This Day In History: 12/11

Tuesday, December 11, 2001

It occured to me while doing some Christmas shopping yesterday how horrible driving in Tallahassee is. Besides the traffic light sequences that were evidently timed by a four-year-old, most of the natives here are just bad drivers. Now of course, there's bad drivers wherever you go, but it's different back in northern Virginia. There at least, everyone is a bad driver in the same way, and the collective badness mixes together into a well-oiled machine. Yes, you're going to get cut off there, but the guy who cuts you off is "on your side" and you can almost anticipate the moves you'll have to go through on the highway.

It was a pretty successful end of the semester, although I didn't do all the things I would have liked to do. I played the hell out of the Arutunian excerpt I chose, and was stopped halfway through my up-tempo etude, so I believe that the audition yesterday went well. The pedagogy final was nothing unexpected so there should be no surprises with that grade. I also got back the results of the listening exam, on which I managed to get enough correct to pass the doctoral level. As the crowning fillip, I've essentially finished the first movement of my string quartet, so I can spend this upcoming break just tweaking and editing. All that good news sapped any kind of motivation I had towards studying for this evening's history exam, although I finally buckled down and did some after dinner and monday night TV.

The choir teacher on Boston Public last night did another horrible job of conducting. She was leading America or something of that nature and putting downbeats on beat four. When the song ran out, she was stuck on beat two and had to do a hasty cut-off. On show that's otherwise really musical for primetime TV, you'd think they'd at least teach her how to conduct; Richard Dreyfuss did better as Mr. Holland. Speaking of time-wasting television shows, out of seven and a half seasons worth of Friends episodes, I've now seen all but three. Should I be ashamed or proud?

This will be the last regular update until December 20th or so. On the 15th and 16th, I'll be in Alexandria, and the 17th through the 19th, I'll be traveling to New Jersey and Boston as I mentioned a few days ago. After a week back in Alexandria, I'll drive all the way back here on the 28th for the Gator Bowl, and after the 2nd, I'll be in Tallahassee for good. If you need to contact me, phone me at one of my locales or e-mail me at my normal address. If you'll be in Tallahassee that week before classes start, give me a call and we'll play Clue or something.

Seeya next week, homeslice.

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Wednesday, December 11, 2002

I finished the sixth movement of my thesis yesterday although the ending is still a little rough. I'll soften the edges on my trip tomorrow and finalize it this weekend. I'm pretty much on my target schedule again. For anyone interested, here is an MP3 of the work so far (MP3, 12:38 11.5MB). I'd be interested to hear from composers and non-composers alike. I have less than four minutes remaining, as it looks like the piece will round out to about sixteen minutes.

This will be the last News update until I'm resituated at home sometime next week. I'll be make the arduous trip back to Virginia in one sitting starting tomorrow morning at 5 AM, armed only with a book of CDs and a bag of chocolates (and a car). Enjoy the wasteland if you're remaining in Tallahassee, and load your shotguns if you live in northern Virginia.

I'd take another picture of myself waving goodbye like last year, but it involves mirrors and oblique angles, and takes far too long. Plus, the camera is already crated.

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Thursday, December 11, 2003

Catching up on my movie backlog, I've seen Daredevil, Old School, The Pianist, and the super-duper extended edition of The Two Towers. The first was stupid, the second was predictably okay, and the third was good but not a movie I'd want to see more than once. I'm not a LotR fan, so I can't watch the movies more than once a year without getting impatient. However, this extended edition of the second movie adds enough material to alter the entire viewing experience. Because the director was under contract to stay within three hours for commercial releases, this (nearly four hour) DVD edition is a better reflection of his original vision, and events are much better explained this time around.

It's still way too long for a movie, but at least it doesn't ooze pretensiousness like the Matrix trilogy.

Powell appoints James Brown as foreign minister of funk
How not to take naked pictures of yourself as mayor
Three burglars shoot themselves

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Monday, December 11, 2006

Capsule Review Day

Next by Michael Crichton
I picked this one up in hardback on my Saturday morning jaunt to Costco. It's your typical Crichton scientific thriller, exhaustively researched and blurring the line between fiction and non-fiction. This time around, he dives into genetics, gene therapy, and the controversies surrounding the patenting of cells as well as stem-cell research.

What I Liked: Crichton doesn't write amazing characters or evocative text, but he has that unerring instinct for pushing the narrative forward and keeping the reader interested in what happens on the next page. I always learn a bit whenever I read one of his books.

What I Didn't Like: There's no real "main character" although there are a few characters that show up on the page more often than others. Every other chapter seems to introduce a new name and face, to the point where you might as well just go along for the ride and stop trying to remember if you've already been introduced to this character before. The plot payoff isn't too great, though the subplots are interesting enough. Crichton obviously has an agenda and his opinions colour the story far too much (I had the same problem with State of Fear). It would have been a better work of fiction if he had placed the story first and allowed the reader to draw his own conclusions without the heavy-handed lecturing.

Bottom Line: It's an entertaining read that's over quickly, but it won't change your life. B-

Alias: Season Five
I had to get the last season for completeness, and I'm in the process of watching them again. Plus, it was cheaper than getting the $200 magical Rambaldi box version and probably fits on my shelf much easier.

What I Liked: Though the series had its ups and downs, the fifth season aged surprisingly well, and stands up to some of the ridiculously good episodes from the golden years. The series as a whole mostly ends as it should (though the final Irina plotline was stupid and seemed as if the writers couldn't think up anything better for her to do), even though an argument could be made that the entire fifth season is just an appendix.

What I Didn't Like: The box and all its packaging looks like a fifth-grade collage assignment on a fourth grade budget. Several plotlines end up abandoned (since the fifth season was cut short by five episodes) and one character's final shift of loyalties happens too quickly as a result (it's a good thing he owned a glass coffee table). Talking ghosts were unnecessary, but not as bad as the Slimer goo blob from the third season.

Bottom Line: If you were ever stranded in a ski lodge and there were no snow bunnies, watching all five seasons of Alias would be a well-spent use of seventy-two hours. B+

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest
I never did get around to seeing this in the theatres, so I picked it up this weekend and watched it in between work.

What I Liked: The action-y parts are fun and well-executed. The movie as a whole has a sly understated humour to it, though they do overdo a few bit parts from the first movie.

What I Didn't Like: This movie breaks the "no movie should ever be more than two hours" ass-falling-asleep rule. I actually watched it in two parts, because nowadays my time is a precious commodity like diamonds or ranch dip on wing night. I just couldn't justify sitting in one place watching a movie for three hours when there was so much other stuff to do, like earning money or seeing how many balls of masking tape I can stick to Booty before she wakes up. Had it been streamlined by about twenty minutes, it would have been a much stronger movie. Also, the reef-dwelling pirates were very creative, but there was so much CGI in the movie that it felt like overkill. Finally, why are all pirates so dirty or sooty?

Bottom Line: If you liked the first movie, you'll still like it better than this one, but this one's just as good. A-

Clerks 2
I watched this a couple weeks ago but forgot to write about it.

What I Liked: The movie's a nostalgic nod to the original and is fun to watch if you're a fan of any of the characters. Some of the mini-scenes are hilarious, like the geeks arguing about which trilogy is better: Star Wars or Lord of the Rings (with guest appearance by Kevin Weisman, Marshall from Alias). You can watch that scene on YouTube (swearing in the audio). Sadly I agree with Randal's summation of the Lord of the Rings (but I think Star Wars was stupid too).

What I Didn't Like: Eventually the movie just felt too familiar. It's obvious that Kevin Smith used these characters up to their original potential long ago. Obscene dialogue for the sake of obscenity is so 1994.

Bottom Line: Watch it if you like Kevin Smith movies and you're bored. C+

Happy Birthday Scott Elliot!

Tomorrow is 12 of 12!

$200 for a naked bathtub session
Mapmaker puts tiny towns on road to oblivion
Four-year-old accused of sexual harassment

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Tuesday, December 11, 2007

2007 in Twelves

Top 12 News Updates from 2007
  1. January: BU on the Safety Patrol
  2. February: BU composes a new State Song
  3. February: BU and nanotechnology warnings
  4. March: BU hates Myspace
  5. April: BU names merit badges
  6. April: BU on the VA Tech Shootings
  7. May: BU on Wedding Invitations
  8. June: BU on the Mixing Bowl
  9. July: BU saves the goby
  10. August: BU on Facebook
  11. September: BU on Murals
  12. October: BU on IT Salaries
Top 12 Songs First Heard in 2007
    KT Tunstall - Girl and the Ghost
  1. Ellie Lawson - Bigger Than You Ever Imagined
  2. The Darkness - Bald
  3. Ordinary Boys - Lonely at the Top
  4. Just Jack - Stars in Their Eyes
  5. Mika - Love Today
  6. Rebecca Berlin - Monochrome
  7. Gomez - How We Operate
  8. Lily Allen - Shame For You
  9. Lazyboy - Underwear Goes Inside the Pants
  10. Lady Sovereign - Love Me or Hate Me
  11. Natasha Bedingfield - I Wanna Have Your Babies
  12. Chemical Brothers - Salmon Dance (runner-up)
Top 12 News Update Graphics from 2007

January 3, 2007


March 2, 2007

January 17, 2007

April 9, 2007

April 19, 2007

April 24, 2007

June 6, 2007

May 10, 2007

July 7, 2007

August 22, 2007

November 2, 2007

December 7, 2007

Happy Birthday Scott Elliott!

Pigeons kill man
The only thing I regret is not getting trapped behind the bar
Grocery Store Goofs With Hanukkah Ham Ad

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Thursday, December 11, 2008

2008 in Twelves

Top 12 Posts from 2008
  1. January: BU on the Silver Line
  2. February: BU on the Far Side of the Moon
  3. March: BU on Facebook Parents
  4. April: BU goes to Europe
  5. May: BU on the BU Line
  6. May: BU and LOLLost
  7. June: BU on Wimpy Birds
  8. July: BU gets adopted
  9. July: BU on Ethics
  10. September: BU on Facebook for spies
  11. September: BU on breast milk ice cream
  12. October: BU's engagement FAQ
Top 12 Songs First Heard in 2008
  1. Hoosiers - Goodbye Mr. A
  2. Kaiser Chiefs - Ruby
  3. Duran Duran - Skin Divers
  4. Wallis Bird - Counting to Sleep
  5. Ingrid Michaelson - The Hat
  6. Finger Eleven - Paralyzer
  7. Amy MacDonald - This is the Life
  8. David Jordan - Sun Goes Down
  9. Last Shadow Puppets - Age of the Understatement
  10. Lupe Fiasco - Superstar
  11. Kate Nash - Pumpkin Soup
  12. Busta Rhymes / Linkin Park - We Made It (runner-up)
Top 12 Post Graphics from 2008


January 31, 2008


February 26, 2008


March 28, 2008


April 24, 2008


May 2, 2008


June 16, 2008


August 8, 2008


July 22, 2008


September 4, 2008


September 9, 2008


October 23, 2008


November 14, 2008

Disagree with my picks? Sound off in the Comments section!

Don't forget that tomorrow is 12 of 12!

Musicians protest use of their songs as weapons
One giant leap for teddynauts
Inventor builds robot wife

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Friday, December 11, 2009

Friday Fragments

Also an anagram for "Farmstead Frying"

♠ Yesterday, as I opened a new pack of mini Beefaroni tins for my 10:30 lunch, I noticed that the metal lids were now tattooed with bold, loud warnings. Apparently, beefaroni lids are sharp when you peel them back, and someone couldn't figure this out on their own.

♠ I've never accidentally slashed my wrists on a Beefaroni lid, but when I worked in the school nurse's office in elementary school, I once stuck my tongue to a metal ice-cube tray to see if it would stick. It did. When the nurse inspected my tongue, she asked if I had "eaten any sharp food this morning, like Doritos".

♠ It's been a while since I had Doritos, or any snack chips at all for that matter. In a futile experiment to eat healthier, I have not purchased chips or bacon (for standalone breakfasts) in over four months. I did have Velveeta Shells and Cheese three times this week though.

♠ My weight makes very little sense, since I lost two pounds immediately after Thanksgiving dinner, and then gained a pound after twenty minutes on the exercise bike. Perhaps it was a pound of knowledge, since I like to read while biking.

♠ The problem I have with reading is that I prefer to have books finished than be in the middle of one, so getting a new book pretty much delays anything else I'm doing until the book is done. When I wasn't working yesterday, I was starting and finishing a 400 page book from my Mom, Ender's Shadow (review on Thursday, as usual).

♠ The weekend should be light and lazy (as December weekends should be). With dinner plans tonight and tentative plans to see Anna and Ben tomorrow for a 12 of 12 featuring only Ella, I'll spend the daylight hours working on my Museday composition and beating the last world in the new Mario game. On Sunday, we're visiting one side of the dodecahedron that is Rebecca's family in Silver Spring, and might even stop by the FLAMING LOG OF DEATH near the White House on the way home.

♠ Today's post is short because it captures my essence. More importantly, I have the day off and have other things to get started on (like making Shells and Cheese for lunch). Have a great weekend!

Lions and tigers and bears form a unique bond
Abstaining boobies get "sexier"
Secret agent busted in late-night car chase

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Tuesday, December 11, 2012

List Day: 2012 in Twelves

Top 12 Songs First Heard in 2012

  1. Sia - Academia:
    Roughly half of the time I hear a Sia song, I get annoyed by her voice. However, I like the singsongy quality of this particular song.

  2. April Smith - Movie Loves a Screen:
    A lighthearted song suggested by Pandora before it played three Jack Johnson songs in a row.

  3. Boulevard des Airs - Paris-Corbeil:
    In high school, I knew a guy named Kwan who later played in a ska band. This is the time of song I imagine him playing nightly.

  4. Elizabeth & The Catapult - Taller Children:
    I like the randomly inserted measures of 5/4 time, which is also why I listen to Kansas. Whenever a song has metrically challenged measures, I repeat it in my car until I can hear the correct meter. WHERE'S THE BEAT?

  5. Schuyler Fisk - Afterglow:
    Nothing too special about this song -- just a pleasant listen.

  6. Eric Hutchinson - Rock and Roll:
    Pandora repeated this song until I liked it which, I suppose, is one way to grow an audience.

  7. Joy Williams - One of Those Days:
    As I catalogue this year's songs, it seems like they're very similar to each other. Someone should distill the elements of all my picks into one super song and sell it to me for $5. I would listen the heck out of it.

  8. Christina Perri - Bang Bang Bang:
    I am so sick of Jar of Hearts. Contrary to the beliefs of Safeway, it is not good grocery shopping music. However, I do like this song and a few others from the same CD.

  9. Erin McCarley - Sticky-Sweet:
    You can't go wrong with descending halfsteps over psycho clown rhythms.

  10. Bitter:Sweet - Neurosis:
    Sometimes when I'm listening to Bitter:Sweet while driving down the road in my leather seats, it feels like I'm my very own yuppy Honda Accord commercial.

  11. Orson - No Tomorrow:
    There's nothing flashy or amazing about this song, but I feel like it's very well-constructed.

  12. Bird and the Bee - Love Letter to Japan:
    This whole CD is like a cushion of sonic warmth. I also like the major sixths in My Love.

Honorable Mention

  • Rayman Origins - Lums of the Water (Glou Glou):
    I have no idea who convinced the brass that this would be a suitable theme for a video game, but it works so perfectly that there's simply no other style of music that would fit the level.

Previous Picks: 2006 | 2007 | 2008 | 2009 | 2010 | 2011

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Wednesday, December 11, 2013

2013 Favourites: Top 10 Songs First Heard in 2013

I know that my musical tastes generally don't align with that of most readers, but this is the one time of year that I try to push my favorites like a free sample to the street drug buffet. Give them a listen, on the off chance that you stumble upon something you like but never would have discovered on your own!

  1. Trombone Shorty - Buckjump:
    The energy in this chart is irresistable.

  2. Bird and The Bee - Man:
    I can't resist a good Bird and The Bee track, and the harpsichord in the background doesn't hurt.

  3. Outkast and Janelle Monae - Call the Law:
    After I started listening to songs similar to Caro Emerald, this song popped up on Pandora.

  4. La Roux - Tigerlily:
    The spoken word at the end is rather silly, but the rest of the song is pretty fun.

  5. Metric - Raw Sugar:
    This is a different sound than I normally seek out, but I couldn't help giving it a Thumbs Up on Pandora.

  6. K-OS - Crabbuckit:
    Just a fun, catchy song.

  7. Dirt Poor Robins - Nightingale:
    The Dirt Poor Robins are filing the void of groups that perform every song as if it were The Most Profound Song Ever Written and I like the harmonies here. The video in the link has nothing to do with the song, but the only other copy on the Internet sounds like it was recorded while swimming in a fishbowl.

  8. Caro Emerald - Back It Up:
    I like the mix of Swing sensibilities over a more modern beat. It's the style of Bitter:Sweet, but with more infectious rhythms.

  9. Nappy Roots - Sholiz:
    Rebecca and I had some serious Nappy Roots love this year, after discovering them through their Mark Ronson collaborations.

  10. Paloma Faith - Upside Down:
    I love unique-sounding voices that don't seem to match the visual image of the singer, like Gabriella Cilmi and Joss Stone. Throw it over an interesting arrangement and I'm sold.

Honorable Mention

  • Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings - How Long Do I Have To Wait For You:
    This song is pleasant enough, but the descending guitar line that sounds like someone is playing a cat is exceedingly catchy.

Previous Picks: 2006 | 2007 | 2008 | 2009 | 2010 | 2011 | 2012

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Thursday, December 11, 2014

2014 Un-favorites: Top 10 Personal Injuries

  • February: Second-degree burns on my hand from wiping crumbs off a hot stove

  • Also February: Two-day food poisoning from either a Safeway Mediterranean Pizza or a Wegmann's Pork Roast.

  • March: The first and only migraine headache of 2014

  • April: Extended duration cold simultaneously occurring with a horribly bit lip

  • June: Shooting off the back of a treadmill at 9 miles per hour

  • July: Somehow pulling my left lung muscle, preventing any coughing for two weeks

  • August: Bitten by a spider right between the toes

  • Beach Week: Face scrapes from pool horseplay

  • Also Beach Week: Divot in thumb from trying to pick up an oil-coated blender

  • Late September: Smashed left ankle while rearranging the massive office desk

Stay safe out there, boys and girls.

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Friday, December 11, 2015

List Day: 4 Disappointing Albums

  • Stand Up by Dave Matthews: This was the album that made me stop buying Dave Matthews albums. At the time, I coined this mission statement for it: "Create a forgettable vamp that repeats every four bars and sing about something arhythmically while your band plays a fifth-grade arrangement as backup. Occasionally throw in a random mix of nonmelodic sounds on a separate track that has nothing to do with anything and call it an "Intro" track. Do not, under any circumstances, call this CD Busted Stuff because that name was already assigned to a CD with the exact same music on it."

  • Invisible Empire // Crescent Moon by KT Tunstall: This album was devoid of hooks and vitality, not unlike a wily catfish who has succumbed to oxygen-starving algae blooms. In mathematical terms, if you were to plot a function as music approaches infinite "mellow", it would rapidly approach the limit of "forgettable". I think the double title is supposed to suggest the presence of two albums (double the value!), but the whole thing is so imbued with sameness that it's like trying to find the dividing wall in a duplex only to realize you're in a single-family home.

  • The 2nd Law by Muse: This was the ultimate phoned-in album. Matt Bellamy sounded like he needed a good, long nap in every song he fronted, and another third of the album was devoted to breaking out the bassist as a singer (only to sound like Muse trying to be Coldplay or Finger Eleven trying to be Muse, both of which are the worst SAT analogies of all time). The last third could have been a movie soundtrack for any given student film on an undergraduate campus.

  • Uptown Special by Mark Ronson: I've been trying to convince people to listen to Mark Ronson for 5 years so I was thrilled that he finally hit mainstream success with (the now overplayed) "Uptown Funk". Unfortunately, this song was paired with an uninspiring, aurally repetitive album full of C-sides that even fans can't enjoy. It's like buying the post-Super Bowl TV slot and then using it to air a pilot for a reality show about accountants.

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Monday, December 11, 2017

Songs of the Enrichment Jungle, Volume III

This next batch of songs does not revolve around characters in the Enrichment Jungle, but they'll be included in the same anthology when it goes to print.

The Nap Song: This is the song I used to regularly hum to Maia to get her to nap in the joey pouch while walking around the basement. When you get to the end, you repeat it ad nauseum. Most of the notes are staccato so you can hum it while out of breath on the nature park hill. She has since transitioned to 70s funk jazz as a soporific, but this still gets hummed occasionally.

Poop Bike: This is the song I use when Maia is working on her outputs. In measures 1 - 3 and 5 - 6, you should be gyrating the baby's legs as if she is on a tiny bicycle. In measure 4 and 7, you should accentuate each beat with unison leg presses. Like any good rhythm game, you may get a reward for the proper moves.

Other Posts in This Series: Volume I | Volume II | Volume III | Amanda the Panda

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Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Review Day

There are no major spoilers in these reviews.

Living With Yourself, Season One:
This series features Paul Rudd trying to make a better version of himself when something goes wrong. It has a few promising ideas that are never fully developed and has way too much repetition and "24 hours ago..." sequences. By the time it ended, I didn't feel like much plot progress had been made -- more like I was watching a prequel than a full season. Free on Netflix.

Final Grade: C+

Goldsboro by Goldsboro:
While listening to an album of the defunct, underrated band, Orson, I idly wondered what they had done next. I purchased this album after learning that they had formed a new band. The new band only lasted for one album and it's clear why -- this is a batch of forgettable, lo-fi, hard rock selections with little in the way of hooks or melody.

Final Grade: C-

End of the F***ing World, Season Two:
Season Two of this oddball coming-of-age story picks up a year after the first. It has a nice arc that successfully develops the characters to a well-earned conclusion while still retaining the road-trip-like feel of the first season. The use of classic doo-wop songs in the soundtrack isn't as fresh, but it still works very well. Free on Netflix.

Final Grade: B+

Kin by Electric Guest:
Short and sparsely orchestrated, the third album from Electric Guest is pretty catchy. The male falsetto thing feels a little tired now that everyone has been inundated by that one Portugal. The Man song, but I've always been a fan of the timbre.

Final Grade: B+

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Friday, December 11, 2020

Stuff in My Drawers Day: A Snow Day Story

an exciting story from first grade

I had fun in the snow. I and my sister made 2 snowmen. What fun it was! And I through a snowball at my sister's face. And made a little hollow fort. And throuh snow in the air. I went out two times. Ellen went two times too.

It snowed hard yester day. I did not know where the animals were hibernating. I went inside then I had hot dogs and Potato rounds inside. I walked on ice with out slipping there.

- Brian Uri, Febuary 12, 1986

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