Tuesday, October 18, 2005

List Day: Top Five Pet Peeves of the Moment

  1. Bikers in the Road:
    Whether it's the mid-life-crisis Lance-wannabe guy squeezing two hundred pounds of mass into a one hundred pound spandex bag, or the ecologically-aware yuppy biking to work with the smarmy "I'm Saving Gas Money" sign (crayoned by a five-year-old) on the back of his seat, none of these clowns should be allowed on roads where the speed limit is higher than 25. You are not a car, you do not belong in the car lane, and you most certainly are not allowed to hog a lane of traffic up to a red light, then morph into a sidewalk-user to bike through the crosswalk. Also, the fact that the W&OD trail crosses a four lane highway in Sterling does not mean you get to dart across it without stopping unless you want a date with BUS BUMPR. All bikes belong on the bike path or the sidewalk.

  2. Books with Recaps:
    It's okay to drop a quick reminder to a reader if you're writing a series and something hasn't been mentioned in a while. It's not okay to spend the first eight chapters of your book filling everyone in about the plot of the previous book. Everyone who's reading the middle of a series probably read the beginning, and if people want to jump into the middle, it's their own fault if they don't know what's going on. If you are going to put recaps in your books, use a literature-approved pattern for identifying the recap, in case the reader wants to skip over it safely. One common pattern is the "massive paragraph full of old information that makes your eyes glaze over by line two". Using this pattern, discerning readers can quickly jump down to the new stuff without worries. The kids' series, The Great Brain was both the best and worst at this. Every single book described the town, the entire family, how J.D. looked like his ma but not his pa, and how T.D. had traits of both, and how little Frankie lost his parents in a landslide and didn't talk for months, ad nauseum. However, this was always Chapter One, and you could be assured that nothing new or important ever happened in Chapter One.

  3. Homestar Runner:
    I think Homestar Runner tries too hard and is 100% not funny. I could be biased, having gone to school with an entire area of study who lived and breathed it and quoted it constantly (another reason why it was hard being a CS Major). How is it funny in the least bit? And how did it get so mainstream these past few years? I guess if you read it religiously and are invested in the characters it takes on an "inside joke" cult status, but it's not my thing.

  4. Comedians Who Laugh at Themselves:
    A comedian's job is to make US laugh, and a joke just isn't as funny when you have a hard time getting through it yourself without laughing. It's even worse when you're laughing at yourself and you're not that funny to begin with. I was listening to a comic on XM with the most irritating laugh which sounded very much like an off-balanced washing machine on helium. He kept tittering to himself after every sentence, and the audience was completely flat. Then he started talking about "trail mix" people (you know, those people that walk around everywhere eating trail mix...) and that's when I made the executive decision to change the station.

  5. DVD Menus:
    If I buy a TV show on DVD, I don't want to see movie previews, especially not every single time the DVD starts. If I want to watch a show, there shouldn't be three hundred submenus to navigate through with an unskippable fade-out between each menu. I also feel that my purchase of the DVD entitles me to skip everything else on the DVD besides the features. This is 2005, and user-interface design has passed the point where you're allowed to add useless unskippable fills of camera panning and call it artistic (see also, Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time). Finally, I know it's a crime to copy DVDs, and I know that when an actor says "I hated this bull-honky show" in the commentary track, it's not necessarily the opinion of Universal Pictures. I would be willing to sign a waiver if it meant that I never had to see these two warningsever again. I wonder if it's against the law to copy the sign that says not to copy tapes.

On an unrelated note (like a flat four in a diatonic key), my car broke 40,000 miles as I rolled into work yesterday morning. My mileage was ridiculously low in Florida when I drove it once a week to Walmart to buy pizzas, but now that I am both a Northern Virginia driver and a social butterfly, I'm abusing it to no end.

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The bear fled the scene after the collision.
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