This Day In History: 09/13

Thursday, September 13, 2001

Yesterday afternoon, I watched Memento for the third time, and it still has my vote for my favourite movie ever. If you've never seen it, this is one movie that you should definitely watch before you die, regardless of what kind of movies you enjoy. I also finished reading Gene Lees' book on arrangers, which was well worth the effort. There's some wonderful material included, especially in the thoughts of Mel Powell, who eventually "left" the jazz world and became head of the composition department at Yale after Hindemith.

tagged as reviews | permalink | 0 comments

Friday, September 13, 2002

There was a theory department gathering this evening for a visiting scholar, which was a typical affair. I probably won't do much this weekend as a result, because too much excitement can be tiring.

The fourth season of the Sopranos starts up this Sunday on HBO although I only got to the end of the second season this summer. Since I don't like jumping ahead of things, I'll probably try to stay in the dark on it until after I've watched the third season.

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Monday, September 13, 2004

Meeting cancelled due to lack of intelligence?

On a whim last Saturday night, I reread book 5 of Harry Potter. I actually liked it a lot more the second time around than the first, although I still think it could have used an editor not afraid to cut. The Hokies also beat Western Michigan 63-0 (they're 124-0 in the past 3 games).

Yesterday I spent some time at work and also went over to my parents' house for dinner.

Robot eats bugs to stay alive
In a secret Paris cavern, the real underground cinema

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Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Today's update was originally going to be about swear words because I feel like I've devoted too many updates to the Hurricane aftermath, but after reading this juicy morsel of an article, I feel compelled to come back one more time (too bad it's fake, but it's eerily not far off base from reality). If you believed my Bob Vanhorn conspiracy theory (and you should because it's 100% true and will be proven in our lifetime), you'll get a kick out of Pat Robertson's theory that all of America's misfortunes can be blamed on Ellen DeGeneres hosting the Emmy's . There are so many great quotes that I don't know where to begin.

    "By choosing an avowed lesbian for this national event, these Hollywood elites have clearly invited God's wrath. Is it any surprise that the Almighty chose to strike at Miss Degeneres' hometown?"

    "America is waiting for her to apologize for the death and destruction that her sexual deviance has brought onto this great nation."

This one is my favourite, and makes me cackle like a witch (or like the middle Rice Krispie elf if he couldn't roll his Rs):

    "God already allows one awards show to promote the homosexual agenda. But clearly He will not tolerate such sinful behavior to spread beyond the Tonys."

I didn't realize that the Tonys were gay, or that God gave them the green light to be gay. I guess that's your loophole, if you happen to be a closet-homosexual addicted to the 700 Club -- just participate in the Tonys and you get the tacit A-OK from the man upstairs AND your idol, Robertson, to come out. Just make sure not to get fired from that gig, because He/he might have to change tacks and smite you. I'm surprised Robertson didn't order a hit put out on DeGeneres, but perhaps he's waiting until his check clears on the Hugo Chavez assassination.

Once I've become independently wealthy from my company's ESOP and my lawsuit against IBM (who still doesn't believe I patented the C: Prompt in kindergarten, even though I have the proof in my file cabinet -- they're trying to argue that it's just a wizard and I rotated the construction paper 90 degrees), I plan on having my own talk show where I can spout the most vitriolic sepsis known to man, all under the guise of being spiritual.

My show would be part talk-show, part sketch comedy, part improv, and part song-and-dance, because I think there is a massive untapped market for such a show . I would Mao it up by making it a personality cult (using me as the figurehead) and then pick random causes for the masses of uneducated viewers to get indignant about. There would have to be some kind of quota system to keep things progressive, maybe two assassination calls per year, one holy war with an opposing religion (my club versus the personality cult of David Hasselhoff would be a good way to pick up the ratings), and four random acts of vandalism ("BU thinks the Blue Line is blasphemous -- you should all go down to the King Street Metro and fill the station with that self-expanding foam in a can"). I can already smell the recipe for a hit show. FOX, are you paying attention? You could really use me.

And smiting. My show will have lots and lots of smiting.

Student Sees Dead Father in Photo Display
Wheelbarrow thief is caught in 2mph chase
Bruce Lee, Uniter of Bosnia

Yesterday's search terms:
macgamut cheating, the bourne supremacy practice your english, 473 6251, a ugly letter canceling lunch, coworker queasy

tagged as newsday | permalink | 5 comments

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

List Day: Games Most Played

After five or six months of regular playtime, Plinky finally reached Rank 11 on the Lightning's Blade server, which puts my character in the Top 30 players on the server, makes it the only non-level-60 character in the Top 500, and the only non-level-60 with the special armored tiger pictured to the left against the scenic backdrop of Dun Morogh. I've now done everything worth doing in the game (and no one who doesn't play the game cares why I think raiding is a big waste of time). You have to hand it to Blizzard for consistently cranking out top quality addictive games -- I've yet to play a Blizzard game I didn't like, and World of Warcraft has managed to snare millions of players willing to pay $15 a month for a virtual world where they can do whatever they want.

In recognition of games that you can play forever without losing that sense of fun, here are the top ten games that I played the most in the past twenty-six years (not necessarily the greatest works of art!).

10) Quest for Glory I:
Originally named Hero's Quest, until Milton Bradley sued Sierra On-Line because they were releasing a board game of the same name, this was Sierra's first departure from regular adventure games to role-playing adventure games with stats and classes. You could play as a warrior, rogue, or mage, and I always chose warrior. I used to run around fighting monsters for hours on end just to get 100 in all categories. This game was addictive all the way through IV, which was too buggy to complete and killed my interest.

9) Ultima VI:
This was a top-view role-playing game from around 1991 which I played for years, even after its sequels came out. The entire world was alive, and every character in the game had its own schedule which it followed, sleeping at night and going to work during the day. If you got tired of the story, you could do useless tasks like bake bread, and every action from growing the wheat to putting the dough in the oven was possible in the virtual world.

8) Snood: I wasted so much time in grad school on this puzzle game -- and it was the number one reason why I didn't compose as much as I should have during my two years in Florida. It's still on my desktop, but I'm no longer addicted to it.

7) Super Mario Kart: I'm talking about the original Super Nintendo version -- all later versions are pale replicas. This game had the perfect blend of single-player and multi-player, and I used to be a pro, though I could never finish the Trophy Circuit with Rainbow Road at the hardest setting. I could fling a mean Green Shell though!

6) Starcraft: The "original" real-time strategy game where you farmed resources, built buildings and armies, and defeated the enemy. I played the single-player campaigns ad nauseum, and then went online to play the multiplayer aspect, proving to the world that I sucked at these types of games. I could beat any takers on the map, Space Madness because I had a perfect Scout rush, but died pretty quickly to any experienced players. Once that got boring, I spent hours playing with Philip against computers on the Insane difficulty level, or writing battle reports for www.battlereports.com which were quite popular in their heyday. I also got Kelley addicted when he was my roommate, and probably lowered his QCA that semester by a couple points (the booze, drugs, and skirt-chasing did the rest).

5) The Incredible Machine:
This was the perfect game for me -- a puzzle game where you were given an oddball collection of parts, like fans and pulleys and goldfish bowls, and told to accomplish some strange goal, like "Save the mouse from Kitty the Cat" in a Rube Goldberg way. I spent months playing and replaying the game and its sequels, and then spent more months creating my own puzzles for my friends, who could never solve them.

4) Diablo II:
This game and I have a strange relationship. Every couple years, I'll remember how fun it was and reinstall it, not realizing that it's just mindless addicting fun with no end in sight. I'll play it for a couple months until I realize how utterly useless the game is and then I'll uninstall it. The amount of time I invested in the game to the amount of "stuff I had to show for it" is ridiculously low, yet it was still addicting enough to keep on playing!

3) Warcraft III:
This game on its own was decent but not particularly great, but it was really responsible for all the lore and storyline that went into World of Warcraft. Even though I grew tired of the game very quickly, it came with a map editor which extended its life on my computer by a good two years or more. I got involved in map making and later helped on the custom map, Footmen Frenzy, which became a worldwide craze, and my own maps which saw critical success but died at the box office (because they required too much thinking and most people are dumb -- not that I'm bitter). And if you think a Warcraft custom map can't spawn a worldwide craze, then you obviously haven't seen this music video by some Swedish pop star talking about another Warcraft map, DotA . I find it amusing how many token Swedish blondes find playing DotA sexy.

2) World of Warcraft:
I've been playing this game for a year and a half now, and it's still as enticing to play as it was before. I feel like it has about a year left of shelf life before I cancel my account, but until then, this satisfies all of my gaming needs and saves money that I would normally spend on games that I'd play for a month and abandon.

1) Doom II:
I played this game for my entire high school career -- it and all of its prequels and sequels. I could probably load up the game right now and run through most of the levels from memory, even on the hardest setting, and I was addicted like nobody's business. Once I ran out of levels, I made my own, and played them for hours over the phone lines at home (which my teenage sister no doubt hated).

What games have you played the most? (See what I did there? I turned today's update into a question, inspiring you to post something in the Comments section).

Revenge on the Stingrays
Porn foils Spanish police
Lonelygirl15 really wasn't

tagged as lists, games | permalink | 5 comments

Monday, September 13, 2010

Chad Darnell's 12 of 12


9:34 AM: Waking up to a rainy morning in the beach condo.

10:27 AM: Cinnamon buns for breakfast.

11:18 AM: Driving to Swansboro to do some crabbing.

11:51 AM: Crabbing is boring when you don't catch anything.

12:35 PM: We ended up catching a single crab, Gimpy, but only because he had four legs missing and could not effect a good defense.

2:09 PM: Giant cheesesteak at a nearby restaurant.

2:43 PM: Wandering through Swansboro past what might be a secret drug shop, based on the high foot traffic.

2:50 PM: Meeting a local puppy, Nicky.

4:15 PM: Taking a dip in the pool.

7:26 PM: On the porch, doing website work.

8:10 PM: A dinner of leftover Mexican food, mashed potatoes, nachos with cheese, and crinkle fries.

9:32 PM: At the ice cream shoppe, playing with tourist knick knacks.

See more 12 of 12ers at Chad's site!

tagged as 12 of 12 | permalink | 5 comments

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

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 or suggested by a reader. 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 could be the hit single from Glenn Gould Plays Tatu.


Mercurial: (adj.) changeable; volatile; fickle; flighty; erratic

My Composition (0:30 MP3)

This is a vibraphone solo with a little bass and harp accompaniment (the instruments not the beers). There are also two bassoons required, making this piece impossible to perform in the real world.

Baby gets it straight from the cow
Green glowing cats are new tool in AIDS research
'Mini-Monsters' App Infests iPads With Bug Close-Ups

tagged as museday | permalink | 1 comment

Thursday, September 13, 2012

First Impressions: Guild Wars 2

There are no spoilers in this review.

Between 2004 and 2011, I played World of Warcraft off and on for nearly five years. A badge that could be worn with either honor or shame, or an awkward marble cake swirl of both, I probably devoted more time to playing this game than I did to getting through grad school, practicing my trumpet, or wooing potential wives combined. I always had a great time, but eventually reached the point where all of the fun had been squeezed out of it, crushed like grapes at a winery with a costly monthly fee.

It's from this perspective that I picked up Guild Wars 2 last week, since every reviewer was messianically proclaiming that it was like WoW, but with Higgs bosons and chocolate chips mixed in. It was definitely an impulse purchase -- the last game I played was Diablo 3, and like above-ground pools, two months is the maximum amount of time you can picture yourself having fun playing D3.

Coming from WoW, GW2 is more evolution than revolution. I've liked many aspects of the game so far:

  • After the upfront cost, there is no monthly fee. I won't feel like I have to play to justify the cost.
  • There are numerous refinements to the WoW formula that reduce the tedium and grindiness of combat, traveling, and crafting. Every professional review out there covers these bits, if you want more detail.
  • The graphics manage to be quite attractive while still maintaining a reasonable frame rate (think Skyrim, but with a cartoonish art style and fewer colors from the Quake palette).
  • The game is less about loot and more about combat. I see hints of a deep combat system that values movement and strategy over rote skill-chaining or standing in fires, but haven't tried out any PvP yet.

After about ten hours of playtime, however, the game still hasn't hooked me. The environment is very pretty, but somehow manages to feel sterile and obligatory at the same time. The biggest flaw so far is that the game doesn't do a good job of helping you manage the chaos. The user interface is great at effectively enabling complexity, but the game offers very little in the way of tutorials or a deeper understanding of the underlying systems beyond tool tips.

As an example, combat skills unlock as you level up, and it was easy enough to use these skills in a logical way, but it wasn't until I scoured many third-party forums and wikis that I realized that the obvious way isn't necessarily the correct way. The official manual and wiki are great as reference material, but awful for understanding, strategy, or depth. I think this is even worse for people who have played this type of game before and show up with all sorts of MMO bad habits. Sure, you can continue playing the way you always have, but you won't last long, and the game never lets you know that there might be another way to play. If WoW was your hammer, you're going to jump into GW2 looking for people to nail, and other analogies that don't quite translate.

The social aspect is flimsy too. Regardless of how many retarded pandas and microtransactions are added to WoW every iteration, it was always friendly and familiar (like that Cracker Barrel on I-81) because I had years to meet people and establish friendships. Unless your guild moves to GW2 with you, you'll be back to square one on meeting new players. This isn't helped by the questing structure, which emphasizes wandering around until something happens (also known as the "any given Friday night in my high school years" approach to questing). Because it's so easy to collaborate on these chaotic random events without any grouping or strategy, each one felt like a big crowd of solo players rather than a community.

Right now, Guild Wars 2 is a solid B- in my book of reviews. It's no cure for cancer, but it's not half bad either. The game is not immediately accessible or captivating, but does enough stuff right that I'm willing give it some more time to win me over. Torchlight 2 comes out next Friday -- that will be the defacto deadline for convincing me to keep playing!

tagged as reviews, games | permalink | 2 comments

Friday, September 13, 2013

(Almost) Birth Day

tagged as day-to-day | permalink | 6 comments

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Chad Darnell's 12 of 12

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

7:43 AM: Showered and ready for "work".
8:06 AM: Bagel and bacon for breakfast.
8:54 AM: Floor time with Maia.
9:42 AM: Rule 1.A: Daytime naps occur only in the carrier.
9:51 AM: Watching Justified while walking just fast enough to avoid shaking the baby (roll-stepping helps).
11:01 AM: "No, Mr. Bond, I expect you to die!"
12:34 PM: Believing in a different reality does not allow us to circumvent Rule 1.A.
3:15 PM: Crib time with Maia.
4:11 PM: Definitely not the same floor nap experience as I had with Booty.
6:14 PM: Nature walk in Claude Moore Park.
7:17 PM: Glazed grilled salmon for dinner.
7:55 PM: Just before our "go to sleep" dance party.

tagged as 12 of 12 | permalink | 1 comment

Friday, September 13, 2019

Chad Darnell's 12 of 12

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

6:32 AM: Showered and ready for work.
6:49 AM: Breakfast.
7:11 AM: At work in the main home office (versus the satellite home office in the basement).
8:43 AM: Good morning!
11:51 AM: Sub for lunch.
12:57 PM: Home from "school" and ready for lunch.
1:12 PM: Staging supplies for an away game Poker Weekend.
1:48 PM: Running on the treadmill and finally getting around to watching the third season of Stranger Things.
4:28 PM: Post-nap strawberries.
5:26 PM: Heat relief at the mall.
5:45 PM: She ate my entire biscuit.
6:29 PM: "Maia wash!"

tagged as 12 of 12 | permalink | 0 comments

Monday, September 13, 2021

Chad Darnell's 12 of 12

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

6:20 AM: Showered and ready for the day.
6:38 AM: Bagel for breakfast.
7:35 AM: Arriving at the testing center for my AWS Machine Learning exam.
9:46 AM: Returning home after passing the test and getting groceries at Safeway.
11:11 AM: Running on the treadmill and refreshing my memory on Money Heist with the rest of the family at the farmer's market.
12:27 PM: Week 20!
12:39 PM: Italian sub for lunch.
1:26 PM: A rousing game of Hey, That's My Fish!
2:02 PM: Vigorous photobomb.
3:07 PM: Attempt at co-napping (failed).
5:58 PM: Avocado for dinner.
5:59 PM: Salmon for dinner.

tagged as 12 of 12 | permalink | 2 comments

 

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