08/2005

Monday, August 01, 2005

This is the inaugural news update for the Tenth Edition of the URI! Zone. From its humble beginnings as the URI! Domain at buri.campus.vt.edu on August 30, 1996, the Zone has grown to epic proportions, now serving as a multinational hub for over seventeen million Internet visitors from eleven countries and twelve major continents.

If you are a regular visitor, you will discover several subtle changes in this new Edition:

  • Easier navigation: Nineteen years of public school education and a $40 book on PHP allowed me to simplify the 3-frame layout from the old site. This means that you will be able to easily link to any part of the Zone from your own site, and search engines like Google will finally be able to access my news stories. To link to a news post, just copy the URL out of the "permalink" that now appears at the end of each post for your own blog or site.

  • Longer news stories: Not surprisingly, there was a time when my updates read like rejects from the haiku factory (these gems, for example ) but starting last month, I actually devoted some effort to making them worthwhile. This increase in mental stimulation resulted in an interestyng spyke in the number of visitors over the course of the month, as you can see in the graph to the right. My aim is to make this site a worthwhile daily visit for as long as possible in the future. If you don't think I'm doing a good job, you can always tell me how to improve!

  • Someone blew up the forum and it wasn't Gary: How many of you even knew there was a forum before? There are plenty of better, more trafficked forums out there so I erased mine. If you have something to say, leave a comment or send me an e-mail.

  • Return of the Mascot: Molly the Mouseover Llama was the site mascot from 1996 to 2003 and was subsequently fired and replaced by Booty's feet. Molly provides hours of entertainment at work, because you can make her sing your favourite songs by moving your mouse over her face (providing, of course, that you use a non-IE browser).
      Molly sings some O'Zone (406KB WMV)
      Molly sings some Carlos Adolfo Dominguez (480KB WMV)
    Coming soon, Molly sings selections from RENT and 50 Cent's Disco Inferno. Even if Molly does not sing for you, the rest of the site should be compatible with all major web browsers, but seriously, isn't a singing llama incentive enough to finally try out Firefox?

  • New font: Nine Editions using Arial is quite enough. Say hello to Trebuchet MS. Yes, it's trendy. This is acceptable because I am a bandwagoneer.

    Note: Permission is not granted to analyze my handwriting to see if I'm a serial killer, although you may use this sample to fight on my behalf in any court case involving nude pictures I posed for when I needed the money . We all had to start somewhere on our respective roads to stardom.

    If you are a Zone-virgin (or a long-lost figment from the murky depths of my past), welcome! This site is a little bit blog and a little bit daily-column, where I rant and/or rave or just talk about the humdrum events of my life (the site has been thoroughly inspected and declared to be angst-free). A good starting place to begin reading might be the news from July 2005 -- deep thoughts from earlier than that are harder to find, buried in a million "what I did today" posts. The 2001 to 2003 posts are a travelogue of my time as a music grad student at Florida State, containing more pedantic musical musings than most non-music people will care about. The 2003 - early 2005 posts are a documentary of my life as a software engineer in the working world (nominated for an Oscar but spurned by the Academy). In addition, I post daily links to peculiar news stories and funny pictures from other sites.

    Some eminent Internet scholars have likened my columns to the writings of the Washington Post's Bob Levey, except that I don't give a rat's ass about sending any kids to camp. You can find out more about me here and you can see things I've created, written, composed, or drawn by following the links in the upper menu bar.

    I asked four Internet celebrities to coin an advertising slogan for the new site design and they did not fail me. Feel free to choose the one that speaks the most to you as a human being when describing the Zone to your friends and relatives.

    What do you think of the new look? Anything you want to see in the coming months? Don't be afraid to leave a comment!

    Thanks for visiting. Tell all your friends!

    Man upset with $4 million price tag on his cardboard box
    College mascots not on the list of approved traffic stop questions
    GAYWEGO is legal, and not a type of yeti

    tagged as website | permalink | 9 comments

  • Tuesday, August 02, 2005

    An ominous plague has been incubating in America's moist spots over the past ten years. It's not contagious and it probably won't kill you, but it will add a certain obnoxious je ne sais quoi to your daily routine. What is this plague? Why it's the boogerspawn of all the laissez faire parents of the 1990s! These parents eschewed the standard guidelines of reinforcement and punishment, out of fear of being labelled an abusive parent, choosing instead to maximize their childrens' empowerment, creativity and joie de vivre. The end result is an enfant terrible who expects to get what they want, with little understanding of how their actions affect the world around them, incapable of realizing that they aren't necessarily the center of the universe (see also, sorority girl).

    I looked up "crying brat" on Google Images to illustrate this update, but this was the best they had. The image can be deceiving because it could be mistaken for a harmless youngster telling a knock-knock joke to someone's hard-of-hearing crotch, rather than a true specimen of boogerspawn. To make up for this subpar illustration, I have included four common French phrases in the previous paragraph. You will now be one day ahead when you begin conversational French classes. Je vous en prie.

    I am not advocating violence against children (unless you find yourself in Gatlin, Nebraska surrounded by prepubescent cultists and all the other adults are dead, in which case I wholeheartedly recommend that you get the tire iron out of your trunk and start swinging like you've never swung before. Kick their asses and carry some moonbeams home in a jar). I am, however, saying that children need to understand the concepts of limits. In my generation, which is only a few years older than spawn de boogers, we ran the gamut from polite to rebellious, but we always knew how to treat with other people and where the lines were drawn. It's not even a matter of corporal punishment -- we just learned that there was only so much we could get away with before the parental wrath. I sometimes feel like people in our generation (except the stupid ones) should have lots of kids and raise them right, if only to rectify the karmic imbalance caused in the 90s.

    If you would like to see a sample of these types of kids but do not live near a school (or you live in South Florida), all you have to do is turn on the horrible reality show, Brat Camp on ABC. Take the repugnant mini-kids from Nanny 911 and turn them into surly, combatative, lying, cheating, angstful, muttering teenagers with nothing to recommend them. Glass bottles in Hawaii and Michigan have more redeeming features than these kids, and one of them looks eerily like that dog molester who was in the news.

    The parents of these mumbly pigs throw their hands up in the air because they just have no clue how their angelic kids turned into poster children for compulsory elimination. To cover their mistake, they send the kids off to a wilderness camp where the kids have to shape up or they don't eat. In charge of this cadre of parental neglect are two or three drill-sergeant characters who are incredibly mild-mannered, and have new age names like Fire Shaper! or Exploding Venus! [exclamation points added by ed.] and this is where the show breaks down. Because everything is documented for primetime TV, there is no sense of threat or urgency, and Sergeant Does Limbo In Nude! cannot do much more than mouth empty threats and take away Gold Stars. Threats are virtually nonexistant anyhow, since the drill sergeants choose to empathize with the kids (though it's pretty clear that this approach is not working).

    So what you're left with is a show about a bunch of teenagers being little bitches and being put in Time Out behind the cactus stand. They wander shiftlessly around the camp with their furry caps pulled down as far as possible (because it's COOL to have no peripheral vision!) The sad thing is that however reprehensible these kids are (and I would be very tempted to send them to the glue factory if they were my kids and also horses), it's really the fault of the environment they grew up in. There's even a token kid whose crime is having ADHD -- when was that an excuse for parents to send you away to wilderness camp? The very least they could have done to make this show entertaining would be to have a Simon Cowell-esque character constantly degrading the teens, their clueless parents, and everyone foolish enough to give the show positive Nielsen ratings.

    The worst part of this show is the feeling of impending doom it leaves you with when you find that ABC has already added a "Season Chooser" combo box to the website, as if there is no doubt in their minds that there will be more seasons to come. When Arnold Schwarzenegger finally gets the rules changed so he can run for President, I will take that position and create a national test which all prospective parents must pass before they are allowed to breed. I will be the sole grader of said test. There will not be a test for television producers, because shows like this give me something to write about.

    Disclaimer: I saw about 20 minutes of one episode. I'm sure the last episode will have all the teenagers bonding by holding hands and working together to give mouth-to-mouth to dying deer with asthma, but there was no way in hell I was going to stick around until then.

    No, not the Audi!
    Woman leaves son on the Beltway
    Kitten War: May the Cutest Kitten Win

    tagged as mock mock | permalink | 5 comments

    Wednesday, August 03, 2005

    I would say that Monday's 137 visitors counts as a Grand Opening success. People seem to enjoy my new style of updates, so I will continue in the same vein for the forseeable future. To horribly mangle one emailer's thoughts for the purposes of amusing yet inaccurate paraphrasing, my site bleeds sarcasm like a Ham and Cheese Hot Pocket left in the microwave for six minutes too long. The original sentence was "[you have] become increasingly sarcastic in your 25 years". Lame.

    I also received several e-mails from people who have been around since the beginning, nine long years ago, when the URI! Domain was a single HTML page and I was being seduced on all sides by website talent scouts promising me Internet fame in exchange for "showing off my llama", as it were. One such missive was a note from my good friend, Holden, who's currently working at a company called Ziclix (see figure on the right). Please excuse the lack of punctuation in the subject -- since he was talking to my computer, it should have been "You, computer, are INFECTED", but Holden has never been great with all that grammar stuff.

    Now anyone who has been on the "Information Superhighway" (sometimes called "The World Wide Web", or "Pop" in the Midwest) for more than a few years knows that spywire is a horrible nuisance. Left unattended, a spywire-infected computer can become an anchor point for KGB agents rappelling off the roof and into your office. This is not good for business. As a public service, I decided to download the award-winning Anti-Spywire software and do some benchmarks for the good of all my readers. I diligently followed the link in the e-mail and downloaded the "ho" edition of their software (though truthfully, I have always considered myself more of a pimp).

    Installation is very straightforward if you follow the READYOU.TXT. After disabling your Antivirus and Internet Firewall, a double-click on the Installer loads everything up quickly to the default directory. There is an activation step at the end where you have to enter your bank's routing number as confirmation that you are who you say you are, which I think is a much better way to go over biometrics (since it means thugs will be less likely to want to chop off my fingers. You really have to prioritize which digits are more important to you).

    To test the efficacy of the software, I sent personal invitations to Matthew Broderick and Jennifer Garner. Matthew, best known for his role as the live-action Inspector Gadget, declined and pointed out that Inspector Gadget does not need wire and would be able to infiltrate any secure office with only his helicopter hat. He recommended I try the "hot girls" from the episode of Fear Factor where they had to walk on a wire between two buildings. I bet the "ho" edition was tailor-made for people of their ilk, but as far as I know, none of them have ever played spies on TV. Jennifer, the actress behind Sydney Bristow on Alias also declined, saying that she can no longer do stunt work while spawn d'Affleck is leasing her womb, especially now that the bulbous protrusion has become a plot device for the next season of her show.

    With no other star power in line and a deadline fast approaching, I put Booty on a zip wire with a listening device in her ear and sent her hurtling towards the computer. Before we even had a chance to go "radio-silent", Booty had wiggled out of her harness and abandoned ship, evidently very unnerved by the Anti-spywire software.

    Final Recommendation: The software must really work as advertised. And since it also repels Booty, they should really market it as an anti-porn filter too.

    Cheese in the Baie des Ha! Ha!
    PimpHats.com: for all your pimping and monsta bling needs
    If it can happen to Lenny, it can happen to anyone. He's a big guy. He's in good shape.... Three guys couldn't take him. It took a woman.

    tagged as website | permalink | 4 comments

    Thursday, August 04, 2005

    I'm giving Jem's Finally Woken CD a solid three-stars. For the sake of interaction, I will let you, the reader, decide what the maximum number of stars should be. As I mentioned in an old post, Jem's music is like a mix between Dido, Butterfly Boucher, and Tali. All her tracks have catchy beats and interesting vamps, and she has one of those high wafty voices that is only annoying 25% of the time. The major problem with the CD is that all the songs have very interesting ideas but don't really follow through on turning them into hit songs. Each song has a point which just cries out for a new melody or some change of pace, but instead, a previously-heard section is just recycled. The songs would even have improved if they just stopped before they got too repetitive, but then you'd be stuck with a CD that's only twenty minutes long. My favourite song on the CD is still the one I heard before buying it, Just a Ride (211KB MP3). Bottom line: listen to some tracks online and see if it's your cup of tea before investing.

    Here are my sundry thoughts about music today1:

  • Roots Manuva's Too Cold (359KB MP3) isn't a particularly good song, but I like the campy accompaniment. It reminds me of something the Scissor Sisters might write.

  • The cover of the Smith's How Soon is Now by Tatu is unbelievably horrible. The original opens with Morrissey singing "I am the son and the heir...". Tatu sings this unchanged, though maybe they thought it was "sun and air". I guess if your talentless group's main shtick is girl-on-girl make out sessions, you're allowed to sing lyrics implying that you have a weenie, since people with weenies also like to make out with hot girls. (For posterity's sake, I must add the obligatory, "Weenies weenies weenies" at this juncture in the news update). It doesn't help that Tatu's Ono-rific vocals sound like the girls are translating songs into dolphinese. It also doesn't help that all their English sounds like it was learned purely through phonetics, like that Japanese Eponine that got her phonetic On My Own solo on the Complete Symphonic Recording of Les Mis (344KB MP3). The URI! Zone takes no responsibility for any internal bleeding or Flipper sightings which might occur if you listen to this Tatu sample (311KB MP3).

  • Natasha Bedingfield's These Words is catchy (336KB MP3). I also have to give her credit for rhyming "Byron, Shelley, and Keats" with "hip-hop beat". That juxtaposition is almost as clever as Toto's "Sure as Kilimanjaro rises like Olympus above the Serengeti" line from Africa.

  • I'm also liking Joss Stone's Less is More (269KB MP3) at the moment. Sometimes I don't like listening to her, but I've always been impressed with how mature her voice is and how it totally does not fit her physical appearance.

  • I think the fluid way that Natalie Imbruglia forms her long notes in Shiver is absolutely perfect (286KB MP3). I'm a sucker for mellifluous female voices though -- I could listen to her sing just the word "you" all day long and not get tired of it. I also like Anna Nalick in Breathe. There are too many one-verb titles right now -- someone should release new music with some juicy adverbs or dangling participles.

  • I rented Be Cool, the sequel to Get Shorty, on Tuesday night. It was hit-or-miss funny, with really great moments mixed with tired rehashes, but it had a good soundtrack. The first scene opened with Earth, Wind & Fire's Fantasy, a song that I'm sure no one would recognize but me (I worked on a high school marching band show back in the 1990s that involved it). There were also musical cameos with Aerosmith, Christina Millian, and the Black-Eyed Peas, although Fergie did not pee on herself in the movie . Rent it, if only to see Vince Vaughn as the white record producer who thinks he's black and The Rock as the gay bodyguard with his own music video of "You Ain't Woman Enough To Take My Man".

  • Hard-hitting, beer-swilling, chest-thumping music doesn't have much representation today. If you start to question your manhood after reading today's update (and do, in fact, own a weenie -- no cheating!), you should try Rooster's Come Get Some, which reminds me of a classic 80s rock song, or the Soundtrack of Our Lives' Heading for a Breakdown. I like both of them.

  • Having made that sample, I can't stop listening to it and marveling at how bad Tatu is. I may have to do a face-off between them and Elena on With Those Eyes to see which song can kill a full grown Holstein first.

  • Ford realizes Eminem writes naughty lyrics
    I leaned out to spit and I leaned too far.
    Thankfully, the persecution of swans is quite rare.

    1: I tried very hard to incorporate a joke about my sundry tomatoes here but luckily for you, I failed.


    tagged as music, reviews | permalink | 3 comments

    Friday, August 05, 2005

    Friday Fragments

  • I won another Spanish lottery yesterday. This time it was the El Gordo Loteria Primitiva, which translates roughly as "the fat Stone-Age lottery" (I'm at least 15% positive about this translation). For people keeping score, this is the second Spanish lottery that I've won . I plan to use my winnings to buy gift cards for regular readers, and to promote world awareness. We all live in the world -- it's time you realized that.

  • The results of the last poll on children are listed in the entry from August 2. Fifty percent of those responding do not want any kids at all! I'm currently in discussions with the Food and Drug Administration to promote Uri!Zone as a viable form of contraception. I'm also hoping that there are some seriously whacked-out side effects to mention in my commercial, such as "may cause excessive drainage of ear wax at socially unacceptable times". Alyssa Milano will play the wife worried about pregnancy and Carrot Top will be the husband who recommends Uri!Zone. Dakota Fanning will be the random gratuitous "kid on a swing set wearing bright primary colours while slightly out-of-focus camera pans across scene".

  • My place of work has free sodas. When I first started as an intern five years ago, I would drink a non-diet soda every hour, every day. Now I carry a water bottle around like a shameless yuppy and only have one soda at lunchtime. This means I have imbibed about 546,000 fewer calories over the past two years. It would logically follow that I have a buffer of about 1070 Quarter Pounders with Cheese before I start to gain weight again. Right?

  • The exceptionally dull saga of the sidewalk ended last weekend, and now you can walk from the front of the house to the back of the house without getting your feet muddy. I figured there were no readers on the edges of their seats waiting for a resolution, so I held off on posting pictures until today. Shaping concrete is fun -- it's like ooblick. I think my dad and I moved about four tons worth of concrete mix over the past year.

  • I don't understand why people like cheese puffs. They melt away to nothing in your mouth, have no texture, and leave everything covered in a grimy gold paste which might or might not be leprechaun vomit. There is actually a Cheetos-brand of Cheese Puff. Is there any compelling reason to take a tasty snack like a Cheeto and mutilate its core flavour just so it's puffy?

  • The first season of Lost comes out on DVD one month from tomorrow, and the second season begins on TV at the end of September. This is very exciting. If you don't watch Lost, what the hell is wrong with you? Watch it. Peer pressure is key. I'm still waiting for Abercrombie & Fitch to come out with a "jungle island" line of frat boy clothes, modelled around the picture-perfect clothing in the luggage of Flight 815.

  • I'm at a loss as to what this song is trying to say (407KB MP3). Is it happy? Sad? A love song or a leave song? The lyrics aren't much help, but either way it has an interesting, unsettling sound to it. At least it's not a really horrible lesbian Russian cover, or Macy Gray singing Walk This Way.

  • There was a story in the Post about a subcontractor for NCS Pearson who made $24 million after 9/11 for hotel and event planning . The head of the fly-by-night company paid herself $5.4 million and a $270,000 pension. The cutest part of the article is the line, "Her friends dismissed the possibility of impropriety, saying she and Sullivan are both devout Christians who would never take advantage of the government for personal gain." She now lives in a $1.9 million devout mansion.

  • My social schedule has been a little lacking this week since I've been busy working on my music presentations for work. I'm working on the Western Music presentation now. I plan on warming up the audience with a little Josquin, and then scaring the pee out of them with a little Ligeti. I hope there are important business meetings in the adjoining conference rooms when I play an excerpt from Continuum. I am also at a loss to decide who should represent the culmination of Western Music at the end of the twentieth century: Britney Spears or the Backstreet Boys.

  • While doing online research for the presentation, I came across the Giovanni Gabrielli Forum Frigate . I'm not exactly sure what's going on there, but I guess you're just supposed to chat about Gabrielli as if you were a pirate. "Yarr, we love the antiphonal brass, we do!" I also looked up the publication date on Aaron Copland's Hoedown only to get an entry on the hoedowns from the British version of Who's Line Is It Anyways? . Richard Vranch was so much better than the creepy women on the ABC version.

  • I have not really played World of Warcraft in about two weeks now. There are too many other fun and exciting distractions in the real world.

  • I want to take over the world, if only to have journalists at my beck and call. Apparently Kim Jong-il has a superhuman brain and could easily outsmart the Great Brain if he wanted to. Kim provides tips for brain enhancement such as, "A person's memory gets better when they use their brain often". I don't think I would have been able to figure that out on my own. Thank you, Kim, you do credit to dictators everywhere.

  • There's no Poker Night this week, but three weeks in a row is a pretty good record. I'm currently down by $20, but now that I've won the Spanish lottery I'm just going to buy back in continuously until everyone goes broke or falls asleep. The only interesting hand I've won was beating a King-high flush with the Ace.

  • Enjoy your weekend while it lasts. There's only 141 shopping days until Christmas, and Shoppers Food Warehouse is already selling Halloween candy!

  • Newspaper declares open season on woman's apartment
    Harris complains about newspapers without actually saying anything
    Tallahassee man fakes murder to get his wife to leave him

    tagged as fragments | permalink | 7 comments

    Monday, August 08, 2005

    There have been further developments in last year's accidental death of a summer Crew coach in Alexandria (You can read my original thoughts here ). The parents of the crew coach have sued the Alexandria Crew Boosters organization for wrongful death, seeking both compensatory and punitive damages (including the projected income for the coach, who was planning on becoming a surgeon after college) .

    One facet of our society which I'm not too keen on is the blame game. Whenever something goes wrong, fingers and accusations fly in gnat swarms and someone always ends up being the scapegoat, deserved or not, of the problem. A much healthier solution would be to accept that the dastardly event happened, recognize what caused it, and fix it for the future.

    I'm sure grief is an incredibly powerful motivator, and perhaps my feelings would be completely reversed were I the parent who lost his son, or if I knew him personally. Without that firsthand experience though, I believe that this lawsuit will not do anyone any good. A large cash sum will NOT bring anyone back to life. Bankrupting a parent-run sports organization will NOT improve boat safety -- this is not some multinational company tacitly dumping toxic waste on playgrounds, it's a group of parents who love the sport of rowing almost as much as their kids in the program.

    This was no more and no less than a tragic accident. No one is totally to blame and no one is totally free from it. For every argument stating that the Crew program should have forced their coaches to wear life jackets, there is the counterargument that all the coaches do wear life jackets by choice, and that anyone with more than a couple months of experience under their belt should know better than to hop in a launch without one. For every news story reporting that the Crew program illegally disabled the kill switch on the motor, there is the suggestive thought that a kill switch would have had little bearing on this specific case.

    If the people involved are seriously interested in preventing the accident from happening in the future, then the work has already been done -- I'm sure the next few years of Crew members and coaches will be acutely aware of the hazards of the water and more likely to take the appropriate precautions, solely because of word of mouth. Adding litigation to the mix and painting the Crew program as a willfully negligent demon just cheapens the lessons learned, and will have a negative impact on everyone involved for years to come.

    If you are a former or present Crew member, I would be interested in hearing your civil thoughts -- please leave a comment. You are also welcome to point any of your rower friends here via this link: .

    If you have no interest in Crew, the daily flippancy will return tomorrow. You can visit Florida-Mike's ChompBlog in the meantime, since it just reopened with a brand new look. Here are today's news links:

    Prisoners rewarded for not escaping into the maw of a tsunami
    "I got 1,000 years of power. Come and get me."
    I wasn't a racist, I was an Internet troll

    Yesterday's search terms:
    shirts making fun of clemson, starcraft medic nude, stamen stains on shirt, adult video bailey's crossroad, tom cruise outer banks, herndon reston merchandise parrots


    tagged as deep thoughts | permalink | 0 comments

    Tuesday, August 09, 2005

    Today's update was originally going to be a trifecta of Top Ten Lists -- my ten favourite sets of lyrics, my ten all-time favourite contemporary songs, and my ten favourite albums. I was hard at work compiling data in the field (since all good data comes from fields) when I noticed a fairly generous overlap between my first two lists. Striving to take advantage of this, I Venn'd the crap out of the two lists and came up with the Optimus Prime of music lists: five of the songs I really like that also have meaningful lyrics.

    Now for the most part, I'm completely oblivious to the lyrics of songs. The words are just another pastel in the pastiche of musical sounds that make the song what it is. This is one roadblock to my singing along with the radio -- though I've heard the lyrics to Green Day's Holiday (which made my June list) a million times, I've never actually "listened" to all the words, so I just mumble vaguely similar phonetic sounds in certain places where I'm unsure (see also, Tatu).

    So I'm presuming that these lyrics were reasonably significant to me in my past if they sneaked past my automatic lyrics filter (or alternately, my filter is clogged and needs more charcoal). The interesting part of this whole sordid exercise is that there are recurring themes in all five of the songs, which I never connected together until now: recovering from past mistakes, appreciating today, and unrequited love. Perhaps I'm just a sucker for dramatically angsty yet upbeat songs. I will leave it as an exercise for the reader to psychoanalyze me based on my selection of lyrics, because that's a morass of a minefield I don't want to lose a limb in. Here are the five, in no particular order. The first link leads to the lyrics, and the second link leads to an MP3 sample:

    • Coldplay - Shiver (470KB MP3)
    • Muse - Endlessly (496KB MP3)
    • The Monkees - Giant Step (332KB MP3)
    • Ray Stevens - Mr. Businessman (516KB MP3)
    • Kinky - Snapshot (356KB MP3)

    Note for the Curious:
    I briefly, fleetingly, considered picking five random songs with ridiculous lyrics to trick the analyzers, but decided to hedge at the ever-so-rare personal touchy-feely blog post instead. Selections would have definitely included I'm the Only Gay Eskimo, They're Coming to Take Me Away Ha Ha, and The Rockafeller Skank. If you want more touchy-feely, you can read the 10 new items I added to my 222 Things About Me list: .

    Note for the Unscientific:
    Venn'd is the past tense of "to Venn" which means "to draw two overlapping circles and then colour in the football in the middle".

    Note for Those Who Can Count:
    I'm sure that at least one of you wily mathematicians noticed that I mentioned another list. Here are my picks for great albums:

    • Muse - Absolution
    • The Hi-Lo's - Under Glass / I Presume
    • Lennie Niehaus - Quintet & Octet
    • Doc Severinsen and the Tonight Show Band - Once More With Feeling!
    • Kansas - Best of Kansas (can compilations count as albums?)

    I could not come up with five more. Most albums suck, even those that have a few good songs, and it's rare to find an album that's solid all the way through. I will definitely have all of these albums with me when I'm ostracized to Elba following my failed coup in Petropavlovsk.

    Arms up. Arms up!
    Why I stopped wearing pumps to work
    Know someone who won't commit? Rip off their leg and beat them about the head and shoulders

    Yesterday's search terms:
    warez mexico, what is a marching virginian, bare feet on dashboard pics, amputee management, harry potter spellbooks, boulanger ratemyprofessor, brian uri comet head

    tagged as lists, music | permalink | 8 comments

    Wednesday, August 10, 2005

    In my lifetime, a new type of store has gained prominence: the store with everything you never needed. You walk into one of these bazaars to discover things you never knew existed but which you can't possibly live without. A case in point is the squat metal box currently anchored to the side of my cabinet which I found at Bed, Bath, and Beyond for a mere ten dollars. You can stuff it full of plastic bags after you're done unpacking groceries, and then you take them out the side whenever you need a bag in the future.

    I'm not sure which is sadder, the fact that I have a store-bought container to hold containers mounted on a container, or the fact that there's a smaller variety hanging over the litter box specifically to hold bags for scooped litter. That one is made of cloth with a hole on each end, making it a queue instead of a stack (because, God forbid you reuse the newest bag before the oldest one). I guess the saddest part is that I like my container containers, and would buy more container containers if I had a use for them.

    There can be too much of a good thing, however, and it's clear that not everything you find in these stores will revolutionize the way you live. Take, for example, the Pet Stroller™ which you can own for $130 at Bed, Bath, and Beyond (obviously falling squarely in the "Beyond" category). I have a feeling any cat you put in there would freak out from the vibrations of the wheels on a sidewalk, and any dog would get laughed at by all its dog friends (unless it had no legs, and really, a dog with no legs is not so hot anyhow, unless it's in a bun). Luckily the Stroller comes with a fabric-enclosed area for privacy so the dog could hide in shame. The cat would just use this area to express its displeasure fecally. The ad copy mentions that you can also use it to haul groceries and laundry. This might actually be useful in far off lands where cats are kept as collateral until you pay your laundromat -- go in with a cat, come out with your dry cleaning (I call it meow-ney laundering).

    The king of crazy-crap stores is Brookstone, a store which most savvy shoppers exploit as a quickie massage parlor in their shopping mall routine. Their ratio of stuff people actually buy to stuff that will end up in an infomercial rapidly approaches zero as their inventory goes to infinity (see figure A).

    Brookstone is currently selling a $75 talking meat thermometer . Stick it in your grilled meats and it will tell you when to return, up to 300 feet away. This means that you can fire up the grill in the endzone and still run the ball back for a touchdown. No more grill-related touchbacks required! On slow days, you can take the belt pager to work, pretend to answer it, and excuse yourself from meetings because "my meat is calling me". The thermometer can only say two phrases though, which is something of a disappointment considering the costs. I would have expected it to warn people about the hazards of eating red meat, or at least recite a dramatic monologue from the 1992 movie, Le Steak.

    Another item in stock is the Remote Control Key Locator . Now, locator devices in general are pretty useful, and I've used the handset locator on my telephone many times (once I found the receiver in the trash, but that was Anna's fault). Perhaps I'm just far too organized for my own good, but I'm thinking that if you need a device which tracks four separate objects, you really need some organization in your life instead. Not to mention that if you can't find the hub, you're four times as screwed.

    Speaking of organization in your life (my segues are so smooth that even Bush couldn't fall off one), we have the Container Store. I will be the first to admit that I've never even set foot in a Container Store, but Kim sings its praises regularly, so I figured I'd see what all the fuss was about. I browsed their online store and I have to concede that it's an organizer's paradise. Have you ever stored an opened bag of Eggo waffles in the freezer only to find that ice has made them soggy? Well you can now prevent that with a $2.50 "Frozen Waffle Stay Fresh Container". A search for "Stay Fresh Container" reveals that their store has fifteen different types of container for various forms of decaying food . You might never need to eat leftovers again -- just leave them in the fridge indefinitely!

    Every store has its sketchy underbelly though, and the Container Store is no exception. What's wrong? Well, they sell trays that make funny-looking ice . The trays are scary because they look like torture devices for lab rats, and if I saw that ice at a dinner party, I would feel compelled to reform the ice into the shape of the tray, like in that old Game Boy game, Daedalean Opus. That could just be me though because I doubt anyone else in the world bought that game (I also owned Milon's Secret Castle). Either way, you all can enjoy your funny ice cubes and preserved waffles -- I'm content with my plastic bags.

    Apparently this kid didn't win on Brat Camp
    When your testicles just have to be safe
    Mind-reading one step closer to reality

    tagged as random, favourites | permalink | 6 comments

    Thursday, August 11, 2005

    I try to toss in a review at least once a week, but at the time of this writing, I have not seen or heard anything noteworthy since the last time I reviewed something. Maybe I'll make it up next week by unfairly judging two movies or CDs, or maybe I'll just promise to and then wait for everyone to forget about it (see also, guest entries by the winners of the Name-That-Tune contest from January).

    While looking at a list of movies coming out soon for ideas on what to see next, I did notice a peculiar one:

      Chumscrubber:
      The suicide of the local school drug dealer exposes the alienation and indifference prevalent in suburban life. When Dean discovers his best friend Troy has hung himself during a pool party, Dean makes the decision not to tell Troy's parents or anyone else, thinking no one would even care. Things escalate when a group of teens botch a kidnapping in hopes of getting Troy's leftover drugs, and the child's mother is too distracted with her upcoming nuptials to notice her son's absence.

    This could either end up being a smart black comedy about teenage society like Heathers or a really strange biopic like Napoleon Dynamite which is ultimately pointless. The title is a little bit odd, but I'm presuming that chum is really helping the box office in an otherwise stagnant year (see also, Wedding Crashers where two chums crash weddings, and March of the Penguins where thousands of chum-guzzling penguins walk around and do stuff).

    This afternoon, I'm going to be giving the first of three parts of A Whirlwind Tour of Music in a seminar series at work. Every Thursday, someone can volunteer to speak about a technical or not-so-technical topic while listeners eat their delivered food from a local restaurant. Since all good things come in sets of three (with the notable exception of The Matrix, Star Wars, The Karate Kid, and Home Alone), I'll be doing an introduction to reading music, highlights of Western music, and highlights of Jazz over the next three Thursdays. I may post the web pages after I'm all done, but they probably won't be very interesting without all the musical samples and my glorious baritone voice explaining everything.

    Her desire to cuddle after sex does not justify the extremely violent, brutal response of the defendant.
    Hit n' Run motorist nabbed by crafty cheerleaders
    Men who never listen now have science on their side

    Yesterday's search terms:
    peeping tom toilet discotheque, play with a dog and i can feed and clean up his poop and gromit online, watermark diseases of the cricket bat, i want colourblindess book, hokie pokie midi

    permalink | 5 comments

    Friday, August 12, 2005

    Friday Fragments

  • I buy the 50-bag variety pack of snack chips at Costco which I then keep in my office to snack on for a month. The worst part of these packs is always the Nacho Cheese Doritos -- they have no real taste, and why eat Nacho Cheese when you can eat Cool Ranch? Apprently I'm in the minority, because there's always twice as many bags of these chips as there are any other type. My feelings changed this morning when I half-heartedly tore into a bag (you have to spread them out so you don't end up eating nothing but Doritos in the last week of the month) and discovered that they've changed the flavour. Now, Nacho Cheese Doritos have a very mild zing to them which greatly improves their quality. The Cheetos and Fritos are still better though.

  • A man is sitting in the lobby munching on a wheel of cheese when a starving bandit snatches it away and makes a run for the door. The man shoots to his feet and yells, "Hey! That's nacho cheese!"

  • Sorry.

  • On Wednesday, I couldn't decide what to have for dinner and I had no cheese, so I cooked the last half of a pack of bacon and two soft-boiled eggs. Booty came up to me and said, "Hello, I would like some of your bacon, sir." I ignored her so then she said, "I'm going to sit on your newspaper until you give me bacon. You will never know how this story turns out because you cannot turn to page A21. HOW DO YOU LIKE ME NOW?" I then pushed her off the coffee table and she punched Amber in the face for no good reason. Amber said "Ow, you bitch" and both cats went tearing down the hall away from my bacon.

  • You can always identify a cat-liker because they tell stories involving their cats. You can always tell who the cat-lovers are because they make up cute dialog for what the cats are thinking during the story.

  • Instead of further whining about Tatu, I've decided to devote some energy to improve their dolphin-speak. I have found the perfect song for them to license instead of the Smith's How Soon Is Now. It's John Cage's legendary song, 4'33" . I would definitely buy the single and play it all day long.

  • There's a local company called College Hunks Hauling Junk . "You're not a real man until you go to the dump," Suzuki said. "That's my philosophy". I approve of the rhyming couplet approach to naming a company. Fashion designers opening outlet stores could be "Fops With Shops" and Florida-Mike could call his web design business "Non-Jewish Whites Making Sites". If I ever get around to starting my own record company, I would probably call it "Post Grad Stud Producing Duds" and payola my way into an Ashlee Simpson hit. Incidentally, I loved when she got boo'ed for her halftime performance last year, but I really wish the audience had gotten violent. How ironic would it have been if her career had ended with Pieces of Me? All over the stage?

  • One of the reasons I like J.J. Abrams shows like Lost and Alias is that he spends a lot of camera time on the faces of his actors. With good actors who aren't just phoning it in, this gives an added layer of subtlety to the emotions of the characters. I don't think this would work as well on a show like The Simpsons, but if anyone could do it, it'd be J.J.

  • In the movies and on TV, there are specific camera procedures that must be followed when the protagonist is looking for something out of the ordinary. First, you film the actor from behind as he enters the storage room or graveyard (the most popular places to find stuff). The actor will pretend to be at a loss, and glance in all directions. At this point, you fast-edit to a camera on the actor's right, usually at ground level looking up. From here, the actor will look straight ahead (the thing is never there), then look to the right past the camera (never left!). The actor will then squint a little bit and realize that they've found something. The camera cannot cut away until the actor has milked the dumb expression on his face and starts walking towards the treasure, doohickey, or tombstone. For added artistry, the actor will shine the flashlight directly at the camera before finding the object.

  • I like to take pictures of weird cloud formations and I don't know why. Usually I delete the pictures without ever posting them. On the way home yesterday, I saw a cloud that looked like a perfect 3D imitation of Goofy's head and face. I didn't have a camera though, so why would anyone believe me?

  • Last night we went to TGIFriday's for dinner where I had some tasty chicken fingers. There was a time when I disliked any breaded chicken products that weren't fake and from McDonald's, and when I wouldn't even consider dipping in anything other than sweet and sour sauce. This must mean I'm all grown up.

  • Tomorrow, I'm signed up for two separate poker games spaced four hours apart in opposite ends of town. Sunday, I have fun lunch plans and then I'm hosting a birthday party with the family for my sister. Monday, I'll be onsite at DISA in Bailey's Crossroad to support some testers. I have no plans yet for Tuesday but I expect them to involve the disabling of a nuclear device. If not, then maybe I'll just take a very long afternoon nap. Naps are key.

  • I also need to go shoe shopping this weekend. The soles fell off my running shoes at the first company soccer game in May and I still haven't gotten around to buying a new pair. This has led to the discovery that my brown shoes are the most comfortable shoes in the history of shoes, but it doesn't really help when I want to wear shorts outside, unless I'm going for the Japanese School Boy look.

  • On my way to work today, my elbow was itching from a hanging thread on my sleeve. I looked down to pull it out and saw that it wasn't really a thread -- it was a little albino spider pretending to be a thread. After driving off Wiehle Avenue and into a ditch, I killed it. If I go into encephaletic shock this evening and you need to make the antidote, the spider is probably somewhere on the floor mats, cooking in the Friday heat. I did not actually drive into a ditch -- that was a hyperbole. Hyperboles are key, because without them this site would be dull and only have boles, and really, no one likes tree trunks that much.

  • Here's a news story about a double bigamist who got caught when all his wives visited him in the hospital . If there are three wives, "double bigamist" seems like a rather confusing term. Maybe "Double Bigamist with Cheese" or "Supersizamist" would be better. Speaking of marriage, I sincerely hope that my future wife, wherever she is out there, does not turn out to be a blood relation . One more reason to like Caucasian girls!

  • Is my site guy-friendly or girl-friendly ? I think I fit both categories. Now all I need is an Ebert-esque figure to proclaim, "The URI! Zone is popular with the ladies!"

  • I think I need a haircut.

  • Yesterday's search terms:
    random vomit, urisat, tulsa welding school, bear hunting handicapped chompy

    tagged as fragments | permalink | 20 comments

    Monday, August 15, 2005

    I would say that my weekend was pretty hectic, but my outlook on such things might be skewed. Having long ago relinquished the title of Social Butterfly of Loudoun County, I consider any weekend busy if I go outside the house more than four times in a single day (bonus points for getting in my car and driving somewhere. Beep beep, monsieur!)

    On Friday evening, I cleaned the house and recorded some music examples for my presentation, and then Jack came over for some miscellaneous socializing. Saturday's opener was my typical shopping gambit, where I hit the gas station and the grocery store, pissing off the clerks by getting more cash back than they have in their drawers at such an early hour. I then went to Costco for assorted meat products, followed by Rack Room Shoes for new sneakers. The shoe store turned out to be closed, so I took it as a sign that Saturday-shoe-shopping was not in the cards and went home. Of course, I could have waited around for the mere 20 minutes until opening, but that would be far too logical. Procrastination is in my blood and I am still shoeless.

    Florida-Kathy packed up and moved out of the basement Saturday afternoon, so my home is once again squatter-free. I think she stole my hand towel out of the bathroom though. Thief. Around 5, I went over to Chris' in Ashburn to play a $20 poker game with Richard and Chris' friend, William (Chris and Richard were a few years ahead of me in marching band at Tech). Five hours later, I was in 2nd place (which is equivalent to last place when it's winner-take-all). From there I dove into the Bootymobile and hit Anna & Ben's house in scenic south-side Manassas for a second game of poker. I got there too late to jump in, but I did get to deliver my patented FOB chocolate chip cookies (F.resh O.utof B.ox). It's just not Poker Night without my cookies.

    On Sunday, I went to Subway for lunch with Kim, who was up in the 'Ling volunteering at Petsmart to clean dirty kitten cages (but really just looking for Booty-rific kittens to steal). I got the 6" Cold Cold Trio on white, which has recently been renamed as the Cold Cut Combo. I think this means they added a piano player, but I couldn't taste any difference. Sunday afternoon was marked with a barbeque for my sister's 29th birthday -- her husband, Dan, and my parents came out as well. Amber stole a Tostito out of the bowl, and also sat on the birthday cake. There was plastic wrap on top, but her inherent gravitational force made most of the words and the frosting come off with the plastic. Incidentally, look at how good I've gotten at dropping the names of the people I associate with -- I like to think of myself as a figurative crossbow bolt of association on a critical trajectory of intersection with the lives of innocent bystanders. (The heck?)

    While over at Chris', I was reminded of a fellow who I hadn't thought about in years. Mike Saunders, who everyone called "Hubcap", was a freshman trumpet player in the marching band at Tech in 1998. His name was always on everyone's lips and he was very well-connected for a freshman. The section leaders initially had misigivings about passing his audition because he was some kind of triple major, which meant that he wasn't at practice often. Luckily, he managed to get in as the 64th trumpet (the section was always capped at 63). Hubcap was a stand-up guy and even people in the other sections of the band liked him. He threw great parties, which culminated in his inclusion in the MV Trumpets Slot Machine (3 Hubcaps was worth 10 bottles of Gold Bond).

    By the end of the 1998 football season, Hubcap was so popular that he got the award for Outstanding Freshman in the marching band. Unfortunately, he transferred to another school after his freshman year, but even years later, people in the band would always talk about "that Mike Saunders" guy.

    So what's the punchline? Mike Saunders did not exist. Mike Saunders was the product of a bunch of bored trumpet players on an Abbott bus to northern Virginia. His name quietly appeared on the trumpet rosters and then everyone made a point to drop his name in any appropriate slot in the conversation. Ridiculous party busted up by the cops? "Yeah, I hear that Hubcap herded all the underagers into a closet so they wouldn't get caught." Someone steal a giant trash can with Vanderbilt University etched on the side? "Hubcap told the field crew he was on the Vanderbilt staff and they believed him, even though he was in a band uniform!" Someone playing the Hokie Pokie four octaves too high? "Sorry, Jay, it was Hubcap."

    By the time the embarassing Music City Bowl in Nashville had come and gone, Hubcap was a household name, there were regular sycophants in the woodwind sections who claimed to be his best bud, and the band directors occasionally remarked that he wasn't at practice very often. His lack of attendance was blamed on his 25 credit courseload and the fact that he was constantly travelling to other universities as part of the University Outreach program. I'm reasonably certain we didn't have an Outreach program.

    How did Mike Saunders get the Outstanding Freshman award? It's simple math. In a band of 330, the trumpet section was the largest at 63. Hubcap got 20% of the vote without contest, and probably more since we were actively telling other sections to vote for him if they couldn't think of anyone better. Unfortunately the endgame was nullified when word leaked out at the Band Banquet. Before Hubcap could be announced in the awards ceremony, the director had removed the "Mike Saunders" plaque from the trophy and awarded it to the freshman who had been a distant 2nd.

    In honor of Hubcap, I have resurrected the 1999 Edition of the Slot Machine -- it's an old-school mutation written purely in JavaScript which you can play at work when there's nothing better to do. Fun fact: David Miller, the all-time high scorer with 3106996 bottles of Gold Bond sat in his room for hours on end, clicking on the Play! button. For his single-minded devotion, he was given the nickname "Jackpot" in marching band. Another fun fact: The internal JavaScript code for a Jackpot is "222".

    The message is fine; just dial it down a little.
    Driver cites PlayStation, fear of jail in explaining dangerous bid for freedom
    Oops, how'd that get there?

    Yesterday's search terms:
    what do you do when you're cooped up in a hotel room between shows, tc williams prom 2004, diarrhea cartoons and pictures, cats with maggots, fried chicken .midi

    tagged as memories, day-to-day | permalink | 8 comments

    Tuesday, August 16, 2005

    For the life of me, I could not decide what to write about today. I didn't get home until late yesterday, having spent the afternoon sitting in a freezing lab watching automated tests run on a computer I didn't have clearance to touch (easily more boring than watching snot climb up a wall), and I had very little patience for sitting in front of another computer to be creative. I bought an esophagus-clogging quarter pounder with cheese for dinner (it's such a bad idea for me to ever carry cash anywhere) and found that the price has risen by thirty cents, just like the half-tank of gas I used up today in the three hour jaunt through northern Virginia.

    For inspiration, I wandered around the house doing random tasks, like taking pictures of the cats. The portaits above are what my cats would look like if you were a very brave mouse standing on your back paws. This gave me the idea of creating some kind of photo-blog entry today, using pictures my dad sent me recently. The picture on the left is of me in 1981 at the 4H Fair. I had just been sneezed upon by a cow and apparently this was not good for business. The picture on the right is of my sister and I with Fred Flintstone. Apparently Fred had some kind of viral meningitis spawning on his right foot. You can also see the iron-on knee patches inside my pants, doing their very finest "George W. Bush's Coat During a Debate" impression.

    If that were the whole update, it would suck, much like this update did: . The new URI! Zone is not allowed to suck anymore (your mileage may vary), so I went online to get ideas from the myriad of BU's denizens. I know some pretty smart people, so I figured they would be able to combat this paucity of wit:

    Internet 1, BU 0. Since it didn't look like inspiration would be arriving on my doorstep, I gave up. I will leave you all with this story from my youth in lieu of a real update:

    When I was in elementary school, sit-ups were part of the Presidential Physical Fitness Test. These were the old-fashioned hands-behind-the-head situps, not those new age arms-across-the-chest ones. Kids would pair up and see how many situps they could do in one minute, then hold the feet of their partner. One year, I was paired up with a kid named Tony, who decided that he would be the first person to break the school record, which was 70 situps in a minute or something ridiculous. He cautioned me to hold his feet as tightly as possible so he didn't slide around on the foot-flavoured rubber mat. I braced him like I was plugging a hole in the dike, the whistle blew, and he was off!

    Now Tony had neglected to mention the fact that he'd had baked beans or some similar entrée for lunch. From the start of his very first sit-up, he was painting the elevator like nobody's business, and each expulsion of effort to reach a sitting position was musically accompanied by a contrapuntal line of Fart. His consistency was quite commendable, since he was able to accompany roughly two-thirds of his sit-ups with the musical saw. Kids on either side of him interrupted their workouts and rolled out of harm's way with cries of panic, but Tony was a boy on a mission in a foreign land of sights and smells (but mostly smells).

    As promised, I held his feet to the bitter end. Or not so much bitter, as piquant, as only a swirling miasma of poo in the morning can be.

    He only made it to 50.

    Wal-mart tries new approaches to ending shoplifting
    Man goes to department store after doing sit-ups
    Boys sell themselves into slavery to mom

    Yesterday's search terms:
    rhino pee wmv, verizon eats poop, you have between your legs an instrument that can provide pleasure to thousands yet all you do is scratch it, showers in ambler johnston, barnyard tv

    permalink | 4 comments

    Wednesday, August 17, 2005

    John Basedow is easily the scariest-looking self-proclaimed "fitness celebrity" of them all. John is the promoter of the Fitness Made Simple workout program that regularly advertises during syndicated television shows. He's the guy with the scrawny (yet still out of proportion) head on top of a leathery-chicken-breast body who looks eerily like a friend I had in eighth grade named Ian. If John is the living example of what the fitness program can do for average Joe America, I'm not particularly impressed. Based solely on the pictures and customer testimonials, here is an unscientific list of what you can expect when you use this program:

    1) All the veins in your body will be swapped out and put in your head, and all the arteries in your head will be moved into your body. This will give the appearance that your head was a recent morgue prop on an episode of Cold Case, while the rest of you just walked off Miami Beach and fell into a tanning bed for twelve hours on the microwave popcorn setting. (Fun Fact: The blue pigment code of John Basedow's forehead is 222).

    2) Your body will shrink, but your head will remain the same size. I think the physics of this is similar to roasting a duck without the hoisin sauce, but I'm not entirely sure. Rumour has it that John Basedow was the artistic inspiration for the South Park character, Mr. Mackey.

    3) Small helium balloons will be injected into various parts of your body and inflated to look like a garish effigy of real muscles. The experts are still out on whether this is extremely avant-garde art or just part of John's long term plans to turn the American people into unwitting pack mules for the Mexican drug cartels.

    4) You will have to take Before and After shots, though you won't necessarily need to wait between taking the pictures. For the Before picture, destroy your posture, stand in a dark room, and jiggle the camera slightly when the shutter opens. For the After pictures, wear a swim suit and flex, standing straight up and sucking in the gut you still have.

    My feelings on the aesthetics of muscles are simple: If your veins look like they were burrowed by earthworms or you seem to have an economy-size case of scabies, you have too many muscles. If you can ever point to a muscle as a distinct entity and you can see where it begins and ends, your muscle is too big. You don't need to have visible muscles to be strong. As a short guy, I must constantly exceed peoples' expectations of how strong I am just to spite the stereotype. This doesn't mean I'm ripped though -- I conceal my muscles behind my baggy clothes and my soft, youthful Oriental skin so that if I ever have to jump a biker in the parking lot of Hooter's to avenge my woman's honour, I'll have the element of surprise on my side. You laugh now, but just wait until that day comes.

    I'm planning on starting my own fitness regime with a catchy name like BU BUNS or maybe Muscle Furi! I've already taken the Before and After pictures for your viewing pleasure. The only part missing from the After picture was the hot supermodels hanging off my shoulders like epaulets. If any Zone visitors would like to volunteer for this career-making photographic opportunity, please send me 5x7 or 8x10 glossies of you in a bathing suit and I will get back to you (women preferred).

    In a fit of productivity, I also added eleven more Things About Me for you to read . Only twenty more until I have a full list!

    Bunny saves wife
    Lions dig Mini Coopers
    Fish catches man

    Yesterday's search terms:
    gwyneth paltrow and chris martin's wedding pictures, the super mario brothers theme song for the tenor sax, weight gain chart for maine coon, rent the weinermobile, 10 donkeys 3 circles brain teasers, can you let me see a picture of peter griffin fighting the chicken

    tagged as mock mock | permalink | 3 comments

    Thursday, August 18, 2005

    The fear of Internet boobies has been taken to the next level, with the Bush administration "objecting to the creation of a .xxx domain, saying it has concerns about a virtual red-light district reserved exclusively for Internet pornography." . Isn't that the whole point of creating the domain? Coupling this domain with a simple rule forcing adult site owners to use the suffix could be very effective. What's wrong with an Internet that keeps boobies from protruding into safe zones by having a street set aside specifically for pornography, Vin Diesel, and Ice Cube?

    Some people believe that creating the domain will legitimize pornography, which is just silly. Whether the domain is there or not, it's a simple fact that adult content makes up a very large and visible portion of the Internet. Even the URI! Zone, for all its harmless trappings and fun colours, is really a very peculiar fetish site (you freaks). If all the dirty pictures were rounded up and corralled into the new domain, it would be that much easier for people to avoid it, and my visitors would no longer accidentally fall into a porn puddle by going to www.uridomain.com instead.

    I'm sure one of the groups grumbling about the new domain is the Internet filtering industry. If adult sites were clearly identified by the xxx suffix, their already useless parental-filter software would become obsolete, and they would have no further excuses for blocking sites with legitimate content that's politically on the wrong side of the fence. Do people even use or trust filtering software anymore? I have a feeling that the only person standing in line to buy the next version of CyberNanny will be Jude Law, and then only because he has misconceptions about what the software actually does .

    The weakest argument of the bunch is from the Family Research Council, who state that "Pornographers will be given even more opportunities to flood our homes, libraries and society with pornography through the .XXX domain." How is registering a new site in the .xxx domain any different from registering www.squirrel-lovers.com and www.squirrel-lovers2.com? There's already an infinite amount of possibilities -- having a new top-level domain does not necessarily mean that site operators will get more creative in their naming schemes or exponentially increase the number of sites they run. If the FRC turns out to be correct in their assumption, I will eat my words and be the first person in line with sandbags to protect the local libraries from the imminent flood of cleavage. Incidentally, I think an avalanche of boobies would be a great way to end a disaster movie. Maybe the hero is stuck in a prosthetics factory and he sets off the boobie trap (!) which rains millions of implants down upon the city of San Francisco. I would definitely see that one in the theatres, even at eight bucks a ticket.

    In other news, the residents of Herndon said that they supported the new xxx domain, as long as the servers were not put in their backyards, and as long as everyone browsing the domain could prove they were not visiting illegally. Lobbyists on the other side want an easement on the last caveat, saying that it might cause discrimination against the "barely legal".


    Today I present A Whirlwind Tour of Music II: Highlights of Western Music at work. Wish me luck.

    The bomb is in the baby!
    It's not a theft, it's a debt!
    Because, so far as we can tell, everything he's created for TV has failed -- except, of course, the interesting pregnancy story line on ABC's "Alias" -- Ben Affleck is "in talks" to write a new drama series.

    Yesterday's search terms:
    oysters that climb trees in the caribbean, moulin rouge midis, my wife and me havine fun, septic tanks and tapeworms

    tagged as newsday, politics | permalink | 10 comments

    Friday, August 19, 2005

    Friday Fragments

  • I don't find Gatorade commercials refreshing in the least bit. When I see famous and not-so-famous athletes sweating profusely and the sweat seems to caramelize into M&Ms of salty bodily fluids, I don't think, "Oh boy, that is refreshing. I shall have to try drinking some Gatorade so I too can sweat in pastels." I just think, "That's pretty gross." If the Tidee Bowl Corporation ever invents a diuretic, I sincerely hope they don't show famous people peeing blue pee. I suppose a laxative, "Tidee Bowel" would have an even worse commercial. How the heck do you spell Tidee Bowl anyhow?

  • Speaking of commercials, here's a funny Milk commercial forwarded to me by Anna: (1MB WMV)

  • Lost: Season One on DVD in 18 days. I will be watching the entire thing again before the next season starts, so if you've never watched it, you should definitely join me for a Lost party, complete with funny jungle drinks and tiki umbrellas. I still haven't finished the second season of 24, but I blame Anna who moved out before our watch-TV-and-workout cycle ended. I've also heard good things about a show called Firefly which is currently sitting in my Amazon cart with the eight million other products that catch my interest daily (luckily I don't end up buying most of it). To round out the TV portion of this fragment (read: the whole damn thing), I will probably pick up the second season of Arrested Development and the first season of Scrubs someday, and I really wish they'd get around to releasing the rest of Malcolm in the Middle which has been entangled in music licensing issues for years now.

  • The first roller coaster I ever went on was the Loch Ness Monster at Busch Gardens with my mom and Michael Buns. This was in ninth grade, because I was not tall enough for any of them until that year. The last roller coaster I went on was the Top Thrill Dragster in 2003 . It was fun but not worth the three-hour wait. This fragment came about because I was trying to perfect a phrase similar to "beats you about the head and shoulders more than riding on the Anaconda at King's Dominion" and started thinking about roller coasters. The fragment which would have used that phrase did not make the final cut of my post. Sorry to disappoint.

  • The Anaconda really does kind of suck though.

  • There's no stronger evidence of how stupid people are than reading about the clowns who chose to drive on the Woodrow Wilson Bridge last weekend solely because the previous construction warnings did not result in any gridlock (see Figure A). The reason there was no traffic last time was because morons like you stayed home. Moron. In keeping with a recently popular theme of this site, I think the Department of Transportation should have distracted the gridlocked drivers with roadside exotic dancers, in a show aptly called, "Tits and Asphalt".

  • Christopher Walken Runnen for President in 2008 . Yes, I know it's fake, but that would be a very awesome election. I would definitely be torn between voting for Arnold or Walken, regardless of their respective platforms, and such a race would actually compel me to watch a few debates in the months leading up to the election. When it comes to politics, I usually watch just enough to glean a few out-of-context remarks which I can then make fun of on my site and then turn the TV off.

  • This weekend, I'm helping someone move from the third floor of one building to the sixth floor of another building (see Figure A). Does this count as moving a total distance of nine floors, or just three floors (since the potential energy of boxes going down the stairs cancels out the energy going back up)? I need to know so I can generate the invoice and charge heftily for my services. Who needs College Hunks Hauling Junk when you've got Brian Uri! in a Hurry? It's time to put those Hooters-biker muscles to work.

  • Notice how many references I made to older news posts in the previous fragment. That's called "pandering to the faithful audience". It makes you feel like this site is worth visiting religiously because otherwise you might miss out on some in-jokes. I want to go to the discotheque, but I'll probably be out back smoking crack with Zulfin. Greece.

  • I wish more words rhymed with Uri!. There really aren't many, even though the exclamation point is silent.

  • If you don't already read it, The Superficial is a very funny celebrity news site . I've never picked up an entertainment rag at the supermarket, but I used to read Entertainment Weekly online all the time until they got greedy and started charging for accounts. I find the ridiculous situations celebrities get themselves into like a train wreck that you can't look away from, albeit a very beautiful train wreck with gold rims on the wheels. It's almost addictive -- someday I'd like to become famous, just to see how all these crazy celebrities got that way. Would I donate my baby to the Kaballah and shun psychiatrists too?

  • Ruby Tuesday is back to advertising their big fatty burgers rather than healthy entrées . I think this is an excellent strategy, since I want to go to a restaurant with great tasting food, regardless of how healthy it is (see Figure A). I'd like to see a restaurant with the balls to say "our food is so unhealthy that pig-fat will ooze out of every porous inch of your skin, but damn is it good!" -- a restaurant where they're willing to cook your steak so rare that it could be the MacGuffin on an episode of Duck Tales with no stretch of the imagination. I would eat there every day and await the watershed date in 2012 when the National Institute of Health suddenly discovers that fatty food actually defends against heart disease (and also protects you from skin cancer).

  • I have a new song to make fun of at all times. It's M.I.A's Bucky Done Gun, some atrocious dance tune from the U.K (371KB MP3). I would almost rather hear another one of U2's musical genocides than hear this song one more time. Speaking of U2, they should really get a Mulligan which teleports them back to the early 90s when they had good songs.

  • You may have noticed that today's post has been elegantly illustrated with fast pen sketches. Every figure is Figure A, because I'm giving you only the finest in pen and ink illustrations. My readers are too good for the B list.

  • I'm almost out of Post-It Notes. However, I am willing to auction off the originals of my sketches, with the proceeds going to a new pack of Post-Its. These sketches are exceedingly rare, even rarer than my painting, Blue Bus From Hell, but you can own one for only twenty-five cents each. What a bargain!

  • I like Fridays. I try to work a little extra during the week so I can call the game on account of rain around noontime and leave work early (this is really not hard to do when you arrive between 6 and 6:30 every day). Friday is also the day I get a two-piece meal (with fries, dark meat, and mild seasoning) from Popeyes on the way home. Didn't Popeyes used to have an apostrophe? And what happened to Popeye as store mascot? Regardless, it's an afternoon of tasty treats. After lunch I relax by doing random tasks which involve some kind of puttering within or without the house.

  • Have a good weekend, and I'll see you next week!

  • Virginians slug it out for $50 laptops
    Why mom should not be your getaway driver
    An innovative approach to the dating game

    Yesterday's search terms:
    jane ire, bryan richards murdered, "how to avoid huge ships" weird, annoying five for fighting chase commercial

    tagged as fragments | permalink | 9 comments

    Monday, August 22, 2005

    I sore on a stack of Bibles that I wouldn't t'ache today's update to talk about my weekend of moving and it pains me to go back on that, but I figured that at least I could mention how stiff I am so you'd know that I wasn't just pulling your muscle. I'll spare you the whole soredid tale, but if anyone has some pain-relieving bruise I could quaff, I could leave this world of hurt.

    I'll give you a moment to cauterize that horrible introductory paragraph from your brain before continuing.

    On Saturday, four of us split an apartment of two into two Apartments of One1, near my old stomping grounds in Alexandria. One of them moved up to an efficiency on Seminary Road and the other moved into the Hamlets, by William Ramsey Elementary where I went to Kindergarten. The apartments were all overhauled and renamed with yuppy-friendly names like Brookdale, Hillwood, and Creekruncliffsloperidge (Indian name), but to me they'll always be the Hamlets. It's just like College Park in Blacksburg -- you might rename it to The Village to attract more non-college kids, but we all see those loud keggers on the third floor through your gauzy veil of obfuscation.

    On Sunday, there was more miscellaneous moving and assembling, as well as a trip to Ikea to pick up the one critical piece of the Ikea bed which is sold separately. It was called a Dokka, which is Ikean for "midbeam". My move-o-meter is exhausted for at least a month, so if any of you reader-clowns are going back to college or are planning on getting evicted, I will eloquently decline to help you.

    There's a massive bruise on my right forearm, about halfway between my wrist and elbow. People at work today are either going to think I was giving myself hickies, or I'm really bad at shooting up intravenous drugs, and I'm not sure which story I should lean towards. Because I lack the energy to write my original article for today, I'll leave you with a list of three people I knew who used to live in the Hamlets:

    • Ali Tagoe: A guy I knew in junior high who was often forced to endure childish jokes involving his last name and food delivery. I think his mom was very strict because he wasn't allowed to come over a lot. Once I called his house and said "Is Ali there?" and his mom read me the riot act. Apparently, that's not how you're supposed to use the telephone. She told me to hang up and call again, this time saying, "Hello, this is Brian. May I please speak with Ali?"
    • Ian Nauroth: A close friend I had in eighth grade, after which he moved to Pennsylvania. We used to bike through the woods near Holmes Run to this abandoned dirtbike track and get all muddy jumping over all the brooks, hills, dales, runs, and creeks. During summer vacation, he would call every day and just sit on the phone all day long while he did stuff. Since this was before the advent of cordless phones and call-waiting, it was mind-numbingly dull, so I finally had my sister tell him I had gone on a month-long vacation with another friend, James Houck.
    • Pat Skelly: She was the big, scary lunch lady at James K. Polk Elementary. She could walk out of the kitchen and the entire cafeteria would go radio-silent. Then she'd menacingly point at the table which was making too much noise and proclaim, "Table Two is SILENT," which meant that people at table two were no longer allowed to talk for the rest of the lunch period. She babysat my sister and I one summer -- the two of us would wander off to the Mark Winkler Botanical Preserve and play in the radioactive creek while she watched Perry Mason all day long. This familiarity meant that the following year, we could sit at the special cafeteria table and could talk all we wanted. We were so cool.

      Incidentally, after she left, the new lunch lady could not control the cafeteria in the least bit. They had to buy a Yacker Tracker to hang on the wall which monitored noise levels. The light would go from green to yellow to red and then a high-pitched siren would go off if things got too loud. This didn't work because everyone hated the new lady (she looked funny, which gave justifiable cause for elementary school hatred) so we all just tried to make the siren go off as often as possible.
    Two bigots, a small hippie, and a side of fries, please

    Yesterday's search terms:
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    1: Legality of this phrase is dependent upon my successful negotiations with the U.S. Army.

    tagged as memories | permalink | 6 comments

    Tuesday, August 23, 2005

    I have a little over three weeks until I turn twenty-six -- I got a big laugh at my last music presentation after telling the audience that I wasn't born until three years after A Fifth of Beethoven was mixed by the Walter Murphy Orchestra. For the lifespan of these daily updates, birthdays have not been a big deal; they were just a day where I took off from work and made filler updates like this one , and I think Number 26 will be no different. Since it'll be on a Thursday this year, I may take two days off from my limitless vacation pool and squander them by doing nothing of historical value. I can't even think of any gifts I'm particularly interested in, so if you're having troubles thinking of something, you are welcome to buy me absolutely nothing at all and I will cherish it forever. I like giving gifts more than getting them anyhow.

    When you're growing up, birthdays are all about becoming more mature. My birthday coincides fairly nicely with the start of the school year (since by law, Virginian kids can't go to school until Labor Day so King's Dominion's high school employees can get two more weeks of slave labour in). At each birthdate in my formative years, I remember looking back at the previous school year's gaffes, pitfalls, and embarassing moments, and wondering how I could have been so foolish or naïve. I would resolve not to let things like those happen again, and comfort myself with the fact that "I now know better". Of course, it was also naïve of me to think each year that I was as mature as I could ever get, only to revisit the timeline one year later and repeat the exact same thought process. Apparently pattern recognition is not possibly when you apply it to yourself.

    Eventually, this cycle of evaluation fades away and you start to realize that you're finally getting older without getting any more mature. Perhaps you have fewer regrets, or you've just run out of stupid situations to fall into, but either way you wake up the day after your birthday (or three if you like your birthdays in bars) and realize that not a whole lot has changed. I'd say that for me this turning point was my 22nd birthday, during my first year in Florida. Yes, I was in completely different surroundings, but I really didn't feel like I had changed a whole lot in the previous year, or learned dramatic new philosophies or epiphanies. I learned new things about the world and myself in the following years, but nothing that would have really made a differencein the previous years -- like I was just buying new mental furniture instead of having to constantly figure out how I was misusing the old.

    I think most people go through these two phases of life though they may never put a name to it (and there may be more phases to come, but I haven't lived that long yet). Where people differ is how they react to the realizations. Do they become depressed because they're just getting older without many inner-self-altering changes under the hood? Or are they comfortable because they now have a foundation of character that they can trust to be 100% self? I fall squarely into the latter category -- I'm relieved that the awkward experimentation phase of life is over and probably wouldn't change a single thing about it (even if I didn't always like where things were headed at the time). Though I don't know where the road leads from here, I can see how everything has come together up to this point. Even though I'm not exactly where I expected to be at 25.93424 years of youth, I'm happy with where I'm at, the things I've done, and the people currently in my life.

    I don't like life surprises -- I wouldn't want to wake up next year forced to re-evaluate the way things work, so feeling comfortable with my core self means that there's one less thing to worry about should the world decide to shake things up for good or for bad in the coming year. (And the world does do stuff like that. The world can be a little bitch sometimes). Should life-changing events occur now, like great grandchildren, marriage, or partial paralysis from a freak tuna fish mishap (not necessarily in that order), by golly, I'll be ready for them!

    I'm also thankful that my mistakes and pitfalls are usually pretty low-key. When a VT friend, Nikki, visited me in Florida, all my Florida friends wanted to hear embarassing stories from my VT years, but she couldn't think of any. When I told Anna I'd introduce her to someone from high school, she said she would want to hear all the shocking stories of high-school-BU. Luckily, enough years have gone by so my high school years are now one seamless airtight alibi of good behaviour and devoid of any embarassing moments. I've been coming into contact with a lot of forgotten faces from high school recently, and all they can remember about me is that I was the "really short kid".

    For fun, here are two embarassing moments from my childhood that I would love to do over (both more than a decade ago, so my recent prehistory can remain the parable of flawless behaviour that it is today):

  • In seventh grade, I wrote an anonymous mushy poem to an eighth-grade girl I liked and secretly put it in her locker. Despite the cloak and dagger routine, she knew who it was because I followed her around like a lost puppy all day long, much to the chagrin of her and her friends. In my defense, I was only eleven years old in seventh grade, so I was admirably socially inept in the world of boys and girls together ("playin' funny games").

  • I was at a summer music camp at Longwood College after tenth grade, watching some other kids play tennis. After much supportive coaxing, they convinced me to play with a borrowed racket. On the very first return, I somehow managed to trip over the racket and tumble to the clay in front of two hot flute players. I opened a two inch abrasion on my shoulder (the scar of which is still visible today) and scratched up the racket pretty badly. Were it not for my heavenly cornet playing, they all probably would have laughed much longer and harder, but I think they were as embarassed for me as I was. "It's a good thing he's got that music thing going on, because tennis certainly won't pay the bills."
  • There's another one involving my Freshman Prom, but it's an epic tale and far too long for today's update. If my loyal readers really want to hear it, I'll write it up someday, and then crawl into a hole and hide.

    This cat video of Amber is too cute not to post: (631KB WMV)

    Happy Birthday Ann Lamond!

    Piano man was a hoax
    Cloned wildcats have kids
    I wonder if they got to keep the gifts

    Yesterday's search terms:
    latest news about lea salonga, should wisdom teeth always be extracted in teens, i have to kill you because you can identify me

    tagged as memories, deep thoughts | permalink | 7 comments

    Wednesday, August 24, 2005

    The complete set of Calvin and Hobbes cartoons is being released as a massive hardback tome: . This is excellent. Calvin and Hobbes is my favourite comic strip, probably followed in no particular order by The Far Side and the very early Peanuts (the collections from the 1950s). Sluggy Freelance was pretty decent until it decided to start sucking and never recovered.

    I can't decide whether it was good that Calvin and Hobbes stopped in its prime, or whether a few more years would have been nice. Two cartoons which should end immediately and unequivocally would be Garfield and the Family Circus. This opinion is rather ironic, since my family owned every single cartoon book in both series when I was a little kid. On Saturday mornings, the only cartoon I ever watched was the Garfield and Friends animated show although I hated its sister show with the barnyard animals. In retrospect, the barnyard show (there was a pig named Orson Welles or something) was probably funnier. Garfield was good for maybe three years tops, and now it's the same tired spider joke told nine million different ways. It's got a cat and sarcasm -- how can you possibly make that winning combination uninteresting? Sometimes I suspect that the creator just erases the words from old cartoons and reuses them in the daily papers. Correction: Occasionally the storyline shifts to involve Mondays, Jon getting a date, or lasagna.

    The Family Circus is just painful now, and needs a quick shotgun blast to the circle to put it out of its misery. Somewhere in the past twenty years, the thrust of the comic went from "cute things that kids say, aww how cute" to "boy you really raised some stupid and/or retarded kids". In addition, mentioning the Internet and e-mail in your comic does not automatically make your cartoon topical. If Billy was 7 in 1982 and Billy is 7 today, then he should be living in a fantasy world where e-mail does not exist. For Better or For Worse, at least, did this right. Those kids grew up over the years so talking about current events in the strip made sense. It's scary though, to see how much those kids have aged and realize that you yourself have aged an equal amount.

    Let me just add that the Family Circus cartoon on your left is plain creepy. I don't want to know what kind of pictures Bil Keane is hiding on his computer, or how Dolly discovered them. And get that raw buffalo liver off your head, Dolly.

    About twelve years ago, I took some summer cartooning classes at the Torpedo Factory in Old Town (this was when I still believed I could be a viable commercial artist without the ability to see reds and greens). I decided that I would create my own comic strip and invented the character, Shar Peng, the Oriental Pencil Sharpener (and his sidekick, Smudge). There were a few supporting characters, like Broccoli Man and T-Bone, and Shar Peng's nemesis was Pencilman. Like most of my projects, this comic strip died to apathy before the first story was ever written. I still have the sketchbook though, because I am a packrat of a higher magnitude. Among other unpolished gems are a sketch of a whale in jail with the caption, "Free Willy", a shadow study of a kneaded eraser which looks like nothing more than a pile of dog poop, and an Eggo waffle with wings (belonging to someone named Luft) .

    News flash! It was pointed out that I already wrote about how bad the Family Circus is: . Good to see that I was able to come to the same conclusions independently even if it was a year and a half ago. Two out of two BUs agree that reading the Family Circus is not conducive to high mental reasoning skills.

    2 women are killed in bizarre accident
    The family said they hoped the decision would prompt the return of the body of their relative Gladys Hammond, whose remains were stolen from a churchyard.

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    tagged as random | permalink | 7 comments

    Thursday, August 25, 2005

    Musical Motives

  • I give my last music presentation at work today, on the history and sounds of Jazz. Doing three presentations in a row was a lot of fun, but I'm glad it's all over so I can go back to doing nothing with my afternoons. I have the bad habit of signing up for too much stuff when I'm in a slow, bored period, and then wishing I were bored again when I'm insanely busy.

  • While recording samples for my presentation, I rediscovered just how much I enjoy a jazz chart that cooks. I don't really like combo jazz at all (the kind of jazz that evokes a small ensemble in a smoky room playing inaccessible melodies for their own amusement), but the sound of a solid big band chart is easily my favourite type of music, edging out all the random pop garbage I've been listening to in the past couple years.

  • I would really like to learn how to swing dance someday, but I would probably never take lessons without a partner. I consider myself a horrible "club" dancer, purely on the virtue of the fact that I'm male and I cannot see myself to know if I'm flailing like an Oriental windmill. I'm also not sure if they have windmills in China, but something has to keep the rice cool.

  • I would also like to play in a jazz band again someday. Surprisingly, I've played my trumpet for a half hour a day almost every day since I posted my Manifesto of Ambitions back in July . You can tell I'm a particularly awesome trumpet player because of the size of my veins when I play high notes. Move over, Bill Chase.

  • I like this sax soli (914KB MP3) from Cruisin' for a Bluesin' on Maynard Ferguson's Footpath Cafe, moreso because Maynard doesn't play in it. I think this is a Chip McNeill arrangement but I could be wrong. This was the song playing in the background of Tuesday's cat video. I wasn't intentionally giving Amber a theme song -- I was just recording the soli off the CD for my presentation.

  • Most of you probably don't care about jazz, so let's return to the magical land of pop music. New on my playlist this week:
    • Citizen King - Better Days
    • Fun Lovin' Criminals - Mi Corazon
    • Garbage - Why Do You Love Me
    • The Coral - In the Morning
    • The Faders - No Sleep Tonight
  • A few weeks ago, I mentioned that Kylie Minogue's music is not particularly inspired, yet I like it anyways. It must be my guilty listening pleasure -- for example, I think the interplay of the rising and falling 3rds and 6ths in I Believe in You (291KB MP3) turns an otherwise horrible dance tune into one with a few redeeming qualities. I also like the sound of her voice when she's singing in octaves with herself. Anna is right, though, when she says that Chocolate sounds like it should be the theme song of a porn flick (285KB MP3). If any of you musicologists out there aren't too busy, you should write a paper figuring out why I like Kylie's music. I'd be interested to read it.

  • I fluctuate on my opinion of the lead singer of the Cranberries. Depending on my mood, her voice has either got an interesting timbre, or it's the most annoying sound on the planet. For some reason, listening to it sometimes evokes bad memories from the 90s involving Alanis Morisette and her "Mr. Ed Sings the Blues" approach to live performance.

  • Daniel Bedingfield's The Way (414KB MP3) is another perfect example of a great song ruined by an annoying chorus. If your chorus is only two bars long, it has a 92% chance of being annoying. You should hire me to rewrite it into something more interesting. I charge no fee, only working for the love of the music, and I can also shape concrete and assemble an Ikea bed. References available upon request.

  • The chorus from The Way was stuck in my head when I went to bed last night. Pain in the ass.

  • I remember the days in the early 90's when rappers suddenly discovered that their drum machines could do 32nd notes and incorporated the rhythm into every single song. Cheesy.

  • Jason Mraz's Wordplay is very catchy just like Remedy, even if it is way too self-referential for its own good. I always like songs with rhythmic patter-y lyrics though. Something about the spewing of syllables is very appealing to my ear, like the bridge section of Rob Thomas' This is How a Heart Breaks.

  • I had some thoughts on remixes and the bleeping of lyrics, but my samples haven't finished downloading yet, so I'll save those for another day.
  • Happy Birthday Nancy!

    When I said 'assassinate' I meant 'hug' and when I said 'Chavez', I meant 'the purple Teletubby and/or Jerry Falwell'
    Respect your maid

    Yesterday's search terms:
    oops bam, pepole who want bongs, miss crustacean, bunn wackett buzzard stubble boot

    tagged as music, reviews | permalink | 5 comments

    Friday, August 26, 2005

    Friday Fragments

  • Only half the usual number of people showed up to my Jazz presentation yesterday. Either everyone is on their end-of-August vacation, or people really hate Jazz. I had three people approach me before the seminar to say that they hated Jazz (and what it turned out they hated was combo jazz). I think most people today equate Jazz with the song on the babysitter's mix tape from Jerry MacGuire.

  • In a particularly generous moment of ambition, I added fourteen new items to my 222 Things About Me page so there's only six more to go before the list is complete. Is there anything about me you'd like to know that's not covered? Let me know via my comments section because I'm running out of ideas. The lists on that page were getting rather unwieldy so I took the excuse to break down the bigger lists into sublists and more sublists. It's a veritable trove of treasure lists in there. Arr!

  • I love the
  • HTML tag (which stands for "list item" and makes those little dots in each one of these Friday Fragments). It's like a list in a can, and you can never go wrong with lists.

  • I'm rather surprised that we're approaching the end of August and I'm still going strong with meaty updates. I attribute it to my readers -- the site is now averaging about seventy visitors per day (up from fourteen per day in June). It's amazing how much more interested I am in writing now that I know there are people out there reading and enjoying what I write. My readers run the gamut from the silent Jim Barry who comes on little cat feet and then moves on without a word every day, to Anna, Kim, Paige, Rachel, Jaood, Kathy, and Florida-Mike, who pop in over their morning coffee, to Tree who regularly shares his misanthropic childhood angst about at least one of my daily topics via the comments section. Thank you all for keeping me motivated!

  • Yesterday, I received an e-mail from a first-time visitor in Utah who said she loved my writing and called me a hottie. Now in general, people don't classify me as "hot" except in one of two circumstances: either I'm moving a heavy couch or I'm cast as a water-craving extra in the Gobi Desert in a remake of the 1959 King of the Mongols (in which case the credits show me as "Hot Guy #2", and not "hottie"). That e-mail was an excellent start to my Thursday.

  • I did not regularly use the adjective, excellent, until about a month ago, but now I use it all the time. I'll have to investigate this further, but I seriously hope I'm not channeling the spirit of Keanu Reeves as Bill of Bill & Ted. That would be bogus.

  • This picture makes me smile everytime it shows up in the sidebar Calendar. All of the pictures come from other parts of this site, or older news updates and there are currently 58 possible centerfolds. Have you seen them all? Even the one of the woman having relations with a spider is in there but there's only a 1.7% chance that you'll see her. It's like winning the lottery, wouldn't you agree?

  • I get annoyed that the buttons on the ATM never line up with the text on the screen which tells you which button to push. I always have to second-guess myself and crouch down a few feet to line the text up. I've only gone to the ATM once in the past three months, so I'm not sure why my panties are in a knot about this.

  • Last night I had a dream that I was walking up Pickett Street where I lived as a kid, going to Hammond Junior High School. There was a skunk following me about fifty yards back. He was trying to look discreet like a secret agent but I noticed him the whole time. I tried to evade the skunk tail (!) but he followed me all the way into the woods by school, and then I woke up to Amber jumping on my face. On the way to work this morning, I passed two dead skunks, one on Dranesville and one on the Parkway. I have no clue as to what this means.

  • Listening to Santo & Johnny's Sleepwalk (272KB MP3) never fails to calm me, relax me, or put me in a good mood. Last weekend after poker, I was flying up Route 28 around one in the morning, windows rolled down, and no one else on the road. I was already in an unusually good mood when this song came on the radio and for some reason, the feeling it evoked really made me appreciate all the good bits of my life. I may have been born with a horseshoe up my ass for all the lucky breaks I've gotten throughout my life, but in the down times, it's sometimes hard to remember to be thankful for those good bits.

  • I know this isn't my Musical Motives day, but here's one more musical fragment for you: my definitive summer song is surprisingly not by the Beach Boys like everyone else and their mothers. It's Pleasant Valley Sunday by the Monkees. When I hear this song, I picture waking up during summer vacation as a kid -- the window is open and the air has that hot edge that says it'll be scorching by the afternoon. Over the hum of lawnmowers, I can hear the faint, but ever present thrum of traffic on I-395 a few miles away.

  • My weekend plans are a mix of work and play. I plan to do absolutely nothing on Friday night except to savour the fact that I'm no longer writing music presentations. On Saturday, my dad and I are recoating the driveway and making a giant planter box between my house and my new sidewalk. If you would like a small plot of dirt to start a flower or herb garden, let me know and I'll let you sharecrop. Disclaimer: Marijuana is not an acceptable herb, especially since my security clearance is still pending. Saturday night is Poker Night, and Sunday I've offered my steam cleaner and services towards cleaning the apartment I helped vacate last weekend. I recently incorporated my cleaning company, Hot Mug Steaming Rugs, where "Hot" is in the "moving heavy couches" sense and "Mug" is in the classic 1990s "Man, you be stupid as a mug" sense.

  • I have no plans for next week yet, but I hope they will involve pirates. Pirates make everything better. Arr! There should be pirate-themed versions of all major sports. Getting a 7-10 split would be called "clearin' the straits with yer wide-berthed barnacle buster" and linebackers would have to have peglegs.

  • Tomorrow is Mike Buns' birthday and Sunday is Wythe Newberry and Gretchen Mourer's birthday. I have not seen any of these people in a million years, but Happy Birthday anyhow! Everyone else, have a great weekend. I'll be back on Monday as always.

  • I've brought Pocket Scrabble in case we're bored. The only problem is I won't have any pockets to put it in
    Pranks of people with too much time on their hands
    Lost: What's in the hatch? (no spoilers)

    Yesterday's search terms:
    orient express coaster on quicktime, people who sell yellow lab dogs close to schenectady, recipe for groundhog deterrent

    tagged as fragments | permalink | 14 comments

    Monday, August 29, 2005

    To give you an idea of how strangely my brain is wired, here is a cautionary tale. I went to Ruby Tuesday for dinner on Friday night with Anna, and we noticed in the menus that they served bison burgers. Anna commented that it was a rather peculiar meat to make a burger out of. In the span of less than three seconds, without prompting and without conscious choice, my brain had begun searching for a punny comment to make about bison, narrowing down a wide field of mediocre contenders to a play on words of "bison-tennial". From that point, the rogue faction of my brain immediately began searching for casual words that sounded like "tennial". By then, the rest of my brain had figured out that some neurons were working off the clock and pulled the plug on the whole venture. I think the neural networks inside my brain have created a lookup table of every word I know for quick reference when it comes to making up puns. Luckily for me, people in my neck of the woods respond to puns with groans, rather than stabbing me with a red-hot poker.

    Speaking of poker, I came in 5th out of 8 on Saturday, which is a more affable way to say that I was a loser (but just for that night, of course). I've posted a few pictures on the Photos page . Tom ended up walking away with the big bucks, and Kim and Rosie, the first-timers of the night, ended up in 3rd and 4th place, As is customary for Poker Night, there were tasty cookies for eating and the final hand was decided on the river. Anna, who took second place, always seems to go out on great hands that are killed by the river. In the interests of remaining alive, I did not tell her to "cry me a river". She probably would have shot me.

    Speaking of shooting people, AudioBully's remix of Shot You Down is horrible (411KB MP3). I've never understood the whole concept of the remix -- why does every popular song need to be resampled with a thumping bass line for dancing? I don't think the world is necessarily a better place because you can go to a rave and gyrate to Theme from the Godfather. There are very few remixes that are actually worthwhile to listen to -- most of them tend to ignore the interesting parts of the original songs and overdo the whole rhythmic vamp idea. Among other bad remixes I've heard recently are the remix to Kylie Minogue's I Believe In You (which doesn't even use the chorus of the song), and pretty much any remix by the Chemical Brothers.

    What's worse than a remix though is a remix by the original artist. There's a short, inane song by Spice Girl, Emma Bunton, called Crickets Sing for Anamaria which is notable only for its planing chords and Latin rhythms. The song is less than 3 minutes long, which is a smart move because there's only about three words in the lyrics and the last half of the song is dominated by people coming (to the scene) . Not content with having a catchy but ultimately useless song, it was remixed as an insipid five minute extravaganza which sounds like nothing more than the parts of Tequila which were scissored out of the sheet music, pooped on, and burned on the mixing room floor. Another useless remix is Eminem's remix of Sing for the Moment where he sings the exact same lyrics to a different beat (217KB MP3). Sure it's catchy, but what's the point? It was just fine the old way.

    In my years as a composer, I only ever made two remixes. The first was of Florida-Alex singing solfége to Eminem's Lose Yourself. The second was a club dance remix to Jaood singing The ABC Song. It was a critical success, if not a commercial one, and you can hear it in its entirety here (194KB MP3).

    Related to remixes but infinitely better are mash-ups. A mash-up is a mix where you combine elements of two disparate songs into one, resulting in some very cool musical effects. One of my favourite mash-ups is this theme (469KB MP3) from the third season of The Sopranos, where the Theme from Peter Gunn is mashed with Every Breath You Take (I first mentioned this song back in 2002 ). The juxtaposition of the two really makes sense in the context of the scene, where gung-ho FBI agents are overzealously tailing the Soprano family. Another good mash-up is this old one of Coldplay's Scientist with Sum 41's Pieces (596KB MP3), though it really sounds as if Sum 41 just ripped off Coldplay's chord changes. I've also heard some ridiculous mash-ups, like the one mixing Eminem with the theme from Bob the Builder. That one sucked.

    Speaking of things that suck, some clown from Poker Night left several bottles of Mike's Hard Lemonade in my fridge. But wait, it's Cranberry and Lime flavoured! And it sucks! Remixes never work when they involve bottled alcohol.


    There was some drama this weekend with site slowdowns and missing updates. My site has now been moved to a faster server, so all the problems people noticed on Friday and Saturday should be a thing of the past!

    So, imagine you're the poor person who decides not to evacuate: Your house will disintegrate around you. The best you'll be able to do is hang on to a light pole, and while you're hanging on, the fire ants from all the mounds -- of which there is two per yard on average -- will clamber up that same pole. And, eventually, the fire ants will win.
    Bad virgins. BAD!
    The Scream of Liberty

    Yesterday's search terms:
    pictures of hamster sleeping, urizoo, why doesn't my grandfather chime or strike on the hour, schoolies caught nude on video, gwen stefani's religious beliefs

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    Tuesday, August 30, 2005

    Looking Forward to Being Attacked

    Looking Forward to Being Attacked is a light-hearted self-defense manual for women, written by Police Lieutenant Jim Bullard in 1977. The book is in black and white with about 90 pages, and can still be found on Amazon (God bless Amazon). The goal of the manual is to change the mindset of women as victims, providing them with simple self-defense techniques to thwart would-be attackers, molesters, and burglars.

    For example, if you are accosted by your local supermarket butcher at the golf course and he's wearing a John Deere hat, there are a few easy tricks you can use to keep him from mugging you from behind. Simply grab the arm that's choking you, take a step forward to the left, and swing him around to your right. Based on the illustration, your attacker will end up with a golf ball up his butt and you can continue on to the eighth hole in peace.

    Of course, some situations may result in injury or death, so knocking the attacker on his ass might not be enough. In those cases, you have to create weapons out of the things in your purse, like a set of car keys, a ballpoint pen, or a Chinese ninja star. As Mr. Bullard says,

      Killing him in the most efficient manner can be done with your fingertips, but it is really more efficiently done with one of those weapons you conceal about your person every day: a ball point pen, nail file, rattail comb, car keys, toothbrush, and possibly a hand ax (a hand ax, dagger, or sword are more efficient weapons than a ball point pen, but if you walk around town with a hand ax, dagger, or sword in your hand, you'll never be attacked).

    I tried this advice out myself with all of the above except the rattail comb, because I do not have a rattail, and if I did, why would I comb it? And don't even get me started on where I conceal my toothbrush on trips to the mall -- I don't even own a purse. Using just the car keys, I managed to kill four attackers, and deterred a fifth who was getting too fresh for his own good. I also tried the sword once, but I had to don a cloak and my Boots of Escaping to blend in. I don't think it's as effective, because you really need to be somewhere like a Renaissance Fair or you will cause a panic, and this means that your attacker will also have a sword, or maybe even a Lightning Bolt spell. Lightning bolt!

    Of course I couldn't effectively talk about this book on the URI! Zone without mentioning the example on the right. If Carlos Adolfo Dominguez should approach you with a bag on his head while you are waiting for the bus to go to the movies, and he places his hands on your boobies, a quick sidestep and lean will leave Carlos wishing he'd gone to the discotheque instead.

    After the step-by-step section on defusing hostile situations, there are some text-only chapters such as "Putting the Old Spark Back in Your Obscene Telephone Calls", and "Don't Shoot the Peeping Tom, He May Be Your Next Door Neighbor!". All in all, this is a very effective use for your ten bucks, and I highly recommend it.

    I found this book in a box at my parent's house, so it probably belonged to my mom at some point. I requisitioned it for my coffee table shelf as a fun conversation piece at parties (I throw excellent parties, apparently). When I get to the age where I actually eat meals at a real table rather than the coffee table, my "entertaining" coffee table will be strewn with books such as these, and NOT dull books with pictures of windmills and waterfalls. My feeling is that if you're entertaining guests and they have nothing better to do than look at pictures of China or babies with flower petals accentuating their opium-induced empty smiles, you're not doing a very good job of hosting. However, a manual such as this provides hours of entertainment, especially if you liqour the crowd up and get them to practice the moves in the book.

    Happy Birthday Chris Li!

    Credit Card for Palestinian Bomber
    He has variously expressed interest in either missionary work or the porn business. [Maybe he could combine the two. LOL!]
    Lightning bolt!

    tagged as reviews, media | permalink | 5 comments

    Wednesday, August 31, 2005

    A month ago I posted my Manifesto of Ambitions for the remainder of the year , so I thought I'd take today to show you my progress at becoming an ambitious, determined, self-motivated self-starter (with great people skills). The last day of the month is always some kind of throwaway entry, since all my regular readers are out turning tricks to pay rent on the first of the month anyhow.

    1) Finish the sidewalk:
    Any regular readers will know that the sidewalk saga ended this month, and now a quaint sidewalk engulfs over fifty percent of my house like an Aztec Pac-Man. I still need to create a planter box on the west side that matches the one on the east, but this task was rained out last weekend. Hopefully it will be finished this coming weekend. Outcome: Success!

    2) Give a three-part Lunchtime Seminar at work on music:
    The Whirlwind Tour of Music has come and gone and about forty people are now qualified to teach music in public schools. Maybe next year I'll do a couple more, so they can become tenured professors. I will probably never do three in a row again though. Outcome: Success!

    3) Start playing trumpet regularly again:
    With the exception of 4 - 5 days, I've practiced for a half hour daily all month. I hate the boring parts of practice so I spend more time playing through songs. My tone isn't where I want it to be yet (starting fresh on a Schilke 15 mouthpiece), but I have the endurance to play straight through the Ewazen, and my high range came back quite readily. Outcome: Success!

    4) Visit the dentist:
    I went to the dentist at the end of July . I never went to the oral surgeon about my wisdom teeth though. I figure they can pry them out of my cold dead body, since death is probably a more effective anesthetic than any dentist-prescribed gasses. Outcome: Success!

    5) Resurrect Poker Night / Keep Poker Night Alive:
    We've played poker every week except for one of them, and I've won once. We have enough people now where we can get a good crowd every week. In fact, we generally have to only invite people certain weeks so there's no gigantic million hour games going on (we do themed nights, such as "All Hokies", or "Ben's Extended Family" or "Anna's Immediate Family, Set 1 of 8" or "Good Friends From High School That I Only See On Poker Night Because I Never Keep In Touch With Them"). I hope that one of these weeks we do "People Worse At Poker Than I Am". That would be fun, at least for me. Outcome: Success! But No Profit.

    6) General Goal - Exercise regularly:
    I do sit-ups, push-ups, and a minute amount of biking every day, except on the days where I'm shaping concrete, doing yardwork, or moving other peoples' crap. And boy, have I moved crap this month! Outcome: Success!

    7) General Goal - Cook real food more often:
    I have decided that cooking real food is useless if you are only cooking for yourself. I have not bought raw meats (excluding hamburgers and hot dogs for festive barbeques) in months. If you want to help me achieve this goal, you need to come over for dinner and I will cook up a storm. Outcome: Failure :(. Blink tags are so annoying. I wish they were still part of the HTML standard. My entire page would blink just to piss you off.

    8) General Goal - Make more of an effort to keep in touch with the old people and the new people:
    There was a time when I would not leave a five-mile radius of my house or apartment to be social, and never initiating hang-outs on my own unless I didn't have to go anywhere. Nowadays, I do a much better job at e-mailing people I haven't heard from in a while, visiting old friends, and meeting new folks. Traffic cameras have spied me making the thirty-mile trip to Alexandria and its nearby environs not once, but multiple times this month! Ask anyone who knows me well and they'll confirm that this is something of a mini-miracle, on par with pre-cooked bacon or the discovery of an Eleventh Commandment. Outcome: Success!

    So as you can see, I have successfully completed 7 of 8 goals for the month of August. I'm off to a good start! For the month of September, I'd planned to do the following:

    1. Start composing again.
    2. URI! Zone improvements
    3. Remodel the second guest room.
    4. Shake Booty (or just remember to feed her).

    I've already sent e-mails to a few band directors I used to work with to see if they have any composing/arranging work for me. If that doesn't pan out, maybe I'll write some fun mainstream jazz charts. As for Zone improvements, I did all those in July, so that can be checked off the list. Since I also shake Booty on a regular basis, that leaves me with just one Thing To Do this month. I guess I could add "Turn 26" but there's not much work involved with that. If you have any ideas for suitable ambitions for me, please share.

    If a man wanted to wear a cowboy boot - that's the foot he would want.
    According to witnesses, the woman was laughing hysterically as she got into a car that was waiting outside with a driver.
    Professor ruins perfectly good chicken

    Yesterday's search terms:
    llamas pictures to draw, what does "your mom went to college" mean, street smart women wearing gloves beating men, bionic mouse photo, chips ahoy cookies and the 1960's

    tagged as day-to-day | permalink | 14 comments

     

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