Nothing but Flowers
Saturday, December 27, 2003
Happy Holidays...
...and all that jazz.
It's been ages. AM I losing my faithful readership? Time will tell.

I'm in Colorado, and on a modem, so this will be short.

Christmas was good, my gifts were well received (at least to my face) and I have new sweaters and sundry goodies. In the continuing theme of "everyone thinks Chicago is colder than Alaska" I received 3 sweaters, 2 scarves, 1 pair of earmuffs, 1 pair of gloves, 1 blanket, and flannel pajamas from a whole flurry of relatives who seem to think chicago is the coldest place on earth.
Tuesday, December 23, 2003
I'm in Boston...
...I thought I was supposed to leave the 23rd, but then I looked at my ticket. Ooops. Not only did I leave the 22nd, I left early in the morning. The airport express bus was early, so there are full garbage and recylcing bags sitting in the middle of the living room. I didn't quite have time to throw them out. But maybe one of the people taking care of my cat will take pity on my poor apartment and do it for me...but somehow I doubt it.
Tis the christmas season. I have a milllion things to be dragged along to here in Boston and a busy schedule of wrapping and tree-decorating.
4 days in Boston and 6 in Colorado. Not bad, not bad...
saw "Mona Lisa Smile" with my mother and sister yesterday. My mother had been talking about how badly she wanted to see this movie that was set 10 years before her tenure at Wellesley and starred julia roberts as the art historian prof. my mother had always wanted to be (and is). Too bad it's a terrible movie... My mom said it was pretty accurate about many things but that 1) Wellesly was always much more open to free thinking (consider: Nabokov was on the faculty in the 40's) 2) The students weren't that promiscuous and 3) Some of the marriages actually worked. Oh, and in real life they didn't have a terrible script. And Julia Stiles' accent (supposed to be mine, or maybe my mother's) was AWFUL and overdone.
I did love the following moment: Julia Roberts: "Now you don't need to own an original Van Gogh to experience...blah blah" Random Student: "Oh, we do. At the Newport house. but it's small."
I laughed a lot.
Last night I went to a Christmas party and was subjected to the sight of boys I helped corral when they were in Sunday school and about 2 feet tall...all around 16 or 17 now and over 6' tall.

I'll be pretty sporadic (in case you hadn't noticed) over the "holiday season". It's too hard to grab a good internet connection and monopolize it with all the relatives.
Friday, December 19, 2003
Bureaucracy is ridiculous
I just had someone call and say the couldn't authorize a reimbursement for food for an event. Apparently my assistant hadn't written on the voucher if there were more than 10 people at the event, which is information they need. I get that, I do, really, but the voucher was for over $400, and the receipts were from Dunkin Donuts and Subway. I mean, would it be possible to feed fewer than 10 people for more than $400 from those two places? I think everyone would explode!

I could cite many more examples, but won't.

Had a lot of wine at a Christmas party last night. I'm pretty sure I behaved myself, although I was tempted not to. It was a very bizzare mix of attourneys over 40 and theater people under 30, plus spouses. This made for some deep room segmentation, although everyone pretty much wanted to stick near the liquor (which flowed liberally).

Yesterday's shopping was made very very easy by friendly salespeople. First at Brooks Brothers, where after I stood looking pathetic for a few minutes a manager swooped in, got me what I needed (I had the order # and size ready) and had me sold to, boxed, and out the door in a matter of minutes. Then I went to Marshall Fields. I had some thoughts of going to 900 North instead, but remembered the key advantage of Marshall Fields: a friend behind the counter! And there she was, just completing a sale. So I acquired a personal shopper in a very old friend (who got a sweet commission off my sale). It was funny, she was so excited to help me think of things for my female relatives, make suggestions, etc., and would switch instantly from helpful friend to trained salesperson. We arrived back at her home counter (Estee Lauder) just in time for her manager to see her ring up my incredibly expensive and lauder-filled transaction. All in all, it worked out well for everybody. It also means I am DONE with my Christmas shopping. Thank the lord. And I think I got good things for everybody. Except my brother-in-law--I got him what he wanted, it's just so damn boring.

I am giving gifts this year primarily of books and things that make you prettier (which is, in one case, a sweet coffee maker). Oh, and everybody is getting a copy of the 15th edition Chicago Manual of Style. I decided I couldn't give the CMS as a stand-alone gift, and nor could I give it to one person--too stilted, too academic, too boring a present. But 6 copies floating around the family? Pure Genius. Although I'm afraid my family members who won't be with me christmas morning may not get the joke. I can see my cousin saying "gee, a grammar book and a board game. wow, heidi is really thinking of me". Oh well, I leave the creative ideas to my sister. I'm the practical one.
Thursday, December 18, 2003
You will all be glad to know that I found my "R" key. It is back on the computer. Evidently the cat didn't eat it, she just batted it around.

Thank the lord.

I'm taking the day off from work: no one else will be in, and that is boring. So I'm going to do the shopping I had thought about doing Saturday, with a fair amount of healthy trepidation at the prospect of shopping on the last saturday before christmas.

Course, I'll probably still be shopping on the 24th. Sigh.
Wednesday, December 17, 2003
I should note that ROTK actually takes more liberties, in some ways, with details from the book. But they matter less.

Oh, and I'll post something non-lord of the rings sometime soon. Like, tomorrow. I think.

I still can't get some of the heartbreaking moments out of my mind. Or, quite frankly, the glorious battle scenes. Or Gimli's one-liners. I'd review it more, but I don't want to spoil it for anyone--even if you've read the books, revealing what is done is kind of a spoiler. In the end, I wish I'd learned less about what the movie did before I saw it.
So worth it.
So unbelievably worth it.
Even though it meant I got home at 4am.
Run, don't walk, to see LOTR:ROTK
You know something is a cultural event when the homeless guys sleeping under the el tracks ask if it was a good movie as the crowd files out at 4am.

I found the false endings less distracting than others around me, but then again I was not ready to leave the theater (despite desperately needing a bathroom and then bed).

We were let into the theater pretty soon after we got there (around 10:30) and found fantastic seats. We got asked trivia questions by reps from, all of which I knew the answers to. So now I have some LOTR trading cards, which is, uh, I dunno...not quite my level of geekdom, but still pretty cool. I stumbled a little under pressure though, correctly identifying 4 of the 5 races of the fellowship but forgetting... hobbits... at least for a few seconds. I got the card though, I think the guy recognized that if I knew Gandalf was maia I was just choking under pressure and exhaustion. That and I said the answer along with his "um, no, you're forgetting the most obvious".

I mean, how often does a guy in a black cloak carrying a fake sword (or maybe just the sheath, I don't think they were letting weapons into the theater) ask you trivia questions.

I was definitely one of the least geeky in the crowd, which given my really high geek quotient was pretty scary.

But oh!! SO good.

Amazing battle scenes. Amazing personal moments. Moments where I came very close to crying at the heartbreak of it all, even though I knew the ending. I caught myself thinking things like "the movie can't kill off [insert main character here] if the book doesn't, can it?" (for the record, it didn't).

It was in some ways more faithful to the books then the other movies, despite the lack of shire-scouring. Or maybe it was that the alterations were so subtle and necessary to bring it to the screen that I didn't notice as much as I did, for example, the absence of Tom Bombadil from LOTR: FOTR. (I'm liking the acronyms today).

I may have gotten very very little sleep, but I'm a happy person because of it.

Monday, December 15, 2003
My downstairs neighbor, who is around 80 years old, was entering the building right before me. He held the door, and then watched me check the mail: "you live above me?" he asked "I have not met you. I am Nestor, I live on the first floor, west side."
I didn't mention that of course I know him. That in the two and a half years I've lived in this building I've interacted with him many times. He occaisionally signs for packages for me, and he once let me walk through his apartment to the back stairs after I left my gate keys in my apartment and couldn't get back from doing laundry. I've twice let him into the laundry room to find his keys, and once heard about his wife who died in February ('01, I think) and who he desperately missed. I've talked with him while he smoked cigarettes on his porch, which is directly below mine. When the cat went missing for a couple hours two years ago he answered my knock to say he hadn't seen her. He's even met my boyfriend and talked with him. When the buzzers to our apartment weren't working he experimented by asking me to listen to him buzz. A few months ago he stopped by to ask if my front doo key was working (his wasn't). In other words, he shouldn't need to introduce himself to me.
It's very sad. I introduced myself again...I wonder if he will remember.
You should all be jealous
My Christmas present from The Neo-Futurists was a signed copy of the book of Urinetown.
Blogger is slow this morning
I meant to blog yesterday, but then I got distracted by the prospect of an afternoon where I could read something that had nothing to do with business school. It was amazing and lovely. I'm now half-way through Positively 5th Street: Murderers, Cheetahs, and Binion's World Series of Poker. Thus far I'd recommend it, let me see how I feel when I'm done.

Work is slow, which I'm sure you figured out since I'm blogging. The slowness was predictable-my boss is out until the new year, the boys will likely be at the shop, the students and lecturers are all gone for the quarter, and Chloe is only in part-time. So it's just me and the radiators. I'm already frustrated, however, by the applications for TV Writing: The Situation Comedy. The applications are due today, in hard copy to my office, and there is a very specific format proscribed on the application. And yet... So far this morning I've had 4 emailed to me by apologetic students who have left HP but didn't ask for permission to email their applications. And one of those wouldn't even print. Furthermore, I've seen several that are formatted incorrectly. You would think that students at the U of C would be able to read. Also, the first part of the application is a one-page writing resume. With 2 exceptions, all the applications have a one page essay instead of resume. Again...

Nothing much going on. I'm a social butterfly this week, which is very odd. Last night was Dan's concert, tonight I'm seeing Anna and then going to Showtunes, tomorrow is something I can't remember (hmm), Wednesday is the Sidetracks Christmas party, Thursday I have rehearsal and a Christmas party, Friday I rest, Saturday I take my boyfriend to the airport then get sloshed with Amanda, Sunday I shop shop shop shop, monday I pack, Tuesday I leave and have a social engagement in Boston with people I haven't seen in 12 years, and then it continues with the family thing.

So yes, I am just that popular.

I'm going back to pretending to have something to do now.
Friday, December 12, 2003
David Byrne Rocks my world
Turning Heads With PowerPoint. In case you hadn't figured it out from the title of my blog, I'm a big David Byrne fan. I think I subject the office to his most recent CD about 3x a week. And have done that for about the last two years. So to read an interview with him about his new power point as art format is a joy.

Especially since it mentions he has a new solo album due out in March.
Wednesday, December 10, 2003
This final would be much easier to study for if I had any clue what it would look like. The midterm was clear: she gave us a case the week before, we got to read it and write all over it, she gave us questions to answer. 90 minutes, all standard. Hard, but also exactly what she told us to expect when she talked us through the format. The final, on the other hand, is a mystery. The syllabus says this: "During finals week, there will be an in-class closed book 3 hour exam consisting of case-like questions. Questions will mainly, but not exclusively, cover the 3rd part of the course. You are allowed to bring up to one single sided page (8 1/2 x 11) of notes".
To supplement that she sent an email on Monday: "As it says in the syllabus, you are allowed one (single sided) page of notes for the final. Good luck, Marianne".

I envision a few basic scenarios:
option 1) we are given a medium length case and told to spend 60 minutes (or whatever) reading and taking notes on it. We then are given questions to answer about that case (this was the structure of a final for a class I took last year).
option 2) we are asked several short format questions, I can imagine the following: "identify some key strategy a firm can adopt to inhibit entry by new firms"; "what, in the context of this course, is a war of attrition?"; "When should a firm decide to "make" instead of "buy"?"; "What is difference between a Cournot model and a Bertrand model game?"etc. These would then be followed by a medium length case to analyze
option 3) a couple short answers, a couple mini cases
option 4) a couple short answers, a mini case, some questions about cases we analyzed in class or for homework.
option 5) several mini-cases.

Clearly there is a big difference between option #1 and #2 (the others are just minor variations). I suspect (with no basis for believing this except the nature of exam as test of mastery of material) it will be like option 2. In which case my notes need to outline the basic takeaways of every week (leaning toward the 3rd part of the course, which was all game theory). But notes for an option #1 test would be different, focusing more on the lessons we learned from our various case analyses than on the underlying theories.

Frankly my dear, this is not going to be easy. I can BS with the best, but if I make comments that are "devoid of economic theory", I'm hosed. And if I'm supposed to reference the cases we studied in class, I'm double hosed. We did 13 cases. I can remember the basic problem from each of them, and can probably recall all the major lessons, but there's no way I'll remember the details.

The real question is what she means by "case-like" questions. For such a stickler for exactness, that's awfully vague.

Ok, much as I'm stressed about this, writing it all out here actually makes it seem much less intimidating. I'll stop whining. I'll just make a page of notes with 1 major lesson from each lecture and one from each case, and if I have space left over I'll go into details about game theory. Or something. At any rate, in 22 hours I'll be 1/2 way through b-school. How's that for scary?

Shit, redid the math. I'll be just 9/20ths through b-school. Close enough.

On another note, sadly, the Jenni cam is going dark. While I never visited the site, and find the whole concept a little voyeuristic, it is clearly the precursor to what I am doing right now. And I remember reading about the jennicam when it first started, back in the days when my email address was ridiculously long and we would sit in the computer lab emailing each other back and forth while going into chat rooms to see what would happen. ah, yesterday.
A funny moment last night, at least for me:
We were discussing the shows we will now (because of what happened last week) never be able to produce.

I said, sarcastically, that I felt that it was a true tragedy that my production of "Chess" was so quickly thwarted.

And then one of the students said '"you were going to direct chess? that would be, like, amazing!"

Not to denigrate Chess, but I don't think it would work in our spaces. Or really anywhere without another re-write. Or at least another cold war.
I'm so old... the lounge today one of the 1st year students asked if I were an undergrad when Greg Kotis was here.

Greg Kotis is 12 years older than I am.

It was kind of funny, and made me feel decidedly un-student like, which is always good. But still.
Tuesday, December 09, 2003
Coetzee shows up for Nobel. This reminds me--I forgot to blog about an article in this month's Chicago magazine. It's an email interview with Coetzee, although that might be stretching it a little. Anyway I can't get it online despite my subscription, but at the very end Coetzee says something about the U of C. It's a line about how every time another misfit intellectual graduates is a small victory, or something. At any rate, I found it very evocative of the U of C of my ideals, and perhaps of 10-15 years ago and before. It's still like that a little, but not as much.
In this article there is also a description of Jonathan Lear (you can read all about him in the archives of Jon's blog since he advised Jon) and Coetzee at breakfast the day after the Nobel announcement, neither bringing it up, those two closed intellectuals.

I think the Times headline "loose lips can sink people in a Pirandello Fishbowl" negates the need to read Ben Brantley's review of "Rigtht you Are".

SNL off the air in some cities and no one missed much. The idea that cities were worried Al Sharpton as SNL host broke the "equal time" rules is kind of funny. And the article just skewers little Jimmy Fallon (images of Ian McKellen flash through my head).
Monday, December 08, 2003
I hate Mondays
I hate finals too. Oh well.

Had a nice weekend with Margo when I wasn't busy being too tired or too stressed.

in this article, the trib tries to diagnose some of the problems with Chicago theater, in the context of Urinetown. I think it is a little facile to say about Urinetown "The show was a brilliant combination of two native Chicago aesthetic styles with two vital New York additions: money and clout". But it also talks about Jimmy's, The U of C, and TMLMTBGB so I have to love it. Oh, it also vastly oversimplifies neo-futurism, but hey. Does anyone else think Greg Allen sounds a little on the defensive? And why does the Trib think he "still runs the company"? Do we think he didn't mention his new title?

The Lyric's Sweeney moves to London and brings with it musings on opera v. theater

Happy finals week, happy advent, etc.etc.
Thursday, December 04, 2003
In the pantheon of bad days...
It started bad, it got worse in the middle, it got unfuckingbelievably awful between 3 and 5 and then I had class. A fight with my boyfriend on break from class. and then I came home to a message on my HOME ANSWERING MACHINE from the person that had called from NY about the "crisis" (as my pseudo-uber-boss termed it).

I would like to say that I am not, and have never been, in willful violation of anything. At least, not as far as I know. So I'm not about to start big.

and maybe it's an honor to know that I'm on a blacklist of "people we'll never do business with again wherever you work".

Or maybe not.

Did I mention that the "r" key on my keyboard is missing? The cover, that is. It has been loose for a while--the result of my prying it off to clean underneath. Cat hair was making it stick. This was a couple months ago, but I never fully replaced it. I got the option, m, enter, and space keys back on, just not r. and evidently the cat found that out today during her regular nap on my keyboard, and now I can't find it.

on any other day, that would be funny.

Did I mention that I have a final on Monday?

I think it is time to drink.

I forgot to blog the following conundrum earlier in the week:
Is it a sign that you have a problem when the bartender of your favorite bar invites you for a movie night at his house, and also to the "special customer" christmas party? Especially if this bartender swings the other way? Or is it rather a sign, as Jon would have it, that one has Arrived?
I am indeed, as I suspected, blinder than last year.

I proved this even before getting my eyes tested: I had to circle to look for parking, and consequently lost all sense of where the lake was (the best way to tell direction in Chicago). At a 3-way intersection (where my eye doctor is) I had to make a turn onto Ashland. Well, even with my contacts in, I couldn't tell (from the half-block away where I had to commit to the turn) which street was which. I could see the lettering on the signs, but couldn't read them. Granted, these are not big signs. But in one year!

So I have new contacts, and Jon is going to help me choose new glasses frames. You know, ones that I might wear once in a blue moon. My boss says she knows a really good frame store.
My new contacts are ok to sleep in. So this morning I woke up and could read the alarm clock!! It was amazing, and I didn't have the overly dry, extra crusty, really skeezy feeling of having accidentally fallen asleep in contacts. It actually felt like I could see. and made me feel a lot better about the fact that I my vision has not, actually, stabilized like it is supposed to when you become an adult.
Wednesday, December 03, 2003
I hate people sometimes
Boy punished for talking about gay mom
Interestingly, the Trib waited until today to write about the crackdown on small theaters operating without an entertainment license. The Sun-Times carried it last week, as did the online versions of the trades. The Trib seems to think it was reasonable, I still think it was a little beyond the pale to show up and shut down a theater without warning. And during the holiday season.

Most amusingly, apparently the city clerk (or an officer thereof) asked PJ, as he was starting to file for a license, if his establishment had any hoochy mammas. He apparently wasn't quite sure how to respond to that!

I really hope Timeline's application goes through within 60 days, if not sooner. Paragon Springs needs to happen.

Oh, and I'm only a little surprised that WNEP chose itinerancy over paying. They've always been a little radical. And they get hit hardest with this--their 3 most popular shows all would happen in December, but they have to cease and desist. But it does mean there will be a prime theater space in the heart of boys town available.

I'm so excited that a book about grammar, Eats, Shoots and Leaves, is #1 on the UK Amazon site. To bad it hasn't been published in the US.

Speaking of Amazon, its constant and continuous expansion is beginning to make me wonder if "they" are trying to keep me out of all stores forever. Between amazon and Peapod, I pretty much don't need to leave the house.

I have an eye doctor appointment this AM. I'm not excited to learn, as I'm sure I will, that my eyesight has gotten worse again. But it'll be an excuse to get new glasses, as expensive a proposition as that may be. Stupid insurance, dropping coverage for glasses.

Does it surprise anyone that The Passion will not be shown at the "Christ and the Cinema festival?
Tuesday, December 02, 2003
Okay, this article is a week old. But worth it. Because Spamelot is being blocked by Camelot. Which is just funny.
Monday, December 01, 2003
The next time you are stuck in a delay, just think of the poor people stuck in a 4 hour delay caused by a bumper sticker

One of the students today referred to having seen movies made by my ex-boyfriend as part of a project for his film school. It was very odd because I'm pretty sure she didn't know I ever dated him. He just happens to be good friends with her older brother. But (and hence the relevance) apparently one is an extremely funny riff on homeland security. I had to look past my residual anger and frustration with him to remember way back 5 years ago when I considered him one of the most witty and talented people I knew. Time flies when you're bitter!

Today was my last Ops Management class. It was also the first last class (get that) #$I90877777777

Sorry, that interruption was due to a large cat walking across my keyboard. I think she wants something (don't you feel right09 kl;2bnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn and again...

Ok. Back. the cat is eating. Geesh, so demanding. So you know, she also adjusted the contrast on my screen and volume of my sounds. Oh, and now she's sitting in my lap watching me type. After a weekend with the dog of my dreams I'm a little unused to this.

so, it was the first last class I've had in b-school where we didn't burst into applause at the end. Even in the terrible Macro class I had we applauded. Even in my very first class, in a room full of people who were in their very first class, we applauded. Then it seemed spontaneous, since then it has seemed like an implicit demand. Which meant the lack thereof was very very odd tonight. Especially since our prof is very good. But clearly he wrapped it up with less of a final bow... Class as performance, discusss (Bordo would be proud).

Off to towshunes, as Margo would say. Happy Monday. Happy December.

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