Chipotle for president

This fall has been a season of Tex-Mex disappointments for the Queso Crusader: first I failed to find my burrito soulmate, and then the World Series teams once again failed to win a free taco for every person in America. So many possibilities, squandered.

Fortunately, a sign at the local Chipotle brings good news! Buy a burrito, bol, or taco on the second scariest day of the year (Halloween), save the receipt, and bring it back in on the scariest day of the year (November 2nd) for a free meal. Drown your election day sorrows in a foil wrapped tube of spicy goodness, courtesy of Chipotle.


Jujitsui Generis

My former colleagues Max Borders and Chris Martin, along with two friends, are making their better late than never debut onto the blogosphere. Jujitsui Generis is their new collective weblog. This one will incite a few arguments, I’m sure.


Watch me pull a gavagai out of my hat!

Actually, that could be rather messy if I get my inferences wrong. One moment the audience expects a cute little bunny to appear, the next I’m tossing disconnected rabbit parts into the front row. Thus many a cross-cultural attempt at magic leads to bloody disaster. What am I talking about?

The NY Times reports that a philosophy professor at Muhlenberg College in Pennsylvania, Larry Hass, has begun teaching magic courses in an academic context. The article doesn’t make clear exactly how it ties in, but the program seems to be doing pretty well. I can’t speak for the academics, but if Juan Tamariz is representative of the quality of magician the program is bringing in, then they’re in good shape.

The tickets to his events were so hot on campus, said Scott Rodrigue, a freshman, that those with extras had dating currency.

“You can get a hot date because of magic here,” he said, shaking his head.

Now why is that so hard to be believe? Not to sound defensive, but the aspersions on my potential don’t end there:

Dr. Hass, 44, knows that he is probably not training many future David Copperfields. Though several students had good potential, he said that if a student came to him seeking advice about becoming a professional magician, he would offer words of caution, though he would offer similar advice to students thinking of going to graduate school to study philosophy.

Well, there go two of my options! It’s a good thing I have the security of freelance writing to fall back on.


The Dark Knight Returns

A trailer for Batman Begins, the first in a new series of Batman movies, is available on the official website. The film is a prequel that tells the story of how Bruce Wayne came to be the Dark Knight. By all indications, the new series abandons the campy special effects orgy that the previous one devolved into and focuses on the dark, pathological side of the character. It looks like in summer 2005 I’ll finally have reason to go to a movie theater again.


It’s getting Murky around here

OK, it’s official: on Tuesday afternoon my beloved Common Grounds will close it’s doors for the final time. By Wednesday morning, Murky Coffee will make its debut in Clarendon. Nick has the details on the Murky Coffee weblog. Obviously, I’m excited about the change and not only because I’ll be working there. As much as I’ve enjoyed CG over the past year, I think its murkification will make it even better.

In case anyone wants to drop in to try the best damn coffee in D.C. and say hi to their favorite barista/blogger/magician, my regular schedule is slated to be as follows: Tuesdays from 7:00 am – 2:30 pm; Fridays and Saturdays from 12:30 pm – 5:30 pm. That may vary in any particular week, but if any permanent changes are made I will certainly post them here.

Note also that I’m not a full barista yet. The process of becoming one is actually much more complex than many people expect and I won’t be serving up the latte art right off the bat.


I’ve been misdirected

I spent so much time practicing magic the past few days that I misdirected myself from updating the weblog. Between a daylong Cato event on Friday that ended up stretching into the night and the need to rehearse, Iíve had no time to post.

Tonight Court and I invited a group of friends over to the apartment for magic and desserts. As always, she did an amazing job in the kitchen (how does she bake so fast?) and I performed for about half an hour after everyone had relaxed with a glass of wine or two (I take whatever advantages I can get). This was an opportunity for me to try out some of the new effects Iíve been working on since early this summer Ė to release those pups from the captivity of rehearsal into the wilds of real performance to see if they could scrounge their way to survival.

Fortunately, everything went pretty well. Nothing bombed, some effects went wonderfully, and in many I found a few things that could use some tweaking. Considering that more than half of the show was being performed for the first time in front of a live audience, Iím pleased. Everyone enjoyed it and weíll do it again sometime.

The style of magic was a departure for me. Most of my previous experience is with close-up magic performed in short sets of anywhere from ten to fifteen minutes. Parlor magic is different: it changes the plane on which the effect has to play and enlarges the frame of performance. Performing close-up, the audience is often looking at a downward angle and the magic can take place on a horizontal plane, such as on a tabletop or in oneís hands. In a parlor situation, people are looking from across a room and the magic has to be staged on a vertical plane so that everyone can follow it.

By ďenlarging the frame of performanceĒ I mean that working in a parlor allows the audience to take in a bigger picture. When Iím working close-up, such as at a restaurant or party, people will tend to be focused on just one thing: my face, a hand, an object, etc. That opens up many possibilities for misdirection. In parlor, since people are seated farther away from the action, they can take in everything — if I were on TV, it would be the equivalent of the camera zooming out for a wider shot. Techniques that are effective in one venue donít always carry over to another.

Those changes in the plane and frame of performance require a lot of adaptation. However, I like being able to work for a larger audience and the theatrical opportunities a longer show provides, so Iím going to continue developing this kind of performance in addition to my usual close-up style. Stay tuned here for details.


Libertarianism and sexual frustration, case #3126

Actual dialogue between me and cute female Kerry supporter in Clarendon today:

Her: [Winks as I approach the corner.]

Me: [Smiles back.]

Her: [Now crossing street with me.] I don’t normally ask this to people crossing the street, but I could tell a mile away that you’d like to help defeat Bush.

Me: I would, actually, but not so much by voting for Kerry.

Her: Oh, you’re a Nader supporter.

Me: No, no, I’m a libertarian, but our guy’s a kook this year.

Her: You’re just like my dad.


United-MetroStars recap


Score: United 3, MetroStars 2

This afternoon I headed out to my first Major League Soccer game, courtesy of one of Court’s good friends. The photo is from our great seats: United keeper Nick Rimando flies in to punch an incoming ball out of the goal box.

While I don’t share my flatmate’s wish to turn all baseball parks into soccer fields, I’m pleased to say that the game makes a great spectator sport (even though I’ve played and refereed it for years, I wasn’t entirely sure of this). The continuous flow of the game makes it go by much faster than football, baseball, and even basketball with those sports’ constant stoppages of play. Plus, the fact that the games are almost always close makes them interesting up to the end. Long story short: D.C. taxpayers could save a lot of money if instead of building a new baseball stadium they just learned to appreciate soccer and provided a small subsidy for hooliganism.

Next game: D.C. (11-10-9) at New England (11-12-7) in the first game of their playoff series.

[Entry format shamelessly lifted from Chad Wilcox.]


Blog maintenance, pt. 2

I added a bunch of new sites to my already lengthy blogroll today. I also deleted some of the ones that weren’t updating, though I left a couple of those up as a display of hopeless optimism that they might blog again. Of the new ones, some are libertarian standards that I’ve only recently begun reading, while others are a bit different. Check the list if you’re looking for a few new ways to waste time at work.


Winter boots? Ugg!

Judging by the frequency with which the word “Ugg” is showing up on the list of search phrases that lead people to my website, winter must be coming on fast. For example, the list includes the search phrase “sorority ugg” (which should really read “Sorority? Ugh!” But I digress…). As a caution to my Vanderbilt friends, I note that the list also includes the phrase “ugg nashville,” so it appears that the Vandy sorority girls are once again looking to acquire these pastel travesties for the coming winter season.

One searcher found the site with the question “Can I still wear uggs in 2005?” As she will have hopefully learned from my previous post on the subject, the answer is a resounding “no.” Wearing them in 2004 was regrettable, but wearing them in 2005 would be criminal. If you must insist on looking fashionably silly in the new year, your best bet is to wear a poncho instead.

In fact, the poncho trend seems to have already sown some confusion among the Ugg wearers, as evidenced in the search phrase “ugg gaucho boots women.” No no no no no! Gauchos don’t wear Uggs, they wear ponchos! Come on now, did Clint Eastwood wear powder blue emu boots with fluffy lining in A Fistful of Dollars? Of course not, he only dressed like that off the set.

The same goes for the person looking for “ugg american indian.” Ugg boots are an invention of the Aussies, and she’d better remember that — they get a little testy when people forget.

Finally, as a parting fashion tip from Eternal Recurrence, please don’t ever wear Uggs and ponchos together. The culture clash is just too much to bear and unless you possess the macho-panache (panacho?) of Clint Eastwood, you just won’t be able to pull it off.


Bullish on Bush

Stephen Moore’s new book from the Club for Growth is Bullish on Bush: How George Bush’s Ownership Society Will Make America Stronger. The Club’s official weblog has announced that it’s now for sale.

I bring this up because copy editing this book was the editing job I referenced a few weeks back. It was a great opportunity for me and the first time I’ve edited anything nearly this long. Plus, my name is in the acknowledgements, providing me with physical evidence I can send to parents and grandparents that my unorthodox approach to making a living might actually work.

I won’t review the book since I was involved in the project, but I will give you a quick rundown. Most of it is devoted to praising Bush’s economic policies in response to the recession, particularly his tax cuts and other aspects of supply side economics. One chapter covers proposed Social Security reforms. The penultimate chapter turns critical of Bush and the Republican Congress for their Washington spending spree.

Finally, since it was vital that the book come out before the election, I’ll note that I didn’t get a chance to look over the final proofs before the book went to press. I hereby absolve myself of any typographical or grammatical errors that may have crept in (or that’s my excuse, anyway).

The book is available at Amazon.


All hail Thomas Pearson

tortilla.gifTonight, my friends, was not a high point in the career of the Queso Crusader. After a short trip to the grocery store in which I acquired not a single Mexican food product, I arrived home to my Cantina of Solitude to find that I had forgotten my key and locked myself out. A rather embarassing situation for the world’s foremost Tex-Mex superhero, I think you’ll agree.

My neighbors and I tried many ways to break into the Cantina, but the defenses were secure. Two paper clips, a bottle opener, a coat hanger, an electrical cord, and three expired credit cards lost their lives in the struggle. We had given up and called the locksmith when Tom Pearson decided to give it one more try. I promised to honor him on the weblog if he succeeded, and I think that that is probably what inspired his incredible feat. I braced against the door with my cheese-fortified powers while he wedged a screwdriver into the frame. Then behold! The door did open!

So keeping up my end of the bargain, I now honor Tom with the prestigious Bronze Tortilla of Valour. Thank you, Mr. Pearson, for your efforts here tonight.


Robert Wright vs. Daniel Dennett: There’s more than one way to make a pocketwatch

Justin Logan brought to my attention a recent debate thatís been going on between Robert Wright and Daniel Dennett, two of the more prominent writers on evolutionary theory. This weekend I spent a little time looking into it. Long story short: Wright is misleadingly making a big deal out of nothing and his argument for his claims doesnít hold up to scrutiny.

The controversy became prominent when Andrew Sullivan linked to an article by Robert Wright with a post that reads: ďAN ATHEIST RECANTS: Philosopher Daniel Dennett, author of the influential 1995 book, “Darwin’s Dangerous Idea,” now says he sees a higher purpose in the universe. Bob Wright breaks the news.Ē

Thatís a rather misleading headline, and if Sullivan had been a little bit careful he would have known that Dennett said no such thing. Given the tone of Wrightís article, though, Sullivan can be forgiven. Wright dramatically overstates Dennettís supposed concession, which isnít really a concession at all. Hereís how Wright describes what Dennett said:
Continue reading “Robert Wright vs. Daniel Dennett: There’s more than one way to make a pocketwatch”


Cool new GMail application

If you’re like me, you probably use your GMail account as a convenient storage space for large files in addition to use as a normal email account. Why bother to burn a CD-R when you have an entire gig of storage on Google’s speedy servers? Slashdot reports on a new free program called GMail Drive that makes transfering files easier than ever. It literally adds a new drive to your My Computer file and allows you to copy files to and from it; the tranfers take place via emails sent through your account (you can set up a filter to keep these from cluttering your inbox).

I haven’t tried this out yet, but I will soon. I have two GMail invitations available for any readers who are still in need.

Update 2/11/10: To sign up for a new GMail account click here.