Monday, August 15, 2011

quasigrecian thoughts

1. Redesigning the diagram of the London Underground. I've never found the old diagram (it's not a map) to be anything other than crystal-clear in how to get from A to B, but in central London you need to consult a street map first, for both ends of your journey, and pick 2 or 3 nearby stations, because one journey may be transfer-free where another is not and the nearby stations are not necessarily so placed on the diagram. (Try not to take the Tube from Bayswater to Queensway.)

2. Down at the bottom of one of my reviews, see a silly comment by someone who wishes to prevent me from being unkind to composers s/he likes by issuing a ukase against reviewers being evaluative at all. That's what reviewers are for. "How was the concert?", i.e. was it any good, is the first question people ask. And I try to write to describe what the music sounds like, rather than to outline its events, which is what program notes are for.

3. In my other work life of library cataloging, I'll just adapt an Allan Sherman parody and sing, "Headaches / Headaches / System migration gives me headaches." Especially when half the headaches are the result of inconsistencies in the database resulting from the previous system migration.

4. Here's a guy who says you should always tip 20%, all the time. I'd be less likely to bridle if he weren't so snotty about it. He says, "I know your parents still talk about when the recommended percentage used to be 15 percent," but I'm young enough that my parents are still alive and well, and I personally remember when it was not 15% but 10%. (And restaurants that print tip calculations on the bill still use a 15%-20% range.) I resent being told that my good tips of the past were actually chintzy. Let me make clear: I do not object to giving hard-working underpaid people a gratuity. What I resent is being told both 1) that it's absolutely obligatory, "even when the soup goes tumbling into your lap," and 2) that it's simultaneously supposed to make you "feel like a philanthropist." No it doesn't. Obligatory is not philanthropy. What it feels like, though it shouldn't, is extortion. Sometimes it even feels like paying protection money. I give tips, but I insist on varying them by service rendered. Only that way is it either gratuity or philanthropy.

5. Tim Pawlenty, what a weakling and coward, quitting the race over a straw poll?

6. No, I'm not planning on seeing the new Planet of the Apes movie. I saw the original original original movie in 1968, and once was enough. (I remember the circumstances better than the movie. I was staying on an isolated ranch in the middle of nowhere for the summer, and it was a 30 mile drive over the mountains to the nearest theater.)

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