small d, Big J

What Steven desJardins is interested in.
Wednesday, April 16, 2003
A good post on Trollope, plus the Very Secret Diary of Will Shakespeare.

Tuesday, April 15, 2003

There are certain channels which are listed on my TiVo lineup, like the Game Show Network and the Sci-Fi Channel and Comedy Central, which I did not actually receive. When I set the channel to those stations I got the blue screen indicating that there was no signal. Until a few days ago, when I happened to try it and got actual programming.

Since then I've made certain discoveries, such as that Jon Stewart and Jon Lovitz are completely different people. The Daily Show seems to be mostly reruns, but they have had some funny stuff. Of Game Show Networks classic old TV shows, I've found that To Tell the Truth is dull, What's My Line? is okay, and I've Got a Secret is the best of the bunch, even if they do give each of their contestants a carton of Winston cigarettes when they leave. The Sci-Fi Channel is showing old Stargate SG-1 episodes in order starting at the beginning (thanks, Terry), so I've cancelled my Netflix rentals and set up a season pass instead.

I really do watch too much TV, I suppose.


AOL is suing dozens of spammers for millions of dollars, according to this Washington Post article. Good for them.

Meanwhile, in the letters page, Philip Schmidt makes a remarkably stupid argument:

"According to an Associated Press article, Mr. Cason has been giving the dissidents Internet access in the U.S. Interests Section, as well as fax machines, radios, office supplies and other materials. More important, he has been publicly supporting change in the Cuban government.

"Our government would not tolerate such actions by a foreign ambassador here, and Cuba has no reason to tolerate them either."

Er, exactly why wouldn't our government tolerate a foreign ambassador giving dissidents Internet access, fax machines, radios, or office supplies? It's not like those things are illegal over here, like they are, in, say, the Communist dictatorship of Cuba. One wonders if Mr. Schmidt realizes that an argument-shaped object needs to contain certain elements, such as a vaguely plausible relationship to reality, to be convincing.

Monday, April 14, 2003

Tonight, to celebrate my birthday, I went to see Le Cercle Rouge at the new AFI theater in Silver Spring. The main theater is huge, with a very high ceiling and wide, comfortable seats. The show started promptly with brief credits for the theater's sponsors (no previews!), and the volume was reasonable. I'm very pleased about that; I'm often reluctant to see movies in the theater because most theaters turn their volume up way too high.

The film itself was an entertaining caper movie, with a prison guard coming up with a "no risk" scheme and arranging for the early release of a convict he trusts to carry it out. Another criminal escapes from the policeman escorting him to prison, and the two meet up and decide to do the job together. I amused myself counting the ways their "no risk" scheme could fail, besides the ways it actually or nearly did. (For instance, the police could review surveillance tapes for the week or two before the crime to spot the man who cased the place.) I was a little confused by the sequence of events after they pulled it off, because I couldn't always keep track of which actor was which, but suffice it to say that crime never pays (or, if it does, never with a "no risk" scheme, not in all the annals of film history, hardly).

I tried to buy a membership at the box office, but it turns out you can't buy a membership there. Kinda silly. They sold me a ticket at the member price anyway, and I'll sign up on the web tonight. I can see myself going to movies after work pretty often. It takes a while to get there by Metro, going in and out of the city, but it's only a ten-minute walk from the Silver Spring Metro station, which is not bad. (Five minutes, probably, for people who are not me.)

Sunday, April 13, 2003

A followup on my GreenCine post from last week. The replacement discs they sent me arrived promptly and played fine. Meanwhile, they report that the disks I returned were broken in three places and the mailer appeared to have been soaking in dirty water. Unsurprisingly, they couldn't get them to play either. That first shipment really seems to have been cursed.

I've watched one of the GreenCine discs so far, containing the first five episodes of Ranma 1/2. The story was familiar from the comics, but it was fun seeing it animated. This really is an inspired parody of martial arts and romantic anime. I also get the correct Sports Night disc from Netflix and finished watching the series.

I've been to the theater three times in the last week. Last Saturday I went to Albee's The Play About the Baby, which was witty and entertaining but made absolutely no sense. Then Sunday I saw Shaw's The Philanderer, which was witty and entertaining and made perfect sense. (Not "perfect sense" in the sense that I necessarily agree with it, of course. Shaw is always plausible, often convincing, but never one can never agree with him 100%.) And Wednesday I went to Stephen Sondheim's Follies, which I had never seen before. The Washington Post reporter found it disappointing, but I liked it.

Finally did my income taxes. I'm getting $785 back this year, which means I shouldn't have procrastinated so long. My total federal tax burden, including the employee share of payroll taxes, and counting tax-deferred retirement contributions as part of my income, is 16.6%. When you add DC taxes, it's 21.5%.


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