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Two years ago, I was delayed coming home from Confluence by serious weather, and I didn't buy the Harry Potter book. I spent five hours in the airport terminal being kind of bored.

This weekend, I was again delayed coming home from Confluence by serious weather. I bought the book, read it, and enjoyed it — and I didn't get bored waiting around the airport. Right choice. I won't comment on the book here (and don't you, either!).

Confluence was great. The featured filkers were Meg Davis and Kristoph Klover, who are amazing performers. I helped out with [ profile] batyatoon's concert, and got to do a lot of hanging out with people I've missed and have lots of interesting conversations. I also finished two songs )
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From The Annotated Alice, by Lewis Carroll with notes by Martin Gardner:
"O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!"34

34A species of arctic duck that winters in northern Scotland is called the calloo after its evening call, "Calloo! Calloo!"

More likely, as readers Albert L. Blackwell and Mrs. Carlton S. Hyman each pointed out, Carroll had in mind two forms of a Greek word, kalos [καλος], meaning beautiful, good or fair. They would be pronounced as Carroll spells them, and would fit well the meaning of the line.

That's what I thought. And, yes, it was a frabjous day.
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Okay, I did it — I booked a round trip to Columbus. I'm going to OVFF.

That makes a genuinely crazy amount of travel this semester, but there are too many people I won't see in a given year if I don't go, and I've missed the last few, and regretted it a little.

If you're reading this, and you'll be there, and you have a room, and there's room in it for another person (a lot of ifs, I know), let me know.
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I am back home in Waltham after two weeks of travel and [ profile] fiddledragon.

After her graduation, I rode down with her family for a week at their home in Maryland. They are wonderful people with an amazing collection of quirky hobbies. Her brother juggles fire, plays the didgeridoo, and — along with their mother — collects tarantulas. There is a stained-glass studio in the basement, where I made a sea creature from leftover shards. While in the area, we arranged meals with [ profile] gorgeousgary and [ profile] carpenter, both at excellent local restaurants.

While there, I also finished a semester of graduate school! Yes, the previous semester — I emailed my final project for the social-psychology-disguised-as-computer-science course in from the living room sofa, and my incomplete is now an A. I still have an incomplete from this past semester, but that's just work I didn't get around to, not work that nearly defeated me, so I'm much less worried about it.

Lately, I've been amusing myself by watching videos online — a handful of Star Wars fan films, none especially worthy of mention, and then Elephants Dream, a stunning, 10-minute computer-animated phantasm and "the first open movie" — not only the film but all the software and pre-production files are available under a Creative Commons license. But you should download and watch it because it's really good, not just because it's an important free culture milestone.
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I took [ profile] fiddledragon to Morimoto last night as a graduation present. I had been to Morimoto before, for a snack, but I had been waiting for a special occasion that would justify the full Morimoto experience. We ordered the omakase (tasting menu), a parade of mouth-watering small dishes, each perfect.

As per our request for "no land animals", each of our courses (with the exception of dessert) featured fish, which, apparently, is an aphrodesiac. At least, fish like that is an aphrodesiac — every morsel meltingly tender and delicately flavored.

click for gratuitous food porn )


Feb. 22nd, 2006 11:13 pm
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was mostly spent hanging out with someone 300 miles away.

When I wasn't IMing with [ profile] fiddledragon, I was filking or talking with [ profile] tarkrai, [ profile] folkmew, or [ profile] bercilakslady. This was a very good con for open filking, with many excellent performers. The concerts were also wonderful — especially [ profile] folkmew's, which spoke right to where I was, leading off with "Give Yourself to Love" and remaining perfect throughout. Thank you.

During [ profile] tarkrai's concert — also excellent throughout — I shticked while he performed my Pegasus-nominated "Dragon for Sale". Meanwhile, huddled around a cellphone in Pennsylvania, [ profile] fiddledragon, [ profile] ccommack, [ profile] sinsofthedove, [ profile] crystalpyramid, and company couldn't quite make out the words, but it's the thought that counts, right?

In addition to debuting recent songs already posted in this journal, a number of instafilks happened. One is going to grow into a complete song, and so will not be presented until it is done, but, as for the others... )


Jan. 31st, 2006 08:38 pm
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is March 17-19 at the Hilton Hasbrouck Heights in New Jersey

Lady Mondegreen ([ profile] ladymondegreen, [ profile] batyatoon, [ profile] storychaser, and [ profile] cadhla) will be performing, plus, of course, I'll be there. — Swat and/or Bryn Mawr folks (that I know) who want to share a room, let me know.
bnewman: (damselfly)
was the primary theme of this year's Philcon filk program.

Sure, I invited [ profile] catsittingstill because she's written great songs based on the work of David Weber, who was Philcon's principal speaker. And, when it looked for a while like Cat might not be able to attend, I invited [ profile] ladymondegreen, [ profile] batyatoon and [ profile] storychaser in part because I knew they would be able to arrange covers of those songs. And, of course, "Who's good who lives close enough to get here but hasn't been heard in this neck of the woods for a while?" is always the primary theme of a regional con's filk program, with "Who said that they're coming and would like to give a concert?" a close second.

But I have to admit that I invited the particular people mentioned above because they are wonderful, good friends whom I don't get to see nearly often enough. (Of course, I did not get what is usually called a "hug" from [ profile] batyatoon, but that's a minor detail, especially between people who can fry each other's brains with a few well-chosen words.)

Highlights of this weekend: )
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Saturday, December 10th, 6:30pm

KoV is a kosher, vegan Chinese restaurant in Philadelphia's Chinatown, about 2.5 blocks from the Center City Marriott and Philcon. On account of a large number of people whom I would like to see while I am in Philly, many of whom are vegetarian or keep kosher, I propose meeting at KoV for dinner on Saturday, around 6:30.

You don't have to RSVP, because I will not attempt to organize — I'm helping to run the convention, that's quite enough organizing, thank you. We will just show up at the restaurant, wait a reasonable amount of time for stragglers, and then get table(s) for however many of us there happen to be.

See you at Philcon!
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You'd think that, with a title like that, this would be an intensely personal post.


It's Rosh Hashanah — shanah tovah, chaverim — and it's traditional to eat sweet things, because the new year should be sweet. Specifically, it's traditional to eat apples and honey together. Well, there are apples in the fridge, and I did buy some honey just for the occasion, but I was pulling out the roasted unsalted pistachio nuts from Trader Joe's when I had a terrible idea: what has honey and pistachio nuts in it? Baklava!

So, it so happens I don't keep phyllo dough lying around in case I suddenly decide to make baklava at midnight on Rosh Hashanah. But there is sliced whole-wheat bread lying around. So... baklava toast!

Baklava toast consists of bread, honey, chopped pistachio nuts, and cardamom. Toast bread lightly. Spread with honey. Sprinkle cardamom. Sprinkle nuts. Drizzle some more honey on top (on the theory that it will help hold the nuts on — this theory is false). Toast again. If you want the nuts to stay on, chop them really fine and shake off the excess, or make it a sandwich.

Speaking of pistachio nuts... )

Speaking of linguistics, I was IMing with [ profile] fiddledragon the other day, and made a number of egregious linguistics puns which I will now present in the form of riddles:
  1. What team of superheroes have giant minimal meaning-bearing robots that combine to form a Word?
  2. What super-villain is their arch-nemesis?
  3. What kind of defensive systems do their giant robots have?
  4. A British syntactician, fed up with arguing with a French colleague, tells him that he has his head up his butt. What is the Frenchman's retort?

Answers... )
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Travel is hard.

The MBTA commuter rail doesn't run as often as SEPTA regional rail. I have classes which I ought not to miss, which keep me from coming and going as I please. A bus ride to Philadelphia via New York takes a long time. Airfare from Boston is crazy ridiculous expensive. And so on...

The upshot? It's starting to look like I won't make it to either the Pterodactyl Hunt or OVFF.

I'm not happy about this. I really wanted to attend both. But, the difficulty of travel under the circumstances weighs in on the side of staying here and cultivating friendships at Brandeis and around Boston, which is something I really should be doing (only I'm not sure how — I haven't moved out of walking distance of my primary group of friends in eight years). I'm not sure how I feel about spending the Shabbat before Rosh Hashanah almost entirely on buses.

If you're one of the many people who was looking forward to seeing me at the Hunt or OVFF... I miss you, a lot. Yes, all of you.

I will be attending Philcon, of course, since I'm still on the concom.
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Last night I flew home from Confluence, where I met [ profile] vixyish and [ profile] gfish for the first time — more nifty people! — and heard amazing filk performances from [ profile] cflute, [ profile] filkertom, and others. It was stormy all weekend, with intermittent power outages, and I said on my way out the door, "This is no sky to fly in."

I hate it when I'm right.1

My flight back to Philadelphia was scheduled for 7:00. It was pushed back to 8:30, then 9:30, and finally cancelled. I got a seat on another flight, whose aircraft arrived at 10:05. We finally got off the ground at 11:25. When we landed, baggage claim was a mess, and a lot the luggage from our flight came out over an hour later on a different carousel. I took a taxi back to Swarthmore and was home by 3:00am.

But it was all worth it for the light show — I had a window seat and a plane's-eye view of the scattered thunderstorms all the way across Pennsylvania. It was spectacular — cauliflower towers lit up from the inside, bolts of white fire lancing across their surfaces, and all silent under the roar of the turbojets. I live for moments like this. I suppose I'm even willing to put up with some inconvenience in order to have them.

On the other hand, if I'd known how long I was going to be stuck in the airport, I would have actually bought Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (instead of waiting for a copy to borrow).

1About things like this. Most of the time, I rather enjoy being right.
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