27 June 2013

Life Itself

Let's face it: for the past year or so I've been obsessed with philosophy. Because, you know, I don't lead a normal teenage life (Facebook, gaming, etc) and it's interesting to me (but then again so is the evolution of English, economic theory, medieval mapmakers, and political instability in the 1730s.) Just kidding about the last one. It's political instability in the 1790s. But all jokes aside, I was randomly contemplating matters some weeks ago, when these two words popped into my head:
Life itself.
First off, what does that even mean? Life itself? It doesn't sound right, but it doesn't sound wrong, either. It just doesn't make sense. Life isn't a thing, a person, but is it right to call it an 'it'? Is life even tangible?

Of course, it could just mean, "life itself". Life being something. Simple as that. But I read way too much into things...

My first thought was to look it up. Whenever something just pops into my head, I've usually heard it before. So I thought that I had heard it somewhere so I looked it up, but the only things that showed up were a song/band, and a biography by the late and great Roger Ebert. Then I tried looking it up in this one book about philosophy I had, but nothing on that quote.

Two months later and I still don't get it. But it's a great way to mindblow and confuse your family. That's all philosophy is. Come up with random quotes and put meaning into them. (Actually philosophy involves a bunch of thought and stuff but I'll talk about it some other time.)

(For the record: if anyone out there comes up with an interesting meaning for the quote, please tell me!) What do you think it means? Sign off in the comments.


25 June 2013

How To Win At 94 Seconds

Ah, 94 Seconds...easily my favorite app (with the only exception of Dots and the National Geographic Bee) and a true challenge. It's a very good game, but only if you know a lot of random stuff. If you don't...expect to get low scores and use up a lot of cheats along the way.

I've scored higher than 94 points three times in the past two weeks. It's hard, and really trying on fingers (I'm one of those slow typists) but somehow I managed it. So here are my techniques to help you get a really high score (and brag about it or something like that.)

Why am I doing this? Simply put: I'm tired of seeing all my mates trying to play and misspell words and type in random stuff just to get points. It doesn't work that way. Well, it could. But if you're reading this, chances are you want a high score. And I may as well help you. So here we go!

1. Memorize 10 at a time.
I'm pretty good at memorizing stuff, it's how I know so much random trivia, but that's just me. Most people take a little bit longer. So I'm gonna give you this: a bunch of answers that can fit in, and memorize 10 at the time.. The list will expand, I'll be updating it as I find more answers (aka: stop being lazy)

Clothes: Anorak, Belt, Cap, Dhoti, Earmuffs, Furs, Necklace, Pyjamas, Robe...
Countries: Andorra, Brunei, Canada, Djibouti, Eritrea, France, Guyana, Haiti, Iceland, Japan, Kiribati, Lebanon, Malta, Nauru, Oman, Palau, Qatar, Russia, Singapore, Taiwan, Uruguay, Vietnam, Yemen, Zambia
Cities: Anchorage, Columbus, Detroit, Erie, Fort Lauderdale, Grand Rapids, Honolulu, Indianapolis, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, Nashville, Pittsburgh, Sacramento...
Vegetables: Artichoke, Beans, Carrots,
Trees: Apple, Cypress, Kauri, Lemon, Mahogany, Quince, Rosewood, Sycamore, Teak,
Instruments: Didgeridoo, Recorder, Washboard...

2. Restart.
This one came around because I'm OCD, and if I make one mistake I have to start over. But this is pretty good practice. If you start with a REALLY hard question, and you haven't solved it by second 88, restart. It's taking way too much time and chances are you'll stumble rather quickly. Just restart. The most times I've restarted a game is eight times. It's a lot, but I got an 86 on that one (if memory serves correctly) so it may just be worth it.

I love this one. If me and a mate are playing, it'll usually go something like this:

Countries of the World (B)
Friend: Lessee...Brazil it is!
Me: No, put Brunei!
Friend: How the hell do you spell that?
Me: B-R-U-
Friend: Eh, Brazil's easier.

That's just wrong. Brunei can get you another point, and it's the same number of letters. Try Uruguay instead of United States, blueberry instead of banana, didgeridoo instead of drums, rosewood instead of redwood, etc.

4. Be concise and brief.
This is gonna sound hypocritical considering that in the examples above I'm giving you a bunch of long answers, all for the sake of one point, but sometimes answers can be pretty short. The game suggests Brussels Sprouts for B, but use Beans instead. 

5. Play to your strengths.
If you're a Potterhead, for trees use wand materials. (Rosewood, ash, cypress, hawthorne)
If you're a geography nerd, use obscure countries (I just love bringing this category up, but I'm a diehard geography fan.)
If you're taking geometry, use some of those fancy terms you learn about for geometric shapes! (Oval, Ellipse, Kite...)
If you're a fashion person, might wanna look into some of the more exotic apparels like anorak, furs, dhoti, etc...but it'll work.

So, hope that helped, and if you're new to the blog and you like App gaming, I might put up more hacks and tips for some of my favorite App Store apps. Likewise, if you like random trivia about the randomest subjects ever, feel free to wander around the site and read some of my articles.


23 June 2013

Triviality IX: Romance vs. Germanic Words

This was going to be its own thing because I was planning on writing some articles on writing, but in the end I decided this seemed rather interesting because I haven't done etymology before and besides it could be pretty useful to some people on its own. This was slated for Tuesday but I'm in the mood for teaching so here you go.

I'll use the index cards today, though not as liberally as I did with Dr Johnson, and just to highlight some examples, figuratively and literally.
* * *
I was reading this article on Listverse on great writing, and one of the tips said that to make sentences better, words with Germanic origins should be used instead of Romance words. That is, instead of using a word with a Latin root (you know, the ones they teach you in school that sound a lot like Spanish, like aqua is water) use words that came from German.

English came from German. It really did. Then why do we have all these words from Latin and why does our language have a lot of words from Spanish (and somewhat French)? Because...conquest.

In the olden days a French king, William the Conqueror, came and, well, conquered England. And so he introduced French into the language of the people. Old English. And so that is why many words (especially in Middle English, JUST READ CHAUCER) sound so French. But as time wore on and Shakespeare came and Shakespeare went and pronounciations changed some of the French words were phased out.

But then came the 1600s (well, it started quite a bit before that, but I need to move up with history) and Latin was all the rage. People would translate books written in Latin to English. Which doesn't make ANY SENSE.

It'd be like translating your book that you're writing to Ancient GREEK, making all these changes to make it sound cool in Ancient Greek, then changing it BACK into English, despite the fact that all your nouns and verbs are in the wrong place (among other things) and KEEPING IT THAT WAY.

Which is why we have so many crazy grammar rules about infinitives and stuff that gives you and me headaches. So blame English writers around 1450-1700.

There you go: English is a language from old German that is mostly from Latin and its derivatives (Spanish, French, Italian). So that is the argument. Now, let me present to you index cards with different examples of synonyms with words from Germanic origins (on the left), and from Romance (on the right)

And here, an example of how two sentences can sound very different using different words:

Hope you found this interesting. What do you think - Germanic words or Latin-based words? Sound off in the comments. :)


21 June 2013

The Summer Solstice!

The sun has just set here in California. For once I have officially checked to see when the sun sets on June 21st!

Since I was younger (around 2004-5) I have always wanted to see the exact time when the sun sets. But I'd always fail. Always. When I read The Great Gatsby, Daisy's quote resonated with me so perfectly that my goal was even more driven.

"In two weeks it will be the longest day of the year. Do you always watch for the longest day of the year and then miss it? I always watch for the longest day of the year and then miss it!" -Daisy Buchanan

But 2011 and 2012 passed, and I failed each time, forgetting that the 21st was the Solstice. But now?

I can officially say that this year, 2013, the sun rose at 5:41 and has set at...8:12 tonight. That's 15 hours and 31 minutes which is pretty long, I guess. The latitudes change. And since I'm around 35 degrees Longitude, that's why the day length is different. If it was in the equator it would be much different, I'm sure. And in the North there would hardly be any change because it's always cold up there with little change.

Just a quick note: today is not necessarily the longest day, it varies from year to year and day to day because the universe is perpetually random and always off. But tradition states that it is today. :)


20 June 2013

10 Greatest Pieces of Classical Music

I really haven't talked as much about classical music as I should - mainly because due to my new obsession with Pandora I haven't listened to it as much as I should. I think the only time I have discussed music was that one time with instrumentals. That was a soundtrack, though.

Nonetheless, classical music is wonderful and really does have a hidden side to it. (note: it really should be called art music. But art music is really more vague and is used to describe music that has large amounts of theory and composing behind it. Read the Wiki here.)

Most people, when confronted with classical music, sadly either don't understand it or immediately assume it's Mozart/Beethoven. While Mozart and Beethoven are wonderful composers, I do feel they are extremely trite and overused (many will agree with me, I'm sure), especially Driss from The Intouchables:

Driss: (after hearing Vivaldi's Spring) I know this piece! It's on the telephone when you call the offices! You are number 600 in line. Please hold! Waiting time: 2 years! :)

'You're right, Philippe - Bach is cool!' 'Not as cool as Earth,
Wind and Fire, Driss...'
So, my main goal today is to pick 10 of my personal favorite pieces of classical music and hopefully inspire readers to listen to those pieces, and go out and experience life with this new type of music.

My love of classical music actually came with a boxed set I received for Christmas when I was 5. 10 CDs, one for each composer. I only have about 3 of the CDs now, but I remember the order that all of them were in. Mozart, Bach (the second), Beethoven, Strauss, Wagner, Tchaikovsky, Vivaldi, Chopin, Schubert and Verdi.

Now, the rules of the list are simple: 10 pieces, no Mozart/Beethoven (sorry, but my goal is to broaden your horizons :D ) and I only have one piece that was actually used in a film. The rest are relatively little-known or known, just not really listened to. One per composer, except for the top 2 which are by the same composer. Youtube links to the piece are there.

10. Franz Schubert - Fischerweise
This is actually a song, and if you know German, good for you! If not, I advise you to learn German. I certainly want to. But the song title means "fisherman". And it's catchy. :)

9. Hector Berlioz - Symphonie Fantastique, Op. 14 
A lot of people haven't heard this work which makes me sad. The very beginning with the harp makes everything seem ethereal and sets up the tone for the "fantastique" mood this work brings.

Imagine not being able to see this...
8. Joaquin Rodrigo - Concerto de Aranjuez Adagio
When people think of classical music everyone usually thinks of Germany or Austria and Hungary or that Central Europe area. Even Italy and France, somewhat. But no one really thinks of Spain. And Spain has many wonderful composers, such as the blind Joaquin Rodrigo, who came up with this beautiful piece, for a palace and gardens he could not see (to the left). No wonder he was made a honorary noble for composing the work. (By the way, it's pronounced ah-rahn-hes. Not hoo-es, or worse, joo-es.)

7. Dmitri Shostakovich - Waltz No. 2 
This one can be heard in lots of tunes as a sort of motif (repeating piece) but I like it. It's slow (usually I like very fast and dramatic pieces) but it seems dramatic in its own way. I can picture kings and queens dancing to this in a dark palace, or something.

6. Johann Strauss - The Gypsy Baron Einzugsmarsch
Ah, yes! Der Ziegeunerbaron, or the Gypsy Baron. Used in a minor opera by Strauss, it is a very happy and dramatic piece. Einzugsmarsch means the Opening March, which makes sense. It's just so happy and powerful...especially the end. There's this quality that reminds me of the Blue Danube, which Strauss also did.

Certainly looks dramatic,
doesn't he?
5. Richard Wagner - Liebestod 
Ah, Richard Wagner. One of the most misunderstood, understood, loved and hated composers of all time. In his day, you either loved him or bitterly hated him (and sided with Brahms). Even Oscar Wilde commented on his work, saying it was "so loud one can talk without one being overheard". His epic work, Der Ring des Nibelungen is made up of 4 operas and runs for 15 hours. It's very powerful and dramatic as you can imagine (again, learn German to understand!) But this piece, Liebestod, is a sadder work from his earlier opera Tristan und Isolde, which is another love story like R+J. Starts off slowly, and ends slowly...representing the sadness of the whole ordeal. (And for the record, I would just like to say that I am not a Nationalist or anything by liking Wagner. I understand he is controversial due to his anti-semitism, but I only love the music. Is anything really wrong with that?)

4. Sergei Rachmaninoff - Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini A Minor

This piece is very soft and simple. The best part is when the piano echos dramatically. I heard this piece some 4 years ago, and since them it has haunted me. Haunted in a good way. It's ethereal and all.

3. Gustav Mahler - Quartet for Piano and Strings in A Minor
This piece is so...sad...like me not winning an Oscar...

You may have heard this on Shutter Island (damn good movie, by the way - probably my second favorite after Rain Man) and it perfectly makes the atmosphere of the island come alive. Especially since it's gloomy, dark - and this piece reflects that. Mahler wrote it when he was 16. If that isn't amazing, I don't know what is.

2. Gustav Mahler - Symphony No. 6 in A minor
I first listened to this last week, which inspired the blog post, although I barely am getting to it now. And, you may ask, why is it number 2? Because it's the piece I've been waiting for. I feel it's an embodiment of my spirit. Dramatic opening, envisioning someone walking down dark castle stairs into a prison, flanked by a lone guard. The doors open and the person enters to interrogate someone. Once he leaves, he enters the main hall of the castle. Imagination is some pretty serious stuff, which makes classical so much fun - trying to imagine what's really going on as this piece plays.

1. Sergei Prokofiev - Juliet's Funeral and Death
My number one of all time. I actually like the "Death" part better, which begins at 6:30 in the video above. It's very tragic and shows the lost beauty that was Juliet, and the sad melancholy afterwards. Prokofiev is not my favorite composer - that belongs to Wagner and Mahler - but this work is my absolute favorite. It's very tragic and powerful (not to mention it was used in a highly controversial Fringe scene).

Now, if you really want to hear something from Mozart or Beethoven, then here you go:

Beethoven: Pathetique, Piano Sonata No. 8, A Minor
Mozart: Strassburg, Violin Concerto No. 3

It was very hard to choose these top 10, consider that there are so many pieces to choose from. If you have trouble finding out what to listen, drop a line in the comments. I actually recommend downloading the Classical Masters app if you have an iProduct, and subscribing to TheWickedNorth channel on Youtube. They're my go-to for really good classical (or art) music with many notable composers.

And what are your favorite pieces? I'd like to know. I'm always looking for more music to expand my repository and to learn more. Sound off in the comments. :)


15 June 2013

So Just Why Do People Like Shakespeare So Much?

Today I'm gonna try to explain in a simple, clear way why people like a centuries-dead guy who wrote a bunch of plays with incomprehensible words so much. Yes, I'm talking about Shakespeare!

This was originally going to be a triviality, but after arguing with a friend over the genius of Shakespeare, I knew I had to do my nerdly, intellectual duty and defend the Bard.

He could do without the moustache...
So, if you're reading this, I assume you want to know just why people like Shakespeare so much. Here's my answer (and very likely your teacher's answer): He perfectly captured the human condition.

So, first off: What the hell is the 'human condition'? I didn't pick that phrase by accident - many scholars and teachers use it when talking about the Bard.

The human condition is basically what all humans feel. What makes us different (unique's a better word) from everything on Earth and the universe. From the pain of a breakup, to laughing really hard at that joke your friend told you, to the awe at stargazing, to worrying about your future and concerns for family -- everything that we have unique in feeling and thought is the human condition.

So how did a weird, perverted guy from the late 1500s do that? Look at the plots of his plays.
Two people meet and fall in love. Love at first sight. They want to be together, but they can't. Frustration and depression. Sound familiar? His play's an allegory (says one thing but means another) for how people want to seek out lovers who may be impossible to get, and how hate is evil.

"What a piece of work is man! Er, ghost.."
Here's another: a young, angsty teenager loses his father. His evil uncle marries his mom. Then, in a scene from Paranormal Activity, said teenager's dad is a ghost and tells his son that his evil uncle, is, well, really evil, and cannot control the kingdom. Young Hamlet (yes, this is Hamlet) wants his uncle dead so much and soon everyone dies. While you may not hate your uncle that much, wouldn't you be really pissed off and depressed that a family member killed your parent?

As you can see, Shakespeare tried really hard to capture his audiences' feelings in his own characters. Remember, he had only 2 forms of competition, in a line I'll borrow from Baz Luhrmann:

"We know about the Elizabethan stage and that he was playing for 3000 drunken punters, from the street sweeper to the Queen of England - and his competition was bear-baiting and prostitution." 

But wait, you're saying. I don't care that he copied people really well or whatever that lame 'human condition' is. Why do we still care about Shakespeare (henceforth referred to as William/Will/Willy)?

Well, here's another thing for you: his poetry. Not his sonnets (I really don't care for his sonnets, though, his plays are cool.) But William can be very poetic when having his characters open their mouths. This line from Romeo and Juliet is a very romantic way to describe a woman:

Well, in that hit you miss: she'll not be hit
With Cupid's arrow; she hath Dian's wit...
O, she is rich in beauty, only poor,
That when she dies with beauty dies her store.

In 2013 English: Love (Cupid) can't "shoot his arrow" at her (meaning make her fall in love), she's as smart and clever as Artemis (Diana/goddess of hunting)...she's so beautiful but yet when she'll die, her beauty will die untouched since she would not go with any man.

(Gentlemen: If you're now interested in writing love poems to your significant other in the style of Shakespeare, let me direct you to a little song by Cole Porter...)

Now you're probably very bored or very interested, and I have one more reason to give why you, too, should like Shakespeare: His double entendres.

"Wait, what? He has...naughty jokes?" Well, yes, he does.

But before you start opening that barely-opened copy of Othello, let me warn you, they don't make any sense anymore. Unless, of course, you are well versed in the art of William's language. But here are a couple that one can get without going too much into rhyming and changing consonants.

"GET THEE TO A NUNNERY!" (Hamlet to his girlfriend. In Will's day, a nunnery meant a brothel.)
"My cherry lips have often kissed thy stones." (Midsummer Night's Dream. You can figure it out.)

In addition to double entendres William also invented lots of words and phrases that we use today, such as "mind's eye", "lonely", "puke", "obscene", and "cold-blooded". He was also a master at wordplay. Though, to be perfectly candid, he did adapt many of these from Latin, so it shouldn't count. That'd be like you taking a word from Spanish or Chinese and turning it into an English-sounding word and making the world use it.

So yeah, Shakespeare was awesome. He had double entendres going on, he could sure describe people really well, and in poetry. If you have any more questions or more reasons you'd like me to argue, drop a line in the comments. I'll likely devote some future blogposts on his quotes. I just love quoting Shakespeare, especially the lesser known ones ("to be or not to be" just doesn't cut it).

-The piece of work of man that is known as Rob

11 June 2013

Triviality VIII: Alien Hand Syndrome

OK, Triviality time! (I apologise for the hiatus but I promise to readers that by the time school starts in September I will be at least past 20.) Edit 8/29/13: I got up to 18. Not bad.

Today's subject is Alien Hand Syndrome (AHS), also known as Dr. Strangelove syndrome, or anarchic hand syndrome (freaky) presumably from that one movie back in the '60s.

It's rather fascinating (to me, that is - not to people who suffer from it). It's a very rare neurological problem, commonly in the corpus callosum (which is the gap that connects the two halves of the brain together). It involves a hand having "a life of its own" and doing its own thing.
It's all in the hand.

People with AHS have full sensation of the hand, meaning that they can feel the hand being there, it isn't numb, pain is felt, etc. However, that person cannot control the hand and its motions (I should note that it is intermittent most of the time: the hand isn't always like that.)

I've read some accounts of AHS, and apparently patients can be doing anything and their hand will suddenly try to strangle them, pick up things and throw them, and much more. Extremely disturbing and very freaky. Imagine typing and then your hand typing whatever it wanted, controlling the mouse, etc.

Please note that tremors, shakes, and other unconscious physiological conditions that happen involuntarily (in English: spasms and other normal quirks our muscles have) do not count.

Do not get this injured under pain of AHS
AHS was first diagnosed/recorded in 1908, and since then there have been a steady but rare amount of people with the disorder. Oftentimes the disorder comes about after brain surgery, if the corpus calosum has been cut or severed, since that counts as injury.

So, how does injury to the corpus callosum cause this?

In brief: the corpus callosum connects your motor nerve (the part of the brain that controls your movements) and your frontal lobe (which controls your thoughts and actions). Injury to the corpus callosum will damage these nerves, which means thoughts with no action, or vice versa, which happens here: actions with no thought behind it. Hence, the "mind of its own" light that pervades AHS.

This is basically a very, very, very, very rough way to explain AHS - the brain is a very complex mechanism (note: NOT a computer - computers can be controlled) and AHS is really very little known. As stated above it was discovered in 1908 but not fully defined until the 70's. Even now we still have a very rough estimate of how AHS works. The mind's a tricky thing.

There are 3 different types of AHS which I will briefly outline:

I: The hand reaches for things that are just out of its reach or have recently been removed from its grasp
II: (I dub this the troll hand) The hand counteracts things the good hand did. If your good hand opens a door, the anarchic hand will close it. If you put on a hat, your alien hand will remove it.
III: (rarest type) Anesthetic effects, the hand often does not feel part of the body and the person does not recognize the hand.

Alien Hand Syndrome has been shown in many medical shows, not least House. (Season 5 finale, if you must know). TV Tropes dubs this the "Evil Hand".

Believe me, from the sound of this, this is one disorder you DON'T want. Even if it sounds cool, believe me, it doesn't.


And here - because I feel I should actually give evidence for my research:
Resources: HowStuffWorks, DamnInterestingPolite Dissent, James S. McDonnell Foundation, and TVTropes.

08 June 2013

A Quote Worth Reflecting On

From Cyrano de Bergerac  (movie and play):

DE GUICHE: (recovering his self-control after being insulted by Cyrano) Have you read Don Quixote?
CYRANO: I have - and found myself the hero.
DE GUICHE: Be so good as to read once more the chapter of the windmills.
CYRANO: Chapter Thirteen!
DE GUICHE: Windmills, remember, if you fight with them -
CYRANO: My enemies change, then, with every wind?
DE GUICHE: - they may swing round their huge arms and cast you down into the mire!
CYRANO: Or up - among the stars!

I read this play back in December and was immediately taken with. I can identify with Cyrano in so many ways. Perhaps I've never written love poems under the guise of a friend to a girl I've loved, but I can see myself being Cyrano.

You've got a little something
on your face there... *runs*
The above quote is very interesting. It shows Cyrano's "insolence" to deGuiche, the Duke in the play, or Count at the least (why is it French noblemen are always evil?) but it shows hope and inspiring.

de Guiche assumes that Cyrano will meet his match one day but Cyrano remains optimistic he won't. Oddly enough, both happen to him.

Cyrano meets his match (assumed to be one of his enemies, who drops wood on his head) but yet ends up "amongst the stars" (i.e. the exalted Roxane's arms, who knows finally that he loved her).

Just something to think about. I'll talk more about Quixote (or Quixada) one day -- the book's hilarious and worth discussing.

And I recommend that anyone interested in a short, quick read (took me an hour) and wants some swashbuckling, dramatic hammy action, wit and wisdom, and sad melodrama, read Cyrano. Here's the free eBook, courtesy of Gutenberg: http://www.gutenberg.org/files/1254/1254-h/1254-h.htm


(Blog Note: I originally had this post replaced with the opening prologue of a story I'm working on. To view it, go to the pages bar right above this post, and click on "The Monologue", the last tab.)

01 June 2013

Some Thoughts On Varying Topics

It's June at last! Huzzah!

My birthday is in two-and-a-half weeks, and school lets out in three. All wholly good, commendable, honest reasons to venerate June as the best month of the year. (It really is, you know -- perfect weather, the promise of vacation and rest, and school letting out.)

And with the induction of June, I start to wonder about what the summer will have. Homework, of course, and summer assignments, for the advanced classes I'm taking next year. Maybe a vacation up North to San Francisco. (Personally I'd like to go to New Orleans, for beignets, and to see where the Anne Rice books took place.)

The Anne Rice books are really great. I've read the first 3, and part of Merrick. I recommend them for anyone who enjoys history (sort of), action, Gothic horror, and traces of erotic romance. (But nowhere near the level of that immoral Fifty Shades book series. Immoral, I say!) But I digress, back to summer.

The best summer I've had, up to date, was two years ago, in 2011. My godfather came to visit, as did my grandmother (even though she visited this past winter, it wasn't fun, and it was the first time I went to Hawai'i. Oahu.) Oh, and there was all this other cool stuff that I look back fondly upon, such as spending nights creating games, chatting with friends, listening to epic music, and much much more.) It was also when I was obsessed with anime for a while (a very short while, thank goodness. What happened to me then?)

I kid, of course. Anime is wholly commendable, and comically exaggerated. But I'm not an expert on it, for that I direct you to my brother and 95% of my friends/acquaintances at school and on the interweb. But I digress again.

Oh, and I got my second Moleskine. I finished the first last week, and I was so proud. I ended up keeping that promise that I made Christmas, sort of. I need to post pictures.

I've also been having an irrational obsession with musicals. Last year for my birthday I saw the Addams Family Musical, a brilliant one, and Mary Poppins, when I went to Washington. I'd love to see Sweeney Todd ("My right arm is complete AGAIN!") and perhaps Phantom of the Opera. Not to mention Anything Goes, and many more.

I have a love-hate relationship with musicals. They're hard to catch and understand (partly because I'm so used to subtitles on everything I view), and they're so SPONTANEOUS. Singing happens at the most inopportune and randomest of moments. Yet they're the American version of opera, of commedia, and everything else, and they can't be unnoticed/irrationally disparaged. So that's my take on musicals. (Plus, Moulin Rouge, one of the best movies out there, was a jukebox musical, and it was really well done. But that's just my Romantic Bohemianism going through.)

That's my random thoughts for today.
-Rob Miranda