This Day In History: 10/25

Thursday, October 25, 2001

Today is the 20th birthday of one of my roommates from last year. Doesn't that cat look thrilled to be wearing a party hat?

I recorded the last of the works for the Masters level Listening Exam yesterday evening (the last work was on a CD three weeks overdue) and now have sixty-two hours worth of music to study and learn before the next exam. Luckily the exams are offered twice a semester, just in case you don't do well the first time around. Hopefully I'll do well enough to pass the Doctoral level as well, so I don't have to take it again in a couple years.

I'm considering putting Badinage on a composers' concert next semester, performed by me and a to-be-determined pianist. That'll require a second edition with a lightened piano part so I don't prematurely earn the enmity of local piano players. I thought about outsourcing the trumpet part to one of the local majors, but I think I can convey the piece best with the least amount of work, even if I'm not the greatest trumpet player in the Southeast.

That does mean I'll have to get the willpower to keep practicing for the next few months though. The things we do for art...

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Saturday, October 25, 2003

New cat pictures on the Photos page.

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Monday, October 25, 2004

I'd forgotten all about posting CD thoughts until I got a reminder email this morning. I like all three CDs I bought on the 12th. Smile is good but the only word I can use to describe it is "meandering". It's very artful and cohesive, but spends far too much time playing with tempos and styles to be as catchy as Pet Sounds. After listening to it several times, not much about it sticks in my head, and it's not one that I'd listen to regularly or burn tracks off of.

I like the Dido CD, Life for Rent, simply because it's easy to listen to and Dido has one of the few pleasant female voices in recent years. You can put it on in the background for hours on end while workin and it's pretty good music too.

The Muse CD is still getting a fair amount of play time. As I posted before, it's not the type of music you'd normally find me listening to. People compare them to Radiohead, a group which I never cared much for. I also hear a bit of Coldplay in their stylings, if not their sounds. See what you think:

Stockholm Syndrome (MP3 634KB)
(the harsher end of their spectrum)

Butterflies and Hurricanes (MP3 580KB)
(instrumental break)

The Ashlee Simpson story below is pretty funny. The live clip is even funnier -- you can probably find it on eMule if you file share.

The Earthworm Man
People who feel the need to prove a point with their civil liberties annoy me
Ashlee Simpson flees after talent malfunction on 'SNL'

Happy Birthday Anna! And Booty!

tagged as music, reviews | permalink | 3 comments

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Like four sticks of dynamite in a placid Oklahoma pond, the music world was rocked on its foundations on October 25, 1981, with the birth of Anna Marie Spellerberg. In her formative years, this future Grammy-winning diva was best known for being a part-time music major at Virginia Tech and performed various unplugged duets with cats on the Vaudeville circuit (2MB WMV). As a child, she often dreamed of making it big, and possibly transitioning from music into showbiz, starring in a critical box office success with visionaries like Bruce Willis or Frankie Muniz. But it wasn't until she met Booty that these dreams became more than a passing whimsy.

Athena Hornsboot, born on October 25, 2002, and now known by her stage name, Booty, was a musical superstar among cats. Her first great success was choreographing a music video for KC and the Sunshine Band's Shake Your Booty, which she also starred in. As luck would have it, she was touring in northern Virginia when Anna's singing career was in a temporary slump. Booty convinced Anna to quit her dead-end job at a car dealership, change her surname to Ahlbin, and sing on Booty's somphomore CD, Everything is Bootyful.

The CD went on to sell millions of copies, and one of their B tracks, Look We Have the Same Birthday, was the fourth most popular download for the year 2004 on Kazaa. It looked like this was a partnership for the ages, to rival even Rodgers and Hammerstein, or Sonny and Cher, until one fateful day when Anna stumbled across Booty putting the moves on Ben, Anna's husband, in the dressing room at the MCI Center.

Harsh words were exchanged, and in a sandstorm of tears and catfighting, the musical duo that brought smiles to millions of Sudanese refugees was dissolved. Anna moved to Manassas and began grooming a brand new animal partner for her act while Booty retired in the lap of luxury with her personal groupie, Amber. In interviews, each performer insists the other was at fault, and it does not appear as if a resolution is anywhere in the near future. In the meantime, fans everywhere have cried for more of their musical genius, even just one more song as an epilogue to their brilliant careers.

Would these two former friends ever resolve their creative differences and come together to create another Grammy-winning album? You'll find out after the break, here on

British and U.S. officials said the tour was designed to show Alabamans that diplomacy is relevant to their lives.
A mysterious object turned out not to be a bomb, but a device that was supposed to scare off aliens believed to be living under the ground.
From the People Who Don't Deserve to Win the Lottery file

tagged as random, favourites | permalink | 5 comments

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

List Day: Ten Most Listened-To XM Stations

10) 75 - Hear Music:
I suppose I should be embarassed that I listen to a radio station that allows you to "Hear the Music You Would Hear in Line at Starbucks!", although I guess it's more embarassing for our country that such a channel even exists. You can occasionally find a good tune here amongst the dime-a-dozen folksy caterwaulers like Beth Orton. Notable names include KT Tunstall, Norah Jones, and James Blunt when I only knew his one good song.

9) 20 - 20 on 20:
This is a revolving "Top 20" picks based on listener votes, so it's mostly comprised of the latest rap, or prefabricated pop garbage. The fact that the playlist is democratic means that it's not always great, because the average human being's taste in music blows goats, and not in the polite way. This station is essentially identical to 30 - XM Hitlist, except that they play Kanye West - Golddigger roughly four more times per day.

8) 73 - Frank's Place:
This station plays nothing but American jazz vocal standards from Ella Fitzgerald and Frank Sinatra to more recent acts like Manhattan Transfer. I often play this in the background at dinner or hosted dinner parties when I want to look fancy.

7) 83 - Chrome:
Nonstop disco and funk from the 1970s -- a smorgasbord of ascending octave bass lines, whicka-wow guitar riffs, and unison strings. You may laugh, but it's great music for unwinding in the car on the way home from work. I defy you to be other than light-hearted to a tune like Sound of Philadelphia .

6) 27 - Cinemagic:
I love movie scores, even those that are completely paint-by-numbers and lacking in innovation. Cinemagic devotes ten to fifteen minutes to a single movie, interspersed with memorable dialog snippets from the movie itself. They don't just play James Horner and John Williams either -- Michael Giacchino and even a little Phillip Glass has been known to slip in every once in awhile. Slightly related to 27 is 28 - On Broadway, but I usually only stop there when I'm changing channels off of 27 and see a song I recognize.

5) 47 - Ethel / 43 - XMU:
These two stations are tied for my rock needs (although I'll sometimes slip down to 41 - Boneyard for hard rock and hair bands). 47 bills itself as Modern Rock but tends towards more somber groups like Muse, Coldplay, and Radiohead. 43 is the College Rock station and features up and coming artists, thankfully low on homogenous frat rock content.

4) 5 - 50s on 5:
This is where I go for simple, unpretentious music when I'm disillusioned with the dross to gem ratio of current popular music. They can get a little Elvis-heavy on the weekends, although I guess there's no better place to be Elvis-heavy than here. This is the default station when there's nothing good on any other station.

3) 150 - XM Comedy:
Features uncensored portions of stand-up routines from classic comedians and up-and-comers. You can never laugh too much, and this is a good way to brighten the day. The big downfall of this station is that there are commercials on it, and as Mike said on August 6, 2004: The only downside is that they say there are no commercials but there are some on the best channels -- and not, like, good commercials either. Stuff like "tax shelter in Nevada! Listen to my tape while you sleep to stop being so lazy!" Those are real examples. After ten or fifteen minutes of uninterrupted comedy, you get three or four minutes of commercials, which means I change the channel quite often.

2) 26 - Flight:
This station plays popular music from the 90s and today -- safe stuff like early Dave Matthews, Hootie and the Blowfish, and Smash Mouth. The music's not old enough to really evoke nostalgia, but it's comfortable enough for enjoyable listening.

1) 29 - UPOP:
This is the station I'm generally listening to in the car -- a world-based popular music station. They have weird portions like the random hit from Madagascar (the country not the movie) or the all night "Iron Otaku: Music of Japanese Animation" special on the weekends, but I hear lots of fresh music by listening in, and I'm especially interested in the UK Top 40. They've got a great DJ (Mark Daley) in the afternoons, and a really horrible one (Ted Kelly) in the mornings. The latter is completely enamoured with his own voice and talks too much. He always likes . . . to say a few words at a time . . . so you can't listen . . . to the music playing . . . underneath, a maddeningly trait that kills his timing. I still tune in, because this is where I'm exposed to the most new music that I actually have an interest in, like Scissor Sisters, Muse, and KT Tunstall.

Honorable Mention) 24 - Christmas Classics:
24 is normally the Easy Listening channel, but in just a few weeks, they'll be switching over to peaceful holiday tunes and carols, which means I'll have it on in the background at home until all my guests go crazy. Christmas music is key.

Happy Birthday Anna and Booty!

Clinton foe: 'Whew' she was hideous before 'work'
White, nerdy, and here to stay

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Thursday, October 25, 2007

Blacksburg Travelogue

part II of II

Kentland Farms is an independent farm run by Virginia Tech where all the Animal Science students can hone their skills (I hear that one student majored in animal husbandry until they "caught him at it" one day). Because it was Parents' Weekend, there were several hands-on demonstrations showing how the cows move through the various stages of their captivity. Becca and her friends showed us how to brand a cow with dry-ice, giving new meaning to the Applebee's term, steak fajitas con sizzle. I also took a brief video of one of the talking cows for all the readers who have never left the pleasant captivity of the suburbs (2MB WMV).

The next part of the tour allowed Rebecca to practice her ultrasound techniques on random reproductive entrails of dead cows. She was able to discover the 60-day-old dead calf in the formaldehyde, after which we went outside to look at the living baby calves, which were much cuter and fuzzy. We watched the calves play, and then observed a mama cow urinate all over her baby (I believe this is called "golden cowers").

The day was passing us by and we had to moove, so with a backwards wave, we left Kentland Farms for heifer.

After a quick stop at the New River which was just a few more miles down the road, we went back to town and ate some incredibly tasty wings and cheesy potato wedges at BWW. We then met up with some friends of Rebecca and drove out to Jefferson National Forest near Roanoke to go hiking on McAfee's Knob.

The Knob was a seven mile round-trip hike, and I was all over that Knob despite the sore throat and cold that I could feel building up in my esophagus. Foolishly, I didn't know how long the hike would be until it started. The trip up was punctuated with breaks, puppies, puppy poo, and continued exhortations of "it's just around that bend". We finally hit the summit after a couple hours of trekking, where the temperature plummeted, the wind surged, and everyone blew off the edge and died.

Once we had recuperated a bit, we wandered the summit, trying to locate notable landmarks. We could see Roanoke, and tried to see their single tourist attraction, the GIANT STAR YOU CAN SEE FROM SPACE, but failed. We snapped a few more shots (which you could see if you had a Facebook account, but which also will be posted here next Wednesday on Media Day), Sam did a handstand for his website, and then we stumbled back down the mountain. Wisely, we took the fire road out, which was a much easier jaunt.

Dinner that night was supposed to be at the Homeplace, but the place was packed with parents and students and so many khaki-suit combos that it looked like a UVa fraternity invasion. A quick change of plan later and we were headed back to Blacksburg to eat at Cabo Fish Taco on Main Street, where I had the shrimp tacos.

Afterwards, Rebecca and I wandered around downtown and Squires for a bit, breaking into the carelessly unlocked Recital Salon for old time's sake, and then went home to care for my full-blown sickness.The next morning, we had a late breakfast at the Waffle House and then hit the road back to northern Virginia around 1 in the afternoon.

The End

Happy Birthday to Anna (who is 26) and BOOTY (who is 5) and AMBER (whose birthday is vaguely around this date, so she's 3, but whose paperwork was never mailed to me by the crazy Craig's List lady we rescued her from)!

Parrot imitates fire alarm
Landlocked Mongolia becomes new maritime ally for United States
Chessboard Killer convicted of 48 murders

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

Monday, October 25, 2010

Birth Day

Happy Birthday to Amber and Booty!

(You too, Anna)

Thank you for not vomiting in the house while we were gone this weekend.

(You too, Anna)

Woman who stripped outside bar wasn't pregnant
Virginia gun store D & R Arms: Fastest from counter to crime
Crocodile on plane kills 19 passengers

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Tuesday, October 25, 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.

Felonious: (adj.) wicked; base; villainous

My Composition (0:30 MP3)

I started with a church organ patch here, because sadly, the first thing that came to mind for this random word was a "felonious monk". Such a monk would probably try to play it cool, but not be very successful at it.

MC Hammer announces his own "Deep Search" engine
Supermarkets pressured to snub Schweddy Balls
The Rise of Crime-Sourcing

tagged as museday | permalink | 1 comment

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Review Day: Torchlight 2

There are no spoilers in this review.

I can't argue against the fact that I enjoyed the first 100 hours or so of Diablo 3, but ultimately, even rose-colored glasses of nostalgia couldn't conceal the lack of longevity in the game's design. The series went from "fast-paced clickfest to get better loot" in D2 to "increasingly difficult arcade game where you amass gold to buy the best loot at the Auction House" in D3. When loot itself is not the point, but only a means to get farther along in a nonsensical storyline, it's just not worth the grind. And, killing monsters to earn gold to trade for a weapon will never be as rewarding as finding that weapon in the course of the game -- if I wanted the former, I would go to the mall and play Skeeball for tickets.

Torchlight 2 is much closer to the game I hoped I'd get in Diablo 3, made by the original Diablo developers and featuring the sometimes-too-familiar music of Matt Uelmen. The formula is improved slightly (for example, a pet that can sell all of your trash loot so you never have to return to town), but the core gameplay is fun and familiar. Clicking always feels responsive, although there are sometimes pathing issues in very narrow areas of the map. Going against the example of recent Blizzard games (and most porn), you do not need to be connected to the Internet to play with yourself. For team play, both Internet and LAN options exist, but there are no closed servers or ""-like functionality.

Environments are varied and colorful, with a cartoonish look that never takes itself too seriously. The story is merely a skeleton to hang loot upon, and it can be completely ignored -- it never bashes you over the head with butterfly witches, elementary plot twists, or really awful dialog. The loot has much more variety, and unique properties on your items make trade-offs much more thought-provoking than D3's "find the piece with your primary stat and sell the rest" approach.

Torchlight 2 reverts back to the old system of granting stat and skill points to allocate each time you level up. I never minded Diablo 3's no-penalty reassignment system, but have no problems with this system either. The skill trees are more like skill shelves: there aren't prerequisites, so you don't have to invest in useless low-level skills to unlock higher ones. The permanence of this system might lead you to planning paralysis though, if you are one of those gamers that plots out their build before starting the game. I definitely spent too much time theorycrafting characters on paper, but for me, it's fun.

It's true that I got my $60 of entertainment from Diablo 3, but I've already exceeded that amount with Torchlight 2, a $20 game. It won't change your life, but it's an engrossing loot-whoring game with a wide variety of character build possibilities. It's also perfect for the gamer that can only play in short bursts because they made the mistake of getting married, having kids, or committing to more tangible extracurricular activities -- you can pick it up, play for twenty minutes and be satisfied.

Final Grade: B+

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Friday, October 25, 2013

Random Chart Day: Water Bill Trends

I haven't been able to deduce why usage went down so much in October 2012, but I'm pretty certain that no one involved was consuming their own urine.

tagged as data | permalink | 2 comments

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

List Day: Titles I've Held

  • Halley's Comet Trivia Champ

  • Safety Patrol Lieutenant

  • Assistant Gymnastics Instructor

  • Troop Librarian

  • Senior Patrol Leader

  • Junior Assistant Scoutmaster

  • Eagle Scout

  • Stage Crew Foreman

  • Drum Major

  • Work-Study Programmer

  • Marching Band Drill Designer

  • Drum Major Instructor
  • Trumpet Instructor

  • Music Arranger

  • Graphic Designer

  • Website Designer

  • Music Tutor

  • Graduate Teaching Assistant

  • Software Intern

  • Junior Software Engineer

  • Senior Software Engineer

  • Technical Lead

  • Solutions Architect

  • Dad
  • tagged as lists | permalink | 3 comments

    Friday, October 25, 2019

    Review Day

    There are no major spoilers in these reviews.

    Silicon Valley, S5:
    The fifth season of this show is only 8 episodes long. It's pleasant enough and exactly what you'd expect if you've watched it before. That said, it's probably about time to wrap this series up.

    Final Grade: B

    El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie:
    This movie tells the tale of a main character from Breaking Bad in the hours after the series finale. I was surprised to find it to be a story worth telling, not just an obligatory regroup of actors and favourite scenes for fan service. The movie's filled with Vince Gilligan's usual visual flairs but moves fast enough to avoid those extended artsy Breaking Bad scenes that I often pushed through at 1.5x speed. The mood is also kept pretty light with liberal use of characters like Badger and Skinny Pete. Free on Netflix.

    Final Grade: B+

    i'm sorry, Season One:
    It feels like this type of show -- funny adults having crass, funny conversations about nothing -- is popping up all over the place these days. This one is particularly well-done. Not much happens in terms of an overarching plot, but in this case, that's just fine. The show shallowly bounces from joke to joke with longer-setup jokes built up in the background across the season. Free on Netflix.

    Final Grade: B+

    Bard's Tale IV:
    I grew up playing the original Bard's Tale so I really wanted to like this latest iteration. It has an old-school charm held back by a clunky combat system and erratic frame rate issues. I did get about 9 hours into the story, but was really turned off by the way the game kept adding and removing members of your party (and their inventory) in order to sustain the story. Just let me build my party of 4 anonymous heroes from the beginning and I'd be happy bungling about in this game world.

    Final Grade: C+

    tagged as reviews | permalink | 3 comments

    Monday, October 25, 2021

    Weekend Wrap-up

    First fire pit of the fall, with s'mores!

    We go to an airplane-themed 4th birthday party on Saturday.

    Ian turns 6 months old on Sunday.

    We head out to Taylorstown for some family time on Sunday.

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

    Wednesday, October 25, 2023

    Ian Year 2 Month 6 Battle Report

    At two and a half, Ian is 35" tall and 27 pounds. (This is where Maia was at three and a half so Ian will end up being more normal-sized than bite-sized).

    He goes to Kids Under Construction preschool three mornings per week and has acclimated to the experience after several mornings where it felt like pulling teeth for Rebecca to get him to go. He can recite the names of his classmates when he looks at their pictures, and likes the trucks at school most of all.

    At home, he loves to build specific things with Duplo blocks. Most often, a bunny office, an airport, or a tower. He likes to make tall stacks of blocks on the backs of Duplo trucks to represent delivery trucks full of packages, and uses two small cat figurines to represent Amber and Abby as they deliver packages around the house.

    He is less likely to request the reading of a steady stream of books these days but still enjoys nighttime reading of Elephant and Piggie or Berenstain Bears. He's also indifferent to television shows -- we sometimes end the day with a National Parks documentary or a Tiny World episode, and he'll get bored and start playing by himself about halfway through.

    His sleep schedule is about the same -- a 1.5 hour nap around 2 PM and 11 hours overnight (with 1-2 hours of crib time as he processes the day through singing). He finally graduated out of the "sleep sack" and now sleeps with three blankets piled on top of himself.

    Singing remains his main talent. He sings all sorts of songs, mostly on pitch, and also makes up songs by replacing nouns with other nouns. For the most part, his language is easy to understand, and he's at the phase where he'll repeat a question multiple times in case the answer is different the 112th time.

    "Is that a blueberry down there?"

    He gets along very well with Maia, following her lead for pretend games. However, sharing can get a little dicey at first. When happy, he'll follow her around repeating everything she says. Meanwhile, she tries to teach him lessons like the phases of the moon.

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


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