This Day In History: 02/21

Thursday, February 21, 2002

"Three Mo' Tenors" are appearing at the Leon Civic Center this week. If I ever end up a successful freelance composer, maybe I can have a touring production of my works and call it "One Velly Good Composer".

Many composers define the urge to create something as their overarching reason for writing music. While that's true to an extent in my case, I think my need to complete something is much stronger than my need to create. That is, I've always been motivated by seeing an unfinished work which is past the stage where it has a clearly defined direction. I have no problem at all working on a piece when the end is in sight, but it can take me weeks to start a fresh piece from a blank slate. The exact opposite is the case in every other hobby discipline I have... I can start millions of projects but very few ever reach completion.

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Friday, February 21, 2003

I had my classes rock out to this dictation example yesterday (MP3, 455KB). Novelty value aside, it's an excellent example for demonstrating how useful audiation can be. It's also rife with scalar patterns and logical progressions. Both classes actually did pretty well with it, once the initial fear of so many leaps left them. My students are getting better with intervals too, although the most common mistake is to identify a major seventh as a tritone. Someone should do research on why this mistake happens so often. Alternately, Alex could tell me where it's already been done.

The basketballers lost to Lucy Ho's, 24-107 last night. Nothing more can be said.

Teenager traps internet thief
Ebay as big brother
Conviction in brave bird murder
Yale grad students a bunch of pampered clowns
Zora in love with the horse

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Saturday, February 21, 2004

If you ever have the opportunity, take advantage of Amazon's Super Saving Shipping option, which removes all shipping charges in exchange for a week longer delivery time. I order some Java books on Wednesday afternoon with this option and they were shipped out Thursday night. I just received them by slow USPS today.

There's talk of renaming T.C. Williams High School in Alexandria because T.C. Williams was a segregationalist in the 60s. OH NO. I hear some of the early Presidents owned slaves. We've got a lot of renaming to get done.

Yesterday's notable search terms:

    one hundred year old inventions in north carolina, chips nitrogen doritos

Woman Fined for Registering Cows As Voters
Unlucky souvenirs returned to Uluru
Use trees, not trains
William Hung gets record deal

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Monday, February 21, 2005

Shark Tale had some funny moments, but was mostly inane. It was definitely no Finding Nemo. The Oscars are coming up soon, and it will easily lose the Animated Feature category to either one of the other competitors.

I guess this means it's time for my annual Oscar picks news posts, even though most of the movies I've seen recently are definitely not of Oscar quality.

Paris Hilton's phone hacked and posted online

tagged as reviews | permalink | 3 comments

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

List Day: Five Annoying Things on the Internet

1) Pop-up Menus:
The latest DHTML fad is to have little submenus pop up next to the mouse whenever you hover the cursor over a menu item. It's used in the main navigation bar at the Washington Post and the "view other collections" menu of 1-800-Flowers . All too often though, the popup menus cover up something else (or even the other menu options). Alternately, you'll be happily browsing through the submenu when it vanishes, turning your browsing experience into a timed game of Whack-a-Mole.

2) Internet Lawyers:
These are the fresh-faced college kids who want to look smart on the Internet. If they disagree with a forum post or someone's comments, they'll quote the unfortunate body of text line by line, and then provide seemingly intelligent counter-arguments for each point. They'll end with a passive-aggressive conclusion which implies that since they addressed every point, they're obviously right. Hey, we all did this in 1997. Then we realized that arguing on the Internet is a waste of time and now reply with some variant of "ORLY?" or "urgay" or (for the Japanese) "...", and you should too. I guess this is just one of those things kids have to learn on their own.

3) Hyperlink Abuse:
I hate when you see a news story where every other word is a link to somewhere else, or in the case of Slashdot , huge tracts of web real estate are links. People love to link, and would probably link every single word to its dictionary definition if they had time. My attention span is short enough without having to deal with the distractions of hyperlinks when I'm trying to read to the end.

4) Mandatory News Registrations:
Your news site isn't the only oasis of news in a desert of Flash games and gambling sites. If I have to register to read your story and BugMeNot doesn't have an entry for you, I'm just going to find the same story somewhere else. I own a billion dollar house and am young enough to enjoy beer commercials -- you should be begging me to generate ad revenue for you.

5) Spoilers:
You're always going to stumble across unmarked spoilers on the Internet because people are mean-spirited and want to give away the endings of things. What's worse than unmarked spoilers are spoilers by people are too stupid to realize they're giving something away. For example, someone died on Alias this season and forums were abuzz with people wondering if it was permanent. The next month, someone posted a news item with the title, "[Actor's Name] signs on for three episodes!", followed by a hidden article under the heading SPOILERS!!!. Even if you don't read the article, you're pretty much spoiled by the title, you Internet moron. By the way, in Sixth Sense, Bruce Willis was bald.

Today's pictures have absolutely nothing to do with the text.

Meet the 33 pound Chinese cat
Grandmother of twenty has a kid at 62
The owner also requested that the officer bring a bag a grain, so as to play-act a brain teaser. Got any wheat?

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Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Musical Musings

It's been ten months since my last Musical Musings column which may be the blink of an eye on the geological scale, but is an eternity on the celebrity marriages scale (this scale is much more scientific and applicable in everyday life. Incidentally, ever since Rob confessed that "everyday" versus "every day" was his pet peeve, I have been careful to use the appropriate terminology).

  • I'm currently listening to A Camp, a solo album by Nina Persson of The Cardigans. Despite the ambiguous title, the CD is an interesting piece of work -- a mix of country-tinged ballads and hard-rock creations. Though jarring at first, the change actually makes sense with the change in Persson's voice (she can no longer do the coy, innocent tone she had six years earlier, and she's smartly changed the musical style to fit her voice. I still will never be able to reconcile this Swedish singer singing about Texas though.
    • Gordon's Gardenparty (1994)
      Bluest Eyes in Texas (2001)
  • The musical score to The Illusionist was written by Phillip Glass, which is not an unusual thing. However, five minutes into it, any musician familiar with his piece, Facades, would realize that he just wrote three or four variations on that work and played them in various permutations throughout the entire movie. (Some listeners would argue that that's how he wrote his entire songbook, but that's neither here nor there).

  • "We're not dealing with Philip Glass here; we're dealing with someone who can write music." - Dr. Peter Spencer

  • The last "hometown" act I plugged was Preston Grey featuring Dave McGarry, and now I've got another one for anyone who likes to spice up their day with acoustic acts:. Rebecca Berlin went to my high school several years after I graduated. I first came across her music (composed and sung by her) when I worked as a composer/arranger for the band director back in 2000, and found one of her high school songs in my files during last week's cleanup session. Relying on the Google workhorse, I found that she's still writing and has some decent samples up on her page. I'm also a sucker for artistic lyrics that aren't just "I went to the store / and bought me a door / make that four / four doors" and female vocalists with a clear timbre (see also, Nina Persson, Natalie Imbruglia, Sita, and Tracy Shayne).

  • Here are ten bite-sized examples of "that's neat!" moments from music I listen to:
    • Nina Persson says "Bubbles" in Happy Meal
      The Hi-Lo's become a musical saw in Italian Street Song
      Bobby McFerrin vocalizes Spain with Chick Corea
      The Tonight Show band does a bloated round in Jumpin' at the Woodside
      Kansas destroys the barline yet again in Journey from Mariabronn
      KT Tunstall builds up to beat the crap out of the high note but then jukes into prettiness in Universe and You
      Muse dabbles in twelve-tone disco music in Space Dementia
      Scissor Sisters dabbles in Pink Floyd disco music in Comfortably Numb
  • To continue with the disco theme, this month's Funny Song of the Moment is "Bra Size 45" by Ivor Biggun .

  • I had the pleasure of hearing the greatest song ever written on XM last week -- it's a shame it doesn't get more air time, considering that it was essentially the theme song for the URI! Zone in 2005.

  • I've recently heard a good bit of Rhythms Del Mundo on XM Radio -- remixes of popular works by groups like Coldplay and Arctic Monkeys against Cuban rhythms and instrumentations. Not all of them are successfully, but they're definitely an interesting take on the songs. The songs are at their worst when it becomes apparent that the original singers weren't singing in tune (but then again Franz Ferdinand never sings in tune).

  • You can HAVIDOL
    Dad tackles wrestler
    iTunes fingers piano fraud

    tagged as music, reviews | permalink | 2 comments

    Thursday, February 21, 2008

    Capsule Review Day: TV Shows (Part II of II)

    there are no major spoilers in these reviews

    Here is part two of my TV Shows Reviews update. The first part was posted last Thursday .

    Heroes (Sci-Fi):
    Everyday people realize they have extraordinary abilities and try to save the world.

    1 Neat comic stylings with fun characters and mysteries. Nikki's stories get old. Sometimes they refilm scenes in recaps and change the dialogue for no good reason. Finale shows that they obviously ran out of special effects money. B

    LOST (Sci-Fi / Character Drama):
    A plane crashes on a mysterious island in the South Pacific.

    1 Figuring out what the heck is going on. You realize after the fact that in a couple episodes, absolutely nothing happened. A-
    2 The introduction of Desmond and Mr. Eko The introduction of Ana-Lucia. The whole hatch story starts getting ridiculous. A-
    3 Very strong individual episodes. Drags in the middle, love triangles are dumb. B+

    Malcolm in the Middle (Sitcom):
    A boy genius (and the middle child) tells about his dysfunctional family life.

    1 Lots of laughs. Boys haven't hit puberty yet. Only one season released because of song rights conflicts with They Might Be Giants. B+

    MI-5 (Spy / Character Drama):
    A British version of Alias without the mysticism. I stopped watching after two seasons.

    1 Good lead actors and interesting episodes. Some people don't like British shows -- a different style. Pilot is horrible. B-
    2 The emergency drill episode is one of the best episodes of any show I've seen. Entertaining enough to watch over dinner, but not enough to keep devoting time to. B+

    Prison Break (Thriller):
    A man attempts to break his brother out of jail for a crime he didn't commit -- from the inside.

    1 High intensity all the way through, keeps you watching. T-Bag is a great character. Occasionally too intense. Veronica is more annoying than Kim Bauer A
    2 Entertaining. T-Bag is still an excellent character. Loses some focus from a change in setting. Finale cliffhanger is stupid. B+

    Scrubs (Sitcom):
    An alternately funny and touching show about residents in a hospital.

    1 (The Intern Year) Tone of show hasn't quite been settled. Not as funny as later seasons. B+
    2 (The Resident Year)   A-
    3 (Carla and Turk are engaged) Michael J. Fox guest stars Tara Reid is annoying. A
    4 (Carla and Turk are married) Heather Graham guest stars in a perfect role.   A
    5 (JD has interns) Humour and setups starting to get stale B
    6 (JD is an expectant father, Carla has a baby) The musical episode is great The rest of the season is occasionally funny B-

    Six Feet Under (Character Drama):
    The story of a dysfunctional family who owns a funeral home.

    1 Interesting, fresh show. I was already tired of Brenda by the end of this season. A-
    2 A slow burn builds your interest in the characters. Drags a bit. A-
    3   Lisa stories are a little annoying. Like all HBO shows, this one starts to abuse dream sequences. B
    4 David's stories really shine this season.   A-
    5 Series finale makes the entire series worthwhile. Most of the season leading up to the mid-season crisis is forgettable. B+

    Sopranos (Crime / Family Drama):
    The story of Tony Soprano, a family man and a Family man.

    1 Strong writing, great characters   A
    2   Not as tight as the original season. Everyone looks the same. A-
    3   Plots start to wander, and threads just stop. B
    4 Edie Falco and Joe Pantoliano are great this season. Still not a lot of continuity. B+
    5 Steve Buscemi is fun, as always. I'd stopped caring about many of the characters by this point. B
    6 Nice wrap-up. Didn't need to be split into two parts. B+

    Undeclared (Sitcom):
    The life of a freshman trying to reinvent himself after high school. Cancelled during the first season.

    1 Funny, light, and doesn't take much brain power to enjoy. Over before you know it. B+

    Veronica Mars (Crime / Teen Drama):
    Sassy, unpopular high school girl solves crimes and does Dawson's Creeky things.

    1 Great dialogue, decent mystery story, good characters. Melodrama is girly. A
    2 More of the same. New characters are forgettable. Story is so convoluted that lots of threads are never resolved. A-
    3 College makes a great backdrop for the show. Plots are finished but never really wrapped up. New characters are forgettable. Cliffhanger in finale makes you wish they hadn't cancelled the show. A-

    Restaurant apologizes for F Word on Bill
    Big bottomed girls
    Garments of the losing team are obviously unwanted

    tagged as reviews | permalink | 4 comments

    Monday, February 21, 2011

    Weekend Wrap-up

    I would normally exploit the socialist secular sabbath that is a Federal Holiday as a prime excuse not to post an update, but the posts from Wednesday through Friday of last week are embarrassingly impervious to literary appreciation. In recompense, you get this bonus update. Smashing!

    This weekend was marked by a lot of highs and lows, but from a perspective that is more geospatial and less emo. We hiked the Occoquan Trail between Fountainhead and Bull Run, which totals up to about 19 miles if you include all of the scampering around looking for unlocked bathrooms. As someone who is no longer in the 2nd quartile of youth, I played my "old" card and stopped at the 11 mile mark (and thankfully, my big toenails did not turn black and fall off), but Rebecca, Emily, and Other Brian made it all the way to the end.

    After a brief nap and a foot-soaking, I met back up with them in Fairfax for some well-deserved pizza and Kona beers, specifically the one we had on our honeymoon. The others were walking rather crookedly after those last 7 miles, which leads me to believe that they had to ride some bulls in or around the Run.

    On Sunday, we met up with Rebecca's coworker, Ashley, in Reston for some sushi at Obi Sushi. The restaurant was trendy and mid-range on prices, and the sushi we tried was good, but like wines, our connoisseurship for sushi falls discretely into "awful", "good", and "great", so this might not be saying much. In the afternoon, Rebecca made a batch of chocolate chip cookies, while I battled some malware that somehow ended up on my Vista laptop during an automatic Windows Update at 3 in the morning.

    We closed the evening by starting the third Pirates of the Caribbean movie, and we're almost through the opening credits now!

    Rusty Knife Removed From Man's Head After 4 Years
    Memos: Firefighter refused call to Tucson shooting
    Scientists discover how to make squids go completely berserk

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

    Tuesday, February 21, 2012

    Music Tuesday

    This is a recording of my Solo and Ensemble performance as a freshman in 1993, in the days when "staccato" meant "as short as possible" with none of that "detached" subversiveness in the mix. "Missing a lot of notes" also meant "getting a Superior rating", because every young musician is a gem to be coddled.

    tagged as music | permalink | 3 comments

    Thursday, February 21, 2013

    Review Day

    There are no spoilers in these reviews.

    Think Python by Allen B. Downey:
    This is the book I'm using to learn Python. It's written for a beginning CS major and is well below my level, but is pretty good pedagogically and does as much (if not more) to teach CS fundamentals as it does Python. The part I like, and the reason I picked it, is the inclusion of exercises to try at home. More programming books should include these.

    Final Grade: B+

    Grow Up and Blow Away by Metric:
    This album walks the fine line between weird and catchy, and often pops up on my "Bird and the Bee" Pandora station. I enjoyed about half of the songs, but the whole thing is not even 40 minutes long. The only short thing associated with an album is the Asian listening to it.

    Final Grade: B-

    Gamers at Work by Morgan Ramsey:
    This book is a collection of interviews of prominent people who started their own computer game companies. It has the same problems as Coders at Work: most people aren't really interesting enough to sustain an entire meandering chapter. I would have preferred to see the interviews distilled and compressed to just the interesting parts. The book also focuses more on the entrepreneurial aspect of starting a company rather than the design of games, and I would have enjoyed the latter more.

    Final Grade: C-

    Cougar Town, Season Three:
    This was the final, abbreviated season of the show before ABC cancelled it and TBS picked it up. It's pleasant and has plenty of laughs, often feeling like a version of Scrubs/Friends without any pathos or serious drama. Fun enough as a throwaway show.

    Final Grade: B

    tagged as reviews | permalink | 0 comments

    Friday, February 21, 2014

    List Day: 10 Ways To Increase Winter Olympics Viewership

    1. All of the figure skating routines must occur simultaneously, with a new technical scoring category for collision avoidance.

    2. Each day of coverage must have a completely fresh set of commercials.

    3. During speedskating, a wildcard polar bear must be set loose on the ice.

    4. In biathlon, the rifle shooting range must revolve. It points at the slower competitors until half of the racers have shot, and then revolves 180 degrees up the course so that surviving slowpokes can wing the people in the lead.

    5. In a similar vein, all events in which people race simultaneously must include Mario Kart turtle shells to be thrown at competitors. Red and green only -- blue shells are retarded.

    6. Olympic interviews must follow the format of the game, "Whose Line?" from the show, Whose Line Is It Anyways?, in which the athlete answers questions by reading innuendo-laced lines off of pieces of paper in their pockets, written before the event by the spectators.

    7. In events with complex mathematical scoring systems, judges must show their work or risk not being counted. There is no partial credit.

    8. The Skeleton event must be rebranded with a more exciting name that more aptly describes what goes on, like "Quadriplegic Bullet". Bonus points if the new name can be used as a the name of a band.

    9. All halfpipe events must begin with double the starting velocity, by ejecting the athletes out of a pneumatic slingshot.

    10. Summer Olympians, especially Michael Phelps, must participate in an exhibition round of figure skating.

    tagged as lists, favourites | permalink | 5 comments

    Wednesday, February 21, 2018

    Time-lapsed Blogography Day: Sixteen Years Ago Today

    Sixteen years ago today was Thursday, February 21, 2002.

    As a music grad student in Tallahassee, the day opened with Fugue class where we steadily worked through the fugues in the Well-Tempered Clavier (which still sits on my bookshelf today). Afterwards, Kathy, Mark, and I went to Mike's to play Scrabble and pool on his recently-delivered pool table that took up his entire apartment living room. In the evening, Jim Barry joined the 4 of us at Momo's for pizza and the group broke up for the night around 9.

    Mark, who also lived in the cinderblock bunker known as Parkwood with me, came back to my apartment to play Conker's Bad Fur Day on the N64. This day was Day One of Mark quitting smoking and he needed some way to distract himself from wanting a cigarette. We played some Conker mini-game that resembled Call of Duty until 2 in the morning, storming a WWII beach with anthropomorphic cartoon squirrels, with Mark periodically interjecting that he could "really go for a cigarette right now".

    Here's a picture of Mark, myself, and the MRSA stains on Mike's apartment walls from that era:

    tagged as memories | permalink | 3 comments

    Friday, February 21, 2020

    DIY Day: Crawlspace Rejuvenation, Part II of II

    Continued from Part I

    Monday: Cut and install the remaining drywall, while explaining to Maia that you secure the ceiling pieces by wearing them like a turtle shell and drilling over your head.
    Tuesday: Spackle the gaps caused by your earlier poor measurements. Quick dry it with a portable dehumidifier then sand it all down.
    Tuesday: Apply a layer of primer and then use up the can of paint most likely to rust out in the coming year (Creamy Beige, last used in the living room in 2012). Paint with little regard for perfection, reasoning that no one will ever look in this room ever again.
    Tuesday: Cut the remnants of carpet not savaged by mouse poop to class things up just slightly.
    Wednesday: Move all of the junk back into the crawlspace to be forgotten, at least until the next themed holiday arrives.

    Bonus: Let Maia vandalize one wall since she really wanted to help paint.

    tagged as day-to-day | permalink | 2 comments

    Monday, February 21, 2022

    Easy Photos Day

    Puzzling together.

    Ian in the woods.

    Soccer time.

    Classic game time.

    Ian ages.

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

    Wednesday, February 21, 2024

    Pet Peeve of the Moment

    My first-world pet peeve at the moment is the modern trend towards car colors that barely count as colors.

    These colors are like the La Croix of the color palette -- some paint engineer was thinking of the word, "blue", punched in the hex code #000088 in Photoshop, and then layered in all fifty shades of grey to produce that magical commercial hue, "Subtle Notes of Light Pale Turquoise Seen Through a Piece of Paper™". Then it gets slapped on a car and falsely advertised as something edgy and adventuresome, like a 44-year-old at a Dave Matthews concert who's also wearing a Jimmy Buffet ball cap.

    The cars drive down the road like color-devouring black holes, simultaneously absorbing light and your sense of excitement. Gone are the vibrant, metallic shades of primary colors of yesteryear, replaced by boring, matte-finish blandness that looks like you tried to print a photo on an inkjet printer but the cyan cartridge was the only one not clogged.

    It's like being a kid and asking your parents if you can get McDonald's on the way home and they say, "No, we have food at home," but then you get home and dinner is a hot dog boiled in a pot of water with no buns. (This is a true story).

    tagged as random | permalink | 1 comment


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