If I were a rich man…

Since I won the PowerBall a couple of weeks ago1, I thought I’d start sharing things I’ve been buying with my half a billion dollars.

Check this out:

Sweet, is it not? I figure if we’re going to camp with the hippies, we might as well be comfortable.

It’s from this company, and it’s only AUD 49,995, which even less in Ameros, less than $40,000, really.

We’d want to go check it out for ourselves of course, and I’m thinking the two weeks around Memorial Day would be a great time to go.  Round trip tickets to Sydney at that time will run us about $3500—I wonder how much business class would cost?  Expedia doesn’t really give you that option; I can see that it will take a little work to get the hang of this rich thing.  Are there still travel agents?

It took a while to find a really expensive hotel in Sydney, but the ADGE will do just fine.  That will run us another AUD 6,000.

Then we could have a good time going to see the Mark Morris Dance Group at the Opera House (AUD 99.00), perhaps a trip to Ayers Rock and/or Alice Springs ($1600 US), maybe even a third week over in New Zealand and do all the LoTR things ($6400.00 NZD).

Of course, there are the meals to consider, little extras like helicopter rides and Great Reef excursions and above all shipping our new camper back to Atlanta.

Still, just spitballing here, but it appears that the whole thing will cost less than $100,000.  Pfft.  That’s nothing.  So why don’t you just come with us too?  Free trips to Middle-Earth for everyone!


1I did not win the PowerBall.

This would be fun

Who among us has not fantasized about winning the lottery?  It’s a regular source of amusement for me, and this week’s elections got me to thinking about how I could use my money for political purposes.

Let’s assume I win the $250,000,000 lottery.  That’s a comfortable sum.  And then let’s assume that I simply put that in the bank and live off the interest.  Even at extremely low rates, I’d still have an annual income of around $5,000,000.  Still comfortable.

At our current tax rate, I’d owe about 39% of that in income taxes.  I’m not doing the actual research and/or math at this point—once I have a $5,000,000 annual income, I will pay lackeys to do all that—but if I were taxed appropriately, say at the rate under Ronald Reagan (blessings be upon him), I’d owe even more than that.

So what I would love more than anything is to taunt the average—and by “average” I mean “poorly informed rightwing idiot”—voter with a flagrant waste of my income, just because I can.  I’d make a video and release it on YouTube and wait for it to go viral.

Let’s take a look:

Hello. My name is Dale Lyles, and I am extremely wealthy. I'm rich, and I'd like to talk to you about taxes.

You've been told that taxing people like me is bad for the economy, and you keep voting for people whose main goal is to prevent the government from taxing people like me.

So here's what I think about that.
If the government were to tax my annual income at the same level they did while Ronald Reagan was President, I would owe an additional $1,000,000 in taxes. Isn't that right, Accountant Jeff?
GFX: "Not an actual accountant"
That's right. One million dollars.
GFX: "Actual amount, though"
One million dollars.

Think of what your schools could do with a million dollars. Or how many streets could be repaved or bridges fixed. Or how much assistance could be provided to the homeless.

Instead, it's mine to keep. Thanks, voters!

And now I'd like to show you something.
I took that million dollars and bought this jewelry. It's a lovely ring and earring set. One million dollars! That's pretty incredible, isn't it?
I bought these beautiful pieces of jewelry because I can. I have an extra million dollars at my disposal, thanks to your votes. And now...
There. A million dollars.
A million dollars for your schools and community.

Outraged? You think I should have donated that money to the community?

Why would I do that when you've made it clear through your vote that you want me to keep it?
You want my million, start electing people who will tax me for it.
Till next year... cheers!

My position is unassailable in conservative terms: it’s my money, and the government should have no interest in it.  Surely—surely—the average voter would begin to realize that “government” is, by extension, him.

Surely—surely—the average voter would begin to realize that even though this is a stunt (although make no mistake: I would buy a million dollar set of jewelry and smash it to flinders, a fact I would document in further videos/talk show appearances), it’s the whole taxation argument in a nutshell, and while I may be a crazy rich liberal, this is exactly what the über-wealthy among us do every day.

Perhaps they might even realize that, sure, the only person I “hurt” doing this is myself, but it doesn’t hurt me at all.  I’m rich.  I will always have more than that, and that would be true even if I were taxed out of that million dollars.


Isn’t it pretty to think so?

Important news

All right, all you Rush Limbaugh haters, I just found an article that will explain everything.

Besides the fact that I am so going to endow the Ig Nobel committee with some of my lottery winnings when I die, I was struck by the research involving Viagra and hamsters on jet lag. It occured to me that this would explain that time Rush was detained at the airport on his way to Aruba or wherever it was, and he had Viagra on him that wasn’t actually prescribed to him, and it was an all-boys trip or something. Remember that?

Doesn’t it make sense? Doesn’t this exonerate him? The prescription wasn’t for him! It wasn’t! It was for his pet hamster, which travels with him everywhere. In his pocket.

Hm. That’s not really better, is it?

Avoiding work: rare books

I’m avoiding working on the music this afternoon by cooking. And while I’m waiting for my Sugar-Crusted Breton Butter Cake to rise, I’m continuing to avoid work by reading the New York Times Book Review.

The first two pages are an ad for Bauman Rare Books, so I thought I’d buy a couple with my lottery winnings.

Mark Twain, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, first edition, first issue, in original cloth-gilt. What’s not to like? As Hemingway said, “All modern literature comes from one book by Mark Twain. It’s the best book we’ve had.” And he’s right. A wonder of story-telling and sly satire often missed by some of our more racially sensitive friends. $17,500.

Beatrix Potter, The Tale of Peter Rabbit, first edition, “a stunning copy.” If you haven’t looked at an original Potter recently, go pick one up. The writing is charming and her illustrations are inimitable. If you’ve only read it with some other person’s sad little drawings, you need to seek out the real thing. $17,000.

Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird, first edition, in the original dust jacket. Wow. I’ve love to have this one. $16,000.

Geoffrey Chaucer, The Workes of Geoffrey Chaucer, one of fewer than nine known copies of a 1551 edition, illustrated with woodcuts, early 19th century calf binding. Maybe if I owned this I might finally read the whole thing. Yes, I know, but my early lit professor had us read Troilus and Criseyde instead. $55,000.

Charles Dickens, The Christmas Books, first editions of all five. You know why. $28,500.

Ludwig van Beethoven, Cinquieme Sinfonie, first edition of the Fifth. That would be so cool. Then I could pay musicians to play so I could conduct from it. $13,500.

Hm. Maybe Harold Arlen/Johnny Mercer, Come Rain or Come Shine, first edition, inscribed by Mercer to Judy Garland. It’s camp, but it’s cheap at $6800.

Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, first American edition, $16,000.

Let’s see, that comes to $170,300 all told. Not bad for a couple of minutes shopping. Of course, I know I’d have to read them with white cotton gloves on, and I’d probably have to buy a whole new house with a climate-controlled library, but they’re all nice additions to my collection, I think.

Don’t worry, though, I’ve left plenty for you guys: Einstein‘s The World as I See It, $18.500. E. B. White, Charlotte’s Web, original dust jacket, $2400. F. Scott Fitzgerald, This Side of Paradise, first edition, special tipped-in “Author’s Apology,” $16,000. William Bligh, Narrative of the Mutiny, first edition, $22,000. A 1610 Geneva Bible, folio volume in calf binding with brass fittings, $16,500. Robert Frost, Complete Poems, signed, $3600. Marc Chagall, Dessins pour la Bible, first edition, $9800. James Joyce, Ulysses, first edition, one of only 750 copies printed on handmade paper, uncut and unrestored copy in original wrappers, $65,000.

I knew that would get your attention, Marc and Jeff. Don’t start a bidding war. So unseemly.

Here’s their website. Anything else you see that you like?

My week in NYC (Day 130/365)

I meant to write this last week, but was caught up in decorating duty. And actually, if I’m going to be honest, this is actually being written on Sunday, since I was on decorating duty yesterday also. But today the Empress of Decorating has gone on an excursion, and I am free to get some other stuff done. For example, after I write yesterday’s post, I will work on something for today.

This is another entry in my “With My Lottery Winnings” series, something I haven’t done in a long while. But last Friday’s Times Arts section got to me. So let’s see what I would have been doing if I had been in New York last week. We’ll just go through the two sections page by page and see what’s up.

Continue reading “My week in NYC (Day 130/365)”

Almost nothing (Day 27/365)

I almost did nothing. I cleaned up my work area, clearing the drafting table to serve as my “away from the computer” composition area. I read more of my CSS book.
In other news, I have a couple of uses for my lottery winnings:

  • Tom Stoppard’s The Coast of Utopia will be opening in New York soon. That’s a three-play work covering the lives of the Russian intellectuals involved in the 1830s revolutionary work. It made no sense to me when I read it (as in, why did he write this?) and I’d like to see if it makes more sense when you see it. So that’s at least three nights in NYC I could spend money on.
  • Also in NYC, Mr. Nebojsa Kaludjerovic is the sole employee of the U.N. mission of Montenegro, which recently, and peacefully, gained its independence from Serbia. He’s the ambassador, the secretary, the bookkeeper, etc. He used to be the ambassador from the combined countries, working out of a mansion on 5th Ave. Now he works out of his apartment, using his son’s laptop to check his Gmail account. The country of Montenegro is multiethnic, multicultural, and multireligious, and yet it has remained peaceful and democratic throughout the bloody breakup of Yugoslavia. I’d like to buy the man some office supplies for his new office.
  • I’d go to Kiva.org and fund all the developing businesses there.

What to do with smart illegal immigrants

You will want to go read this article: La Vida Robot. Go ahead. I’ll wait.

Wasn’t that the most wonderful article? Did you click on the scholarship link before you came back here?

This would be the best part of having won the lottery, reading a story like this one, and before you even get to page 2 of the story, click on that scholarship link and donate your little heart out. I could not only pay for their education, but pay for their access to appropriate legal counsel, and perhaps alleviate some of their families’ problems. And what would it cost? Not even half a million. If I just paid for their school, it would only be about $200,000. I’m assuming their legal counsel would add another $100,000, lawyers being lawyers.

Incredibly, there are those who read this story and who have a different reaction. There are those who read this article and take umbrage that anyone would want to allow these illegal immigrants access to American education. Why should we allow these wetbacks to take one of the limited state school slots in place of one of “our own”? Why should we spend our tax dollars on these people, these undocumented losers who sneak across our borders and steal jobs from honest Americans?

Or, to put it another way that probably the wingnuts wouldn’t, why would a nation like ours seek to embrace the best and brightest minds we can find and provide for their future, here, with us?

I put my money on the future with the best and the brightest.

Bang on a Can

OK, new topic. We all have daydreams about what we’ll do when we win the lottery. I’m putting mine on my blog as I come across them.

Today, for example, I received a very nice invitation from the folks at Bang on a Can, the new music concern in NYC. They’re having a fundraiser in conjunction with Bob Hurwitz of Nonesuch Records, on Tuesday, April 19, 2005, and I thought, why not? They’ve done some interesting things in the past, although frankly much of it is earsplitting, but hey, I’m always ready to be intrigued, and since money is no object now that I’ve won the lottery, let’s do it.

So I figure we’ll do it up right: a $10,000 Bang Benefactor donation, which entitles me to a 10-person table for drinks, dinner, and the concert, plus luxury accomodations, meals, and tickets to the BOAC Marathon in the Berkshires this summer, plus season-long recognition as a sponsor, plus four tickets to the BOAC All-Stars concert on April 29. That’s a pretty sweet deal.

This is assuming I can find nine other people who would like to attend with me. Perhaps I could put an ad in the Times-Herald:

Wanted: Adventurous persons who can stand new music, to accompany local aesthete to dinner and a show. Apply at P.O. Box 1039C.

I keep buying CDs of new music, trying to keep up, seeing if concert music is making any progress in reclaiming the human ear after losing it so disastrously with that soulless sojourn into serialism in the middle of last century. So far, it’s pretty hit or miss. Any one of the pieces I’ve heard that have been written since 1980, say, can be interesting in itself, but when you start lining them up and comparing them, most of them are much alike. Too much brass, too many broad leaps in the “melody,” too many 2nds and tone clusters in the harmony. As they cycle through the iPod, I find them impossible to identify, just so many angst-ridden tone poems.

And what are we to make of John Corigliano’s comment [pdf interview] that the 2004 Pulitzer Prize for music, awarded to Paul Moravec’s Tempest Fantasy, startled him because of its sunny nature? “I’ve never in my life ever seen a Pulitzer Prize go to a piece that is effervescent, not for the last 40 years,” he mused. Apparently recognizing that the overwhelming tone of much new music is tortured, he adds, “I think that it’s very important for us to have that rich experience in art and not to think of art in this romantic twisted view that art is only about anguish and angst. It isn’t. The best works of art of the 18th century were often comedies.”

Still, some new music can be exhilarating, and my official position is that people should keep writing it, because eventually some of it is going to work. It’s like when eminent musicolologist Prof. Peter Schickele refers to the “lesser but nevertheless competent composers that dotted the musical landscape of the Age of Enlightenment” in his lectures on P.D.Q. Bach: I think it takes all the ballast of less competent work to produce the geniuses of Bach (P.D.Q. and otherwise) or Mozart.

So, buy the $10,000 ticket, I say, and support new music.

This thing is taking place below Houston St., so clearly we’d need to stay at the Soho Grand, which is a really cool hotel. My treat. Since it’s on a Tuesday night, we’d have to fly in that day and back out the next morning so that people wouldn’t have to miss that much work. Not me, of course. I won the lottery and don’t have to worry about such things.