. 16th, 2005 03:26 am
l33tminion: (Default)
Saturday evening I saw Crash. The movie is a well-crafted existential drama (or perhaps even a bit postmodern). Crash is about LA, and the issue of racism, and the connections between random people. (As a random connection, Crash uses some of the same imagery used in lain, to the same effect.)

Vito organized a trip for his birthday celebration on Sunday. (His birthday was actually today, so happy birthday to him.) A bunch of Oliners (including myself) and Estevan (who apparently knows Vito from their hometown) went to see The One-Man Star Wars Trilogy. Hilarious. We had a fancy dinner afterwards at some Italian restaurant, so that was fun, too.

Regarding today's FILM, Kung Fu Hustle FTW.
l33tminion: (Default)
I went over to Wellesley to see three videos on reserve for my Social Psych class. We're studying prejudice and descrimination, so the videos were on skinheads, the Rawandan genocide, and Jane Elliot's brown-eyes / blue-eyes experiment, respectively.

In the evening, I saw the Babson Player's production of The Laramie Project.

Am now feeling somewhat depressed.
l33tminion: (Rainbow)
I'm a few days late, but I thought I should point out this local news story. Fred Phelps had planned to picket a production of The Laramie Project at Newton High School last Saturday, but he was too busy to actually show up (apparently, he had some war dead to dishonor). Of course, the show sold out as a result and the community (including a few Olin students) turned out to show support. Open even raised some money for the Matthew Shepard Foundation as part of the (would-be) counter-protest.

We ought to write Phelps a thank-you note. Aside from his tasteless but somewhat amusing work as America's least favorite pornographer, he's also one of the most effective speakers for galvanizing people to support of the cause of tolerance.
l33tminion: (Default)
Today was a pretty relaxing day. I played some DDR and went out for sushi and bubble tea with Xave and Patti. Also, on Patti's advice, I saw a production of Machinal by Sophie Treadwell, put on by the MIT Shakespeare Ensemble. The play was an existentialist tragedy, very reminiscent of Camus's The Stranger, and it was incredibly well performed. Still, it was painfully sad, so it's not the sort of thing I would have normally chosen to see on my birthday.


A few more things to share:

One is an article on a new, incredibly effective HIV drug with apparently few side-effects.

Two are things about Peak Oil. First, Matt Simmons, one of the top energy consultants in the world, is anticipating $100 oil by this winter. Second, a new study shows that biofuels have a negative EROEI (energy returned on energy invested) under current production methods (the oil use in producing such a fuel is more than the oil savings from using that fuel).
l33tminion: (Default)
Finding where the bug is happening: 2.5 hours
Figuring out what is actually happening: 45 minutes
Determining how to solve the problem: 30 minutes
Actually fixing the code: 1 minute Priceless


...
On an unrelated note, FWOP is doing 24 hour theater (written, rehearsed, and performed in 24 hrs.). I wanted to participate, but couldn't due to scheduling conflicts, but the performance ought to be awesome.

Also, I'd like to thank Oma and Opa for their early Hanukkah gift. (Please, Mel, pass on my gratitude.)
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