This Day In History: 08/14

Tuesday, August 14, 2001

Well, everything but the computer and the MIDI keyboard are packed up and ready to go. I'm taking the Auto Train down to Florida tomorrow, and will drive from Sanford to Tallahassee on Thursday. After a weekend of furniture shopping, overpriced utility hookups, and every meal at McDonald's, I'll have a week of grad student orientations, diagnostic music exams, and all the exciting accoutrements of establishing residency in Florida. I don't know how often I'll be online these next few days, but I'll check my e-mail as soon as possible. If you missed my mass-mailing with my online contact points and phone numbers, just let me know, and I'll keep you in the loop.

Irish Washerwoman is coming along, although not as speedily as I'd like it to. With an arrangement like this, especially a closing/encore number, it's hard to strike a balance between crowd-pleasing banality and music which is worth playing. I tend to err on the side of the crowd, which makes for a more enjoyable performance, although it doesn't always satisfy the music critic. All too often, popular and traditional music is dismissed as "non-serious" music that's not worth my time as a composer. Since my style is so enmeshed between both worlds, I can hopefully dispel this myth in future works -- I think Vanishing Point and Clown Facades were good starts.

In other news, today is my sister's 25th birthday, and I've also heard back from my high school friend, Mike Sharp, who's alive and kicking in Elmira, New York .

Now back to studying and composing...

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Wednesday, August 14, 2002

As I hinted on the first day of this edition, this year is going to be the decision year for my imminent future. Money aside, I'll have to decide what to do after my Master's... go on to the Doctorate or stop there and work full-time as a computer programmer at FGM. The major questions that are weighing on my mind:

  • Do I have enough inspiration to compose for the span of an entire career without rehashing old material?
  • Am I a good enough composer to make an artistic difference?
  • Am I motivated enough to "sell" myself competitively and professionally in an already-struggling academic field?
  • Will the amount of time and effort devoted to a Doctorate make me that much better at composing (quantitatively speaking)?

I'll talk about all these issues throughout the semester, and you're all welcome to send me thoughts on the subject. I've always known that this decision would eventually have to be made. I think one of the big revelations of the summer was that I have a need to be active in the computer field when I'm not. I don't get the same feeling from composing -- I enjoy it greatly and can do it competently, but when I'm not composing (like this summer, for example), I don't immediately feel compelled to do so.

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Monday, August 14, 2006

Chad Darnell's 12 of 12

I'm posting this update on Sunday because it's time-sensitive and no one would care about it on the actual 14th! This is my entry for Chad Darnell's 12 of 12 . Because it was the first time that the 12th has fallen on a Saturday, I figured it'd be neat to see how blatantly my routine matches what I do on the weekdays. You can also go back to my previous 12 of 12's if you're so inclined: June and April, or see this month's entries from regular Zone readers, Rob and Kim .

6:28 AM: The cats know that the alarm is about to go off and wake me up early just in case I'm feeling benevolent and will feed them early.
7:14 AM: Gassing up at the local Getty, which could easily be renamed Ghetto. There's always sticky slushie residue on the floors and one of the four pumps is always broken, but it has the cheapest gas in the area at $3.01 per gallon.
7:28 AM: If you can't read the sign on the far right, it says, "OPEN 24 HOURS: 6 AM Sunday - Midnight Saturday". Does that even make sense? Today I bought milk, buttermilk buiscuits, Coke Zero, and some on-sale Yuengling Black & Tan.
7:45 AM: Clock tower shopping centers are easily the most ridiculous artifice of yuppy shopping centers. The clock doesn't even tell time properly -- it's about seven hours ahead.
11:08 AM: Overlooking my freshly-weeded planting box which was being overrun by wild mint, clover, and crabgrass.
12:14 PM: Sitting on the back porch enjoying the hot-but-not-as-hot-as-last-week weather and the neatly-mowed lawn.
12:43 PM: Freshly showered and making the meal of kings for lunch: Velveeta Shells and Cheese.
2:48 PM: Playing with the kitties so they don't become fat and complacent.
3:00 PM: Feeding the cats. Rather, opening the cabinet containing the food just slightly and watching them get all riled up. They still haven't figured out how to get trhough the child lock. I eventually did feed them -- don't call the ASPCA!
4:12 PM: Driving through the Mixing Bowl to visit my parents since my sister and her husband are coming into town.
4:24 PM: My mom sitting in the sun room reading the paper.
6:42 PM: (Bonus Picture "Homage"), This is me doing a little composing-brainstorming with one of the on-sale Black & Tans. You can pretend I'm writing an homage to Chad!
10:22 PM: Back where I started so I can go to work in the morning!

Happy Birthday to my sister, Ellen!

Man blows up traffic camera
ATTACK OF THE GIANT SEA TURTLES
Undercover Kitten dies in traffic accident

tagged as 12 of 12 | permalink | 11 comments

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Newsday Tuesday

Facebook pages concern parents of college freshmen

As housing officials at colleges around the country send out roommate assignments to freshmen this summer, a growing number of schools say they're getting more requests for changes -- from parents who don't like the roommates' Facebook profiles.

It looks like the "helicopter parents" have gained one more weapon in their quest to completely envelope their offspring in a protective Teflon bubble, which means that the day is not far off when the world will be filled with young twenty-somethings incapable of changing a tire or making a reservation. It won't be long until you'll see someone in the check-out line at the grocery store calling up Mom to ask what a "PIN Number" is, or whether it's better to get paper or plastic.

Parents sometimes see cups in photos and make the leap to alcohol and drugs, Manetas says.

Generally, when I see cups, I make the leap to boobies, but the article is somewhat unclear as to what kind of cups are shown in the pictures. This would have been a perfect article for metro.co.uk, who probably would have posted some booby pictures with the caption "what the cups may have looked like".

The problem with the parents' rationale is that a high-school Facebook profile is 85% posturing and 15% true-to-life. Trying to formulate a picture of what a person is like based on their Facebook page is akin to believing everything you read in an online dating profile (as a matter of fact, I was the runner-up in the 1987 Mr. Universe competition. Just because you're eight years old doesn't mean you can't have the guns).

Wark recalls getting a call from a parent who had "psychological and sanitary concerns" about a student's new roommates, both of whom were gay men.

Those damn dirty gays. Actually, I bet that having a gay roommate would result in more sanitary living conditions than a straight frat boy. Having two gay roommates? You could probably perform open-heart surgery on the living room carpet without fear of infection.

The University of Georgia has a password-protected program called the Dawg House on its website for freshmen to search for roommates.

UG also has less-publicized programs on its website, such as Pimpin' N' Ho'n, for locating roomates of the opposite gender, Fo Drizzle, for catching a ride to campus on rainy days, and Bling Da Bling, for rich Asian-Americans to locate roommates of a similar social and economic background.

Most of the schools contacted by USA TODAY say they have not made roommate changes as a result of such calls from parents.

Thank goodness. I agree that college costs are way out of line these days, but I also think that the parents who are paying the tuition should NOT be treated like university customers. Your kid is eighteen-years-old now -- if he cannot learn to handle roommmate issues on his own, he's not going to get very far in life.1

If anything, parents are looking for the wrong warning signs -- instead of perusing Facebook, they should be checking for the existence of a Myspace account, since it automatically implies that the person will be loud, garish, enjoy bright, pastel colours, spend all their time posting bulletins on the dormitory walls, and own a stereo that automatically turns on when you walk into the room.

1: The only exception to this rule is the one Indian roommate with the overpowering body odour who refuses to shower and can be smelled from all the way down the hall. For some reason, there will always be exactly one of these in every dorm, no matter how many other normal Indians you meet on campus.

Happy Birthday to my sister and Monica Frey!

Memo to the Dept. of Magical Copyright Enforcement
Woman attacks karaoke singer who sucked
Dentist plans to appeal license lost

tagged as newsday, mock mock, favourites | permalink | 3 comments

Thursday, August 14, 2008

New Feature Day: Bloglog

The most recent addition to the URI! Zone is an automatically shuffling Bloglog which organizes blogs (both Friendly and Trendy) according to the date of their most recent update. Like the layer of fresh water over a hypoxic part of the Gulf, these eager beaver bloggers will find their links up at the top of the list, stealing all the visitors and oxygen from the blogs listed below them.

Three or four times a day (or more if I manually push my giant red button), my BlogChecker loads the Atom or RSS feed of every listed blog, looking for new content. It doesn't delineate between a masterful treatise and the results of a "Which Muppet are you?" poll, because as most readers at work know: it doesn't matter WHAT is posted, as long as it's not the same post they saw last week at the top of the page.

In fact, people who haven't updated their blogs in the past 7 days will suffer the ignoble ignominy of having their link coloured in a darker shade of Asian (see the three examples in the screenshot on the left).

Coding this was much easier than expected because of the magic of XML, although I had to write a special case for Florida-Mike, who thinks that "Atom Feeds" is the name of the latest biblical zombie movie from Quentin Tarantino. Sadly, the BlogChecker cannot see Mark's blog, because his host, Blogsome, denies my requests with a "403 Forbidden" error (obviously trying to snag a role in the above movie as God in the Garden of Eden). I'll have to keep updating his position by hand, although I'm guessing the start of a new teaching semester will keep him in the Slackers category anyhow. Teaching music theory is hard work, even with tonic.

Share some of your favourite but undiscovered blogs in the Comments section! I might check one out, get addicted myself, and add it to my Bloglog.

Happy Birthday to my sister, who is somewhere between 30 and 40 but closer to 30!

Shigeru Miyamoto banned from talking about his hobbies
Buy evidence of adultery on eBay
Beijing provides 100,000 condoms for athletes

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Friday, August 14, 2009

Friday Fragments

we put the fragments in Fridfragmentsay

♠ Today is my sister's 33rd birthday, and in an effort to be Green and reduce landfill JPEGs, I'm reusing the birthday picture from last year, in which she was apparently "on the lamb". Happy Birthday! This also means that there's only thirty-two days until I, myself, turn thirty.

♠ There aren't a lot of new milestones I'll have reached by the time I turn thirty, since I already own a house and eat regularly at Popeyes. I even Googled "age thirty milestones" and found this unintentionally amusing excerpt published by the Institute for Christian Economics. The main points I learned from this article were: "A retarded person is not expected to become intelligent through education or any other means." and "The worst offenders on earth in this regard are Japanese men."

♠ At the very least, my car insurance might go down a little bit more, but probably not after my new speeding ticket is processed. Apparently going 47 in a 35 on Sterling Boulevard is a ticketable offense. 84 in a 65, I can understand (not that I EVER did THAT on I-66 E outside of Manassas in 1998), but twelve miles per hour over the limit on a two-lane ribbon of construction trucks and minivans is well within the divine purpose of that road.

♠ I'll have to be extra careful when driving our rented convertible on our honeymoon, since I've heard that the Hawaiian police are very strict about going slowly -- not only do you get a ticket, but your character might be written out of the next season of LOST.

♠ Speaking of honeymoons, apparently there's a new thriller movie out called A Perfect Getaway (starring Nikki the Disposable from the third season of LOST), in which two newlyweds travel to Kauai for their honeymoon and then get stalked through the jungle by homicidal maniacs. I think we should screen that at our reception so it's fresh in our minds when we drop the cats off at Kathy's house and head for Kauai ourselves on October 5.

♠ Kathy and Chris pick their own cats up from our house on Monday -- the gay kitty brothers have had a quiet, normal stay. Titan runs around getting high, and Lake throws up in indiscrete locales (although the first time, he actually went into the litter box to do it -- he would do well at a frat party).

♠ Other plans for the weekend include a little sushi tonight, a little poker tomorrow, and some wedding crap on Sunday, interspersed with some house-cleaning, and buying large amounts of unnecessarily-valued-value-paks at Costco.

♠ Have a great weekend!

Man sorry for previous arrest gets arrested again
$9.99 TV was too good to be true
Adelaide cops baffled by cucumber thefts

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Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Composing Spotlight: Labyrinth

Movement I. Ingress

Labyrinth is the longest continuous composition I've ever written. By the low standards of the Lord of the Rings movie trilogy, this also makes it the best one. Weighing in at about sixteen minutes, Labyrinth is a chamber ensemble piece in nine movements (performed without pause). I wrote it as my Master's Thesis at Florida State back in 2002.

The piece was written for a chamber ensemble consisting of 2 flutes, 1 oboe, 1 alto sax (doubling soprano), 1 bassoon, 1 trumpet, 2 horns, 1 trombone, 1 tuba, 2 violins, 1 cello, 1 double bass, 2 percussionists, and a conductor. The low probability of ever having these 17 musicians in the same room willing to perform for free was probably a big subliminal factor in my writing, since I knew that I would never have to deal with the herding-cats tedium of actually getting the piece performed in my lifetime.

Almost all of my compositions are through-composed: I start writing from the introduction and try to stay out of trouble until I write the last note. Sometimes, I'll deign to start from a melody or chord progression (especially for jazz charts) and then preface it with an intro, but from that point, I'll still compose straight through to the end. Because of this, the first movement of Labyrinth was especially difficult to compose, as I wanted to ensure that every single musical idea from the rest of the piece had a germination point in this very first section.

A higher degree of planning went into this piece, as befits a Thesis. Normally, I would just drop Booty on the keyboard and call it a motive. In this case, I plotted out the tonal centers of each movement, the relative lengths, and the basic concept I wanted to convey, but I did NOT write down any melodies or themes. I sat down and started writing Movement I. "Ingress" while living at Anna's parents house, during the summer of 2002, but ended up discarding every single idea I wrote. This either eliminates Chantilly as a hotbed of creativity, or just proves that when you write something, you should always plan to throw at least one version out.

My requirements for the first movement were:

  • The melody should use all 12 pitches, without sounding like a lame 12-tone piece.
  • There should be a half-step, whole-step, half-step motive (shown in the last measure of the score above).
  • The germs for every subsequent movement should be present in some form here.
  • The alto saxophonist should have to play a unison duet with a violin, because that never happens and it will probably piss the violinist off.

After many false starts, I finally settled on the melody seen here in August 2002. The remaining fifteen minutes actually flowed out fairly rapidly once this movement was in place, and I had a finished work by the December holiday break.

    Listen to the first movement (1:04 MP3)

Jump to Movement: I | II | III | IV | V | VI | VII | VIII | IX

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Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Birth Day

To celebrate my sister's birthday today, here is a long lost video of the styles of the 80s, set against the backdrop of her 13th sleepover party. I must have been shipped off to a friend's for my own sleepover party since I am nowhere to be found on this video.

tagged as memories | permalink | 1 comment

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Review Day

There are no major spoilers in these reviews.

True Detective:
Part mismatched buddy movie and part serial killer hunt, this HBO show follows a murder investigation in Louisiana over the span of 20 years. The aging of the characters is done incredibly effectively, and the story makes no narrative missteps. Best of all, the 8 hour span has a definite story arc with complete resolution, and the ending is allowed the chance to breath without needlessly ending on an action shot or setting up a cliffhanger.

Final Grade: A

Fall to Grace by Paloma Faith:
Paloma's second album is good enough, but missing some features that made Do You Want the Truth... so much better. The orchestrations feel a little sparser, and her voice isn't as effective without a lush pad to support it. There are a few nondescript songs on the album that are forgettable enough that you don't notice them playing until a few minutes in, and then you're already tired of them -- Ingrid Michaelson has several of these types of songs across her albums.

Final Grade: C

Jericho, Season Two:
Although this season is only 7 episodes long, it at least had the chance to wrap up the main storyline before cancellation. Supporting characters fade into the background as mere plot progression ciphers, but that actually helps the flow of the narrative -- we already know the characters so we don't need to give them any LOST flashbacks. A few questionable plot points (like a townie being granted access to a Top Secret documents room) break the spell, but otherwise this season was great. I had to watch the last three episodes back-to-back because of the suspenseful writing. Free on Amazon Prime.

Final Grade: B+

Community, Season Five:
The fourth season of this show was so horrible without the fired show creator that NBC actually rehired him to steer the fifth season. Although it's only 13 episodes long, this turned out to be a very funny season, with a good balance between smart one-lines and parodies of other shows (which often fell flat in the earlier seasons by being too heavy-handed). Though Chevy Chase and Don Glover left the show, they're barely missed because of the return of John Oliver and the guest starring of Jonathan Banks (Mike Ehrmantraut on Breaking Bad). The latter fully embraces the ridiculous nature of the show and makes it twice as interesting because of it. My order of favorite seasons would probably go 1, 2/5, 3, 4.

Final Grade: B

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Friday, August 14, 2015

Useless Settings I Never Use

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Monday, August 14, 2017

Chad Darnell's 12 of 12

12 pictures of your day on the 12th of every month

7:27 AM: Showered and awake.
7:53 AM: Jonesing for some breakfast.
8:13 AM: Sesame bagel for breakfast.
9:01 AM: First in line at Costco, as usual.
10:31 AM: Returning home to the voracious eaters.
10:49 AM: Enrichment time.
11:58 AM: Guess what's for lunch.
12:48 PM: This place has bottle service.
3:30 PM: Learning some new Overwatch heroes.
4:48 PM: Family photo before the next feeding.
5:12 PM: Couch time with iZombie and popcorn.
9:02 PM: Not quite ready to go back down.

tagged as 12 of 12 | permalink | 3 comments

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Memory Day: Snapshots

This picture was taken 24 years ago, in August 1995.

As drum major of the elite T.C. Williams Marching Titans, I was selflessly leading the band on a Chinquapin practice field that required a 20 minute round trip march to get to. We actually had lines on the field this particular day, a rarity.

I'm standing with Josh, alto sax, and Mike, trumpet. Though band members are not necessarily paragons of style, you can tell that primary colors and khakis were the word of the day in 1995. I also continued my streak of wearing clothes and glasses that were too big for me because finding the right size while straddling the line between Boys and Mens clothing took up time that could be better spent playing video games.

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Friday, August 14, 2020

Review Day

There are no major spoilers in these reviews.

Leviathan Wakes by James S.A. Corey:
While the book in isolation is just good, not amazing, it really serves to highlight how strong the TV adaptation, The Expanse is. (The book maps to the first one and a half seasons of the show). I had a greater appreciation for the new side characters and plot events from the show that seamlessly fit into the original story. Worth a read if you like the show, but give it some distance so you don't have the show fresh in your mind.

Final Grade: B-

Angry Cyclist by the Proclaimers:
Amazon Music finally tricked me into a 3-month trial of Music Unlimited with its app popup ads so I've been going down the rabbit hole of looking up bands I used to listen to and seeing what they're up to. The only song this band was ever known for stateside was "I Would Walk 500 Miles". This recent album is full of lush harmonies, forgettable lyrics, and a crooning style that makes every song warmer.

Final Grade: B

Who Killed the Zutons by the Zutons:
This is the 2004 debut album of the group that wrote "Valerie", the song that led to the collaboration between Mark Ronson and Amy Winehouse. It's full of fun, raw Brit-rock that makes me want to dig the other album I own out of its CD folio.

Final Grade: B+

Eurovision: The Story of Fire Saga (PG-13):
We tapped out of this movie after a half hour. It wasn't awful, but it did have a wildly varying tone that couldn't decide whether it's an earnest comedy or absurd parody. You know what you're going to get when you start a movie like this, but that doesn't excuse its two hour running time. Free on Netflix.

Final Grade: Not Graded

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