This Day In History: 03/21

Thursday, March 21, 2002

The head of the department spoke to a few composers after class yesterday about our opinions of the three faculty candidates, although the decision had already been made. Although we weren't supposed to be told who was hired, it became entirely apparent that they've hired Dr. Broening of the University of Richmond, with Dr. Callendar of Northern Illinois University as a backup. It was mentioned that the race was extremely close and that the final decision came down to teaching experience and gut instincts on intelligence. It's interesting that they wouldn't want the best composer to fill the position, but I guess the committee has different priorities when it's composed largely of theorists, rather than composers. Both of the two candidates are agreeable, of course; the finalists just weren't ordered in the same order as I would have expected them to be.

I think my summer plans are fairly codified now. After an exam on April 23, I'll drive up to Blacksburg on the 24th and spend some time there as my "vacation". Then I'll settle into my dual residency in northern Virginia and start working full-time on May 1. I'll stop working on August 2, and return to Tallahassee some time in the following week. That will give me about two weeks to take care of residency, help people move, and get settled in before classes start on August 26.

I've posted a few recently scanned pictures on the Photos page -- mainly some pictures from Pool Table day, and a few extras from more recently.

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Friday, March 21, 2003

I was busy yesterday entertaining Nikki and getting observed while teaching sight singing so I didn't have a chance to put up a meaningful update. Nikki left a few hours ago, shortly after what appeared to be a successful audition, so now I can fall back into my regularly scheduled programming. There's new pictures of Booty and Chompy on the Photos page -- this summer I'll redo the Photos page so it's a little less cluttered and easier to use.

Having a cat is having the ability to throw trash on the floor and call it 'a toy'.

Melting pot of online gaming
Irish Snoopy finds greener pastures
Israeli Company Preparing Pets for War
Will Mom and Dad Puh-leeze Shut Up?

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Sunday, March 21, 2004

Alias!

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Monday, March 21, 2005

I've been listening to Origin of Symmetry, an import album by Muse, and as usual, I think it's really good. The first half is more promising than the last half, and there are no "hit" songs on it, but it's a real album (something you don't find often these days). One of the things I like about Muse is that their music is accessible and hard-hitting while still remaining artistic and musical. Also, their songs are more heavy-handed than angry and they get some neat effects out of their instruments.

This album is definitely more "noisy" than my favourite album, Absolution, but it uses noise to the fullest effect. Songs are tied together thematically and sometimes through shared ostinatos or noisy segues.

Here are two extended samples from the CD (in easy-to-download mono MP3 format) to give you a taste. Feel free to share your thoughts in the Comments section or on the Forum. I particularly like the chromatically descending chorus in Space Dementia (all twelve tones!), and the reuse of similar bass rhythms between two songs in dissimilar styles.

Space Dementia (757KB MP3)
Hyper Music / Plug In Baby (1MB MP3)

I have to admit though, that I hate the CD itself. It's one of those fake-out multimedia CDs that pretends to give you bonus computer features so you can't play it on your computer. I had to record the entire thing to a MiniDisc, copy it onto my computer, and burn it to a CD just so I could listen to it somewhere away from my car or my living room.

For more Muse, see my entries from December 30, 2004, and October 25, 2004.

A movie can't fail when you describe it as 'Titanic in Space', can it?
Two women want to marry Peterson
Bono is now a world policy consultant
Freebird!

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Tuesday, March 21, 2006

You are bidding on the authentic lunchbox discussed in the February 15th edition of the famous URI! Zone blog . This is the ONLY "lunchbox owned by BU in the late 80s" available for public consumption, and was recently rediscovered in the basement of his childhood home.

The front of the box features Gizmo next to his carrying case, and Billy Peltzer in the background. The back of the box shows Gizmo speeding through the hardware store in the climactic final scene and also has an authentic lime scratch n' sniff sticker in the lower right corner. Amber the cat not included.

The Thermos is a veritable treasure trove of Gremlins lore -- the front says, "Stripe is a Gremlin" and has a picture of the devious villain from the first movie. The back says, "Gizmo is a Mogwai" and has a cartoon likeness of the lovable troll-looking motherlover that's very similar to the millions of mass produced plasticine dolls produced around 1986. If you spin the Thermos around very fast, it looks like Gizmo is turning into Stripe, which didn't really happen in the movie, but COULD HAVE IF GIZMO HAD EATEN AFTER MIDNIGHT!!!

You can tell this is the real deal because of the signs of wear inside the lunchbox. The hinges and metal edges are corroded from years of milk and mushy apples, although the do-it-yourself instructions for placing the Thermos inside the lunchbox still shine as brightly as the day it was bought. Removing the Thermos lid reveals a thin layer of sediment around the threads, obvious evidence of multiple years of milk, crusted and flaked like dead skin on an old guy.

This is a once-in-a-lifetime buy. You could be a part of history by owning BU's lunchbox! Proceeds will go to the BU Foundation for Writing Scientology Music. Bid now! And don't get it wet!!!!!!!


Congratulations to Kathy and Chris, who are now engaged! I enlarged the ring to increase my female readership, since that's the part they care about the most.

Robbers hit cashless credit union
Eat this pizza or I'll stab you
Humphrey, cat of scandal, dies

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Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Name that Tune Contest Results

Congratulations to Kathy Biddick Smith for correctly guessing six of the ten bass lines in last week's Name That Tune contest! Runner-up was Anna with four -- each of them will receive a gift certificate to Amazon.com for $10 and $5, respectively.

  1. Kathy (6)
  2. Anna (4)
  3. Kim and Sam (2)
  4. Rebecca (1)

The table below contains the original bass lines as well as a sample of the actual song. Highlight the super secret invisible column to read the correct answers.

#Bass LineRecordingAnswerWho got it?
1Blacked-Eyed Peas - Let's Get Retarded (Let's Get It Started)Kathy, Anna, K&S
2AC / DC - You Shook Me All Night LongKathy, Anna
3B-52s - Love ShackKathy
4Beach Boys - Wouldn't It Be NiceNobody
5No Doubt - It's My LifeNobody
6Blood, Sweat, and Tears - Spinning WheelKathy
7The Cardigans - LovefoolKathy
8Aerosmith - PinkNobody
9The Bangles - Walk Like an EgyptianKathy, Anna
10Michael Jackson - Billie JeanAnna, K&S, Rebecca

I believed that #1 and #2 were gimmes, and that #3, #4, and #7 were the least likely to be discovered. Apparently there was conspiracy and intrigue surrounding #5, as my researched information put it five years earlier than it was actually released. This would have pushed it into this decade rather than the 90s. Because of this blatant skewing of the contest, I'm giving everyone who entered the contest one extra point. Thanks for playing!

So what should my next Audience Participation Contest entail?

Stinky shoes for a $2500 prize
Porn spices up evening news
Germans in an uproar over zookeeper's cuddly Knut.

tagged as contests | permalink | 8 comments

Friday, March 21, 2008

Friday Fragments

♠ I still don't understand the draw of Amy Winehouse. Her song, Monkey Man comes on XM all the time now, and it sounds like she's barely sober enough to phonetically sound out all the lyrics . Maybe people just like the real-life drama aspect of her persona, since she's on so many drugs that she could easily pass for a cocaine-addled animatronic puppet.

♠ We went to Chuck E. Cheese for dinner on Wednesday night for giggles' sake, and had some surprisingly tasty pizza while watching various stuffed animals sing the alphabet song. Because of corporate downsizing, Chuck himself was the only animatronic puppet present -- the rest of the gang (like the dog and the cat) were relegated to backup band status on the video monitors.

♠ Booty is going to be starting a band any day now, and has decided that the band's name will be Booty and the Hellofish. Amber doesn't really want to change her name to Hellofish, but she has no marketable musical talent. Meanwhile, Booty can play a mean guitar with three chords: ii, VII, and V+.

♠ Chomped Mike left Guitar Hero at my house when he came to visit on St. Patrick's Day, but I still haven't had a chance to give it a shot. Maybe I'll have some time this weekend to sit down with it -- between work and Europe, time is scarce!

♠ We've now plotted out most of our Europe trip through southern France, mostly thanks to the planning skills of Rebecca. This weekend, we'll probably look at hotels in Collioure and Barcelona. Thanks to Chomped Mike, I will also be able to do occasional updates to this page from Europe, so you'll be spared a "best of the URI! Zone" sabbatical (in the wretched style of Jim Davis) or even worse, no updates at all!

♠ Chomped Mike is not an official moniker yet... I'm trying out several possibilities and will choose the best one based on audience feedback and poetic flow.

♠ This weekend is also Easter, which means I will be penitent and thankful for the fact that I no longer have to play trumpet in some last-minute service like I did all through college. Sure, the extra money was nice, but I can earn a lot more per hour by posting my music on Myspace and being a hooker.

♠ Tomorrow is Aaron Ulm and Jen Graves' birthdays. Happy Birthday! Have a great weekend!

Red light cameras too good for their own good?
Chile's disaffected 'Pokemones' don't care much about politics. They're too busy having sex.
It's illegal to sell states on eBay

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Monday, March 21, 2011

Weekend Wrap-up

Corned Beef Day in the URI! Household

Swedish police seize musical deadly weapon
Times online pay model was years in the making
4-year-old's Ivy League chances are ruined

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Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Oliver Day

In memory of my sister's cat, Oliver, who died at 12 years old last Friday, here is a video montage of his joyous interactions with Booty and Kitty in 2003 and 2004. Oliver just didn't care what anyone thought of him.



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Thursday, March 21, 2013

Review Day: Starcraft II: Heart of the Swarm

Starcraft II has become the Hobbit of video gaming, strung out into an unnecessary trilogy to net a few extra bucks for Activision Blizzard. I reviewed the first part two years ago and still agree with my review: a fun single-player campaign with an awful multiplayer interface and forgettable storyline.

Starcraft II Part 2: The Serpent Isle Heart of the Swarm was released last Tuesday, surrounded by buzz equating it to Empire Strikes Back. This tells me nothing since I found the entire Star Wars trilogy to be rather dull, but apparently the comparison means that it's a little darker in tone than the first game (and will be followed by some dancing Muppets in part 3). The bottom line up front is that I'm underwhelmed by this $40 expansion pack. And shouldn't the saying be "bottom line at the top", since bottoms and fronts are orthagonal?

For what is essentially a mission pack built upon the original game engine, there's not a lot to show for two years of development. There are over twenty missions ranging from short to moderately short in length, and a handful of overly-hyped Evolution Missions which are really just boring tutorials that let you try out different skills before committing to them. In fact, much of the game felt like a tutorial -- after beating the game in under 20 hours, I felt no inclination to go back and replay anything on a harder difficulty level or to try for one of million achievements.

The biggest obstacle to enjoying this game is the overabundance of loading screens. Everything has a loading screen with stock images of spaceships and a progress bar that churns more slowly than a Snoopy Sno Cone machine. I have a reasonably speedy computer, and loading screens averaged around thirty seconds. Just as you've gained some momentum and are enjoying a mission, you beat it and hit a loading screen for a cinematic, followed by a loading screen for the menu where you start the next mission. There's a loading screen before the leaderboard that shows how you did on a mission, and another loading screen immediately afterwards. Common sense would dictate that if we're going to be looking at a screen for a minute or two, you could take the initiative to start loading things in the background, but apparently the company is now so big that the loading screen guy works in a different country from the leaderboard guy.

This dispersal of responsibility makes the whole experience very sterile. The individual production values are top-notch: the graphics are amazing, and the storyline shows minor improvement from its previous position at "net negative literary value", but the parts don't make a unified, satisfying whole. The only heart in the game is in the title. I had the same feeling about Diablo III, and now it's apparent that it's a shortcoming of having a huge gaming company and throwing millions of dollars at things without any vision beyond earnings for the fiscal year.

I don't have any thoughts on the multiplayer side of the house because I will never reach a competitive skill level, but I do think that it's ridiculous that basic features like "Exit Game Without Exiting Through Ten Layers of Menus" and "Go Invisible on battle.net" still aren't present after so many years of requests. Blizzard is as naive about their social strategy as Google Plus was. They probably still think that we're in that idyllic age of social media around 2006, when we added hundreds of friends on Facebook simply because we might have seen them in the hall one time in fifth grade.

Save your money and read my old battle reports instead for free entertainment.

Final Grade: C at $40, but up to a B if you find it in a bargain bin

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Friday, March 21, 2014

Random Hearthstone Stats

  • Favorite Classes to Play: Paladin, Druid, then Mage.

  • Least Favorite Classes to Play Against: Priest, Priest, then Hunter.

  • Favorite Utility Card: Defender of Argus

  • Favorite Legendary Card: Leeroy Jenkins (although I've only found 2 legendary cards so far)

  • Currently Play Style: Using the deck on the right as my primary Paladin deck, I try to rush / aggro until my failure is obvious. I then hunker down and try to outlast. It is not super-effective but I like tailoring the deck to my play style rather than picking a pre-made deck off of the Internet.

  • Current Weakness: I try to trigger too many moves that look fun to play, like double Knife Jugglers with double Unleash The Hounds on turn 8. The most interesting moves are usually not game-winning, as there are no points for style. This is also why I fail at playing Scrabble with Kathy or Mike.

  • Buy a Deck or Play the Arena?: Although a basic home ec class could tell you that buying a deck for 100 gold is a worse deal than playing in the Arena with the chance to win extra decks for 150 gold, I usually end up just buying. Instant gratification is worth 50 gold.

  • New Emotes Needed: "Hurry up and play!" and /train. I do like that there's no trash-talking possible between random opponents though.

  • New Features Needed: An observer mode where friends can watch each other play and mock while drinking. A way to hide all of the stupid golden cards when building your deck.

  • Real People Who Are Playing: Anna, Rebecca, Larry, Evil Mike, 3rd Mike, Mary

  • Fake Internet People Who Are Playing: SnowSquall, Klunky, KC

tagged as games | permalink | 8 comments

Monday, March 21, 2016

Weekend Wrap-up

On Friday, we had dinner at Old Ox Brewery, featuring a chicken sandwich and meatball sub from The Farm Effect food truck and a shared sampler featuring a couple fruity beers that were not our favourites. It was too cool to sit outside, so we sat nears TVs running March Madness endlessly to no one that cared.

On Saturday, we hosted a small St. Patrick's Day gathering featuring 5.86 pounds of corned beef and assorted starches and vegetables. I stocked up on supplies at Costco in the morning, then spent the day managing the appropriate level of simmer in the stock pots.

Sunday mainly involved eating immense amounts of leftovers and doing chores around the house. We watched The Imitation Game in the afternoon, which was another resume builder for Benedict Cumberbatch that demonstrated his effectiveness playing an asshole.

How was your weekend?

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Wednesday, March 21, 2018

List Day: 10 More Things I Will Never Understand the Appeal Of

to go with the original 25

  • Sour beers

  • Funko Pop collectibles

  • Using "Adult" as a verb

  • Risotto

  • Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

  • Snapchat

  • Los Angeles

  • Historical dramas

  • Fidget spinners

  • Bitcoin

tagged as lists | permalink | 6 comments

Monday, March 21, 2022

Easy Photos Day

Maia went to her friend's 5th birthday party in Falls Church on Saturday and may have ridden the pony several hundred times. She decided to dress up as Belle from Beauty and the Beast here.

When it was time for cake, Maia called out, "Move back, move back!" so the birthday girl would have room to be in the center.

On Sunday, we went to yet another 5th birthday party (for twins!) at the insane indoor playground in Ashburn called Hyperkidz. Notice that Maia is one of the smaller kids in her class. She is also dressed as Mirabel from Encanto.

Meanwhile, Ian got a little bit older.

tagged as day-to-day | permalink | 4 comments

 

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