Fearful Symmetries

Witness a machine turn coffee into pointless ramblings...

16 November, 2006

Goings On

Last month I briefly talked about the potential of passenger rail returning to Madison. As I wrote, the main impediment to an Amtrak stop here in Madison is, as with pretty much everything, money. Now that the election has taken place, it now looks possible that Wisconsin could get some federal cashola for this venture.

The Wisconsin State Journal has an article today which looks at the roles our delegates will be playing in Congress. With our legislators taking key roles on various Congressional committees, the promise of pork looms large. Of note to rail enthusiasts is Representative Tom Petri of Fond du Lac.

Debbie Gebhart, Petri's chief of staff, said Petri is trying to become the top Republican on the House Transportation Committee, which could put him in position to make sure Wisconsin is treated fairly in key highway and other funding decisions.

Thunderbirds are go for the Wisconsin Institutes For Discovery. Back in September the architects and engineers were selected to create this new biotech, nanotech, and IT research facility. University Ave will be impassable, er, I mean construction will begin "by early 2008, with completion in 2010." Not sure how this would have been affected if Mark "There's souls in them there blastocysts" Green were to have been elected. Luckily, we don't have to worry because he was sent packing.

Also in the campus area, the Chazen Museum put out a call for architects in July to design it's expansion. It is expected to be completed in 2009. Yet another reason to avoid University Ave in the coming 2-4 years.

Not sure when the complex replacing University Square Mall is to be done. 2008, I'd imagine. And I drove by Capital Brewery a short while ago and their expansion is in progress. Masons are hard at work as I type. The expansion will increase the brewery's capacity by 15,000 barrels and includes a grain silo for storing the wheat for the incredibly popular Island Wheat. As long as I'm blathering on about Capital, I want to say that I tried their Vintage Ale last week at Mickey's in the aftermath of the snowstorm. It was mighty fine! A lot maltier than I expected. It's a very limited brew so get some now.

I want to mention that I ate at King of Falafel for the first time a week or two ago. An old friend who lives in Stevens Point, Tiata, was in town for the night to catch the bellydance show at the Barrymore. In addition to bellydancing, she's a mum who raises bees and makes lip balm. I'd hope to get some balm from her that night but she forgot my order. So it was just dinner.

I had the falafel appetizer (how could I not have falafel at King of Falafel?) and Masaka which is described as "Layers of meat, potato, eggplant, tomatoes, and onions baked". It was really great as enjoyed the flavors of the rice and the spices, which I don't taste often enough. Ooh! And the Turkish coffee was great as well. Methinks I should eat more Middle Eastern food.

It was nice to see Tiata again as the last time I saw her was only briefly in the spring at WORT's block party. Prior to that, it had been several years. She's now married, has a child, and leads the bucolic life in Point. A couple of her friends were also there, including a woman from WORT which explained how Tiata ended up bellydancing at their block party earlier this year. You wouldn't think that Point would have a bellydancing scene but it does. While not large, I gleaned from conversation that it's doing alright. Time zipped by and soon we were out the door headed to the parking ramp. A big and she was off to the show while I headed home to deal with my post-prandial lethargy.

This past weekend I had a little soiree with a smattering of my dorky gaming friends and my dorky girlfriend. The Dulcinea got all culinary on us and baked a chocolate pecan pie and made Bacon Bitches. BB are tender nuggets of curried cream cheese with a jalapeno slice wrapped in bacon. For my part, I nuked some Kabonsy or Polish stick sausage. It was a good time. Firstly, I hadn't seen Marv in months so it was nice to actually hang out with him again. Another highlight was watching how, the drunker Dogger got, the more he talked about Neal Stephenson. Things got really dorky when the conversation went from Stephenson to English history to Nikola Tesla and elsewhere. I think The Dulcinea had had enough of the extreme dorkiness and she went to the den to partake of some TV.

But before she did so, the gathering of gamers watched some fan films. The first was The Gamers. Dogger, Marv, The Dulcinea, and I had seen it already but it was just as fun the second time around. In a certain sense, it was even more funny since there were more gamers watching. The video concerns a group of guys playing Dungeons & Dragons in a dorm room which disturbs a co-ed down the hall who is trying to study. It alternates between shots of the players in the dorm and their characters acting out the game in the fantasy world. And it's hilarious. Some of the humor would go over the heads of folks who've never played D&D but most of it doesn't require viewers to be RPG players. But, if you are, you get a little sumpin' extra out of it.

After The Gamers we watched Demon Hunters 2: Dead Camper Lake by the same folks. I bought the DVD at GenCon this year but had been waiting to get a group of suitably dorky friends together to watch it and I finally had the opportunity. I just have to say that it was absolutely fucking hilarious! It's a bit like Blade but with demons. And, while the characters are kinda sorta dressed like those in Blade, the story takes place in a rural area with lots of snow.

One of the great things about watching these flicks with my friends is that it takes advantage of the infectious nature of laughter. We all laughed really hard and there was one point when we had all calmed down and there's some non-humourous exposition onscreen. I look over at Dogger and see that he's giggling hysterically to himself. So I start laughing and then Marv and then Charles and then James and then Buke and then the Dulcinea sees all of us with tears running down our cheeks and she laughs...My stomach really hurt after watching it.

This weekend is the Polish Film Fest on campus. I hope to see at least a couple flicks.
|| Palmer, 12:45 PM

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