This Day In History: 12/06

Thursday, December 06, 2001

My pedagogy presentation on Enharmonic Modulation went over pretty well this morning, and the professor posted some positive remarks on the class website. I've added the presentation to the Writings page under Music Research, for anyone with nothing better to do. I also updated the Work in Progress on the Music page which is moving along nicely.

It would seem that the Ear Training Crisis of '01 has been averted, as they're just juggling the extra classes among the existing teachers, rather than pulling new folks in. It looks like I won't be playing piano all break then. This leaves me more time for the plethora of other scholarly activities I do every year, such as translating eighteenth century music theory treatises from Korean to English, and teaching modal counterpoint to youths from the projects.

"Polar exploration wins Bad Sex award" This one's a keeper.

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Friday, December 06, 2002

It's the last day of classes at FSU. My semester went out with a whimper, since the classes I taught on Wednesday and Friday were optional question-answer periods. I have to give and take an exam next Monday and Wednesday, and then I'll be on the road on Thursday.

Poll Time!

When was it clearly apparent that Michael Jackson retained no hold on sanity?

  • 1980's: when he began plastic surgery and skin treatment, hiding them behind a facade of 'skin defects'
  • 1993: after charges of pedophile on his California ranch, 'Neverland'
  • July 2002: when he called the head of Sony Music a racist and even Al Sharpton backed away
  • September 2002: when Britney Spears wished him a happy birthday and he thought he was getting the Artist of the Millenium award
  • November 2002: when he dangled his son over the edge of a balcony in Germany
  • November 2002: when he arrived in court with a moth-eaten face
  • November 2002: when he arrived in court shoeless because of a spider bite and made 'woo' noises on the witness stand
  • Another Time (explain)
  • He's not insane.

Feel free to answer by e-mail. I may post particularly interesting replies.

tagged as random | permalink | 0 comments

Saturday, December 06, 2003

This is my latest composition. I call it Cat Looking at Snow. Do you like my composition?

We were right below the snow line, so only got about four inches total over the past two days. Leesburg got 9" and everywhere to the east of us got less than an inch.

I've done all of my Christmas shopping online except for a single purchase that will require actually going to a store. Now is a good time to be shopping online since every site has some sort of special free shipping deal. If you play your cards right, you can get goods for less than you would pay in the store, with no tax or shipping, and delivered to your abode within a week.

Art's glass toilet
Paramedics called to the store found VanLester unconscious on top of a DVD player
Trampled DVD woman probably lying

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Monday, December 06, 2004

A game that taken up much of my miniscule spare time collection is Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door. It's the best Cube game since Metroid Prime, and probably my favourite Mario game (even though it's not an action game).

Paper Mario is a lightweight role-playing / adventure / action game with the odd conceit that everyone is a 2D paper sprite living in a 3D world. It keeps switching up the style of game throughout, so it doesn't get old, and it's very accessible even if you hate role-playing games. Two things in particular stand out about it: the music and the translation.

The music is not your standard Nintendo music, though many of the themes are based on themes from earlier games. It's composed in a style completely different from what you'd expect in a Mario game, and uses dissonance and evil clown meters to good effect. Music is never out of place, and only gets annoying in the battle scenes which have only two possible themes. This is probably one of the most effective non-ambient soundtrack I've heard on a console title.

The main reason Paper Mario is so great is that it was translated by English speakers. The dialogue is colloquial and makes sense, and even has some dry humour which is often lost in Japanese translations (which consist of everyone running around saying 'Yo' and 'hurrhurrrhurr'). Because of this, the story makes sense and is halfway decent. See any Final Fantasy title for an example of a nonsensical overdramatic storyline that gets worse through the translation, and then see this game for the way to do it right.

Men arrested for dumping dirt in forest
Model boats becoming sentient
Sore over Syphilis
It seems they had momentarily forgotten how effectively Hilton can act in night vision.

tagged as reviews, games | permalink | 0 comments

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

We went to see the movie version of RENT last night and ended up being the only people in the theatre. Apparently everyone was hiding in their basements with a surplus of corn flakes, milk, and toilet paper in anticipation of the first winter storm catastrophe of the season (because in the event of a blizzard, you should immediately begin making Hummel figurines out of paper maché so you have something to trade for food when the snow melts and people return above ground for the first time in twenty years to repopulate the Earth). Ultimately, the snow ended up being pretty in the air and slushy on the ground, and I only spun out fourteen times on the way home.

Going into the movie, I was someone who knew the original cast recording by heart, but had never seen a stage version of it. I thought the original scores were very catchy and eclectic and the drama had a few high points, though other parts were too dragging and could have used some streamlining or reworking. All of this is captured in the movie version, which meanders through the most important threads of the show, doing some very well and others just passably.

All of the actors did exceptionally well in their performances, which is expected since they spent years of their life in these same roles on Broadway. It was definitely nice to hear them do their familiar songs, although Taye Diggs and Adam "boy do I have way too much hair" Pascal have lost a little bit of the young vocal vibrancy they had ten years ago. I wasn't too thrilled with the replacement they used for Mimi, Rosario Dawson, although she grew on me as the movie went on. I felt like her voice was too pretty and mature for the role she was in. The original, Daphne Rubin-Vega, was not a great singer by any means, but felt more believable as a 19-year-old.

The film dragged the most when it tried to act like a play. The movement of the "Seasons of Love" anthem from the second act to the beginning, with all the cast members just standing on a stage felt totally out of place. Some numbers seemed to have been translated directly to film without any use of film techniques. I think that if you're going to do something in a different format, you should try to take advantage of what makes that format work, rather than do a rigid one-to-one. RENT on film probably loses much of the energy you would get from a live performance, and many scenes just seem a little limp. The film works best when it doesn't just stick to the original script -- adding energy from camera motion and moving from room to room (which you can't do on a stage), or intercutting musical numbers with montages and flashbacks. Some of the most effective songs in the film were the ones where the actors were singing over a silent montage rather than singing in the frame. I thought the sequence for "Without You" that ended with the funeral was point-perfect and probably more emotional than it could have been on stage.

There were some interesting cuts made in the name of trimming the running time, although it's still about twenty minutes too long. All of the "Christmas Bells" sequences were removed, yet they left in the entire Santa Fe song which could have been trimmed out. The omission that I missed most was the "Halloween / Goodbye Love" sequence right after the funeral. To me, it seemed like one of the most important parts of the show, since it really explores what's going on between Roger and Mimi, and confronts Mark about his own issues. It was also a little jarring to hear much of the sung dialogue spoken, especially when it rhymed. I was not aware that Dr. Seuss had been called on as a lyrics coach.

The film is supposedly rated PG-13 but it is definitely just as racy as Broadway show was. Despite the fortunate removal of the "Take Me" song, all the lyrics are here in their entirety and it's definitely not a movie you want to send your 13-year-old off to see. Apparently PG-13 is now broad enough to include pole dancing, heroin injection, swearing, bare asses, and songs honoring masturbation. I'm not sure how Chris Columbus managed to pull that off -- my bet is that the review board presumed that the guy who made Home Alone, Harry Potter, Mrs. Doubtfire, and Adventures in Babysitting couldn't possibly make a racy movie, so they didn't even watch it.

So is the movie worth seeing? I liked it more than not. If you are a fan of the show, you should go see it, if only to enjoy the incredible performances of the original Broadway stars. There will be parts you hate and parts you probably like better. The story definitely doesn't feel as topical as it might have been last century, but the music is still solid and doesn't disappoint.

It also put me in a musicals mood, so I can start looking forward to Les Miserables, which I will be taking my clan to in mid-January at the National Theatre. I promise not to devote an entire week to it like I did when I went in 2002.

LOST stars party too hard in Hawaii
One more reason not to live in Canada
Mr. Konieczka said the youth left after being told the birds were guinea hens.

tagged as reviews | permalink | 4 comments

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

At the Mercy of Fans

The ATI Radeon graphics cards are really solid cost-effective cards but their onboard fans are on the "py" end of crappy -- both of the Radeons I've owned since 2004 worked perfectly until the day the fan snapped off and flew through the case like a child-safe plastic throwing star. Graphics cards generate a ridiculous amount of heat, and when the computer case is kept so close to a sexy man such as myself, you really need a dependent cooling solution. Booty agrees.

I last bought a Radeon 9800Pro in April '05, and it managed to last a whole year before the fan exploded like a mosher at a Bin Laden concert. I then prolonged the life of the card for another eight months by leaving the case open and blowing a small circulator fan across all the hot bits. This worked until last month when the dial on the fan snapped off, leaving behind a plastic spindle and making the act of turning it on and off an arthritic litmus test. Realizing it was time to finally upgrade, I browsed NewEgg and found an ATI Radeon x1650pro AGP 512MB (con sizzle) for under $200 and had it delivered.

This isn't your normal off-the-shelf card -- it's made by HIS and has a gigantic after-market cooling fan attached to the card. The fan takes up an entire slot next to the card and weighs more than the card itself. It could easily double as a hair dyer for my long, lustrous hair, if I ever had occasion to have my head stuck in a computer case after a shower. Installation was a snap, and it only took a quick driver update to get things running again. Now my computer case is once again closed, cool, and quiet.

It also doesn't hurt that in a game like World of Warcraft, I can stand at the Ironforge Mailbox and get a solid 30 frames per second running at 1600x1200 with all the settings cranked up and no overclocking. Amber is very happy with my new purchase, and so am I!

Happy Birthday Kim's Mom!

Child arrested after opening Christmas presents early
Airplane hits some flatulence
Float driver charged with DUI

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Thursday, December 06, 2007

Review Day: Avenue Q

What do you do with a B.A. in English,
What is my life going to be?
Four years of college and plenty of knowledge,
Have earned me this useless degree.
I can't pay the bills yet,
'Cause I have no skills yet,
The world is a big scary place.

After the "Avenue Q theme and opening sequence" play on two massive television screens that drop down from the ceiling, this is the first song of the evening, sung by the fresh-faced puppet, Princeton, who has just graduated from college and realized that he has no idea what he wants to do with his life. He moves onto Avenue Q (because the rent on Avenue A through P is too expensive), and meets a Sesame-Street-like collection of neighbours, both puppets and humans (the superintendent of the building is Gary Coleman, bemoaning the fact that he was a has-been at the age of 15 after Different Strokes).

From beginning to end, the musical is non-stop belly laughter, touching on all manner of hot topics with a surprisingly high level of intelligence. Anyone who has fond memories of Sesame Street from their youth will be feel right at home as the cast addresses tough issues like racism ("Everyone's a rittle bit lacist"), homosexuality ("If you were gay, that'd be okay"), and even simulated puppet sex. Here's a clip of "It sucks to be me" from the London show.

Performances were universally excellent, which is surprising since every musical has that one actor or actress that can't sing a note, or the one singer that can barely act. Everyone, even the understudy, managed to do an amazing job while controlling a puppet on one arm (and sometimes singing the parts of two different puppets at the same time). Two of my favourite characters from the show were the Bad Idea Bears, a pair of cute Care-Bear-esque fuzzballs who randomly showed up to dole out bad advice, like telling Princeton that he should spend all his money on beer, preferably a keg, instead of saving it up.

The show wasn't just fornicating puppets though -- the two televisions would often drop down from the ceiling with a short video to further teach one of life's lessons. One such video shorts five nightstands stacked in a pyramid. One by one, a nightstand is removed while the voices of children count backwards from five. When only one is left, the children shout ONE NIGHT STAND and the words flash on the screen.

On the technical side, the show was a little bit and heavy on the treble timbres. The accompaniment (mostly electronic keyboard with spare orchestration around it) sometimes swallowed the lyrics. The show could have been helped by turning the master volume down one click and turning the singers' mics up half a click. All the important lyrics get through though, and the music sounds like it could have come straight out of Sesame Street.

All in all, it was an excellent show and capped a perfect evening with Rebecca, Anna, Jack, and Kristy, despite the cold rainstorms blowing through the city.

Happy Birthday Kim's Mom!

Sex in Space: The Final Frontier
People who can't get to space store their seed in Norway
Fate might not be so unpredictable after all

tagged as music, reviews | permalink | 0 comments

Monday, December 06, 2010

Weekend Wrap-up

Friday afternoon was a techy one -- I'm reducing my stable of home computers by one, so I've purchased an external hard drive for backups and a USB-parallel cable for my trusty Florida State era laser printer. In the evening, we went out to Gordon Biersch for dinner with the Cranes, followed by a rousing game of Scattergories in which I got a point for "Seacrest, Ryan" under the category of "Tools".

We attended a 90s party on Saturday night, a logical way to celebrate the birth of someone in the 80s. Other than a denim shirt, I didn't have any wardrobe accoutrements from the era since my Members Only jacket is long disintegrated. Instead, I wore my blindingly shiny band jacket from high school, complete with URI! embroidered on the right pocket.

Sunday was a lazy day with a mild migraine, during which we finalized our New Years plans in Williamsburg, ate steak for dinner with Petit Verdot, and made chocolate chip cookies.

Dying with debt: A dirty little retirement secret
The Mystery of the Red Bees of Red Hook
Let's Meet: Chicago Police's New Approach To Gangs

tagged as day-to-day | permalink | 3 comments

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

2011 Timeline

A smattering of events from 2011

January:
  • We spent the New Year's holiday in Williamsburg.
  • Paige came to visit and steal some DS games, because there is nothing to do in Russia.
  • It sort of snowed, but everyone had run out of lame titles for the storm.
  • I got a new computer, which has proven to be more annoying to configure than the previous one. Pattern detected.
February:
  • Kelley and Kathy move to northern Virginia and Kelley won at poker.
  • I was rewarded at work for an alleged reputation for excellence.
  • We went on an 18-mile hike on the Bull Run - Occoquan Trail. (I happened to stumble across my car at the 11-mile mark, and returned later for the pizza).
March:
  • We spent a weekend along Skyline Drive at Brightwood Farms, where Rebecca fed some goats.
  • We had people over for St. Patrick's Day corned beef.
  • In search of a way to create enjoyable updates from minimal effort, "Memory Day: Snapshots" was born.
April:
  • We went to Arkansas for Baylis & Richie's wedding, and got stranded in Atlanta for hours.
  • We mounted an OTA HD antenna in our attic, in order to get the basic networks for free without doing ancient tribal dances with the antenna at various angles in the living room.
  • Portal 2 came out and was highly enjoyable.
  • We had an Easter party where people got unusually competitive during the egg hunt, not unlike Fairfax youth sports parents.
May:
  • We traveled to Richmond for Sam & Kristen's wedding
  • Rebecca fled to Peru while my Dad and I installed new kitchen cabinets that go all the way to the ceiling.
  • I decided to change jobs within my company, and then spent the next two months waiting for the contract to come through so I could actually start working.
June:
  • We took an extremely muggy hike up Old Rag.
  • We celebrated Rebecca's 28th birthday with a giant barbeque.
  • We joined the FGM Volleyball team, and surprisingly found ourselves in the playoffs.
July:
  • We went to Charlotte for Amanda & Frank's wedding over the Fourth of July weekend.
  • We painted our kitchen ORANGE.
  • We had our near-annual Beach Week at the "Sea Prize" in Corolla.
  • Anna had MORE BABIES.
August:
  • We went on a camping trip with Rebecca's Loudoun relatives.
  • We started watching The Wire.
  • I stopped playing World of Warcraft, for probably the last time ever.
  • There was an earthquake and everyone died.
September:
  • I reread the Harry Potter books, and remain of the opinion that some of the later angst could have been trimmed, especially in Book 5.
  • I celebrated my 32nd birthday with cake, steak, and Guinness.
  • I coded DDMSence 2.0.0, but red tape prevented its release for another two months.
October:
  • We celebrated our second anniversary at the Ice House Cafe.
  • We attended the wedding of Emily & Brian, during which I saved the day by spreading the word that the lights were on in Brian's parents' car.
  • Mike (of Mike and Chompy) restarted his blog and kind of did an okay job of continuing to update it.
November:
  • We celebrated Annie's birthday with all sorts of cheese.
  • I started playing Skyrim nonstop.
  • We had two of our usual three Thanksgivings, one with babies, and one without.
  • We went to Becca & Jason's wedding, where the median age of guests was 6.

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

Thursday, December 06, 2012

MP3 Cleanup Day

It took fifteen years to coast over the slow rise of apathy, but I finally got around to pruning 10 hours of music out of my MP3 collection. This is the first time EVER that I've permanently retired any of my music, but I finally reached the point where I was skipping the same songs over and over (because Honda is incapable of coding a random-play radio that can play the whole list before repeating a song). My tastes have evolved, Galapagos-style.

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

Friday, December 06, 2013

Slack Day

I spent all of yesterday debugging an 800-line Java method written by the previous team of government contractors, and there was no time to write anything for today. Instead, here is a quickie story I remembered while on Facebook this morning:

When I was a kid, I would wake up before my parents to squeeze in two hours of video games before school. I would even stage a bowl with a little milk and a few cheerios in the sink so it would look like I had already eaten breakfast (10 more minutes of video games!). This ruse worked for several months, until my detective of a dad noticed that there was no spoon in the dirty bowl, and innocently asked me how I had eaten my cereal.

Have a good weekend!

tagged as memories | permalink | 1 comment

Wednesday, December 06, 2017

Memory Day: Snapshots

This picture was taken 26 years ago, on Christmas Day 1991.

I was 12 years old and in seventh grade, and I was clearly more interested in playing the Super Nintendo game I had unwrapped on Christmas Eve (ActRaiser) than looking at the camera. You can see our creepy animatronic angel atop the Christmas tree, and the first in a long line of electronic keyboards with questionable General MIDI compatibility in the background (I presume it's not wrapped so as not to waste excess wrapping paper).

The presents in the foreground are all still wrapped as we never started opening them until Mom got out of bed around 8 AM. There are way too many presents which is why I'm ambivalent about getting Maia more than a few at a time when she's growing up. The pendulum has to swing back and forth so that she can give a million presents to her kids because "her dad was stingy".

tagged as memories | permalink | 4 comments

Friday, December 06, 2019

Maia Battle Report: Year 2 Month 5

Maia's November was a dramatic acceleration in development, kickstarted by the evil of Daylights Savings Time. She initiated a successful visit to the toilet even though we're not actively doing anything to teach that yet. She managed to climb out of her crib on the 16th, and then opened the nursery door on her own on the 21st. I had to install one of those plastic doorknob condoms that irritate adults more than kids. Now during naps when she doesn't feel like sleeping, she'll just knock on the door saying things like "Trick or Treat!" and "Daddy? Daddy? Daddy? Daddy? Come get me."

  • "This one says...": What Maia says when she wants you to read something, like a panel in a comic strip or a page in a book.
  • "This matches...": What Maia says when she picks out her outfits based on color or pattern.
  • "That not a good song, Daddy": What Maia says when I try to invent new lyrics to repetitive childrens' songs.

She sometimes shows favoritism between Mommy and Daddy and verbalizes unexpected connections between the books she reads and the concepts she learns. She speaks in well-constructed sentences like "What are you doing, Daddy?" and when she has to repeat herself multiple times to be understood she gets louder and more exasperated, like Mitch Hedberg telling you about that tree over there.

Between the cold, the rain, and the fact that the sun goes down at 1 PM now, evening activities are a little more restricted. We'll usually hit the grocery store and experiment with some fun type of cracker-based snack, or just stay home and rake leaves. She still loves all of her morning activities and talks about her best friend, Nolan, and his family all of the time (They just moved into a house down Church Road so they can be best buds for a while now).

Of course, the thing she likes most right now is Christmas. She started the Advent Calendar on November 22 and enjoys lying under the Christmas tree and looking up. After helping Rebecca wrap some presents, she proudly blurted out, "DADDY I GOT YOU A PRESENT IT'S A BIG BLANKET!". I will have to refrain from telling her any state secrets about aliens.

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

Monday, December 06, 2021

Data Day: Puzzle Boat Contributions

Our work team finally finished Puzzle Boat 8 at the end of November, 38 days after starting it. Here is a graph of puzzles solved by each teammate, starting with Puzzle Boat 6 where I had no idea what I was doing. I joined the team thinking "I like crossword puzzles, sure!" and then spent the next three months itemizing cats.

As I've said before, I wholeheartedly recommend the puzzles from P&A Magazine -- they're definitely worth the money if you find your typical newspaper puzzles a little too easy.

tagged as data | permalink | 0 comments

 

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