This Day In History: 05/18

Tuesday, May 18, 2004

Today will be marked by a trip out to Skyline 7 and a game of soccer in the evening (if it's not pre-empted by a massive thunderstorm).

There are tons of cicada shells everywhere, and I can hear them all over Herndon while driving through, but they still haven't taken over Loudoun County yet.

Cell phone user spontaneously combusts
Taxpayer dollars at work
The P-P-P-Powerbook

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Wednesday, May 18, 2005

The yearly date for making fun of TV executives has come . On the plus side, Lost, Alias, and Arrested Development were all picked up for a new season (Jennifer Garner's Affleck-baby and FOX's habit of canceling every non-reality show except for the Simpsons notwithstanding). On the minus side, J.J. Abram's new bounty hunter show with Greg Gunberg wasn't picked up, and Lost has spawned millions of wannabe-lookalikes that mix sci-fi and Survivor together into a murky soup. ABC must be drunk on the power of their hit dramas, because their comedy lineup is spearheaded by an attempt to bring back the Geena Davis Show (except this time she's the President of the United States! Move over, Chris Rock).

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Thursday, May 18, 2006

First Impressions: New Super Mario Brothers

Title: This game easily has the most uninventive, boring title in the history of titles, but I guess none of the Mario games excels in this area. Does it have a plumber playing tennis? Call it MARIO TENNIS! Even so, they could have just called it Super Mario DS or something equally as functional. What are they going to do when the next game comes out? The New New Brothers? It sounds like a dance troupe on Vaudeville.

Music: Catchy, with a mix of new tunes, remixed old tunes, and old tunes exactly as they were in the older games. You can only do so much with nostalgia before it gets tiresome, and they walk the line pretty well.

Graphics: The game is a standard side-scroller so you never have to worry about stupid camera angles, but all the characters in the game have 3D models, so their animations are quite nice. Worlds are colourful and have style.

Cartridge Size: Smaller than a cat's paw. If I ever end up spying for the U.S. Government in some enemy country where I blend in with the natives, like Iran or Libya, I'll bring along my Nintendo DS and then encode the spy pictures on one of these cartridges. Customs will never notice a thing.

Controls: The game only uses two buttons: run/grab/shoot, and jump. There are two predefined mappings you can use to customize your controls. I found that my thumb was too weirdly positioned to feel comfortable in the default scheme -- it must be genetic. Mario jumps and skids exactly as he did in the original games, which may take some getting used to if you haven't taken a course in Mario Inertia recently.

It's Like X meets Y: This game is a combination of Super Mario Brothers 3 and Super Mario World. You progress through levels on an overhead map, often stopping to pick up items at Toad's Hut or unlocking secret paths. It really pulls the best from both of those games, so if you liked those, you'll like this.

Annoyance Factor: Most recent Mario games annoyed me because you had to replay every level multiple times to collect nine thousand doohickeys -- a horrible design decision to give the game some supposed replay value (don't even get me started on Zelda's golden skulltulas). This game retreats to the very basics from the good old days -- 100 coins gets you an extra life, 8 red coins gets you an extra life, or 5 star coins to open up a secret passage. It's not annoying in the least bit.

Difficulty: I breezed through to World 2 pretty quickly. It seems to be about as hard as Super Mario Brothers 3 was (which I thought was harder than Super Mario World), but rewards exploration and risk by giving you millions of extra lives. I already have 30 or so.

Power-Ups and Moves: All the original power-ups are here along with three gimmicky ones: Tiny Mario, Fatty Mario, and Shell Mario. Mario can also do a few later era moves like wall-jumping and that Mario Party favourite: the Ground Pound.

Price: $35. Not bad at all.

Worth It?: Yes, go buy it. Unless you don't own a Gameboy DS. Then it's only worth it if you enjoy carrying around tiny cartridges and pretending you're a giant.

Below you can watch a short video of how the game looks and sounds. If you have absolutely zero interest in video games, you can also check out our wide selection of movies on other topics, such as cats, and/or cats.

New Super Mario Brothers Gameplay (922KB WMV)
Ellen's Kitten, Charlie (3MB WMV)
The Great Escape (2MB WMV)

Sex for Water
Crime-Fighting Cat Now Trying Therapy
Pink Taco Restaurant Causes a Stir

tagged as reviews, games | permalink | 8 comments

Friday, May 18, 2007

Friday Fragments

the 82nd edition of this column since July 2005

♣ On Wednesday night before LOST, I ordered some pepperoni-mushroom-black-olive pan pizza from the local Pizza Hut delivery franchise. When the carrier came to the door, he glanced at his receipt and we had the following conversation:

    Pizza Guy: "Dude?"
    BU: "Huh?"
    Pizza Guy: "You Dude?"
    BU: "Yeah, I'm a dude."
    Pizza Guy: "No, is your last name Dude?"
    BU: "No, it's Uri -- why?"
    Pizza Guy: "My receipt says you're Dude." [shows me a receipt that definitely says "Pizza for DUDE" over my address]
    BU: "Dude?"
    Pizza Guy: "Yeah, Dude."
    BU: "Well yeah, I'll be a Dude if it gets me pizza." [pays] "Keep the change."
    Pizza Guy: "Thanks, dude."

♣ I'm not sure how I ended up registered as DUDE in the Pizza Hut computer system, but it probably happened back in 2004 when Eric lived here and ordered pizza every night. Alternately, maybe a stoned surfer broke in one afternoon and had the munchies.

♣ To me, "the munchies" always sounds much more ominous than it actually is. It evokes memories of really bad animatronic movies from the 80s where unkempt, hairy critters of the malevolent variety eat someone's gall bladder in an appropriately bloody fashion.

♣ I never owned one of those plastic troll dolls with the long hair in the 80s -- I always thought they were pretty dumb, and even as a pre-teen I was pretty elitist.

♣ Last night I trimmed my own long hair so as not to become one of the very trolls I despised in my youth. I've been cutting my own hair for almost a year now, and have the technique pretty much down -- the weedy patch right at the back-center of my head is the hardest, but I accomplish the haircut by using a complex series of mirrors and ambidextrous techniques. This is the same way they faked the moon landing photos, and also how you write Minimalist music.

♣ When not shaving my head for that yellow supremacist look, I've been busy watching the third season of The 4400 and reading about the XML Schema specification (which I already know a lot about, but not in any particularly orderly fashion). To tie the computer stuff to my musical side for greater relevance, I've also composed a two-piece period song in the style of Stephen Foster called "Beautiful Schema", and a jingle for the Twix candy bar, "made with real XML".

♣ I am not a big caramel fan -- it's too viscous and tastes like you're chewing on wood glue that hasn't quite dried. Then again, I never ate library paste as a kid either.

♣ I was fastidiously clean as a kid -- besides never eating library paste or household cleaners with the Mr. Yuck sticker on them, I never did things like fill my pockets with worms and sit on them, or lick bird poop on dares. Even though I spent most afternoons digging in the dirt pile, I would always want to come in and wash my hands when I was all through.

♣ This weekend I plan on doing a little adult dirt-digging -- weeding, moving some plants, and trimming the obnoxious blades of grass that grow right next to the shrubs where the mower and the weed whacker can't get to them. I also have social activities scheduled for Saturday night and a nap scheduled for 1:42pm on Sunday. I haven't had a nap in a few weeks now, and am long overdue.

♣ Have a great weekend!

Listeners shocked by XM suspension
Web site baffles judge
Bubbles n' Babes washes your convertible with the top off

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Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Museday Tuesday

As part of this feature, which I started in 2007, I compose a very brief work (under 30 seconds) inspired by a randomly generated title from an online word generator. The composition can be for any instrumentation, and could even be a purely synthesized realization that might not be possible to perform in the real world.

I work on the excerpt continuously for an hour and then post whatever I've managed to complete, even if it's a poorly constructed slum of a song supported by a foundation of droning double stops and abused tubas.

Elegiac: (adj.) expressing sorrow or lamentation

My Composition (0:30 MP3)

This excerpt is mainly for harp and bassoon, although it ended up more maudlin than sorrowful. "Elegiac" sounds more like a cough medicine than a term of sadness.

Man faked his way into Harvard
Gulf hotel installs gold-dispensing machine
Paris scorns lovers with scour of romantic bridge

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Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Kitchen Remodeling Day

(775KB GIF)

Lazy Cakes: A Sleepytime Snack Elicits Public-Health Outrage
Fields of watermelon burst in China farm fiasco
Leaking house dials 911

tagged as day-to-day | permalink | 1 comment

Friday, May 18, 2012

Random Chart Day: Grammar and Spelling

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Monday, May 18, 2015

Weekend Wrap-up

On Saturday, Rebecca went hiking along the Appalachian Trail at Snickers Gap (no Snickers bars were involved, contrary to the name), where the woods were overrun with snakes enjoying the warmth and banging in the trees. I stayed home to do the bi-weekly Costco run, and then worked on proposals in the afternoon.

On Sunday, Rebecca and her posse did a "Color Run" at National Harbor, where spectators throw random pastels at you as you run, as if having to run 5 kilometers on a Sunday morning wasn't punishment enough. Now there is glitter everywhere -- glitter in the rug, glitter on the cats, glitter in her hair. There's no longer need for nightlights because the carpet sparkles gently in the moonlight as you glide down the hall to the bathroom.

In the afternoon, we had gyros and subs from Joe's Pizzaria and finished the fourth season of Game of Thrones, which showed surprising improvement over the music video attention span scenes of the third season.

How was your weekend?

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Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Memory Day: Snapshots

This picture was taken 18 years ago on May 17, 1998.

It was graduation day on the campus of UVa, and my sister was matriculating with a high quality bachelor's degree. My uncle and grandfather came down for the ceremony as well, and we all (except my sister) piled into the Dodge Spirit to make the cramped trip down to Charlottesville for the day, where we heard a forgettable commencement speech by former Governor and brief Republican presidential candidate, Jim Gilmore.

I even dressed up -- my shirt had a collar.

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Friday, May 18, 2018

Review Day

There are no major spoilers in these reviews.

Under Stars by Amy MacDonald:
This is a pleasant album full of forgettable cliched lyrics. No album has topped her first, This is the Life, but some of the more annoying bits of her interim albums are polished away here.

Final Grade: B-

Wild Pendulum by Trashcan Sinatras:
There are no amazing songs on this album, but it's like spending an afternoon with an old friend. The group has perfected the "chilling in a meadow" approach to songwriting and still sound great for a band that's 32 years old.

Final Grade: B

Different Days by the Charlatans UK:
I really liked Modern Nature but this follow-on album isn't nearly as good. The songs are a bit repetitive, especially the one that sounds like a remix of itself with the same two lines of lyrics that could easily have been expanded to be less irritating.

Final Grade: C+

Beta Male by Kumail Nanjiani:
This is a funny collection of mildly dirty, story-driven stand-up from the creator of The Big Sick (one joke will be familiar from the movie). There were a few unpolished edges in the live performance, but it kept us entertained during an I-95 South delay caused by a 6 car pile-up followed by an exploded manure truck.

Final Grade: B

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Monday, May 18, 2020

Weekend Wrap-up

On Saturday morning, we had a physically-distanced visit with Rebecca's parents.

In the afternoon, Maia attended the virtual birthday party for her classmate, Morgan, whose parents dropped off a party favor bag in advance. Afterwards, we had artisanal sandwiches with fried eggs on top.

On Sunday, we took a walk in Claude Moore Park.

How was your weekend?

tagged as day-to-day | permalink | 1 comment

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Memory Day: Landmark Mall

Last Thursday, the demolition of Landmark Mall in Alexandria finally began.

As the nearest mall to my childhood home (1.1 miles by car), I have many memories of what this mall was like, even if I didn't spend much time there. My earliest memories of the mall was in the 80s when it was an outdoor mall with long promenades. The benches down the middle of each path were bordered with pyramid-like slopes (very chic in concrete architecture) which my sister and I would run up and down the slopes as our parents roamed from department store to drug store.

When the mall became enclosed, visits became a triangle of stops: Kenny's shoes for discount footware, Sears for Boy Scout merit badge books, and the Electronic Boutique up on the third floor for PC and Nintendo games. We never ate at the Food Court because "We have food at home". This same argument applied to the arcade as well: "Why are you going to pay 25 cents for a two minute game when we have a computer at home?"

If I recall correctly, whatever we were looking for at the mall was often out of stock, so we'd pile back into the car and hit the next closest mall, Springfield Mall. As this started happening more and more, we eventually stopped going to Landmark much at all.

Landmark finally closed in 2017, after which it became a truckyard for millions of Amazon Prime delivery trucks. It took another 5 years to cut through red tape for the redevelopment. Hopefully the mixed-use development is successful (they're all the rage these days), although it doesn't seem like they took my advice about putting a data center underneath it and some open-air craft breweries on the top level.

tagged as memories | permalink | 2 comments

 

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