This Day In History: 05/30

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Spoiler Day

I have decided that most of the population of the world is completely incapable of understanding the concept of spoilers, and even those that do are sometimes unable to effectively talk about the endings of books or movies in a non-spoilerish way. If you are unhip to the world of entertainment lingo like "jump the shark" and "frost up a smoothie", a "spoiler" is simply any detail about the plot of a movie, book, or show, that isn't common knowledge. It can be the big reveal about the murderer, or just a tiny detail about LOST that suddenly puts everything in a whole new light. Now that the Internet is here it's become even more difficult to read stories about other shows and movies without seeing pop references to spoilers from older shows, as if the writer has to prove that he's seen more TV than you have. And it's not that people are trying to be mean-spirited, like the guy that drove past the bookstore on opening night of Harry Potter 6 and shouted out the ending to hundreds of crying twelve-year-olds -- it's just that people don't think twice about where they discuss it.

Here are a few spoiler incidents I've come across in my day:

  • After a prominent character was permanently killed off on Alias, there was intense speculation as to how permanent the death was. A month later, someone posted a news item on one of the Alias sites saying, "[Actor's Name] seen filming a new episode!". Then, he enclosed the body of the news in big SPOILER tags, as if the title wasn't enough to give anything away.

  • When reading Amazon reviews of 24 Season Three, one review started out with, "This is the season where [character] dies at [other character's] hands! It's Gr8!"

  • When talking to my dear, sweet mother about the current season of 24 which she's watching on TV while I wait for the DVDs, she said, "Well I'm not going to give anything away, but [character] dies!". After telling her it was a spoiler, she said, "Oh it didn't spoil anything, the episode was on last night!"

  • When watching The Usual Suspects with some folks who were seeing it for the first time, we got to the very first scene, where Kaiser Soze stands on the boat and talks. One of the girls immediately shouted out "That's [actor]'s voice!" completely giving away the entire movie. That one was just funny though.

  • This weekend, I devoured the entire second season of The 4400, that part X-Files part LOST show that airs on USA, the network no one even remembers anymore. Even though the writing is occasionally over the top and reaches WB-levels of melodrama, it's a very smart, well-written show. One of the main reasons I'm so engrossed in the plot is that I have yet to accidentally stumble across any spoilers anywhere. Since it's a show that no one watches, no one ever talks about it in passing, or writes about it in newspapers and so forth -- this makes the twists and turns and all the character development that much more entertaining.

    The third season starts on TV on June 11. I'm not sure yet if I'll watch it with commercials -- I'm dying to see what happens next, but not so much so that I want to commit my Sunday nights to sitting in front of the television.

    These T-Shirts were brought to you by the letters M and S, and the number 13.
    Silent teen-alarm backfires
    Way too much information about senior citizens

    tagged as random | permalink | 6 comments

    Wednesday, May 30, 2007

    Memory Day: The Foreign Language Requirement

    In my high school, there were two paths to a diploma: the Standard path (which generally included a course with the abbreviation "ec" but not in the context of "ecology" or "eclampsia") and the Advanced path. Because of grade inflation, the Advanced track was actually the common track that most students followed, with Standard being the new Subpar. (The same is happening in the food industry, where a Large pizza is now roughly the size of a prematurely-born opossum).

    To qualify as an Advanced student, you had to meet the language requirement which, in the grand American tradition of failing to understand basic math, required three years of a foreign language, or two years each of two separate languages. Having been a master scholar in the universal language of loooove since childbirth, I wasn't too keen on adding yet another language to my repertoire, but relented so I could go to a really good state college.

    Given the choice between French, Spanish, German, and Latin, the only logical choice was French. I figured that I could learn German on my own time since all you do is take random words and string them together into even longer words (the same applies to writing a medley), and I wagered that Spanish would pretty much be a dead language in this country within a decade. That left French and Latin, and the girls who took French were far cuter.

    I started French I in eighth grade under Madame Gibbs. We used the textbook, On y va!, which is a colloquialism that vaguely means "Here we go!". The main thing I learned from this textbook, other than how to order a Coke in France (je voudrais un coca) was that you should never use slang in a language book title because the teacher will have to spend the whole first class explaining why it can't be directly translated because her students are all literal pissants (fourmi litt?rale d'urine).

    Every student had to have a French name, for total immersion, so my French name was Brian (je m'appelle Brian) -- the last syllable was Frenchified so it sounded like Lil' Kim trying to be hardcore by making goose noises in Lady Marmalade . As the years went by, this name became corrupted into Brioche, which is also a French pastry that looks exactly like a boiled blister.

    Once we were well-versed in ordering various French dishes and swearing (tu manges mon merde) we went to French II, where we watched ridiculous "learn French" videos, played the card game, Milles Bornes, and had Language Lab. During this session, giant booms lowered out of the ceiling with enough headsets for the entire class, and the French edition of Ben Stein from Ferris Bueller asked us questions. No matter how many people were in the class or how softly you spoke, the teacher could always figure out when you were mispronouncing something or not answering -- she would use her Voice of the Gods skill to correct you over your headset without anyone in the class knowing. Sometimes I would intentionally throw a question (je ne sais rien) to see if she was really paying attention, and she always was.

    I don't remember a single thing about French III because the teacher was a troll (in the Brothers Grimm sense, not the hairy plastic doll sense), but I think it mostly centered around learning a bunch of verb tenses that no one ever needs in real life (that no one might ever be needing in real life). However, something in that class convinced me to be an overachiever and go back for a FOURTH year of French, which was quite fun. All we did was read and write stories for the entire year. In the tradition of Mr. Square and Mr. Triangle, I wrote a story called Mr. Juvenile Delinquent which you can read here (my partner contributed by doing all the colouring). You can probably understand most of it even if you don't speak French.

    Since that year, I haven't taken a single language class, and what remains of my French vocabulary comes more from the occasional Aliz?e song than any preserved education. I have picked up a few choice words of Tallahassean -- for example, the proper response to "Thank You" in Florida is "No Problem", not "You're Welcome", and when someone asks "Have you been to the Walmart?", you have to follow up with "You mean today?" before you answer.

    Elephant robs motorists
    Man who stayed up 266 hours rises to bad news
    The employee asking the question traces a circle in the air with his pen while pronouncing the word Angus.

    tagged as memories | permalink | 6 comments

    Friday, May 30, 2008

    End of the Month Media Day

    a lazy montage of leftover pictures to close out the month


    Graduation Day

    Ella does her Birdo impersonation

    Rebecca's Whiteboard

    Not My Coat

    Corned Beef with the Parents

    More Wedding Fun

    Have a great weekend!

    Horror Frog breaks its own bones
    Snake vs. snake
    Man fined for hedgehog toss

    tagged as media | permalink | 0 comments

    Wednesday, May 30, 2012

    Memory Day: Training Drum Majors

    Fourteen years ago today, on May 30, 1998, I was home for the summer from Virginia Tech. I had just finished my sophomore year, living with Beavis and taking that stupid engineering class where you fill a box with wires to get the result of 1 plus 1 (the answers was 10). I still wore huge glasses, which allowed me to see twice as much as other mortals, and a hand-me-down Members Only jacket.

    May 30 was a Saturday which I spent giving a workshop to prospective drum majors from my old high school, because it is totally cool and not creepy at all when a college guy comes back to visit his high school band all of the time. However, my workshop was more than just an afternoon of conducting -- it was a way of life, starting with a seventeen page packet distributed in early January which opened with this scary statement.

    The position of drum major is not the easy path to get through marching band season. You do not just "stand up front and wave your arms around", as one sophomore proclaimed last season. Being a drum major requires a strong work ethic and commitment; it is easily the most difficult position to do well that you will ever encounter in your high school career.

    Actually, being a drum major is pretty easy if you can maintain a steady tempo at least 40% of the time (based on my college marching band experience), so I was probably just trying to scare away the less serious candidates. The packet went on to describe the pillars of a successful drum major: COMMITMENT, WORK ETHIC, MUSICALITY, and LEADERSHIP. In reality, the pillars are SHOW UP, PRACTICE SOMETIMES, STOP AT THE FINAL BARLINE, and DON'T BE A DOUCHE.

    The packet also included a 9-question leadership survey, with hard-hitting critical-thinking questions like:

    3. The band director, intending to start at measure 64, tells the band measure 66 by accident. He then gets fairly upset at the band for starting in the wrong place. What, if anything, would you do in this situation?

    Other focus areas of the packet included:

    • Conducting in 2, 3, and 4
    • Conducting while marching backwards
    • Gaining muscle memory by banging on a desk (in reference to conducting, of course)
    • How to clap loudly
    • Giving commands from your gut
    • A fourteen page appendix on music theory and notation (including transposition but excluding alto clef)

    The actual audition piece was also far more difficult than it needed to be, employing a VT score full of ritards, annotated with my insightful commentary like "Bring the other hand back in here!".

    After the initial workshop session, the running for T.C. Williams drum major gradually dropped from seven to three candidates. Some were incapable of clapping on 2 and 4, or 1 and 3, or any known downbeat. One guy quit because he didn't want to miss the activity bus for practice sessions. Another apparently thought he was auditioning for an American Sign Language flash dance.

    1998 was not the last year I worked with the band. I would go on to train drum majors for one more year, and then did a stint writing marching drills that included Mickey Mouse's head before leaving marching bands behind for good!

    tagged as memories | permalink | 1 comment

    Thursday, May 30, 2013

    Review Day

    There are no major spoilers in these reviews.

    Magic Hour by the Scissor Sisters:
    This is a pleasant, 70s-and-80s-tinged album of light pop with a good mix of dance-y, beat-y, and mellow(-y) songs. The album as a whole isn't particularly cohesive, but there's a strong ratio of catchy to forgettable songs.

    Final Grade: B+

    Marie Callendar's Chicken Pot Pie:
    After a childhood full of Banquet Chicken Pot Pies for dinner (2 cooked at 325 for 42 minutes), I had abandoned hope of ever finding a pot pie that tastes good out of the microwave. However, Marie Callendar must have used all of our flying car R&D money to investigate this problem, because this pot pie is both delicious and crispy, after only 5 minutes in the microwave. The only downside is that you have to ignore the fact that the sodium content and calories of the pie are each measured with four digit numbers, and that one website has compared the fat content of a single pie with "23 strips of bacon". YUM.

    Final Grade: B+

    Dexter, Season Seven:
    This is the first great season of Dexter since John Lithgow's inclusion in Season Four. The steadily-building storyline manages to incorporate multiple plot points from old seasons while quietly burying the inconsistencies and failed plot tangents from recent seasons in an organic way. The side plots in this season don't add up to much, but they are never as annoying as the recurring "LaGuerta marries Batista and they argue" plots of yore. The writing in this season really makes up for the fact that season five and six were a perpetual doggy paddle in an above-ground pool.

    Final Grade: A

    tagged as reviews | permalink | 5 comments

    Friday, May 30, 2014

    End-of-the-Month Highlights Day

    • Events
      • Had Joe and Katie over for a back-porch dinner on May 2.

      • Planted tomatoes and a pepper plant on May 3. All three plants are still alive.

      • Observed the baptism of Hartley Glen Crane on May 4 and then ate tacos.

      • Made our first trip of the year to Harper's Ferry and got deluged. Then, had dinner with Frank and Amanda at The V.

      • Went to a Brew/BBQ Festival without any BBQ at Heritage Brewery and then hung out with the Smiths minus Chris.

      • While Rebecca was in Columbus, played the role of a mover, got an oil change, and played frisbee.

      • Tomorrow, we'll do our first of many barbeques for the year.

    • Projects
      • I learned some Scala in an online course and started work on released DDMSence v2.3.0.

    • Consumerism
      • I struggled to find any good shows this month.

      • I've been listening to Lily Allen and Ingrid Michaelson.

      • No new games this month either. Diablo III is more fun with the faster drop rate. Hearthstone is slightly less fun with the turn timer in friendly games.

    May's Final Grade: B+, thumbs up for May!

    tagged as day-to-day | permalink | 0 comments

    Wednesday, May 30, 2018

    End-of-the-Month Highlights Day

    New photos have been added to the Life, 2018 album. Google Photos sucks.

    • Events
      • Spent the weekend with Anna and family in Fredericksburg on F 5/4 - S 5/5.

      • Took a solo dad date to Miller's for dinner on S 5/6.

      • Rebecca got sick and Maia got to visit Aunt Carol on H 5/10.

      • Brian caught Rebecca's sickness on F 5/11.

      • Weeded the gardens and got dinner delivered from Siam Spice on S 5/12.

      • Had a Mother's Day afternoon with Rebecca at Copperwood Tavern while her parents watched Maia on S 5/13.

      • Lightning struck everything during a crazy storm, frying a router, a graphcis card, and a printer on M 5/14.

      • Rebecca's parents watched Maia while Rebecca went to yoga and Brian studied for an exam on F 5/18.

      • Passed an exam and had a neighbour barbeque on S 5/19.

      • Went hiking after a week of rain at Bear's Den on S 5/20.

      • My dad installed a 3x3 concrete square to alleviate flooding by the house on F 5/25. Rebecca and Maia went to Elizabeth's for a cousin's birthday dinner while Brian ate greasy food at Miller's.

      • Walked around Lake Anne during a thunderstorm on S 5/26.

      • Rebecca and visited Emily in Arlington while Brian did open-source work at home on S 5/27.

      • Brian's parents visited Maia in the morning and Rebecca and Maia went to see Annie in the afternoon on M 5/28.

    • Projects
      • Passed my AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner exam on S 5/19.

      • Updated Sparkour for the new version of Apache Spark on S 5/27.

    • Consumerism
      • Retired from Overwatch at level 1201 and started playing Divinity: Original Sin 2 in earnest.

      • No notable new music this month.

      • Actually enjoyed the 7th season of Game of Thrones and just started 3%, Season Two.

    May's Final Grade: B, Other than the one bout of sickness, it was a good month. Nice to get outside again!

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

    Monday, May 30, 2022

    End-of-the-Month Highlights Day

    New photos have been added to the Life, 2022 album.

    • Events
      • Maia returned home from a weekend with my parents on S 5/1 (She went to the Zoo!)

      • Family dinner at Bungalow Lakehouse on W 5/4.

      • Rebecca had Mother's Day Tea at preschool on H 5/5.

      • Had Tammy and Patrick over for dinner (steak and mushrooms) on S 5/7.

      • Rebecca took the kids to see Char at the Goodwin House on S 5/8.

      • Family dinner at Miller's (first time since the pandemic) on W 5/11.

      • Had the Winters over for dinner on S 5/14.

      • Went to the HOA meeting on W 5/18.

      • Had Maia's preschool friend, Ava, over for a playdate on S 5/21.

      • Rebecca took the kids to Taylorstown on S 5/22.

      • Attended Maia's preschool graduation on T 5/24.

      • Elizabeth and Steve stopped by for a visit on their roadtrip from Illinois to New York on W 5/25. Saw more Hickses on F 5/27.

      • Visited the Smiths on S 5/28.

      • Visited my parents on M 5/30.

    • Projects
      • Rejuvenated an overrun stretch of sidewalk along Lillard Road, W 5/11 - H 5/12 and M 5/23.

      • Unclogged the gutters on F 5/20.

    • Consumerism
      • Still playing Fallout 76, at level 181.

      • Enjoyed watching The Outlaws this month.

      • No new music or books this month.

    May's Final Grade: B+, life is feeling more normal!

    tagged as day-to-day | permalink | 0 comments

     

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