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Hacking Conference Offices

I am writing this from Florence during the most exciting trip I've been able to take as a part of grad school. I was fortunate enough that a 7 week workshop in conformal field theory that made a lot of sense for me to attend, chose a beautiful city in a country I had yet to visit. Travelling to surrounding areas will be reserved for the weekends. On weekdays there is a chance to be really productive because the other students and I are surrounded by very intense people.

When we're not talking to these professors and postdocs who have decent offices, the main place for us to work is a room with a window and a twelve seat table. This is not bad because there are usually only six people sitting there. However, this is not guaranteed to stay the case. If one looks at the participant list, there could easily be days when all of the seats fill up. This is where there is room to game the system and I am happy to say that it only required a few lines of code.

A view of Florence

Getting Free Tickets Is Hard Work

It is that time of year again when the residence I am in puts on a musical. The production they chose was Fame and this year they did something different... they had this contest:

A poster with sheet music saying that you can win tickets by guessing the song.

There are easier ways to see a musical for free if you want to. Show up very early when the cast and band members arrive and bring a book. Usually you can go in because ticket checkers will not have arrived yet. And everyone will just assume that someone in the production gave you a ride. However, I wanted to win this contest, not because it meant free tickets, but because it meant winning a contest.

Very Poor Choice Of Words

Sorry that the site was down for over a month - my host was being bullied by his ISP. But now that the problem is over, I will make the post that I would've made at the end of March - about a protest that I tried to organize. Right now I am at the University of British Columbia and I live on campus in a residence called Marine Drive. I have quite enjoyed this place: the buildings are new, there aren't any first years around and for this particular building, I don't have to move out at the end of the year - I can keep staying as long as I keep paying. The rent includes all the necessities like a network connection which is very fast and has unlimited bandwidth (thanks to MAC address spoofing). So it would be a good idea for me to keep paying rent.

Logos for Rent and its censored version.

At the end of March, people in my residence and other residences put on a production of Rent. Close to the date of the performance, I was disappointed to see that the musical would in fact be the school edition. The program included the fine print: "With the permission of the Jonathan Larson Estate, this version of RENT has been adapted for use in schools and other producing organizations. While retaining the dramatic intent of this groundbreaking musical, minimal changes have been made to language and one song ["Contact"] has been deleted." They say that the changes are minimal. My ass. But the biggest lie they tell is that their censored musical retains the dramatic intent of the late Jonathan Larson. He died before the school edition existed and yet MTI presumes to know what his opinion of it would be. Did Larson just decide to put drug references in the script for the hell of it? Because he didn't think they were important to the show? I highly doubt it. You are either being true to an artist's vision or you're not.

It was frustrating to see that a university would be putting on this version of Rent even though it was designed for high schools. I think UBC should be more like Hollywood High School which performed the full version of Rent in 2010. The Wikipedia article says it was the first high school to do so - I am amazed it took this much time for one to act sensibly. However, I suspect that UBC's decision to use the school edition was made for financial reasons. It costs less to license the school edition - something else that bothers me because it has a chilling effect on the feasibility of performing the real show. I take some solace in the fact that the version performed was somewhere in between Rent: School Edition and Rent. The cast restored the swearing and other things, so I think they reverted the changes whenever it was easy to do so. The word "fuck" does not appear in the school edition but it was definitely in the play I saw. I was actually surprised to see that the full script only includes it six times because it seemed like I was hearing it a lot more. Anyway, everyone in the production was wonderful so this is not what I felt I had to do something about.

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