i got up early this sunday to see ralph nader announce on meet the press whether or not he was going to run for president this year. i missed the beginning of the interview, but it said "2004 presidential candidate" at the bottom of the screen so i knew what had already happened. there's a lot of democrats who don't want to see nader run, who blame him personally for spoiling the 2000 election for al gore in those close states like florida and new hampshire, and who see his appearance on this year's ballot as a distraction that's going to hurt kerry (i'm of course assuming kerry will win the nomination). after hearing nader talk on the show though, this guy's got something. talk about an honest person who will crusade for the everyday man, it's ralph nader. everything he said i agreed with, how there's no real difference between a democrat or a republican, they might differ in some beliefs but they're all puppets of a corporate culture that's controlling american politics. how the current political system is being held hostage by a two party monopoly. what are nader's chances to win? probably zero. if you want to talk quality as a person, you'll be hard pressed to find a better man than nader, but sometimes the better man does not win the presidency, the current administration a case in point. in order to be president nowadays, you have to play the game. nader doesn't play the game, which i admire, but he won't get very far that way. i personally believe the democrats having nothing to fear. so as long they're honest with their campaign, so long as they present a credible argument as to why americans should vote for the democratic candidate, they will win. why count numbers? doesn't the democrat want a candidate that will appeal to all americans, regardless of party? that'd be the best kind of candidate. as much as i want to cast a democratic vote in order to affect a regime change, ralph nader's message very much appeals me. if democrats think they're "the good guys," they should take a good look at themselves in the mirror and rethink what nader is saying, adopt his platform (which of course will be difficult, since the democrats themselves are a part of the problem, not really the cure).

renata called me up to ask what i was doing (i knew it was her through from the "push it" ringtone). "oh, nothing," i said. "i've got two free tickets from my neighbor to go see a midsummer night's dream at the american repertory theater," she told me, and with that she came over to my place so we could walk to harvard square to catch the show at 2pm. i quickly heated two slices of leftover pizza and drank some jasmine ice tea before she arrived. "do i have to dress up?" i asked her earlier on the phone. even though she said no, i wore a tie anyway, the same one i wore to dan's party yesterday (sometimes a boy just needs to dress up). we walked to the theater using one of my many shortcuts getting to harvard square from my house. renata picked up the tickets (face value, $30 each) and since we had some time to kill, we wandered to a nearby au bon pain for some drinks before the play started, renata paying for my large freshly squeezed orange juice and sharing a container of nuts. i told her about the secret project we were doing for au bon pain at work and about doctor paul farmer, whose biography i'm currently reading.

back at the theater we found our seats (unbeknownst to me, the seats are numbered, so there was no rush to get to the playhouse early in order to secure good seating). we had a pretty sweet spot, just 4 rows from the stage, close enough that if the performance called for audience participation, i'd have a pretty good of chance of getting picked, a fine opportunity to work my inner diva. the theater was crowded with the kind of people i normally don't associate with, people of a higher breeding, people of wealth, people who appreciate the arts. i saw that i wasn't the only one with a tie, and there were even well-dressed preppy children there who seem like they're on a weekend field trip with their private school. it was my very first time being at the american repertory theater, so i was just soaking up the experience.

the lights dimmed, the play started. a midsummer night's dream is one of shakespeare's works, which means old school english ("methinks" a lot), which means a lot of "what did he say?" on my part. i could never understand why people love shakespeare so much. i admit that during those rare occasions when i can understand the language it's pretty interesting, and i love it when he rhymes (if he lived in contemporary time, maybe he would be a rap superstar), but usually i'm straining to just get a gist of understanding, and it makes me feel dumb, like maybe i was sick the day that everyone learned how to talk shakespeare in school. the play is about a love square, about mischievous fairy creatures who cast infatuation spells on poor mortals and watch the drama unfold. i couldn't help to think if there was ever a modern day remake of this story. the play would be only so-so where it not for the special effects, aerial wire works that remind me of those hong kong action choreography (a lot less violent though, and with hot chicks playing fairies spinning in the air, sorry, photography not allowed), and at one point during the play they had a smoke machine billowing columns of smoke from the center of the stage (i could've watched that smoke rise for 2 hours, it was pretty mesmerising, all lit up dramatically).

there was an intermission (i thought the play was abruptly over, i'm such a theater newbie), where i went to the bathroom with renata's borrowed ticket (so i could get back in, which was in fact unnecessary, they didn't check, perhaps they were impressed by the tie). prior to the start of the second half, i noticed the old man in front of me had a piece of feathered lint on his shoulder. "renata, do you see that? i just want to pick it off," as i made pincing actions with my fingers. renata sternly warned me not to do it - in a way that i'm afraid if i did, she would somehow disown me, so i kept my obsessive compulsive behavior in check, the things i do (or don't do) for her.

after the play, we went to a florist so renata could get some thank you flowers for her neighbor. signs of spring abound everywhere, forsythia, pussy willows, cherry blossoms, flowering bulbs. renata, a former florist herself, impressed me with her botanical knowledge (you know how much i love that sweet nature). there was a collection of roses sitting on the floor, and from the look of things, they'd seen better days. renata showed me how to squeeze test the roses to tell if they're still fresh or not. the place inspired me to consider getting more houseplants for my own place. currently, i only have a dormant jasmine bush in the kitchen, some lucky bamboo in the bathroom, and the jade plant bonsai birthday present from renata. even just simple flowers, when was the last time i bought those? back when i was unemployed and painting for a living, i'd use the money i made to buy some flowers every week to brighten up the house. renata ended up getting a clutch of soon-to-bloom yellow daffodils and some pink hyacinths.

we walked back to my place, where renata got into her car ("this is my car") and went back home (to paint) while i got a ride from my parents to go to dinner in belmont. we were having hot pot tonight, and i ate to capacity. the thing with hot pot though, occasionally all that spices and oils don't agree with my stomach, and i feel gross afterwards, which was the case tonight. even some taro and red beans ice cream didn't seem to relieve the internal turmoil within my digestive tracts.

my father told me about his latest experimental dvd achievement, successfully burning a 30 minute dvd with toast after a day's worth of compression into an mpeg2 file. we ordered an internal dvd burner (the pioneer dvr-106 "superdrive" for $130, even though my mother warned us not to "waste money"), the sole reason just so we can use idvd to make movies. why apple doesn't make idvd work with external burners is beyond me, it's by far the easiest dvd authoring application currently out on the market.