Saturday, July 24, 2010

Getting to Argonne

This story, like most great literature, begins on a Monday. (true, it's not always obvious which day some works start on, but Anna Karenina probably starts on a Monday, because that's when the most trains run, and the Scarlet Letter surely does, what with Monday being the traditional day for public shamings)*.

I took the M60 to LaGuardia (which, you may recall is also how Portrait of a Lady begins)**; I was flying on Delta Airlines, so I got off at the Delta terminal... but the Delta Shuttle, which flies from Laguardia to D.C., Chicago, and Boston, leaves from a separate terminal, the Marine Air Terminal. Laguardia doesn't have any of these newfangled Airtrans, so I had to pretty much hitchhike between terminals. No problem. An enterprise car rental shuttle was driving by, and I hitched a ride. So far so good.

According to wikipedia, the Marine Air Terminal 'remains the only active airport terminal dating from the first generation of passenger travel in the United States'. Most readers have probably been to buildings built in the 70s or 80s that were made to look ultra modern. The Marine Air Terminal was clearly designed to look modern in the 30s, and it's still in use today! The effect is bizarre, like being in a sloppily done period piece.

There was only one line to go through security and it had about ten people in it. The woman whose job it was to look at people's ID's and make some marks on their tickets kept admonishing those of us waiting not to cut in line, and at one point called the security over to keep a closer eye on everyone. Later, I walked through the metal detector and my bags headed through the x-ray machine. To save my adviser on meal reimbursements, I had brought some peanut butter and bread. The airport staff confiscated the peanut butter; They said it was a gel. I was annoyed, but in their defense, terrorists are well known to love peanut butter. The security guard very visibly threw it into the trash. I think he didn't want me to think he was going to eat it later, but I wasn't convinced. Frankly, he looked like a peanut butter thief.

So now I had a loaf and a half of bread, but no peanut butter. In a classic 'lemons out of lemonade' situation, I used my available resources to get back at TSA for their stupid regulations. That is, I decided to take out my bread and start eating it plain. The airports hate this because it makes their classy airport waiting area seem more like a bus terminal.***

Wait! I can't lie to you readers. In honesty, I ate the bread because I was starving and $10 seemed too much for an unappetizing veggie wrap. And it's worse... I ate it two pieces at a time so that people would think I was just eating a sandwich, which is still socially acceptable airport behavior. I wish I hadn't, though.

So then I waited. The waiting area for my flight was originally designed to be a hallway. All the seats were in one, very long row. After an hour had passed since the scheduled boarding time and absolutely no announcement had been made, I realized the seating arrangement was probably designed to keep passengers from rising up as one and storming the airplane in frustration.

Finally we got on the plane and then onto the tarmac. We mostly just sat there, but every forty five minutes the captain would tell us to buckle our seatbelts so we could take off. Everyone would murmur excitedly. Shortly thereafter, we would be told that air traffic control had again closed air space heading west. After three hours of this we headed back to the gate; Our flight was canceled. I was tempted to check in the trash on the way out... maybe my peanut butter was still there? I refrained.

I went home, went to bed and awoke early for my rescheduled flight. A lot of the previous days passengers had been rescheduled for the same 9am flight, so it was basically a reunion. So I had to greet and smile at the people I had chatted up the day before, even though I would have been far happier to never have seen them again.

A favorite past time of gays is to try and find all the other gay people in a public place. Some, like male flight attendants**** and Lindsey Graham, are pretty easy to spot, but others, like Chief Justice Roberts, blend in. Anyways, there were two gentlemen differing by about ten years in age, sitting in the waiting area, who I definitely had my suspicions about. These were confirmed when I ended up sitting directly behind them on the plane. They spent the whole flight wrestling with/shoving each other playfully. This is what my mom would call 'horsing around' and it's pretty annoying if you're the guy who constantly has the seat in front of him shoved into the book he's trying to read.

Speaking of male flight attendants, at the end of the flight, ours came back to talk about gay neighborhoods in Chicago with these two guys. I was so annoyed, because I wanted to talk gay with some one and instead this guy was talking to these jerks who had disturbed my whole flight. A constant frustration for me is that I'm not really picked up on anyone's gaydar. I guess everyone sometimes wishes they had a t-shirt to express how they often feel; Mine would say: "I'm gay, too", or maybe in this specific instance, "Why do flight attendants talk to jerks when I'm gay too?"

From the Chicago Airport, I got to my beamline without much difficulty. Later in the afternoon, I called my collaborator from Penn State (whose flight had arrived 4 hours after mine) to give her a phone number to call a taxi. She didn't have a pen so she couldn't write it down. There's no reception at the beamline so I didn't call her again for several hours, at which time I found out that she had tried to take public transportation to Argonne and gotten lost in downtown Chicago. At that time she was walking toward Argonne from a bus stop a couple miles away. I asked her if I should try and walk and meet her, but she said no. Soon thereafter she got picked up by a random guy in a car, who luckily turned out to be a beamline scientist. He told her she had been walking in the wrong direction and brought her safely to the gate. It made me feel better that I wasn't the only one who had trouble.

Anyways, I think there are a few lessons in all of this. First, Argonne's hard to get to, but you must try if you want the best x-ray data the US has to offer. Second, it isn't so bad to be miserable if your collaborators are as well. And finally, if you ever have to choose between a flight and peanut butter, choose the latter... it's more reliable.

*I've been practicing writing paragraphs that are mostly just parenthesis. If you like then give it a shout out.

** If you've never read it you don't know if this is true or not.

***Sure, it was whole wheat bread; Wonder bread would have been more effective. But the bread did have high fructose corn syrup in it.

****I once sat next to a woman on a plane who got free flights because her son was a flight attendant. During the course of our conversation she casually mentioned her son's wife... I was really surprised/confused, which my facial expression clearly showed, but luckily she was looking the other way at the time.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

First Kiss

I took off Wednesday the week before I left for scattering school so as to hang with my friend T P the M, who was visiting from Hawaii. We went to the top of the Empire state building and then we saw Memphis on Broadway. Afterward we spent several hours in my apartment, trapped by rain. (as a native Oregonian, I'm a little ashamed to admit this)

Since I hadn't seen her in over three years, I replied in the affirmative when she invited me out again on Thursday night, this time to a Hooka bar. This was despite my extreme busyness, the late hour of the invitation (11 pm), and the high probability that the bar would be straight (gay specialty bars usually involve either leather or a piano/show tunes. Even New York doesn't have a gay/hooka loving demographic large enough to sustain a bar).

I only go to a bar about once every two months or so and I almost never go to straight bars. I immediately noticed some differences. For example, I was the only male in the bar who wasn't wearing a collared shirt. I'd like to insert a comment about how this demonstrates the straight world's deficient fashion sense... but I don't think my own fashion sense is at the level necessary to avoid the inevitable mean spirited remarks that would ensue in the comment section. Also, the music was extremely loud. Every once in awhile the DJ would turn it off so that patrons could fill in the words to the song. At these times every person was shouting along at the top of their lungs, but it still was quite peaceful by comparison. I was a little confused by this difference at first, but then I determined it's probably because it's difficult to 'feel the beat' to songs like 'My Favorite Things' from the Sound of Music. Other notable differences included how aggressive some of the guys were (which I guess is because women aren't as 'easy' as gay men, although I've never been able to take advantage of this myself) and the presence of female bartenders (hopefully self explanatory).

In fairness, I think I should probably get to the most notable difference of the evening, the difference whose brief mention in the blog title has kept you reading this far. Yes, I had my first straight kiss at the hooka bar. For those who don't know, it was about like you'd imagine, although with an unusual amount of smoke passing from her mouth to mine. I took it in turn, anyways. Who am I to judge straight customs. Gay culture has been around since the Greeks, and thus has reached a certain level of refinement. Although straight people themselves have been around for quite awhile, their culture didn't start to develop in any meaningful way until the 1930s, mostly as a backlash to Grant Wood's 'American Gothic'.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Speaking of Transgenders...

I love to tell my family how diverse my friends are. They love to make fun of me about it, probably because they're small minded. :) They may not believe it, but there are types of people I'm not friends with. The two most prominent have always been transgenders and Jews*.

Last year after pride I complained to my friend LT that I didn't know any transgendered individuals. Characteristically, she ignored me and went on and on about her boring problems. :)

Ever since I started volunteering at the GLBT soup kitchen, I've met lots of transgenders. They're probably a third of the population there. Last night, after dinner and while the nightly life skills session was winding down, a young trans woman named Trisha made a statement about a recent murder (in Brooklyn, I think) of Amanda Gonzalez, also transgendered. She was encouraging everyone to make sure they had a buddy system to keep themselves safe. Trisha has a funny way of stating things**. She said something like "Remember when it used to be that even if you were gay you were in danger, and now everybody's after the trans." What she meant, I think, was that she used to live in a place (South Carolina) where it wasn't safe to be gay, and now she lives in New York, where it's relatively safe to be gay but still not safe to be trans. But she phrased it as if it were the times that had changed rather than her geographic location.

At the opposite end of the circle there was a young man who raised his hand to respond to her. He said that trans women bring violence upon themselves by not disclosing that they're trans to the straight men they're dating. Remember that a third of this circle was trans. The volunteer who was leading the discussion was trans. So his comment didn't go over well at all. In retrospect, the discussion should have stopped immediately but the group leader didn't want to let a comment like that stand. So instead we went around the circle to let everyone have input. Each commenter was louder than the next and the overall tenor of the conversation was progressing toward chaos. Some of the trans women started talking about how the straight men they date don't mind the fact that they're trans. The same young man who instigated the debate said "then they're not straight." And later he also said something like "you can't change who you are."

By the end of it all, half the room was standing up and the discussion leader and the debate instigator were yelling at each other across the room while they were both being held back by four or five people. Before it could come to blows people were luckily able to lead the young man outside.

After, one of the brand new attendees asked me if I volunteered every week. I told her yes and that it doesn't usually get so loud and violent. She said that she was definitely coming back because "that was so exciting."

Anyways, I still have conflicted feelings about transgendered individuals. For the most part I'm very supportive, because they have always been on the front lines of the LGBT civil rights movement. But sometimes I wonder how many of them want to be trans so they don't have to be gay. I think it's at least some, although probably a very small group. And I don't think you should ever blame a murder victim for the murder.

*I do have a Jewish friend now. She writes the last blog on my blog roll, about taking care of her dad, who has Alzheimer's. It's much more entertaining than Francpotatoll. Her most recent funny dad quote: "I suppose, if everyone were satisfied, there wouldn't be much Italian at all, just music, music, music." It's kind of a sad blog though.

**Because this is a family blog, I won't go too in depth into some of Trisha's comments during the group discussion on STDs. Basically, she kept asking if certain things were normal about the men she had been with or signs of an STD. Most of them should have been obviously abnormal and some of them involved copious amounts of blood. It was really a struggle not to laugh at the time, which I guess means I'm pretty immature.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

My Poor Friends

My friends are poor in a different way. They are poor companions on my journey through life. Consider: I've been trying to get a more masculine jawline recently by chewing gum two hours a day. Did any of my so called friends notice this. Did any of them say, "Wow! Joseph! Your jaw is looking great!" No one even so much as offered me a carrot, though I'm sure they all knew how much this would hurt my fragile ego. Poor, indeed!

My Parent's Poor Friends

Sometimes when I talk to my mom, I ask her why all of her friends are more affluent than her. (This may seem weird, but this is very representative of the types of things we talk about). A person's friends have a strong influence on their expectations about themselves and their definition of normal, and to me that means one should try and have poor friends. If one's friends are poor, they are more likely to be comfortable with the amount of money and the number of possessions they have. Of course, I don't investigate prospective friends bank accounts (at least, not that they've ever known about)... but if you hang out at the right places, you can easily meet the indigent. (Trust me, graduate school is one of those places).
But my parents did have some poor friends...

There was one lady my mom knew from church who was very poor. Her name was Kathy. So once, when I was trying to make my mom feel guilty about all her richer friends, I asked her if she still ever talked to Kathy. I don't think Kathy was that old, but because generations are shorter for poorer people, she was a grandparent. (I know this sounds terribly politically incorrect, but so is a lot of stuff on my blog, so deal, people). When we would visit Kathy at her house she was always taking care of several grandchildren, while their parents were off doing who knows what, and her husband was watching television. My mom told me she doesn't talk to Kathy that much anymore because all she does is complain.

When my oldest brother died, my parents took on a strong parental role for many of his friends. He was a bit of a social butterfly, so he had a lot, and they were mostly poor. My parents invited one of them to come live in our house. I was kind of young at the time, so I'm a bit hazy on the details, but the whole thing seemed rather rushed. This guy was probably around 23, and I doubt that he had a lot of prospects. If it had been one of us (my brothers and sisters and I) at the same age and in the same situation my mom and dad would never have invited us to live at home (I think). But because he was one of Jack's friends, that decided it. After about a week of him living with us, my parents were discreetly told that this gentleman was a child molester, or registered sex offender, or something of the sort. To their credit, they immediately asked him to leave.

One Summer my mom was the temporary manager of a soup kitchen while the regular manager was away for a few months (helping a sick relative, I think). This meant we would go there twice a week for dinner. One of the volunteers was named Lura (poorer people often have fairly abysmal spellings of common names like Laura). She was married but her husband was confined to a wheel chair. I'm not sure how, but Lura owned her house outright. Unfortunately, she wasn't aware enough to pay her property taxes, so the government repossessed it to sell at auction. It was a really sad situation and a perfect example of how our society fails the poor and the mentally ill. As a household with so many children, mostly boys, we were often enlisted to help people move. So it was perfectly natural that we helped Lura and her husband move out of their place. Her house was even more cluttered than my high school friend Joanna's house. It was a labyrinth of junk, piled to the ceiling. I guess Joanna's house was that way too, but the difference was, in Lura's house, parts of the junk stacks were alive. Obviously there was her husband, who was set unceremoniously in one corner of the room. But there were also around twenty small dogs, all in crates, barking away. Some crates were on the floor, with papers and boxes and books piled high above them. Some crates were sandwiched between furniture below and boxes above. Some were almost touching the ceiling. The house smelled about how you might expect. As part of her move, Lura had to send her husband to an assisted living facility. My mom was also able to whittle the number of dogs Lura insisted on keeping down to six. (she really did love those dogs, even though she obviously wasn't able to care for them properly) My mom took the rest to the pound. The employees there looked at her really funny, and explained that she'd have to pay to spay and neuter all the dogs (which had never been done previously), but when she explained the situation they were understanding and let her leave them there without paying anything.

I guess writing all this, I realized my parents often did have a lot of poor friends. They weren't really friends, and I always felt more uncomfortable around them compared to my parents affluent friends. But it was probably a good experience to have those types of people around. That still doesn't mean a fellow can't use any and all resources available to try and make his mother feel guilty, though.

Monday, March 29, 2010

In Print

When I was in Oregon, I went to my hometown (Roseburg) to see my little sister perform in Junior Miss. It reminded me of how offensive* entertainment can be where I'm from. I wrote a letter to The News Review (the local commie rag) about my take on the show and they're going to print it. I know this isn't the same as getting a letter in the Times, but I'm glad that my letter met their high standards**. For example, among other things, they will not accept "Letters containing long lists of names..." Naturally I was disappointed to have to edit out my three pages of shout outs to home boys as well as my extensive quotation of the Begats. But I still managed to keep the core of my message. So, here I present, with pride, excerpts from my (published) opinion on my little sister's beauty pageant.

"Awhile back I attended the Junior Miss Scholarship Program. I was proud of all the participants, especially my sister... Unfortunately, I found some of the commentary to be extremely inappropriate. Comments were made by the moderators that imposed a rigid standard of feminine beauty... The most offensive part of the evening was a 'Junior Mister' sketch, where five young men had their own competition. They went shopping for female clothing, did fake dance routines and answered comic versions of the questions that had been posed to participants. It seemed the purpose of this sketch was both to ridicule everything that the hard working young women had done up until that point in the competition and also to perpetuate the outdated notion that it is inappropriate for a young man to enjoy anything feminine (e.g. shopping, dancing) except in the context of a joke... I talked to several people afterward who also found the commentary offensive... Finally, thanks to the volunteers who made this show possible."

All in all, I was probably way too conciliatory. I don't want to upset my family's delicate balance in the town, especially since I don't live there and they do. I say this mostly to explain the last line, where I end up thanking the very people who were responsible for my offense.

*I suppose Roseburgites would find entertainment in New York offensive as well. When I was describing 'The Divine Sister' (an off-off-Broadway send up to Hollywood nun movies) to my mother I may have forgotten to mention all the hot lesbian nun action and the ten minute (literally) conversation about a very well endowed news reporter's penis.

**In reality, The News Review pretty much prints anything it gets. Almost weekly this will include a long, rambling rant by an old person who's disgruntled about this or the other modern contraption, etc. etc. In the past it has even included a harrowing description of a reader's attack by a sasquatch inside their mobile home.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Dinner Party Useful Tip

Recently, I've tried to make this blog be both more interactive as well as have more graphics. To further the second goal, I've decided to address an important question: How does leftover alcohol increase as a function of guests invited to a dinner party?
If one invites zero guests to their alcoholic dinner party (otherwise known as drinking alone with food) we can expect there to be a considerable amount of leftover alcohol. However, most of it will be lying next to broken vodka bottles on the floor (at least, that's been my experience). If one invites an infinite number of guests there will be an infinite amount of leftover alcohol, as it is generally expected that the average person will bring a greater amount of alcohol than they will consume. As only about 12% of dinner parties occur at one or the other of these two extremes, it is more useful to understand what happens at an intermediate number of guests. The answer critically depends on the type of guests. There are four pertinent categories: alcoholics, teetotalers, couples, and normal people. (Many of you will be surprised to learn that, as couples, you are indeed a deviation from normality). Of these four categories only normal people have a net effect on leftover alcohol. The others all bring approximately what they drink, with alcoholics bringing/drinking a lot, teetotalers bringing/drinking none, and couples bringing/drinking some. Because alcohol is not sold in quantities appropriate for just one person to consume, normal people must bring either more or less than they will eventually drink, but never the right amount. It should be noted that not all normal people will bring alcohol. It is generally recognized that only 2 out of 3 normal guests will bring alcohol unprompted. If the host specifically requests alcohol, this number jumps to 9 out of 10. Finally, if we approximate that a typical guest brings along enough alcohol for 2.15 people (if they bring any at all) then we can plot the following curve.

Final Notes: I hope this has been useful. When using the above information to try and build up alcohol stores for the inevitable collapse of society you should probably take into consideration that most of it was just made up. Also, alcohol is really the only intoxicant/drug that it's useful to accumulate in this way. I've found that if a guest does bring something stronger (e.g. cocaine) it usually gets used up before the party's over. :)

Thursday, February 25, 2010


I wonder if the Eskimos, who have so many words for snow, have a word for the dirty, slushy, icy mess that the plows are now pushing into big piles on the sidewalks.

So it's snowing again today. When I was walking to school, the snowflakes were the size of snowballs. They were big and wet and by the time I'd walked the 7 blocks from my apartment to my office my black wool coat was solid white.

New York makes a fellow feel differently about a lot of things. Snow is kind of a nuisance here, but when I was a kid in Oregon, I loved it so much.

An Oregon winter is nothing if not wet, but it was a rare occurrence for the temperature to be below freezing at the same time there was precipitation. My siblings and I would wait by the window late into the night, hoping the rain would become snow. It sometimes did but it rarely stuck. And if it did stick it was twice as useless as what we could get by driving an hour into the mountains.

I wore the wrong shoes today and my feet got drenched.

To get to the point, I'm sick of Winter. On the bright side, I only have two weeks left. In mid March I head to Portland and then to beautiful San Francisco. I'll be gone 1.5 weeks. And when I come back, Winter will be over. At least, that's how I've planned it.

And by the way, if we can trust wikipedia (and what type of world would it be if we can't), then the Eskimos do have a word for the white dogshit that's currently littering the New York City sidewalks.

Monday, February 1, 2010


I knew I was going to be traveling a lot last week so I purchased an unlimited ride metro card. Here's what I did:

Tuesday: I went to NYU (for microtomy) and then to New Alternatives (for that I could bake some chocolate chip cookies for GLBT youth).

Wednesday: I went to see The Picture of Dorian Gray.

Thursday: I took my little friend Levi to see The Sleeping Beauty.

Friday: I went to see the movie The End of Poverty.

Saturday: I went to a friend's Basque themed party. There was a rather violent documentary about the Basque National Liberation Movement on in the background. I left early because I very suddenly became ill.

Sunday: My flu like symptoms kept me from volunteering on Sunday evening, but didn't keep me from going to see Present Laughter as well as making my seasonal stop at the vegetarian butchers on Sunday afternoon.

Monday (today): Sadly it also didn't keep me from working twelve hours today in pursuit of elusive rheological results that I desperately need before I present at APS in March. (Don't worry, I worked in virtual isolation, so there was no one for me to infect. The life of a rheologist is nothing if not lonely).

I used my last swipe to return from City College (the home of the rheometer) at 8pm tonight. I took fourteen rides total which means buying the unlimited card saved me a dollar. But since I usually just walk home from city college, I sort of lost a dollar. On the ride home, I thought about this. It would be really great, I thought, if I run into a friend as I'm leaving the subway station and they're heading out into the world for the night. Then at least some one could get a few more rides out of my card (unlimiteds expire at 3am). I knew the odds were slim though...
The train stopped at 110th street and when I walked through the turnstile, a person at the other end asked if I could spare a swipe. Stalling for time I asked him to repeat.
"It's okay, if you don't have one," he said, already turning to ask the next passengers. I nervously looked over my shoulder. Fortunately, no MTA employees were looking. I pulled the card out of my 'wallet', explained to him that it expired at the end of the night and quickly left the station. At first I was a little disoriented because I came out on the West side of Broadway (because I was on a downtown train). After that excitement passed, I thought about my card. At first I thought, what if that guy really needed my card to go help his sister who was in trouble at South Ferry (presumably stuck between the Staten Island Ferry and the docks, unable to yell loud enough to be heard, and with all the buttons smashed on her cell phone excepting the one for her brother's speed dial). Then I thought, what if that guy really needed my card because he's a hitman and he needed to go kill a little girl because she was too good at cheerleading and another girl's mother was jealous. (That really happened before, by the way, and HBO made a movie about it). I definitely felt responsible for whatever that guy was going to go do, and I hadn't even asked him. Finally, as I was turning the key to enter the front door of my building, I thought that I wished I had been raised in a Godless household like so many of my friends. Then I wouldn't worry about his actions. Oh, and also, it took me several tries before I could get the key to work.

Sunday, January 17, 2010


I'm currently wallowing in shame. What can I say, I was raised Catholic. Earlier today I was alerted (by an attentive reader) to the fact that I made a mathematical error in my post of Sunday, Jan. 10 (the one about all the shows and movies I saw last year). And this from the son of a math teacher. For those of you who've come to rely on this blog for regularly updated information on the world around you (meaning a little politics, occasional rheology, and lots and lots of facts about weird people from a city you've probably never even heard of[yes, there is more to come]), I'm so sorry I let you down.
So what was the mistake. I forgot to take into account any shows that my friend Schuyler and I saw together. This completely ruined the validity of my calculations. To correct this:

I didn't see any shows with Schuyler in 2007. In 2008, I also didn't see any, and in 2009 I saw 8 shows with Schuyler. I've plotted and fitted this data below.

If we then subtract this fit from both Schuyler and my previous fits, we will have only the shows that Schuyler and I saw independently. We should be able to get the correct and apparently only crossover point, which I now have calculated to be 2011. (see below).

P.S. No reader actually alerted me, because nobody leaves comments on my blog. For shame! Except TChhab and my brother, thanks people. And also, I apologize to all the people who have blogs that I never leave comments on.

P.P.S. Actually, when I would take my math homework to my dad for help, he would sit down with me at the dinner table, take the homework, sit angled ever so slightly away from me and just do it all for me. So I really shouldn't feel shame that I'm miserable at math but rather should just blame my parents, which I believe is also an area where Catholics excel.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Subway Quiz

The MTA is threatening to make school children pay to use the New York City subway system. (The current policy allows three free rides a school day). I talked to Levi about this (see a post below for information on who Levi is) and he seemed thoroughly outraged, even though he has a rather spotty high school attendance record. My friend Schuyler (see a different post below for information on whether or not Schuyler hates lesbians) told me that he always watches the unionized subway workers and has never, ever, even once seen them do any work. I don't know about all that, but I do find it annoying that they're making this of all possible cuts. It seems designed to spark outrage. But more importantly, I find it to be a mildly convenient segway to the topic of this post...

First let me begin by complimenting myself (a rare indulgence for this modest blogger): I've ridden almost every New York City subway line, and certainly more than most of the people who parade about the streets pretending to be New Yorkers. As such, and also because I've meticulously read through some of the amazingly detailed wikipedia articles on the subject, I know a great deal about the subway system. But how much do you know? (see various posts below for information on the general esteem in which I hold my readers intelligence). Please take the following quiz if you wish to find out. Don't forget to tally your score.

Question One: If you're at 59th St. and want to visit the Museum of Natural History, but aren't yet familiar with the concept of an express train, it would be a bad idea to accidentally take one of these two trains:

a.) A & D

b.) B & C

c.) 2 & 3

d.) 4, 5, 6, & 7

e.) The Museum of Natural History is at an express stop. Every train stops there, except the L. Besides, I don't go there anyways because it's like going to a family reunion. That's because my family looks like prehistoric animals. (Here the pronouns I and my refer to the reader).

Question Two: During the off season, Santa Claus conducts this train. Also, parts of the train tracks have large amounts of water in them. Also this train doesn't enter Manhattan.

a.) the 6 train (because it stops near F.A.O. Schwartz)

b.) the C train (because Claus starts with a C and so does Santa if you only consider the top half of the S).

c.) the G train (I know 'cause I saw him on it and he winked at me and he was with another woman who wasn't Mrs. Claus and also God help us if whoever is in charge of the G train also is in charge of getting all of the worlds presents out on Christmas Eve. The G train never comes. If you live in Brooklyn or Queens, you can buy t-shirts that say 'Have you seen the G-train').

d.) Santa Claus doesn't exist. (I know because in kindergarten I sat on Santa's lap and then I pulled off Santa's beard and then I took a picture of me with Santa while I was pulling his beard and I brought it in for show and tell the next day and a lot of the kids started crying).

Question Three: This train is the guaranteed whitest of any in the city?

a.) 4 train

b.) 5 train

c.) Staten Island Railroad.

d.) The shuttle between Grand Central and Times Square.

Question Four: This is train is part of the only subway line that the blogger francpotatoll has never ridden on, not because it doesn't exist, but because he still hasn't received an invite to Fire Island from certain unnamed friends. (not that I want to go to Fire Island)

a.) the H train

b.) the X train

c.) the O train

d.) the K train

e.) the 10 train

Question Five: What is your favorite subway train, or alternatively, what subway train runs from the Northern most tip of Manhattan to the Southern most tip. You choose which question you wish to answer and thus there is no right or wrong answer.

a.) the 7 train

b.) the L train

c.) the E train

d.) the 1 train

e.) You've already used this joke before, in a different location, and it wasn't funny even then.

Answer Key:
1.) a
2.) c
3.) c
4.) a
5.) d (of course there always is only one right answer, anyone who thinks otherwise is a communist)

What your score means:
0/5: In order to answer everything wrong, you must have known all the right answers. Good job.

1/5: You really don't know a lot about the subway but that's okay, because you have other strengths? Maybe? You're probably good at making dal or something.

2/5: You didn't do very well, probably because you don't live in New York.

3/5: Because you have never liked me, you purposely misanswered some questions.

4/5: You didn't get the last question right because you're a communist.

5/5: You're a lucky guesser.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

2009: Shows and Movies

My friend Schuyler (who a lot of people hate because he told me the truth about lesbians), saw 105 shows last year. This was down from 127 the previous year. After he told me, I was inspired to learn the number of shows I saw in 2009. It turns out it was 27. This is up from 15 in 2008 and only 4 in 2007. I've taken the liberty of fitting Schuyler and my data in the accompanying graph, to determine when I will surpass him in number of shows seen. From my calculations, it looks like I will temporarily pass him in 2011 only to permanately take the lead in 2014.

So what did I see? Below is the color coded list. I've placed the shows in order from best to worst as well as generally categorized them as boring(brown), incomprehensible (grey), mildly entertaining (green), very good (blue) and euphoria inducing (purple). Beneath the theater list, as an added bonus, is the corresponding movie list for 2009. These are only the movies I saw in theaters, but that's mostly where I watch movies anyways.

Needless to say, if you see a show or movie that I went to see with you and wonder why I put it so far down on the list, it was probably because your poor company ruined the experience for me. :)

1.) Next Fall (which is coming to Broadway this Spring)
2.) Circle Mirror Transformation

3.) Billy Elliot
4.) Hurricane
5.) Next to Normal

6.) Hair

7.) West Side Story
8.) Wicked
9.) The Norman Conquests: Living Together

10.) The Norman Conquests: Table Manners

11.) Why Torture is Wrong and the People Who Love Them

12.) Ragtime

13.) Penny Pennyworth

14.) The Late Christopher Bean

15.) Coraline

16.) Chicago
17.) The Lion King

18.) Loaded

19.) Idiot Savant

20.) Newsical the Musical

21.) Fantasy Football: The Musical

22.) Blithe Spirit

23.) Exit the King
24.) After Miss Julie
25.) This

26.) The Retributionists

27.) The Philanthropist

1.) Slumdog Millionaire
2.) Where the Wild Things Are

3.) In the Loop
4.) Dare

5.) Inglourious Basterds
6.) District 9
7.) The Red Shoes
8.) Treeless Mountain
9.) Still Walking
10.) Gomorrah
11.) Waltz With Bashir
12.) Avatar

13.) Star Trek
14.) The Class

15.) Milk
16.) The Headless Woman