Mystery

I forgot to mention that last night I went to a Murder Mystery Comedy Dinner as part of the Biophysics recruiting weekend. It was held in a Back Bay brownstone that is normally the Boston Women’s College Club. There were five actors playing various roles.

The bottom line is: the food was very nice, the setting (a mock birthday party) was very comfortable, and the comedy was absolutely cringe-inspiring. I felt truly sorry for the actors; they were all not only talented actors but singers as well. Unfortunately, they were also the least enthusiastic cast I have ever encountered, and were putting on some of the least convincing accents. If they’d shown half the zeal of the Westport Community Theater crowd, it would have been a dramatically better evening.

In the end, I think blame lies with the entire concept; this sort of dinner should not be a comedy, for the same reason that Agatha Christie did not write comedies. However, even in this mode, the plot still could have been about a million times more interesting. The actors’ apathy was further evidenced by the fact that they left the dinner before we did. Oh well.

Free!

I managed to free my car. It took over an hour of chiseling today. Initially, my car barely moved at all before the wheels started spinning. I chipped away at the ice surrounding three wheels, checking every few minutes whether the car would move. The task was complicated by traffic, which made it impossible to chip away at the outside wheels for more than thirty seconds every few minutes. Eventually I managed to get about 6 inches of travel before the wheels would slip. I got out by running in reverse until the wheels slipped, then holding the brake, switching to drive, and slamming on the gas while turning the wheel.

The forecast calls for snow tomorrow. Hopefully I won’t have to go through this again this year.

The last few days have been Biophysics recruitment, so I’ve been extremely busy at fun social events. I just got back from a very fancy hotel bar with a crowd of 17.

I have eaten so much.

Gloves

After today’s Bad Taste writing session, I was walking home in the rain when I realized that I couldn’t find my gloves. I had my hat, but my gloves were nowhere to be found. I walked back across campus, assuming I’d left them in the rehearsal room, but they weren’t there either. I was getting warm so I reached up to take off my hat…and it felt lumpy.

I’d placed my gloves inside my hat and then put my hat on without taking them out. They’d been on top of my head the whole time.

In other news, both of my front wheels now spin, but my car still doesn’t move. I guess this is the point where I need sand, or salt, or something.

The Grand Theater

I went to a showing of a documentary tonight, called “The Grand Theater”. It’s a strange film, a 35-minute piece shot single-handedly by Omar Naim as his thesis project. It was never released, but Omar Naim is now a real Hollywood director, so people would like to see it. The film is very meditative, but its topic is the Lebanese civil war during the 1980s. Mr. Naim is Lebanese, and the film was being shown by the MIT Lebanese Club. In a show of hands, about 75% of the audience self-identified as Arab. Mr. Naim was there, and answered questions afterward. It was certainly a learning experience for me, as I have essentially no concept of Lebanese culture. I can’t say much about that culture now, with an additional hour of exposure, but I can say this: it is highly self-conscious. My sample is biased, of course, but this crowd was at least as interested in thinking about Lebanese culture and identity as in partaking in them.

Happy Monday

I didn’t have much to do today, except sit home and nurse my cold. I finished off some homework and puttered for a while. I’ve now got my laptop set up so that I can access my data and applications from my phone, thanks to DynDNS and XRDP. I had something like this working last year on my previous laptop, but this configuration is even niftier.

Double

Yesterday was a double birthday. The Chorallaries performed at the Simmons Valentine’s Day dinner, then went out to a bar to celebrate Anna (the music director)’s 21st birthday. I left early to go to Sara’s birthday party, which was a good reminder of what it really means to throw a party. I left at 2 AM, but plenty of people were still there, having a rockin’ good time.

Ballet

I went to the Boston Ballet’s production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream last night. I may have been to ballet or two as a child, but this is the first professional production that I can remember. It was sort of an unplanned venture; I tagged along with my office-neighbor who was going with some of her friends.

The performance was at the Wang Theater (now CitiWang), which I recognized as we arrived as the site of my sophomore formal at MIT. It was far more ornate than I remembered; every surface of the theater and lobby are covered in hand carvings and gold leaf (or maybe just gold paint).

The performance was amazing. I have real trouble describing it. I guess that’s because my opinions fall into two categories.

Good:
The dancing is flawless. Within a few minutes you completely forget that the performers are doing absolutely impossible things. Often, they’re doing gracefully and without a hint of difficulty the same motions that I did as arduous strength training for my swim team in high school. Ballet is like running a marathon while miming. The choreography is very evocative, and each character has distinctive movements that display their character and emotion. There was a great deal of comedy, and the audience frequently burst out laughing. The music is also wonderful, though in this case the ballet was written after the music, which was written to reflect Shakespeare’s play. The staging was also wonderful, with simple, dramatic scenery and lighting and great use of fog. Much of the cast is made up of children perhaps seven years old, giving a performance that I could never have executed at any age.

Bad:
Despite the best efforts of the choreographer, there is simply no way to tell a real story in ballet. Even having read the complete plot summary beforehand, I was usually mystified as to the identities of the characters and what they were doing. At one point one of them unfurled a great scroll containing some kind of flowchart; I have no idea what that was about. Ballet is a language I do not speak, and it seemed that the audience frequently burst into applause after certain performances, presumably because they were especially virtuosic. I had no idea which ones were especially good; it all looked about the same. Also, there is a distinct lack of emotional subtlety: characters may hold their heads in their hands to indicate crying, but how do you mime disillusionment and quiet desperation?

Unfortunately, I left my hat home yesterday morning, which meant that by yesterday evening I had a seriously terrible cold. That may have dampened my enjoyment of the performance. Nonetheless, I’m glad I went.

Iced

I parked my car on the street on Tuesday. It was snowing lightly. It snowed several inches, was plowed, then rained, and then froze. It’s now 12 degrees. My car looks like this:

My Car in Snow

Here’s a close-up of my front wheel.
Wheel in Snow
The huge white triangle? That’s a single piece of ice that I chipped off the windshield. You can’t quite see it, but the ice goes all the way through the wheel to the brake disk. Naturally, when I try to run my car, the wheels don’t spin; they don’t even turn. It also started to smell like gasoline or something within a few seconds, so I immediately turned the engine off.

There is no conceivable way of moving my car. It’s expected to remain sub-freezing until at least Sunday afternoon, and only be barely above freezing then. I’ll be lucky to move this car any time before March.