This Day In History: 06/05

Monday, June 05, 2006

Capsule Review Day

Cardigans: First Band on the Moon
When I hear a band I like, I tend to want to listen to the entire body of their work. First Band on the Moon is their second CD, released in 1996 when I was still a senior in high school, and has the only song people know in the U.S., "Lovefool". The Cardigans try to maintain their whimsical sound while adding heavier beats and more serious, artistic lyrics. Overall, it's successful but I prefer the music on the first CD to this one. You can definitely hear the evolution of their sound and the improvements in Nina Persson's voice though.
Prognosis: Skip it unless you're a diehard fan or you pirate music. Arr!

Makin' Bacon
My dad is currently reading a book about the economics of Walmart, and bought me this device, which is featured in the book. It's simple a $4 plastic pan with little clotheslines for hanging bacon. You place up to twelve strips of bacon over the drip pan, cover it with a paper towel, and then microwave the bacon for several minutes. This setup is supposed to allow the grease to drip off the bacon, making for more uniformly textured bacon and an easier post-meal cleanup. I tried it out yesterday and it works perfectly, AS SEEN ON TV. In five minutes, you have bacon that's as close to restaurant bacon as I've ever tasted, and you don't have to worry about a grease-splattered stove. There's really no downside at all to using it, and it's cheaper than buying ready-to-eat bacon or other bacon substitutes.
Prognosis: The best tool for making breakfast since the invention of the toaster oven.

Alias, Season 5
The fact that there were only seventeen episodes in the final season meant that I could watch them all this past weekend. Ultimately, the season was a little flawed (not because of the season itself, but because it had to piggyback off of a season that apparently ended the story) but still quite watchable, and had a sufficiently sappy ending. If you forgive its issues early on and just go along for the ride instead of trying to figure everything out, you'll start to get into an Alias "what happens next?" groove that hearkens back to the good old days of SD-6 and Phase Two. A few pieces of the big puzzle were lost to confusion, and the finale was a whirlwind of webs trying to tie everything together but they were as successful as they could have been given the circumstances. Because I have been watching and writing about Alias since these daily updates began in 2001, I'll probably write one last post to wrap it all up, and then you will never have to hear me talk about it ever again. What a bargain!
Prognosis: It won't change your life but it will please fans. If you've already gone this far, you might as well finish it off.

"You beat death, Arvin, but you couldn't beat me." - Jack Bristow

Trip to Hell for 6/6/06
Robber should get a few bucks as a consolation prize
Man denied visitation rights to his dog

tagged as reviews | permalink | 9 comments

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Museday Tuesday

Obsessively: (adv.) in a compulsive manner

My Composition (0:29 MP3)
Old Musedays:
Sidelong
Moodily
Obnoxiously

The first concept that popped into my head after randomly generating this adverb was "worrying", in the "worry the end of a rope until it frays" sense, not the "my teenager has trails under his nose and I worry he has a cocaine habit" sense. I was originally going to do a pure piano thing, starting with the diminished vamp and becoming a C minor 6 pedal, but the end result didn't have as much tension as I wanted, so I trashed most of it around the ten minute mark and rewrote it with drums and basses instead.

Happy Birthday Rob Kelley!

A quick smoke is good for the wings
Request for Urban Street Sightings
Lack of women feeds the Neo-Nazis

tagged as museday | permalink | 0 comments

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Review Day: Mario Kart Wii

In my lifetime, I have played at least seven million games, some of them great and some of them horrible. Despite this, the number of games with enough appeal and lasting power to still be played over a year later can be counted on one hand, even if I were involved in a tragic industrial wood chipper incident: World of Warcraft, DOOM, Starcraft, and Super Mario Kart for the SNES. (Diablo II would be the runner-up finger that ended up in the mulch).

I played Super Mario Kart for years as a kid, and it was one of the only games I was actually good at for quite some time, but was greatly disappointed with the version for the N64. Because of this background, Mario Kart Wii had a massive sense of nostalgia to live up to.

The game comes with a plastic shell that wraps around your Wiimote and turns it into a very responsive steering wheel. It's very intuitive for new users, but may lead to hilariously bad crashes for people with an old control scheme embedded in their reflexes. Up to four players can play locally (though any more than 2 will require a huge TV screen to see anything), and 2 local players can play online with 10 others.

The Lows:

  • Having to play the game to unlock pretty much all of the features is the second worst videogame paradigm ever invented, after unskippable cutscenes.
  • Unescapable items in Grand Prix mode replace much of the strategy with luck, and there are too many items in play at any given time (not so bad with a few friends).
  • There are only 16 original maps -- the other 16 are remakes of classic maps from other versions.
  • The Highs:

  • Multiplayer is painless and fast, and much more fun than you'd expect it to be. This is where the game shines. "Just one more race" becomes addicting.
  • The original maps are easy on the eyes, fun to play, and varied.
  • The game is very easy to control, even for a novice.
  • Final Grade:
    B+, best with friends

    Rehab is for quitters
    Key to all optical illusions discovered
    Georgia seeks to change its border

    tagged as reviews, games | permalink | 3 comments

    Friday, June 05, 2009

    Friday Fragments

    paving the way to the future with straw and hippo spoor

    ♠ As you can see from the visitor map on the right, the popularity of the URI! Zone is starting to resemble the early stages of an avian flu pandemic, although I've had trouble penetrating the South American markets. The African and Asian hits, as well as most of the Eastern European hits can be safely ignored since they usually just want to steal my musical research.

    ♠ I'm perfectly happy to be past the stage in my life where I have to read treatises of questionable merit and write papers about them. Nowadays, most of my writing is either for this website or for design specifications at work that show how alien autopsies can be made more efficient through the use of ample lengths of dental floss. I also use a good deal of my Written Word sauce on support emails to users who name their resources "PLOP" and want to change them, or click on an advertisement instead of the login button and then complain that our website is broken.

    ♠ Speaking of broken websites, my site was down for a few hours yesterday morning because of a power supply failure. Since the host is on the West Coast, it didn't get fixed immediately, but we were back up and running once the admins woke up. Kattare is much better than Futurepoint in that regard -- on my old host I would have spent several days waiting to get a reply back from Bob in India before sending him detailed instructions on how to fix the problem.

    ♠ The above fragment is not a racist rant -- the level one tech support guy was actually from India, and said his name was "Bob". I'm presuming that the purpose of such an all-American name was to comfort the Americans asking for support, but the ruse is shattered when you also say that you're on New Delhi time.

    ♠ It would be nice if there were a new deli around here. I am not elite enough to eat at a Panera, and Subway has been kind of bland for a while now. I think it's probably the result of renaming their Cold Cut Trio as a Cold Cut Combo. Any musician could tell you that it's never smart to add more people to your ensemble -- hilarity will not ensue.

    ♠ I'm not a Quiznos fan either, but not based on the quality of their foodstuffs. Any company that thinks babies that talk like adults are a clever marketing strategy don't deserve my business. The same goes for that stock-trading company that only seems to advertise during Super Bowls.

    ♠ I don't have any big plans for the weekend, although I'll probably start watching the fourth season of Prison Break or coding Weddingopoly as an online game on our wedding website. I'm also replaying Mario and Luigi: Partners in Time on the DS Lite. It's just as fun as the first time, and is easily one of my top video game picks.

    ♠ Happy Birthday, Rob! Have a great weekend, everyone!

    Drivers get a glimpse of manatee orgy
    First Zero-G wedding (for only 10Gs)
    Brothel hopes male prostitutes increase business
    Babies that talk like adults?

    The ONLY way to sell something. (1 vote, 14.3%)


    I chuckled. (3 votes, 42.9%)


    Talking babies are the WORST. (3 votes, 42.9%)


    tagged as fragments | permalink | 3 comments

    Tuesday, June 05, 2012

    Travel Planning Day

    It recently became apparent that no one was going to take the initiative and be our volunteer travel agent. I was averaging 62 hours of work per week in the first part of the year and Rebecca was making the ten-hour round trip between Sterling and Springfield for school every day, and the window for planning exotic locales like New Zealand gradually slipped away. Since the only alternative for adventure that didn't involve planning would have us flaunt rolls of Benjamins on the street corner until we were kidnapped and held for ransom, we finally got our asses in gear this past weekend and cobbled together our slightly-less epic yet still exotic summer vacation.

    Day 1Fly into Montreal (cheaper than flying to California!)
    Day 2-3Spend two days in Montreal, most of it at the BU Wine Bar.
    Day 4Drive to Quebec City (3 hours).
    Day 5Spend a day in Quebec City.
    Day 6Day trip out to Baie-Saint-Paul.
    Day 7Drive back to Montreal (3 hours).
    Day 8-9Hiking and nature in Mont-Tremblant.
    Day 10BU flies home from Montreal. Rebecca goes to a week of yoga camp in Val-Morin.

    tagged as travel | permalink | 3 comments

    Wednesday, June 05, 2013

    Time-lapsed Blogography Day

    On June 5, 1996, my senior year of high school was coming to a close, so I took the day off and went into work with my dad. The purpose of this trip was an interview at the nearby PEPCO headquarters, after which I accepted my infamous "computer science internship without any computers".

    June 5, 1996 8:59pm Wednesday

    By the way, Whitney wrote in my yearbook that I'm a fun guy when I'm not so shy. Adrienne wrote that she was glad she got to know me better and Ada wrote that I'm an incredibly nice and very funny person.

    On June 5, 1999, I went to the T.C. Williams senior prom and wore musical suspenders. Everyone says that juniors must be really cool to get to go to the senior prom, but that probably doesn't apply to juniors in college.

    On June 5, 2003, I had recently started working full-time at FGM. I spent the first few months on a dead-end project where we evaluated a commercial product for features that it did not do, while the high-paid traveling sales consultants tried to convince us that it did. While taking the opportunity offered by the dearth of real work to learn JASS to write Warcraft III maps, I received this email from Kathy, who was working as a receptionist in Florida.

    From: "Kathy Biddick" [kbiddick@hotmail.com]
    Subject: Re: Goo-y!
    Date: Thu, 05 Jun 2003 15:10:26 -0400

    Yes, I'm at work. It's slow, very slow. I finished the book I brought with me. I've heard the new Clay Aiken (from American Idol) song on the radio twice today and that makes me happy. I think it was just released.

    Hope you're having a good day!
    Kathy

    On June 5, 2004, I had a housewarming party and got a pool-table-shaped clock from Evil Mike, who was formerly known as Jaood. Also, my front yard was covered in plants.

    On June 5, 2008, I reviewed Super Mario Kart Wii.

    On June 5, 2013, I will be going home after work and grilling a steak.

    tagged as memories | permalink | 5 comments

    Thursday, June 05, 2014

    Review Day

    There are no major spoilers in these reviews.

    West Wing, Season Three:
    This season had the unenviable position of being released right after 9/11, and the writers obviously felt like they had to work terrorism into the storyline. Some episodes are overly preachy and self-righteous, while others feel like the weakest political scenes from 24. Free on Netflix.

    Final Grade: C

    West Wing, Season Four:
    Season four regains some composure, and features an overarching storyline that culminates nicely with the guest appearance of John Goodman. The pleasant camaraderie of the main group of characters is hurt by Rob Lowe's departure midseason, but overall it's an improvement over the third season. Free on Netflix.

    Final Grade: B-

    Louis CK: Live at the Beacon Theater:
    This was my first introduction to Louis CK's standup, having previously only seen him guest star on Parks and Rec. I found his jokes to be pretty funny, but his delivery was flawed by the constant "aw shucks I'm funny" smile after each one. I probably would have enjoyed it much more as an audio CD. Free on Netflix.

    Final Grade: B-

    Derek, Season One:
    When you hear that the creator of The Office has written, directed, and starred in a sitcom about a simpleton who works in a nursing home, you wouldn't be blamed for expecting the worst in uncomfortable, cringeworthy humour at the expense of old people and simpletons. However, Derek completely subverts expectations by keeping all of the humour at the "laugh with them" level, and by being unexpectedly human and heartwarming. Watching this show is a good way to temporarily reduce your cynicism about the human race, although it is just British enough to occasionally require subtitles. Free on Netflix.

    Final Grade: A

    tagged as reviews | permalink | 0 comments

    Friday, June 05, 2015

    Stuff In My Drawers Day: Modern Poetry

    This is an undated poetry excerpt, probably from primary school since I stopped using cursive writing as soon as I was allowed to.

    I'm not sure why the rhyming scheme changes so dramatically between stanzas, so I'll presume that the second stanza was intended to be a hiphop spoken word break.

    tagged as media | permalink | 0 comments

    Monday, June 05, 2017

    Kitty Day

    An era has finally come to an end -- Kitty, the Maine Coon cat that Rosie, Anna, and I adopted in our Blacksburg apartment in 2000, finally passed away on June 1, 2017 at the age of 17.

    Being a Maine Coon, Kitty was a super intelligent cat, implicitly understanding things like when a squirrel runs out of view of the back patio door, it will eventually reappear on the front porch. Anna taught her to sit, speak, and almost roll over, and she could also sing for her dinner:

    Because of this hyper-intelligence, Kitty was bored of normal cat life and stupid humans, and she demonstrated this throughout life by destroying all of our mouse wires (remember when mice had wires?) and peeing on everyone's carpets. I used to buy mice in bulk packages, knowing that we'd go through several in a year.

    Kitty eventually moved in with Anna and the ineluctable Sydney in 2005. We eventually discovered that being allowed to go outside eliminated all of her boredom and pee issues. She turned into a backyard / forest cat (depending on the locale) and ruled over the local fauna like a shaggy Disney princess. She finished out her final year in Fredericksburg with a giant backyard to pee in, surrounded by four kids with whom she was enduringly patient.

    Rest in peace, Kitty!

    tagged as cats | permalink | 2 comments

    Wednesday, June 05, 2019

    Memory Day: Snapshots

    These pictures were taken 15 years ago today, on June 5, 2004. The occasion was a housewarming party for my newly-purchased Sterling house. The basement was quite cheery and had not yet been made over with bachelor jazz posters and a pool table. There may have been twenty different types of cast-off chairs furnishing the room.

    The guest list was roughly 20% people related to me, 30% people related to Anna, 30% people I went to high school with, and 20% coworkers. Evil Mike (then known as Jaood) got me a clock shaped like a billiards rack which still hangs on the wall today even though it permanently stopped working around 2006.

    tagged as memories | permalink | 0 comments

    Friday, June 05, 2020

    Review Day

    There are no major spoilers in these reviews.

    QIAYA Selfie Light Ring:
    This inexpensive ring light clips onto your laptop screen and adds just enough fill light to improve the clarity of your image on video calls -- useful when you're in dim surroundings or have a bright window behind you. It's also surprisingly useful for doing jigsaw puzzles at night. On the downside, charge runs down fairly quickly and 2 of the 3 intensity settings will only be useful when I start my Makeup channel on Youtube.

    Final Grade: B

    In Your Own Sweet Time by the Fratellis:
    I'm working my way through all of this band's albums during quarantine. This is another strong one, but without any songs that immediately jump out at me as the best ones.

    Final Grade: B+

    Money Heist: The Phenomenon:
    This documentary about Money Heist goes beyond the typical adulatory victory lap with some fun behind-the-scenes exploration and bloopers. Definitely watch after you've finished all 4 seasons as it's not timid with spoilery images. Free on Netflix.

    Final Grade: B+

    Dead to Me, Season Two:
    Season two is as good as the first, and does an amazing job weaving different tones and moods cohesively. I've never seen a show that can transition from rage to despondency to light comedy without feeling like a jumbled mess like this one can. There is some setup for a Season Three towards the end, but I'd honestly be happy if the story ends right here. Free on Netflix.

    Final Grade: A

    tagged as reviews | permalink | 1 comment

     

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