The URI! Zone - 09/2005
A Tribute to Jerry Fletcher
Hurricane Katrina was staged by a mad scientist / evil entrepreneur as a way to humiliate the Corp of Engineers and end the war in Iraq.
The Warrior Group is a women-owned company in DeSoto, Texas, which creates modular office furniture. A few years ago, they had twelve million dollars worth of contracts to create modular barracks for the Corp of Engineers. The employee who was the contact for this particular contract was named Bob Vanhorn.
Bob Vanhorn is currently the operating systems manager for The Thriller, a high speed catamaran which can hold 40 passengers in George Town in the Bahamas. It can reach speeds of 50 MPH and execute sharp turns without instability. Tropical Storm Katrina originated just northwest of George Town.
Katrina eventually came ashore near New Orleans. Because the hurricane was not a direct hit, most of the damage came after the fact, the result of levees which could not sustain under the chaos of the storm.
Filling in the Blanks
In 2003, funding to the Corp of Engineers was cut to support the war in Iraq. The Corp of Engineers had to plead for emergency funds and divert funds from other projects to continue work on the Lousiana levees. Obviously, Bob Vanhorn was fired from the Warrior Group because the Corp defaulted on their payment for the modular barracks and he was to blame (not being a woman in the women-owned company). Because of this, he began nursing a grudge against the Corp, Louisiana, and the war in Iraq.
Bob Vanhorn moved on to the Bahamas where he perfected a whirlpool machine (disguised as a tourist attraction, the Thriller), which could generate hurricanes when used in tandem with various electronic devices (perhaps the Lightning Bolt gun mentioned here a couple days ago? Continuity!)
As Katrina became a hurricane, it made a concentrated effort to avoid the city of Hudson, FL. One Bob Vanhorn is listed in the phone book for that city. Obviously Bob did not want to damage his own town, but needed his pet hurricane to reach Louisiana.
Bob's controlled hurricane intentionally veered east of the city of New Orleans, so most of the blame could fall on the Corp of Engineers and their failure to maintain the levees.
In the wake of the hurricane, gas prices have skyrocketed, jumping twenty cents yesterday in Sterling, Virginia, and probably climbing more today. Gas rage is climbing, with some drivers killing gas station owners.
As a result of this, President Bush will have to reallocate funds to the Corp of Engineers which means he can no longer afford to sustain the war. Men from the front will also be needed to patrol the disaster zone and to declare martial law at gas stations. The Corp can finally pay the Warrior Group after an object lesson of what happens when you don't pay a Vanhorn, the war will be over, and Louisiana is well saturated. Bob Vanhorn has achieved his three-part revenge!Erin Booher said she became suspicious when Walters said her heart had stopped at the hospital.
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Sorry for the delay in posting this update -- I couldn't access my site from work (though everyone else didn't have any problems) so I had to wait until I got home. I felt rather helpless watching all you voracious readers visiting all day without any means to tell you why the world was frozen on Friday. Then when I finally got home, I realized that I'd left the final draft of the update at work, so I'm rewriting most of this from scratch. I often do forgetful things such as this.
My weekend was a success all around. On Saturday morning, my dad and I laid landscape timbers for the planter box and recoated the asphalt in the driveway. For Poker Night, I moved from 5th to 4th place, but still came in behind my new nemesis who somehow managed to take all my money in just two hands. I'm now circulating a petition outlawing the Full House as a valid poker hand, but so far, the only other signature is that of Bob Saget.
On Sunday I finally got around to buying new athletic shoes (a mere four months after putting that on my list of things to do), and stopped by Best Buy where I picked up a new CD, Weightlifting by the Trashcan Sinatras. If there's a Music Day this week, I'll review it then. Sunday evening, we all went out to Winchester to watch the Hokies play four quarters of touch-football and squeak by to victory. I didn't realize you could win a football game without tackling anyone successfully, but they sure showed me. The best part of the game was the fact that Michael Vick was on the sideline, compelling all the cameramen and announcers to get a reaction shot after every play, while mistakenly calling Marcus Vick "Michael" throughout. The game ended when Michael Vick left the stadium (since they focused on his entourage for several minutes while he ascended the bleachers), and then the teams kept playing for a few more minutes after that.
On Monday, I surprised the world by staying home from work -- this is a miraculous rarity on par with CNN newscasters who lose their cool and Quentin Tarantino movies that don't suck. The three-day weekend closed with a nice dinner at Logan's in Fair Lakes. The mesquite chicken sandwich was good, but it sure doesn't beat a good old burger.
This news story made me laugh. It's the quintessential example of the silly celebrity. If you are a rich celebrity and want to help the disaster victims, tossing a few million dollars around is much more effective than getting in a holed skiff with your personal photographer. If you want to make a personal contribution and/or you are stingy, make like Macy Gray and hand out supplies. Leave the rescue work to the trained professionals or maybe Harrison Ford in his helicopter.
Speaking of helicopters, I like the term "helicopter parents", the name given to parents who continuously monitor and interfere in the lives of their college-age students. I started college just as e-mail and cell phones were become mainstream, so I never had much firsthand experience with these types of parents. I e-mailed my own parents once or twice a week and I can count on one hand the number of times I actually called home for something while at Tech. You'd think that parents in this stage of their life would want to let go and party in Europe, rather than deal with the day-to-day minutia of their kids' education, but I guess sometimes you just can't let go.
Lost: Season One came out today. I plan on buying multiple copies and then infecting everyone within my sphere of influence with the creeping insidious addiction. Watch it -- it's better than Alias!Do you like dry cerial?
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Just in case there were going to be network problems at work today, I uploaded this update around 5:45 AM this morning, right before I left for work but after Amber played "Punch A Rat" with my face to get me up for breakfast (hers). See? They should have put me in charge of Katrina clean-up. A Boy Scout is always prepared. Incidentally, my Eagle Scout card expired in 2003, ten years after I earned the badge. This probably means that I'm a big poser until I pay the fifty bucks to renew the card, but I still keep the expired one on top of my license in my wallet. The purpose of this placement is to give state police officers an eyeful when they pull me over, so they see that I'm a trustworthy (loyal, and helpful) individual and do not deserve a ticket. This particular plan has backfired all three times I've been pulled over (84 in a 65, 79 in a 65, and disregarding a stop sign) but the fourth time is a charm, right? All it's done so far is make it a pain to retrieve my license for alcohol buying and bleed card ink on the plastic lining of my wallet. And the last time I bought alcohol (Saturday) the Korean check-out lady made me her new best friend.
I posted in my 222 Things About Me list that Korean people always ask me about Korean stuff and my Korean heritage. Apparently the new thing to say to me is "Funny, you don't look Korean." Though my face isn't on www.alllooksame.com , I've always noticed that I don't look purely Korean (though I think the crescent-bearing of my profile resembles the Mac the Knife moon guy from the McDonald's commercials in the 1980s). The checkout lady at Shopper's Food Warehouse said that I don't look Korean at all, but that some big Chinese festival was occuring on my birthday this year (artistically highlighted in yellow on the calendar to your left). I'm not sure what this has to do with anything, but maybe it will mean that she'll remember I'm over 21 next time I'm there. I don't have high hopes though, because she's carded me for over a year and a half now. I guess it's better to look too young than too old.
I think I segued one too many times in the above section, as I was originally planning to use this update to talk about really bad vanity plates. This is a hazard of my dangerous profession (software engineer / blog writer / man of mystery). All I really wanted to say about vanity plates is that they suck when it's obvious that they're not what the driver originally wanted. This is most often the case when you get people who want to write a monologue in their plate (IAMTHEGODOFLOVIN) but have to cut out letters until it's unintelligible (IMDGDLVN), people who don't understand the concept of numeric-replacement (GR8TNWZ instead of GR8NEWS), or people who just have no concept of the formation of words (IL8CUCUM instead of UGOGIRL). I just don't understand why someone would want to pay the extra $25 to make a license plate that's not exactly what he or she wanted. I don't think I'd ever get a vanity plate myself, because I don't necessarily want my car to stand out from other cars. I always said that the only plate I'd ever consider would be a mixture of I's and Ones, such as I11I1I1, which would make me more difficult to catch when I robbed those banks in the Midwest. Imagine my surprise when I saw that exact license plate outside Fox Mill in Reston.
On an unrelated note, I've heard that I wasn't excited enough in my post about the Hokies' victory. I did watch the game with a bunch of heavy cheerers, but reporting on that would not have made as interesting a news post, since dry sarcasm is essential to everything I write. Suffice to say, the Hokie Pokie was done, and we even resolved the question of whether it was "Left Right Left Right Right Left Right Left" or "Right Left Right Left Left Right Left Right". That is all.
I really overuse parentheses, don't I?Mind Control at the Insect Level
The Red Cross has been given a station on XM Radio to help coordinate their Katrina relief efforts. I think this is a great use of the technology, though I hope the signal won't disappear whenever the aid workers go behind buildings. There's a spot on the Fairfax County Parkway where my XM radio fades out momentarily every day I drive by. I think it has something to do with top secret military grade sonar weapons. We'll know when the beached whales show up in the Potomac (real ones, not just fatty yuppy sunbathers).
Walmart has donated over $20 million in cash and merchandise throughout the affected region in an effort to polish their image. I used to shop at Walmart all the time until I was introduced to Target. Walmart really is just a dirty version of Target. Who cares whether it's a self-serving PR move -- people are getting helped. I'm sure it won't be long before Walmart allows displaced refugees to stay overnight in their parking lots for free (teaming up with Oprah to televise the announcement, "Everybody gets an RV! Everybody gets an RV! Everybody gets an RV!")
Celebrities of all stripes are donating millions of dollars -- even those celebrities who aren't yet washed up and in need of a publicity boost. When I become president of the United States after my good friend, Arnold, repeals the place of birth law, I will enact a "state of emergency" law. This law will say that any U.S. citizen earning more than one million dollars in a given year must forfeit all the money above that point to designated emergency funds whenever I declare a state of emergency. Money not used by the end of the emergency gets funneled into transportation projects around Virginia or presidential party funds. And trust me, there will be a lot of emergencies in my only term.
Inappropriate Use of Katrina for PR Purposes:
Senator Kennedy says that the aftermath of Katrina adds new questions to the efficacy of John Roberts Jr. as a Supreme Court nominee. One event has absolutely nothing to do with the other. You can't just take a completely unrelated occurrence and use it to sensationalize or draw attention to your words, and people who do this obviously have nothing useful to say. Speaking of unrelated occurrences, I recently found undeniable proof supporting creationism, which I will share on my website sometime soon. Keep visiting and you could be the first to read about it.
FEMA is using volunteer firefighters from out of town as damage-controlling cheerleaders instead of rescue workers. Someone up high is obviously concerned with the wrong type of "damage control". It would be twice as effective if they sent the firefighters to Mississippi and employed real cheerleaders to paint FEMA in a good light. I, for one, would pay more attention to their "flyers", and FEMA is a short enough acronym for the average cheerleader to remember, and even spell on occasion. The picture on your right is BU disguised as a FEMA cheerleader, part of the ever-expanding collection which includes BU as Shoeless Joe Jackson, BU the Pimp, and BU the Loch Ness Monster. Collect them all!
The website, wire-sculpture.com, is having a Hurricane Katrina liquidation sale. This is an appropriate place for the euphemism, "What the heck." That's about as shady as selling storm paraphernalia on eBay. Especially bad are blog writers, like me, who talk about Katrina in hopes of generating more hits. It does work though -- the last time I talked about Katrina I had 20 comments and wrote three hits, "Baby's Love Done Gone", "Ooh ooh, la Do-wop Shop", and "Tickle". You are also welcome to donate to my personal Hurricane Katrina Relief Effort -- I only need a few more bucks to finish it:
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The "give us your social security number and T-shirt size and we'll let you walk down a fenced-in path like the Running of the Bulls without the Bulls" Freedom Walk went off without a hitch yesterday. I'm sure the administration was sorely disappointed that the significance and patriotism-swelling aspects of the event were overshadowed by the natural disastery events of the past weeks. They could really use a diversion of some kind at the moment, given all the bad press, so look for the start of our war with North Korea in the next few weeks (with the hopes of a decisive obliteration of the entire country within two to three days). Unfortunately, Kim Jong-Il has a super-human brain and has already discovered the plot and fled to a remote outpost in Venezuela -- a country we won't have the resources to eradicate and sink beneath sea level for at least six months. We will triumph eventually though -- gas is only twelve cents a gallon there, and Exxon finds that unacceptable.
I like watching the fallout that occurs when politicians of all stripes put their feet in their mouths. This time around, it's Louisiana Representative Richard H. Baker, who supposedly said, "We finally cleaned up public housing in New Orleans. We couldn't do it, but God did.". Close by, vying for airtime was Rick Santorum trying to blame the lack of warning wholely on the National Weather Service (It took me multiple tries to crop the image on the right because Photoshop couldn't handle the smarmy politician grin and kept crashing). It seems pretty clear to me that he's just using the excuse to push his bill that would privatize weather forecasting and prevent the National Weather Service from giving the information out for free. I guess this wasn't enough warning for Mr. Santorum:
URGENT - WEATHER MESSAGE
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE NEW ORLEANS LA
1011 AM CDT SUN AUG 28 2005
...DEVASTATING DAMAGE EXPECTED...
HURRICANE KATRINA...A MOST POWERFUL HURRICANE WITH UNPRECEDENTED STRENGTH...RIVALING THE INTENSITY OF HURRICANE CAMILLE OF 1969.
MOST OF THE AREA WILL BE UNINHABITABLE FOR WEEKS...PERHAPS LONGER.
AT LEAST HALF OF WELL CONSTRUCTED HOMES WILL HAVE ROOF AND WALL FAILURE. ALL GABLED ROOFS WILL FAIL...ALL WOOD FRAMED LOW RISING APARTMENT BUILDINGS WILL BE DESTROYED...ALL WINDOWS WILL BE BLOWN OUT.
THE VAST MAJORITY...OF TREES WILL BE SNAPPED OR UPROOTED. ONLY THE HEARTIEST WILL REMAIN STANDING...BUT BE TOTALLY DEFOLIATED.
POWER OUTAGES WILL LAST FOR WEEKS...AS MOST POWER POLES WILL BE DOWN AND TRANSFORMERS DESTROYED. WATER SHORTAGES WILL MAKE HUMAN SUFFERING INCREDIBLE BY MODERN STANDARDS.
The National Weather Service countered the accusation with their own press release touting their new Global Warming educational packet which uses Santorum's face as a visual aid -- his forehead playing the part of the melting icecaps and his toupée in the role of the receding shorelines.
Another fun read is General Stonewall McClellan's toe-ing of the party line on FEMA:.
On the other hand, I don't think it was a big deal that Wolf Blitzer said the victims were "so poor and so black" on a live CNN report. I see it as simply an unfortunate slip of the tongue -- anyone who has watched a newscaster try to report on a sensational story live knows that they generally don't have a clue about the word-turds roiling out of their mouth, and they're lucky to form a single coherent thought 50% of the time (one newscaster recently said that the Corp of Engineers "performed a miracle" by moving water from the city of New Orleans into the nearby lake. Truly God-like, I agree). Yes, all newscasters should just the hell up, but no, Wolf's quote wasn't inherently racist.
In unrelated news, the Hokies won 45-0 over Duke. I didn't get to watch the game (work beckoned) but I'm sure I would have gotten bored around halftime.
Happy Birthday Becky!Ocala HOA thinks refugees smell funny
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Today's update was originally going to be about swear words because I feel like I've devoted too many updates to the Hurricane aftermath, but after reading this juicy morsel of an article, I feel compelled to come back one more time (too bad it's fake, but it's eerily not far off base from reality). If you believed my Bob Vanhorn conspiracy theory (and you should because it's 100% true and will be proven in our lifetime), you'll get a kick out of Pat Robertson's theory that all of America's misfortunes can be blamed on Ellen DeGeneres hosting the Emmy's . There are so many great quotes that I don't know where to begin.
This one is my favourite, and makes me cackle like a witch (or like the middle Rice Krispie elf if he couldn't roll his Rs):
I didn't realize that the Tonys were gay, or that God gave them the green light to be gay. I guess that's your loophole, if you happen to be a closet-homosexual addicted to the 700 Club -- just participate in the Tonys and you get the tacit A-OK from the man upstairs AND your idol, Robertson, to come out. Just make sure not to get fired from that gig, because He/he might have to change tacks and smite you. I'm surprised Robertson didn't order a hit put out on DeGeneres, but perhaps he's waiting until his check clears on the Hugo Chavez assassination.
Once I've become independently wealthy from my company's ESOP and my lawsuit against IBM (who still doesn't believe I patented the C: Prompt in kindergarten, even though I have the proof in my file cabinet -- they're trying to argue that it's just a wizard and I rotated the construction paper 90 degrees), I plan on having my own talk show where I can spout the most vitriolic sepsis known to man, all under the guise of being spiritual.
My show would be part talk-show, part sketch comedy, part improv, and part song-and-dance, because I think there is a massive untapped market for such a show . I would Mao it up by making it a personality cult (using me as the figurehead) and then pick random causes for the masses of uneducated viewers to get indignant about. There would have to be some kind of quota system to keep things progressive, maybe two assassination calls per year, one holy war with an opposing religion (my club versus the personality cult of David Hasselhoff would be a good way to pick up the ratings), and four random acts of vandalism ("BU thinks the Blue Line is blasphemous -- you should all go down to the King Street Metro and fill the station with that self-expanding foam in a can"). I can already smell the recipe for a hit show. FOX, are you paying attention? You could really use me.
And smiting. My show will have lots and lots of smiting.Student Sees Dead Father in Photo Display
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My day got off to a surreal start when I got in the car and the radio blinked on to the sounds of "Bob the Builder sings Mambo No. 5". I'll have to see if it's a one-time thing or if it's going to turn into another Crazy Frog phenomenon like the theme from Beverly Hills Cop. My top three choices for more songs in the Bob the Builder line would be Usher/Ludacris/Lil Jon's Yeah, Spice Girl's Wannabe, and Ruggero Leoncavallo's Pagliacci.
This is my last day as a twenty-five year old. I'll be taking Friday, the day after my birthday, off but there will still be a Friday Fragments column -- never worry! For today, here are some capsule reviews (they are called capsule reviews because each one is ten thousand words or less, which means you could print them out, fold them in half (then in half again) twelve times, and then fit them in a space capsule. You could still fit them in the capsule without folding, but then they would blow all over the place if it got windy on your space mission and I don't pay taxes to support some shoddy mission where papers are flying everywhere):
Three TV subgenres I never got into are the hospital drama, the forensic crime drama, and the law and/or order drama. I've never seen a single episode of ER, and I can count the total number of CSI: Dayton and L&O: QWERT episodes I've ever seen on one hand. Last night, I watched the first episode of the second season of House on someone's recommendation and liked it. It has all the elements of these other shows, which doesn't impress me much, but I like the characterization of the main doctor on the show. I've always been a fan of wise-ass characters who make cynical remarks. Overall, it's a show I'd watch again if I remember it's on, but not one I would reschedule surgery for. Also, I saw previews for the next season of Arrested Development. They need to hurry up and release the previous season on DVD so I can catch up (it comes out October 11).
Final Rating: Three Stars
Lost: First Season DVD
The production value on this set is very high and for once, the disc full of extras is worthwhile content. Normally DVD extras are a bunch of useless crap that no one would ever want to watch. The cast comes off as very humble and friendly, and the interviews provide lots of insight about the show. It's notable to watch the president of ABC come down off his mountain for a few interviews as if to say, "I had absolutely nothing to do with this show, but look, I was president of ABC when we revitalized TV with a show about a plane crash and some desperate housewives, so therefore I will do an interview so you can remember that!". The one thing I hate about recent DVDs is their interminable load times. First, keep your movie previews off my TV DVD. Second, let me skip straight to menus. Third, every time I choose a menu option, you don't need to do a five second fade-out. I already bought the DVD so you don't need to make me a captive audience to it.
The show itself is still great -- it's a perfect blend of scary, creepy, exciting, mysterious, funny, romantic, and often heartwarmingly sentimental. The subtle clues are much easier to see without weeks and weeks between new shows, although parts of it work surprisingly better on TV than on DVD. Often there will be mini-cliff-hangers right before commercial breaks, and removing those commercials in the DVD gives the viewer less time to really process what just happened.
Final Rating: Twelve Tomatoes
Weightlifting by the Trashcan Sinatras
I picked this CD up because I liked a single song I heard, All the Dark Horses. It's a very mellow offering, with great lyrical imagery and some reasonably complex harmonies for an alt-rock group. A few songs border on easy listening, but for the most part the album is solid. This is not a CD I would listen to regularly, but it's definitely good when you're in the mood for that style of music. The album also comes with a DVD which I haven't watched.
Final Rating: B+
I generally like weird cult-favourite movies, so I picked this one up based on some positive buzz (and the fact that the Danny Elfman score was pretty catchy). This movie is a retelling of Little Red Riding Hood set in modern day LA, and is often mentioned in the same breath as Natural Born Killers. It's quite hit-or-miss with more misses than hits, and mostly fails as a social satire. The only redeeming features are the performances of Keifer Sutherland and Reese Witherspoon (who's a much better actress than people give her credit for, Vanity Fair notwithstanding).
Final Rating: Trout
Climbs in the shower then tries to sit in your lap, making it look like you peed in your pants. Plays games where she puts all her toys in the water bowl, adding Pink Dye #2 to Booty's oasis. Meows constantly from 3:30 PM until she's fed at 5 PM, hoping to score an early treat. Gets so frantic about food that she steps on everything, including Booty. Once broke a food dish by knocking a five pound weight off the table onto the dish. Sleeps in a basket during the day. Cuddles up to you all night long.
Final Rating: 100%Flame war over a ham sandwich
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As exhibit A of my domestication, I present the "Merlot" velvet drapes I purchased on Friday for the downstairs guest room. I applied my considerable Handy Man™ skills to hanging them this weekend, not realizing that I had actually only bought two panels, not two sets of drapes. I almost considered putting one panel on each window, but I think that constitutes a bannable offense in the Homemaker Club. So, I now have one window with drapes and one without, until I get enough momentum to roll through Target again.
Besides this brief foray into the world of home decoration and a few hours spent reorganizing my file cabinet (the one full of secret files on all of you), my weekend was relaxingly useless. I dusted off my copy of World of Warcraft and got a few more levels, finished off Harry Potter 4 (I'm rereading the series), watched some Lost (which won 6 Emmy's last night), and played Rock'em Sock'em Kitty Cats with Booty and Amber (Booty won, obviously). After the Hokies ran up the score against Ohio like a parochial schoolgirl with her first charge card (45-0), I went to Ruby Tuesday for dinner with Kim and company, and then played a round of guerrilla golf at the Kingstowne Putt Putt. We played on the "Mountain" course -- my initial thought that this was some kind of Earth, Wind, and Fire motif was proven incorrect when I saw that there were only two courses, and that the other one was "Desert" or something similarly earthy. My team obviously won the match (owing to my inspired Asian athleticism), despite the use of cheat codes on the opposing side.
On the way home from the festivities of the evening, I saw a ghost car!
It was about 12:30 in the morning and I was driving down I-395 towards the Beltway. One of the last conversations I'd had before leaving was about ghosts and their relative creepiness, or lack thereof. Right around Edsall Road, I saw an old-fashioned tan car in the HOV lane, cruising along at about fifty miles per hour. It looked very similar to the car Marty McFly drove to the Enchantment Under the Sea dance in Back to the Future, and I could see two people in the front seat -- a guy with a fedora was driving, and a woman with platinum blond straight hair was sitting next to him. The thing that caught my attention was that the woman was sitting in the middle of the car, not the passenger seat.
Being the typical Northern Virginia driver, I was worried more about passing this slow-mover on the right than catching ghosts, so I got out from behind the ghost car and sped towards the far right lane so I could get onto the Beltway. I didn't get to see their faces, but there was something very unnerving about how still the two people were sitting in the car -- it almost felt like I was looking at mannequins.
To up the creepy factor, the ghost car changed lanes as I passed and fell in line behind me on the exit ramp. Its headlights were golden-coloured, not white or high-intensity-blue like most cars. The beams were not high beams, but they had a certain malevolent intensity that bored into my rear view mirror, even after I'd flipped the magic angle button. It reminded me of the scary car chase scene from John Bellairs' The House with a Clock in Its Walls (raise your hand if you're old like me). It followed me until the Braddock Road exit, where I luckily lost it with some deft maneuvering in the thickening traffic. So was it a ghost car or just people coming home from a costume party?
I probably wouldn't have noticed the car had we not been talking about ghosts ten minutes before my trip, but I do believe in ghosts in general. Anna and I think our apartment in Centreville was slightly haunted because of the occasional weird sound which could not be blamed on central air, and the number of times the cats freaked out with no readily apparent cause for distress (see figure A, of a fat Booty seeing a ghost in the dining room -- incidentally Booty is much slimmer now, but maybe she's too skinny according to expert opinions).
I also saw a ghost at a party I threw around 1994 or so. We were all sitting inside watching a movie (because we were particularly happening and with-it teens) when a solid but not solid, luminscent but not glowing, woman in white glided past the window. She was bright enough to notice from inside, which meant that she was walking right where a big holly bush was. Had she been a neighbour or another random person, she would have been several feet father away, and not visible from the window. This sighting was confirmed by a couple other friends near the window, but we never figured out what it was all about.
There might also be a ghost in my office, although judging from the reflection it casts, it's not a vampire ghost.
On an unrelated note, this week is Season Premiere week, starting with Arrested Development at 8 PM. It's followed by a new show called Kitchen Confidential which I have no interest in, except for the fact that it stars Bradley Cooper (Will from Alias) who's a really good actor. Early reviews say the show sucks but he keeps it afloat.
Happy Day After Birthday, Tom!Man tries to turn it into the Fantastic Five
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I gradually woke up this morning at 3:54 AM to what sounded like multiple ghost raccoons running back and forth over my head. I sleep in the back corner of my house so the roof is relatively close to my bed, but I do have an attic space, so I shouldn't be able to hear any small animals on the roof. I laid in bed for two or three minutes listening to the continuous pitter-patter of feet (which never abated for that whole time) before the ghost beasts ran to the corner of the roof. Then, it sounded like they all dived down the chimney -- as if Bob Barker had dropped seven or eight Plinko chips down the Plinko machine all at once. At that point, I got up and went to the window, half expecting something to be leering at me beyond the curtains, but nothing was amiss. After I went back to bed, I remembered that I have no chimney.
I'll have to remember to take a peek at the roof when I get home in broad daylight today. This was the first "odd" event at my house since I moved in over a year and a half ago. Maybe I unlocked the ghost box by talking about ghost cars yesterday. Or perhaps, it was just a highly personalized ad for CBS's new show, Ghost Whisperer where Jennifer Love Hewitt (and her "assets", which undoubtedly get top billing since they can probably act better than she can) play the role of a girl who sees dead people and must try to help them. This is a highly original show which has never been done before . Here are some other highly original shows appearing on primetime TV this month:
A bizarre new sea creature is discovered and four people react to it in different ways. You don't actually get to see the creature. NBC's version of Lost.
19-year-old legal prodigy teams up with alcoholic lawyer for hilarious hijinks. The WB's The Practice. I thought the actor playing the 19-year-old (Jay Baruchel) was funny in Undeclared, FOX's college comedy that was prematurely canned like all of their shows are.
Out of Practice:
Psychologist with two doctor parents and a plastic surgeon brother get involved in family hijinks. CBS's ER meets Alias, perhaps?
Pentagon-based military story about some sort of urgent situation. NBC's version of 24 meets West Wing and also their Emmy submission for Worst Title Ever.
Hurricane strikes Florida, but maybe it was caused by aliens! ABC's version of X-Files meets Lost, except they already have a Lost!
FBI agents track down serial killers in Quantico. CBS's milking of the CSI franchise.
Detectives investigate heinous crimes in San Francisco. FOX's theft of CBS's Criminal Minds (see also, Wife Swap vs. Trading Spouses, and The Next Great Champ vs. The Contender).
Three doctors work at a fertility clinic with hilarious hijinks. NBC's entry in the "We're putting this on Friday night so we don't have to move it to Friday night when it tanks" category.
Last night's premiere of Arrested Development was very funny -- I'm surprised at how good the writers are at devising storylines that tie all the characters together in the ending, even two seasons later. It's like Seinfeld, but funny and not annoying. Kitchen Confidential was pretty flat and won't last long. Bradley Cooper turned in a good performance though.
Now that one of the desperate housewives has won an Emmy, how long before there's a massive catfight on the set and they all end up in the hospital?
Do you have any shows you're looking forward to, or would like to recommend? Leave a comment! Maybe I'll watch it and post a review.When I first saw it, I saw the big U, and I had to back up just to see if that's what it really said
Yesterday's search terms:
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Yesterday evening, someone from my hometown of Alexandria found my site by Googling "winkler botanical preserve" sex. The Mark Winkler Botanical Preserve is a small wildlife area nestled in the shadow of I-395 where I played one summer (as previously reported in an August update ). I did not have sex there, being an elementary school kid at the time (sixth graders did not begin having sex on school buses and in nature preserves until over a decade after I'd grown up). Although this particular search phrase has a considerable ick factor (what if the searcher was a familiar face like the mayor or my old next-door neighbours?), I figured I would provide a FAQ for future visitors who are also interested in such knowledge:
Q: How do I have sex in the Winkler Botanical Preserve?
A: Visitors to the preserve are advised to have sex in the exact same manner as they would anywhere else, including, but not limited to, bedrooms, bus stations, and out front of a 7-11 with a day laborer. Protection, such as a blanket, is highly recommended, since roots and shrubbery may chafe people who are not used to the outdoor setting.
Q: Who do I have sex with in the Winkler Botanical Preserve?
A: Visitors may have sex with whoever they choose, though for maximum irony it should be someone named Mark Winkler (not to be confused with Henry Winkler, a.k.a. The Fonz). Google cites two possibilities: one is a male jazz vocalist and the other is involved with the Highland Hope United Methodist Congregation. They have the same eyebrows, though, so perhaps they are one and the same. Note: Mark Winkler of The Mark Winkler Company is not recommended, as he has been dead for many years, and that's just not cool.
Q: Where do I have sex in the Winkler Botanical Preserve?
A: We recommend the small lake in the center of the property (see the Google satellite image above). Visitors feeling particularly randy should stop off at the equipment shed along the banks of the lake, although you are more likely to be spotted here. If you require a bit more time to "get in the mood", you and your swain should amble to the opposite shore where the woods provide some semblance of privacy and any exclamations of passion will be drowned out by trucks downshifting on the Interstate. Get ready for romance!
I must be cautious with the amount of explicit information I provide, because otherwise I might get put on the short list for investigation by the FBI's new porn squad . Incidentally, they are currently hiring, and I'm sure many of my readers would be a perfect fit, having plenty of on-the-job training to recognize porn. I bet the posted req's for these job opportunities will be fun to read. It's ridiculous to think that a ten man squad will be able to wipe out a multibillion dollar industry -- this squad will barely be able to keep abreast (!) of new companies as they try to stamp out the old ones.
Lost, Episode 2x01 "Man of Science, Man of Faith" premieres tonight at 9 PM on ABC. I'd post the episode summary, but some of my readers (like Jack and Kim) are still wending their way through Season One and I don't want to spoil anything. No Season One spoilers in the comments please! There's also a "This is what happened in Season One" catch-up episode at 8 PM, but if you need that then you really owe it to yourself to watch the DVDs instead. I, myself, am looking forward to the second season because J.J. Abrams is very good at creating shows that run for two seasons. Whether he can maintain that creativity into the third season and beyond remains open for debate (see also, Lauren Reed in Alias, Season Three).
My Name Is Earl was pretty funny, but I can see it getting really annoying and derivative before the end of one season.Upscale prostitutes go to Detroit
Yesterday's search terms:
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On Friday afternoon, I'm taking a weekend trip down to Tallahassee to visit the few remaining FSU people still clinging to the Spanish-moss-coated city like barnacles on a dry-docked hull. Florida-Mike and Florida-Kathy each chipped in a quarter of the cost of plane tickets for my birthday which was quite nice of them. I think it's ridiculous, though, that the flight from here to Florida is twice as expensive as a flight from here to San Diego, our country's Mexican outpost on the far seas. I'll be back on Sunday, so you probably won't miss any news updates in my absence.
I lived in Tallahassee and went to FSU for grad school from August 2001 (when these daily updates started) until April 2003, except for the summer of 2002 where I was a societal parasite by living rent-free in Anna's parents' house in Chantilly. I wasn't in Florida for long enough to really make a mark, so I never totally considered it to be my home. Since I left, I've kept in touch with a few old friends, but no one in the music faculty at all, and I've missed the people without really missing the place. I haven't been back since my departure, so I'm looking forward to seeing what's changed and visiting the ghosts of my past.
I wouldn't change my decision to go to FSU, even in favour of some of those prestigious-in-their-own-minds Midwest schools I got into, because I learned a lot about myself in those two years. I learned that I love teaching as much as I loved conducting. I learned that I hate most "contemporary" music that composers are writing these days, and that I would never survive a career where I had to keep pretending I liked it, or had to write it myself. I learned that the art of composing is a finite resource, and that I would rather not do it as a career, than be churning out derivative garbage fifty years from now. I learned that office politics are stronger and more annoying in the academic world than the business world, and that for every passionate professor there's one that's just phoning it in for tenure. Most importantly, I learned that I needed to stop preparing for life and just start living it. Up to that point, I spent far too much time waiting for good things to happen and bemoaning the fate of my life's timeline. I'm sure most college graduates go through that phase where they're leery about entering the "real world" because they don't feel ready or they haven't met their future husbands and wives, and for me, going to grad school was an easy-out that turned into a solid eye-opener. Now, I'm forward-moving again, and if good things happen to come along, then I'm perfectly ready for them. Looking back on the last two years, I'd say this philosophy has served me quite well.
Ultimately, I just felt like I had to escape the oppressive blanket of Southern slowness that permeates all aspects of life down there . I'm a Northern Virginia yuppy through and through, and will probably drive 70 miles an hour and live within five miles of a Costco for the rest of my life. Kathy will probably say that I'm bashing "the Hassee" if I end this post now, so here is a list of many of the good things I remember -- it's not all bad:
Another memory I have is arguing with a wasted composer in a parking lot for forty-five minutes before he let me drive his car back to his apartment, then sprinting a mile out of the unsafe ghetto to my place, past the homeless shelter and the streets with no lights. I don't think that's a good one though, just memorable.
Happy Birthday Judy!New cat conspiracy involves suicide bombers
Yesterday's search terms:
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Yesterday's search terms:
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The city of Tallahassee, with its magical one-way streets and majestic phallic skylines, is almost exactly the same as when I left it two and a half years ago. The air is sticky and humid inside and out, and the buildings have an air of fungal decay, as if all city beautification projects get to 90% and then get cancelled. I only took three pictures while I was down there, and two of them were of Chompy -- I always take my camera everywhere I go, but then forget to actually whip it out and use it. Perhaps I should add "become better at whipping it out and using it" to my list of things to accomplish in October.
I left work early on Friday to finish packing, and then Anna came over to drive me to the airport. We watched the season premiere of Everybody Hates Chris before we left -- I had taped it the night before because I was busy watching Emily Rose and having deep theological discussions over chicken fingers. The show was pretty funny, and blends a lot of Chris Rock's stand-up comedy into the mix. I'll probably end up watching it often if Alias: Season Five, guest starring Ben Affleck's DNA turns out to suck in the same timeslot.
After an hour spent in security at Dulles airport, I boarded my flight to Atlanta. I had a seat right next to the big engines in the back, and the trip was uneventful until we hit some turbulence and the tail of the plane tore off and I ended up on a deserted island in the Atlantic Ocean. I may sell the story of my time on the island to ABC as a series called Lost: South Carolina. Every good show is a franchise nowadays.
Incidentally, someone did a Google search to this site yesterday for Lost and Michael Crichton's novel, Prey. If you watched the season finale of Lost last May, and you've read the novel, you'll understand what they must have been looking for -- it's an interesting theory to think that elements from that novel could have appeared in Lost. I could be less obtuse if I were sure that certain everyones had finished watching the first season.
On the flight from Atlanta to Tallahassee, the captain came on right before we left to say, "There's a problem in the engine we thought we could fix in twenty minutes, but twenty minutes have passed and it's not fixed yet", so we had to "de-plane" and run down the concourse to another plane. I suppose that's a better option than the captain saying, "We haven't fixed this problem but we're going to take off anyhow and see how far we get". This swap gave me plenty of exercise, since I went from Gate B38 to Gate B5 then back to Gate B44. If you've ever been to the airport in Atlanta, you'll understand how far this is -- I couldn't take the golf carts either because there were a disproportionate number of old people that had greater need than I did.
I arrived in Tallahassee about forty minutes late and had dinner at Applebee's with Mike and Kathy where I noted that Tallahasseans smell funny (Everything in Tallahassee smells a little funny, including the buildings, all of which seem to have been varnished in urine). After dinner, which was 11 PM, we went to Mike's (who lives at 222 Lake Ella Drive and whose phone number begins with 222-), where Kathy taught us a new board game, Settlers of Catan. It was fun despite its hex-grid war-game style look. It had a dark-skinned robber that lived in the desert, and you could trade wheat for sheep. The only problem was that she only owned the travel edition, and playing on it was akin to playing Risk on a napkin using boogers as army men.
I slept at Kathy's rather than Mike's because Kathy's couch was 68% less likely to give me a communicable disease than Mike's futon / Chompy's bed. Her place was surprisingly well-decorated for a grad student's apartment, but I found out that this was because she lived with a real person who had a real job. Her roommate, Renée, had didgeridoos hanging on the wall and the complete Illustrated Pocket Classics set, which is a group of classic literary works in tiny abridged books with illustrations on every other page. Those books are the only reason I read any classic literature as a kid, and were better than Cliff Notes when I got to high school. They were probably donated to the library after I went to college, like my complete set of Choose Your Own Adventure Books.
To be continued tomorrow...
Happy day after your birthday, Steve Seltz!Returning to the scene of the crime
Yesterday's search terms:
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Saturday morning (following a late awakening) was spent tooling around Tallahassee, including a visit to one of Tallahassee's 2.5 malls. We made breakfast for lunch, a balanced diet of bacon, maple sausages, hash browns, and scrambled eggs, and then played one more game of trading wheat for sheep. After this, we decided to take Chompy for a walk around Lake Ella, since it was right across the street and not three miles away like the Tallahassee Dog Park.
Chompy is looking very fit these days, and no longer has the sloppy flab look she had long ago. Apparently she's been working out regularly with John Basedow in his Fitness Made Simple exercise program. Who knew it also worked on dogs? We walked her across the street to the duck lavatory that is Lake Ella, but she decided that she didn't want to walk that day and tried to pull backwards out of her collar and leash. After a couple more weak attempts, we took her back home and played a little practice poker instead.
Around 4 in the afternoon, Mike had to leave for one of his steel drum gigs where their group probably pretended to be Jamaican while playing Margaritaville for the nine millionth time while taking advantage of any open bars. Kathy and I hit the movie theatre to watch whatever happened to be playing, since it was still matinee time. Flight Plan was a very good suspense-y movie, if you're willing to suspend your disbelief of the plot (this should be a given for this type of movie though). It does a good job of slowly building up the tension and reminds me a fair bit of Panic Room, also starring Jodie Foster in a similar role. Besides one very unfortunate special effect involving a character blowing up in slow motion which looks like a high school project in "Introduction to Photoshop" class which mars the ending, I would recommend seeing it.
There are several movies that I'd like to see which are out or coming soon, but none that really need to be seen in the theatre, so I'll probably just end up renting them. I still haven't seen Wedding Crashers or 40 Year Old Virgin, but apparently everyone else in the world already has. I'd also like to see Corpse Bride (which I misspelled as Corpse Bridge the first two times I typed it) but I have issues with paying full price to see a movie that's barely 80 minutes long (this is the same reason I never watched Open Water, that shark movie that was supposed to be quite good).
After the movie, we ate dinner at Rotisserie Grill, a subsidiary of Boston Market which serves the same food. In fact, it's exactly like Boston Market except that they bring the food to your table after you order it. I'm not sure what the point of the different name is, unless they were trying to look a little higher class (hard to do when you're on a decaying Florida road between a Circle K and a pawn shop. Kathy says that the spinach is higher quality than the spinach at Boston Market, but seriously, who cares about the spinach when there's rotisserie chicken? Vegetables are only meant to add colour to the ensemble of your plate because you aren't actually supposed to eat them. Kim sees eye to eye with me on this -- if only we could convince the rest of the world to stop their misguided vegetable eating and swap it with a side of bacon (or two).
From dinner, we went back to Mike and Chompy's house where they were having a Southern edition of Poker Night™ for my benefit. I got to meet some of the new music theory/composition folks that came to FSU the year after I left, like Chris and Marty, but my role as token Korean composer for whom English is a first language remains unfilled. Based on a complex calculation of the cost of living in Florida, buy-in was set at $5, forcing me to pawn off a pair of diamond shoes to get in. Otherwise, it was much the same as up north, except that people were actually good at the game. We split into two tables of four and five respectively, and I came in third at my table. By the time the tables merged with the final four players, it was nearing 2 AM, which is about four hours past my old-man sleeping deadline. I napped on the AIDS-futon with Chompy while Marty (who lives in apartment 222) cleaned out the remaining poker pockets.
My flight home left at 11:20 on Sunday. I ate some ethnic food in the Atlanta airport while waiting for my connecting flight, and paid an exorbitant $8 at Popeyes for bite-size chicken pieces that probably came off a Cornish Game Hen. I then boarded my 1:39 flight and sat on the ground for about an hour. There were problems with the auxiliary power engine which the captain promised us "was only used on the ground to power the air conditioners", so they forced the full plane of passengers to sit in the sweltering cabin while they fixed this. I suspected it was something a bit more menacing than this, because why spend an hour fixing something that we'd only need while grounded? And we wouldn't have needed the ground-based air conditioning at all had we not been grounded.
Despite these troubles, I returned to Dulles in one piece around 4 PM and got home to a couple of fat spoiled cats who got the royal treatment while I was away. A few days on the cat treadmill with free weights should perk them back up again.Dolphins armed and dangerous
Yesterday's search terms:
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Lost Episode 2x02 is on tonight at 9 PM. If you missed the first episode, you can catch it again at 8 PM.
Happy Birthday Anna's mom!They said they weren't doing it for commercial reasons but that they wanted to see how visitors would react
Yesterday's search terms:
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I haven't had a musical post in a couple weeks, so this is an attempt to fill the musical void in your life.
The season premiere of Alias is on tonight at 8 PM. I find it amazing that the ABC marketing department can consistently churn out horrible print and television promos for this show, regardless of how good or bad the show actually is.Yes, officer, it's a lunch box for my kid which I got as a souvenir from an airport kiosk in Bogota.
Yesterday's search terms:
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1: I do not eat babies -- I'm presuming that they would come out of my teeth because I lack certain other body parts to have a successful pregnancy.Drugs to give you that 80s feeling
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