Posts from 12/2005

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Entertainment Thursday

  • I thought last night's LOST episode was excellent and easily on par with some of the best from last season. It's a far cry from the second episode of this season, which featured Michael and Sawyer sitting on a raft yelling "Walt!" for forty minutes. There was also a familar face on the TV screen in the corner of the enlistment office.

  • Every time I post about someone's disappointing acting skills, I'm pleasantly surprised the next time they turn in a performance. I should use this suggestive power for the greater good: Man, that Keanu Reeves is about as close to a real actor as a tofu burger is to real red meat. Now sit back and watch him win an Oscar.

  • Britney Spears turned her kid's room into a nativity scene. How strange is that? The only way it could get stranger would be if Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes had costarring roles in such a scene with Samuel L. Jackson given the role of jive-talking wise man.

  • A bill was passed in Idaho praising Napolean Dynamite for promoting Idaho tourism in a myriad of ways . When I become President, I'm going to waste taxpayer dollars on feel good bills that have absolutely no impact on anything whatsoever, like A Salute to the Mallard and National Make-Fun-Of-the-Handicapped Day.

  • I haven't seen the new RENT movie yet, but I've heard some pretty decent reviews of it. There was an interview on the other day where they mention the parody from Team America.
      Q: OK, last question: Have you guys seen the movie "Team America," which features puppets performing in "Lease: The Musical"?
      RAPP: Yes, we watched that number again during rehearsal.
      Q: The "Everyone Has AIDS" song?
      RAPP: Yes, it's hilarious.
      Q: 'Cause the lead puppet looks kinda like Roger.
      PASCAL: Yeah, but he's also wearing a scarf, too, so he's like a combination of Mark and Roger.

    Chad Darnell also has an amusing review up as someone who didn't like the film adaptation: .

  • ABC finally decided to cancel Alias at the end of its fifth season next May. This is not surprising, since the highest rated episode this year had over three million fewer viewers than the Charlie Brown Thanksgiving Special in the same time slot. This is still a show that's worth picking up on DVD -- it's not a spy show so much as a character show, just like LOST isn't really about a plane crash. The writing in the first two seasons was perfect, barring a couple horrible episodes featuring the goofy-looking Peter Berg as an old love interest. It's rare that a show can actually surprise you with a twist, but this show did it pretty much every other episode. The third season was great (despite Melissa George as the "hated love interest with black eyebrows and blonde hair" and the return of Francie) until the end when the new flock of writers admitted that they were just making it all up as they went and had no master plan. This led to a fourth season which really had nothing to do with the other seasons but was good enough for TV. Now we're in the fifth season where a pregnant Sydney makes uterus jokes -- oh how far the great have fallen.

  • There was a time in my life where sitting down to watch a new episode of Alias was the high point and the focal point of my week. It's nice to be able to have a constant like that to provide buoyancy to your life. Nowadays I have other things to play that role.

  • What a stretch!
    Some shops, for example, use "zit lamps," which drive teenagers away by casting a blue light onto their spotty skin, accentuating any whiteheads and other blemishes.
    Al Qaeda leaders bin Laden and al-Zarqawi haven't been found "primarily because they don't want us to find them and they're going to great lengths to make sure we don't find them"

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    day in history

    Friday, December 02, 2005

    Friday Fragments

    where the upper crust of the Internet come to read my musings and post in the comments section

  • I always knew there was something fishy about that woman. You have to wonder how she bought cars for everyone when she's obviously pouring all her profits into her ice habit.

  • Here's a brief sample of Nickelback's Chad Kroeger singing every syllable as if he's getting punched in the stomach (136KB MP3). Someone really needs to get him some vocal Metamucil before he gives himself an embolism from straining out that musical poop.

  • Have you ever looked at the top of a soda can before you open it? Especially in the case of sodas from the company fridge or soda machines, you can usually find a pleasant ring of black scum around the rim from the can which was stacked above it the delivery process. If you've never noticed this, you've probably consumed several hundred milligrams of crud in your lifetime. Sucks to be you!

  • I purchased a new Game Cube game on Wednesday (something I often do when my schedule is finally free enough that I should be doing something useful), Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance. It's a turn-based strategy game dressed up as a role-playing game and seems pretty fun so far despite it's clichéd nonsense title. Usually turn-based games are too slow for me to get into, but this one's both relaxing and addictive, with cheesy old-school graphics and a retro Super Nintendo-y musical score. Maybe I'll post a full review after I've gotten a little deeper into it.

  • I hate when I accidentally swallow my gum. Maybe this only happens to me because I am special, but I'll be swishing it around in my mouth or peeling it off the roof with my tongue and it will rocket down my throat. Then you have that uncomfortable feeling of something lodged in your esophagus until you can escape to a water fountain. Speaking of chewing gum, I only chew my food with the left side of my mouth. I have always done this, but I'm not sure why. The teeth on the right side must just be for decoration.

  • We're expanding our fifth floor offices at work so a construction crew has been tearing down drywall for a couple days. I find it highly amusing that I got to work this morning and the entire lobby smelled like beer. I'm presuming, at least, that the construction crew had a happy hour last night, since our drunk software developers don't see the light of day until Friday evenings.

  • I am sorely in need of a haircut, since I currently look like some sort of indigenous Asian wildebeest. However, there are only twenty-three shopping days until Christmas, so I'm trying to put it off for a couple more days. My reasoning is that haircuts generally last about three weeks before they start to look scrubby, so if I can hold out a few more days, I won't look scrubby in the ubiquitous family pictures on the 25th. I could just get two haircuts, but I can't justify doing that when I could get a haircut and go to McDonald's three times with the same amount of cash. Besides, if I'm scruffy, maybe someone will mistake me for a homeless person and put me in a movie.

  • I'm done with all my Christmas shopping. This is made easier by the fact that my family gets the same genre of gift for each other every year since we no longer go overboard with the present-giving. I need to get my mom hooked on another TV show that has multiple seasons within the next three years, or else I'm going to be out of gift ideas.

  • Surprisingly, I have no plans this weekend, which is "as it should be" with winter weekends. That being said, if any of you would like to see a movie or go on a pirate adventure tonight or this weekend, just give me a call. Have a good weekend!

  • You can probably get a spanking for much cheaper by using local labour
    The Bucks stops here
    What is that? That's where you were going? Oh, man. You wasted my time!

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    day in history

    Monday, December 05, 2005

    Monday Morning Football

  • VT ended up losing to FSU, 22 - 27. The funniest part of the game came in the fourth quarter when Vick ran a touchdown in (bring it to a five-point game), spiked theball in celebration, twisted his ankle in the celebration, got a flag for said celebration, and then hobbled through a failed two-point conversion. Classic.

  • My favourite player on our team is Clowney, solely because his name is Clowney. He complained a lot during Saturday's game, and someone should tell him, "You were being an assclowney!"

  • The USC-UCLA game bled out of its time slot into the VT-FSU game's slot on Saturday, but ABC proudly aired it to the bitter end, even though USC was ahead by over fifty points. Games like that must be painful for announcers -- there's really not much you can say positively about the losing team other than "It doesn't look like they're going to give up easily!". Plus, no one is watching anyhow, since the fans have all left to beat the traffic and the people at home are catching reruns of America's Funniest Videos.

  • I don't understand why TV stations create those little segments where the football players get to talk. Obviously many of them have troubles forming complete sentences -- at the very least they should find the ones with a whit of eloquence for a national broadcast.

  • Marcus Vick's first car was a Cadillac Escalade. What the heck. My first car was a 1991 Dodge Spirit that eventually had two flat tires, two broken belts, and a destructionated transmission. His segment, "Fun Facts about Marcus Vick", was immediately followed by a commercial for that car.

  • The commercial where the lady drinks a Dr. Pepper and everyone starts singing the M'nah M'nah song is kind of cute, but they did not need to show it in every commercial break. Around the third or fourth replay, you start to notice details like the fact that none of the background actors are lip-synching the same syllables. The commercials during LOST are worse though, since many of them repeat within the same commercial break. I'm waiting with bated breath for the day of embedded commercials, when Jack wanders up to Kate on day 108 on the island, says "Not going anywhere for awhile?" and hands her a Snickers bar from the hatch.

  • Because today's update is short, I'm adding an audience participation aspect -- make up a funny caption to go with this picture. The winner will receive an all-expense-paid trip to my house, or a picture of a pencil with their name on it:

    A grandma who knows how to have fun
    A grandma who knows how to have fun
    A grandma who knows how to have fun

    Yesterday's search terms:
    jumping over buildings eminem mpeg, japanese schoolboy wearing shorts, the legend of zelda ocarina of time porn, manly pointer

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    day in history

    Tuesday, December 06, 2005

    We went to see the movie version of RENT last night and ended up being the only people in the theatre. Apparently everyone was hiding in their basements with a surplus of corn flakes, milk, and toilet paper in anticipation of the first winter storm catastrophe of the season (because in the event of a blizzard, you should immediately begin making Hummel figurines out of paper maché so you have something to trade for food when the snow melts and people return above ground for the first time in twenty years to repopulate the Earth). Ultimately, the snow ended up being pretty in the air and slushy on the ground, and I only spun out fourteen times on the way home.

    Going into the movie, I was someone who knew the original cast recording by heart, but had never seen a stage version of it. I thought the original scores were very catchy and eclectic and the drama had a few high points, though other parts were too dragging and could have used some streamlining or reworking. All of this is captured in the movie version, which meanders through the most important threads of the show, doing some very well and others just passably.

    All of the actors did exceptionally well in their performances, which is expected since they spent years of their life in these same roles on Broadway. It was definitely nice to hear them do their familiar songs, although Taye Diggs and Adam "boy do I have way too much hair" Pascal have lost a little bit of the young vocal vibrancy they had ten years ago. I wasn't too thrilled with the replacement they used for Mimi, Rosario Dawson, although she grew on me as the movie went on. I felt like her voice was too pretty and mature for the role she was in. The original, Daphne Rubin-Vega, was not a great singer by any means, but felt more believable as a 19-year-old.

    The film dragged the most when it tried to act like a play. The movement of the "Seasons of Love" anthem from the second act to the beginning, with all the cast members just standing on a stage felt totally out of place. Some numbers seemed to have been translated directly to film without any use of film techniques. I think that if you're going to do something in a different format, you should try to take advantage of what makes that format work, rather than do a rigid one-to-one. RENT on film probably loses much of the energy you would get from a live performance, and many scenes just seem a little limp. The film works best when it doesn't just stick to the original script -- adding energy from camera motion and moving from room to room (which you can't do on a stage), or intercutting musical numbers with montages and flashbacks. Some of the most effective songs in the film were the ones where the actors were singing over a silent montage rather than singing in the frame. I thought the sequence for "Without You" that ended with the funeral was point-perfect and probably more emotional than it could have been on stage.

    There were some interesting cuts made in the name of trimming the running time, although it's still about twenty minutes too long. All of the "Christmas Bells" sequences were removed, yet they left in the entire Santa Fe song which could have been trimmed out. The omission that I missed most was the "Halloween / Goodbye Love" sequence right after the funeral. To me, it seemed like one of the most important parts of the show, since it really explores what's going on between Roger and Mimi, and confronts Mark about his own issues. It was also a little jarring to hear much of the sung dialogue spoken, especially when it rhymed. I was not aware that Dr. Seuss had been called on as a lyrics coach.

    The film is supposedly rated PG-13 but it is definitely just as racy as Broadway show was. Despite the fortunate removal of the "Take Me" song, all the lyrics are here in their entirety and it's definitely not a movie you want to send your 13-year-old off to see. Apparently PG-13 is now broad enough to include pole dancing, heroin injection, swearing, bare asses, and songs honoring masturbation. I'm not sure how Chris Columbus managed to pull that off -- my bet is that the review board presumed that the guy who made Home Alone, Harry Potter, Mrs. Doubtfire, and Adventures in Babysitting couldn't possibly make a racy movie, so they didn't even watch it.

    So is the movie worth seeing? I liked it more than not. If you are a fan of the show, you should go see it, if only to enjoy the incredible performances of the original Broadway stars. There will be parts you hate and parts you probably like better. The story definitely doesn't feel as topical as it might have been last century, but the music is still solid and doesn't disappoint.

    It also put me in a musicals mood, so I can start looking forward to Les Miserables, which I will be taking my clan to in mid-January at the National Theatre. I promise not to devote an entire week to it like I did when I went in 2002.

    LOST stars party too hard in Hawaii
    One more reason not to live in Canada
    Mr. Konieczka said the youth left after being told the birds were guinea hens.

    tagged as reviews | permalink | 4 comments
    day in history

    Wednesday, December 07, 2005

    The first wave of seasonal drivers hit the roads yesterday -- the ones who apparently stay home all year long and then shower the world with the rain of their inept driving and parking skills, flooding every road and parking lot. Having lived in a cave for eleven months out of the year, they come out in their albino SUVs to go Christmas shopping, completely unaware of how people are used to doing things, like the guy on the Metro who stands on the left side of the escalator, or the retarded coworker that doesn't understand that questions are not welcome when a meeting has already run forty-five minutes over. As Christmas gets closer, these types of people become more prevalent, and you find me staying at home out of stores much more often.

    I only have one more present to purchase for Christmas. The reason for this is that it does not yet exist, and while I am a particularly savvy online shopper, even I am not that talented. Now that I have a secret cubbyhole full of presents in my house, I come to the part where I have to wrap them all. I hate wrapping.

    Actually, wrapping is tolerable when the items have a predefined shape, are not squishy, all corners are right angles, and there are no more than six sides. If the present should decide to stray from these narrow constraints, it will most likely be thrown in a bag with some colourful tissue paper, or put inside a shape-approved box and wrapped. These constraints are directly responsible for the high popularity of books, movies, and gadgets as gifts that I buy, rather than pillows, livestock, or cornucopias.

    You'd think a neat and orderly person like myself would be a superb wrapper, but this is not the case. Excess paper gets folded up and hidden under some Scotch tape, the scissors lines look inspired by shots of vodka, and there is never any kind of fancy ribbon in snazzy Moebius patterns unless I can just stick a big bow on the front with more Scotch tape (I also used to wear clip-on ties as a kid). If you think my presents look bad, you should see how I fold my laundry. Undergarments don't even warrant a folding, and all types of shirts, from T-shirts to dress shirts, get folded once in the middle and then once more with the sleeves tucked in a fold. All of my clothes are essentially stored away in quarters, which makes for some rather avant-garde wrinkle patterns when I finally pull them out to wear. I guess it's good that I only have a small number of outfits, since they all end up being wrinkly wads at the end of the day anyhow. I could go out and buy more, but then I would have to put up with seasonal drivers, and nothing in stores fits me anyhow.

    Instead I will just stay home with my wrinkly shirts, unwrapped presents, and cats in my lap, pretending to watch new episodes of LOST when in reality the entirety of this month is just a bunch of repeats.

    The building wins
    Two men were seen running from the blaze, one of whom was disguised as Father Christmas
    We wanted to represent the Bible in a different way and to interest young people

    Yesterday's search terms:
    surviving christmas snood, when will niagra falls disappear, where is george bernard shaw's letter about cremation, who discovered calmagite, when was discovered calmagite, undress woman super site, demolay the charges are monstrous

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    day in history

    Thursday, December 08, 2005

    Vote for your favourite in the left sidebar. Voting ends Monday morning!

    In other news, we're supposed to get 3 to 6 inches of snow and sleet by noon tomorrow. This is a meteorological synonym for "Work at Home".

    Home Makeover goes to Virginia Tech
    It is not yet known whether alcohol was involved.
    Classical music makes you feel like a yuppy

    Yesterday's search terms:
    no bake cheesecake powerpoint, who are the principal composer in tonal expansion, iran claims success in its attacks on iran

    tagged as contests | permalink | 1 comment
    day in history

    Friday, December 09, 2005

    Friday Fragments

    the best update idea I ever done stole

  • Would you believe me if I told you that this was the 21st Fragments column I've written? That means that many of you have had nothing better to do than visit diligently for over five months now. Get jobs, slackers. In honor of its 21st edition, I will be taking the column out for drinks and a "(space)bar crawl" tonight. We will subject ourselves to multiple shots of alcohol like old prose and hopefully predicate our night with a few prepositions from sorority chicks.

  • To put this duration in perspective, and to alleviate the recent decline in name dropping, here are some fun times to consider:
    • Brian Uri! has been alive for 314 months.
    • It has been 113 months since I graduated from high school with Jack Wilmer.
    • It has been 90 months since I roomed with Dan Shiplett who was dating a girl at Tech who I had gone to junior high school with who had also dated the guy I mentioned that wrote that I was a jerk in my seventh grade yearbook.
    • I have known Anna for 75 months.
    • It took Kelley Corbett 74 months to get the hell out of Blacksburg.
    • I started working at FGM full-time 30 months ago. I've worked there a total of 39 months though.
    • Mike Catania has (surprisingly) not lost interest in updating the Chompblog in 25 months.
    • I've been reading Kim's blog for about 12 months but I have only known that I already knew her for 8 months.
    • Kathy Biddick lived in my house for 3.5 months.
    • Greg and Ian both discovered their name in an entry less than 1 month after I wrote about them, using Google.
  • Oh shit, fragments within fragments! It's on now. Did I just blow your mind?

  • Reporters on a slow news day think the younger Barbara Bush is engaged because she has some tin-foil-looking thing wrapped around her finger. I'd believe it even if the ring does look like a Cracker Jack prize -- Barbara Bush is hot. We ourselves would be married at this moment, following our torrid love affair in '99, but I didn't want to have Secret Service guys swarming my house at all hours of the day. A guy's got to have his privacy, you know.

  • Denzel Washington recently donated a bunch of money to the hometown of Herman Boone, driver's ed teacher at T.C. Williams, home of Remember the Titans. It has actually been about two years since anyone has brought up that movie when I tell them where I went to high school.

  • When I was a kid spending summers at my grandparents' house in Michigan, my sister and I got a weekly allowance which we could spend on clay statues at the local artisan's shoppe. We would buy them on Sunday and then paint them all week long. The little church I painted (yellow) is still an integral part of the Christmas decorations at my parents' house. Once, I spent my entire allowance on a massive haunted cemetary diorama that looked a lot like Castle Greyskull. I couldn't afford to have it kilned (an extra $5) but I wanted that sculpture so badly that I dismissed all the warnings that the clay was still fragile. As soon as we got home, it shattered and I cried for an hour. My grandparents took me back that same day to get another statue on them. I got a cat and painted it like our old cat, Cindy, who was grey with a white spot on her neck. This cat statue still sits in my basement.

  • I only have one picture of that cat. I have two pictures of our guinea pigs, and one picture of our chameleons. There is no photographic evidence of the two years that I had fishes. To put these numbers in perspective, there are over 700 pictures of Booty and friends alone on this website.

  • They have replaced the speed trap on the Fairfax County Parkway with a big flashing sign that says, "CHECK YOUR SPEED", "50 MEANS 50". This sign is really misleading. I may not have a math degree, but on the Parkway, 50 means 70 unless there are officers present with radar guns. Oh wait, I do have a math degree -- this means that I have expertly proven the sign wrong by contradiction. Maybe the second 50 is in Spanish and 50 is Spanish for 70. Let me put these numbers in perspective for you:

  • Our company holiday party this year is titled, "Black-White-Silver Gala". First, I don't understand why people just can't call them parties anymore. Gala makes it sound like I have to buff up my diamond shoes before I go, and I hate doing that unless I can use my limousine for the entire night. Second, why does the title have to have three colours? Yes, I would like to go to a partygala with the absence of colour, all colours, and a colour that's somewhere in the middle but more sparkly. Sounds like fun. [The previous thought would be funnier if read by Mitch Hedberg]. Third, why does it need a title? It's a party, not a work of literature, and it's not going to be confused with the "Maroon-Gold" party down the street. Fourth, feel free to be politically correct and not call it a Christmas party, but why does it have to be in January? When I become the CEO of a multinational company which profits from making zippers in second-world sweatshops (because the third-world ones don't have enough zipper teeth to go around), my party is going to be on December 25th and I'm going to call it "Pirates of the Caribbean: Red and Green Party, Ho ho ho mofo". The prefix is there because we saw from the 2004 Oscars that things with colons in the title generally get more awards than their counterparts (see also, Lord of the Rings).

  • I'm going to work from home today because of the snow, which we didn't get much of. However, what we did get is like a trifle -- a layer of ice, an inch of snow, and then a layer of slush packed tightly together. This would probably not be very pleasant to drive through, especially getting out of my neighbourhood. And apparently, there is a ghost lamp which keeps appearing in all the pictures I take today.

  • Once again, I have no major weekend plans although I might go into work one night, so contact me if you would like to get down and get funky, or watch a movie. Have a great weekend!

  • Call your dog
    The pen is mightier than the sword
    One passenger rolled down his window, hollered obscenities at Linn and hurled a half-full can of soda before he realized Linn was a trooper.

    tagged as fragments | permalink | 9 comments
    day in history

    Monday, December 12, 2005

    Congratulations to Rachel, who submitted entry #6 in last Thursday's Funny Caption contest ! She wins a picture of a pencil with her name on it, presented by the ineffable Booty. Runner-up with 5 votes was Mike with entry #1 and Anna with entry #3. They each win a picture of a pencil with Rachel's name on it, presented by the charming Booty. Full results are posted in last Thursday's post.

    My weekend was quite laid back. When not devising new ways to plant pencils on Booty so they would stay put until I managed to whip out my camera and take a picture, I played games, read books, watched movies, and went to work. I worked enough hours over the weekend that I'll probably take a day off at the end of this pay period. I also watched Mr. and Mrs. Smith which was harmless fun, but took way too long to get rolling. I think it's interesting that all movies have to go through the basic setup of plot even though every movie watcher knows what the movie's about when they walk into the theatre, since movie previews these days tend to give everything away immediately. In the case of this movie, every movie poster and trailer pretty much proclaims, "He's an assassin! She's an assassin! They cross paths, with sexy results!", yet forty minutes go by without any sign of this, and when this plot point is finally revealed, the surprise is gone.

    If only there were a way to make a movie preview that doesn't give ANYTHING away while still making the movie appear interesting enough to go see. How much more effective are movies like Memento and Sixth Sense when you walk into them with no preconceptions about the plot? "This kid sees dead people, and Bruce Willis helps him out, with sexy results!" On the flip side, trailers for crappy movies should end with a disclaimer saying, "You have seen all the cool parts of this movie, so please save your ten dollars". Everyone's seen the supposedly funny movie where all the funny lines were harvested to make a festive wreath of a trailer, leaving absolutely nothing redeeming in the movie itself, or the movie that looks intriguing in previews but limps across the screen like a peg-legged pirate in the sand trap of the ninth hole.

    Left in my Blockbuster queue (which is like a Netflix queue, but requires you to go into Blockbuster, rent more than one movie, and then put them in some kind of order, often alphabetical) is Batman Begins which I wasn't particularly interested in, but which everyone seems to rave about. Side note: When I was a kid, I thought Bruce Wayne and Bruce Willis were interchangable, and since I didn't know who either one was, I figured Batman was supposed to be disguised as some Hollywood actor. I'll probably watch that tonight -- it's 140 minutes long though, which in my opinion, is ridiculous for an action movie. If Batman Doesn't End someone high up is going to have to pay. Starting with Michael Keaton.

    The bizarre world of Patrick Byrne's Overstock
    Patterson pressured them to indulge Koko the gorilla's "nipple fetish"
    A remote control that works on humans

    Yesterday's search terms:
    llama fun, big and very big hole drilling, congressmen who wanted to punish the south severely

    tagged as day-to-day, contests | permalink | 9 comments
    day in history

    Tuesday, December 13, 2005

    Newsday Tuesday

    Judge Invalidates Admission by Va. Slaying Suspect

    Officer: "Do you know why we're here?"
    Suspect: "Yeah, because I stabbed my mom in the neck."

    A Virginia judge invalidated a killer's confession because he blurted it out before the officers were able to read him his Miranda rights. Apparently the judge expected the officers to treat their opening statement as a legitimate part of the interrogation, when anyone with a bit of common sense knows that a cop always starts with that phrase. It's as common as opening a chess game with a pawn or asking the hefty guy at the All-You-Can-Eat Shrimp Night if he wants extra pie. "Do you know why we're here?" isn't a question that invites a confession so much as a polite way of saying "You're sketchy and we're about to ask you some questions." And obviously the suspect wanted to confess, so the judge tossing out this bit of evidence is a lose-lose situation for everyone involved.

    TV Writers Must Sell, Sell, Sell

    Product placement in TV shows increased 84 percent last year. I don't mind product placement at all if it's not the focus of a scene -- for example, driving past a billboard for Snuckey's or drinking a can of Pepsi without commenting on it is fine. Making every car in a show a Ford and having a character yell out "Get in the F-150!" is stupid. Alias is especially silly in this regard since every vehicle in the 3rd season was some kind of Ford. I also think that an increase in product placement should result in a decrease in normal commercials but apparently networks do not believe in a life of balance.

    My, Christopher Robin, you've changed

    I have no sentimental attachment to the Pooh-verse, so the decision to turn Christopher Robin into a more-marketable little girl doesn't really bother me at all, but I'm sure Pooh-bahs all over the world will be outraged at the change. All I remember of watching the animated cartoon as a kid was that Pooh and Piglet were fun to watch but Eyeore and Tigger were obnoxious, and I probably only read the books a couple times. The article ends with four other changes to cartoons for mass-media's sake, including this one: The narrative of Enid Blyton's The Little Black Doll, a black doll that wanted to be pink, was reversed to avoid possible racist interpretations. Black tabby, indeed.

    Video shows police handcuffing 5-year-old

    After pouting in an empty classroom for thirty minutes, a kindergarten girl is escorted to the principal's office where she tears things off the walls and breaks stuff on the desk. School administration, rightfully fearful of frivolous lawsuits, call the cops who handcuff the girl (who has calmed down by then) and chuck her in the paddy wagon.

    The school teachers obviously did all the "right" things here, although it's a shame when the right things pander so much to bratty kids these days. After about ten minutes of putting up with the little princess, the teacher should have gotten mom back on the phone and mom should have given her blessing to launch the kid out of a cannon or something equally as creative. All kids have tantrums, but when your kid does stuff like this at school and refuses to listen for thirty minutes, you're probably not doing something right as a parent. Also, the police response was stupid -- frightening the kid after she's already calm and sitting does nothing to fix the original behaviour. It's like collecting puppy pee in a cup everytime your puppy pees on the floor and then pouring it on his food eight years later -- the puppy, by then a snarling mastiff, will have no recollection of his bad behaviour, and will then eviscerate you and use your head as a squeaky toy.

    Nude ear-squat video clip inquiry starts

    This article reads like a junior high book report. They never directly tell you what an ear-squat is, so I'm presuming it's common knowledge in Malaysia. Personally, if I were to invent a procedure which forces criminals to expel foreign objects from local borders like that, I would pick a much saucier name than "ear-squat". That just sounds like a fetish gone bad.

    German diner fined for biting waitress' toe

    A German court fined a man for biting a waitress on the toe and drawing blood after he spilled beer on her foot and she told him to lick it clean.

    What the heck. You told some random stranger in a restaurant to lick your foot. It's your own fault that your foot is now a vampire. There is a reason that the napkin industry makes billions of dollars every year -- to prevent tragic situations such as this one.

    Yesterday's search terms:
    jason price trumpet, free midi file of when santa got stuck up the chimney, how online marketing is happening in reuse condom, "asian baylee" porn -sweet, interestyng storys

    tagged as newsday | permalink | 0 comments
    day in history

    Wednesday, December 14, 2005

    Drive-By Musings

  • Why do tow trucks get flashing lights? Is it to say, "Look at me, I haul broken stuff."? Are they more dangerous than any other car and thus, require extra warning signs? If so, then why don't student drivers and drivers from Maryland get flashing lights too?

  • Why are speeding, aggressive driving, and reckless driving all given a negative perception when reckless driving is really the only dangerous one? You could be driving eighty miles an hour on any highway in the area and still be driving at a safe speed for the conditions at the time. Speeders and aggressive drivers are the ones that keep traffic moving when it would otherwise be congealed by the lolly-gaggers who like to swim four abreast, blocking every lane. Ticket the guy who's not using his turn signals and who's making more than four lane changes in ten yards, not the guy going ninety in the left lane on a straightaway.

  • What do you do if you're following unfamiliar instructions and you miss a turn? Do you find your way back to that spot and make the turn? I always keep going and try to circle back from the next turn, in hopes of finding a new way to get there. Once I was in Langley and missed the turn for the Dulles Toll Road, so I decided to go all the way back to Sterling by Georgetown Pike. There's a mansion going up next door to the entrance to Great Falls.

  • The lanes of a highway should be like law and order in the Old West. The farthest right lane should be the one where everyone obeys the speed limit, moves in an orderly fashion, and bakes each other pies. The farthest left lane should be every-man-for-himself where the first man home gets a prize. The lanes in the middle should be a gradient between the two extremes. People driving towards the left should know what they're getting into and not have the right to righteous indignance when people start honking and passing them.

  • I hate those pressure-plated lights along the Fairfax County Parkway and Dranesville Road that allow all the rich yuppies immediate gratification in getting out of their million-dollar subdivisions. The fact that you poop diamonds does not give you the right to interrupt everyone's commute so your lone car can get on the highway.

  • Red-light running would be greatly reduced if intersections just had mechanical blast doors that shot up out of the ground as soon as the light turned red. People would be less likely to jump the red with six inches of titanium waving hello to their cars, and you also wouldn't have to worry about those clowns that start inching inappropriately into the intersection in search of a speedy take-off at the green.

  • His hindsight, however, isn't half bad.
    Paris Hilton display upsets neighbors
    Neighbours say the lynched Santa doll is not in the Christmas spirit

    tagged as random | permalink | 22 comments
    day in history

    Thursday, December 15, 2005

    Musical Musings

    The temperature was near 10 degrees with gusty winds, since this morning was an appetizer for the wintry mix we're supposed to get later today. So it was with great reluctance that I woke up at 7:30 AM instead of 5:30 AM and cranked the heat up to a toasty 73 degrees. Now you are at work, and I'm not. LOL!

    Actually, I had already planned on taking today off, because by the end of yesterday I was already one hour over my quota for the pay period, and I don't believe in overtime unless it's for something extraordinary (see also, December 2004 where I worked 80-hour weeks for about two months). After a leisurely morning of English muffins, blankets, and cats, I'm now ready to sit down to write today's update.

    I haven't practiced my trumpet in a couple weeks, because the amount of effort I put into maintaining some minimal level of proficiency does not balance out the satisfaction I get out of playing. Going back to the "List of Crap I Will Never Get Around To Do" I wrote in July, I decided to start composing again. To get back into this, I've been listening to everything I ever wrote in hopes of some inspiration.

    The problem with composing is that I was great at coming up with ideas before I got to the composer academy but was not so good at bringing those ideas to maturity. Now, I have enough craft to develop ideas, but I tend to second-guess all the new ideas I come up with, as a direct result of years of learning in an environment of bubble-boy composers who automatically dismiss anything remotely tonal or derivative as shallow.

    I also went through my folder of collected germs, where I used to transcribe fragments and melodies as they came to me (The benefit of having a tiny apartment is that your keyboard is right next to your bed so you can record your ideas when you wake up in the middle of the night). I found a few pretty ones that I'd like to use someday in an appropriately crowd-pleasing venue: (515KB MP3). The last one on the MP3 was in my "Dreamt Melodies" folder and I can't even remember doing it.

    Since I'm having trouble coming up with worthwhile new ideas, I've decided to tiptoe back into composing by reworking the string quartet which I wrote at FSU in 2001 and which I now hate. I think the third movement (2MB MP3) came out well because it covers two areas which I do reasonably well: tying everything together for a nice conclusion, and creating interesting rhythms. Rhythm is the backbone of interesting music -- don't let those crazy musicologists tell you that it's harmony or repetition or any other nonsense.

    The entire third movement was spun out of a minute-long section from my debacle of a first movement (547KB MP3) which could be run through a grapefruit strainer and cut down by two or three minutes, doing all of the listening world a favour. The rest of this movement says to me now, "This is my first serious piece written for a serious ensemble at a serious music institute (!) so I'd better write it so I get taken seriously. Seriously? Seriously!". The second movement has a neat melody, but otherwise says, "I spent all day playing Super Smash Brothers at Mike's apartment, but I'd better write a couple more notes on the page for next week's lesson". By the time I wrote the third movement, I'd gotten over any preconceptions about school and other composers and just wrote whatever was fun to do.

    Luckily I still like my Master's Thesis though. There's not a note about it I would change.

    Tyce Honer, 4, said he forgot he had put Louis the 10-pound cat in a refrigerator in the family's barn to keep it safe.
    Stay away from your local mini golf course, or maybe we meant Tappahanock
    Playmates Arrested After Flight

    tagged as random, music | permalink | 4 comments
    day in history

    Friday, December 16, 2005

    Friday Fragments

  • The last time I was in Costco, the cashier looked at my membership card and flagged down a manager. I thought they had discovered my secret identity as an agent of the Zambian Black Rose, but they just wanted to tell me that I was eligible for a Costco Executive Card, based on the amount of money I spend there. I don't know whether to be sad or proud that I spend more than the GNP of Burkina Faso on a household of one. I guess I just can't resist the bulk boxes of Velveeta Shells and Cheese.

  • When I was a kid, my dad always bought us a yearly copy of PC-World, almanac/mapping software, in hopes that we would learn something. One day I looked up the country with the lowest literacy rate and it was Burkina Faso. That's all I remember from about six iterations of PC-World.

  • It Wasn't Me by Shaggy makes me laugh: (686KB MP3). New on my playlist this week:
    • Will Young - Switch It On
    • Girls Aloud - No Good Advice
    • Barenaked Ladies - One Week
    • Norah Jones - Don't Know Why
    • Keane - Bedshaped
    • Depeche Mode - Precious
    • Cardigans - I Need Some Fine Wine
    • The Verve - Bitter Sweet Symphony
    • Sugababes - Push the Button
    • Radiohead - High and Dry
    • James Blunt - You're Beautiful
    I am the definition of eclectic.

  • The picture above is an illustration of a new constellation, the Amber Belt. It has nothing to do with the playlist, except that Kathy requested more pictures of cats.

  • I once wrote that I never remember to buy things unless I make a list first. An exemplary example of this the humble toilet brush. There has not been a toilet brush in the house since Anna moved out, so I've always had to clean the toilets with sponges. Toilet brush actually ended up on a shopping list around September, but the inept cashier at Target forgot to put it in my cart, and it wasn't worth the $4.50 to drive back and hassle it out. I finally got a new toilet brush last weekend, a mere six months later. I also got a new fleece a couple weeks ago.

  • There is a big white tag in my corduroy pants that says REMOVE BEFORE WEARING OR WASHING. I've been wearing and washing them for about three months now, with no side effects. It must be a government brainwashing experiment which I've foiled -- stand strong and don't remove your tags!

  • The crazy Turkmenistan president is at it again, demanding penguins to be included in his desert zoo . I think the penguins would be more comfortable in his ice palace than the 104 degree desert, unless he plans to hire people with portable fans to keep the birds cool at all times. When I become the eccentric king of Antarctica, I will be importing various marsupials from Down Under for my Arctic Zoo, and hiring people to follow them around with red heat lights. If you would like to be one of my Koala Lampers, please let me know.

  • I'm going to be wrapping all my Christmas presents tonight, and might start working on the months-long Java Developer Certification project this weekend should I feel sufficiently motivated. As always, I'm open for other social opportunities like movie-watching and bison-riding. Just give me a call and leave a message with my personal assistant, Hilda. Have a good weekend!

  • In an incredible case involving allegations of murder, an international manhunt and noodles, Ontario police finally believe they know what happened
    'Sex rage' couple facing $34,000 bill
    Your husband's a doll

    tagged as fragments | permalink | 15 comments
    day in history

    Monday, December 19, 2005

    List Day: Crap in My Drawers

    Because organization is the key to a happy life (and Western Music), I have a four-drawer legal-sized file cabinet crammed full of files, programs, scores, and other useless trivia of the past. I have a file labelled "Misc. Stuff" that has the honor of storing everything that doesn't really go into any other file (or stuff that I throw into the cabinet when I'm too lazy to make a new label). Here's a partial list of the contraband you might find if you were to peruse this file:

    • The number I wore on my back in the 1993 Northern Virginia Regional Championship regatta with the Freshman B boat, a.k.a. the "our crew program is too big so we'll pretend there's such a thing as a 2nd freshman race so they don't feel bad about the fact that they suck too much to really be on the freshman boat" boat.
    • An unused ticket for the 2000 Sugar Bowl which I got as a benevolent gift some drunk band frat boy who had stolen a bunch of them from somewhere, and three tickets to the 2002 Gator Bowl, where I met up with my Tech friends while living in Florida and spent the entire trip huddled in misery with the flu. Apparently, Philip Barbie, who bought the tickets for the trip, bought a few too many.
    • A sheaf of car-game papers from a trip to Virginia Beach in 2001 where I drove and everyone played Hangman, the License Plate Game, or Name that Automobile Logo.
    • Mini-golf scores from Motor World and Mutiny Bay. I always came in 2nd except for the other two games where I came in last.
    • A personality profile from 7th grade when they tried to make us all pick our career paths before it was too late. Here are excerpts from the profile, with witty social commentary included in parentheses based on who I am now.

        You are what VIP calls an "Enthusiast". You get things started and get exitedly involved (false). You like learning about yourself and your world around you (true). People like being with you because you are warm (not this winter) and understanding, and always willing to help someone. You are a natural leader (you do not run on nuclear power).

        When planning for a career, you might want to think about jobs that let you use your creative skills, like the arts (BU the composer), communication (BU the blogger) or any of the human service areas (hell no). You might consider a career that lets you work with people rather than competing with people (hell no). You are outwardly centered which means you are keenly aware of what is going on around you and what is happening to others (true). You like being with people (true) and people like being with you (they're all greedy bastards who want in my will).

        You learn things holistically -- you learn the concept, then you learn the important details later (very true). Details and step-by-step instructions may make you uneasy or bored (completely opposite).

        When you make your important decisions, you automatically consider other people's feeling, views, and opinions, making sure your decision is based on what is best for everyone and everything. This is an important personality function because this helps make you kind (woo). Sometimes you make your decisions using only the facts at hand and without considering other peoples' views. This at times can be confusing to those with whom you work and play (what a stupid paragraph -- "You only like to eat apples, but sometimes you like to eat oranges. You are confusing to others because of this. Stop that.").

        You are flexible in your operational style -- when you start something and some other thing comes along, you do not get upset at having to change or start over. Openness is an excellent trait, because you are easy going and you base your activities on what is important at the time (still very true).

    • A bumper sticker for the FSU School of Music ("College of Music" my ass) that was taped to the inside of my window in Florida for two years, next to the bigger VT bumper sticker.
    • Mini-recorder tapes of five crew races from my senior year, NOVA's, Stotesbury, and Nationals.
    • My Titan Super Saver card, a weak band fundraiser which was essentially useless except for the 10% off of bowling. Bowling discounts were key in high school.
    • A smattering of movie ticket stubs, from Memento to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
    • Two expired library cards for Alexandria and Fairfax.
    • All three of my high school ID cards, which show how tragically acne'd I was throughout high school. My senior ID has a sticker with my bus number on it. Apparently they thought we would forget how to get home.
    • Ticket stubs from the 2002 showing of Les Mis and the 2004 showing of Miss Saigon.
    • Five hotel key cards from various band and crew trips throughout high school and college.
    • A Virginia Tech Photocopying Services card required to make copies in the library. I think it still has a few cents on it.
    • A B.Dalton Book$avers card, expiration date 1/97. Anyone remember Brentano's and Egghead Software?

    Only six days until Christmas... My presents are wrapped, how about yours?

    Superman's package is too big
    'Ghost' blows himself up
    Man Finds Diamond Ring In Unlocked Car

    tagged as lists | permalink | 9 comments
    day in history

    Tuesday, December 20, 2005

    I hear that Bono is 33.3% of Time's Man of the Year Award for 2005, sharing the honor with Bill Gates and Mrs. Bill. Normally, I find celebrities' self-indulgence and disconnect with the real world highly amusing, but when it comes to Bono, I just get annoyed and impugn with impunity his worthiness to win. At least they picked two other winners, otherwise his ego might expand to an unimaginable point, increasing the surrounding air pressure, melting polar ice caps, and stranding thousands of sperm whales off an archipelago in the sea.

    I'm sure Bono has indirectly done some good for Africa by wearing leather pants and rearranging the same song for twenty years, but there's just something incredibly smarmy about his moral superiority and that everpresent smirk. You're an entertainer, no more and no less. Lose the messianic showboating. Plug your cause at your next concert, throw some money at it, and go back to being an entertainer. If you're going to write songs with political messages, at least make them catchy and fun to hear (see also Green Day and Manic Street Preachers) so people who don't give a whit about the deeper meanings can still enjoy them.

    Coldplay has the right idea -- they support a number of causes, all of which are linked in unassuming fonts on their website, or written in tiny print at the back of their CD jackets, with the understated message "We think these are important causes, so please visit them". In their XM interview, the interviewer asked why they didn't incorporate political messages into their music like U2. Chris Martin responded by playing a few bars from Clocks with some new lyrics about Dick Cheney, and said something to the effect of, "We could do it, but no one wants to listen to that bullsh*t". Amen, brother. Just don't name your next kid Banana, and your band will be set to steal U2's self-proclaimed "Gods of Rock" title.

    When I become a rock god, none of my money will go to established charities. Instead I will donate much of it to the "People I Like" Fund, to be spent as needed by its recipients. I think that donating money in a top-down fashion is inherently flawed because everyone between you and the guy that really needs it wants a piece of the pie. But, I also think that there isn't enough time or money in the world to make things better by donating directly to the people who need the money, so why not just shrug in a typical American fashion and pay off all my friends' loans?

    "There are probably more annoying things than being hectored about African development by a wealthy Irish rock star in a cowboy hat, but I can't think of one at the moment." - Paul Theroux

    Screech owl gets higher than a Georgia pine
    You've got mail, and maybe gonorrhea
    Cameras on the Dulles Toll Road are all fake

    tagged as random | permalink | 8 comments
    day in history

    Wednesday, December 21, 2005

    On the way home yesterday I made a quick stop at the Reston Best Buy for one last gift. Best Buy is nestled in one of those cozy yuppy strip-malls where the patrons outnumber the parking spaces like girls at a traditionally female liberal arts college trying to recruit guys for extra tuition. Now that the Christmas season is fully upon us, we're once again exposed to the yearly customs of how to behave in a parking lot. Here are a few pointers on proper Christmas shopping etiquette, if you are new to the area:

    1. If you can't find a spot, make your own spot: Especially good places for this are the loading area in front of stores, which is really just a bunch of wasted space, or the yellow curb at the back of the lot, directly next to an exit onto a main road. Your time is too important to cruise around the lot looking for spots, and shopping a couple weeks earlier is just unthinkable.

    2. Screw around with other drivers on your way out of the store: Walk tall, with keys in hand and a determined look on your face. Stride down a row of cars as if you know exactly where you're going. At the last second, turn into a CIA spy and duck left behind the black Chevy, cutting through several rows of cars to get to your own.

    3. Anyone can be an expectant mother or senior citizen: Those spots they reserve near stores for the elderly pregnant are completely up for grabs at Christmas time, because who can tell if you're 1-month pregnant? You can also take the sign's wording literally and claim that you're already a mother, but now you're just waiting for something. Even men can use these spots -- science has made great strides in recent years, so it's very plausible that I could have a fetus inside of me, and I don't even eat (many) babies.

    4. Screw around with other drivers on your way out of the store, part II: Pretend you don't know where you parked your car. Wander the lot, often cutting between rows. Find one that looks like yours and try to unlock it, then shrug apologetically and cut over to the next row.

    5. If you see someone leaving in a spot on your immediate right, you can claim it: Contrary to popular belief and/or physics, cars can make a perfect 90 degree right angle turn into a parking spot without having to back up or swing wide to the left. Try it.

    6. If someone is backing out, you should get right up on their bumper to make sure everyone knows you're taking that spot: If the guy leaving cannot maneuver because you're riding his bumper like a Depression-era hobo, that's his own damn fault for not planning ahead. Selfish asshole.

    7. If it's painfully obvious that the lot is full, check anyhow: Especially if you see cars cruising down every row looking for spots, you should come to a complete stop at the entrance of each row and stare down to the end with your superhuman vision. Maybe, just maybe, there's an open spot that the other twenty drivers missed, and it will be your lucky day! Woo.

    8. If you put on your turn signal, it means you get the spot: This is the consumer-method of marking your territory, and is much friendlier than getting out and peeing on someone else's car. If someone still takes your spot, you have the right to pee on their car anyhow. And poop. With corn.

    Following these tips should make the holiday commute more enjoyable for everyone involved. Happy Shopping!

    Researchers Find Barbie Is Often Mutilated
    Eminem Music Allegedly Used As U.S. Torture Device
    It's Not the Pipes, It's a Naked Man in Your Basement

    tagged as lists | permalink | 8 comments
    day in history

    Thursday, December 22, 2005

    I was sitting down to write an update about the Audubon Quartet last night when I was interrupted with a call from work to give a presentation tomorrow on my recent superior cutting edge work (which is really just a bunch of portal files with some Java code, and not anything particularly noble or cancer-reducing, but don't tell that to the Nobel judges). Because of that diversion, today's post will be a montage of neat pictures from my past, which I've set aside in the course of my archiving efforts. I now have a third computer in the house: LLAMA is my main machine, MUSIC is, obviously, the MP3-playing computer in the basement, and KOALA is my permanent backup/archive machine. KOALA sits under the desk next to LLAMA and sometimes they pretend to be indigenous. The point of the story is that I've spent the last couple days sorting through and archiving all my old photos, with the secondary hope that I can redo the Photos page on this site to make it less annoying and more like Webshots (which is annoying, but also quite keen).

    Georgia Tech Season Opener, 8/27/00Boston College, 10/00
    This Hokie-coloured storm was even cooler in person. Photo courtesy of ESPN magazine or something.

    Rose on the Beach, 10/13/01
    I had taken my second trip down to Marsh Sands Beach to write "Happy Birthday Anna" in the sand for a birthday card and came across a dozen fake red roses washed up in the surf amongst all the mutant horseshoe crabs .

    St. Mark's Lighthouse, Florida, 10/20/01
    Taken in Florida when my parents came down to visit for the weekend. I was pulled over on this trip by a state trooper for going 45 in a 25/protected-animal zone but let off with a warning because my dad was twice as tall as the officer. In this picture, I'm abusing the Photoshop filter I read about over on because it's so darn swell. Dooce is a very entertaining read in general -- go read it.

    Mike and Chompy, 04/07/03
    We ate dinner at Mike's a lot in an innocent era where the futon did not yet have AIDS from being gross. It might have just had a mild case of Chlamydia. Photo courtesy of Alex.

    View from my Office, 12/02/03
    This was taken back at the old office where I had a corner office with two walls of windows and a perfect sunrise view (since I worked from 5 AM to 1 PM). Too bad I had to share it with three other people and got the shafted middle spot. On my first monitor, you can see documentation for a crappy content management system which I read all day long for about a year before we cancelled the project because of a lack of anything good about it.

    Jenni, 6/18/05
    My favourite unrelated niece playing in the sand at Anna's wedding.

    Booty and Amber, 12/21/05
    My cats, taken about four hours ago. That's Booty in the background too, being all artistic and stuff. Amber is just autistic and stuff, and you can tell this because her new favourite game is to shut the bedroom door and then meow until I reopen it and let her out.

    Happy Birthday Karen Hovell!
    Riddle of "corpse bride" draws crowds
    Nestler requested that Letterman stay at least 3 yards away and not "think of me, and release me from his mental harassment and hammering."
    New Jersey: We can always use another relative on the payroll

    tagged as media | permalink | 7 comments
    day in history

    Friday, December 23, 2005

    Fri-hohoho-day Fragments

  • There's a Mariott Springhill Suites in Herndon next to the Fairfax County Parkway, but the sign is busted, so all you can see from the road is "cHill Suites". That, in my opinion, is a much better place to stay.

  • I don't think I've ever heard a single remix I've liked by Mylo. It takes zero talent to loop a one-bar vamp for four minutes, and even less to think you are being artistic by doing so.

  • I was roused from my slumbering party last night by incessant rapping around 11:15 PM. It wasn't Eminem making a housecall, but two Loudoun County policemen knocking on my neighbour's door and shining flashlights in the windows. Eventually they moved around behind the house and went in the patio door, although I don't know if they jimmied in or someone unlocked the door for them. After several minutes of flashlight-searching in the basement (during which time some lights finally came on upstairs), they left the house the way they came and returned to their squad cars. What could it have been? A drug deal? An immigration raid? The occupants may only speak Spanish, but there's only two of them living in the house. Fairfax County has more overflowing houses any day of the week. The mystery thickens like the layer of fat on a tin of leftover boiled chicken.

  • Why does biweekly mean every two weeks instead of twice a week? And why are the hot/cold dials in a car called Climate Control when the only way your car can control the climate is by driving farther south?

  • People are starting to post their "2005 in Review" posts, so I'd better jump on the bandwagon next week so I can remain topical. Maybe I'll devote the entire week to such a thing, so I don't have to come out with original topics, like "What's in my Bellybutton?"

  • I recently received an e-mail from Sony saying "We have reactivated your Everquest account for 21 free days. Please come back and play." I played Everquest when it first came out, back around 1998 or so and canceled the account mere months later. That was a different era, when online gaming meant hogging the phone line, and it was perfectly acceptable to play an online RPG for three months and only get to level 18. I had a Bard named Squiggy, and all I did was "kite" wisps so I could sell some expensive loot whose name I don't recall. The day before I closed that account because the game was excessively dull, I stripped him naked and gave away all my gear to other people in the realm. Now, I play Warcraft and have a Priest named Plinky. As you can see, my names are as cool as ever.

  • Today, my dad is making is annual batch of Christmas cookies from three genera: stop n' go, peanut butter, and sugar. The problem with Christmas is that it's distinctly lacking in any chocolate-based cookies (fudge is not a cookie). When I have big family Christmases someday, there will be nothing but Soft-Batch-style chocolate chip cookies as far as The Eye can see. And The Eye will be a Fantastic-Four-style superhero with super-vision, so you can damn well bet that he'll see pretty far. It's clobberin' time.

  • I did go to work today, but I'll be taking off at noon for some movie madness. Tomorrow morning, I'll be heading out to my parent's house where I'll spend the weekend with my massive extended family of 4 and then return home on Sunday night. I'd stay longer but I'm working on Monday and my kids would get lonely and probably eat each other.

  • Merry Christmas, you filthy animals. Tune in on Sunday for a very special episode of The URI! Zone.

  • Dog frozen to railroad tracks
    A Milwaukee firefighter was tricked by three other firefighters into performing a lewd act while on duty
    When your guinea pig is cold or has low self-esteem

    tagged as fragments | permalink | 4 comments
    day in history

    Sunday, December 25, 2005
    Monday, December 26, 2005

    Ho ho ho, and welcome back from your weekend of debauchery and food. My own was quite pleasant, starting with a Friday afternoon filled with movies and Chinese food. I saw Serenity for the second time, and Batman Begins for the first. The latter was definitely good, dispelling my belief that action movies longer than two hours automatically suck (see also, Bad Boys II: Stuff Blows Up). Christian Bale made a great Batman, and Actor Who Auditioned For Batman But Didn't Get It made a great Dr. Crane. The Katie Holmes role was pretty anemic, but that generally seems to be the case with any movie where a superhero has a love interest. You'd think they could use their super powers to attract better women, but I guess women are the Unstoppable Force, even to superheroes.

    As a belated Christmas treat, I've recorded a MIDI of an Agnus Dei I wrote in 2001 in the hallowed halls of Evan Jones' modal counterpoint classroom. It uses a familiar Christmas carol for its cantus and is aptly titled, "Deck the Halls with Lamb of God" (573KB MP3). You can see the last surviving copy of this masterwork on your right, which I narrowly salvaged from an overzealous trash man -- a slip of paper which will no doubt be worth millions some day.

    Actually, the crinkly look is a feature of Finale 2006, which lets you put graphics on the score, because making the score harder to read obviously enhances a composer's creativity and makes him more loved by the irate performers who have to excavate the notes from the morass of swampy bitmapped backgrounds. It's almost as bad as company e-mails sent in purple fonts with "Piece of Notebook Paper.gif" as the background. Every company has at least one perpetrator of those.

    Today, I also released an open-sourced version of my Warcraft 3 map, Onslaught, which you can download at I give it less than two months before some novice mapmaker steals it wholesale and releases a crappy derivative map, but I'm not working on it anymore and I figure that it could be a good learning tool of the JASS programming language for aspiring mapmakers. I didn't even realize that people still played Warcraft III, but I guess it's still pretty popular.

    Now that Christmas is out of the way, it's time to prepare for 2006. I usually don't make New Year Resolutions and 2006 won't be any different. Resolutions are for people in need of improvement, and I have obviously been a perfect specimen of idyllic human existence since puberty (or at least since I bought a propane grill). In fact, my agent is currently in talks with the Dover Area School Board to use me as proof-positive of Intelligent Design, a lucrative deal that will also put my mug on a set of coffee mugs, T-shirts, and playing cards. In the short-term though, I'll be busy unpacking, assembling, washing, wearing, and watching my various Christmas gifts, like the cozy scarf I wore to work this morning where I managed to close it in the car door (I am a scarf newbie). Luckily the scarf survived. What did you get for Christmas?

    Happy News: Upbeat stories, all the time
    Substitute music teacher spills the beans about Santa
    I don't know if it was on ring or vibrate, either.

    tagged as day-to-day | permalink | 2 comments
    day in history

    Tuesday, December 27, 2005

    2005 in Review, Part I of III

    Based upon Reuter's Pictures of the Year

    To be continued tomorrow...

    Losing your virginity is like losing a member of your family.
    Fiancee actually a man
    Indictment by mobile phone

    tagged as media | permalink | 0 comments
    day in history

    Wednesday, December 28, 2005

    2005 in Review, Part II of III

    Based upon Reuter's Pictures of the Year

    To be concluded tomorrow...

    Happy Birthday James Houck!

    Experts stunned: you don't learn anything in college
    Tobler told police that it was a longtime hobby of his to deliver the bottles
    Fake money stolen from real bank

    tagged as media | permalink | 2 comments
    day in history

    Thursday, December 29, 2005

    2005 in Review, Part III of III

    Based upon Reuter's Pictures of the Year

    Happy Birthday Becca!

    In 2003 he spent two weeks rolling a monkey nut with his nose
    Big suitcase or tiny husband?
    How to Date a White Woman: A Practical Guide for Asian Men

    tagged as media | permalink | 1 comment
    day in history

    Friday, December 30, 2005

    Friday Fragments

    It's the end of an era!

  • I hit every green light and got to work in seven minutes this morning. I love my commute. Some work friends moved from Del Ray in Alexandria to Herndon yesterday, so I'm sure they'll have so much commuting time freed up that they won't know what to do with themselves.

  • If you missed the stealth announcement in December 26's comment section, Kelley Corbett and Kathy Hanna are all engaged and whatnot. They started dating in 2001 when Kelley (my roommate from college year #4) lived in Foxridge across the street from Anna (my roommate from college year #5) whose current roommate was Kathy's ex (and he, at the time, was dating the girl living upstairs from Kelley). Kelley and Kathy are currently living in Spanish Harlem in New York, where Kathy is pursuing some kind of law degree involving lots of money while Kelley is pursuing some kind of trumpet degree involving no money whatsoever. Congratulations!

  • Here's another picture of Kelley from 1998 when he was a freshman and passed out on the Abbott bus on a Wind Symphony trip (not to be confused with the time he passed out in the bathroom during the Super Bowl while taking a poop). Both he and Shac, the guy next to him, had 40s clutched in their dirty mitts, but I edited them out so the pictures could appear on the trumpet web site, which was too closely affiliated with the marching band to show people consuming large quantities of alcohol. The number of 1998 pictures with hands in strange positions from cropped alcohol led people to joke that the trumpets had their own gang sign. There are more photos such as this one on my Photos page, some of them proving that I have no business being behind the viewfinder of a camera.

  • Hopefully his best man will put together a slide show to run during the reception. There are many more stories and photos which his guests would no doubt find highly amusing.

  • Speaking of Photos pages, I spent this week editing, sorting, and collating all one thousand nine hundred thirty-five (1935) pictures on the Photos page and redesigned the entire section so that you can see a whole album of pictures at one time. No more of this one-click-per-picture nonsense -- go check it out! Trips of nostalgia are always fun, especially when they involve Jason Chrisley in a wifebeater being chased around his own living room.

  • Anna is bringing Kitty and Sydney over this afternoon for a four-day playdate while she and Ben escape to New York for New Year's. This means that I will once again be in charge of four cats with no helping hands. Hopefully it will be easier this time -- when I did it during their honeymoon, Sydney was a feral Pac-Man that ate everything, including my thumb, Amber, and a bottle of human vitamins. This time around, I plan on locking them in a room with a gerbil and just checking up on them in a few days time. I'll have to keep an eye on Kitty now that my carpets are newer and my computer parts are replaced. She's a sweet cat except for those wire-chewing/carpet-ripping/pee-pee habits, but I guess if you got rid of the damage-dealing parts, all you would have left is a massive belly with a tail. Then you might as well have a pot-bellied pig.

  • Luckily someone else is caring for Baylee. When you pit four cats and an overactive puppy against one BU who has no one to tag-team with, it's called a Fatality. Despite his super powers.

  • I have a magic shampoo bottle. It was about 1/4 full when I moved to Florida and four years later there's still 1/8 left. Since my hair does get washed pretty regularly and it's not a greasy, matted miasma, I can only conclude that the bottle will never empty. Given the choice of magic neverending bottles, I would rather have had something other than shampoo in it, but I guess you take what you can get.

  • Which comes first, the cereal or the milk? And how could it possibly be questionable?

  • In Virginia, there are plain white signs all over the interstate exit ramps with "[your city here]" on them. I went to out of curiousity, only to find that it's just a back door to Yahoo Personals with RESTON hardcoded as the city you're interested in. This is handy, because when you're looking for a date online, you can get to the smooching five seconds faster (as long as you're confident that the city is smooch-worthy). I tried a bunch of other cities, but apparently Sterling, Herndon, and Fairfax are not smooch-worthy. This is probably because it's common knowledge that those cities are filled with gigolos who could get a date without any help from the Internet. Or alternately, there are no women in those cities that drive men wild.

  • Today's Fragments look bigger than normal, probably from the constipation of the picture-heavy segment that ran the past three days. Now that that's over, my words are spewing across the page like literary pimples.

  • There's nothing major going on this weekend, other than using my massive brain to temporally shift the entire world ahead by one year. My Eve plans fall into the "Comfy: I'm staying in" category since they are not party-centric. This is totally fine by me, because even after twenty-fivesix years, I still prefer the quiet evenings with a few folks over drunken raucous parties that end with letting all the animals out of the zoo. You can only do community service rounding up penguins a few times before it starts to get really really old.

  • Happy New Year! I hope you enjoyed the 2005 edition of the URI! Zone.

  • I made a dream come true. And I am not a pervert.
    It may have been smarter to leave the flour-filled condoms at school.
    The Ultimate Showdown

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