This Day In History: 02/15

Friday, February 15, 2002

The Nintendo 64 console was released in 1996, although I didn't buy one for myself until 2001. Although it boasted exceptionally improved graphics and sound, it really didn't have much to offer over the SNES in the music department. Soundtracks written for the N64 were very reminiscent of the old MIDI tunes on the PC, with decent but unspectacular sound patches. Because this was the last console system I bought, I don't know where music stands on the other major consoles, like the Dreamcast, Playstation line, xBox, and GameCube.

Meanwhile back on the PC, game music tended to fall into two major categories: traditional scores and ambient music. With ambient music, composers try to create an uninvolved composition with sound effects and minor musical effects that don't steal attention from the onscreen action. Much like movie scores, these soundtracks couldn't be whistled and emphasized a feeling rather than a melody.

The first major game to eschew a traditional musical score was Myst in 1995, known as "the game that killed the adventure genre". Music was virtually nonexistent, and most locations in the game were supported only by the occasional sound effect or white noise. Although its lasting appeal is questionable, it can't be argued that Myst reached a good portion of mainstream computer users (mostly through promotions and tie-ins). This set a bad precedent; apparently games didn't need much music to be a commercial success.

Following the success of its Doom series, id software decided to entrust the music of its next hit game, Quake (1996), to Trent Reznor of nine inch nails. This was mostly a marketing gimmick, and resulted in a forgettable array of unmusical "atmosphere music". Almost every shooter game since then has avoided real music religiously.

The most recent game to improve sound effects at the expense of music was Black and White in 2000. After a brief chorus in the introduction of the game, the vast majority of levels play out with only the ambient sounds of the world. In fact, it's even possible to remove the game CD in mid-game and play your own music instead. It seems as if video games have come full circle from their sound-effects-only ancestors...

The games that did continue to use traditional musical styles have shown little of the ingenuity found in soundtracks of the early 90s. Wizardry 8, just released in 2002, has a soundtrack of fantasy music clichés (MP3, 281KB). Luckily, the soundtrack is stored as MP3 files, so you can replace the particularly bad tunes with some of your own. Return to Wolftenstein, the first-person shooter game released in December of last year, uses a soundtrack of battle-themed songs that could be the movie soundtrack to any B-movie about war and/or zombies.

Of course, there's always exceptions to the rules. Blizzard Entertainment, for example, has consistently maintained a high level of quality in its musical output, from its bestselling Diablo series to the electronically orchestrated soundtrack of 1998's Starcraft. The Diablo series uses a mix of ambient and tuneful music. Although much of its underground music is ambient, other tunes like the theme from Tristram are hauntingly memorable (MP3, 1.1MB), and continue to appear on lists of musical favourites.

Out of Norway came The Longest Journey in 2000. This adventure game was unique because it was mostly a one-man effort, from design to music, and because it was just as good as any effort by an established game company. The soundtrack, which is also available as a massive MP3 download, is a mix of standard fantasy fare and modern styles, with a strong European tencho-dance influence (MP3, 453KB).

Tomorrow: The Future of Game Music and Related Links

tagged as music, games | permalink | 0 comments

Saturday, February 15, 2003

I've put my name in the title bar of the website now, in hopes of boosting my relevance on Google. Several casual visitors arrive here by searching for my name in Google, and this site is always seventh on the list after some interactive fiction, the young composers' site, and the random newsgroup thread on Digest Universal Resource Identifiers.

There's supposed to be over ten inches of snow this weekend up in Alexandria. It almost makes me feel bad to live in a clime where today's high will be 76 degrees.

Here's another remix of an old Nintendo theme, just for kicks (as always):
Theme from Zelda 2: Adventures of Link (MP3 1.46MB)
ZIP of Finale File (68 KB)

"Who Wants to Marry My Mom?" dispels myth that networks have run out of ideas
Microsoft blocked Opera users. Opera responds with "Bork bork bork!"
Mike Myers in "Gone with the Wind"

Fun Fact about Fading Out:
Fade-outs became widespread in the United States as the result of a trade survey in the early fifties. This showed that when records were played on jukeboxes, people felt more inclined to replay a record that faded out because it left a subconscious feeling that you hadn't completely heard it. - UJBR

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Sunday, February 15, 2004

I finished cleaning out the basement today. Have a stock update in celebration.

I plan on going to work tomorrow despite the federal holiday.

Yesterday's notable search terms:

    picture of a knight knight riding on a horse sir lancelot, picture your dog in needlework, prositutes new york, antique incinerator, growing green beans with 25 watts

Amazon glitch reveals self-promoters
Les Mis to use electronic orchestra
Celestial Bling
Spongebob reflects bad stereotype

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Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Garden State was a good movie. Without a Paddle was predictably funny but a little slow and annoying. We've also started watching the second season of 24 which is off to a pretty good start. In other news, I've broken 260 gold in Warcraft auctions.

Don't you like the Roo Poo Platter?
Tax considered on stupid Maryland SUVs. No word yet on stupid Maryland drivers.

tagged as reviews | permalink | 0 comments

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

The Evolution of Lunch

I won an award at work for the series of lunchtime seminars I gave last summer on music. The prize was a silver metallic lunch box with my name on it that I will place on the window ledge overlooking the office building next door in my posh office, where I will use it as a conversation-starter with next year's batch of hot, impressionable computer science interns.

I haven't owned a lunch box since elementary school, and it was probably a Transformer or He-Man lunch box made of metal. The Thermos always smelled of spoilt milk, because we had to have our three glasses of milk per day, and the hinges were always rusted out from the milk that leaked from the Thermos. Since the beverage took up a good 45% of the box space, the remainder was a tenement of a sandwich, a bulk-bought snack such as the cheap-brand of vanilla Oreos, and an apple. The peanut butter and jelly sandwich would always have an apple-shaped depression with a slight purple stain in the center where the jelly had leaked through.

Once I reached junior high, I decided that lunch boxes were uncool and PB&J sandwiches were a complete waste of bread, so I graduated to brown bags containing two bologna and mayo sandwiches on white bread, an apple, and a snack, like Grandma So-and-so's Rich Fudge Brownie -- a compact plot of fudge that was rich enough to instantly double the waist size of anyone without a speedy Asian metabolism. Of course a Thermos had no place in a brown bag, so that was replaced by rectangular juice boxes. Not Juicy Juice, because that is brand name, and brand name is four cents more expensive than Leo's Apple Juice (with 10% real juice). I also never had Capri-Sun but was slightly relieved about this because I could never get the damn straw to poke through the foil without permanently damaging the straw.

In high school we were allowed to go off-campus for lunch, but I took advantage of this maybe twice, so the two-sandwich combo persisted for three more years. Most college lunches were either the prepackaged sandwiches in Dietrick Express, including the Hokie Sub which used to be on the meal plan and easily rivalled a seven dollar sub at Subway (until they realized that they were losing money on them and doubled the price), or late breakfasts at Schultz dining hall where I could get the all-you-can-eat bacon. Bologna and mayo sandwiches made a brief comeback during my internships at FGM until I realized that they weren't quite as good when you didn't have your dad make them all for you and had to do it all yourself. Nowadays, I eat lunch at work around 10:15 AM and it's generally microwaveable Chef Boyardee products, Cup O' Noodles, or leftovers from the night before.

Internet scholars say that I'm daring for discussing the evolution of my lunch in a public forum, but this is one arena that I don't think creationism applies. God had better things to do with his time than create the bologna sandwich.

New LOST Tonight!
When Rousseau leads Sayid to a mysterious captive in the jungle, he becomes determined to find out if he is one of the "Others." Meanwhile, Sawyer discovers Hurley's potentially devastating breach of the survivors' trust and blackmails him into helping track an elusive island creature that won't leave Sawyer alone.

If you shoot the tool who thought he was clever when he came up with the term "gaymers" is it a hate crime?
Woman Puts 'Sex Offender' Sign On Wrong House
Next time, don't get the ice

tagged as random | permalink | 12 comments

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Snow Day

Similar to the way the Chicago River is dyed green every St. Patrick's Day, The Weather Channel pulled some meteorological strings to paint the D.C. metropolitan area a pasty shade of pink for Valentine's Day. It's a pretty good marketing ploy, and I predict that it won't be long until we see the Pepto-Bismol company become the permanent corporate sponsor for the holiday.

They must have underestimated the amount of pink dye it would take to coat the entire area, because it was all white by the time it reached my house (then again, everything is whiter in Loudoun County, the county with the fastest growing yuppy population in northern Virginia, and soon the entire world). When I got up this morning, I was greeted with a driveway trifle consisting of a layer of ice, a layer of snow, another layer of ice and a final layer of snow (and then a layer of beef sautéed with peas and carrots).

After watching my neighbour's car roll back down the sloped driveway, I wisely decided to work from home for the second day running. It really doesn't take much to convince me of the power of telecommuting -- besides, my home computer is faster than my work computer and the monitor's bigger too, so I get far more accomplished and save $1.22 on commute gas, which goes towards noble causes like the Popeyes Fund for Deprived and/or Depraved Individuals.

Around 2 PM, I tramped outside to shovel the driveway before it had a chance to refreeze overnight. I attacked the snow/ice tag team (hereafter called snice, which incidentally is also the way you say something is nice in Tallahassee) with verve and vigor. Occasionally I had to use the snow shovel like a pick-axe on the more troublesome spots, but the driveway was finally clean after about two hours of heavy labor. My back will be feeling it tomorrow though -- it's times like these that I wish I could make copies of myself to do all the work for me.

Plus, I could call them my ice-clean clones!

Illegally Park-ed
"I will certainly jump. It's what I do. I love it," Holmes said.
Large squid lights up for attack

tagged as random | permalink | 2 comments

Friday, February 15, 2008

Friday Fragments

more fun than a bottle of inert gas

♠ Happy day after Valentine's Day! Anna sent me an article that highlights the threat of World of Warcraft this Valentine's Day . "A generation of neglected, unsocialized feral fatties awaits us." Only if they roll a druid.

♠ Obligatory Warcraft fragment: Plinkette is level 68 and just entered the Blade's Edge Mountains. Pinkly continues to sit in Ironforge making swiftness potions all day long. Plinky now has a Gnomish Poultryizer and has gone 29 - 1 in Warsong Gulch since creating it on Wednesday. I'm assessing whether to create a second one just for kicks.

♠ Loudoun County real estate assessments went out this week and my house has depreciated by 25%, which should be nice when tax time rolls around. I'm not too worried about the drop -- it's still higher than it was when I bought it, and it's generally at least $20,000 higher than the surrounding houses, no doubt because it has cool extras like sidewalks and cats. The neighbours can't compete with Booty!

♠ I still don't communicate much with the neighbours. The three houses on my east sieede are filled with people that don't speak English, and the three on the west have owners who DO speak English but are anti-social like I am and stay indoors all the time. Granted, the guy who shares my driveway tried to tell me about how someone sideswiped his car (completely in Spanish) last week, and the Mormons knocked on my door at 8 PM in an attempt to interrupt my poker game for the good of my soul, so it's still a friendly place to live.

♠ I haven't won poker yet this year. Jaood (who chooses the more intimidating nickname, Mike, at the poker table) has won two in a row, and Ben won last week. Meanwhile, Mike (of Mike and Chompy) will be moving up here at the end of the month, and announced his grandiose plans to become the new poker champion of the world.

♠ After that, there will be two Mikes at the poker table. This is unacceptable. Mike (of Mike and Chompy) has suggested that Mike be retagged as Evil-Mike, and others have noted that since Mike is the home team, Mike (of Mike and Chompy) should be retagged as Florida-Mike. In all likelihood, I'll just refer to one of them as Alfred and one of them as Chauncy, completely eliminating any confusion.

♠ Now that I think about it, I'll probably choose a different name than Chauncy. I don't know any Chauncy's, but if I did, I bet they'd be the type of person I'd want to punch in the nose. I also bet he'd have a strange resemblance with the actor, Joey Slotnick.

♠ There are no big plans for the weekend other than to catch up on errands and do some paperwork. Have a great weekend!

Here come the killer jellyfish
Internet sex auction sparks paternity row
Different strokes for different folks

tagged as fragments | permalink | 10 comments

Monday, February 15, 2010

Weekend Wrap-up

I generally try to conserve my words on federal holidays, so here is a chart showing what I did in the 48 hours that constituted the weekend:

As a minor site improvement, if you are an old-timer who changed your posting name in the past, your old posts have been merged into your total post count, and your old nicknames will appear on your Poster page (found by clicking on the magnifying glass in the Comments section, after you have posted something).

Need to get over your love? Call Death Bear.
Virginia House protects us from the antichrist
Authorities also said Johnson had a sledge hammer inside his pants

tagged as data, website, day-to-day | permalink | 5 comments

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Museday Tuesday

As part of this feature, which I started in 2007, I compose a very brief work (under 30 seconds) inspired by a randomly generated title from an online word generator or suggested by a reader. The composition can be for any instrumentation, and could even be a purely synthesized realization that might not be possible to perform in the real world.

I work on the excerpt continuously for an hour and then post whatever I've managed to complete, even if it could be the hit single from Glenn Gould Plays Tatu.


Trumpery: (adj.) of little or no value; trifling, worthless; rubbishy; trashy.

My Composition (0:30 MP3)

This excerpt is for string quartet, accordion, and marimba. In spite of my best efforts to do something away from the key of C, this one scampered back to familiar territory as soon as it could.

How one man tracked down Anonymous - and paid a heavy price
Google Launches Site-Blocking Extension Against Content Farms
Paul Haggis vs. the Church of Scientology

tagged as museday | permalink | 0 comments

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Memory Day: Snapshots

In the early years, we would go to an annual Christmas event sponsored by the adoption agency that bestowed the two-day shipping on my sister and I. Our parents would bring a couple gifts that they'd already planned to give on Christmas, and a Adoptosanta would give them to us as if they were his idea (Adoptosanta later faced an audit from the IRS).

As you can see from the expression on my face, I was not buying his routine, and did not think highly of what seems to be a Cabbage Patch Kids in the Senate Rotunda set. I must not have realized that my own gift was separate and coming soon -- this was probably the year I received the Transformer that was supposed to turn into a gun but was so poorly built that it just turned into a robot in the midst of a swan dive, resembling a mismatched lump of detritus not unlike one of those rope-and-bar mind puzzles that no one ever has the patience to finish.

This strategy didn't work when I taught ear-training
Icelanders avoid inbreeding through incest database

tagged as memories, media | permalink | 1 comment

Friday, February 15, 2013

Answers Day

the sequel to Questions Day

If you had to choose only one video game (either console or PC) to play the rest of your life, what would it be and why? - Katie Lucas

I would want a game without much of a start or finish, like a game from this list of mindless addictions. If I could find a way to play it again without getting migraines, I would pick Minecraft. Second choice would probably be Doom 2. If my pick ever got too boring, I would go over to your house and play your obvious pick, Donkey Konga.

Why do you like the color blue so much? Oh wait, I just read about eye physiology - is it because of your color blindness? How many (out of 3) of your cones work? And which ones? - B

Because of my red-green colorblindness, blue is the only part of the spectrum where I have complete confidence in what I'm seeing. I once painted some leaves in Art I in tenth grade, and the teacher asked why all the leaves were dead. She then had to mix the colors for leaves for all future nature pictures. I don't know anything about the cones, so I'm going to posit that my snow and sugar cones are working, but my waffles are effed.

Here is a post I wrote ten years ago about how I see those weird colorblind test charts. Below is a picture of what I see when I watch the Muppet Show.

If you were asked to design a new Monopoly token, what would it be? - Mom

The requirements of a good token are:

  • Tall enough to be picked up easily.
  • Flat enough to fit well between two fingers.
  • Stable enough to not fall over when someone hits the board.

Therefore, it is scientifically accurate to say that the best token would be a giraffe with a really long neck that has just finished drinking out of the watering pool, so its legs are still splayed about but its head is up in the air.

What would be your ideal super power (individual power, "omniscient all-powerful godly superman multi abilities" does not count as one)? - Evil Mike

Stopping Time.

Do you ever harbor escapism fantasies and, if so, where do you think you might like to escape to? - Chompy (the dog)

I'm happy where I am. Were I to escape, it would be somewhere beachy where physical isolation is counterbalanced by online connections. Which brings us to...

if you won the lottery and got to take home $75M after taxes, how would you spend it? - Doobie

We actually had a discussion similar to this at Eggspectation a few months back. First, I would put together a studio orchestra and record all of my compositions -- musicians these days work for pennies on the dollar. Next, I would move to Hawaii and support a beach bum lifestyle where my highest monthly expenditure would be the highest speed Internet service possible. After twenty years, I would still have about $70 million left, which I would donate to worthy and not-so-worthy causes with the caveat that I get to dictate exactly how the money is spent. For example, renovating the turf in the UVA stadium but stamping VT all over it, or forcing people to compete in a reality show for scholarship money. When I died, none of my future kids would get more than $100,000 each because people born into money are usually lame.

tagged as you speak | permalink | 2 comments

Monday, February 15, 2016

Weekend Wrap-up

Indoor Activities

  • Played around with the Amazon Lumberyard game engine.
  • Started learning about geographic information systems (GIS).
  • Started watching Season One of Mr. Robot.
  • Sat in front of a space heater with cats.

Outdoor Activities

  • Costco run for burgers, lamb, and yogurt.
  • Late lunch at Sweetwater as a going-away party for one of Rebecca's yoga friends.
  • Safeway run for the fixin's of a bean chili.
  • Meetup with Rebecca's parents at Panera.

How was your weekend?

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

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Recipe Day: Spinach-Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms

Ingredients

  • 8 large Portobello caps, stems and gills removed
  • 2 tbsp. reduced-fat Italian salad dressing

  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 20 oz fresh spinach, chopped then microwaved for 45 seconds to wilt
  • 1/2 cup chopped red pepper
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 6 tbsp seasoned breadcrumbs

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Brush mushrooms with Italian dressing. Arrange on baking sheet, gills up.
  3. Bake until tender, about 12 minutes. Drain juice from inside mushrooms.
  4. Meanwhile, beat egg, garlic, salt, pepper in large bowl. Stir in spinach, Parmesan, mozzarella, breadcrumbs until evenly mixed.
  5. Fill mushrooms with mixture. Sprinkle tops with more mozzarella, breadcrumbs. Continue baking until topping is golden brown and cheese is melted (10 minutes).
  6. Serve immediately to weird people who don't eat meat.

tagged as recipes | permalink | 1 comment

Friday, February 15, 2019

Review Day

There are no major spoilers in these reviews.

No Good by Ivy Levan:
This album opens with a few promising tracks like Kiss My Biscuit, but front-loads all of the beats. The last half of the album is a bunch of forgettable power ballads, and there's also an odd socially dissonant song about enjoying abusive relationships. I like Ivy's voice though.

Final Grade: C+

How the Story Ends by B. Reith:
I feel like this positive-outlook rapper is like who Eminem would have been with a good home life. There's a little more singing and less rapping on this album, which makes me prefer his first one, Now Is Not Forever, a bit more.

Final Grade: B-

Everyone We Know by Thundamentals:
A middle-of-the-road album from this Australian hip hop group, Thundamentals -- pleasant to have on in the car, but nothing stands out as amazing. Never Say Never is a pretty fun track.

Final Grade: B-

New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe (Switch):
This is the laziest Mario game since New Super Maro Bros. 2, the previous record-holder for lazy Mario games. The elements of 2D Mario games approach you in the exact same allotments and the exact same progression as everything that came before it. I enjoy playing it for a level or two at a time, but get bored quickly. It's also time to get rid of all the Mario tropes that are no longer relevant -- extra lives? having to return to the map everything you die? Platformers have evolved since then. In spite of this criticism, I do hope that they make a New Super Mario Bros. U2, just so you can play as Bono.

Final Grade: C-

tagged as reviews | permalink | 0 comments

Monday, February 15, 2021

Data Day: Percent Changes Over a Decade (Feb 2011 - Feb 2021)

  • Take Home Income: +24.34%
  • Hours Worked: -%25%

  • Mortgage: No Change
  • Power Bill: +47.44%
  • Internet Bill: +35.03%
  • Water Bill: +80.24%
  • HOA Fees: +46.89%
  • House Insurance: +24.91%
  • Car Insurance: +45.99%
  • URI! Zone Hosting: -11.66% IN THE CLOUD
  • Lunch at Popeyes: +7.8%

  • Number of Hondas: No Change
  • Number of Cats: -50%
  • Number of Kids: +100%
  • Number of Wives: No Change
  • Number of People Going to St. Ives: No Change

tagged as data | permalink | 0 comments

 

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