This Day In History: 04/08

Monday, April 08, 2002

Authors of Yesteryear, Part I of VI

This isn't quite expansive enough to be a special feature; it's more like a featurette. This week I'll be posting some brief memories of young adult authors I read as a kid. C.S. Lewis will be the first author covered, since everyone is probably familiar with his most famous series, The Narnia Chronicles. This series was made up of five chronological books detailing the magic adventures of plain English children in the fantasy land of Narnia: Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, Prince Caspian, Voyage of the Dawn Treader, The Silver Chair, and The Last Battle. Between the final two books, Lewis also wrote a prequel and a side-tale, Magician's Nephew, and Horse and His Boy, respectively.

Of all the books, I think Dawn Treader is my favourite, being the first ever "road-trip" story set in a fantasy land. The side tales were interesting in the way Back to the Future Part II was interesting (seeing how events that you're already familiar with came to pass, or could be woven into a new tale) but apart from their nostalgia value, they really weren't good on their own.

It's amazing after the fact just how overtly religious the entire series was. I never noticed it as a kid, but rereading them last summer brought all the good versus evil parables right to the fore. If you have the time, reread the entire series, but replace Aslan the lion with God. Many of the lion's speeches would sound more natural coming from a preacher.

The Narnia series was also turned into a fairly dreadful television adaptation by Wonderworks, each one several hours long and telling the stories in their entirety. I remember watching the first four (a few of which are still on the shelf at home) and wondering why Reepicheep the mouse was obviously a midget in a low-budget mouse suit.

Do you have any anecdotes you'd like to share about Narnia? Feel free to send me an e-mail.

Tomorrow: John Bellairs

This weekend I watched the movie A Simple Plan, which was like Fargo with less downtime. If you haven't seen it, it's definitely worth your time. This is the first DVD I've rented that had no special features or bonus tracks on it -- rent the VHS if it's any cheaper.

It's been years since I added anything new to the Potpourri page, so to breathe a little new life into it, I've posted the article, Survey Says... from the latest edition of Uncle John's Bathroom Reader. It's simply a collection of stupid things said during the Fast Money round of the gameshow, Family Feud.

Q: "Name a bird with a long neck."
A: "Naomi Campbell."

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Thursday, April 08, 2004

Last night's movie was The House of Sand and Fog with Jennifer Connelly and Ben Kingsley -- highly recommended. The movie does a good job of showing all its characters as multidimensional and walks the fine line of melodrama without getting sappy. The James Horner score is actually understated and works pretty well in context too.

We also saw Gothika on Sunday. It was a little creepy but mostly stupid, and way too easy to figure out. Still better than Cold Creek Manor though.

Yesterday's notable search terms:

    smelly pants story, marsalis haydn cadenza, klangfarbenmelodie berg webern schoenberg play theatre, lettermaze

Two year old runs cash register
Circus performer falls from tightrope
Gymnast one ups circus performer

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Friday, April 08, 2005

Here are some recent cat videos for your Friday afternoon:

Slinky Cat (1 MB WMV)
Licking (507KB WMV)
Around and Around (400KB WMV)

Happy Birthday Ben and Diana, and Happy Sunday Birthday, Mom!

Desperate Housewives Photo Flap

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Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Day 8 and we are in Carcassonne which is excellent. It started snowing on the last day in Paris so we gave a big thumbs down to Versailles and fled for the southern coast a day early. So far our decision was highly successful.

Tomorrow we leave for Collioure and then on to Barcelona!

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Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Audience Participation Day

The migraine I had yesterday after an extended day of work eliminated any enthusiasm I might have had for sitting down and writing a Memory Day (which would have been about my stint with the National Guard in Burkina Faso in 1993 and the time I was attacked by a monkey), so I spent yesterday evening lying on the couch watching an episode of Breaking Bad instead. Since today's post is now woefully devoid of real content, please share with me your true stories about migraines, Mograines, or more grains.

Woman calls 911 over lack of shrimp
Man streaks, hoping for deportation
Pet dog found on island after four months

tagged as you speak | permalink | 3 comments

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Review Day

There are no major spoilers in these reviews.

Weeds: Season Five:
I was surprisingly bored during this season, and often had to rewind after getting distracted with the multitasking laptop that always accompanies me when I watch shows. The show just kind of meanders through the season without much sense of direction (see also, marching band drunks in a halftime show). It was funny enough, but a little stale.

Final Grade: C+

Up in the Air:
This movie felt longer than it was, but I was entertained. The number of cameos was a little distracting. A good night of entertainment, but it's not actually going to change your life, despite everyone's rabid foaming. I liked it less than Slumdog Millionaire, another movie that was hyped up the butt.

Final Grade: B-

Getting Stoned with Savages by J. Maarten Troost:
The follow-up to Sex Lives of Cannibals, this book has wry humour and an interesting perspective on travel, but it reads more like an aimless road trip than a standalone adventure (which allows me to reuse the word "meander" again today, since someone stuck in a perpetual state of wanderlust might be called a "meanderthrall"). There are a few too many references to his last book, and the "moral of the story" seems to show up just a little too abruptly, but it's a fun read.

Final Grade: B

LOST, so far:
This season must be following some Fibonacci Series of Suck because crappy episodes are periodically augmented with surprisingly good ones. Tuesday's episode was one of the very good ones (as most Desmond-centric episodes are). This episode finally integrates the "Los Angeles" storyline into the main plot, which was long overdue and highly welcome. Up until now, I was having trouble caring about that branch at all, because no matter how many ways you can make the characters bump into each other and caption the screen with "ISNT THIS COOL! THEIR IN THE SAME ROOM LOL", it's just wasted air time until you know how it correlates to the main plot. Either way, I'm glad that the show's almost over.

Final Grade: B

Man threatens to down jet with mind power
Meatless Monday fails in San Fancisco
Playboy photographers find reality TV hard work

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Friday, April 08, 2011

Memory Day: Snapshots

Even by 1983, you can tell that I was thrilled with the possibility of taking "just one more" picture -- waves of enthusiasm are rolling off of me like ball bearings on the last level of Marble Madness.

The Radio Flyer wagon was the transportation method of choice for trips where we'd be gung ho at the start, but probably run out of steam by the halfway point and ask to be carried. On more than one occasion, we'd take the Holmes Run bike path down to the Magruder's at Foxchase to buy groceries that didn't quite fit into the Saturday morning speed runs my dad performed. We would leave the wagon tied to a post outside like they might have done if Magruder's were in the Old West, but this practice ended when we came outside and found another family stealing our wagon because they thought it had been abandoned.

Blind gamer plays Zelda by ear
Horse dreams dashed, German teen turns to cow Luna
First homosexual caveman found

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Monday, April 08, 2013

Weekend Wrap-up

We managed to make it to the weekend with three and a half tomato plants, and the weakest one might even bounce back in spite of the frost. This means that we probably won't need to waste another $3.99 on replacements and can donate that much more to our retirement funds.

On Saturday, I wrapped up work on DDMSence v2.2.0, the leading (and only) open-source software for DDMS and then headed over to my parents' house to celebrate my Mom's upcoming birthday. The beginning of April is the busiest season for birthdays, according to the Birthday Calendar in the sidebar, so if you're planning on kids and want them to feel like a snowflake, shoot for a February birthday instead.

My sister was in town with the nephews, and Sam had just taken his first Metro ride to see the nonexistent cherry blossoms. Rebecca arrived later in the evening from a physical therapy study session in Fredericksburg, and we all sat around eating pizza and birthday cake while poking through a big box of junk from my Mom's youth.

On Sunday, I diddled around the house while Rebecca worked up the motivation to do her homework. We ended the weekend with a screening of Wreck-It Ralph and some tasty Safeway pizza.

How was your weekend?

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

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Weekend Wrap-up: Greenbrier Edition

It only took us 9 months to finally use the gift card I had received for "10 years of not quitting" from my work. The Greenbrier Resort is not a place we'd ever stay on our own volition, but having a $1000 gift card in hand was a great way to experience the place without constantly worrying about the cost.

We drove down on Thursday via I-81, which looks just like it did a decade ago but with four times as many long-haul trucks. We took a brief stop in Staunton for lunch and a wine tasting at the Ox-Eye Vineyards in the Wharf District. I had envisioned stevedores and paddleboats, but apparently the Wharf District consisted of an old creek mostly paved over. Staunton was nice though -- we might go back someday.

For our first afternoon in grandeur, we took tea and biscuits in the main dining room. Although mindful of the constant dress code, we put minimal effort into being classy, and I wore my khaki pants that were three sizes too large, last worn as an ear training instructor at Florida State. We then had happy hour in the casino bar and used up our "free" casino cash being thoroughly befuddled by the newest in slot machine technology. Gone are the days where you pull a lever and line up some cherries -- every machine had multiple play modes and win patterns, to the point where only career slot-grandmothers could ever understand them. For dinner, we ate Italian food at The Forum, followed up with a tiramisu the size of a pug.

On Friday, we went hiking in the Allegheny Mountains. The private trails were very well-fashioned, if poorly mapped, and we continued to stumble across super rich homes higher up the mountain. In the afternoon, Rebecca had a full sulphur spring and spa / massage treatment followed by more tea and crumpets. We had delicious coffee stouts at happy hour in another hotel lounge, and then split a gigantic pizza back at The Forum. In the evening, we watched a free showing of Gravity in the classic theatre.

We went out for another hike through the shale barrens on Saturday and then returned to swim in the gigantic indoor pool in the afternoon. We then had an early dinner in the casino bar and spent the evening wandering through all of the ridiculously decorated halls, beset by floral prints on all sides.

On Sunday morning, we took a tour of the secret nuclear bunker designed to hide Congress during the Cold War. It was hit-or-miss, with a blend of interesting exhibits and facts interspersed with "there used to be a door here but it's covered up now" tour guiding.

In spite of being able to charge things to the room and the automatic 20% service charge on everything, we only ended up spending $1210 for the entire weekend, which became $210 after applying the gift card. The facilities felt a little dated, but the service was impeccable. Overall, it was a fun, lavish experience although there's no reason for us to ever go back.

On the drive home, we stopped at Blue Mountain Brewery for lunch, and then braved the scads of drivers on Route 29 to get back to Sterling around 5 PM. Yesterday (Monday), we had a recovery day, doing nothing but playing Hearthstone and watching American Hustle.

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Wednesday, April 08, 2015

Memory Day: Snapshots

This picture was taken seven years ago today, on April 8, 2008. This is the front window of a tiny bookshop in the town of Carcassonne, France, providing a time capsule of the hottest modern technologies through the For Dummies book series. (I did not purchase Le Poker pour Les Nuls).

This bookshop was right down the street from an Internet Cafe full of keylogger-laden desktop computers. Since I did not yet own a netbook or an ultrabook (and still don't own a smartphone), my Internet time was limited to whenever we were near a cafe.

When I arrived in Carcassonne, I asked the hotel desk clerk where I could find un ordinateur pour l'email and she directed me to the Seabird Cafe. After roaming the block for several minutes and not finding it, I finally realized that she was saying cybercafe with a heavy French accent.

tagged as memories | permalink | 1 comment

Friday, April 08, 2016

Porch Day

It's time to enlarge the usable space of the front porch to accommodate our ever-expanding girths!

Pictures to follow on Monday!

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Monday, April 08, 2019

Maia Month #21 Battle Report

Maia is now 21 months old and 22.4 pounds. She likes to live dangerously by climbing on things and can get into chairs and on beds with ease. She recently learned that she can move things (like stools and elephants) to reach higher places, and goes down the slide on her own volition now.

Maia has no particular favorite foods and there is a 50-50 chance that she will consume an entire meal like a black hole or leave it all on the plate and ask for "toast" instead. Staples include yogurt, cheese sticks, all the berry-based fruits, and a neverending Costco bag of Italian meatballs.

She regularly strings together two-word phrases that are mostly intelligible like "get on, put back, close gate", so it's probably time for her to start playing text adventure games from the 1980s. A few weeks ago, I tried to spell words under pictures of animals and Maia was able to differentiate between "cat" as a picture, and the word "cat" taken out of context. She also pointed to "pets" on a playground sign without help and said "pets", but that could be a huge coincidence.

This is a very fun age, as her periodic tantrums are very predictable (doesn't want to come inside from the yard, doesn't want to take off the Christmas pajamas even though it's 11 AM) and it's fascinating to watch her make associations between things and figure out the world.

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

Wednesday, April 08, 2020

List Day: 10 Lesser Known Shows to Binge During Quarantine

There are no major spoilers in this post.

Are you tired of looking for new TV shows only to get recommendations for The Office and Stranger Things? Here are 10 of the best "off the beaten path" shows I've watched (in alphabetical order), all available in streaming format.

  1. American Vandal (2 seasons, 16 half-hour episodes, Netflix): A pitch-perfect satire of the true crime documentary genre, where filmmakers reconstruct the day that a mystery student drew dicks on all of the cars in the teacher's parking lot.

  2. Bodyguard (1 season, 6 hour-long episodes, Netflix): A British version of Homeland before that show ran out of ideas. It maintains a strong intensity and uneasiness that resolves in a satisfying, logical conclusion. Its success rests on the ability to depict realistic characters that don't just exposition-monologue their feelings for the audience -- everyone seems like a threat at various points, but the resolution is weighted towards character motivations not plot twists.

  3. Dark (2 seasons, 18 hour-long episodes, Netflix): A heavy, byzantine puzzle-box of a thriller to get lost in (try my spoiler-free reference sheets) that starts out as a thriller about missing children in a German town and quickly turns into something much more ambitious. It gives off a Twin Peaks meets Fortitude kind of vibe with a little Stranger Things mixed in. Best watched in the original German with English subtitles. The 3rd and final season should be out this summer.

  4. Detectorists (3 seasons, 19 half-hour episodes, Amazon Prime Video): A sentimental, maudlin show about two small-town metal detectorists hoping to find an archaeological motherlode. Good-natured and a great way to close out a long day. Last season requires a stupid Acorn TV trial to access.

  5. Humans (3 seasons, 18 hour-long episodes, Amazon Prime Video): This show was doing human-like robots with artificial intelligence long before Westworld sucked the air out of the room. It maintains intensity and likeable protagonists all the way through. Although it ends on a weak plot twist / cliffhanger in the last episode before cancellation, the rest of the show is fun to watch and raises interesting questions about sentience and robot ethics.

  6. Lovesick (3 seasons, 22 half-hour episodes, Netflix): Originally called Scrotal Recall, this show feels like a British How I Met Your Mother with actual heart and character progression. The 3rd season is pleasant but pointless.

  7. Russian Doll (1 season, 8 half-hour episodes, Netflix): A fairly high-concept series with some similarities to the movie, Groundhog Day. Equal parts funny, crass, deep, and unsettling, it occasionally overreaches but ends in a nice self-contained way. Natasha Lyonne is perfect in the main role.

  8. Orphan Black (5 seasons, 50 hour-long episodes, Amazon Prime Video): This thriller showcases the amazing acting talents of Tatiana Maslany as she simultaneously plays multiple main characters (and sometimes those main characters pretending to be each other). The series gets a little bogged down in sci-fi lore in the middle, but the entire arc is well-done. The first season alone is a taut miniseries if you don't want to commit to the whole thing.

  9. Safe (1 season, 8 hour-long episodes, Netflix): A daughter goes missing in a gated community full of weird neighbours. Once you get past Michael C. Hall's British accent, this miniseries thriller works more than it doesn't. There are some trite twists and inconsistencies, but I liked that you can actually solve the central mystery on your own.

  10. 3% (3 seasons, 26 hour-long episodes, Netflix): A dystopian show where 3% of the population compete to earn a spot in paradise. Visual effects and background actors feel a little low-budget, but its main characters have believable motivations and difficult choices to make. Best watched in the original Portuguese with English subtitles.

Let me know if you discover something you like!

tagged as reviews | permalink | 2 comments

Friday, April 08, 2022

Maia's 12 of 12

Maia's perspective on life (culled down from over 500 pictures taken between October 2021 and March 2022)

Other posts in this series: Part I | Part II | Part III | Part IV | Part V | Part VI | Part VII | Part VIII | Part IX

tagged as 12 of 12 | permalink | 1 comment

 

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