The URI! Zone - 06/2007
making the world a better place by donating all proceeds to Popeyes
♣ As you can see from yesterday's pictures, I had a small intimate barbeque last weekend, where I baked my popular cookies, made my secret onion dip, and cooked fourteen giant kosher hot dogs and twelve not-as-kosher hamburgers.
♣ I also bought two cases of beer for the barbeque (Costco had a sale -- $24 for 24 Coronas) and somehow, the nine drinkers managed to consume forty-five bottles by the time the night had ended. All of this alcohol apparently had the side effect of tilting the poker game in my favour.
♣ As previously mentioned, I finally won a poker game with nine other players and walked away with $60 in my pocket -- that's SIX times more than I started with! Tallying up my net poker winnings now puts me at around negative sixty dollars.
♣ Speaking of sixes, I rewatched the series finale of Six Feet Under on YouTube and found it just as moving as before. If you don't plan on watching the series, and don't mind the ending being spoiled, give it a watch -- I think that the montage is so structurally sound that it's effective even if you don't know the characters. I especially like the constantly rising camera angles in all of the flashes which I didn't notice on the first viewing.
♣ Speaking of flashes, I liked the LOST season finale last week -- there weren't a lot of answers but it still managed to be an exciting closure episode. None of the "Locke staring down a hole" garbage from Season One. I just hope the fourth season picks up immediately on the island, and not somewhere else.
♣ I know it's a little late to be talking about a show that aired over a week ago, but LOST is well-known for its flashbacks, and the only other viable segue would have been "Speaking of things that are constantly rising...".
♣ I guess I could have talked about bread, like the Ziploc bag of Amish Friendship Bread mix Anna dropped off which comes with a very specific list of instructions to be followed over the course of ten days. I have a hard time remembering to do things daily, so hopefully I haven't already utterly obliterated the friendship of the Amish by ruining their loafty tradition. I guess I just wasn't bready to be a baker.
♣ Bread mix notwithstanding, I have actually been fairly productive all week long. Besides the usual daily tasks of cleaning litter boxes and cutting and pasting text from other sites to post as my own, I've played my trumpet some, continued work on the Paravia Wiki, and used the stationary bike for 15 minutes a day. That's not a lot, but too much exercise and I would look anorexic, like an Asian Nicole Richie.
♣ In addition to intellectual plagiarism, I also reuse old pictures and hope that no one remembers seeing them before. I'm guessing that my site readers have a very limited memory period and anything far in the past is fair game to reintroduce as new content. On Monday, I'll probably talk about going to Fugue class.
♣ Before we get to Monday though, we have to get through the weekend. This weekend will involve another online course for work, a little grocery shopping, and some Vintage Virginia Wine Festival time. Sunday is blocked off for the cornerstone-laying ceremony of my other bathroom (They call it the master bathroom, but it's even smaller than the hall version).
♣ Over the month of June, my dad and I will transform this bathroom into a near exact replica of the electric blue beauty you have already seen here. In July, I'll be installing some hydraulic presses that will randomly swap the two bathrooms while people are inside, so they never know for sure where they are pooping.
♣ Have a great weekend!When not to use your pick up lines
Google launches Street View
EW on the LOST Finale
Friday the 1st: Came home from work around noon with an order of Popeyes and cleaned the house. Went to the home of the now-graduated-from-high-school Becca in Chantilly (who, in a geriatrics-inducing way, will be in the Class of '11 at Virginia Tech, which is ten years after my own class). Watched some 4400 with Anna and Ben, played some Apples to Apples and lost at one of the fourteen billion Mario Party games.
Saturday the 2nd: Went to the Vintage Virginia Wine Festival at Bull Run with Kathy and Rebecca. Ran into Gordon Dodson, a.k.a. "Flip Flop" at the very first wine tent and did the two-and-a-half-minute "what have you been up to since college, well gotta go" recap. Sampled fourteen billion wines from thirteen billion Virginia wineries (including Barboursville and Ingleside) and ate smuggled-in Subway subs in the back of a shady seminar tent.
Listened to yuppies talk out their asses about wine characteristics and made fun of UVA frat boys in pink khaki shorts, blue collar shirt, and tie. Marvelled at the sheer bulk of humanity able to fit on the fairgrounds, and enough bottles of wine to christen a boat the size of Brazil. Ended the night at Red Rocks Canyon grill in Centreville with a very tasty bacon cheeseburger that was actually cooked lawsuit-medium-rare rather than the usual nonlitigious-burnt.
Sunday the 3rd: Cleared out the master bathroom like an old man with a bottle of Ex-Lax. Installed a new medicine cabinet, laid the baseboard for the ceramic tile, and made a half-inch slice in my middle finger which became a veritable geyser of platelets for about five minutes. I hadn't intended to paint my bathtub red, but now it has polka dots.
Eased the pain with a glass of Ecco Domani Pinot Grigot and a nap, and then went on babysitting duty with Ella for a couple hours while her mother indulged her out-of-control crystal meth habit and/or visited a friend's new baby in the hospital near my house. Went to bed around 10:30, ready for another week of fun and excitement at work, hopefully full of situations where I can make up new adjectives by putting hyphens-between-several-random-words.Lord of the Rings set: It's a trap
Harry Potter theme park heading for Florida
Move over Viagra, spider bites are where it's at
Obsessively: (adv.) in a compulsive mannerMy Composition (0:29 MP3)
The first concept that popped into my head after randomly generating this adverb was "worrying", in the "worry the end of a rope until it frays" sense, not the "my teenager has trails under his nose and I worry he has a cocaine habit" sense. I was originally going to do a pure piano thing, starting with the diminished vamp and becoming a C minor 6 pedal, but the end result didn't have as much tension as I wanted, so I trashed most of it around the ten minute mark and rewrote it with drums and basses instead.
Happy Birthday Rob Kelley!A quick smoke is good for the wings
Request for Urban Street Sightings
Lack of women feeds the Neo-Nazis
Memory Day: To Grandmother's House
If you were to tally up all the vacation days I spent outside of my hometown as a child, the bulk of them would take place in Burton, Michigan (a small town of 30,000 just outside of Flint). Michigan was the home of my grandparents on my mother's side, and the defacto place for my parents to dump the kids on extended holidays and revisit that long-lost concept, the "quiet house". The town of Burton was on the dulling edge of modernism, boasting a shopping mall roughly the length of a basketball court with a Little Professor bookstore and an indoor fountain.
In Alexandria, we would pile into our peach Nissan Stanza (license plate XVX-881) at 7 AM for the ten hour trip north (despite continued attempts by my Dad to leave at 6) and journey forth with a McDonald's hashbrown stop in Breezewood, Pennsylvania, and a rest stop in Ohio chosen based upon a complex mathematical equation which included how many sodas were consumed, how many empty screw-cap bottles we had in the car, and whether or not the Pennsylvania Turnpike had made my sister carsick. Once we'd passed the "you must be this tall to catch a connecting flight" line, my sister and I would get bundled onto a Delta flight through Dayton, to arrive in Flint that much quicker.
The first dinner of every trip was always my grandma's macaroni and beef casserole, which is probably why I eat a lot of Beefaroni today (just like the mandatory manual labour in kindergarten is responsible for the fact that I am 125 pounds of unadulterated monster truck force now). My parents would then depart the following morning and the vacation would officially begin.
My grandparents lived in a moderately sized rambler with a backyard that could comfortably accomodate a herd of migrant wildebeests -- it had an attic room over the garage and a dank, scary unfinished basement that I refused to go into for many years because it resembled a scene from the original Psycho movie which I somehow ended up watching before I was 10. Every house in the neighbourhood had well water, which was slightly more appetizing than pee pee.
As a kid, I had vacations that were true and pure of heart, ones where there were too many days to plan out, and never any worries about a premature ending or the return of the school year. My sister and I would wake up leisurely in the morning for a homemade breakfast of pancakes and bacon (or a weekly trip to the local Scotty's) while watching poorly animated cartoons on HBO like Tom Sawyer and Belle and Sebastian, followed by the more high-class Adventures of Babar. After this would be a full hour of I Love Lucy which was deemed safe for kids.
At ten o' clock, we would be ejected from the TV room because HBO would start showing PG-13 movies. It might have been a conspiracy, since my grandpa's favourite game shows and soap operas started soon afterwards. For the rest of the day, we gallivanted between four major areas:
- The Attic: The little room over the garage was defined by its regulation-size pool table. Pool, though, is a little slow-paced for kids, so we would often play a variant of air hockey which involved my sister and I taking opposite ends of the table and rolling balls at each other in real-time, followed by much yelling from my grandpa. The attic also had a working bar where we could pretend to be raging alcoholics, and two closets filled to the brim with childhood artifacts of my mom and her brother. I spent plenty of time playing with a mock slot machine that ejected slugs when you got three cherries, or building an obstable course with the 1940s era building blocks and setting up dominos to knock down through it (because no one really knows how to play the game of dominos). This attic is also where I amassed most of my current record collection and learned the magic of the Peanuts through the original comic anthologies.
- The Neighbours': Next door lived the Beard family, whose house boasted a woodworking shop (where Mr. Beard made me my beloved practice sword which I wielded for years until my ADD friend, Tony, bashed it against a tree until it snapped), a full-sized pool, and an in-ground trampoline. Most mornings, I would spend a couple hours doing death-defying feats on the trampoline and then innocently wandering around the pool area until Mr. Beard noticed me and removed the pool cover for the day. The pool had a slide and a diving board, but strangely, I didn't really like swimming unless it was over 88 degrees. This was also where I got the scar on my knee (I was running in the Don't Run area). Going to the Beard's was a catch-22 some days, because they had some very spoiled grandkids that insisted things always go their way in games. One week, my sister and I convinced our grandma to tell them we were on a trip for a week when they came over, and we spent the rest of the week hidden inside.
- The Living Room: In the living room, we read books from the local library, played board games, invented new board games, had Easter Egg hunts, and tried to play with the surly cat, Cody, who would inevitably scratch someone. Once, Cody brought a dead bird into the house, hid it, and I stepped on it in the dark. This room is also where we did our mandated 30 minutes of practice on the piano, since our parents figured that summer vacation was the perfect time to turn us into little Asian virtuosos. Twenty years later, and I can play the first movement of the Clementi sonatina from memory. In the winter, the fireplace was a major novelty, not only because I am a pyromaniac, but also because our fireplace at home was always irrepairably broken and I thought this was a tragedy.
- The Yard: When I was a kid, Michigan had the largest, most painful mosquitos in the Western Hemisphere, and I probably caught malaria at least three times. When the weather was humid enough to prevent giant mosquito attacks, we would play in the yard, climbing apple trees, picking fresh vegetables from the garden, or making a fort in the tiny woods next to the property. I actually buried some treasure in my fort with a map leading to it, so it's probably still there today, buried under a decade and a half of dirt and pine needles. Since the treasure consisted mainly of slot machine slugs, I doubt it's worth the effort to dig up.
There were many more memories from Michigan, like the clay figurine painting phase, the mortifying playing of TAPS every night, and the week long Mankala championship, but these will have to wait for another day. What do you remember from your grandparents' house?Help! Mom! There Are Liberals Under My Bed!
Couple turns passion for 'Star Wars' movies into fantasy wedding
London Olympic logo is hideous
What Celebrity Do You Look Like? II
Some old-timers may recall that I did a feature over a year ago where I matched your faces to the celebrities you most resemble. Now that we are all taller and fatter, I thought it'd be interesting to revisit the results with a different subset of URI! Zone readers. Try it yourself at MyHeritage.com!FOX: All black congressmen look the same
Staring at dogs is cruel
Using the handicapped as hood ornaments
because I have the day off and you don't
♣ Today's post is probably slightly later than usual because I took a day of leave (which means I only have 256 hours, or 32 full days left, OH NO) following an evening of sheepish debauchery. Actually, I had planned on taking leave, but worked so many extra hours at the beginning of the week that I get the day for free! That's economic.
♣ Last night was Lamb Night 2007. A few folks came over for dinner and I slaughtered one of the sheep that lives on the common ground behind my house. I cooked my signature tomato lamb garnished with rosemary, and a side of instant mashed potatoes. It shear was great. My freezer was full of stale-tasting ice from the last barbeque, so I dumped it in the sink, then I pulled wool over my ice to make it melt faster.
♣ The newspapers are filled with stories about the icebergs in Greenland which are melting much faster than expected which means that Florida only has a few years left before it's 50 square miles and invaded by Georgia for annexation. I'm not sure who would win in a fight, an army of farm boys or an army of Cubans. Either group could probably kick Alabama's ass though, despite its little finger-shaped connection to the Gulf of Mexico.
♣ My finger is healing very nicely following the chocolate fountain (of blood) incident in the bathtub last weekend. It looked a lot grosser than this on the first couple days, but this isn't one of those Internet Gore sites. This, however, is.
♣ There are way too many Presidential candidates at the moment, and I bet even more are running as I type this. They should hogtie a random 50% of the candidates and mail them to Norway, since most of them have the same chance to win an election that Harry Potter 7 has to get released without someone leaking the ending.
♣ Speaking of Harry Potter, Ella told me that she either wanted to be a wizard or the conductor of the National Symphony Orchestra when she grows up. I told her to pick magic over music, because the Arts will be dead within the decade, but there's a chance that someone will learn how to cast spells by the time she grows up. You can decide which she'd be better at by playing music behind this animated picture, or by shouting out LIGHTNING BOLT! like she's casting a spell.
♣ My weekend is pretty packed. You can tell I'm a social butterfly because I got three e-vites. If you've never received an e-vite, it's an online party invitation with a complete list of guests and their RSVP notices. The proper etiquette is to view it every day to see who's replied, but not to reply until the day before the party when you are sure that you like everyone else who's going.
♣ Jack Bristow: It must've been lost in the mail.
Sydney Bristow: Your invitation?
Jack Bristow: Unless it was an e-vite. I don't read e-vites.
♣ Tonight, I'm going out to the Starbucks at Bailey's Crossroad to hear a free Rebecca Berlin performance, the hometown singer I plugged back in February. On Saturday, I plan on stopping by work for a bit to check on some long-running processes (which are also still running as I type this) before some lunch plans. In the evening, I'm going to Jack's "Creepy CIA Torture House" to celebrate Kristy's graduation from business school. Sunday is bathroom-work day, followed by the Baptism of Eleanor Potter of Hogwarts in the afternoon.
♣ Today is Mike Polson's birthday, and Sunday is Chris Sharp's birthday, both old T.C. Williamsers. Happy Birthday! Have a great weekend!Students invent powdered alcohol
Rob Lowe gets a birdie
Minister ticketed for wrath against speeders
List Day: Ten Things I Still Don't Understand
I still don't understand...
Don't forget, tomorrow is 12 of 12!Cops kick the wrong groin in
City cancels annoying performance ads
Man pays underage girls to feel a little prick
Relatives of the Virginia Tech massacre victims said yesterday that they had not been granted representation on the panel investigating the killings and described themselves as "both angry and disappointed."
At the risk of sounding unsympathetic, I'd say that the relatives of victims in the shooting have about as much of a right to be on the investigation committee as I have to call myself a professional basketball player (although this might be a bad analogy since I was on the music theory basketball team that had an unbroken 16 game streak). The purpose of the panel is to examine the incident from an unbiased perspective and determine if anything can be done to prevent future incidents. I'd guess that the most effective panel would be made up of experts -- experts on gun transactions, mental health, and police / emergency responses.
Unless one of those relatives is an expert in a pertinent field, they have no right or privilege to be on the panel, and would be of no use in helping it reach any conclusions. They can read the published findings with the rest of us non-panelists -- on the aisle display at Costco.
Lambasting is fun though -- especially with tomato sauce.
NASA surveillance captures giant plume from Io's erupting volcano
This five-frame sequence of New Horizons images captures the giant plume from Io's Tvashtar volcano. Snapped by the probe's Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) as the spacecraft flew past Jupiter earlier this year, this first-ever "movie" of an Io plume clearly shows motion in the cloud of volcanic debris, which extends 330 kilometers (200 miles) above the moon's surface.
In related news, accusations began to fly almost immediately on Capitol Hill over which administration officials leaked information about the plume to the press and whether Scooter Libby was involved.
As ancient readers can attest, I'm not a big fan of spending money for space exploration. Pictures from space like this one are neat, but are they really a billion dollars worth of neatness? Is seeing a distant planet barf into space going to teach us something about survival on our own planet? If we really want to get something useful out of space exploration, we should find a way to blast Maryland (and maybe Delaware) into orbit.
Happy Birthday Mike Schoen!
Don't forget, today is 12 of 12!Pentagon sought to build a gay bomb
Butts charged with stealing toilet paper
Captchas are too hard
Chad Darnell's 12 of 12
5:35 AM: These ghost cats which haunt me at night almost run too fast for me to catch them on film. Almost.
5:46 AM: Getting ready for work in a different bathroom, just to mix things up (or because the other bathroom is under construction and has no sink).
5:53 AM: Like a grade school bully, Amber likes to accidentally-on-purpose bump into Booty for no good reason.
6:06 AM: Things to do on one-lane roads when the guy in front of you is traveling 20 mph in a 35 mph zone: Take pictures of the sunrise.
6:29 AM: I predict that this last vestige of unadulterated skyline in Reston will be vanquished within five years.
7:55 AM: My office hasn't changed much since two months ago, apart from the All-You-Can-Eat Steak Dispenser in the corner (not pictured).
8:42 AM: Breakfast!
9:26 AM: Taking a break from work to water the plant, which was abandoned by my previous officemate two years ago and is still hanging in there. Since I now work for him, it might be a devious recording device to catch me slacking off -- I think it's a plant.
12:45 PM: Bonus Picture "Secret": A snapshot of a presentation on my whiteboard with all the juicy parts blacked out.
2:58 PM: At a light on the Parkway. It looks like those condos are being protected from harmful cumulus clouds by the pedestrian overpass, but that would be too sci-fi for Fairfax County.
4:45 PM: Cleaning the grout residue off the new ceramic tiles in bathroom A.
5:30 PM: In the basement, nonchalantly playing double high Gs.
6:12 PM: Dinner during the thunderstorm: Velveeta Shells and Cheese with bacon bits. Booty is sitting in the background, hoping I drop something.
Doing Away with Dewey
Pants suer leaves courtroom in tears
- Last weekend, we went to hear Rebecca Berlin at a local Starbucks which was not much larger than I am (and not nearly as good-looking, of course). She rotated sets with her sister, and played a few songs together as well. Overall, it was a strong performance, despite the fact that Starbucks never turned off their piped-in background music. I bought a copy of her demo CD, which you might enjoy if you're into coffeehousey singy music -- her voice isn't perfectly polished, but it's pretty damn good for a young'n.
- New on my playlist this month:
- Charlatans UK - Title Fight (1:19 MP3)
- Chat a Nuga - Dance a Little (1:14 MP3)
- The Feeling - Never Be Lonely
- J Geils Band - Freeze Frame
- Magnet and Gemma Hayes - Lay Lady Lady (1:06 MP3)
- The Ordinary Boys - I Luv You
- The Rasmus - In the Shadows
- Scissor Sisters - Land of A Thousand Words
- The Vines - Ride
- I really like the timbre of Gemma Hayes' voice.
- Kathy also loaned me a copy of her latest addiction, Life in Cartoon Motion by Mika. It's a very solid album which takes the basic conventions of pop and distorts them through a fun-house mirror -- kind of The Darkness meets the Scissor Sisters. Mika is at his weakest when he tries to do straight pop tunes, but there are only a couple of them on the CD.
- I haven't heard any good music on American stations recently -- just more of the same garbage. I do have enough crappy bands tallied up now for an Annual Musical Suck Competition, where bands like The Fray, Three Doors Down, StainD, and Nickelback, can compete for a Horrible Music trophy which I will award. The trophy will be a rotten head of lettuce -- not because it's symbolic, but because I have one in my fridge and I don't plan on actually spending any money on this competition.
- Another recent CD which I bought to use in my daily game of Solo Musical Chairs is Simpatico by the Charlatans UK. The group has evolved away from harder rock, and this album is a more mellow, reggae/ska-inspired collection which works quite well as background music. The only reason I wouldn't recommend it is because it's one of those idiotic Enhanced CDs that won't play in a computer.
- The most disturbing song on the radio right now is, without a doubt, I Wanna Have Your Babies by Natasha Bedingfield (0:32 MP3). I don't particularly want to see babies "springing up like daisies".
- The last CD in my quarterly CD binge is Tired of Hanging Around by the Zutons which is solid all the way through. The group plays simple rock-oriented songs with driving beats and catchy hooks. The lead singer isn't great, but male rock singers are better when they have a memorable voice rather than a pretty one (see also, Steven Tyler vs. Morrissey). This CD was definitely worth the price.
- I occasionally hear the unique voice of Ellie Lawson on the radio, but I can never find her CD. She doesn't seem to exist in any secret MP3 repositories online either.
- Museday Tuesday has been effective at getting my hand back in the composing game. I never planned on doing it every Tuesday, but I'll probably rotate a Museday in whenever the news is too boring for Newsday. I'm currently working on a Spanish tune, tentatively titled "The Chootanaga Cha Cha".
- What do you think of this week's music? Do you want to have my babies? Do you want to go to the discotheque? Share your thoughts in the Comments section!
- Rebecca Berlin - California (1:20 MP3)
Rebecca Berlin - Monochrome (1:10 MP3)
- Mika - Grace Kelly (0:42 MP3)
Mika - Love Today (0:50 MP3)
- Charlatans UK - Blackened Blue Eyes (1:20 MP3)
- Zutons - Tired of Hanging Around (1:14 MP3)
Zutons - Oh Stacey (0:47 MP3)
I think that croc is a crock
George Bush and the Vanishing Watch
an effective tool for keeping yourself physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight
♣ I spent Wednesday evening holed up in the under-construction bathroom. I was either busy sanding down the spackled walls for painting (and, in the process, inhaling fourteen cubic tons of spackle dust so I can sneeze out a lifesize figurine of Scooby Doo in about three days) or composing a video ransom message from my terrorist cell. I have the bomb made. Have you cleaned your sniper rifle yet?
♣ Several years ago when I used to play first-person-shooter games, I was always the annoying guy holed up with the sniper rifle, picking people off from afar -- especially on that UT2004 capture the flag map with two tall buildings and a long narrow path between them. CAMP.
♣ I actually haven't gone camping since the trip to Virginia Beach in 2001. You could get a motel room for over $100 a night, or you could pitch a tent for a few dollars a day, not unlike a transient at a peep show. I don't even own a sleeping bag anymore -- most of my camping gear probably vanished from my parents' basement in the Great Purges of 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, and 2002.
♣ I'm also in the process of researching mountain bikes, because I've decided it's ridiculous that I've lived a mile from the WO&D trail for three years and haven't ridden on it. I also realize that it's W&OD, but that really doesn't have the same flow, so I have officially changed its name.
♣ The other day when I was driving down the Toll Road, I saw a biker of the motor variety on one of those hogs where the handlebars are incredibly high compared to the seat. Normally this would have evoked macishmo, but since he was only about five feet tall, it just looked like he was hanging on for dear life.
♣ My pet peeve of the moment is sites that have introductions -- I don't care that you licensed twenty seconds of the Rolling Stones and have concentric circles of primary color flying around in a Flash applet. I have yet to go to a site where I didn't click the SKIP INTRO button immediately. Intro'd sites are one place behind sites that automatically play music or sound when you load them -- I'll admit that my own site used to do that, but that was in 1997 when it was artistic, not annoying, of course.
♣ This weekend, I have a day trip planned to Fredericksburg, the quaint city which was recently labelled as the new southern boundary for the "Washington Metropolitan Area". With D.C. oozing across the map like a political stain of yuppies and SUVs, it won't be long until our region stretches as far south as Williamsburg. It will be nice to be able to enter any subway station and ride the Magenta Line to Busch Gardens, where Phil can make some phone calls and get us in for free -- but that's at least four years away, given the slow rate at which we build subways.
♣ Tomorrow is Kerry Sugrue's birthday, and Sunday is Goatzilla's birthday. Happy Birthday! Have a great weekend!Women want to marry their dad
Man attacked by a swordfish snout
Letters from an Arsonist
Friday the 15th: I had last Friday off from work, and spent the morning getting Anna to set up a Facebook account. I also turned her baby into an animatronic prop so everyone can feel like they're on the It's a Small World ride whenever Anna posts in the Comments section. In the afternoon, I took the Metro into D.C. to meet Rebecca after work for the Jazz in the Garden series that occurs every Friday night at the National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden.
I didn't actually take any pictures of any sculptures, since pictures of random people you don't know are far more voyeuristically interesting than misshapen metal chunks, but you can presume that my manly chiselled features were indicative of the types of sculpted work one might see at such a Garden. We ordered two pitchers of sangria, both white and red, sat on a blanket, and listened to an avant-garde soprano saxophonist play incomprehensible duets with a tenor.
Jazz makes people hungry, as evidenced by the Great New Orleans Famine of 1929, and rather than order a tiny pizza for $6 in the Garden we decided to go to a real restaurant. After an aborted foray into some Indian place where we had them set up a table for ten, used their facilities, and then left because it was too expensive, we ended up at the Chinatown Express, located (surprisingly) in Chinatown. They had some excellent shrimp lo mein there which I ate with a fork, since chopsticks are not my forte unless a piano is involved. After dinner, we split off into groups of "young, not tired, going to a club" and "old and tired, possibly with plans on Saturday", with the protagonist of this story being in the latter group. We made it back to the West Falls Church Metro stop where Rebecca promptly lost her wallet, and after a quick but failed search in the darkness, I drove home to Sterling around 1 AM.
Saturday the 16th: After waking up a scant five hours later, I stocked Booty up on food and margarita mix, and drove back to Falls Church where I used my super-sleuthing abilities (learned from reading Mystery Sneakers in third grade) to find the missing wallet inside the car. With gas money in hand, we drove down to Fredericksburg -- rather, I was chauffeured to Fredericksburg thanks to my lame "I can't drive a manual" excuse -- to visit some childhood friends of Rebecca who were graduating from various milestones of life like high school and college.
Following an all-morning brunch with millions of cousins and grandkids and at least eight cats (one of which decided to groom grandma), we went into Old Town Fredericksburg for soft-serve at Carl's and a trip to Edwin's wine shop, Virginia Wine Experience. Although Edwin was at the beach this weekend, we still slipped into a Tasting, sampled a bunch of wine and left with a bottle of Riesling, shoplifted in my Fake-Stomach-Rolls compartment.
From Old Town, we returned to Rebecca's friends' parents' home, but the parents had gone to a wedding, and since none of the related folks in our gang actually lived there anymore, no one had a key. To remedy this situation, I broke in through a low second-floor window and saved the day, showing that crime does sometimes pay.
Sunday the 17th: A Super Big Two-Dwo at Friendly's for a late breakfast was followed by a trip to Petsmart to see the new kittens. Being a yuppy cat owner, I also picked up a new toy for Amber, since all of her other toys are worn hand-me-downs that smell like Booty. It looks like a Loofa in the picture, but it's actually a fuzzy sheep that can be filled up with bags of catnip. Amber played with it nonstop for about twenty minutes, doing her patented "Dave McGarry Backhand" to throw the toy down the hall and then chasing it. The rest of the day was dedicated to hardcore relaxing.
How was your weekend?Lesson of the Day: Share your cookies
North Korea's next target will be cell phone users in the left lane
Fake Exxon reps propose to burn humanity for fuel
in which I have thirty minutes to write a thirty second song
Spikiest: (adj.) Having the most sharp projecting pointsMy Composition (0:30 MP3)
This week, I permanently changed the rules for picking the title to use adjectives instead of adverbs -- whenever I used an adverb before, I just went by the adjectivial definition anyhow. When Spikiest came up, the first thing to enter my mind was a bulked-up cartoon porcupine brashly trying to convince his peers that he is, indeed, the spikiest. I wanted to get a metallic treble aura of fat eight-note piano triads filled with the slicing ka-chunk of not-quite-together downbeats. The transition in the middle is a little rough, but I think this is one that I could expand into a larger work. With more than thirty minutes, I would have smoothed out the transition, and added an incredibly loud woodblock to the second half like a metronome.Toddler starting early
Problems at O'Hare Airport
Grocery stores find more ways to make you do all the work
List Day: Five Habits of the Past
- As a kid, I often read books on the stairs while standing on my head. I would generally start out at the top of the stairs with the book hanging over the edge, and then gravity would abuse me until my head was on the third step upside-down. The books were oriented normally with my head, so I didn't actually read them upside-down.
- When I was in seventh grade, I would run between all my classes, because it was fun to run. For all the bell-schedule-themed years that followed, my route between classes would be a complex circuit based upon the location of all the cute girls' lockers and classrooms. One year I actually went from a classroom in the basement, up to the second floor, and back down to the basement, just to say hello to the crush-of-the-year.
- Our Crew boathouse was next to an inlet with a small island of broken concrete accessible only at low tide -- apparently some misguided naturalist's attempt at creating a breakwater. Because the rowers from the middle-class junior high school arrived an hour before the upper-class junior high, we had extra time which was supposed to be devoted to "homework" (a French term for throwing rocks at all the glass bottles washed up in the sludge). Every afternoon when the tides cooperated, I would take a book out to this island and read in solitude. Once I stayed too long and had to wade back.
- In high school, I shaved my face using hand soap. Because the Asian race is essentially hairless in the facial area, I didn't see the point in buying a whole can of shaving cream. In college, I shaved so rarely that I was able to stretch one of those "Welcome to the Dorm" sampler cans of shaving cream for the entire year. In fact, I still have a sampler bottle of aftershave from year three that's half full.
- When I took summer classes at NOVA, I once had two evening classes with an hour break in the middle. Every Tuesday evening, I would go to the nearby McDonald's for a dinner plate of Chicken McNuggets and fries. I have not had McDonald's since April 5th of this year -- I seem to end up at Chick-fila or Popeyes more often.
Share some of your own habits in the Comments section!The Life of a Chinese Gold Farmer
Honey, the baby's spacewalking
A tall frosty glass of pizza
Audience Participation Day: Census Time
We're celebrating three separate birthdays today: Daniel Bethancourt, a friend from grade school who I haven't heard from in about four years, Liz Benyo, the soprano from Tech who also vanished into the nether, and Chris Smith, who is Kathy's sugardaddy. Happy Birthday!
To celebrate this trifecta of ancient-baby-deliveries, I've created the first annual URI! Zone census to get a snapshot of the disparate humanity that comes here. (Birthdays are related to censuses because censuses measure population, and people in the population are usually born at some point). This census has seven questions, which can easily be answered by everyone:
- Who are you?
- How do you know me?
- How did you find this site?
- When did you start reading?
- What is your favourite themed Day?
- Where is your website?
- What would you like to say to the rest of us?
If you are reading this entry, you should definitely take the census by clicking on the "census responses" link in the lower-right corner of this entry. You don't have to be eloquent or grammatically correct, you just have to be a reader. This includes EVERYONE, including the ever-silent Jim Barry and all the other lurkers who visit but never say anything like my Dad. I know you're all out there and would love to hear from you!
To spice things up, every person that answers the census by the end of the month will have the chance to win a $5 gift certificate to Amazon.com (since Amazon gift certificates have apparently become the legal tender of the URI! Zone). Say hello today and don't make me resort to census acts of violence!Man kidnapped, hunted in the woods
Gnomes smuggling illegal aliens
From robber to robbed
ending the week with all the style of a hillbilly clown in a tuxedo
♣ The end of June has quite a few overlapping birthdays which means that a lot of parents were "doin' the dirty" at the end of September. On the birthday menu today are Rebecca and Brianne -- happy birthday! For a gift, they each get a fake party hat Photoshopped onto their stolen pictures.
♣ Photoshopping stolen pictures is the best. If I don't get 100% participation in yesterday's census, Chompy is going to be completely shaved, greased up, and pushed down a Slip N' Slide.
♣ I never owned a Slip N' Slide when I was a kid, since we did the more traditional (read: cheaper) "jump through the sprinkler while Dad waters the grass" entertainment available. Then again, water sports were never my favourite -- I was the guy on the Roman Rapids ride who tried to switch seats to avoid waterfalls. I hated walking around in wet clothes -- it really put a damper on my theme park enjoyment.
♣ I haven't been to a theme park since we all took a trip to Cedar Point in 2003. I always liked Busch Gardens more than King's Dominion, and not just because Phil reads this site -- it felt less trashy and least-common-denominator even if it had fewer rides. Plus, I always liked the show with the magician and the cauldron in Britain.
♣ One rule of thumb for boys in theme parks is that no matter how cool the rides are, they will always be drawn to the video arcade. It doesn't matter if the games cost four dollars and are exactly the same as the arcade back home -- they will want to play at least once before they leave.
♣ As a kid, I went on a weeklong RV camping trip with James and his parents and brought along my Super Nintendo. We spent a good three of the days playing Zelda until his step-mom got pissed off and kicked us out of the RV to experience nature. The picture on the right has nothing to do with this fragment, but Photoshop is Phun.
♣ It wasn't the cool kind of RV that you could ride in though -- it was a collapsible trailer that hitched onto the back of a truck which meant that we spent most of the trip cramped in the mini-cab seats littered with empty beer cans. (They don't teach kids that this is a warning sign until at least the ninth grade so we were oblivious to drinking and driving, but thankfully he didn't drink on this trip).
♣ The weekend is, once again, pretty booked up. This evening will include festivities for Rebecca's birthday in Arlington at another Mexican restaurant (we ate at one last night too, for Chris' birthday). Tomorrow, Jack and Kristy are getting married at Holy Trinity in DC followed by a reception at a country club in Great Falls. It will probably be pretty high class since you aren't even allowed to drive into Great Falls unless your median income exceeds a certain level. I'm hoping for an open shrimp bar like the one at Phil's wedding. On Sunday, my Dad and I will be finishing off work in the bathroom. Sunday is also Nikki (Giraldi) Homoroc's birthday. Happy Birthday!
♣ Have a great weekend!Man vs. bobcat
Pair told not to name son '4real'
Men look at faces in sexy pictures, except when the news story doesn't show the face
Marriage Media Monday
Jack and Kristy were married on Saturday and are currently spending nine days in Fiji for their honeymoon! Jack is the oldest childhood friend that I still regularly keep in touch with. Booty likes ribbons.
The ceremony was held at the Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Georgetown. The bridal party outnumbered the guests fourteen-thousand and five to one.
After the ceremony, guests threw a rice substitute that smelled like candy (and, according to at least one guest, tasted like it too). Jack was confused by the rapidly foaming champagne. Paparazzi photographers abounded.
I'm only including this picture for the womenfolk. All women have a centerpiece fetish.
The reception was held at the River Bend Country Club in Great Falls and the filet mignon was so soft you could cut it just by staring at it.
The first dance was done to "Fly Me To the Moon" and involved at least four spins. Jack must have done some hardcore practicing.
After dancing, all the guests who couldn't afford the eighty-thousand dollar membership fee of the country club took advantage of the empty greens before being chased away by sprinklers.
There are more pictures up on my Facebook account, and I'll get them added to the Photos section here in the next couple weeks.Contest winner has 5 years to claim 50-year-old buried car
YouTube, the 20-Year-Old, and Date Unknown
New York pays for arresting topless woman
An article in yesterday's Post reported that major construction work on the $676 million Mixing Bowl project in northern Virginia has been completed. The treacherous throbbing ulcer where Interstates 95, 395, and 495, and numerous local roads converge now flows much more freely than before. However, there are early indications that all is not well in the land of poorly chosen cooking analogies -- some drivers are getting lost!
Drivers complain of counterintuitive highway splits where they must head to the left to ultimately go right and head to the right to go left. They worry about staying in the left lane of the Beltway and winding up heading to Richmond.
In counterpoint, natives of New Jersey have praised the new ramps as "100% intuitive" and "the way things should be".
"It feels just like home," says Milly Franklin of Piscataway. "All I need now is a full-service gas station."
"It's doing the opposite of what people expect," said John Ulaszek of Arlington County, who commutes daily through the interchange and reports plenty of close calls. He sometimes takes his camera to record the skid marks on the pavement and the last-minute lane changes.
Virginia Department of Transportation officials have also confirmed a recent upswing in accidents caused by "morons trying to take pictures while driving through the Mixing Bowl", but stopped short of labelling Mr. Ulaszek as part of the problem, saying only that it was an interesting spike, and not yet statistically significant.
"It's like putting the hot and cold knobs on the opposite side of the sink, and people can't understand why they just got scalded," [Ulaszek] said.
Fortunately for the human race, conditioning will allow even the lowliest of animals to stop scalding themselves on the hot water, even if they have anterograde memory loss like Sammy Jenkis. We may be confused by the roads now, but after a few trips it will become second nature. Said Tom (of LOST fame), "It only took the bears two hours".
"I confess to being victimized by it," [spokesman for AAA Mid-Atlantic] Anderson said. Several weeks ago, he was on the inner loop of the Beltway and found himself on a ramp to I-95 toward Richmond. "I was like, 'Whoa! This is the Springfield exit. How did we get here?' " Anderson recalled.
According to the rest of the account, Anderson's passenger was like, "Dude, where's your car going?" and Anderson was like, "What the eff, man!" The pair then pulled off at the Franconia Road IHOP for some late night pancakes, as Anderson was "sporting a major case of the munchies".
Anderson and his passenger's harrowing journey is not unique though -- other drivers have reported being victimized by the Mixing Bowl in a like manner. One young couple visiting from Bulgaria reported that the I-495 ramp towards the Woodrow Wilson bridge stole their lunch money. The couple did not wish to be identified, fearing reprisals on their return trip, but said through an interpreter, "This is the last time we go to Rehoboth Beach. America can suck it."
No sign can cure the core reason for confusion at the new Springfield interchange: Three highways still meet there, all of which end in "95," and one of which -- the Beltway -- travels in a circle.
Or maybe this sign can, and BU lands it.
Guy with a post-it note and five minutes: 1
Even without a sign, there's still a 33% chance you'll end up on the correct highway, and since a circle is involved, you'll eventually get to the right place most of the time. I love it when a circle is involved.
In one section of Old Keene Mill Road, sympathetic project officials painted the highway symbols onto the roadway to let drivers know the correct lane to be in. But painting similar symbols onto the highway lanes would cause more confusion because so many lanes are shared, they said.
VDOT officials also revealed that their road-painting initiative backfired when local pranksters put their own symbols on an unfinished road leading over a cliff. Thankfully no one was injured, though many drivers were still on the lookout for free beer when they crawled out of the twisted, smoking wreckage of their cars.
Leighton Cooper, 17, goes through the Mixing Bowl twice a day, heading between Clinton and a private high school in Oakton. But even he sometimes gets confused. One time he wound up on I-395 heading toward the District.
School guidance counselors downplayed the role of the Mixing Bowl in this confusion, noting that the student's parents had named him Leighton. They also pointed out that the public school kid was still sitting in his driveway trying to start the car by jamming a carrot in the ignition.
Meanwhile, the home-schooled kid (who was unaffected by a commute for obvious reasons) had assigned himself an independent study project that modelled the flow of traffic through the Mixing Bowl as a viscous fluid. He won $25,000 in a DuPont-sponsored science fair which he spent on a full-time bodyguard to protect him from the public school bullies who preyed on him during his daily unicycle rides around the neighbourhood.Frozen beer on a stick sells like hotcakes
Customs might steal your sausage
Plaintiff loses $54M pants case
Memory Day: Food
Happy Birthday Jared Gibbs and Kerry Crowley!Everything's Green for Home Depot
Wimbledon invasion of mice and men
One-eyed gator pulls golfer into pond
Capsule Review Day
There are no major spoilers in these reviews.
The 4400 Season 3:
The third season of this show was just as strong as the first two, and showed a definitely overarching storyline that makes me excited for the fourth season. The only misstep was the returning character of Isabelle. Whether it was the part or the actress, she was annoying in the beginning and stupidly-evil in the end (à la Melissa George's eyebrows in Alias). One of the things I really like about this series is that each season is only twelve or thirteen episodes long, so something important happens in every episode (unlike the LOST episodes, "Jack gets a tattoo" and "Hurley drives a van"). Disc Two had some permanent blemishes that made about four minutes of the episodes freeze, but I got the gist of the scenes through subtitles anyhow.
Final Grade: A-
Very funny but overhyped, and my patented BUtt system for measuring a movie's length by how tired I get of sitting around said the movie was about ten minutes too long. The shock-humour is more effective than the romantic angle, especially since weeks of movie-world time seem to pass without mention. For example, it's a little jarring when the main characters say they're in love after only a single "courting/bonding" scene, but then you realize that three or four months have passed. At least throw a montage in! Definitely worth a rental.
Final Grade: B
Scrubs, Season 5:
This is easily the weakest of the five seasons I've watched, but it's still on more than it's off. I burned through the entire season in about three days since each episode is only about 18 minutes long. To an extent, it felt like the writers were running low on ideas -- just when I was feeling like the episodes were nothing but slight rewrites of older ideas, there was actually a self-deprecating episode which showed that everything was merely a repeat of earlier seasons.
Final Grade: A-
Thank You for Smoking:
A quick-and-fun satire about a lobbyist trying to spin cigarettes to be a good thing. Funny while it lasted and over before it dragged or hurt my butt.
Final Grade: B+
Sandisk Titanium Cruzer USB Flash Drive:
This handy little flash drive is roughly the size of a Tallahassee cockroach and has a 2 GB capacity. It plugs into any computer without needing to install drivers, and transfers files about as fast as a regular hard drive. After a coupon rebate, I got it for $30 at Costco, and it's been well worth the money. It even survived a trip through the washing machine and worked perfectly after I let it air dry for a day. Burning CDs or using ZIP Disks are a thing of the past.
Final Grade: A+
Puzzle Quest: Challenge of the Warlords:
I purchased this game in April and was initially addicted to it by its simplicity, varied game styles, and incredibly long single player campaign. Two months later, the incredibly long single player campaign is still going and I'm bored. The game is enjoyable for a while, but when the leveling system maxes out at Level 50 and you're still only halfway through the game, it starts to get old (especially when some monsters respawn to block previously-travelled paths around the game board). There are certain combinations of gems and crafted items that make it very easy to win most battles, so the last half of the game lacks any sort of real challenge.
Final Grade: B-
Take my census by June 30, and win a five-dollar gift certificate!The effects of cocaine on corn
India rattled by vibrating condom
Deep discounts on plasma TVs
it's the end of the month as we know it
♣ I finally got around to posting all of the pictures I've taken this month but we're tragically short on days to devote to another Media Day. Instead you can pick your poison here:
- Home Improvement, June Festivities, and Jack's Wedding
- Booty and Amber
♣ Some of these breathtaking photos have never before been seen by human eyes, like the photos from Rebecca's birthday last week, where we went to the Sequoia in D.C. (the cheap outdoor part) and bumped into Jack and his groomsmen partying late into the night. They were still there when we left around 1:30 AM, but Jack was alert and chipper the next day. That's one of the skills they teach you at Princeton.
♣ Speaking of birthdays, today is Kathy Biddick Smith's Sweet Sixteen1. Happy Birthday! Kathy and her husband also tied for first place in the "Which married couple would win in a fight?" poll. The most important question to take away from that poll is: "Why the hell do I know so many married couples?"
1: Times Two Minus One
♣ Since Kathy and Chris tied in first place with Anna and Ben, there's nothing left to do but have the face-off and place bets on the outcome. Here's how I envision it will turn out: Ben and Chris start talking about World of Warcraft and get completely sidetracked. Meanwhile, Anna will exploit her baby for the cute factor to distract Kathy and win by a hair.
♣ However, this could get reversed if Kathy wins the drawing for the $5 gift certificate and uses it to buy a book of fighting techniques. How would she get entered in this drawing? By filling out my 2007 Census before tomorrow! If you haven't done it yet, do it today!
♣ It's interesting to see the distinct layers of visitors from various phases of this site's life, from the fossilized core of 1996 visitors through varying shades of visitor sediment as I moved to Florida and back, to this year's brand new faces. I actually heard from an old friend this week, Andrea from Canada, who was a visitor in 1997, and also a member of the now-defunct URI! Fan Club which had three whole newsletters. I knew her back in the days when text messaging meant you had ICQ installed and chat rooms were not full of FBI agents pretending to be eleven years old.
♣ Fun text messaging fact of the day: If you happen to spot me wandering down the street and quickly send a text message to a friend describing what a hottie that Brian character is, and you have one of those phones that tries to guess what you're typing based on the keypad letters, your phone will presume you are trying to type ASIAN instead of BRIAN. I have already petitioned the Roget's people to make this a permanent synonym.
♣ This weekend kicks off the summer with all the style of an octogenarian dressed completely in Kmart clearance items. Tonight, we'll be going to Wolf Trap to see Bill Cosby perform and to eat Jello snacks. Tomorrow, we're heading down to Colonial Beach for the Spellerberg's annual Fourth of July Weekend family gathering (since, in the absence of Vu, I am the token adopted Asian brother). Tomorrow is also Matt McGuire's birthday -- happy birthday!
♣ Have a great weekend!The British Invasion... of rubber duckies
The entry should have read that the license plate had been stolen if it was on any vehicle that isn't a giant hot dog.
Muggers leave behind their own pictures
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