This Day In History: 02/06

Wednesday, February 06, 2002

I've never understood the appeal of extended drum solos in jazz. Although drummers demand equal footing as a soloist in many groups, their lack of pitch really hinders their improvisatory work. I'd rather hear a concise 12-bar drum solo, rather than one of those drawn-out tumors of music that sometimes crop up, especially in combos. I think the worst case of overdone drum soloing is Buddy Rich's playing on Channel One Suite. The version made for commercial recording is brief and to the point, but in a live edition from 1977 I have, the drum solos (and a poor misguided sax) stretch the twelve minute piece to over twenty-five minutes in length.

The secondary assistantship assignments I have now really aren't so terrible. Somehow word spread that I can make CDs, so I'll be converting old tapes and records to CD format in the remainder of my ten hours per week. Since recording tapes and LPs must be done in real-time (not including the extra for the actual burning), I highly doubt I'll be able to do more than a couple per week before hitting my ten-hour ceiling. It sure beats grading papers...

If they ever retitle classes in the FSU course catalog, I bet they'll call this one MUS 5752: Graduate Survey in Tonal Forms.

"Harmony! Harmony!" - A. Schoenberg, last words

tagged as music | permalink | 0 comments

Thursday, February 06, 2003

The basketballers lost to Maxx Attack, 51-27 (previous matchup was 46-22). It's still fun to play even if we don't win much. Myself, I just enjoy foolishly sprinting everywhere in hopes of stealing the ball with my magnetic fingers.

I really don't have anything useful to say today, so this is all you get. I've met my quota of scathing diatribes and posts about music. I'll write a limerick or something tomorrow to make up for it.

It's never good to have your picture with the caption 'As Slow As Possible'
Student sues to avert crisis of astronomical proportions

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Friday, February 06, 2004

The debacle that is politics continues this week, as Joe Lieberman drops out of the presidential race. His platform of "banning all video games I have never actually played, but heard were bad" probably wouldn't have gotten him far anyhow .

Clark's son leeches onto his dad's press machine for a few minutes with the epiphany that politics is all about media coverage and says he doesn't want his dad embarassing him anymore if he's not a sure thing.

And to provide a fair and balanced party line, George Bush continues to defend his stellar military record by not recalling what he did beyond paper shuffling. As everyone knows, money is a successful deterrent to attacks, which is why Bush's fundraisers say "$100, $75, $50, $25, even just $5 will help us answer these shameful attacks.".

There's an interesting dialogue going on in the Comments section for the February 4th news post. Feel free to jump in with your thoughts.

In local news, closing on the house is next Thursday, but if it doesn't work out, here are two other properties I'm interested in:

Yesterday's notable search terms:

    persued whiffle, migrating robins in australia, how the sunlight effects radishes and green beans, hippo fun facts, wolf duck grain river boat puzzle, where do pepsi's profits come from, spiffy words, essays on the development of the symphony from stamitz to beethoven

I would like to see us get this place right first before we have the arrogance to put significantly flawed civilizations out onto other planets
The story of the most misused number of all time
Surgeon closes wounds with paper clips

tagged as newsday, politics | permalink | 0 comments

Monday, February 06, 2006

Movie Monday

Back in Florida, I used to go to Blockbuster and rent a bunch of movies and then watch them all back-to-back over particularly slow weekends. Since it'd been awhile since I last did this, and since there were actually a few movies I was interested in seeing this month, I decided to make this weekend a movie weekend.

Wedding Crashers:
I was probably the last person in the United States to see this movie, which was buzzworthy last summer. I thought it was pretty good, if a little long-winded. The movie started out much funnier than it ended up, and you definitely need to be a Vince Vaughn fan (or at least be able to stand him for two hours). It was nice to see Bradley Cooper getting some movie work since his TV stuff (Alias and Kitchen Confidential) didn't really go anywhere.

Red Eye:
I rented this movie figuring it would be a low budget no-brainer suspense movie, but it turned out to be surprisingly good, and much better than I expected. Of course, there are plot holes as big as a moose, but Wes Craven does a good job of slowly ratcheting up the tension so you're on the edge of your seat by the end. Of the two airplane suspense movies from last year, I'd say Flight Plan is the better story, but Red Eye is more fun to watch. This movie concluded Rachel McAdams night on Friday.

Broken Flowers:
"A miracle! Very, very funny! One of the best films of the year." - Ty Burr, The Boston Globe

Ty Burr can kiss my ass. This is a horrible, horrible movie -- it's like someone decided to take the worst pieces of Lost in Translation and turn it into a mental laxative, and it's not funny in the least bit. Roughly 75% of the movie involves dialogue-less scenes of Bill Murray looking around and thinking, or Bill Murray driving through the countryside with bad jazz playing on the radio. I bravely watched it to the end, solely because I wanted to see what the point of the movie was, and (unforgivably) there is no closure. The movie just fades to black without a hint of resolution, which in many cases can be argued as artistic. In this case, the movie is just pretentious -- there have been movies which I didn't "get" but which I could appreciate, but this is a movie that movie-geeks will smile and nod about as if it's the deepest movie of modern times even though there's more filling in a Swanson pot pie.

About halfway through the movie, I started fast-forwarding through all the thinking/driving scenes and shaved fifteen minutes off the running time.

Corpse Bride:
This is the latest claymation movie from Tim Burton. Running at barely 80 minutes, the movie is very neat to watch for the effects, but as a movie it's not that great -- Nightmare Before Christmas was much better and had catchier music. The characters in this movie are typical fun-loving clay personalities, but things are a lot more threatening-looking than the previous movie. Small children would probably get pretty scared watching this.

Australia is the new guillible country
No, that's not possible. That's the weekend of the Super Bowl, that's not going to work
Sailor Gets Angry Reply to Bottle Message

tagged as reviews | permalink | 13 comments

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

List Review Day: Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess

Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past for the Super Nintendo is still flawless -- one of the greatest games ever made. Every other game in the series is a delicate balance of caveats with BU the Reviewer saying, "It's great, but...". See if you can match these statements with the Zelda game they describe before we get to the main review (this is called review foreplay in the "biz").

  • It's great, but a good 80% of the game is spent sailing on an empty ocean, vast and boring like Iowa. Then you sail into archipelagos shaped like dice and get shot at and die.
  • It's great, but all the monsters in the last half of the game are floating eyeballs that move in parabolic paths to knock you into the lava.
  • It's great, but the clock resets every four days, meaning that if you don't progress fast enough, you lose everything you've done recently.
  • It's great, but you can't skip any cut scenes, the story makes no sense, and the game forces you to collect one hundred hidden spiders to get any good loot.
  • It's great, but the actress playing the school marm is so annoying that you almost want Brown to be shot in the back by Buford Tannen over a matter of eighty dollars.

(Hint: One of these statements is a red herring and has nothing to do with Zelda).

Top Five Annoyances in Twilight Princess

  1. The Wii Controls get in the way of the game. They're imprecise at worst and tacked on at best. Swinging your sword by waving your controller seems intuitive at first, but old-timers will be too used to pushing a button for that action, and will spend much of the first half of the game flying through the air like polar bear cubs shot from cannons instead of attacking because the button now makes you jump. Like old games, movement requires precision -- you have to stand directly in front of a chest or ladder to use it -- and the control stick makes it way too easy to miss your mark or fall off a cliff. Also, Link takes a step forward on each sword swing, so once you have mastered the delicate art of madly swinging your sword at an enemy until it dies, you'll find yourself in the lava / abyss / quicksand / [insert lack of solid floor here]. Swimming and diving are the worst implementation ever seen in a video game. An obese quadriplegic could probably swim the length of the local community pool easier than Link can in this game.
  2. The game ALWAYS tells you what an item is. You get the full set of instructions on what a Map is, even on the eighth map you pick up. More annoying is the message, "You got a blue rupee! That's FIVE (5) rupees!" as if that's the most money you're ever going to see in your life. There' no need to interrupt the action for that.
  3. Dungeon music is annoying, generally two or four bars long and looped over ambient noise. The rest of the world probably has great music but you never get to hear it since the "DANGER DANGER THERE IS A MONSTER NEAR U" theme overlays everything all the time.
  4. There's still an annoying fairy character that follows you around offering helpful hints and giggling in your Wii Remote. There should be no giggling under my fingertips unless I'm an unlicensed and particularly unskilled massage therapist.
  5. The game is slow to get started. I realize that new players need some time to get situated and learn the controls, but whole "you're just a poor peasant boy minding his own business until disaster strikes" storyline is overplayed now.

Top Five Reasons to Play Twilight Princess

  1. There are several minigames, none of which are required, and all of which can be beaten with some practice. Yeti Snowboarding is a little frustrating, but I suppose it's acceptable that mythological beasts be able to defy the laws of physics. You only have to fish twice.
  2. Every dungeon is a perfectly-tuned puzzle fest filled with moments of elated discovery. Zelda developers have mastered the art of single rooms where all the pieces are right in front of you, if only you could figure out how they all go together. I was stumped many times, but only had to look up an answer once, and it turned out to be a lack of understanding about what I was able to do, not a problem with the puzzle.
  3. Backtracking is at a minimum, and once you've solved an area, you generally don't need to come back. The game does a good job of pacing and pushing you towards the end.
  4. Though combat is annoying, it's ultimately pointless. You never have to master all the moves and combos to enjoy the exploration / puzzle side of the game. Boss fights are epic to watch, but generally pretty easy. This works and is a good design choice.
  5. The game is full of content -- you may have beating Luigi's Mansion in two hours (I know I did), but this game will easily last 40 - 50 hours, even if you rush through it. The storyline actually makes sense for once, and the cutscenes don't presume that you read at a first grade level.

Bottom Line

Twilight Princess is an excellent game and succeeds in spite of its kludgy controls. It's easily the best of the 3D Zelda games and deserves a spot in your Wii.

Those damn bikers killing the environment
Grumpy workers are the best workers
Hot Zero-G Space Love

tagged as reviews, games | permalink | 3 comments

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Pointless Vignette Day

A couple weeks ago, I was at Costco doing my normal Saturday morning shopping for the sundry essentials, like Guinness, corned beef, and forty-pound crates of kitty litter. (The fact that two separate Pointless Vignettes have now taken place at Costco is an unintentional coincidence, but serves to highlight the fact that Costco is an interesting place where all sorts of magical events occur).

When leaving, I drove around the back of the store -- trying to cross the main thoroughfare takes forever since you have to wait for all the frail, retired Floridans sisyphusing their five hundred pound pallets of fake bottled spring water across the street, hoping to gain enough momentum to clear the curb on the opposite side.

This covert route took me past the Costco Loading Dock, where a giant sign had been newly erected across from the dock. At first, I figured it was one of those highway safety warnings like "Did you remember to turn your lights on?", "Look both ways for consumer traffic before making your wide right turn", or "Caution: Bridge May Be Spicy!". As I got closer, though, I could clearly read the two foot high red letters against a hygenic white background.

TRUCK DRIVERS! HAVE ALL THE FORKLIFT OPERATORS EXITED YOUR TRAILER?

Like the kid in the wheelchair who got caught in the grille of a semi and went on a wild ride , it's pretty funny to imagine a forklift driver tooling into the back of a truck, only to have it pull away from the loading dock and head out on the highway (I believe something similar happened to Marion in Raiders of the Lost Ark). It's even funnier to realize that this apparently happened so many times that Costco felt the need for a very large, very visible sign.

Should you ever get a job as an inventory man at Costco and find yourself in a similar situation, here are a few tips to keep you safe and alive.

  1. Apply the emergency brake on your forklift. It's bad enough when a mattress falls off the back of a truck -- a forklift will probably have a much more deleterious effect on surrounding traffic patterns.
  2. Attach yourself to the truck with stray ropes or cables. If this is not possible, wander as deep into the truck as you can.
  3. Try to get the attention of cars driving behind you so someone can alert the truck driver. Depending on the cargo, try throwing bright, colourful objects out (a case of beer will also work).
  4. As a last resort, strap into your forklift and speed out the back when the truck reaches a stoplight. The five foot drop to the ground will probably destroy your tires, but the risk is preferable to waking up four hours later at a Costco in Maryland.
Collecting $16.96 from Shit Face
Abercrombie gets hit with obscenity charge
Please think of the Busch

tagged as random | permalink | 4 comments

Friday, February 06, 2009

Friday Fragments

fresh from France

♠ This week's LOST was good, although the whole "flash" concept is already getting old to me (flashes just aren't the same without nudity). I also called the source of the glowing light immediately, as evidenced by the IM I sent to Mike (of Mike and Chompy) IN REAL TIME.

♠ I feel like they're throwing a few too many new concepts and characters into the mix for a "second to last" season -- if this were a book or a symphony, the unfolding would occur in the first four seasons, with the fifth being a tightly winding spiral to the final season full of explosions and revelations.

♠ This is also how I plan to structure my life -- by thirty, the exposition will be complete and all the principal characters will be known and loved by the audience. I will get into suspenseful, ridiculous situations until the age of 60, and then spend the next decade unleashing family secrets, like the truth about my paternity and the reason I can get so much done in a single day (time travel may be involved). By 75, all of my conflicts will be resolved. Jack Bauer will sit in an SUV and cry for twenty minutes, and then I'll go out with a bang by mishandling a roll of unstable dynamite.

♠ This weekend's plans originally involved a Benefit Cocktail Party to Help the Hungry (because the more you drink, the less room you have for food), but that was cancelled after an unfortunate vector of contagion. Instead, I'll probably do some work-work and look forward to the 12th, which has the tertiary distinction of being 12 of 12, Steak Night, and the 5th Year Anniversary of buying a house. On Sunday, we're all headed to Mike's house for a marathon of an Animal Planet show he's a part owner of, Blunderdog to THUNDERDOG, where clumsy dogs are dressed up like Thor and sent out to wreak havoc on their tormentors.

♠ This is what Chompy would look like if she went on that show. The only problem is that she's scared of thunder, so she'd have to hang back from the initial round of pillaging and just collect the spoils of war. At least then, she'd be able to avoid any chance of injury -- Chompy: Plunder Dog sounds much safer than Chompy: Sundered Dog.

♠ I think more nicknames should have colons in them. It's time we pick them up, dust them off, and put them back to work making people sound more impressive. I guess this also means that I support colon cleansing.

♠ Have a great weekend!

'Vampyre' jailed after allegedly harassing teen
Caterpillars take over Liberia
Bill Gates releases mosquitoes at conference

tagged as fragments | permalink | 2 comments

Monday, February 06, 2012

Weekend Wrap-up

My weekend was a blur of work, involving tasty terminology like "functional allocation", "acceptance criteria", "schema development", and "change requests". I came up briefly for air to eat a Big Mac and some Shells and Cheese, and to get some obligatory treadmill time to negate the Big Mac and Shells and Cheese.

On Sunday night, we went to the Crane's for the Super Bowl and the new fad of having a 10x10 betting grid based on the one's digit of each team's score. Through astute application of my math minor, I spread my risk across the board by treating it like a chess rook puzzle (how can you place 8 rooks on an empty chessboard so they can't kill each other) and managed to win $20 in the second quarter. Unfortunately, Rebecca and I had actually put in $22, so we came out behind. (Addition and subtraction are not stressed in a math minor).

How was your weekend?

New record set at Wing Bowl
FBI says compulsive "hoarder" stole thousands of classified documents

tagged as day-to-day | permalink | 3 comments

Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Stuff In My Drawers Day

If we're being completely honest, there were probably signs as early as kindergarten that I would not make it as a professional artist.

And, third grade was the nadirial zenith of my poetry career. The rhyming scheme in this award-winning sample is known as ABCDEF.

tagged as memories | permalink | 4 comments

Thursday, February 06, 2014

Review Day

There are no major spoilers in these reviews.

her (R):
This science fiction movie tells of a time in the reasonably-near future where computers have gained enough artificial intelligence to forge human relationships. What I most enjoyed was how well-done the world-building was -- the movie didn't focus on initial shock or disbelief, but simply accepted itself as how things might naturally progress if everyone today were to stay buried in their smartphones. Everything is pleasantly understated, and Joaquin turns in a nice, believable performance. Initially, I wasn't completely satisfied with the final conflict, but after several days to mull it over, I appreciate it as the only way the story could have gone.

Final Grade: B+

The Raven Locks Act I by Dirt Poor Robins:
I liked this album a little more than Last Days of the Leviathan, although I was disappointed that the male lead singer had little solo space here. My favourite track on the album is "We Forgot We Were Human", which passes my litmus tests for being both a well-constructed song and a catchy one. The main problem with the album is that it's barely 27 minutes long. I've heard Chip McNeill solo for longer than that.

Final Grade: B

Treme, Season Three:
I really enjoyed the first season of Treme, which tells of life and music in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. Story-wise, I thought that season two was pretty dull, albeit with better music (with more of a focus on funk over Dixieland). Season Three just meanders around several uninteresting storylines with occasional five minute breaks for complete performances. Few characters see any growth (and they remain the interesting ones), and we sometimes wished that they would end some of the weaker storylines to make space for the better ones. Unfortunately, the creators just compounded the issue by adding MORE uninteresting characters without sending off the old. I do enjoy the small detail of having the actors know enough about brass instruments to seem like they're actually playing though.

Final Grade: C

Mario and Luigi: Dream Team:
This is the latest game in the Mario RPG series, which contains two of my all-time favourites (Thousand-Year Door and Mario and Luigi: Partners In Time) and one of my least favourite (Super Paper Mario). Sadly, this sequel feels as obligatory as New Super Mario Brothers 2 did. Everything is competently and consistently constructed, but at the end of the day, the game is pretty boring. The experience is chopped up by tutorials, transition scenes, and unnecessary narration, to the point where it's hard to maintain a "zone" that would keep you excited to continue playing. I'm about 20 hours into it now and am finding it harder to justify playing, in spite of the appeal I find in completing everything. The character quirkiness introduced in Thousand-Year Door has devolved into weirdness for the sake of weirdness, and the main plot relies too much on cascading, inconsequential adventure game side tasks. For example, you have to get to the top of a mountain, but a locked door is in the way, so you need to find 3 bananas to trade to a monkey for a key but the bananas are hidden throughout the land. Every tangent that steers you from the main plotline reduces the urgency of the story and reveals the invisible strings that needlessly delay the ending (like the last half of Back to the Future II).

Final Grade: C-

tagged as reviews | permalink | 0 comments

Friday, February 06, 2015

Random Chart Day: Hearthstone Games

Here is a chart of my last 200 Hearthstone games, played with my primary Paladin deck, in my quest to get 500 wins and a golden portrait. The rows are ordered by Win Rate, and the wins and losses are segregated by whether the games lasted less than 10 rounds. Some observations:

  • Everyone is playing Mage decks with tons of new Mech cards right now, but I'm slowly getting better at countering it.

  • I can counter aggressive Warlocks easily, but those that draw cards until their hand is full of giants still beat me pretty well.

  • Every Hunter I play is trying to win in the first 8 rounds (and before the Undertaker nerf, they succeeded most of the time).

  • Shamans in general are the perfect counter to my deck.

  • I can zoom up to level 18 easily, but then get stalled in the 18 to 16 range. The highest rank I've gotten was 12.

  • I'm not very good at Hearthstone, but I did get my golden portrait!

tagged as data | permalink | 3 comments

Monday, February 06, 2017

Weekend Wrap-up

Hiking up Little Devil's Stairs near Washington, VA.

Enjoying the complimentary flight at Hopkins Ordinary B&B and Aleworks.

Eating "Eggs Hopkins" for breakfast.

Being hipsters at the new coffee shoppe, Before and After, in Sperryville.

tagged as day-to-day | permalink | 0 comments

Wednesday, February 06, 2019

Maia Month #19 Battle Report

Maia is 1 year and 7 months old now! She likes having control over her outfit, from necklaces and hats to fancy clothing and the pair of Christmas pajamas she keeps discovering and insisting on wearing all day long. She is definitely quick to express her frustration at being out of control of things in her environment, like coming inside from her beloved outdoors, not getting enough crackers, or not being able to turn her baby carriage around in the narrow bathroom.

She also cries when you don't give her enough stuffed animals at nighttime -- the current record is somewhere around 10. During a recent nap, she threw her favourite bunny out of the crib and started bawling. When no one had come in after a minute or two, she quietly reached out and got it herself then went to sleep.

Maia has several party tricks that she does consistently. When I ask her to howl like a wolf, she'll go, "AROOOO" (of course, she knows many other animal sounds as well). When saying goodbye or goodnight, she'll give you a hug, but only with her head (usually by resting it against your knee). She also does a cute "hands up in the air" gesture when she's looking for something and cannot find it anywhere.

Spoken words are on their way -- she can say "draw", "clock", "box", and "ball" in reference to those particular concepts and almost said "bible" the other day. She likes drawing with crayons and pens, but prefers watching YOU do so. If you say that food is hot, she'll blow a gentle breeze. If you mention driving or swaying, she'll rock around like she's doing the twist. All in all, it's a pretty fun age!

tagged as offspring, day-to-day | permalink | 0 comments

 

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