This Day In History: 03/24
"He has no genitalia, and he's holding a sword." - Dustin Hoffman, describing his Oscar to the audiences
It's time for the URI! Domain's Horribly Uneducated Picks for the Oscars?! Since I've actually seen very few of the movies nominated this year (the ones with dots next to them), I'll do what any good statistician would do -- make things up, rely on natural prejudices, and go on gut instincts. Feel free to e-mail me if you blatantly disagree with a pick, or I've overlooked one of your all-time favourite movies.
Best performance by an actor in a leading role
Best performance by an actor in a supporting role
Best performance by an actress in a leading role
Best performance by an actress in a supporting role
Best animated feature film of the year
Achievement in art direction
Achievement in cinematography
Achievement in costume design
Achievement in directing
Best documentary feature
Best documentary short subject
Achievement in film editing
Best foreign language film of the year
Achievement in makeup
Achievement in music in connection with motion pictures
Best original song
Best motion picture of the year
Best animated short film
Best live action short film
Achievement in sound
Achievement in sound editing
Achievement in visual effects
Screenplay based on material previously produced or published
Screenplay written directly for the screen
In other news, Freddie Got Fingered was voted as the worst movie of the year, earning five Razzie Awards at the ceremony .
My Oscar picks were dismal -- I correctly prophesized four of the twenty-four categories. That's the last time I let Booty have any input on the matter. Booty has new pictures on the Photos page, by the way.
I finally finished reading Victor Hugo's Les Miserables again this week, after diving into it at the beginning of January. Despite Hugo's frequent tendency to get off on political and social tangents, the story of the characters is really well-done and ties together quite nicely. I hadn't read it in about five years, but it still ends the same way.
The new Reston office is not a bad space. I'm sharing an office with high-school-Jack and we have a window facing east overlooking a small grassy courtyard fertilized with copious goose poop. The Northrop Grumman building looms on the other side of the courtyard (about four stories higher), but our window is close enough to the corner to have a view of the sunrise over Reston (until it eclipses behind NGIT).
The offices are slightly smaller than Dulles and the corridors are like a rat's warren, but there's still not a cubicle in sight. As an added bonus, going to the restroom from my office is a straight shot, unlike the Yellow Brick Road spiral I had to traverse in the old building. The restroom is much more industrial feeling and has automatic sensors on everything. Flushing the toilet could suck a small child or a puppy out to sea in about 0.2 seconds, so you need to make sure your toilet paper has no hanging chad before you flush or tragedy could strike.
The network is still a little flaky -- I've been downloading a JDK for a project since I got in this morning and it's going at a healthy 1.3KB/sec. Only ten hours left...
Yesterday's notable search terms:
operating a toll plaza, percussion cadence "word up", sailor moon poring in bed, hypnotism laws in san diego, maryville high school graduate 1994, hold on - kristy mcnichol, hindemith chord tension, fun fog facts
Ruby Tuesday's redone their menu again and they now have some great Chicken Tenders with mild wing-sauce. Their fry seasoning still sucks though. After dinner, we went out to show Anna's associated relatives the townhouse in Manassas.
I've moved the calendar to the right side of the page, reducing the black hole count by one. I broke down and threw some HTML tables into the code because my CSS books are all at work. Tables get the job done so much faster when you don't plan on changing the site anytime soon. Besides, the W3C validator says my page is perfect in every way, so who am I to argue with standards?
This weekend, I'll add a daily random picture to the news page.Chili is now finger food
You need a Chiquita Banana sticker on your forehead
The Wii has risen above the naysayers who predicted that no one would enjoy its unique control scheme, and kooky games on other systems like the karaoke Singstar, Rock Band, and Guitar Hero have continued to show that the population's thirst for innovative games has not been quenched. However, not every game is an automatic success! Here are three Wii games that never made it out of Quality Assurance.
Players move around a simulated world as a photojournalist, with quests like "Take a picture of Farmer Brown's Prize Swine". By holding the Wiimote like an Instamatic and saying "chk chk" into the microphone, players take fun and artistic shots and then upload them to be judged against the shots of other players across the world. The loading screen warns, "Make sure there is nothing you might trip over before you cover up your eyes with the Wiimote. Do not use near stairs.".
Hold your Wiimote at waist level and try to fill up an onscreen urinal without any spillage. Tutorial mode shows how you can adjust the angle of the Wiimote to acheive greater distance on the later levels, where the urinal moves farther away, or oscillates from left to right. Make sure to jiggle your Wiimote to get out the last few drops when you're all done!
Based on the 1988 Far Side comic, this game was originally going to be one of the sampler games shipped in Wii Sports. Two players face each other holding their Wiimotes and execute a slapping motion any time the animated cat swings around the onscreen pole. The game would also have shipped with dog masks, because it's not cruel when cats are tortured by dogs, just hilarious for the entire family. The loading screen reminds players to "securely adjust the Wiimote wrist strap to prevent accidents and to make sure that the eye holes on the dog masks are lined up with your pupils".
I wrote the following story for the city-wide Reflections contest in 1995. The theme and tagline of this contest was "Just Open Your Eyes...", but I doubt they expected it to be treated in a snarky manner. In spite of this, I got second place and got to shake the hand of one of our esteemed City Councilmen.
Deep in the savannah, there lived an ant. Now this was not your everyday ant. He resided in a cairn of pebbles at the base of a plant. Since he lived in the savannah, he had seen many wild and majestic beasts. But one day he told me that he'd never seen an elephant.
So after tidying up his home, he packed his bags and left his plant in search of an elephant. Being an ant, of course, he had trouble seeing things that were high above the ground. He wandered through the savannah for several days and finally came to a halt at a spring.
"Excuse me," the ant said to the monkey who squatted by the water's edge, "I am looking for an elephant. Do you know where I can find one?"
The monkey swallowed a draught water and replied, "Head away from the water's edge towards those foothills and you shall find a herd of elephants. You cannot miss them."
The ant thanked the monkey and went on his way. He soon left the pleasant atmosphere of the savannah and entered a jungle. These trees had trunks which were much thicker than any the ant had seen in the savannah. And being an ant, of course, he couldn't tell how tall the trees were since they were so far above his head. He wandered through the jungle for several hours, and after so much walking, he felt that he deserved a quick nap. So he crawled to the base of a tree and slept. When he woke up, he stretched, yawned, and wiggled his antennae.
About this time, a beetle happened by the ant. "Excuse me, beetle, I am looking for an elephant. Do you know where I can find one?"
The beetle looked at the ant for a moment and then pointed up. The ant nodded. "I see, The elephants live up in these trees. Thank you for you help." But the beetle had already left, evidently in a hurry to get his errands done.
The ant crawled up a tree trunk in search of elephants. Vines occasionally swished past the trees. Sometimes, he could feel the air disturbed by the steady swaying of vines. At the top, he found himself on a gently rolling plateau.
This tree must have brought me up to a cliff, thought the ant. So he continued his search, but found no elephants. By now, he was getting cross at the monkey and beetle, who had led him astray. A grey bird settled on the plateau near him and the ant scurried closer.
"Hey, grey bird," the ant said somewhat shortly, "do you know where I can find an elephant. I have been lied to by a monkey and a beetle who said that I could find one up here."
The grey bird looked at the ant in surprise and trilled a sudden laugh. "Ant, you were not led astray. The elephant is right before you."
The ant swiveled his head around but saw nothing but the plateau and the bird. "You are lying! I see no elephants, only a plateau and you, grey bird."
The bird cocked its head to one side. "It is right before you. Just open your eyes and see."
"I am! And I see no elephants anywhere!"
"Ah, but that is because you are only seeing what you wish to see. You are blind to that which is right before your eyes." And with those words, the bird flew away.
The ant was angry. "I have journeyed for days and climbed trees to find elephants, but all I have found is the mendacity of my savannah neighbors! All of my hard work has been for naught. I'll bet that there is no such thing as an elephant."
And saying this, the ant climbed back down the elephant's leg and returned to his home in the savannah.Award for parrot that warned of choking baby
DDMSence (pronounced "dee-dee-em-Essence") is the result of three months' worth of unpaid work, and the prime reason why I don't hang out with you anymore (besides the foul odor you call a deodorant). It is an open source Java library (released under the LGPL license) which supports the . A complete technical write-up of the library can be found at the DDMSence website.
For the uninitiated, DDMS is not what girl gamers experience once a month during their tabletop games -- it is a specification which defines a consistent set of "card catalog" details for any resource you might want to make available or discoverable. If everything has a common set of metadata, ordered in a common format, search engines can support this discovery, even if it has no idea how to handle the resource itself. So, you could add a seven pound leg of lamb to a collection of non-fiction books, and as long as they are described in the same way in the card catalog, people will still be able to find your leg of lamb and eat it.
DDMS is written in XML (which is like an anally pedantic set of HTML tags), and my new library converts this XML format into Java objects, essentially allowing DDMS to be easily used in any Java-based environment.
If you have no intention of working for the Department of Defense at any point in your life because of your meth habit, or that hitchhiker you ran over last summer, just know that this is going to be bigger than Booty's homepage, and will probably make me a household name in my house.UK library receives 45-year-overdue book
There are no spoilers in these reviews.
The Office, Season Three:
The third season of The Office introduces the characters from the Stamford branch to keep things fresh. There is a tendency to overuse Ed Helms, who's really only funny in small doses, but the pairing of his character with that of Dwight Schrute makes for some good comedy. As usual, the deleted scenes are almost as good as the final cuts, and some episodes have nearly as many deleted scenes as actual run time.
Final Grade: B+
Hi, How Are You Today? by Ashley MacIsaac:
I first heard Sleepy Maggie on XM last year around St. Patrick's Day, and picked up this CD to provide additional Irish ambience to our St. Patrick's Day dinner. It's an interesting mix of celtic and rock (crock), with a few more traditional sounding fiddle pieces thrown in. It's not a CD you'd want to listen to every day in the car, but it's a fresh change of pace.
Final Grade: B
On Friday evening, we took an abnormal trip into Arlington for a "Beers + Burgers + Bacon" party to celebrate Marv's birthday. The party took place in one of those modern Arlington houses that builds straight up as a pillar supporting the firmanent and makes all of the surrounding houses look like serf sheds in comparison.
On Saturday, I ran errands, like buying a leg of lamb at Costco for a yet-to-be-determined dinner this week, and closing all of the gutter screens on the roof that had flipped open in the most recent wind storm. In the evening, we went to the Smiths for Game Night, where a round of Telestrations flipped "no brainer" into a man with a pet crocodile eating an Airhead candy.
We picked up Bonchon for dinner (our first Bonchon experience), and were satisfied with the Korean-style fried chicken. As part of the assortment we got 5 wings in the hot sauce, but no one could completely finish any of them. Out of Chris, Ben, and Rebecca, Rebecca got the farthest, but even she had to discard part of the crust for protection.
On Sunday, I did my latest online course homework and then watched the Veronica Mars movie with Rebecca. The evening was spent eating leftover Bonchon, playing Diablo and Hearthstone, and starting Veep, Season One.
How was your weekend?
I decided to take the rest of this week off from work to restore some life-work equilibrium. Here are the things I expect to accomplish in the next 6 days.
As motivation, if I don't complete at least 71% of these tasks, I will give a random reader a $5 gift certificate to Amazon.com. Let's get started!
There are no major spoilers in these reviews.
Bridge of Spies (PG-13):
This is a very "safe" Spielburg movie that hits all of the marks you'd expect it to hit. The first hour is incredibly slow-paced, like foreshadowing the Industrial Age with cuneiform, but it gets passably more interesting once the setup is out of the way. It's a little on the long side.
Final Grade: B-
Justified, Season Six:
This show was never really about the plot (which tries one too many double-crosses here) -- it was all about the character interactions and crackling Appalachian dialogue ("I'm so hungry I could eat the ass of a low flying duck"). The cast in this final season is solid (although no one really likes Mary Steenburgen in anything), and the ending is a good one. I actually bought the series set after finishing this up, as it's one of those shows I'll enjoy watching again in a couple years.
Final Grade: A-
The Great Gatsby (PG-13):
This movie was unnecessary, sporadically interesting, and a case study in over-the-top Baz Luhrmann tropes. Tobey Macguire played his typical role with minimal acting involved, not unlike a white Cuba Gooding Jr., and Leo seemed to be simultaneously channeling the Wolf of Wall Street and the Talented Mr. Ripley. This opinion is coming from someone who actually liked Moulin Rouge (of which there are about 4 of us), so it's not just unselective Baz hate. Conversely, Rebecca liked this movie a lot.
Final Grade: C-
Master Apache Spark by Mike Frampton:
This book is chock full of useful code examples for Apache Spark, but is weighed down by too much transitional prose. The author spends so many lines restating his intent for the current section or telegraphing what's coming in the next section that it distracts from the core content. I also felt like there could have been a beginner-to-intermediate chapter added on the Core API, so you should probably read the official Spark docs before diving in here.
Final Grade: B
There are no major spoilers in these reviews.
The exposition of this movie is way too long, as if the director took the classic movie maxim, "Don't show the shark too soon," and turned it into a Mahler symphony. It eventually gets somewhat interesting but then goes off in weird sci-fi directions at the conclusion. I liked the movie the most in the middle 3rd when it was all about linguistics. Skip it.
Final Grade: C-
I Don't Feel At Home In This World Anymore (NR):
This is an interesting indie flick co-starring Elijah Wood as a weird neighbour who joins the lead in a quest to find the people that robbed her house. In spite of a few moments of weird for the sake of weirdness and the ever-escalating violence, I enjoyed it. Free on Netflix.
Final Grade: B
Sausage Party (R):
I'm not really sure of the target market for this movie. It feels like someone put Judd Apatow in cryostasis for ten years and then he tried to make an edgy cartoon that would resonate in 2007 -- this is made more impressive by the fact that Judd Apatow isn't even involved. The movie is a continuous stream of cartoon sex jokes that might be funny if you're extremely high, yet there's a loose real-world moral weakly wrapped around the story that seems silly to include because it's not a cartoon you would ever show your kids. Free on Netflix.
Final Grade: D
This Virtual Reality movie about a hedgehog that can't make friends because he's too prickly to hug actually won an Emmy last year. It's a silly 20 minute Pixar-like cartoon that's made more visceral by the fact that you sit in the middle of the action and the movie plays around you in 3D. It's charming and well-created although it works better as a taste of what a VR movie could one day be than a work of art on its own. Free on the Oculus Rift.
Final Grade: B+
BU: "Looks like we're going to need some more milk pretty soon."
MU: "Put it on the list, Daddy."
MU: "I will have a waffle for breakfast tomorrow."
MU: "Then Mommy can have the rest of the milk on her oatmeal."
BU: "That's very nice of you to think about Mommy."
MU: "Take a picture of me on my horse."
There are no major spoilers in these reviews.
That Was Now by Just Jack:
Just Jack's latest album is a fun outing with a little more energy than the last couple. The song, Genome is the catchiest, and the "Last Song" outstays its welcome with too much sameness.
Final Grade: B
Top Gun: Maverick (PG-13):
As we started this movie, I was telling Rebecca how the original Top Gun was a disappointment because they didn't let Tom Cruise run anywhere. Thankfully, this is resolved in the sequel, as there's exactly one scene involving tons of running. The movie itself was fine -- there's a logical progression to the plot and reasonably clear action scenes, although the tonal shift into comedic buddy movie towards the end felt a little too obvious.
Final Grade: B-
History of the World, Part I (R):
A forgettable pastiche of skits that shouldn't have been any longer than a skit.
Final Grade: D+
This game about a lost cat in a dystopian future has a great style and visual appeal. It's shallow, exploratory gameplay is great for letting Maia watch (although the cat being swarmed by leechy aliens can get a little scary), but it's not so amazing that you'll keep playing to know what happens next. We lost interest about five months ago, probably over halfway through the game.
Final Grade: B-
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