November 19, 2003
Advice For Opera-Goers

Actually, this is good advice for just about any man at any public event:

Taking your drink with you into the men's room and holding it in one hand while you use the urinal is rather tasteless. It is all the more tasteless if your drink is precisely the same color as a urine sample, and in exactly the same kind of cheap plastic cup that a doctor would provide. I don't know whether this particular sample was beer that had gone flat, an unusually yellow shade of 'white' wine, or some kind of mixed drink -- most likely the first, since there weren't any ice cubes --, but thanks a lot for the involuntary mental image, stranger.

Otherwise, the Baltimore Lyric Opera's production of Don Pasquale was quite good. It was not until well into the third act that I realized one of the best things about it: a total absence of Eurotrashiness in the production.

Posted by Dr. Weevil at 10:45 PM
November 17, 2003
Comparison Shopping

Prices at my local Giant:

  • Cento All Natural bay leaves: $1.49 for 1/2 ounce or $47.68 / lb.
  • McCormick Gourmet Collection bay leaves: $6.99 for much less than 1/2 ounce or $576.88 / lb.
  • ordinary McCormick bay leaves: $2.99 for much less than 1/2 ounce or $398.67 / lb.

Good thing I stopped by the Ethnic Foods: Italian section and found the Cento bay leaves before I paid for the McCormick ones I already had in my cart. I imagine Giant only sells McCormick bay leaves to (a) a few brand-name snobs, and (b) many who haven't noticed the gigantic (pun semi-intended) difference in price. I wonder whether they make more money on the higher-priced brand than they lose on disgruntled customers who find out the difference too late and decide to shop elsewhere.

I was buying the leaves to illustrate for my students what a laurel crown would be made of, and how it would smell, and to show what kind of tree Daphne turned into. The fact that laurels are evergreens, despite having leaves rather than needles, is easy to prove: the leaves are fairly green even in a sealed jar.

P.S. Should I calculate the prices in Euros / kilo for my foreign readers?

Update: (11/23, 12:38 PM)

I just did the calculations, and McCormick Gourmet Collection bay leaves are considerably cheaper than gold, but around 6 1/2 times more expensive than solid silver ($5.30 / ounce or $84.80 / pound on Friday's commodity markets).

Posted by Dr. Weevil at 07:53 AM
November 16, 2003
How To Be A Pretentious Twit, Part CXVII

Whenever I need a laugh, I visit The Rittenhouse Review: it seldom disappoints. Oddly enough, the best jokes are seldom found on TRR: The Lighter Side of Rittenhouse.

In yesterday's second-to-last post, owner-operator James "[Sic]" Capozzola brags about being a professional editor, sneers at Instapundit for writing "tripe", and then says that "others, several others, in fact, including some that surprise me, have wizened up" (about Instapundit's alleged shortcomings). The context shows that he meant "wised up". To "wizen" is to dry up, wither, shrivel, or wrinkle, esp. with age.

The post includes a P.S.: "The final sentence of this post was minutely altered, post-publication, for clarity." Time for a P.P.S.

Posted by Dr. Weevil at 11:06 PM
Tragedy Strikes The Blogosphere

Yesterday was a sad day indeed for all who love blogs. At 9:27:24 AM, the blogger known as 'Hesiod Theogeny' publicly delinked Instapundit, declaring "No more links for free publicity from me after this post". Poor Glenn must be in agony, desperately pondering what he can do to win forgiveness from 'Hesiod', his cheeks burning with shame whenever he thinks of his plummeting hit count and the way 'Hesiod' now lists his name: crossed out, and without a hot link.

But seriously: with Instapundit's departure, the Counterspin Central blogroll has only two blogs in common with mine -- watch your backs, David Hogberg and Jim Henley! -- and only two or three others that I have ever even considered linking. There is no shame in not being on any particular blogroll, but being delinked by 'Hesiod' is an honor almost on a par with a listing on WarbloggerWatch's list of 'The Watched'.

Posted by Dr. Weevil at 10:45 PM
November 13, 2003
A Helpful Suggestion

Diana Moon of Letter from Gotham needs advice on dealing with downstairs neighbors who keep her awake late into the night. Banging on the floor with a hammer hasn't helped:

If anyone can suggest other ways to annoy these people than banging, I'd appreciate it. I can start by jogging around the apartment with boots on.

As a matter of fact I can suggest a better way. My freshman year in college, I lived on the second floor of a dormitory that had a very nice multi-room, split-level common space (with a fireplace) in the basement. Unfortunately, the sophomores directly below me liked to have parties with dozens of dancing guests not in the common room but in their own room until 2:00 and 3:00 AM on weeknights, and I had 8:00 AM classes. Their music was loud enough to make my bed shake. When I went down in my bathrobe at 2:30 one Thursday morning to ask them to please turn the noise down, one of the two said "Hey, loosen up, have a drink" while the other said "Fuck you". That afternoon, my roommate and I were hanging around our room at 2:30 or so since we didn't have any classes for a little while, and he quite coincidentally decided to try out the tap shoes his sister had just sent from home. In less than a minute, we had a plaintive phone call from the nastier of the two troglodytes saying "Don't you know we're trying to sleep down here?". Perhaps Diana should give tapdancing a try. All the better if she has no particular talent for it, since clunky inept tapdancing would be even more annoying than the competent kind.

Posted by Dr. Weevil at 08:59 PM
November 09, 2003
An Amusing Team Name

I just found out that one of the Catholic schools in Baltimore, Archbishop Curley, calls their sports teams the 'Curley Friars'. I doubt I'm the only who can't help thinking of Homer Simpson in full drool when he hears the name.

Posted by Dr. Weevil at 05:10 PM
November 08, 2003
Macaulay On Freedom

From the essay on Milton (1843):

Many politicians of our time are in the habit of laying it down as a self-evident proposition, that no people ought to be free till they are fit to use their freedom. The maxim is worthy of the fool in the old story, who resolved not to go into the water till he had learnt to swim. If men are to wait for liberty till they become wise and good in slavery, they may indeed wait for ever.

Posted by Dr. Weevil at 11:56 PM
Bits Of Housman

As I've mentioned before, A. E. Housman was not only a poet but a scholar, one of the greatest Latinists of the last 200 years, and a master of prose invective. Here are two (of many) favorite passages.

1. Housman spends many eloquent pages arguing against conservatism in textual criticism, that is, a willingness to trust the manuscripts of ancient authors even when they offer nonsense (he was a radical in criticism and a conservative in politics -- the two are generally unrelated):

The average man, if he meddles with criticism at all, is a conservative critic. His opinions are determined not by his reason, -- 'the bulk of mankind' says Swift 'is as well-qualified for flying as for thinking,' -- but by his passions; and the faintest of all human passions is the love of truth. He believes that the text of ancient authors is generally sound, not because he has acquainted himself with the elements of the problem, but because he would feel uncomfortable if he did not believe it; just as he believes, on the same cogent evidence, that he is a fine fellow, and that he will rise again from the dead.

2. This is from Housman's review of a life of Napoleon III:

One count in the British indictment against him was his private life, which was certainly dissolute; perhaps as dissolute as the Duke of Wellington's. I have been told by those who remembered his first visit to Windsor, in 1855, that the public was agitated, more furiously than the newspapers record, by the knowledge or belief that sovereigns embrace when they meet, and by rage and horror at the notion that 'those lips' should be allowed to sully the pure cheek of England's Queen. England's Queen, who had been kissed by her uncles, did not turn a hair; and a few months later, when Victor Emmanuel was the visitor and nobody made any fuss, the exemplary matron must have been pained to discover that her subjects' solicitude for the purity of her cheek was not sincere.

Both passages are quoted from A. E. Housman, The Name and Nature of Poetry and Other Selected Prose, edited by John Carter, Cambridge 1961, reprinted New York 1981. They will be found on pages 43 and 127 of the reprint -- maybe the original, too, though I haven't checked.

Posted by Dr. Weevil at 09:13 PM
November 06, 2003

Things have been hectic at work, but I thought I should at least mention that my first post as 'Dr. Weevil' was two years ago today. I only posted three entries in the first three months, but all posts are still available for inspection.

In other news, the woman who sold me my Maryland license plates on Tuesday told me I only needed to pay the $32.00 minimum car tax because my 1995 Tercel is "essentially worthless". Surely there was some nicer way to put it?

Posted by Dr. Weevil at 11:51 PM
November 03, 2003

Various organs of the press have been treating 'metrosexuals' as an exciting new phenomenon. The name may be new, but the thing has been around for decades. Two words: Frasier, Niles.

Posted by Dr. Weevil at 07:07 AM