This Day In History: 04/10

Wednesday, April 10, 2002

Authors of Yesteryear, Part III of VI

Lloyd Alexander was best known as the author of the Prydain Chronicles, five books and a collection of short stories set in a fantasy world (which was based on Welsh legends). Although it's all swords and sorcery, the books are fairly well-known, since the first two were turned into a Disney movie and the fifth was a Newberry Award winner. The books tell of the adventures of Taran, Assistant Pig-Keeper and his friends as they grow and mature. Among other characters you might recall: Gurgi, the shaggy creature who spoke in ending couplets, constantly after 'munchings and crunchings', Eilonwy, the analogy-loving princess with the glowing bauble, and Fflewddur Fflam, the itinerant bard-king whose harp strings snapped whenever he told a lie.

Although every book was good in its own way, the collection of short stories was my favourite work (The Foundling and Other Tales). Unlike the Narnia side-tales, this collection of stories really blended well into the mythos -- it was as if the events were integral to the main stories, rather than being woven in to prolong the series. The fourth book, Taran Wanderer was my least favourite as a kid, because it's really an introspective look at maturity and coming to terms with the self. However, looking back now, it's probably some of Alexander's finest work.

The best part of this series was the fact that the author didn't talk down to the readers, just because they were youngsters. Events happen bluntly, and people die, both good and bad. Though Taran is a fairy-tale hero in the broadest sense of the term, the stories never sugar-coat pain and losses, and the heros don't always live to see the results of their triumphs. This gritty realism in fantasy was probably what doomed the unsuccessful animated movie, The Black Cauldron. Although the movie was an amazing piece of work with great imagery in the pre-computer days, the sight of the Horned King resurrecting his Army of the Dead by killing people in his cauldron didn't really go over too well with parents, and the movie became a cult favourite. If I recall correctly, Gurgi also sacrifices his life in the movie, and Disney rule number one is to never kill off the cute, furry sidekick!

In one scene in the first book, The Book of Three, a description of the Horned King's camp includes men in hanging baskets, who are burned alive as part of a ritual ceremony of evil. It's amazing that ever made it into the world in a kid's book, especially in those conservative times. Even now, I'd bet we'd never hear the last of it if Harry Potter engaged in ritual sacrifices to gain his magical powers.

Tomorrow: Gordon Korman

Happy Birthday Mom!

Here's a couple more pep band arrangements for fun: the disco chart, Disco Dan (MP3, 850KB), and my swing arrangement of the traditional Russian tune, Dark Eyes (MP3, 922KB).

From the Billy Bob Thorton file comes this gem of sanity:
"...actor Billy Bob Thornton wants to wipe the endangered komodo dragon off the face of the earth. 'More than anything on this earth, more than any being that exists, they are the creature that represents evil,' he says. The Monster's Ball star once woke up his wife Angelina Jolie in the middle of the night and insisted they go to a hotel because he'd dreamed their house was infested with the reptiles. 'If it were up to me, I'd just go to that island and kill them all,' he tells the London Daily Telegraph. 'I would just . . . shoot those son of bitches.'"

The start of the virtual keyboard
Water beds for cows

tagged as memories | permalink | 0 comments

Thursday, April 10, 2003

The MFIT student file reader is completed and submitted, so all I have left in that arena is to clean up the code and go over what needs to be done after I'm out of the picture. This weekend, I'll be doing the last of my lesson plans and handouts for class. Once that's complete, I'll be free to start working on the new and improved URI! Domain.

Happy Birthday Mom!

Today's Musical Explorations: Donovan, Herman's Hermits, Pretty Things, Chad & Jeremy. I'm also listening to some recent UK groups, such as Coldplay, The Smiths, The Jam, and Clash. It looks like today is British day.

SARS reaches Florida
Great moments in advertising
Puppy wants to join the circus

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Saturday, April 10, 2004

Happy Birthday Mom! Thanks for giving me an easy update.

Yesterday's notable search terms:

    origami zerg, misanthrope zabaglione, robin caruso, goebbels not gerbils, how does music affect teenagers' statistic

Internet cafe fined in the death of gamers
Sorry for peeping

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Monday, April 10, 2006

The Car As a Microcosm of Its Owner's Cleanliness: A Highly Scientific Study

You may think your friends are neat individuals, vacuuming the house before they have company, or shaving their lambchops off before the big dance. They might fool the public by having a nice clean desk with all the clutter tucked safely away in a drawer. However, all bets are off when you take a peek in their car. One glance through the back window is usually enough to confirm or dispel the myths about their cleanliness.

Walk down the row of any parking lot and you'll see a variety of cars with their interiors in various states of clutter, from impeccably spotless cars that show the owner is out at the gas station every Friday afternoon at the 25 cent vacuum, to cars so filled with receipts and bags and fast food wrappers that CSI: Miami could reconstruct that person's life from the last four months with amazing accuracy. In some cases, Lab Technician Tshombe from CSI: Zaire could do it with nothing more than a pair of forceps and a rock.

My own car interior is a little dusty, but has no clutter. This is by default though, rather than any concerted effort on my part -- I spend so little time in there that the only thing in the backseat are a pair of gloves and a scarf for cold mornings and a Club, which I like to slip on the wheel in seedy neighbourhoods (even though I never lock it -- it's just for show, because if someone's really going to steal your car with a Club on the wheel, they probably already have the tools needed to get it off). As I pass by other peoples' cars (on my daily constitutionals through parking lots where I search for illegal immigrants and provoke crime to fight), I've seen varying levels of craziness, such as:

  • A backseat filled completely with newspapers in paper bags: You don't get more money if your recyclables are well-travelled.
  • A child seat camouflaged on all sides by McDonald's wrappers: Honey, throw another cheeseburger back at Jimmy, he just won't shut up!
  • A broken lightbulb: Why is there a lightbulb there in the first place, unless you are a cartoon character and had a great idea while driving down the interstate?
  • A small tribe of empty Dasani water bottles: This just seems like a bad idea, especially in northern Virginian traffic -- who knows when you'll be able to get home and pee? I guess you could pee back into the bottle if worst came to worst -- ashes to ashes and all that.

I bet it's even worse in SUVs, but the world will never hear about them, because I am too short to peek in the windows.

Happy Birthday Mom!

The original meaning of scumbag is "condom".
Round One: Rosie O'Donnell vs. Naomi Campbell
Onboard navigation system tries to kill British people

tagged as random | permalink | 9 comments

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Newsday Tuesday

Scout Soars Far Beyond Eagle

It's not easy making Eagle, the highest honor in Boy Scouts. You need at least 21 merit badges . . . [James Calderwood] has every badge available, from American business to woodwork. He even has one they don't give out anymore, so make it 122.

This is a very remarkable feat, though tragically it will not translate directly into a marketable skill or reward (see also, a perfect score on the SATs). I know this from personal experience -- being a very short Boy Scout who was once almost denied entrance to a weeklong leadership camp because my backpack was larger than I was, I had to compensate by extending the length of my sash.

By the time I left Scouts, my merit badge sash had 43 badges, which (while nowhere near the full 121) was far above the national average. Yet putting this information onto my resumé garnered me no multi-year scholarships or product endorsement deals and I even had to go out on my own to find a girlfriend.

Every Boy Scout merit badge has a rigid pedantic set of requirements that must be checked off by a qualified merit badge counselor. Judging from the sheer number of merit badges, and the rather lame descriptions the article provides depicting what Calderwood did to complete them ("I played slapjack with an Indian"), I'm betting he didn't literally fulfill every requirement for every merit badge. Instead, he probably employed a little-used loophole that says you can dub your good friend, Bob, a merit badge counselor if there are no other qualified counselors in the area (see also, marriage on the Internet).

By doing this for some of the more archaic badges, he could get the substitute counselor to sign off on the badge without really following the letter of the requirements. This is also how I got the Farm Mechanics, Rabbit Raising, and Animal Husbandry merit badges (the non-city-slicker half of the URI! clan in Nevada owned a ranch). However, it looks like Calderwood is still missing one badge that I have -- Beekeeping! You can see the photographic evidence to the right, although some cynics might claim it's just a picture of me in my indigenous village trying to outrun the Agent Orange.

Here are the 43 merit badges I earned. How many of them can you recognize? (answers below)

Things You Put In Your EarSquirrel HuntingFirst Aid for the Colour-blindDolphin HuntingConnecting FlightsButterfly HuntingWatermelon StandsCreating Bad Clipart
Buying a CarDramatic AnimalsMatingThe NumbersGoing to HeavenHow to Hang Chili PeppersAerial PhotographyPitching a Tent
John Deere MerchandiseCow HuntingPositions in the ClergyBook Burning60s HairstylesBeing a ToolPanhandlingBee Hunting
Towns in Zelda 2VandalismPlaying RISKCrafts You Can Make from a TurtleVisiting New HampshireInvisible HorsesWater Moccasins (LOL)Homemade Bombs
Swimming with HandcuffsFirst Aid for AlbinosPetitioning your Representative to Keep from Getting Shot Out of a CannonLoggingSnakes on a PlainWetland Oil DrillingThings that Blow in the WindGiving Good Directions
Global NeedlepointNegativityThor Study

Happy Birthday Mom!

Australians wonder if sink-peeing dentist is clean
Credit Ford Motor Co. CEO Alan Mulally with saving the leader of the free world from self-immolation.
Seven year old finds offensive couch label

tagged as newsday | permalink | 4 comments

Friday, April 10, 2009

Friday Fragments

where April showers bring Jack Bauers

♠ Happy Birthday to my Mom who turns 28 today! Yes, she's one year younger than I am, either because there was a skew in the space-time continuum resulting in 1985A, she is curiously aging in reverse, or "the island is like a skipping record".

♠ If I could travel through time, I would just go back to yesterday and prevent myself from smashing my hand against the doorway while running down the hall, which resulted in a divot of missing skin from my index finger -- it now looks like a roll of cookie dough attacked by a spoon.

♠ I didn't take a picture of my injured finger because I posted a picture of moldy bread yesterday AND a link to the meth head gallery, and there's a gross picture weekly quota here at the URI! Zone. On a similar note, I'm very far behind my goal for "pictures of attractive people" and "pictures of bacon", so expect more of those pictures in the future.

♠ Speaking of goals, I've been using Wii Fit off and on over the past month (borrowed from Mike in exchange for Six Feet Under) and continue to miss the two-week goals I set for myself. In fact, the program now thinks I'm a malnourished east African child hovering just over 90 pounds. For my next goal, I said I wanted to gain 16 pounds in two weeks, which I'll probably do by picking up Booty.

♠ The resident cats and the two visiting gay brother cats are getting along just fine now -- it only took two days this time, and Lake has only honked on the carpet once.

♠ Because of work, a cat honking on the carpet was probably the most exciting thing to happen this week. If you're looking for excitement, visit some of the blogs in the sidebar to see what other people in the world have been up to, like Brianne who is now a Virginian, or Katie Morton who finished writing a novel.

♠ Have you ever wondered where people go after visiting the URI! Zone? The chart on the right shows the relative popularity of blog links from the past couple weeks. I think the 100 next to redzeppelin may be a miscalculation though, because there's no way that Chompy is cooler than cats talking in broken English. I'm guessing Mike clicks his own blog multiple times a day to inflate the numbers -- that's why his business cards say, "Mike Catania -- Performing SEO".

♠ Plans for the weekend include in the inaugural mowing of my lawn to kick off the spring season of being a home-o(wner) and a trip to Maryland on Easter to see part of Rebecca's extended family. I also have another Amazon shipment of singing-chick-CDs arriving this afternoon which should lead to more Review Days in the coming weeks.

♠ Have a great weekend! Don't forget that Sunday is 12 of 12!

House passes bodily fluids bill
Dad sued by daughter loses grounds for appeal
Asians should have simpler names

tagged as fragments | permalink | 5 comments

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Birth Day

Happy Birthday to my mom!

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

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Memory Day: Snapshots

This picture was taken in either 1978 or 1979, in the days when it wasn't dangerous to put your kid's name on their clothing. BU was not yet in the narrative.

Update - I have just learned additional context from the authoritative source:

The photo on your web page today is actually from March 1980. We left you in the care of a babysitter whose name I do not recall but she lived on N. Owen. Ellen was feeling a bit neglected since your arrival in January 1980 so we took her to the Ringling Brothers Circus at the DC Armory.

tagged as memories | permalink | 1 comment

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Birth Day

Happy Birthday to my Mom, the second longest, contiguous visitor to this website after my dad!

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Friday, April 10, 2015

Freberg Day

Stan Freberg, known for his satirical comedy records and funny advertisements, passed away on Tuesday at the age of 88. Freberg takes much of the blame for how my sense of humour "turned out", as evinced by the double digit numbers of CDs I started collecting in high school after finding an LP of Stan Freberg Presents the United States of America on my parents' shelf.

Freberg was writing music and voicing cartoon characters as recently as last year although his later material, such as a 1998 song comparing Monica Lewinsky, Tara Lapinski, and Ted Kacsynski, was not as strong as his stuff from the 60s.

To give you a laugh on this rainy Friday, here are a few of my favourite Freberg recordings:

  • This commercial for Chun King Chow Mein will convince you to eat it every night of the week. (1:00 MP3, 475KB)
  • Great Pretender mocks banal musical accompaniments through a character that reappears in several of Freberg's satires, the subversive jazz pianist. (3:22 MP3, 1.5 MB)
  • Round, Round World, from his magnum opus musical on American history tells the tale of Christopher Columbus and King Ferdinand of Spain as they set sail for Miami. (5:35 MP3, 2.5 MB)

tagged as music | permalink | 1 comment

Monday, April 10, 2017

Weekend Wrap-up

On Friday evening, we went to a dinner party at Michelle's (one of the last before she flees to the West Coast with Stu) and had different chicken and fish stir fry dishes full of ingredients you have to go to weird grocery stores to get. Like many parties involving yoga people, it ended in a giant game of Twister, but we left before it got too rowdy because Rebecca enjoys sleeping more than Twister these days.

On Saturday afternoon, I had people over to try out the Oculus Rift in the basement, where there was more room for Evil Mike to cower in the corner when attacked by robot spiders from every direction. We also played a few games Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes and ate ice cream cones.

In the evening, we went to Enatye in Herndon for Ethiopian food. The meal was delicious, even though the presentation of Ethiopian food always resembles the palette of Bob Ross if he worked with foods instead of oils.

I did nothing at all on Sunday other than to finish the second season of Better Call Saul.

Happy Birthday to my Mom!

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

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Review Day

There are no major spoilers in these reviews.

The Nightmare We Know by Krista D. Ball:
The second book in the Dark Abyss of Our Sins trilogy drags unmercifully. The book is in need of a good editor to catch typos and tighten up the repetitive inner monologues -- plot events are often followed up with how different characters perceived those events, regardless of the fact that no one character's perception was different enough for a rehash. Exposition and character description suffers when the same information is conveyed slightly differently in two consecutive paragraphs (as if the writer was drafting both but forgot to delete one). After the great character development in Book One, everything felt like it was treading water here.

Final Grade: C

Secret City, Season One:
This Australian geopolitical thriller has shades of The Code in the way it does world-building and allows you to piece together relationships and plot events. There are a few weaknesses and awkward bouts of acting, but it's generally worth watching. Damon Herriman (Dewey Crowe from Justified) puts in a great performance as a a transgender signals analyst, proving that Walton Goggins doesn't have an exclusive on wearing womens' clothing. Free on Netflix.

Final Grade: B

Incredibles 2 (PG):
I thought the original Incredibles was cute yet unmemorable, mainly notable for the fact that Michael Giacchino had graduated from TV music on Alias to the movies. It seems odd and a little unnecessary to follow up on an animated movie 14 years after the original. However, Incredibles 2 is pretty fun in a lightweight entertainment vein. I found it pleasant to watch while running on the treadmill, although I probably won't remember any of the plot details a month from now. Free on Netflix.

Final Grade: B-

Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup by John Carreyou:
This is the story of Theranos and how Elizabeth Holmes boldly fooled the world with her story of a new, almost magical blood testing device. The assortment of lies, narcissism, and employees abandoning ship snowballs through the first half of the book. Just when it starts getting tedious and you can't imagine how anyone might continue being fooled, everything unravels satisfyingly to the end.

Final Grade: B+

tagged as reviews | permalink | 2 comments

Friday, April 10, 2020

Review Day

There are no major spoilers in these reviews.

Everything is New by Jack Penate:
Another old album by Jack Penate with nice hooks. A little short, but a fun listen -- I enjoy the song, Let's All Die, an upbeat number with the lyrics, "Out of the womb and into the tomb".

Final Grade: B

Jackbox Party Pack 3:
From the makers of the old trivia game, You Don't Know Jack, this collection of party games is intended for people sitting around the living room, watching the game on TV and entering answers on their phones and tablets. We tried it out for our Virtual Game Nights over (the hyped and insecure) Zoom. One of the games can't be used because it assumes everyone's in the same room, but the rest are very fun with small groups. Game types include trivia-style, invent-a-phrase, and drawing.

Final Grade: B

Big Little Lies, Season Two:
This season was completely unnecessary, focusing on the fallout from the previous season's climactic events without covering much new ground. Acting remains great, especially the guest star turn of Meryl Streep, but it's pretty clear that there's nothing new to say about any of these characters. If you want to know what happens without wasting time, watch the first and the last episode.

Final Grade: C

Cabin in the Woods (R):
This is Joss Whedon's take on horror movies, and your enjoyment hinges on whether that statement excites or bores you. I enjoyed the twists, turns, and upending of tropes, and liked that it landed the ending pretty effectively. Free on Amazon Prime.

Final Grade: B

tagged as reviews | permalink | 1 comment

 

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