Saturday, January 31, 2004

Return of the King

No, this isn't a post about Joe Gibbs returning, though maybe the excitement over that is my excuse for not seeing the latest Lord of the Rings movie until now.

The real excuse, though, is that between the holidays and Christina's extended stays in North Carolina and Rhode Island, we haven't had much of a chance for an evening out at the movies. So after calzones at Alario's, we headed to the Regal Bowie 14 to see Return of the King.

I don't have much insight to add to all the reviews. I will say that Chris Kattan has ruined Gollum for me. Overall, though, I enjoyed the epic sweep of things. It's been years since I read the book, but the memories of the story came back to me as I saw it acted out on the screen. Definitely a reasonable use of (yikes) $9.

Tuesday, January 27, 2004

Still Crazy After All These Years

One of my birthday gifts from my parents was The Paul Simon Collection. I really enjoy Paul Simon; I had the pleasure of seeing him perform on the Mall a few years back. The liner notes mentioned that the song "Still Crazy After All These Years" coined that phrase. I was somewhat surprised to hear that. It seems such a familiar phrase -- could that really be true? A little Googling turned up this 1993 interview, where Simon almost claims the coining of the phrase:

It's a title about which I've often thought - did I make that up? It seems like it's such a familiar phrase.

I think I'm right to be suspicious of claims for the origin of phrases. Recently, Gregg Easterbrook claimed, "The phrase "there's no such thing as a free lunch" originates in" Robert Heinlein's The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress. That struck me as odd -- I read the book, but never got the sense that was the phrase's origin.

According to the site, I was right to be suspicious.

The exact phrase, there ain't no such thing as a free lunch, is also first used in the city by the bay in the 1 June 1949 edition of the San Francisco News (although this is claimed to be a reprint of a 1938 editorial so it may be even older, but the original has not been found).

The science fiction fans come into the picture in 1966 with the publication of Robert Heinlein's novel The Moon is a Harsh Mistress. He did much to popularize the phrase and seems to have coined its acronym, TANSTAAFL. More recently, it has become a favorite saying of economists, buoyed by Milton Friedman's frequent use of the phrase.

Sunday, January 25, 2004

Gertrude's Galley

Christina and I had a nice lunch today at Gertrude's Galley, a seafood restaurant up here in Rhode Island. She had a crab cake sandwich, and I had a blue cheese, carmalized onion and baby spinach frittata. I'm having a nice, albeit brief, visit to the Ocean State.

I flew up from National last night to celebrate the last hour of my birthday with Christina, who is working up here. It has been about two years since I flew out of National, but I took advantage of a US Airways e-saver fare to catch a direct flight from there to Providence. The last time I flew into National, I remember looking out the window and seeing the scar in the Pentagon just starting to be repaired. This time, it was healed over and looking better than new.

I've had a relaxing day bumming around the hotel room while Christina is hard at work. Maybe I should feel vaguely guilty, but it's not like I'm the one making her work all weekend, right? And she's being paid an hourly rate, so we both benefit from the long hours she's putting in. Tonight we'll spend some of those long hours (or associated per diem) at a restaurant. I'm thinking sushi.