This Day In History: 11/01

Thursday, November 01, 2001

Some days you just need to stop pushing forward and take stock of where you are. Today was my day for that.

I leave out of Tallahassee Regional tomorrow afternoon and should arrive in Blacksburg while the night is still young. It's a shame that I have to pack pants; I have a feeling that I'm in for weather shock.

"When one's thirty-five, one knows everything... and then you gradually know less and less. [...] Then you hit eighty and you're suddenly omnipotent." - professor

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Friday, November 01, 2002

Another month down. There's only thirteen days of class left for me this semester, since I only do things on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Pretty soon I need to start studying for the comprehensive exams, which are being offered in one week's time. I think the biggest part of that will just be refreshing my memory on terms and biographies.

The New Music Ensemble performed last night (two pieces by Schwantner and Crumb). It was refreshing to hear performances that were obviously well-prepared and articulate, rather than the usual "throw everything together for a three day festival of crap".

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Saturday, November 01, 2003

Welcome to the URI! Zone, "an eclectic amalgamation of camp and creativity". The URI! Zone is actually exactly the same as the Eighth Edition of the URI! Domain with a few noticeable improvements: the ability to comment on News posts, a Forum (WOW!), and a web address that's much easier to remember.

Take a look around and see what you think. Questions and comments can be directed to the Comments button in the lower right corner of this news post, or to the Forum. This page looks much better if you turn "Underline Links" off in your browser, but to each his own.

In the coming weeks, I'll be scraping the HTML barnacles off the four hundred odd pages contained in this site for a clean and standards-based layout (I've already finished a few sections). I am also open to suggestions for new features since I can now use PHP and mySQL on this site.

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Monday, November 01, 2004

We only had eleven Trick-or-Treaters last night, in four groups: twin pirates who were so young they couldn't say Trick or Treat or walk down the stairs on their own, twin tigers who were also under the age of 3, a group of four which somehow included one of the twin tigers, and a group of three teenagers who didn't dress up. That's a trend I've seen in my two Halloweens as a candy-giver: kids in middle school no longer dress up for Halloween because they're too cool, but they expect candy anyways. Kids also don't say Thank You anymore and even have trouble with Trick or Treat, opting sometimes to just hold their bags open instead.

I took the remainder of my candy to work and dumped it on my desk for the passerby.

Stranger moves in and redecorates
Woman steals dead boyfriend's beer

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Tuesday, November 01, 2005

I received a grand total of zero (0) Trick-or-Treaters last night which qualifies as a new record. I attribute this sharp decline to one of two hypotheses: 1) I rigged my front porch with a weight-sensitive trapdoor (it calls you fat before it opens) and captured all the little tykes to make some steak and kid knee pie or 2) I was hiding in the back room of house with all the blinds closed and the porch light off. It is left as an exercise for the reader to determine which hypothesis is more legitimate (see also, Intelligent Design in schools).

During the witching hour, I was transcribing the Westfield fight song and making fun of the arrangement, which essentially consisted of music written for flute, clarinet, and alto saxophone, and then cut n' pasted into the trumpet, trumpet 2, and horn parts. I'm supposed to re-arrange the piece so it sounds the same, but so a seventh grade band can play it and still sound as good. I would have finished, but my old battered copy of Finale 2002 kept crashing, so I broke down and ordered the upgrade to Finale 2006.

Finale is one of those ridiculously overpriced pieces of software that releases a new version every year, even though there's not enough new functionality to make it worth the money. Yet because of the prices, it is more cost-effective to upgrade at regular intervals to get the discounted price than to wait many years and finally buy a new version at the maximum price. Maybe I'll get a free drinking glass like I did the last time I upgraded four years ago. To date, I have never actually had a beverage out of my Finale glass but once I put it on Boo!ty's head to see what she would do (it fell off and she ran away like a little girl). Incidentally, Boo!ty didn't get a chance to scare anyone last night, but she did pile drive Amber into a trash can (Amber does not have a built-in Halloween name but her Indian name can be Dances with Boo!ty). She's getting smarter -- last night she saw a door ajar so she ran into it and it opened.

Speaking of dancing, there's a new Dance Dance Revolution game out for the GameCube. You haven't seen the definition of funny until you've seen Mario do the Running Man.

Hundreds apply for job pushing the button
Why it's a bad idea to have an outdoor cat
Asthmatic cats allergic to humans

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Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Name that Tune Contest Results

Congratulations to Kathy Smith who correctly guessed every song but #10 (although she had to enlist the aid of other old people to learn what #7) was. Runner-ups were Anna Ahlbin and Sam Bristol -- Anna correctly guessed everything but #7, #9, and #10, while Sam missed #1, #7, and #10.

Kathy wins a $5 gift certificate to Amazon.com, and she has to share $0.50 of it with her Lifeline friends, Beth and Marty. I've included extended versions of each clip for everyone playing at home who hasn't been able to guess them all yet. The answer can be found by highlighting the last column of the table.

SongClipEZ-Mode ClipAnswer
1Full House
2Growing Pains
3Doogie Howser, MD
4Fresh Prince of Bel Air
5Roseanne
6Facts of Life
7It's Garry Shandling's Show!
8Night Court
9Alf
10Dinosaurs

How a carpenter got the highest Scrabble score ever
Bob Barker's last game of Plinko
Mayor mistakenly hands out sex number

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Thursday, November 01, 2007

Review Day: The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee

We went to see this "play with music" at the National Theatre last Saturday following a nice meal at the inexpensive Chef Geoff's around the corner. The 100 minute show is a parody of your typical televised spelling bee, with zany characters such as the antisocial nerd from TJ, the crazy home-schooled boy named Leaf, the perfect Asian who knows six languages, and the Boy Scout who gets an unfortunate erection in front of the audience.

There are no sweeping themes or French revolutions, but in this case, it's fine. The show never tries to be more than a nonstop barrage of one-liners and funny quips. Many of the quips are obviously improvised, since four of the contestants are randomly picked from the audience at show time, to compete against the six main characters. These ringers are given easy words until the plot needs to push forward, and then they're knocked out with impossible words (the losers are met by the "comfort counselor", a gang member doing community service who gives them a hug and a juice box before sending them home. Some of the funniest lines come from the Vice Principal's example sentences: "In the schoolyard, Billy protested that he wasn't cockeyed. 'I suffer from strabismus,' he said -- whereupon the bullies beat him harder."

One of the ringers was a little boy who faced this exchange:

    Vice Principal: Your word is 'cow'. [complaints from the other contestants]
    Boy: Can I have the definition?
    VP: [flabbergasted pause] The definition is "a cow".
    Boy: Can you use it in a sentence?
    VP: [disgusted] Your sentence is, "Please spell the word, cow."

The set of the show was built to distort the perspective of the stage, which helped to make the actors seem much shorter (and more middle-school-like) than they really were (except for the Asian girl, who was in the lobby after the performance and really was only two feet tall). Unlike most shows, the musicians sat in the wings rather than the pit. The piano player who doubled as a conductor sat at an upright piano in the midst of the show like your favourite music teacher from grade school during an assembly. This greatly reduced phasing between the musicians and the singers.

For the most part, the music was fun but forgettable, with the parts between songs more entertaining than the songs. A couple songs (especially the last "My mom's in India" one) were completely unnecessary. Also, the accompaniment was mainly piano-based with occasional interjections from other instruments -- by the end of the show, the timbres felt overused and washed out (in the same way that the Les Mis orchestra loses its character by the last act, since every arrangement uses exactly the same instruments).

Some of the ensemble songs are impossible to understand because there's so much going on onstage, and every song by the actor who was supposed to be deaf was unintelligible, but otherwise the performances were solid across the board. You can listen to sample songs through Amazon's new MP3 store, which has become my new favourite way to purchase songs online.

Final Rating: B+, a hilarious, but expensive show. If they ever release a DVD version, snatch it up.

Happy Birthday Donnie Riddle!

Washington Post review of Spelling Bee
Honestly, who couldn't tell it was a bug?
Teen escapes from prison in a suitcase

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Monday, November 01, 2010

Weekend Wrap-up

Pictures from this weekend's Halloween Party can be found at the end of the Life, 2010 album.

In the Lessons Learned department, Halloween night is the best time to go to Red Robin and find it to be 80% less packed.

4-Year-Old can be sued in bike case
Haunted House Has Painful Past As Asylum
World Cup 2010 - Conspiracy claim over Paul's death

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Tuesday, November 01, 2011

List Day: Four Children's Books You've Never Read


Funded by the Iowa Tourism Board, this gift shop book tells the tale of a young monster's road trip to all of the biggest cities in the Hawkeye State.


A cautionary tale of a puppy's encounter with childhood obesity, from playing too many video games and watching Blue's Clues.


An early introduction to the concepts of water conservation, concluding with a whimsical comparison of toilet tank cleansing products.

This unauthorized biography traces the early years of the Grey's Anatomy star from her humble beginnings as a simple Swiss farmer's daughter.

Previous posts in this series:

  • January 26, 2009
  • June 6, 2009
  • Naked and drunk motorist crashes into 17 cars
    Polar bear threatens Canada's hallowed beaver
    Army's Vision of the Future: Mostly Doom, Some Idiocy

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    Thursday, November 01, 2012

    Review Day

    There are no major spoilers in these reviews.

    Pines by A Fine Frenzy:
    A Fine Frenzy's third album is an "imaginative fable about a pining tree who is given the unheard-of chance (for a conifer) to make a life of her own choosing", and the amount that that line intrigues you is probably directly proportional to the enjoyment you'll get out of it. Since she wrote one of my all-time favourite songs, I'm willing to cut her some slack, but I just can't get into this album at all -- I appreciate it without enjoying it. The music is mostly meterless, and sometimes almost ambient, and does kind of sound like tree music. However, there are no hooks or beautiful melodies this time around, and her voice is imbued with a really awkward tremolo that's done so much, it must be intentional. There's a difference between vibrato and being cold when you sing, and this sounds like the latter.

    Final Grade: D+

    Morning Glory (PG-13):
    We sometimes slum it with the free movies on Amazon Prime, and the presence of Rachel McAdams was a small bonus (which reminds me that I never did fulfill my 2009 Resolution to star in a naked movie with her). This is a harmless, predictable comedy (of a minimally romantic strain) that's most notable for Harrison Ford as a grouchy, legendary news anchor. Worth a watch if it's free and there's nothing else on.

    Final Grade: B-

    Chuck, Season One:
    This is a well-done, comedic take on the spy genre about a nerdy guy who works in a big box store and accidentally gets the entire CIA database downloaded into his brain. It's kind of like Alias from the point of view of Marshall Flinkman, with less crying and Sarah McLaughlin musical cues. The "lore" is cohesive with nice gotcha moments, but the series never strays too far over the line into a drama -- I laughed out loud several times, and enjoyed the first (13-episode) season enough to buy the complete series (5 seasons). Guest appearances by a variety of well known actors are very fun as well.

    Final Grade: A

    Avengers (PG-13):
    I am not a comic book / superhero fan, which must be why I didn't like this movie as much as everyone else in the universe. To me, adding Norse gods to a pastiche of superheroes from different eras was one incredulous crossover genre too far, and the first hour of exposition was boring enough that I dozed off around the 50 minute mark. The last 2/3rds of the movie were redeeming and exciting, but the path to get there was made bearable only through the one liners of Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man. Just make an unending series of Iron Man films -- these other clowns don't bring enough to the table to interest me.

    Final Grade: C

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    Friday, November 01, 2013

    End-of-the-Month Media Day

    New pictures have been added to the Life, 2013 album!

    It's actually the beginning of the month, but it is also a Friday, which trumps the turn of the calendar.

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    Wednesday, November 01, 2017

    Catch-up Day

    It's already November and 2017 is almost over! Catch me up on what you've been doing so you don't have to send me a Christmas Letter. Where are you? What are you doing? How old are your kids? What big things are about to change in your life? What big memories do you have from November 2007 (like the Wedding of Doobie) that are now TEN YEARS OLD?

    tagged as you speak | permalink | 1 comment

    Friday, November 01, 2019

    Review Day

    There are no major spoilers in these reviews.

    Game Night (R):
    This comedy features Jason Bateman and Rachel McAdams as an ultra-competitive couple whose game night gets derailed. It's shallow fun that doesn't try too hard to have a deeper meaning and gets great mileage out of having Jesse Plemons (fat Matt Damon) as a creepy neighbour who never gets invited.

    Final Grade: B

    My Name is Michael Holbrook by Mika:
    Mika's most recent album has great songs but the arrangements feel phoned in. As I listen, I can hear the places where freshman or sophomore maturity Mika would have thrown in a few trumpets for no good reason to great effect. Now, the arrangements are so muted that it almost feels like they released the working copy rather than the final edit.

    Final Grade: B

    i'm sorry, Season Two:
    Season Two is just as good as Season One. Nothing happens beyond the funny dialogue, but that is fine in this case. I also like that jokes walk the line of "cringe" territory without crossing the line into "it's only funny because it's uncomfortable". Free on Netflix.

    Final Grade: B+

    Pitch Perfect (PG-13):
    This movie feels like an extended edition of an episode of Glee, but gets mileage out of its good-natured charm, fun cameos and supporting actors, and snarky a capella commentators that could be straight out of Best in Show.

    Final Grade: B-

    tagged as reviews | permalink | 2 comments

    Monday, November 01, 2021

    Vote BU 2021

    Having trouble deciding on your elected officials tomorrow? Write me in! Here is my eminently actionable platform, which I'm sure we can all agree upon:

    1. Videos will not be allowed to leap free of a webpage and follow you down the margin.

    2. Every time VDOT construction lane markings cause an accident in the rain or darkness, all Virginia drivers get $25 added to their EZPass account.

    3. The teens will be renamed for consistency and ease of learning: ten, ten-one, ten-two, ten-three, ten-four, ten-five, ten-six, ten-seven, ten-eight, and ten-nine.

    4. Logging in using Single Sign On will no longer flash through every page on the Internet in an epilepsy-inducing journey before taking you to the website.

    5. Hidden fees must be prominently displayed in the listing on all Sandbridge rental houses.

    6. PC games must load directly from Steam or the desktop without the overhead of a company-specific game launcher app.

    7. Music Library software will no longer make a separate category for every song in an album when there is a different featured artist in each one.

    8. LinkedIn will be forced to suppress any content unrelated to work, as well as posts where someone feels "humbled" by an opportunity.

    9. There will be a 30 character cap on the title for Amazon search results so counterfeit companies can't stuff the title with every keyword known to man.

    10. When more than 5% of the berries in a box at the grocery store have gone bad, the whole box is free.

    tagged as lists, politics | permalink | 0 comments

     

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