03/2006

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Oscars Week, Part III of IV

Original Score
    The Nominees:
    Brokeback Mountain
    The Constant Gardener
    Memoirs of a Geisha
    Munich
    Pride & Prejudice


    What will happen?
    John Williams is nominated for two scores this year, Munich and Geisha. I think it's about time he retired, allowing three to four young budding film composers to live on his massive salary. No one will have listened to the soundtrack for Pride and Prejudice because they were all waiting for Kiera Knightley to doff the dress, and I will automatically assume that the Brokeback score sounds stereotypically Western (because I have a degree in music which gives me the right to make such sweeping declarations), so Alberto Iglesias's score for Constant Gardener will win.
Original Song
    The Nominees:
  • "In the Deep" from Crash
    "It's Hard Out Here for a Pimp" from Hustle & Flow
    "Travelin' Thru" from Transamerica


  • What will happen?
    It's Hard Out Here for a Pimp, just because I would like them to sing a song about pimps and ho's at the Academy Awards. There is precedent, since Eminem's Lose Yourself won a few years back. In fact, I hope they make a medley performance of "It's Hard So A Pimp's Travelin' Thru Into the Deep". Where's Randy Newman this year? He should have written a song for Corpse Bridge called "It's Not Easy Being Dead But You're My Friend and I Heart You".
Sound Editing
    The Nominees:
    King Kong
    Memoirs of a Geisha
    War of the Worlds


    What will happen?
    There are quite a few categories with only three nominees this year. In my opinion, they should have padded out the categories simply so the voters have more choices. Not enough sound editing choices? Let's add The Polar Express or Leon Markeson's Instructional Sign Language for the Deaf. King Kong will win, because I'm pretty sure they did not simply go to the eighty-ton ape zoo and record a real eighty-ton ape for sounds -- they had to get an actor who just plays the ape on TV.
Sound Mixing
    The Nominees:
    The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
    King Kong
    Memoirs of a Geisha
  • Walk the Line
    War of the Worlds


  • What will happen?
    I'd say the mixing in Walk the Line was sound. The rest of the movies had subpar mixing, or didn't even include any mixing scenes in the plot. Give us a cake-baking scene at a bare minimum!
Adapted Screenplay
    The Nominees:
    Brokeback Mountain
    Capote
    The Constant Gardener
    A History of Violence
    Munich


    What will happen?
    Why didn't Proof get a nod here? It was pretty damn good despite its lack of solid resolution. I'm going to take a stab at what the original source materials for each of these movies was before Hollywood distorted them into their current forms:
    Donnie Darko II: Donnie reappears out of a shift in time and realizes that only sheep-herding will save the population of Wyoming.
    Truman: Traces the coincidences and intersections of various people named Truman throughout history, until a biblical rain of frogs erases any reason to take the movie seriously.
    The Occasional Gardener: When his wife dies in a major pharmaceutical scandal, the gardener goes on strike and refuses to fertilize the peonies.
    A History of Love: Small-town man is very happy and lives a quiet existence, owning a restaurant and occasionally going bowling.
    Turin: The world was not watching in 2006 as 11 American athletes failed to get gold medals at the Turin Winter Olympics. This is the story of what happened next.

    Based on this, History of Violence will get the nod.
Original Screenplay
    The Nominees:
  • Crash
    Good Night, and Good Luck.
    Match Point
  • The Squid and the Whale
    Syriana


  • What will happen?
    Squid and the Whale was NOT very good. Crash was good because of its acting and interconnections, not necessarily its screenplay. Good Night loses because of its period, and Match Point loses because a Point is like a Period. Syriana will win, because it's from the same family tree as the previously-winning Traffic.

To be concluded tomorrow...

A diver suffered severe lacerations to his buttocks when a boat was steered over him
Cleveland Police badge looks like a pig
Story about gum stain leads to interesting Sponsored Links

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Thursday, March 02, 2006

Oscars Week, Part IV of IV

Thank God Oscar week is finally over. This year's batch of movies were too tame and not very fun to make fun of. At least I've now done it for a full five years, so I can sell off the entire series into syndication. You'll no doubt be seeing reruns of BU's Oscar Picks, weeknights on TBS Superstation at 7 and 11.

Directing
    The Nominees:
    Brokeback Mountain
    Capote
  • Crash
    Good Night, and Good Luck.
    Munich


  • What will happen?
    This list is identical to the Best Motion Picture category and in all likelihood, whichever movie wins one will win the other. However, I'll put my meaningful vote on Crash, simply because it must have been a pain in the ass for a director to have to work with so much star power on a daily basis. I bet the only thing worse than corralling celebrities in Crash was doing it in Ocean's Twelve.
Actor in a Supporting Role
    The Nominees:
    George Clooney - Syriana
  • Matt Dillon - Crash
    Paul Giamatti - Cinderella Man
    Jake Gyllenhaal - Brokeback Mountain
    William Hurt - A History of Violence


  • What will happen?
    Matt Dillon is too funny-looking to seriously be considered for an Oscar, and he wasn't the greatest of the actors in Crash (although he should probably get an honorable mention for cleverness for managing to star in Wild Things with both Denise Richards and Neve Campbell). Of the remaining stars, I'll narrow it down to Jake Gyllenhaal and George Clooney. To determine which would triumph, I secretly labelled the two cat beds as the Clooney Bed and the Jake Bed (since I was having trouble spelling Gyllenhaal), then I let the cats go to sleep. As you can see, there were 1.5 votes for George Clooney and only the ass-half of a vote for Jake.
Actress in a Supporting Role
    The Nominees:
    Amy Adams - Junebug
    Catherine Keener - Capote
    Frances McDormand - North Country
    Rachel Weisz - The Constant Gardener
    Michelle Williams - Brokeback Mountain


    What will happen?
    Rachel Weisz and Frances McDormand are both slightly funny-looking. The world may be ready for gay cowboys, but they aren't ready for award-winning funny-looking people (which is why I haven't won any awards since high school). Of the remainders, I'll go with Catherine Keener because she was good in Being John Malkovich.
Actor in a Leading Role
    The Nominees:
    Philip Seymour Hoffman - Capote
    Terrence Howard - Hustle & Flow
    Heath Ledger - Brokeback Mountain
  • Joaquin Phoenix - Walk the Line
    David Strathairn - Good Night, and Good Luck.


  • What will happen?
    Jokin Phoenix wins this category hands down. I never really liked him after Gladiator, and then I finally realized that the reason I didn't like him was because he did such a good job being unlikable. In Walk the Line he completely became Johnny Cash, and also taught me the song, Ring of Fire. I wonder how they decided that Jake was supporting and Heath was the lead actor in Brokeback Mountain. I guess they just flipped a coin, or wrestled for it.
Actress in a Leading Role
    The Nominees:
    Judi Dench - Mrs. Henderson Presents
    Felicity Huffman - Transamerica
    Keira Knightley - Pride & Prejudice
    Charlize Theron - North Country
  • Reese Witherspoon - Walk the Line


  • What will happen?
    Judi Dench falls into the "funny-looking" category (as well as the "slightly scary" category, so she's an auto-lose. Of the remainders, I'd like Reese to win, but it will end up being Charlize Theron for tradition's sake. Keira has a few more years of prettiness before she finally dirties up enough to win an Oscar -- but she'll have to think of another role besides a homicidal prostitute.
Best Motion Picture
    The Nominees:
    Brokeback Mountain
    Capote
  • Crash
    Good Night, and Good Luck.
    Munich


  • What will happen?
    I am just one man, and a rather small one at that, so rather than continue to fight the tide of favour, I'll vote for Brokeback Mountain to win this category. The only problem with this is that we'll have to endure weeks of insipid news coverage earmarking it as a landmark event in gay rights, or something equally silly. No one said anything about gay hobbits when Lord of the Rings won the first time -- why does this movie winning automatically equate to a deeper meaning than "Hey, this was a good movie"?

Happy Birthday Mike Sharp, a.k.a. Junesy!

You can't force cats to do anything...
Another pants-less driver charged
Next come the laser beams

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Friday, March 03, 2006

Friday Fragments

The Fun Dip of Internet Culture

  • Yesterday I released an updated version of my Warcraft III mini-game, Micro Frenzy. You can go download it over at www.nohunters.com or right here in the Games section. It's only got a few minor improvements in it, but I figured that I might as well update it since more people seem to be playing it these days.

  • If all you clowns would put down your four-year-old game and commit to paying $156 a year for a World of Warcraft subscription, you would find a much more satisfying addiction in store for you. I hear that Kathy is planning on dropping her doctoral work in favour of resuming the WoW habit that she picked up while living in my house last summer. She'll probably argue that she spent all that time researching where the beat was or watching Iron Chef, but I know what she really did.

  • Speaking of Kathy, Kathy is coming up to visit her sugar daddy, Chris, all of next week, and they are scheduled to lose all their money at poker next Saturday, in a very special episode of Poker Night.

  • Speaking of Poker Night, I'm going to win tomorrow. I can successfully make this prediction, since I spent all week doing Oscar picks with 98% accuracy. Just you wait.

  • Last weekend there was no Poker Night, although we did watch Proof, which deserved an Oscar nod, and Just Like Heaven, which probably didn't. I also got Anna hooked on The 4400 (and she got Ben hooked), and my mom returned the complete Firefly series and Serenity, having been hooked on both. All in all, it was a successful weekend for my part-time occupation of "TV Show DVD pusher".

  • We also went to Maggiano's last weekend to celebrate my dad's 60+ Birthday where we gorged ourselves on the six-course family-style meal with all-you-can-eat leftovers. Those are some tasty treats.

  • An off-duty Alexandria cop moonlighting as a security guard shot up an SUV full of college kids who were fleeing without paying their IHOP bill last weekend. Those kids were morons for not paying their bill, but the cop was an even bigger moron for thinking that an unpaid bill required deadly force, whether he felt threatened by the vehicle or not. In that situation, you just write the license plate number down and radio ahead, or even get in your OWN car and pull them over. If, as the kids in the car say, he shot from the side and back, he gets +1 moron points for making up his story, and if, as he said, he stepped in front of an SUV to make it stop then shot at it because he felt threatened, he gets +2 moron points because he stepped in front of a moving SUV.

  • The mayor of Alexandria has been refusing to comment, citing the ongoing investigation. The least he could do is send out his condolences to the family of the shot kid. That avoids culpability while maintaining his own political stock -- now he just looks uncaring and on the side of the cop.

  • In other news, parents of a boy with Angelman's syndrome are indignant that they were asked to leave the theatre after their son laughed loudly and longly. This is stupid -- the Americans with Disabilities Act requires that the theatre try to accomodate them, but definitely not at the cost of the other moviegoers' enjoyment. They all paid their $10 to see the movie, and anyone who is raucous, cell-phone-talking, or obnoxious during the movie should generally be asked to leave. The family should have just talked to the theatre about coming to a late or private showing rather than going to a crowded theatre knowing that their son has disruptive behaviours. Otherwise it just looks like you have a chip on your shoulder and are trying to provoke a reaction.

  • When I was a kid, we had a lesser-known game that was billed as The Next Monopoly called Hotels. You moved around the board collecting $200 each round, buying hotel property and erecting hotel buildings on the lot. Then you bought entrances which you placed on various squares so you could charge people to stay at your hotel. I also bought the Boomerang Hotel, which was equivalent to Mediterranean Avenue in Monopoly, and got rich charging people pennies to stay in my slummy roach-infested hotel (not unlike the apartment buildings in Florida). I don't remember much more about the game except that getting the Waikiki was always smart because it had the most entrance possibilities.

  • This weekend will be mostly Java certification work. I've been reading and thinking about the assignment all week, and like Tom Fitzgerald in The Great Brain, I've let my subconscious do all the heavy design work. So I should be able to sit down on Saturday morning and just write the entire assignment in about 5 minutes because your subconscious mind is eighty times smarter than your conscious mind. We'll see if this actually holds true in practice though. Tomorrow night I have a full 8-man game of poker lined up, and on Sunday, I'll probably watch the opening monologue of the Oscars and then trundle off to bed. I'm an old man but Jon Stewart is mildly funny enough to stay up for.

  • Happy Birthday Dave "Jackpot" Miller!

  • Have a good weekend!

  • Oscars viewers to hear word "bitches" in song
    Death is better than a ticket, until you get another ticket
    Esteppe said she couldn't imagine a more romantic spot for their wedding.

    Yesterday's search terms:
    perverted old farts looking for sluts, hybla valley violence, home mmm 100 moms mature cathy, tapered dork, the theme from the a-team, what year did wendy's opened its 2000th store, sam spanks frodo -spanking -spank

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    Monday, March 06, 2006

    Oscar Wrap Up Day

    Like a flipped coin that can predict the future, the URI! Zone accurately picked the winner in 12 of the 24 Academy Award categories (you can see the official list of winners here). This is a marked improvement over previous years -- take that, everyone who didn't believe my predictions!

    On Sunday evening, I moseyed on down to a small Oscar party hosted by Chris and Kathy where I filled out a nominee ballot that actually had some sense of internal logic and managed to guess 14 of 24 categories correctly. I only stayed for the first two hours of the ridiculously long ceremony so I don't know if anything goofy happened after that, but overall, my opinion has not changed about the silliness of the whole charade. It's really nothing more than a four-hour circle of self-appreciation. Maybe it would be more meaningful if they let normal movie viewers vote, or got rid of Sound Mixing.

    Here are some other thoughts that went through my head during the part I watched:

  • Jon Stewart turned out to be a decent host -- he spent most of his energy cracking safe film-related jokes instead of political jokes. Among his memorable lines (which might be paraphrased because of my horrible memory):
      [After Cinderella Man lost in the Makeup category] "Imagine how hard it was to make Russell Crowe look like he'd been in a fight... I'm getting pummeled after the show, aren't I?"
      [Presenting presenters, Jessica Alba and Eric Bana] "And if there were a nuclear holocaust, these are the two people that I would want to repopulate the Earth."
      [After another ridiculously stupid montage of memorable film moments] "I can't wait till later when we see Oscar's salute to montages. We are literally out of clips right now. If you have any clips, please mail them to us."
      "Piracy hurts all of these wonderful actresses you see here tonight. Take a look around, some of them can't even afford enough material to cover their breasts!"
      "Capote should be acknowledged for its courage in showing that not all gay people are virile cowboys."
  • Ben Stiller's Visual Effects presentation, in which he wore a one-piece green unitard and tried to convince people that he was a disembodied head on a green screen was quite amusing.

  • Dolly Parton is so skinny that she looks like a pair of boobies on stilts.

  • The commercials on Oscars night were so-so. It was definitely not a Super Bowl.

  • They had ambient music playing in the background of everyone's speeches to keep them short which was ridiculously tacky. It sounded like the entire ceremony was taking place in a hotel lobby or Kim's apartment building. When the head honcho of the Academy (who no one knows or cares about other than the actors sucking up to him) came out, the music mysteriously vanished and he talked as long as he wanted.

  • I didn't know that Rachel Weisz had a non-American accent, but boy is it hot.

  • Charlize Theron spent the entire evening getting attacked by the giant bullfrog on her dress.

  • The presenters mentioned DVDs and piracy multiple times throughout the night. Taken from POE News:
      "How many times did they mention that movies looked better on the big screen? They even had a montage of epics that only looked good on the big screen, including that timeless epic Smokey and the Bandit... Want people to watch movies in the theater? Don't charge $10 for a matinee before 6pm, have ushers throw people out who are making noise, and quit showing ads before the movies. It has nothing to do with the movies, it has everything to do with the quality of the experience, and often, I simply have a better experience at home. So Hollywood before you go blame the theater patrons, get your own house in order and fix the freaking theaters."
  • Every time an actor or actress mentioned how important Hollywood is to righting social and political wrongs, I couldn't help but think of the Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins puppets in Team America.

  • In one of the non-acting categories, the winner thanked the Academy for seating her next to George Clooney at the Oscar dinner.

  • On the red carpet, the ABC interviewers showed Felicity Huffman a tape from all her costars of Desperate Housewives wishing her luck and saying she was their best friend in the whole wide world. ABC must have spent a FORTUNE to get that little piece of fiction out the door.
  • What did you think of the ceremony? Did I miss any funny moments? Are you just glad it's all over? Let me know in the comments section!

    Pasport problems
    This bike is a pipebomb
    Dirty Love wins worst movie of the year

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    Tuesday, March 07, 2006

    Cat Media Tuesday

    Amber likes to sit on things and dangle her front paws off the end, as if she were sitting on the edge of some imaginary community pool that allowed cats. She also likes that rockin' red sweater I'm wearing, and goes out of her way to find it in the laundry basket when it's warm out of the dryer. Perhaps if I put my clothes away faster it would help minimize the cat hair, but my laundry generally stays unfolded for three to four days after a wash.
    I think Booty may need an Intervention. It started out just on special occasions like birthdays and bar mitzvahs, but she doesn't know any Jewish cats, so the birthdays have been increasing. If I am to believe her, Amber is now 284 years old. Booty also gives two paws up for Ecco Domani Pinot Grigot.
    When Amber is not sitting in my lap, or sitting on the couch, or running away from invisible demons with pink horns, she's curled up in the sink in the hallway bathroom (which luckily does not see much hand-washing traffic, since I don't use the bathroom myself and all my frequent visitors are dirty non-hand-washing heathens). You can see more pictures from this series here.
    Last month, we all went over to Vu's house to help him store the last of his possessions so he could move to San Francisco and rent out his house. Up on his mantel, he had a psychedelic singing flower that reacted to loud noises, singing "You Are My Sunshine" to anyone who'd listen. The kids were attracted to this flower like a mix of Pavlov and Pied Piper. Every time they'd get bored, I would clap my hands again, starting the flower up. This would make them all turn around and come back. These are not cats, but they are just as cute. You can see more pictures from this night here.
    This is a picture of the last snow storm we had, which dumped a foot of snow all over the Washington area and then melted the next day like a global warming advocate's wet dream (...). This is the "sun room" at my parents' house, which was one part of the standard "our kids no longer live here" improvements that took place after high school.
    And because no Cat Media Tuesday would be complete without a video that looks just like all the other videos, here's a documentary short of Booty and Amber:
    Booty gives Amber a Wet Willy (2MB WMV)

    And if the increase hits a certain percentage higher than that normal payment, Homeland Security has to be notified.
    One could certainly ascertain that if you're in a barn and in a secluded area with a lamb and you're behind her and your pants are down by your ankles, then an unnatural sex act is probably occurring
    Obviously, Brokeback Mountain lost because it was a 'rural' film

    tagged as cats, media | permalink | 6 comments

    Wednesday, March 08, 2006

    Package Day Redux

    Two weeks ago, I posted about my latest Amazon bundle of treats and toys . Today I will post short reviews of all the goodies, so you can better spend your tax refunds on useless middle-class garbage.

  • The Complete Ramona Quimby Series: The Ramona books came in two boxed sets of four books each, although they were obviously packaged as an afterthought, since some of the books have different cover styles. Whoever decided to box them up did a horrible job with the order -- the fourth book in the series is missing from the first boxed set, so you really have to buy both sets to read them all in order. The stories were as comforting and nostalgic as I thought they would be, and it only took an hour or so to read each one. The most surprising twist in my Reading Is Fundamental adventure occurred when I started reading the eighth book and realized that I hadn't read it before. Ramona's World, it turns out, was not written until 1999, fifteen years after the previous book. It "feels" a little different from the rest of the series, and even seems to have incorporated a little modernization for young readers. The best part of the boxed set is that they retained the original pencil drawings, which will surely trigger some memories from your youth if you read these as much as I did.

  • The Complete Ralph S. Mouse Series: Just as good as I remembered. I had to make a Mouse and the Motorcycle diorama in Mrs. Hutt's third grade and remember obliterating a ping pong ball in a failed attempt to make a crash helmet for a mouse. I also loaned Mrs. Hutt my copy of the book so she could put it on the overhead projector to trace one of the illustrations onto a giant classroom poster. The heat from the transparency bulb melted the glue in the binding and permanently destroyed the book.

  • KT Tunstall: Eye to the Telescope: This is an excellent CD -- probably one of the first CD's I've completely enjoyed since Muse's Absolution in 2004. Despite her occasionally interesting pronunciations, KT has a solid, agreeable voice, whether she's singing high or low, on ballads and over beats. If you think of Norah Jones as the jazzy-blues Norah Jones, then KT would be like the country-blues Norah Jones -- slightly more poppy with nothing ridiculously avant-garde, but all solidly done. Here's one of my favourite tracks from the CD (besides the radio-happy Suddenly I See) called Heal Over (2MB MP3, reduced quality). By the way, people think of me as the hip-hop-funk Norah Jones.

  • Alias Assumed: Some of the articles are interesting, some are self-serving, and some are no better than the crap you can find on the Internet (see also, the URI! Zone). A decent enough coffee-table style book, but not one that I plan on reading from cover to cover.

  • The 4400: Complete First Season: I already talked about this a couple weeks ago -- an all-around excellent show that really needs to release its second season on DVD already.

  • Tales of Symphonia: The story is silly and the battle system is nonsensical to non-Japanese gamers such as myself. This is a game that I might waste some time with on a slow afternoon, but it's not one that I have any urge to play regularly in order to see what happens next. Paper Mario is an all-around better RPG for the GameCube. Still, this game was only $19.99 -- a bargain is a bargain.

  • 24: The Complete Third Season: The problem with starting a season of 24 is that you are then compelled to see it through to the end. We haven't started watching this yet, but probably will after Anna's caught up on the last season of Friends, the second season of Arrested Development, and the second season of Scrubs.

  • Sally Lockhart Trilogy: These were some of the last books I checked out of the Burke Branch Library in Alexandria before running out of new material to read and shipping off to college. The final book in the trilogy was actually released during the time I was reading the first two, and I marvelled at the fact that there were actually NEW books in the library. Fragments of the stories came back to me as I read, but it was still fun deciphering all the mysteries again for the first time. The stories are mystery/suspense tales spun against the backdrop of London in the late nineteenth century. Somehow, the author manages to weave bigger issues like opium, war and peace, immigration, socialism, and the Industrial Revolution into the story without making it feel like a sermon, and never talks down to the reader. I enjoyed these books just as much today as I did when I was in high school. A+: Would read books by this author again, and I'll probably order up the rest of his books the next time I'm trolling Amazon for needless purchases.

  • Missing link between Muppets and Sebastian found
    Jake Gyllenhaal has fun at the Pre-Oscar party
    The Headless Deerman

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    Thursday, March 09, 2006

    Movie Day

    Kathy came over on Tuesday night for Totino's Pizza, Booty, and movies -- an ancient tradition originally started in Tallahassee in 2002 when Booty was crazy and ran around in circles throughout the movies. The Pledge was this week's pick because Kathy found it on the shelf, so it was $4.50 cheaper than going to Blockbuster. It's a Sean Penn directed film starring Jack Nicholson that came out in 2001, even though I'd never heard of it before. The movie had great acting, including Jack who is always good despite every role being "Jack playing Person X" instead of just "Person X". It starts out as a crime drama and ends up as a character study, but it's just slightly disjointed. As the ending faded out, it felt like we were supposed to come away with some grand message, but I really couldn't think of one. In this case, I think playing with the preconceptions of the genre actually hurt the continuity of the movie, and the ending Penn provides doesn't really flow from his starting point. It reminded me of an eager beaver math major who tries so hard to prove a theorem and then unwittingly ends up at a completely orthagonal solution that really has nothing to do with what he started with.

    Last night, I went out to Kim's to see Capote at the Shirlington "We Are Incapable of Providing the Correct Showtime In Our Movie Ads" Multiplex, which tends to show artsy flicks and movies that have outstayed their welcome at other theatres. The movie was excellent, and Philip Seymour Hoffman definitely deserved the Oscar he got for his role. His portrayal of Capote made me completely forget that he was acting, much like the leads in Walk the Line. I don't think Caroline Keener's role was really Oscar-worthy though, so I guess it was just a slim year for nominations.

    I also had a Cheesy Bacon Cheeseburger at TGIFriday's for dinner. The "Cheesy" part of this burger is separate from the "Cheese" portion. You get a cute little pancake of fried cheese stacked on top of the bacon, in addition to the normal cheese oozing across the meat patty. I thought it was a fish filet at first, though it also could have been a very odd onion ring. Luckily it was none of the above -- extra cheese is always a plus!

    Happy Birthday Mark Connor!

    How to get free Girl Scout cookies
    Tree-climbing robot
    A plant that glows when thirsty

    tagged as reviews | permalink | 8 comments

    Friday, March 10, 2006

    Friday Fragments

    Where pop culture and no culture collide

  • Bimonthly trips to the Burke Branch library were regular parts of my childhood existence. As a wee'un, I always checked out the tape/book combos that came in those ragged plastic bags with the white plastic rack hook. The most frequently borrowed book was the one where Cookie Monster sang "C is for Cookie". Later on, I regularly checked out D'Aulaires Book of Greek Myths which was a massive hardback tome of illustrated myths (I had a Greek Myth fetish as a child). I must have checked that book out at least once a month.

  • I also tried the Norse Mythology book by the same author with the same illustrated gimmick, but it just wasn't as cool. Norse myths are rather boring after growing up with Greek ones. The names were cooler though. I may name my firstborn child, Thor for kicks. Uri!, Thor is ready for social studies, Miss Adams!

  • Social studies was such a joke class. We actually had textbooks in first grade that taught us that sharing made for a better community. Language Arts was always fun though, because of the story textbook containing all the stories you were to read over the course of the year. I used to read the book for pleasure reading and then the teachers would get pissed off two months later when they didn't have a lesson plan and forced us to read quietly during class and I had already read it. The only two memories I have of the stories now: The third grade reader was called Mystery Sneaker and had a footprint on the cover, and the eighth grade reader had a very cool story called Lenigan Versus the Ants about a man that singlehandedly saves his farm from swarms of fire ants in Mexico.

  • The other thing teachers back then did when they had no lesson plans (aside from the classic "let's watch a movie of the book we just read") was to have kids read plays. Listening to barely literate classmates reading a play was easily one of the most painful experiences possible -- I always tried to not have a role so I could just read ahead and ignore the glacial pace of the class participation. My eighth grade English teacher caught on to my tricks though, and assigned me the role of the Not So Angry Man in Twelve Angry Men (Juror #4, I believe) which meant I had millions of lines on every page. It took our class longer to read that play than it took the movie Unbreakable to have a point, and we didn't even have Samuel L. Jackson to entertain us.

  • Samuel L. Jackson's next movie, Snakes on a Plane is coming out this summer. What a great title .

  • As a kid, my parents made us read for two hours a day on the weekend. It was at this stage that I read and reread all those Beverly Cleary books. Whenever I turned in my Reading Is Fundamental lists showing how many pages I'd read, the teachers would never believe me at first. R.I.F. was fun because you got to turn in your little reading award for pizza at Pizza Hut, which meant I could sit at the tabletop Pac-Man game and pretend to play it (we never went to the arcade as kids because they were "a waste of money", and we didn't even own a Nintendo until two years after it came out). R.I.F. awards were almost as good as getting on the Honor Roll at Hammond Junior High, which got you fifty-cent games of bowling at the alley across the street.

  • When we "studied" bowling in eighth grade gym, I was still too small to use the lane's eight pound balls, so my dad bought a red six pound ball with Mickey Mouse etched in the back, which I brought to school every time we went bowling. I still have that ball in the basement, but now I use nine pound balls. I haven't been bowling since I visited Philip and Kelley in Blacksburg back in 2002 -- I'll have to arrange a local bowling bonanza sometime soon.

  • Amazon tempted me with a free trial subscription to Amazon Prime for the next three months, which gives me free two-day shipping on all purchases. After the trial, which ends in June, I'd have to pay $80 a year, which I probably won't do. The Amazon Prime membership extends to up to three other people living in my household, so if you go ga-ga over free shipping, maybe we can work something out. You could be my indentured servant and make dinners for me in exchange for three months of free shipping.

  • No big plans for this weekend other than a little poker and a little certification work. Maybe I'll go bowling or buy a cat. Or, maybe I'll just stay in bed all weekend long and finalizing my plans for taking over the world. Have a great weekend!

  • Cat comforts grieving orangutan
    Walmart suspects terror in Bush photo
    Police don't notice dead man or live dog

    tagged as fragments | permalink | 13 comments

    Monday, March 13, 2006

    I managed to claw my way into second place at Saturday Night Poker With Special Guest Appearance By Florida People, despite a pokerial advisor who constantly told me that the smartest investment was to go all-in, and the time I folded a pair of threes which became three of a kind on the river. This was the first game I'd gotten higher than 3rd place in the Poker Night 2006 series, which allowed me to get my ten bucks back and break even for the night (or as even as possible after all those eat-monsters ate all my popcorn and cookies).

    I bet I could actually be pretty good at poker if I ever applied myself, since I have a math minor from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, and I got a B+ in that math class about the woodpeckers and the holes (maybe it was pigeons). The problem though, is that I find it more exciting to play dangerously so I rarely ever play it smart. And on the nights where I do play it smart, I'm thwarted by all-around bad cards, who apparently don't want me to win.

    I'm going to start keeping track of who wins and loses again even though all of last year's stats met an untimely demise in a freak accident involving an eraser and the dry-erase board. I could create a bunch of complex tables and pie charts and then take pictures of everyone who wins, but that gimmick's already been done on other sites and everyone who comes to my games hates getting their picture taken anyhow. I don't understand why though -- aren't these the hottest men and women you've ever seen outside of a magazine spread?

    Happy "Amber has lived here for one year" week! Last year at this time, I was taking my yearly week off from work and staying home in Sterling, since Anna and Ben screwed up our annual OBX week by getting married and all that. As if Jamaica was that much better than Duck. This year's OBX week is thankfully alive and well -- only nineteen more weeks to go!

    Glasses that warn you when both you and your partner are alcoholics
    Introducing: The Bacon-Wrapped Doughnut Burger
    He's a hardened criminal

    permalink | 9 comments

    Tuesday, March 14, 2006

    Things I Remember

    I remember watching cartoons on USA, where the opening animation was a bullet train (maybe the Cartoon Train) choo-choo'ing through the countryside and going through tunnels.

    I remember the Nickelodeon station identification commercial where a set of false teeth gobbled up everything on the screen, and there was a different sound effect on each upbeat. The last two upbeats were filled with "Nick" and "olodeon!", followed by a springy sound and laughter.

    I remember watching Dennis the Menace on Nickelodeon and wholly disapproving of the fact that there were two different actors playing Mr. Wilson. Joseph Kearns was the only good one.

    I remember playing at my next door neighbour's when we were both about 4. We were hiding under the bed from her brother and she announced, quite proudly, "I can pee in the trashcan!" and then proceeded to do so, all while hiding sideways under the bed.

    I remember falling out of a tree in their front yard, and getting the scar that's still prominently featured on my nose today.

    I remember owning Construx before Legos were popular. One day I had to clean up whatever I'd built and I didn't want to, so I threw a tantrum and threw the Construx at the pine dresser, leaving permanent scars in the woodwork.

    I remember picking up a cool toy at the Taney Avenue Mile Long Yard Sale which had four compartments and a series of levers that you moved in different directions to make a marble fall through every compartment. It always smelled like vomit, but it only cost me 25 cents.

    I remember hearing this song ad nauseum in the car on long trips , or trying to fall asleep in the Nissan Stanza with my parents blaring Phantom of the Opera through the back speakers.

    I remember that Senor Don Gato was the only worthwhile song we ever sang in elementary music class, because on the recording there were some ladies who sang the "meow meow meow" part.

    I remember when one of our pregnant fish died so we dissected it and put it on slides so we could use the new microscope we'd gotten for Christmas.

    I remember the Fugue Monster, a small rubber finger puppet that Mike gave me after one of Dr. Spencer's Fugue classes in 2003.

    I remember that today is Annette Norstrem's birthday. Happy Birthday Netty!

    Something they don't teach at driving school
    Snowman decapitation in the name of progress
    Stay out of the army -- get a tattoo

    tagged as memories | permalink | 10 comments

    Wednesday, March 15, 2006

    What Celebrity Do You Look Like?

    Over at MyHeritage.com , you can upload a photo of yourself and see what celebrities you most resemble. It's lucky for you, gentle reader, that I had plenty of free time last night:

    Among some of the matches not pictured, Kim resembles Annette Bening, Anna resembles Alyson Hanigan and Jada Pinkett Smith, and Mike resembles Mother Theresa. I apparently look like Halle Berry, Heather Locklear, and Michael Vartan. Granted, all of these were less than a 50% match for me, and I just don't see any resemblance -- maybe it's recessive. After I uploaded Kelley's picture, I got tired of copying all the matches for my update, but surely this fun tool will be quite beneficial to your slow day at work today.

    LOST tonight is a repeat, but next week is a new episode!

    Cat stomper found to be nurse
    Free Coffee at Starbucks today
    Isaac Hayes Quits 'South Park'

    tagged as media | permalink | 9 comments

    Thursday, March 16, 2006

    Movie Day

    From IMDb:
    uri! is the latest in a line of high production value biopics from the studio that brought you Ray and Walk the Line, documenting the life and times of musician-blogger, Brian Uri!. From his early days as a small Asian boy to his later years as an older Asian man, you will laugh and cry at the fecundity of human spirit. The talent slated to be in this movie include:

    The Family
    Young Brian . . . . . . . . Jonathan Ke Quan
    Adult Brian . . . . . . . . Daniel Dae Kim
    Old Brian . . . . . . . . . Pat Morita (through CGI)
    Mom . . . . . . . . . . . . Sally Fields
    Dad . . . . . . . . . . . . John Goodman
    Ellen Uri . . . . . . . . . Lucy Liu
    The Pre-College Years
    Young Jack. . . . . . . . . Macauley Culkin
    Young Kim . . . . . . . . . Dakota Fanning
    Ed Cannon . . . . . . . . . Ryan Stiles
    The College Years
    Kelley. . . . . . . . . . . Owen Wilson
    Dave McGarry. . . . . . . . as himself
    Philip. . . . . . . . . . . Tom Cruise
    Shac. . . . . . . . . . . . Luke Wilson
    Doobie. . . . . . . . . . . Jon Heder
    Jason Chrisley. . . . . . . Heath Ledger
    Dave McKee. . . . . . . . . Richard Dreyfuss
    Dan Shiplett. . . . . . . . Ryan Phillipe
    Madeleine . . . . . . . . . Reese Witherspoon
    Paige . . . . . . . . . . . Sandra Bullock
    Nikki . . . . . . . . . . . Sofia Coppola
    Liz . . . . . . . . . . . . Fran Drescher
    Rosie . . . . . . . . . . . Rosie Perez
    Jason Mirick. . . . . . . . Hugh Grant
    The Florida Years
    Mike Catania. . . . . . . . Adam Sandler
    Kathy . . . . . . . . . . . Glenn Close
    Alex. . . . . . . . . . . . Ben Stiller
    Rob . . . . . . . . . . . . Matthew Lesko
    Mark. . . . . . . . . . . . Philip Seymour Hoffman
    Peter Spencer . . . . . . . as himself
    The Adult Life
    Anna Ahlbin . . . . . . . . The RockNatalie Portman
    Ben Ahlbin. . . . . . . . . Bruce Willis
    Kim . . . . . . . . . . . . Scarlett Johannson
    Rachel McKenzie . . . . . . Joey Lauren Adams
    Jaood . . . . . . . . . . . Jaleel White
    The Millionaire Years
    Alyssa Milano . . . . . . . as herself
    Rachel McAdams. . . . . . . as herself
    Jason Chrisley's Hot Tub. . as itself
    Butler. . . . . . . . . . . Christopher Hewett

    Coming to theatres this Summer!

    Pavlov experiments on fast food workers
    Woman Gets Beer From Her Kitchen Faucet
    Ricky Gervais writes childrens' books

    tagged as mock mock | permalink | 15 comments

    Friday, March 17, 2006

    Friday O'Fragments

    with guest appearance by Molly O'Malley the Llama

  • "Fecundity" looks so much like "feces" that there's no way I can ever associate it with positive connotations.

  • Paige (Oompa Loompa Girl on this humble site) will be moving indefinitely from Texas to Spain tomorrow so husband-Matt can pursue his position at Exxon. That's a whole 'nother country! They've already boxed up all their crap and put their house on the market, so she will now spend her days attempting to learn Spanish and starting a travel-blog so she doesn't have to write emails to everyone. Good luck Paige!

  • I've often considered what it would be like to pick up and move out of the U.S. The reason I never would is because I'm quite comfortable where I'm at, and inertia toys with me like a fat kid on a bicycle. Plus there's that whole "other language" issue. I have four years of French under my belt, and I spent pretty much every single class period finding out new ways to insult my friends. My new French neighbours probably ne m'aime pas.

  • I would conjugate that into super future picture perfect, but I forgot all of my conjugations long, long ago. Je ne sais rien.

  • Our textbook in French I - III was called On y va! which literally means "Let's go there!" but has a more colloquial French meaning. The French teacher spent the first day of class trying to explain what a colloquialism was when all she wanted to do was teach us how to order an Orangina. Finally, she threw her hands up in the air and told us to forget about the title of the book because it didn't matter. As if that would ever fly with a bunch of eighth graders. What the heck is an Orangina anyhow? Shut up with the Orangina. Je voudrais un diablo citron. Elle a le nez du chien.

  • The only reason I'd ever want to visit Europe would be to experience really old stuff. Living in the U.S. means that nothing is really that old, and living in Virginia means you've automatically exhausted all of the oldest places, like colonies, battlefields, and excavated outhouses. It seems so piddling that Alexandria archaeologists spend hours scraping off pottery shards in an outhouse to determine that they're 300 years old, when there are places in the world that have seen constant action for thousands of years. I don't give a rat's ass that Beethoven lived here or there, but I would appreciate the relative ancientness of the towns and landscapes.

  • When I was a kid I wanted to be an archaeologist like Indiana Jones. On the north side of our house was a small patch of shady dirt where grass never grew because of a lack of light. Rather than admit botanical defeat, we called it a dirt pile and I was allowed to dig the heck out of it all year long. Once, I found animal bones wrapped in tin foil.

  • Eighteen weeks until the beach. I cannot wait to dig a big fat hole all day long, and then sit back and say, "Hey, I dug a hole." Digging holes is somehow therapeutic for me.

  • I also plan on visiting Australia at some point in my life, preferably in my schooner so I can kidnap a koala bear and a kangaroo and bring them back to the States. I cannot confirm or deny that I would put boxing gloves on the kangaroo if I had one.

  • As kids, we owned the game, Kangaroo for the Atari 2600, which featured a kangaroo with boxing gloves ascending an oddly-plagiaristic Donkey Kong world. Our joysticks always had one broken button, so I never got past the first level. Actually, I don't think I got past the first level of any games on the Atari 2600.

  • The lamp on my office desk has gone through four lightbulbs in the almost three years I've been working full time there. Using them only twenty-five hours a week, that seems to be a rather low life expectancy. The more alarming observation here is that I'm almost at my three year anniversary. I didn't get anything for two years, but I think I get my choice of a solid gold doubloon or a wench for three years.

  • Do you visit all the blogs I post in the sidebar on the left and on the Links page? You should. Some of them definitely require more updates though. Get with the program, Jim Barry!

  • My nose is perpetually itchy and the sun is now cresting the horizon when I go to work at 5:45 AM every morning, so Spring is almost here! I don't understand why I didn't develop pollen allergies until after I graduated from college. Maybe it's the fault of all that Spanish moss in Tallahassee. What a fake plant that is.

  • I'm having a few folks over for a low-key St. Patrick's Day dinner with seven pounds of corned beef this evening (except for Kim who doesn't like corned beef -- what the heck! You Irish-heathen) and then will be spending the rest of the weeking doing Java certification stuff. I hope to have this certification wrapped up by my annual review in mid-May so I can get another hefty pay bonus to waste on drugs, blondes, and rock star life stylings. Tomorrow is Andy Norton's birthday. Happy Birthday!

  • Happy St. Patrick's Day! This holiday discriminates against people like me who can't see the colour green and never owned any green clothing, because why would you wear clothes you can't see unless you're an emperor? Pinch this.

  • Jessica Simpson snubs Bush
    Man sues himself for vehicle damage
    HIV Joke backfires

    tagged as fragments | permalink | 7 comments

    Monday, March 20, 2006

    While listening to a CD of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir at my parents' house last night, I was struck by the plethora of nonsecular music that has accumulated over the last thousand years. We have millions of songs and hymns about Jesus and dreidles, angels flying high, and chariots swinging low. It seems like there's a piece composed or invented for virtually every important religious scene or feeling and every religion has a few ditties that you can sing on the street which everyone will join in on. However, there is one religion that, sadly, does not have any uplifting music to go along with it. What is that religion? Scientology!

    I thought at first I must be mistaken, because every religion has some variation on the theme of Buddha Loves Me, so I did a quick search of the Internet and only came up with three matches: One Man: A Scientology Music Video Celebrating L. Ron Hubbard's Birthday , We Are The Auditors -- A Scientology Music Video , and The Road to Freedom, with selections performed by John Travolta, Frank Stallone, Chick Corea, and L. Ron Hubbard himself . This is a very sad state of affairs, because as everyone knows, when people are shopping around for a religion to convert to, they always check out the tunes first. If composers don't feel the spirit of the religion enough to put it to song (see also, The Vatican Rag by Tom Lehrer 685KB MP3) then why should any layman be interested in what that religion has to say?

    I, for one, would be very interested to hear the workday hymns hummed by the early Scientologists as they rocketed out of the volcano. To fulfill this aural need, I've decided to put my composer skills to work. Here is an excerpt from my first major work, We Shall Overcome Xenu (138KB MP3). I can't publish any more than this right now, otherwise the Church of Scientology might sue my ass.

    The next movement is called ARC of Life and is written purely with a Tone Scale.

    20-Year-Old Tuba Player wins Symphony Gig
    SNAKES ON A PLANE!!!: The absolute worst movie trailer of the century
    Hip-hop pirates foil pirates despite seizures

    tagged as mock mock, music | permalink | 3 comments

    Tuesday, March 21, 2006

    You are bidding on the authentic lunchbox discussed in the February 15th edition of the famous URI! Zone blog . This is the ONLY "lunchbox owned by BU in the late 80s" available for public consumption, and was recently rediscovered in the basement of his childhood home.

    The front of the box features Gizmo next to his carrying case, and Billy Peltzer in the background. The back of the box shows Gizmo speeding through the hardware store in the climactic final scene and also has an authentic lime scratch n' sniff sticker in the lower right corner. Amber the cat not included.

    The Thermos is a veritable treasure trove of Gremlins lore -- the front says, "Stripe is a Gremlin" and has a picture of the devious villain from the first movie. The back says, "Gizmo is a Mogwai" and has a cartoon likeness of the lovable troll-looking motherlover that's very similar to the millions of mass produced plasticine dolls produced around 1986. If you spin the Thermos around very fast, it looks like Gizmo is turning into Stripe, which didn't really happen in the movie, but COULD HAVE IF GIZMO HAD EATEN AFTER MIDNIGHT!!!

    You can tell this is the real deal because of the signs of wear inside the lunchbox. The hinges and metal edges are corroded from years of milk and mushy apples, although the do-it-yourself instructions for placing the Thermos inside the lunchbox still shine as brightly as the day it was bought. Removing the Thermos lid reveals a thin layer of sediment around the threads, obvious evidence of multiple years of milk, crusted and flaked like dead skin on an old guy.

    This is a once-in-a-lifetime buy. You could be a part of history by owning BU's lunchbox! Proceeds will go to the BU Foundation for Writing Scientology Music. Bid now! And don't get it wet!!!!!!!


    Congratulations to Kathy and Chris, who are now engaged! I enlarged the ring to increase my female readership, since that's the part they care about the most.

    Robbers hit cashless credit union
    Eat this pizza or I'll stab you
    Humphrey, cat of scandal, dies

    tagged as memories | permalink | 6 comments

    Wednesday, March 22, 2006

    BU's Thoughts While Watching Harry Potter 4: Harry Potter and the Temple of Doom

  • Thank God, finally a DVD that features no unskippable movie trailers for movies that came out last year or that horribly retarded "Downloading IS BAD: Rated I for Illegal" trailer with the ridiculously atrocious electronic musician's nightmare for a soundtrack. Do people NOT in college seriously devote much of their lives to downloading movies off the Internet? For me, four bucks and the huge television with multiple speakers easily trumps finding a tiny torrent in Yugoslavia so I can watch the same movie in a 320x200 window at my desk.

  • The first twenty minutes of this movie were completely useless and served only to remind people that the studio had some stock Quidditch footage left on the cutting room floor from previous movies. The action was needless, frenetic, and not particularly relevant to the plot, exactly like the first twenty minutes of Moulin Rouge which seemed to be like an MTV music video on acid before calming down into an interesting movie.

  • Holy cow, these kids are old. It's about time for Draco Malfoy to star in some Van Wilderesque college movie rather than sit in a tree pretending to be a thirteen-year-old. I wonder how many times the director told Ron to slouch so he would look less like Crabbe and Goyle and more like a Weasley.

  • Holy cow, these kids are still bad actors. Ron is the worst, followed by Harry and then Hermione. Hermione is saved on the virtue of being cute, and actually gets better as the movie progresses. Her eyebrows are still 50% of her acting vocabulary though -- I thought they were going to wiggle off her forehead and cha-cha.

  • There seem to be an awful lot of minority wizards in Harry's fourth year at Hogwarts. I think the producers edited out many scenes in the third movie of the minority Muggles protesting on the street corners about how unfair it was that they did not get to do any magic. Their efforts paid off, because there are more indigenous wizards than ever in every scene of Potter 4. Hogwarts: An Equal Opportunity Magic School.

  • Damn this movie is long. It's time to put a Totino's in the oven.

  • What the heck was up with the entrance of the French chicks? I can't decide if it was horribly campy or fiercely inspired. Plus I thought Fleur was supposed to be enchantingly seductive, and not just pretty.

  • John Williams needs to have a life-altering experience. Every time I heard trumpets, it sounded like the credits for Star Wars was about to roll. Plus, every single wave of the hand or flick of the wrist on screen does not need to have an orchestral gesture to highlight it. Sometimes people just do stuff!

  • I liked the original Dumbledore so much better -- this one seems to get all his authority from having a loud baritone voice (see Sauron) rather than just having a commanding presence (see Gandalf). Also, Dumbledore's office in the movie was much colder and impersonal than I pictured it from the books.

  • Since when do dragons CLIMB on buildings? Flap your wings and burn Harry Potter to a crisp, you dumbass.

  • There is a scene where the students are at a formal ball waltzing, and then suddenly they cut away to a wizard frat rock band playing music sounding suspiciously like Hoobastank. I initially groaned, and then ended up thinking it was kind of cool.

  • Is this movie still running? The box says 2:37? There is absolutely no reason for a movie to be longer than two hours unless it's a serious drama of Oscar-proportions. If the story doesn't lend itself to the shorter frame of a movie, either rewrite the story, split it into parts, or realize, "Hey, maybe this shouldn't be a movie!".

  • I like this movie now but I'm so tired of sitting still. That Totino's pizza was good though. I wish this movie were more ADHD-friendly.

  • There were lots of characters that had screen time only because they were in the books (Rita Skeeter? What was the point?). Most of them could have been cut or relegated to the multiple crowd shots with student extras peering out windows or cheering. Were the Weasley twins girls or boys?

  • If you've never seen it, you should watch the SNL parody of Hermione's boobies: .

  • Overall, a pretty good movie if you're a book fan and can fill in all the story holes from memory, but not a lot to offer otherwise. I didn't like it much in the beginning but it grew on me as it went on. Not quite as good as the previous movie.

  • And on. And on. And on.
  • Happy Birthday Aaron Ulm and Jen Graves!

    New LOST tonight!

    Tax rebel sends threatened gnomes into hiding
    Chef gets a South Park send-off tonight
    Setting good habits from an early age

    tagged as reviews | permalink | 8 comments

    Thursday, March 23, 2006

    The Cost of Being BU

    Everyone hates bills, except for the kinds with Rights written on them (in which case they pretend to love them but really hate them anyhow). The problem with monthly or periodic bills besides the way they prevent you from buying that horse ranch in Utah is that they're spread out just enough so you don't realize how much you're being nickel-and-dime'd to death. You get in the habit of writing the account number on that check and grumbling, but never really stop to think about how much it's costing you and what you're getting out of it. Today, I'm going to break down the bills of a young American middle-class worker bee to provide an object lesson in the hemorrhaging of cash. Of course, I don't yet have to worry about such insanities as day care and poopy diapers, and I won't bother with groceries and leisure, but the outcome is eye-opening, regardless.

    Car Tax: $0.24 per day, $90 per year
    A tiny, yet palpable rip-off. Stop taxing my little Honda and just apply a massive yuppy tax to anyone who owns an SUV but does not have 8 children or a logging job in the Alaskan tundra.

    HOA Fees: $0.40 per day, $147 per year
    This is just enough money to keep the street lights on and the common areas mowed, but not so much that the HOA could actually get nosy and intrude in my personal affairs. I wholeheartedly approve. This is probably the cheapest HOA fee in the metropolitan area.

    Popeyes: $0.65 per day, $240 per year
    My life would not be nearly as fulfilling if I didn't have Popeyes for lunch every Friday. This is a necessity in the strongest sense of the word.

    Water: $0.71 per day, $260 per year
    Loudoun County water tastes good and makes me lemon-fresh. I approve of this bill.

    House Insurance: $0.91 per day, $333 per year
    This is my kind of insurance. For less than a dollar a day I protect all my useless crap. A+

    Phone Service: $1.41 per day, $514.65 per year
    This amount gets me a land line, caller ID and call waiting, and is the smallest possible account type you can get with Verizon. Since I don't have a cell phone, I'd say this is worth it, if slightly expensive -- the only people who call me are my family, a couple friends, work, and an ass caravan full of telemarketers. It would probably be less expensive to just string up a tin-can-phone between the two other people I talk to regularly, and it would mean fewer imbecilic political surveys as well!

    Cable Television: $1.47 per day, $536.55 per year
    Since I grew up in suburbia, I equate television with a "necessary utility" but it's really not, especially at this price. I honestly can't remember the last time my television wasn't tuned to ABC, FOX, Comedy Central, Animal Planet, or the WB (since Kim is easily 42% of their viewership). With the exception of new episodes of LOST, I probably wouldn't even notice the TV was gone, and there are millions of shows on DVD to fill the void. I look forward to the day when they have à la carte programming, where you only order the channels you want, but the cable industry will probably find some way to screw that up too. If I ever fall down a well, break my typing hands, and have to cut back on my lifestyle while on disability pay, I bet this would be one of the first things to go -- and I would probably start Netflixing too.

    High Speed Internet: $1.57 per day, $576 per year
    After electricity (and maybe water), this is easily the most necessary of the necessities. I would probably even pay more for this. The Internet is so ingrown into my life now that it actually is a utility feature. I would not move somewhere without Internet service that's reasonably priced and has consistent quality. I hope never to have to bounce the signal off my barn and through Bessie's trough.

    Trash Pickup: $0.88 per day, $324 per year
    Such a rip-off. it's scientifically proven than small Asians generate less waste. Trash gets picked up twice a week (recycling once), and I barely ever have enough trash to do one pickup bimonthly. The only reason I keep it is because it would be a bigger pain in the ass taking garbage to the dump myself, and I wouldn't want to put trash in my car.

    Car Insurance: $2.53 per day, $924 per year
    Huge rip-off. My car's never been in an accident and most trips are the 7 miles to work and back. If stuff doesn't happen, you should really get your money back.

    Electricity: $2.63 per day, $960 per year
    It seems a little steep until I consider just how much stuff I have plugged in and how useful it is. In the winter the monthly bills shoot up to $120, and I thought that was horrible until my coworker mentioned that his Fairfax gas bill was $800 once. Thank the Lord for electric heat pumps.

    House Tax: $8.54 per day, $3120 per year
    Such a rip-off. I've never had a fire or a burglary or been rushed to the hospital in an epileptic fit from playing Warcraft too long. Plus, they said if I tried to play on the elementary school playground again during school hours I would have to register as an sex offender. I want 80% of this cash back -- the rest they are allowed to use on road improvements.

    Mortgage: $46.02 per day, $16800 per year
    Steep, but totally worth it. For the same price I could get a queen-sized bed at Super 8 for the night with nary a coin leftover for the escort service. Seeing this number gives me the urge to appreciate my house a little bit more though -- I probably appreciate it $38/day or maybe $40. I guess I could hug the wall or something.

    Health Insurance:
    I can't really count this because it comes directly out of my paycheck, and money never seen is money never spent in my opinion. I bet I pay way too much for it though.

    Grand Total: $68.01 per day, $24825 per year
    It is a sobering thought to realize that every hour of my time costs me $2.83. When I sleep through the night, that's twenty bucks down the drain! To help defray this cost, I will now be charging a $1/hour "social fee" to be your friend or go to parties. I will probably also favour bodily functions over social functions, because then at least I am using two out of thirteen of the above services!

    Kim surfaces as a sex symbol
    It wouldn't be the U.S. if they didn't acquit the hot teachers
    Woman with perfect memory baffles scientists

    tagged as day-to-day | permalink | 6 comments

    Friday, March 24, 2006

    Friday Fragments

    You need a Chiquita Banana sticker on your forehead

  • Yesterday at the gas station, a crazy animal lady with bumper stickers all over her car and one pants leg rolled up to her knee decided to warn me about skyrocketing gas prices as I got out of my car.

  • Why does every single person in the latest Old Navy commercial look like they're anorexic? All I see are a bunch of vaguely human-shaped torsos with spindle fibers for limbs, dancing in performance fleece. How is performance fleece different from regular fleece? If it doesn't involve tap-dancing sheep, I'm not really interested in the answer.

  • There are now rumours that Isaac Hayes never actually left South Park, but that he has been recovering from a stroke and the Scientologists quit for him. I wouldn't put it past them.

  • If you missed the South Park farewell to Chef, here is a plot summary. If you don't want to know, skip ahead to the next fragment. If you enter the dark cave, turn to page 213. On Wednesday's South Park episode, Chef was impaled after falling off a burning bridge into a canyon, then eaten by a mountain lion and a grizzly bear. Chef had turned his back on South Park to join the Super Adventure Club which taught him to be a child molester, brainwashing him to say things like "I want to make sweet love to you children with my salty balls in your rectum" (using blatantly choppy sound bites from previous shows), and Kyle reminded everyone at his funeral that Chef was cool, but "that fruity assed club he joined" was the thing we all should be mocking. The final scene shows Chef being reincarnated in a Darth Vader suit by the Super Adventure Club.

  • I owned all the Choose Your Own Adventure books as a kid, but I always cheated and dog-eared the choice pages so I could read every ending. I would rather back up one page in the story than have to read the same introduction over and over again. The funny part about CYOA books as they became more mainstream was how they phrased the endings. In the early books like Cave of Time, you can get clubbed to death by a caveman and DIE. By the time you reach book 88, you are knocked unconscious or "fail the mission".

  • I stumbled onto Hot Mom Central while running errands last week. I went to Chik-fila in Sterling around noontime on a weekday, and roughly 80% of the clientele consisted of young, hot moms with kids using the Playland. The Hot Mom Club must have daily Hot Mom meetings there where they discuss their babies over waffle fries and chicken strips -- none of them could have been older than about 30. If you have been searching for hot moms to date without success, try Chik-fila -- maybe some of them are single!

  • We started the third season of 24 last night. It's good so far but they should still get rid of Kim Bauer, or at least give her a better wig. Three years have passed since the last season -- surely she could have fallen down a well or been eaten by a mountain lion in the intervening period.

  • There are only three songs by Michael Jackson in my MP3 playlist, yet all of them seem to play whenever I randomize the list. I think it's a conspiracy.

  • Paige Update: Paige made it to Spain in one piece and successfully navigated two Spanish conversations with the natives.

  • This weekend, the plan is Java Certification, as usual. Last week I wrote the database and this week I'll be tackling the client/server protocols. I will also be interfacing the gleep-gloops and the bim-bops. Before I get to that though, tonight is Movie Night, which is key. I'm not hosting any poker this week, but if you want to, then feel free to invite me and all my brethren.

  • Have a good weekend!

  • Try out for Jeopardy online
    Intellectual Property Run Amok
    Teach your son that people will smile when he pees on them

    tagged as fragments | permalink | 3 comments

    Monday, March 27, 2006

    Go Go Gadget Gadgets

    In the 1997 movie, Conspiracy Theory, Jerry Fletcher tells Alice that he has an uncontrollable urge to periodically go to the bookstore and purchase a copy of Catcher in the Rye but doesn't know why. As a larger life lesson from the movie, I think this applies to all men and their gadgets. We're always obsessed with the latest and greatest doohicky at Brookstone and go through electronics like women go through shoes. I am pretty good about resisting the little voices that tell me I should own an iPod Nano and an iPod Pico, but I'm not completely immune to this gender-based syndrome (see also, my Roland SC-8850). I can go for months without a new gadget, but once I've finally made the decision to blow my cash on one, I purchase quite quickly.

    Having never owned a handheld gaming system since the original monochrome Gameboy (complete with two vertical bars of pixels busted right down the center of the screen), I'd had my eye on the Gameboy DS for a couple months now. I was originally going to wait until the "Nano"-style version came out, but the latest word around the Nintendo water cooler pegged it for a June release, and I could have died in a tragic tuna fish mishap by then. So I picked up a Gameboy DS this weekend when I was sorely in need of a break from Java Certification work (which is progressing right on schedule).

    Here is a picture of the DS on the desk in the electronic cortex of my home, the office. To give you something to compare its size to, I have placed it next to a frozen Banquet Chicken Pot Pie. If you are not used to judging size through frozen food products, the Gameboy DS is roughly the diameter of a reasonably healthy grapefruit picked at the height of the growing season in late October. The number and orientation of buttons matches the old Super Nintendo controller, and thankfully uses the old-fashioned cross-shaped pad for directions, rather than the retarded "thumb joystick" that all of today's game consoles employ, which requires such precision when moving that Mario will run off every cliff and be eaten by a mountain lion, even if you compensate for the horrible 3D camera obviously coded by a one-eyed monkey.

    The DS stands for "Dual Screen", because its gimmick is a two-screened fliptop. The top screen shows the action, while the bottom screen provides ancillary information like maps and stats (some games also use the bottom screen as a touch pad and the DS comes with a stylus for writing chat messages over its Internet connection). There were three major reasons I decided to purchase this now instead of four months from now:

    • Nintendo consoles work on a set schedule: The first two years see regularly released fun games, with few bad apples (think Mario Trout Fishing or Donkey Konga 4: Play with your Feet!). The next year sees very few games released, yet the company president assures everyone that he hasn't forgotten about the console yet. After that, the latest console is unceremoniously dumped for the next generation model, which probably won't come out for another two years anyhow. The GameCube (which I own) is currently in the latter period, so it's become increasingly hard to find worthwhile games to play.
    • Now that I come home from work and do Java Certification work, I regularly spend ten to fourteen hours a day on a computer. This does not make my hands happy, so it's medically worthwhile for me to have a gaming outlet that puts my hands in a different orientation from mouse/keyboard.
    • No matter how fun it still is, you can only play so much World of Warcraft in a given day. (I now have a level 31 warlock that I started last week).

    I'm sure the DS Lite will be so cool that I'll buy it as well, but I can justify that by giving this one to a friend and then playing head-to-head Tetris all day long at the beach (seventeen weeks left!). In the meantime, I've been taking breaks from coding with Mario Kart DS which is just as fun as the original Super Mario Kart was. I also have Mario and Luigi and Nintendogs shipping out from Amazon, because I have to abuse my Amazon Prime trial membership to its fullest. I purchased Nintendogs because it's gotten great reviews, and I figure it'd be nice to own a dog but never have it jump on me and be able to turn it off whenever it annoys me. Maybe it will also give me dog-practice for Kim, who lives in an apartment and seems to have an insidious master plan to make me get a German Shepherd with visitation rights since she can't own one at her place.

    I am onto her tricks though.

    Toy planes cause goats to faint from exhaustion
    Walkout from conveying poop
    Break the law and live by the beach

    tagged as games | permalink | 8 comments

    Tuesday, March 28, 2006

    I had to work onsite at Bailey's Crossroads yesterday so I took the opportunity to stop by my old high school and visit with my former Crew coach (who's also an eleventh grade English teacher). It was the first visit I'd made to the school since 2002 when I offloaded several hundred pounds of "Drum Major Teaching Materials" on the desk of the latest revolving-door band director, who may have been named Josquin, but perhaps it was Palestrina.

    T.C. Williams High School from the west looks exactly the same as it did when I went there, right down to the list of State Championships won (which makes the not-so-subtle point that the school hasn't won one in over fourteen years), but the west side is being devoured by a fungal monstrosity that's already taken over the senior parking lot and promises to be the new, bigger-and-better replacement school for next year (if another welding fire doesn't set fire to the entire roof again). My coach's classroom looked the same as well, right down to the "Which College Should I Go To?" student reports hanging on the walls and the plethora of vocabulary words on the chalkboard. It was just like old times, except that I was dressed in my sexy "I'm interacting with people outside of the company" clothes and did not get mistaken for a lost student even once!

    My coach plans to retire at the end of the school year -- he and his wife are selling their Burke house of 24 years and moving to a cozy Bay house with a pier near Yorktown. He expressed his relief that he was finally getting out of the school-biz, because (in his words), "the kids are getting stupider every year. It must be something in the water". He also mentioned that Alexandria's "Laptops for Every Kid" effort was a total bust because all the kids did was check their email and play games through class. He banned them from his classroom with impunity since he's a fossil and on his way out, but said that all other teachers in the school system had to do at least two lessons per quarter (4.4% of the year!) revolving around the laptops, so the school board could say they were being used. In another highly intelligent move only possible through the quick wit of a school board: all students take the Reading Comprehension Standards of Learning (SOL) test on their computer, using a split screen program that shows the text on top and the questions they answer on the bottom. The Writing SOL? They still take that by hand. For some interesting thoughts on NCLB laws, go read Kim's post. For photographs of Mike looking forward to being attacked go read his blog .

    After trading war stories about school drama and Crew drama, I said my goodbyes and drove down to Skyline Center where I paid $9 to park for three hours. Parking fees are such a rip-off. I am paying someone for the privilege of storing my car on a slab of concrete where it might get stolen or broken into without liability. At the least, they should wash it for me, or feed it and take it for a walk. This is why God invented company expense reports and gas reimbursement plans.

    Spending spring break in Walmart
    Girl deters kidnapper with hammer to the groin
    Catch a disease and get on Extreme Makeover: Home Edition

    tagged as memories | permalink | 4 comments

    Wednesday, March 29, 2006

    Po Po Platter Day

    List Day: One Things I Learned About Birds

  • If you go to the store and buy a bag of mixed bird seed for your bird feeder so your cats have something to watch all day long while you're at work, it will not attract a panoply of different birds. Instead, you will get one type of bird and they will eat the one type of seed they like while throwing all the rest on your porch for you to sweep up. Then they will poop on your stoop.
  • Movie Review Day
    Cameron Crowe's Elizabethtown was "okay" -- not groundbreaking and not horrible. My ass informs me that it was about twenty minutes too long (my ass often informs me of such things) and I think Natalie Portman was a better "quirky love interest" in Garden State than Kirsten Dunst was in this movie.

    Musical Musing

    The timbre of Beth Orton's voice makes me want to take my migraine medicine in an intravenous drip turned all the way up. Her shaky vocals are literally the musical representation of car sickness (718KB MP3). I cannot understand why so many people went to hear her at the 9:30 Club or whatever local venue she recently visited. It's not that the music is so bad, but goodness, couldn't there be better singers out there somewhere?

    Newsday Wednesday
    A local plumber on a month long quest finally discovered a $20,000 engagement ring that had fallen into an auto-flush toilet by prying up a manhole. First, kudos to the plumber for his dogged pursuit. He is like the Javert of missing expensive crap flushed down the toilet. Second, $20,000 for an engagement ring? Really? Isn't the rule of thumb "two months salary" (or make it out of trumpet pieces if you are an unemployed trumpeter still in school in New York)? I guess it's feasible that a former professional baseball player turned high school teacher could make $120,000 a year. I know I don't. Finally, the fianc? is now my hero for joking at the critical moments of loss, "Is your arm caught in the toilet? Because if it's not, stop crying. Well, that was a short engagement." That takes major balls since you never want to mess with a woman and her engagement ring.

    Wednesday Fragment

  • My family never separated its laundry when I was growing up -- everything was dumped into the washing machine on the Cold/Cold cycle with no special treatment. As a result, all of my underwear was a dinghy grey, and my $74 Crew Anorak was perpetually pink.
  • Cat Media Wednesday
    Even if you hate cats, you will love this video, submitted by Anna (2MB WMV). There is inherent comic value in any movie where babies get beat up by cats, in my unbiased opinion. In fact, I will train my future child from an early age to eat catnip and chase Booty around the house and then submit it to America's Funniest Videos for the big cash prize. For good measure, here is a video of me pissing Booty off with a feather on a string (1 MB WMV). There are also new cat pictures at the bottom of this page and non-cat pictures from Poker Night and St. Patrick's Day: . I only have a few, not because my friends are so unphotogenic, but because they are highly recalcitrant when it comes to being happy go-lucky photo subjects.

    New LOST tonight!

    Lawyer adds 'litigious' to his dating profile
    Part I: City official with 22 years of experience tells operating system company to stop hacking his government
    Part II: City official tells journalists to turn off the Internet

    tagged as random | permalink | 7 comments

    Thursday, March 30, 2006

    Randy Scouse Git

    There's an article on CNN about the prevalence of profanity in society and the percentage of males and females who disapprove of it. To me, the context-appropriate use of a swear word is a wonderful thing -- it crystalizes your immediate feelings on stubbing your toe or falling down a well in a universally understood way that crosses all social boundaries. A comedian who delicately inserts appropriate profanity at key points in his shtick is guaranteed to be funnier than someone who tells the same joke without it.

    I have no problems with people who swear around me, and don't even flinch at gangster movies which have perfected the art of converting single swear words into every part of speech and dangling participle known to man. Of course this doesn't mean that I swear in front of small children or polite society, because while I wouldn't mind a bit, I know that it's more an issue of other people getting offended. But what is the root of being offended? It's just an ingrained response learned from your parents and your environment that has little bearing on anything relevant. If you flinch when you hear a bad word, it's because you've been taught that the word is bad, even though it's just an arbitrary string of letters and syllables that could have all sorts of other connotations. One of Anna's sisters' toddlers made up an imaginary friend whose name was a swear word -- he had never heard the word said in life, he just put together a word from his imagination and it happened to be naughty.

    The best thing to do would be to just let profanity run its course until the naughty words are no longer naughty. All words evolve, and the words that see frequent use are the ones with the most ephemeral connotations. Consider the word 'gay' which started out as 'merry' and became a slur against homosexuality, before becoming a legitimate term to describe homosexuality to the point where dictionaries regularly have this definition as the first one in the entry. Everywhere you go nowadays, you hear people say "[My teacher/my job/playing trmpet/this situation] is so gay", and offended bystanders get up in arms about how denigrating it is to associate homosexuality with negative connotations. I bet that in a vast majority of those cases, the word "gay" has simply morphed into a general-purpose word of negativity and has nothing at all to do with homosexuality, or that person's views on gay people.

    Another good example is the word 'rape' which has become universally forged into a word that video gamers use to describe how well they did against other opponents or enemies in a game. "I just raped you in that game of Starcraft!" These kids are not trying to trivialize real rape -- the word just has a branched evolution and they're using a tamer game-oriented version of it. To make a big deal out of it would be as useless as bringing up slavery when another gamer says "You just got owned at NFL Blitz 2001!"

    The solution here is obvious. We need to bring back Roseanne, the first show that dared to utter the word, "bitch", on primetime television and write an episode called "The One Where Roseanne Has Tourettes Syndrome". Once Roseanne says every possible naughty and off-colour word out there, all barriers will fall and twenty years later those words will be part of our daily vocabulary. After we've reached the point where there's absolutely no shock value left on television, the world will enter a new Golden Age of Enlightenment and all will be good.

    Life is too short to get offended over anything you cannot control.

    Does the world really need an Ocean's 13?
    Proceeds of your heart disease contribution will go towards a dominatrix
    Buy a useless bus today

    tagged as newsday | permalink | 9 comments

    Friday, March 31, 2006

    Friday Fragments

    Where to come for all your weekend fragment needs

  • I think my left leg must be an inch shorter than my right. When I wear loose-fitting jeans, I always end up walking on the left cuff. There's now a big hole at the base of my jeans similar to the hole you would insert a lip disc into if you were one of those zany African tribesman. Despite this, I prefer loose baggy jeans because then I can wear a belt, and pliant leather belts are fun to wear.

  • The amount of clothes that fit me properly has a direct correlation to the number of female friends I have that buy me clothes for birthdays and holidays. If I didn't know any, I would be doomed to a life of threadbare duds that shrank in the wash.

  • You can now purchase the soundtrack from LOST and support Michael Giacchino, the talented composer of The Incredibles and Alias . I will be getting it simply because I like orchestrated scores and they're a rarity on television shows in this day and age.

  • Wednesday's episode of LOST was excellent. Next week it looks like it'll be a Hurley episode.

  • "If nothing else, I am so happy to be a part of the show's finale. Drew Goddard and Jeff Pinkner are writing the final script, and the final two hours air back to back. It's perfect. It's brilliant. It's exactly the way the show should end. And sitting around that table with people I've worked with for five years, and watching as we hash out the last hour of the series was such a powerful experience. 'Alias' was like getting my doctorate. Because of the accessibility of the producers and writers, I've learned more in five years on THAT show than 100 years in college. And it's nice to have five box sets of DVDs and point to it on a shelf and say, 'that is the work that I am most proud of.'" -- Chad Darnell on the upcoming series finale of Alias

  • I don't understand why there's so much packaging when it comes to chewing gum. Each stick of gum is individually wrapped in foil and then sheathed in white paper. All the sticks are then sheathed in a larger plank of white paper and then hidden inside the outer packaging. I'm guessing that my gum would be safe if I ever had a head-on collision with a bus, but I figure in a few years you'll be able to drop your gum on the ground and watch an airbag deploy.

  • Pet Peeve of the Day: Stand-up comedians who use their act as a soapbox for preaching and stop being funny. There's a tangible shift in tone when comedians veer too far out of laughs and into beliefs. I don't want you to make me think -- I want to laugh.

  • Even though the weather is toasty out, I can't leave my windows open very far because Amber will put her front paws up on the screen and then get stuck and require assistance to free herself. This is bad news for my screens, but it's quite amusing to see Amber stuck on the window with her paws in the air. Booty used to do the same thing in Florida, but she could make it all the way to the top. She was in no way induced to do so by the toy mouse Scotch taped to the top of the window -- that mouse came with the window.

  • Some people have noticed that I use more pictures of Amber than Booty when illustrating my updates. The reason for this is that Booty is in her teenage years where she thinks she's seen and done everything worthwhile. Amber, on the other hand, is LD so you could continuously thrown pennies on the floor and she would run into the room after each one to see what the sound was. This means that when I take pictures of things, she is 80% more likely to be near or standing on the focal point of my picture.

  • I would like to be one of those bloggers that takes artistic digital photographs on a daily basis, but my photos never come out as good as I would like them to. I suppose I could learn to professionally touch them up in Photoshop, but that kind of defeats the purpose. Plus, I bet half the pictures I took would be of interesting cloud formations, and no one gives a rat's ass about those. (The other half would be of Amber).

  • My car has been making funny noises all week (peculiar-funny, not HAHA-funny), and the knowledgeable Anna "I used to work in a Honda dealership" Ahlbin said that Hondas have the squealy brake indicator go off before the brake pad is actually worn down. So after a week of thinking, "It can't be my brakes because the sound doesn't necessarily happen when I'm using the brakes" I'm getting my brakes done today.

  • My car now has 45,000 miles on it, which is pretty light for a Northern Virginian who's owned the car for five years. It's been pretty reliable so far besides the window that doesn't roll down in the cold weather and the three times the car didn't start on the first rev. I'm temporarily driving a tiny Mercury Tracer owned by my parents which floats across the interstate like a dory in a yacht's wake and requires a muscular workout to get up to 60 mph.

  • Last night when we were in McDonald's, Kim heard a middle-age mother tell her flock that it was "ghetto" that no one had refilled the ketchup dispenser. Indeed, if you happen to be walking through downtown Philadelphia and stop by the McDonald's, you will undoubtedly find empty ketchup dispensers to be the most salient feature. At least mom is hip!

  • I don't have many weekend plans other than to do Java Certification, and maybe train my Nintendog to roll over. Tomorrow is Cheryl Sherling's birthday, so happy birthday to her! Maybe, if the weather remains toasty, I'll go up to Great Falls and wander around or something, but I'll probably spend the majority of it inside and working.

  • Have a great weekend!

  • Use the race card to get out trouble when punching cops
    How my husband died in our Shania Twain sex game
    "She did not realize it had been written by someone else". Riiight.

    tagged as fragments | permalink | 1 comment

     

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