Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Happy December!

Terminal was entertaining to watch but weak on characterization of some supporting characters.

Spiderman 2 sucked as much as the first one didn't suck.

Jug of pee flung from school-bus window has man pissed off
Peers peeing on piers
Authorities say Quinn was heating his lava lamp on the stove Sunday afternoon when it blew up. They're not sure why he was doing it.

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Thursday, December 02, 2004

By request, here is the recipe I used for cheddar cheese soup:

  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1 white onion, chopped
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour (I used self-rising because that's what we had)
  • 3 cups low sodium chicken broth
  • 3 cups 2% milk
  • 1 pound NY Sharp Cheddar Cheese
  • In a 3 quart saucepan over medium-high heat, melt butter. Add onion and cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in flour and cook until flour has blended with onion mixture.

    Add chicken broth and cook, stirring constantly, until mixture is slightly thickened. Add milk and heat just to boiling, stirring constantly.

    In covered blender at medium speed, blend about 1/4 of soup mixture at a time until smooth. Return to saucepan and, over medium heat, heat just to boiling. Remove from heat.

    With wire whisk or slotted spoon, stir in cheese until melted. If cheese does not melt completely, cook over very low heat about 1 minute, stirring constantly.

    Add bacon bits and regular croutons as toppers.

    tagged as recipes | permalink | 2 comments

    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 07, 2004

    I purchased World of Warcraft, the latest MMORPG yesterday. We'll see how much of a timesink it becomes...

    Action Man sparks rescue attempt
    PTC accounts for 99.8% of FCC complaints
    'Laser scam' gamblers to keep cash

    tagged as games | permalink | 0 comments

    Wednesday, December 08, 2004

    World of Warcraft is pretty and decent so far, but not worlds above the last MMORPG I played, Everquest. It will probably improve once I catch up in levels to the people I know and can play cooperatively with them. I've got a Level 11 Tauren Druid on the Blackrock server.

    The eleventh episode of Lost is on tonight. This is the midpoint of the season, and apparently ends on some big cliffhanger that will carry us through the holidays to January 5, when the next new show will precede the 2 hour premiere of Alias.

    Hockey league shaken by mom's shakin'

    tagged as games | permalink | 0 comments

    Friday, December 10, 2004

    Regardless of whether you think it's fun or not, World of Warcraft is a great looking game, and the areas of the world are surprisingly unique-looking. It's just as fun to wander around new areas as it is to actually play the game.

    My weekend plans: work.

    What corporate America can't build: A sentence
    University that awarded MBA to cat sued
    Brain to take over the world
    Officer Constantly Relieving Himself In Parking Garage

    tagged as games | permalink | 0 comments

    Monday, December 13, 2004

    My hands hurt from typing all weekend, so this is today's update.

    He sounded white on the phone.
    With his approval, doctors severed his finger, but somehow in the chaos that followed, they lost his ring.
    Va. man ordered to pay damages for motel mess

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    Monday, December 20, 2004

    I will resume updating after Christmas. Work is busy.

    Japanese men lap up new comfort
    Slither slither slither slither went the tongue

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    Monday, December 27, 2004

    Merry Christmas, and welcome back from my two-week hiatus. I've been putting in mad amounts of overtime recently, to the point where I didn't really feel like making little pithy updates on a daily basis when I got home from a day of computing (see Dec 13 and Dec 20 for examples of such pitiful pithiness.

    I will still be working a lot this week, but should be cutting back to my regular schedule starting in the new year. To make up for my recent lack of updates, I'm going to try and post a review of one thing per day for awhile, whether it's a movie, book, CD, game, or foodstuff. What could I be reviewing tomorrow? That's the kind of crazy excitement you get for free by visiting this site.

    Besides work, I haven't done much of anything this month (the last two days I spent completely work-free were Christmas Day and November 7th). I had my annual holiday dinner, bought lots of CDs, played some WoW, and started exercising again. The bar continues to sit woefully unfinished in the basement, and cats continue to be cats. I spent Christmas with my family in Alexandria and had an earache on Christmas Day. Besides being painful, it made all the music I heard in my left ear sound a quarter-tone flat with a tinny reverberation akin to an 11KHz compressed WAV file. The pain has gone away, but the musical effect persists, so all my new CDs sound like crap.

    Since this is something you can only understand through experience, I've made a sound clip for you, to show what things sound like at the moment:

    Sample (177KB MP3)

    Casino fined for security camera ogling
    Octopus cannon targets McDonalds in southern France
    Poor diet, inherited disease made Gollum mad

    tagged as day-to-day | permalink | 4 comments

    Tuesday, December 28, 2004

    John Grisham's The Last Juror finally came out in paperback so I picked it up and read it two Sundays ago. As previously noted, I never buy his books in hardback anymore since they only take a few hours to read through. Recently Grisham has had trouble deciding whether he wants to be a passable trashy law fiction writer or a passable trashy historical fictional narrative writer. He's dabbled in both, generally unsuccessfully since people who like one of his styles will hate the other.

    This book is another hybrid which fails on both levels. The title and the book summary set it up to be another courtroom thriller but it turns into a small-town snoozer with a minimum of sensible resolution (the last juror referenced doesn't even play much of a role in the major plot thrust). Grisham also tries to toy with the standard chronology (introduction, building excitement, climax, resolution), choosing to split his book into three parts. The first builds like a law thriller then peters out. The second keeps feeling like the thriller part should come back, but ends up being a small town biopic instead. The third has some tension, but ends with a stupid resolution involving a character that got maybe two pages of face time.

    As usual, Grisham's characterizations are laughable, especially when it involves women and/or sex. If you want a book to read in the airport, stick with one of his more effective page-turners, anything written before 1996, or The Brethren, the only recent book of his worth reading.

    Mystery Martian 'Carwash' Helps Space Buggy
    Naughty kids' Christmas gifts sold on eBay
    Man fools Slashdot readers everywhere
    "You are just way too observant for me," Election Clerk Mary Reid said.

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    Wednesday, December 29, 2004

    Two of my recent CDs are Paul Weller's Wild Wood and the Scissor Sisters' self-titled CD. The Weller CD, I picked up because I liked the retro 70s feel of his single The Bottle (see the entry from Sep. 20, 2004). It has a very mellow laid-back groove to it, and is great background for relaxing and/or "chilling". I liked Paul Weller when he was fronting The Jam, but his solo stuff is great, even if it has a totally different feel .

    5th Season (234KB MP3)

    I got the Scissor Sisters CD because a lot of their songs get air time on XM. Their music is a blend of campy pop, dance, and the pretentiousness of 80s rock .

    Take Your Mama (320KB MP3)

    I'd recommend either of these CDs if you like the sample snippets.

    Happy Birthday Becca!

    Divers on Tuesday found the body of a woman who apparently was doing doughnuts in her car on an ice-covered lake, officials said.

    tagged as music, reviews | permalink | 0 comments

    Thursday, December 30, 2004

    Today's CD review will be of Muse's second album, Showbiz. The feel of this album is very different from their fourth album (Absolution, previously mentioned), but the style is unmistakably Muse. This album is a bit more edgy than Absolution and makes more use of noise as a musical element. The tunes are catchy though not always memorable, and the falsetto is actually very powerful, especially at the end of the song Showbiz. Their non-edgy stuff works well too, though sometimes they sound too much like a frat rock band .

    Here are a few samples for your listening pleasure. As usual the sound quality has been greater reduced for downloading:

    Falling Down (409KB MP3)
    Showbiz (288KB MP3)
    Muscle Museum (437KB MP3)

    We also watched Anchorman: Legend of Ron Burgundy a few nights back. It was hit-or-miss with some incredibly funny jokes and some incredibly bad Will Farrell cliches. Overall, it could have been edited to be a little shorter with fewer laughter droughts and been more worthwhile.

    tagged as music, reviews | permalink | 1 comment

    Friday, December 31, 2004

    We watched Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind last night, which was surprisingly good and original for a Jim Carrey movie, and lacking his trademark Robin-Williams-I-want-to-be-in-dramas overacting. The movie is interesting to follow and piece together, though you're going to hate it if movies like Memento gave you a headache.

    Happy New Year!

    tagged as reviews | permalink | 1 comment


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