05/2006

Monday, May 01, 2006

Organization

Last Thursday night, I had nothing to do, because the Internet had gone out in my house, and if it's not on the Internet, it's not worth doing. I took the opportunity to organize my CD collection, a behemoth of a task that I'd been putting off since I graduated from college in '01. I'm the kind of guy that carries all of his CDs in those big black cases that are halfway between a Trapper Keeper and a scrapbook, but I also tend to forget some CDs in their jewel cases, or in the car, or maybe the shower. My old CD cases were reasonably well organized by genre, except that the last half of each case had random CDs thrown in, in the order that I'd bought them.

Two hours later, I discovered that I own four hundred and forty-nine CDs from all walks of music, including a small cache of CDs from the 1980's that probably belongs to my sister because I never listen to UB40, INXS, or the Bangles. To give you an idea of what types of music I have in my collection, here is a handy-dandy key. You can tell how into each genre or artist I am (or used to be in days of yore) by the length of the stack:

  1. Assorted recent pop/rock, including Paul Weller, Trashcan Sinatras, Dido, Jem, and the Scissor Sisters among others.
  2. Kansas
  3. The Monkees
  4. Muse
  5. Dave Matthews
  6. Assorted rock, including the Beatles, Blood Sweat and Tears, Coldplay, and Morrisey
  7. Assorted Jazz vocal groups, including the King's Singers, Bobby McFerrin, and Manhattan Transfer
  8. The Hi-Lo's
  9. Assorted Jazz/Combo, including Don Sebesky, Jeff Jarvis, the Dixie Power Trio, Lennie Niehaus and Chick Corea
  10. Glenn Miller
  11. Assorted Jazz, including Arturo Sandoval, Herbie Hancock, and Maynard Ferguson
  12. Count Basie and Duke Ellington
  13. Doc Servinsen and the Tonight Show Band
  1. Stan Kenton Orchestra
  2. Big Band Anthologies
  3. Assorted Novelty and Comedians, including Bill Cosby, Chris Rock, and a CD called Simpsons Sing the Blues featuring cartoon characters singing cover songs that you would probably have to be high to enjoy
  4. Weird Al and Mitch Hedberg
  5. Stan Freberg
  6. Dr. Demento Novelty CDs
  7. Ray Stevens
  8. Spike Jones
  9. Tom Lehrer
  10. Movie Scores, TV Shows, and New Age (I own 1 Yanni CD and 1 John Tesh CD, but I blame marching band).
  11. Henry Mancini
  12. Musicals, including five different renditions of Les Mis
  13. Rafael Mendez
  14. Trumpet Solos, Excerpts, and Sonatas
  15. Brass Ensembles and Quintets
  1. Canadian Brass
  2. Sergei Prokofiev
  3. College CDs, Recitals, and Concerts
  4. Steve Reich
  5. Composer CDs I never listen to, including Ellen Zwilich, and the Michigan State Composer's Forum
  6. Hector Berlioz
  7. Assorted Classical Works
  8. Promotional Free CDs I got by pretending to be a band director
  9. George Gershwin
  10. Marches
  11. Pedagogy, Arranging, and Orchestration
  12. Scriabin, and Gould on the Well-Tempered Clavier
  13. Spanish and German Marches
  14. Choral works like the Rutter Requiem and Mikado
  15. Assorted string quartets, including three renditions of the Ravel

Altogether, I have more jazz than anything else, followed by classical, then pop/rock, then musicals, then comedy. This is probably skewed a bit towards the past, since I buy a lot of music online nowadays. After I got my jollies off of organizing all my CDs, I ended the weekend by finishing up my basement storage room, which now sports a new paint job and a new carpet, laid with the help of my dad. I then organized the bottles of cleaning solution on the shelves, organized the scrap wood in order of length, and organized the crawlspace under the house to store all the remnants of the new carpet (since the Home Depot Carpet Guy somehow managed to give me an extra three feet for free).

Next, I tried organizing my cats from smallest to largest, but they kept effing up the rotation.

Happy May Day! A new month means a fresh start so do something fresh today.

Porn stars tested on acting skills
MI:3 looks eeriely like Alias
World of Warcraft promotes family togetherness

tagged as music | permalink | 8 comments

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Goo Goo Gaa Gaa

I should have known going into it that I'd never make it as a great composer, because I could never compete with the pure talent which is evident in this song: (2.12MB MP3). Whoever wrote this song deserves to be in Chapter One of every History of Western Music book on the face of the planet.

Goo Goo Gaa Gaa is a representative track from an 80s audio cassette called Are We There Yet?: Songs for the Car published by Rand McNally. I no longer have the book full of car games, but I rediscovered the tape just last week and relived the memories of being strapped into hot leather seats in a Chevrolet being driven to just one more battleground every weekend. Here are some other samples from this groundbreaking tape:

  • Buckle Up! (711KB MP3) in which the kids tell their parents to use their seat belts, accompanied by an 80s version of the Supremes.

  • Speed Bump Blues (348KB MP3) in which the kids tell their parents not to drive fast through parking lots because the kids will get whiplash and the radio will fall out of the dash.

  • Car Seat Exercise (430KB MP3) in which the kids outline the ergonomic workout they do when they're stuck in a carseat.

  • Little Piggy Song (453KB MP3) in which the little piggies have eerie voices obviously triggered by a methamphetamine-laced opium dream.

I'm not exactly sure why the last song counts as a song for the car, but I imagine they were scraping the bottom of the barrel by that point -- the tape even ends with a lullaby as if to tell listening children to go to sleep and stop bothering the parents. I'm sure the tape couldn't have been that great for trips since it's only twenty-five minutes in its entirety, front and back.

Movie promotion confused with a bomb
Stay away from tissue transplants
Excerpts from Stephen Colbert at the White House Press Dinner

tagged as memories, music | permalink | 9 comments

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Our company name was finally posted on the front of the building over the weekend, so it can now be seen from the Dulles Toll Road (you could already see the sign on the back of the building, but only from Reston). This is great PR, because we'll now get all the government officials in charge of defense spending who happen to be tooling down the road, fresh from the airport and their taxpayer-covered European vacations. They'll see FGM on the side of the building, think "That sounds like a great place to develop defense software. I could use some defense software today. And maybe a Big Gulp" and then pull into our parking lot and give us a multi-million dollar contract.

This translates directly into a higher salary for me, which means that eventually I can put my own name on the side of a building. I'll start in a simple manner, maybe adding an exclamation point to the official letterhead of the University of Rhode Island, before working my way up through a Music building, a golf course, and a dormitory. Hopefully it'll be a dormitory with a particularly exciting reputation, where college kids not even born yet will say, "All the slutty girls live in URI! tower!" or something similar.

I would much rather get a man-made edifice named after me than any natural phenomena -- it must be exceedingly depressing for scientists to hear that their named insect has become extinct, and I'd never want there to be a URI! Glacier, because who knows whether that'll be around in a hundred years. However, when it comes to buildings, there's always a big fuss when the building is about to be torn down, so hopefully by then people will want to retain my name for posterity's sake and my building will get a brand new renovation out of it.

The remainder of the money not spent on naming buildings will go towards my custom-designed house which will have a secret passage, a two lane bowling alley with a pinsetter, and an indoor miniature golf course with 36 holes.

New LOST tonight!

When bugs fly
Stephen Harper eats babies
Orcs, Dwarves, and the Axis of Evil

permalink | 3 comments

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Name that Tune

It's been a year and a half since the last time I had a Name that Tune contest. Since repetition is the key to Western music and blogging, it's time for another one!

The rules are simple: Correctly guess the song title and artist of each excerpt below and send your responses to my e-mail address (there's an e-mail link at the bottom of this page). The person who gets the most correct will win a $5 gift certificate to Amazon.com which should cover the shipping costs on one item since you are obviously not in a high enough social caste to have an Amazon Prime free trial membership like me. If I get multiple correct entries, the first five to get all of them correct will each get a gift certificate.

On the bright side, these songs are all from well-known, recognizable tunes (unlike my last contest). The downside is that the excerpts are only one second long, so hopefully you've heard the songs a million times before. I'm hoping that everyone out there can at least guess a couple. Deadline for entry is next Wednesday, May 10th at Noon EST. I reserve the right to change any rules to suit my fancy, but the prize is quite real*!

Song #1
Song #2
Song #3
Song #4
Song #5
Song #6
Song #7
Song #8
Song #9
Song #10

*Disclaimer: I don't know if the gift certificates work at Amazon.ca or Amazon.kangaroo, but I will gladly mail you a fiver if you are a low-class foreigner, which you can then take to the local money changer / medicine man.

Self-medicating sheep
Limo driver gets 10 days for prom night DUI
Large pan pizza with a side order of cremation ashes

tagged as contests | permalink | 9 comments

Friday, May 05, 2006

Friday Fragments

Fast acting relief for your urge to do any work today

  • So apparently I've been wearing a pink watch for about three months now, ever since my old one died. I did not realize it was pink, since to me, it looks 100% silver, but I stuck it in Photoshop which cannot tell a lie when it comes to colour. You may now proceed to mock me mercilessly for my fashion sense. I still think it's silver, but this leads me to wonder how many articles of clothing I own that are an unfortunate shade of silver.

  • While cleaning out my laundry room yesterday, I found a grey (yes, it's definitely grey, maybe with a tinge of blue) sock behind the washing machine. If you have done laundry at my house in the past two years, please check your feet to make sure that you are wearing more than one sock. Once I figure out who the owner is, I will wash it thoroughly and return it.

  • Surprisingly, there have been five other people besides me who have done laundry in my home in the past two years. I should slap a quarter slot on the front and profit.

  • I will need all the quarters I can get to pay for the repair of my car window yesterday, which stopped going up and down in the winter. It did so last winter as well, so I just figured it was cold-weather-related and would start working again soon. It turns out the motor went kaput -- I blame the caustic salty air of Florida, which is also responsible for the fact that Booty has one ear.

  • Because the window was broken, my car didn't pass the state inspection, which was the whole reason I took it in in the first place. I don't quite understand why a power window is a safety feature, unless your car is quickly sinking in the bay after you careened off the pier to escape the cops, and you can't open your door because of the outside water pressure, so you're forced to roll down the window to escape. Either way, you're screwed because your electrical system would have already shorted out. Better start kicking out the plexiglass and hope the paramedics are standing by.

  • Sunday is Best Meat's birthday. I haven't talked to that boy since I left college -- the last I heard of him, which was a couple years ago, was that he was deciding whether to be a country music singer or a paramedic. I think he should sing, but be a paramedic in the music video for his first single, Meat Wagon.

  • The next version of my Warcraft III map, Micro Frenzy, is now available for download here. I'd tell you what's changed, but none of you care because only people with pink watches play video games. There are meat wagons in it though.

  • I remember that time I bought Warcraft II for Kelley's birthday and he didn't shower or go to class for the next four days.

  • Speaking of video games, that game, Nintendogs, isn't suitable for me. I did not realize that time keeps going if you don't play every day. On Wednesday before LOST, I turned it on to play with Tuba the labrador only to find that she was famished, parched, and very dirty. I took her for a walk and some other dog owner in the town scolded me for not taking better care of her.

  • Speaking of LOST, holy crap. Wednesday night's twist makes a lot of sense, but I didn't see it coming, or expect it to happen so suddenly. That's some good TV. If you have already seen the episode, you can read this article for the producer's spin on what happened: (spoilers for last Wednesday's episode!). I'm not entirely sure I believe them.

  • I still don't know what's going on in the last season of Alias but I hear it's as good as it used to be in the early seasons. I plan on getting the DVDs in September and watching them all together. With the show marked as cancelled, it's not like my support during primetime would help it at all.

  • This weekend, the plan is to mow the lawn, restart Poker Night for the summer, and go to a company picnic with some happening ladies. I'm also going to learn how to make Eggdrop Soup next week. If you would like to taste my early iterations, please send a self-addressed stamped tupperware bowl to my house.

  • Have a slaphappy good weekend.

  • What did we get from the dot com boom?
    Al-Zarqawi can't fire his gun, if you know what I mean
    It's no different than putting a worm in it

    tagged as fragments | permalink | 5 comments

    Monday, May 08, 2006

    Tag Day: Point of Know Return

    There has not been enough foreign exchange of democracy and ideas between my site and others recently, most likely because of the recent discovery that some of them are un-American, so I want to rectify this situation by making up a tag. To effectively achieve geographical diversity and the diaspora of BU-related themes and paraphernalia across the World Wide Web, I will be tagging the following four kids: Kim , Anna , Mark , and Brianne . Notice that today's tag is brought to you by the number four.

    Four Things I Know

    1. I know how to make a tasty Beef Stroganoff.
    2. I know how to navigate to anywhere in the real Alexandria (not the fake Fairfaxy one).
    3. I know all the plot holes in the movie, Memento.
    4. I know the best ways to consistently lose at poker.

    Four Things I Used to Know

    1. I used to know how to do advanced calculus and differential equations.
    2. I used to know the locations of all the Heart Pieces in Legend of Zelda: Link to the Past.
    3. I used to know the complete set of commands a coxswain gives his oarsmen to get a boat out of a rack and onto the water.
    4. I used to know the story arcs for every season of Friends.

    Four Things I Want to Know

    1. I want to know how to speak Spanish so I can speak to one or more neighbours.
    2. I want to know how to write a legal will (and am doing so now).
    3. I want to know how to program in another language besides Java.
    4. I want to know the formula that sets the ratio of useless commercials to good TV in hour long dramas.

    Four Things I Don't Know and Don't Care About

    1. I don't know the correct way to swing a golf club, unless I am using it to fend off home intruders.
    2. I don't know what you learn when you get an M.B.A.
    3. I don't know what's happened in the last eighty seasons of American Idol.
    4. I don't know who to root for in professional basketball.

    Are you diligently working on your answers for the Name That Tune contest? The deadline is Wednesday at noon EST!

    Pregnancy makes you smarter
    Armed robbery for a bag of poop
    Family kicked out for abusing the buffet

    tagged as tags | permalink | 15 comments

    Tuesday, May 09, 2006

    Repressed Memories Day: The Math Emporium

    We shall build a utopian society where students will voluntarily come to take advantage of free Macintosh computers loaded with math software. Students will regularly revel in the bursting joy of mathematics.

    This could have been the mission statement for the Virginia Tech Math Emporium, that ridiculous pork barrel project nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains that continues to harass students to this very day. Maybe it looked good on paper, or maybe they just had a bit of spare change they needed to spend before the next budget, but either way it just didn't work. I would like to meet the building planner who thought that this concept was a good idea and strongly suggest to him the medical benefits of testicular radiation therapy.

    After a couple months of construction and liberal dipping into the Music Department's budget to cover overruns (despite news reports that it was done quickly and under budget), the doors to the Math Emporim opened with great fanfare in 1997. Administrators patted themselves on the back and waited for those math-hungry students to make their appearances. For some reason, they never showed. Perhaps it was the many paradoxes that made up the Emporium. It was billed as a campus building, yet you had to take a bus or walk a mile away to a shopping mall that made the malls in Newport News look urban. It sat next to a Pizza Hut, yet you couldn't have food inside. Its industrial warehouse look made it feel like a Costco or a Target, but the only thing you could find in bulk on the inside were the little red cups of doom.

    Beer pong was frowned upon, but by placing the red cup on top of your workstation, you were supposed to gain access to smart graduate assistants who could help you solve problems or figure out how to use Mathmatica. Generally though, this was a bad idea, because the assistants rarely spoke English, often crashed your program while trying to fix Mathmatica, and would fall back on "Well, we can't do the work for you" if they hit any situation where they were clueless.

    With the dearth of students, the Math Emporium was really just a big cold black hole full of user-friendly operating systems. You could have sat the entire football team in front of computers (after showing them which side the front was) and still had enough computers left over for all the children Britney Spears intends to have in the next decade. The mandate came down from someone up high to make it a more popular place to be. I was personally backing the plan to install the exotic dancing booths with the open bar, but unfortunately the staid Math Department chose to make visits mandatory instead. From 1998 on, almost every 1000 - 3000 level math class had problems that could only be done with Mathmatica. And to prevent the inevitable pirating of said software, they also decreed that every student had to spend at least two hours per week in the Math Emporium. This required you to punch in and out like you were working in a Mac Factory and present your signed timesheet in hard copy to your professor every week. Apparently they were smart enough to have a timekeeping system, but not smart enough to just look up all the student timings online.

    So now the place was packed, but just as useless as before. Photographers were quickly called to the scene to get pictures of the filled up Emporium so the moment could be preserved as the "normal state of things". On some afternoons there was actually a line to use the computers.

    Being a math minor by default, I had more than my share of Math Emporium time -- hours spent sitting in front of dysfunctional computers, crowding around a table with antisocial majors who never bathed and always smelled of curry, or waiting for lab partners who never showed up, but I finally found a great solution by the time my third year rolled around. I'd simply wake up at the crack of dawn on Sunday morning when the entirety of the campus was sprawled in an alcohol-induced stupor and mosey into the empty Emporium where I would lie back and take a nice two hour nap before going home to do my laundry.

    Happy Birthday Emily Spellerberg and Christy Kull!

    Police recover $16 from greedy bastards
    Man with no legs beats man with no ears
    Australian sex toys are tax-deductible

    tagged as memories | permalink | 12 comments

    Wednesday, May 10, 2006

    Capsule Review Day

    The Tin Princess by Philip Pullman:
    This is a spinoff book from the Lockhart Trilogy that uses a couple well-known characters, but otherwise has nothing at all to do with the original stories. It's a definite page-turner, but doesn't have a lot of internal logic to the plot. Pullman needs to work on his endings, because this book just seems to peter out unsatisfactorily, like Ruby in the Smoke did. However, it only takes a few hours to read, and it's fun while it lasts -- just don't expect to get any life lessons from it or plan on reading it again.

    Microsoft Wireless Optical Mouse 5000:
    I was always one of those computer-using fools that stuck with the original Microsoft mouse that comes bundled with every computer. For years, I used the right-handed mouse shaped like a cul-de-sac and had no problems at all. Recently though, my last mouse started getting squeaky parts which were not fixed after cleaning and such. I went online to look for a new mouse, only to discover that Microsoft no longer makes the mouse style that I was accustomed to. I decided to be adventuresome and try a Microsoft wireless optical mouse (even though I hate replacing batteries). This mouse looks retarded, but fits very comfortably in my hand and reduces a lot of the carpally pain that I normally get from using a mouse. The middle mouse wheel is nearly impossible to click unless you've been exercising your middle finger religiously (so northern Virginian drivers should be just fine), but this negative is balanced by the fact that it scrolls as smoothly as a baby's bottom on vellum. The middle wheel can also be clicked left and right, which you can tie to Forward and Back in your web browser. Finally, there are two tiny buttons between the thumb and forefinger resting points. One button toggles a magnifying mode which enlarges a portion of your screen for detail work. The other I have bound to a middle-button-click, since I am too weak to regularly click the wheel button.

    The magnifying button is especially annoying when you're playing a game with lots of frantic mouse clicking (Twice so far, I have clicked it by accident, allowing me to see my character die in close-up), but otherwise the mouse is excellent. Tracking is very nice and the battery shows no signs of premature kaputting. I would recommend this mouse for its comfort and accuracy, even though it looks like a ridiculous space-age trinket from the 80s. All it needs is neon stripes.

    Life by The Cardigans:
    This is the first major CD from the Cardigans, released in 1995 in the U.S. I picked it up because I enjoy their current works, and I like to hear the evolution of bands. The music pure unapologetic retro pop, but I really like the sound of the arrangements. One of the band members has a background in jazz arranging and theory (although he was also in a heavy metal band) and the selection of chords really feels like a jazz chart. I'd peg this CD as sounding like the Trashcan Sinatras, but with better harmonies.

    Many composers like Prokofiev are labelled by listeners as "whimsical" whether the term works or not, but this is one CD that really fits that term to a T. All of the songs are either happy-go-lucky, or slightly melancholy. If you like pop music, buy it for the lead singer's mellifluous voice. Here are a couple samples of the tunes I like:

    Celia Inside (483KB MP3)
    Gordon's Gardenparty (545KB MP3)
    Carnival (515KB MP3)

    Chad Darnell's 12 of 12 is coming up this Friday if you're interested in doing it. I'm not sure if I will yet, since most of my weekdays are homogenous, like 2% milk or the population of Falls Church. There's also a new LOST on tonight. Finally, turn in your Name that Tune entries by noon today! The prize is still up for grabs! Loud exclamation points!

    The JJ Abrams Pop Machine -- who wants to see MI:3 with me?
    Unable to find new employment, the Doughboy hit a low point; he started drinking and taking in shows at a local strip club.
    Man reprograms gas pumps for cheaper gas

    tagged as reviews | permalink | 15 comments

    Thursday, May 11, 2006

    Name That Tune Contest Results

    Congratulations to Anna and Dan, who will each get a $5 gift certificate from Amazon.com sent to their e-mail addresses!

    Anna A. got 8 correct. She got the artist but not the song correct on #8, and got #10 totally wrong.
    Dan S. got 8 correct. He missed #4 completely and got just the artist for #9.

    Joe C. got 7 correct. He completely missed #3 and #10, and got just the artist on #7.
    Mike C. got 6 correct. He missed #3, #4, and #10, and got just the artist for #9.
    Kathy B. got 5 correct, #1, #2, #4, #5, #6.
    Rob K. got 3 correct: #1, #7, #8, and got the correct group for #9.
    Brianne A. got 2 correct: #1 and #8.

    Because there were a couple that some people thought were insanely difficult, I have made ridiculously easy versions of the same clips below, so you can retry the ones you got wrong as a musical cripple before you give up and look at the answers. Highlight the hidden text in the last column to see what the artist and groups were for each clip.

    SongClipEZ-Mode ClipAnswer
    1A Day in the Life - Beatles
    2Sweet Child O Mine - Guns n' Roses
    3Walk This Way - Aerosmith
    4Living on a Prayer - Bon Jovi
    5Ants Marching - Dave Matthews
    6Long Train Runnin' - Doobie Brothers
    7Surfer Girl - Beach Boys
    8Purple Haze - Jimi Hendrix
    9Don't Stand So Close To Me - Police
    10Paint It Black - Rolling Stones

    This was fun -- maybe I'll have another contest again in the Fall!

    Teen asks pal to run him over
    Too goofy to be in the army
    Holding a beer can in a threatening manner

    tagged as contests | permalink | 11 comments

    Friday, May 12, 2006

    Friday Fragments

    What do you get when you cross a cinchilla with a molerat?

  • I decided not to do 12 of 12 this month, because I wouldn't get the results up until Monday at which point no one would care anymore, and because today is probably going to be the least interesting day of my week.

  • Egg Drop Soup Week was a success. I've got the taste perfected -- now I just need to work on thickening the broth with more corn starch and making the dropped egg more silky and less rubbery. If this computer progamming thing doesn't pan out, I might be able to find work in a Good Fortune restaurant making the soups.

  • Tragically you will not be able to find Chef Uri!'s Egg Drop Soup on the menu anytime soon because work is going quite swimmingly. I just had my annual performance review this month and got a tidy little raise to kick off my fourth full year of employment. I have not yet decided whether I will put this extra amount into my 401k, buy some more orphans for just pennies a day, or just blow it all on ho's. Blowing it all on ho's sounds like it has the best short-term rewards. Know any ho's?

  • My anniversary at work also highlights the fact that I haven't lived in the one-bedroom apartment in Florida with the two inch cockroaches in three years. With those years of life experience under my belt like an anorexic mall Santa faking paunch with a pillow, I can confidently say that I made the right decision to not pursue my doctorate. There's already one Dr. Uri in the world -- we don't need two. Besides, in the technical world, certifications are just as handy as degrees.

  • I'm still waiting for the results of my Java Certification which I submitted five weeks ago. I'm presuming this means that my project was so overwhelmingly innovative that the first grader had a heart attack from an overload of technical prowess and the second grader was attacked and killed by typesafe enumerations while trying to perform CPR on the first.

  • I should probably refresh my memory on CPR at some point since I've forgotten most of what I once knew. When I was a teenager, I did not know CPR because it was an essential Boy Scout skill -- I knew it because there was an old Sierra adventure game called Codename: Iceman where you were a CIA secret agent on vacation in Tahiti and you had to perform CPR on some chick at a volleyball game (who got cramps while swimming out to get the ball) before running off to pilot a secret submarine. I still remember typing > SHAKE AND SHOUT and > CALL FOR HELP into the parser . You had to type the exact commands in the right order in the given time or else the woman would die.

  • It was very important that you not let the woman die because later that night the two of you would get your jives on in the woman's grass hut, and then later in the game you would discover that she too was a spy like you. I guess secret agents get lots of ho's.

  • I haven't played an adventure game in ages, but I still regularly play World of Warcraft. The endgame is 100% uninteresting to me, but I'm still having fun leveling up characters and playing Capture the Flag in Warsong Gulch with my shadow priest, MASTER SERGEANT PLINKY. Blizzard really hit the jackpot in designing a geek-niche game that appeals to casual gamers and non-gamers alike. I expect that 80% of the U.S. will be playing by the year 2008, including Mike Catania, who will no longer be able to make dwarf jokes once he gets addicted, and Kathy Biddick, who will have to reactivate her account so she can bond with her brother and fiancé.

  • The brother and fiancé in the previous statement are two separate people. Chris is marrying Kathy at the end of September, two weeks after Kelley marries Kathy on the day following my 27th birthday. So all in all, September will be a weddingful month.

  • The Kathy's in the previous statement are two separate people . At least, I'm 75% sure of this. I'm 100% sure that the weddings are after my birthday.

  • Today is Mike Stafford's birthday, who married his high school sweetheart, who was not a Kathy, right out of college and disappeared into the frigid tundra of Massachusetts and was never heard from again. Tomorrow is Madeleine (LaPointe) Bittner's and Tiffany Combest's birthday. Happy Birthday, folks.

  • I don't really have any plans at all this weekend. I've been pretty busy at work this week, so I'll probably take the time to watch some movies and be completely useless. Have a good weekend!

  • SHAKE AND SHOUT. ESTABLISH AIRWAY.

  • Roboroaches and a tale of betrayal
    How to tell if your man likes kids
    She is healed!

    tagged as fragments | permalink | 15 comments

    Monday, May 15, 2006

    Flexibility

    Flexibility is what lets gymnasts do front walkovers and back handsprings, but this post has nothing to do with the Oscar-deserving gynmastics flick, Stick It (subtitled for foreign markets as An Excuse to Slowly Pan The Camera Over Teenage Ass in Leotards for Two Hours). I'm merely using the pictures to attract new readers. Since yesterday was Mother's Day, every other article in the Washington Post was arguing for increased flexibility for parents in the workforce. Growing up in a family full of U.S. government workers who had more leave time than there are days in the year, and working at a private tech company that provides this flexibility without a second thought really makes me take it for granted.

    Here is a typical work day in my life: I get to work at six in the morning, give or take fifteen minutes depending on whether Booty was being particularly obnoxious to get breakfast or whether I put my trust in the Snooze button without realizing that I don't have a Snooze button. I eat a small lunch snack while I work, generally around 10:30, and continue working as the later shifts start rolling into the office. My work day is done at two, but often times (maybe three days out of the week) I'll just head out at noon or one. Sometimes I'll run some errands, get a real lunch, or ride a tractor through a herd of gymnasts in the wild before I head home for good, where I'll pick up my work where I left off for another hour or so. If I really don't feel like working, I'll do my own thing throughout the afternoon and then work for a couple hours in the evening after dinner. During weeks where I feel particularly slackassed, I'll take off the entire afternoon, and then make up the time over the weekend where I can work in peace with no one else around and crank the volume on my horrible tastes in music all the way up.

    This system works for me because the company can trust that I'll get things done on time (and possibly even more efficiently than if I worked a 9-to-5 day) and knows that they can contact me by phone or e-mail even if I don't happen to be at my desk. And though I use that extra time during the day for my own selfish slacker purposes, I could just as easily be tending to those orphans I bought for pennies a day or picking up little Jimmy from preschool where he got mono from kissing all the girls on the playground. (He could also have gotten pregnant, depending on whether or not he was diagnosed at the Virginia Tech health clinic).

    I'd have to say that flexibility is one of the major selling points of my job, even if I would normally consider other things like the salary or the challenge of the work. It's the same reason that I probably wouldn't take public transportation to work, even if there were a bus stop right in my living room: I like to have the empowerment to create my own schedule and not be tied down by things outside of my control. With a car, I can decide to pick up some Popeyes on the way home or purchase the new New Super Mario Brothers game at Best Buy after work.

    And should I decide that I want to wear spandex and slowly rise out of a bathtub filled with ice cubes, well then that's my perogative too.

    Wasting dogs on DVDs
    $31,000 for free, if you can decompress it
    It's really just a trick to keep bad music majors away from their instuments

    tagged as random | permalink | 12 comments

    Tuesday, May 16, 2006

    Recipe Day

    As a public service today, I would like to present to you my Perfect Egg Drop Soup? recipe which results in a soup that's just as good as what you can get from Chinese take-out, without that foul corn taste that so many restaurants often add in that tends to give me horrible flashbacks to the time my dad bought corn on sale in bulk but it turned out to be creamed corn. I am giving you this secret recipe out of the goodness of my heart, and not because the judge agreed to drop the "obscene dancing in the Chinese restaurant" charges in exchange for community service.

    • 3 cups low sodium chicken broth
    • 1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
    • 1 tablespoon chopped chives
    • 1/4 teaspoon salt
    • 1 tablespoon cornstarch (optional)
    • 2 whole eggs and 1 extra egg yolk
  • Combine the broth, ginger, chives, and salt in a small pot and bring to a rolling boil.
  • In a small mixing bowl, preferably with a pouring spout, whisk the eggs with a fork in one direction until mixed. You can separate the extra yolk from its white with an egg separator, but it's more fun to do with your hands.
  • Remove the pot from the heat. Steadily, but not vigorously stir the pot with one hand while you continuously pour (drop) the egg around the outside. The egg will cook as soon as it hits the broth, and the stirring will prevent the egg bits from clumping up on top of each other. When the mixing bowl is empty, your egg drops should look like silky strands. If you forget to remove the broth from the heat first, it will look like a fungal jellyfish with rabies and not taste so hot. If your mixing bowl has no spout, you can also pour the egg through a fork, but you will need to have someone else stir the pot. I guess you could also get a box of Cookie Crisp, tape a fork to the end of it, put the box next to the stove, and then do the pouring and stirring, but that's like rocket science.
  • Add the cornstarch while you continue stirring. Cornstarch makes the broth thicker, which you might not care about if you just like to drink the soup. The more you use, the more vigorously you will have to stir. Otherwise you'll end up with tiny dust clumps of starch as you eat the soup, and they don't taste nearly as good as those little pebbles of chocolate Quik did when you were a kid in the 80s.
  • This recipe makes about 3 servings. I'm not sure what soup I'll learn how to cook next -- but at least at dinner parties I can always be "the soup guy".

    BBC interviews the wrong Guy
    Bears eat monkey, tastes like chicken
    Thieves steal Paris Hilton's gift bag

    tagged as recipes | permalink | 12 comments

    Wednesday, May 17, 2006

    The latest buzz in entertainment non-news news is the observation that seven long-running shows are finally calling it quits this season. I think it's interesting that shows which would once have gotten lavish two hour finale specials with retrospectives and balloons now creep timidly into oblivion, their stars set to appear in 1-800-COLLECT commercials in which Alf gets top billing.

    Alias: Of course, I'm sad to see this one go because its first two years were ridiculously good. This was one of the first shows I ever planned my week around seeing (which was probably aided by the fact that it came out when I was a reclusive grad student in Florida for the first time). Sydney Bristow's "bursting into tears" shtick got a little old after awhile and they really overexposed Marshall, but the solid acting of Bradley Cooper, Ron Rifkin, Victor Garber, and Carl Lumbly was Sopranos-caliber and kept me coming back. I haven't seen any episodes in the fifth season except for the first one, and I'm anxiously awaiting them on DVD while remaining spoiler-free. This is hard, because LOST comes on immediately after Alias, so I have to turn on the TV late enough to miss the twist ending but early enough to not miss a LOST twist beginning. That, my friend, is called skill with the remote.

    7th Heaven: I never watched a single episode of this show, and I had to look it up online to see that it was on the WB. Was it any good? From promos, it looks like your typical WB family drama without teeth, fun for the whole family, and offensive to none. I could be wrong though.

    That 70s Show: This started out as a dumb but funny show, but outlived its humour by about five years. I haven't seen a new episode since I was in college -- apparently some of the cast members aren't even on it anymore? This show also gets the official BU award for Absolute Worst Musical Episode in the history of primetime TV. It's a neat little novelty when you can make a musical version of your show -- but it would really help if one or more of your actors could sing. Even just a couple notes. Even just the same note over and over. I cringe when I think of Red "I was in Robocop working for Dick Jones" Foreman singing "So Happy Together".

    West Wing: Another show I never saw a single episode of. Politics and legal dramas never were my thing, and I'm almost ashamed to say that I'm one of the few Americans that's NOT a Law & Order / CSI junkie. Then again, I never got into ER or police shows either, so there must be something un-American about me.

    Charmed: Alyssa Milano is a hot witch with sisters who casts spells with really bad special effects -- what's not to like about this concept? They could just shorten the conceit to "Alyssa Milano is." and it would still be worth watching. I never saw a full episode of this, but I used to flip through it when it aired before Alias on Sundays. You know a show has outstayed its welcome when one season ends with "All three main characters die, but come back to life, played by three different actresses". This is forgivable though, know why? That's right, Alyssa Milano.

    Will & Grace: I never really kept up with this show, but saw it a lot in syndication. In Virginia, they air hours and hours of Friends in the evenings. In Tallahassee, it's Will & Grace. The thing I liked about this show was the quick and witty banter -- I'm a big fan of verbal repartée, shows where the dialogue is two times more clever than anything you'd hear on the street.

    Malcolm in the Middle: This show had a lot of promise, and I was even willing to overlook the fact that the boys hit puberty immediately after the first season, but it just kept going and going until I lost interest. I hope I'm not around whe we first hear that the actor playing Dewey was picked up for drug trafficking or something. I would get this show on DVD, but licensing issues with the music from each episode prevented them from releasing anything but Season One.

    Joey got cancelled too, what a big surprise. Its a shock that it even managed to limp along for two whole seasons.

    No really, I'm a close family friend
    RIAA sues XM Radio
    Pleasantries of Virginia Politics

    tagged as reviews | permalink | 8 comments

    Thursday, May 18, 2006

    First Impressions: New Super Mario Brothers

    Title: This game easily has the most uninventive, boring title in the history of titles, but I guess none of the Mario games excels in this area. Does it have a plumber playing tennis? Call it MARIO TENNIS! Even so, they could have just called it Super Mario DS or something equally as functional. What are they going to do when the next game comes out? The New New Brothers? It sounds like a dance troupe on Vaudeville.

    Music: Catchy, with a mix of new tunes, remixed old tunes, and old tunes exactly as they were in the older games. You can only do so much with nostalgia before it gets tiresome, and they walk the line pretty well.

    Graphics: The game is a standard side-scroller so you never have to worry about stupid camera angles, but all the characters in the game have 3D models, so their animations are quite nice. Worlds are colourful and have style.

    Cartridge Size: Smaller than a cat's paw. If I ever end up spying for the U.S. Government in some enemy country where I blend in with the natives, like Iran or Libya, I'll bring along my Nintendo DS and then encode the spy pictures on one of these cartridges. Customs will never notice a thing.

    Controls: The game only uses two buttons: run/grab/shoot, and jump. There are two predefined mappings you can use to customize your controls. I found that my thumb was too weirdly positioned to feel comfortable in the default scheme -- it must be genetic. Mario jumps and skids exactly as he did in the original games, which may take some getting used to if you haven't taken a course in Mario Inertia recently.

    It's Like X meets Y: This game is a combination of Super Mario Brothers 3 and Super Mario World. You progress through levels on an overhead map, often stopping to pick up items at Toad's Hut or unlocking secret paths. It really pulls the best from both of those games, so if you liked those, you'll like this.

    Annoyance Factor: Most recent Mario games annoyed me because you had to replay every level multiple times to collect nine thousand doohickeys -- a horrible design decision to give the game some supposed replay value (don't even get me started on Zelda's golden skulltulas). This game retreats to the very basics from the good old days -- 100 coins gets you an extra life, 8 red coins gets you an extra life, or 5 star coins to open up a secret passage. It's not annoying in the least bit.

    Difficulty: I breezed through to World 2 pretty quickly. It seems to be about as hard as Super Mario Brothers 3 was (which I thought was harder than Super Mario World), but rewards exploration and risk by giving you millions of extra lives. I already have 30 or so.

    Power-Ups and Moves: All the original power-ups are here along with three gimmicky ones: Tiny Mario, Fatty Mario, and Shell Mario. Mario can also do a few later era moves like wall-jumping and that Mario Party favourite: the Ground Pound.

    Price: $35. Not bad at all.

    Worth It?: Yes, go buy it. Unless you don't own a Gameboy DS. Then it's only worth it if you enjoy carrying around tiny cartridges and pretending you're a giant.

    Below you can watch a short video of how the game looks and sounds. If you have absolutely zero interest in video games, you can also check out our wide selection of movies on other topics, such as cats, and/or cats.

    New Super Mario Brothers Gameplay (922KB WMV)
    Ellen's Kitten, Charlie (3MB WMV)
    The Great Escape (2MB WMV)

    Sex for Water
    Crime-Fighting Cat Now Trying Therapy
    Pink Taco Restaurant Causes a Stir

    tagged as reviews, games | permalink | 8 comments

    Friday, May 19, 2006

    Friday Fragments

    where the Internet elite mingle with the ragtag dregs of society

  • When I first sat down to write today's entry, I didn't have a clue as to what I should write about. Normally I have a small short-list of one or two sentence ideas that didn't quite fit anywhere during the rest of the week which I digest into the intellectual diarrhea which explosively spreads across the Internet, preserved forever in the Internet Archive .

  • With the Internet Archive, you can metaphysically go back in time to the halcyon days of your youth. You can see what the Chompblog looked like in its first month of existence (very yellow), or how Google's layout has changed (very little). It will not, however, work on older versions of the URI! Zone, because when I built my time machine, I went to the future and learned Javascript, which I then used to detonate all of the Internet Archive's copies of my pages. Apparently my 1998 practice of dynamically writing entire pages does not play well with historical preservation. I should have just used my time machine to go into the past and patent my work, so I could have made some cash from the whole DHTML fad.

  • If I owned a time machine today (it got confiscated by the Time Police last year) I would not be able to resist checking in on my future self and all my friends. I'd want to know every detail of my future existence -- where I live, who I marry, and what I do. Sure it might take some of the surprise out of life, but I also wouldn't have to worry about making the wrong decisions ever. Most importantly, I'd want to know when and how I die. That way, if it's particularly embarassing (like a tuna fish mishap) I can try to change it. I would also throw a big party with all of my savings the night before.

  • There's a site called futureme.org where you can send yourself a letter at some set time in the future. This is kind of a unique gimmick, although it would have been much cooler if you could send them to the past you. I can think of several junctures in my life where I would write back, "What the hell were you thinking??" Yes, with two question marks.

  • When I started writing my last name with an exclamation point in high school (which I started doing for no really good reason except to be unique but ultimately just turned out to be quirky, and/or pretentious, depending on who you talk to), some of my friend started signing their names with question marks.

  • I knew some peculiar friends in high school. Two of them, Dutton and Mike, once dropped trou in the middle of the band room after a football game and sang "The Old Grey Mare". I think it came from an episode of the Simpsons, but am not 100% sure about that.

  • I haven't watched a new episode of the Simpsons in years. They're making a Simpsons movie next year, which is somewhat sketchy. The only way fans will be appeased is if it's an endless chain of cameos by important characters, and they already do that quite well in the thirty minute timeslot every week. I don't think ninety minutes would necessarily improve anything. I thought the show was always funny enough to watch in syndication while cooking my friend chicken, but never hilarious enough to warrant a sit-down on Sunday night for a new episode, but I'm sure more rabid fans will be camping outside the theatres.

  • "Friend chicken" in the previous fragment is obviously a typo, but it's cute enough to leave in. I suppose that if chickens would really take the time to get to know me, they'd be my friend, ignoring for a moment, the fact that I eat pieces of them with Cajun fries once a week for lunch.

  • I was considering which fast-food restaurant makes the best fries on the way home yesterday while eating the fries from Popeyes and couldn't make up my mind -- it's either Popeyes or McDonalds. What do you think?

  • I think the next big thing in fast-food will be to have a fast-food restaurant that amalgamates the best parts from every other competitor and puts it all together under one roof. You could order a Wendy's burger with a side of McDonald's fries and Quiznos Honey Mustard. If you would like some venture capital to get this started, see me in about ten years. I get to eat for free though.

  • Have a good weekend! Come back on Monday for treats and toys.

  • Boardwalk is so 1950
    DARPA plots emergency man-cannon. Not that kind of man-cannon.
    "Friend" left as a gas deposit

    tagged as fragments | permalink | 2 comments

    Monday, May 22, 2006

    Alphabet Day

    People will say that I blatantly stole this post from Sam or Kim but history proves that I actually invented this game in October 2005 and history is mostly infallible. I say "mostly" because I invented the Latin alphabet itself too, but being a minority, the Man took credit away from me for that. This is also the reason no modern pianos have the note, J-flat, even though it's featured prominently in many of my compositions.

    Accent: I would love to claim that I have a pure unadulterated Northern Virginian yuppy accent, except that yesterday the phrase "Nuttin' wrong wi' that." popped up in conversation, out of the blue, like the hidden prize in my Cracker Jack vocabulary.

    Booze: Dark beers and white wines. Mixed drinks are dumb, although appletinis are tasty when no one is looking.

    Chore I Hate: Folding and putting away clothes.

    Dogs/Cats: Cats. The only reason to get a dog would be to build a little kitty wagon that the dog pulls, so you could take smarmy pictures and sell them to calendar companies.

    Essential Electronics: The computer. And the toaster oven.

    Favorite Perfume/Cologne: As long as you don't smell like the Indian guy on the dorm hall who apparently doesn't know the shower code, I don't care what you smell like.

    Gold/Silver: I think silver is a much cooler metal than gold, which could just as easily be brass. When I get my eyebrows and nipples pierced (purely for that undercover spy job), I will wear all silver.

    Hometown: Alexandria, VA. The place where you can end incomplete sentences with periods all the time.

    Insomnia: I never have trouble sleeping unless I'm going on a long drive the next day. This happened twice in Florida when I wanted to make the trip back to VA in a single day. Both times, I had to give up around midnight and just start my trip early, pausing around 5 AM in a Days Inn parking lot in Georgia.

    Job Title: Software Engineer for my day job, Superhero Without Tights for my night job.

    Kids: I have no kids of my own, but if I did, I'd want them to be like Anna's nephews and nieces.

    Living Arrangements: Detached, split-level, single-family, five-bedroom mansion on a 0.1 acre lot next to some trees that you can creatively call a forest.

    Most Admired Trait: People say I get things done. They should see the list of things I don't get done.

    Number of Sexual Partners: This depends on whether triplets count three times if you didn't know she had two identical sisters.

    Overnight Hospital Stays: Zero. I am the paragon of health and prosperity.

    Phobia: None. But I don't like ventriloquist dolls.

    Quote: "I was determined to know beans." - Henry Thoreau

    Religion: Practicing Greek mythologist. Pan is my homie.

    Siblings: One sister with five kids: three cats and two dogs.

    Time I usually wake up: 5:26 AM, to the melodious sounds of DEHT DEHT DEHT DEHT DEHT....

    Unusual Talent: I used to read all of my books while standing on my head on a flight of stairs.

    Vegetable I refuse to eat: Amen.

    Worst Habit: When Anna's on the phone driving by an accident and says "Oh he must not be dead because they're loading him onto a stretcher", the first reply that comes into my head is, "So he's just a little bit longer?"

    X-Rays: I have X-rays of my teeth, which may end up being the basis of tomorrow's news update. Stay tuned.

    Yummy Foods I Make: Cheddar Cheese Soup, Beef Stroganoff, Egg Drop Soup, Velveeta Shells and Cheese.

    Zodiac Sign: Virgo.

    Maryland cops hate Virginians
    Coors Light for Eight Long Years
    The next greatest movie of the year, after SNAKES ON A PLANE

    tagged as random | permalink | 9 comments

    Tuesday, May 23, 2006

    BU's Guide to Effective and Efficient Wisdom Teeth Removal

  • 1996: Make a website. Give it a unique name like "The [last name] Website", where [last name] is your last name with some random punctuation appended.

  • July 2005: Use said website to brag that you have not been to the dentist since the Hokies went to (and lost at) the Zirconium Diamond Bowl in 2000 .

  • July 2005: In an effort to be a more productive and active senior citizen (rapidly approaching the ripe old age of 27, I might add), make a resolution to visit the dentist, and do so. Receive dire warnings that your wisdom teeth must come out immediately or they will explode like devious nanotech bombs, to the detriment of your beautiful pink gums, which are the same colour as the watch you thought was silver.

  • August 2005: Weigh the pros and cons of removing said teeth. Use a bathroom scale that is fine-tuned enough to weigh arguments. Decide that wisdom teeth removal is a dumb idea since they've never caused any problems, other than creating hard-to-brush spots.

  • October 2005: See, in person, the agony someone goes through when they DON'T get their wisdom teeth out and the teeth get infected, resulting in emergency surgery. Realize that you don't really like applesauce, and you would probably not want to be eating applesauce mixed with painkillers and antibiotics for a week. Decide that maybe preventative removal isn't such a bad idea after all.

  • November 2005: Get a gig playing second trumpet in Mikado. Put off the wisdom teeth removal because it would adversely affecty your embouchure and you would sound like a freshman trumpet major.

  • December 2005: Put off the removal for another month, because it's holiday season, and wouldn't it suck to not be able to eat any tasty foods?

  • January 2006: Put off the removal for another month, because it's cold out, and no one likes to be driving around when it's cold out. Am I right?

  • February 2006: Put off the removal after hearing that your trumpet professor is retiring, and decide to do it immediately following his retirement concert in April, where you will play songs as if you were in a marching band again (yet in a very tiny auditorium).

  • April 2006: Play in said concert and immediately write "Make an appointment to get wisdom teeth taken out" on your planner, immediately before "Get an audition on LOST as Jin's brother".

  • May 11, 2006: Make the appointment with the oral surgeon listed on the referral from your dentist.

  • May 12, 2006, 10 AM: Get a call from the surgeon saying that since your work's insurance provider has changed in the past year, the new provider will not cover any work done at that office.

  • May 12, 2006, 11 AM: Get a call from the surgeon saying that the provider called back and said it was a mistake, and that your work IS covered.

  • May 12, 2006, 12 PM: Get a call from the surgeon asking you to call them back.

  • May 12, 2006, 3 PM: Call the surgeon's office to hear that the provider won't pay anything after all, since the networks are different.

  • May 13, 2006: Find out that to get a new referral to go to a new oral surgeon, you will have to visit your new dentist. Decide that wisdom teeth removal is not so important that you would undergo another routine cleaning purely to get a referral.

  • May 13, 2006: Give up. Better luck next year. What's the worst that could happen?

  • Police adept at lassoing the badger
    More women choose incomplete sentence fragments
    Drinking milk leads to more twins

    tagged as lists | permalink | 7 comments

    Wednesday, May 24, 2006

    The Post had an article on Sunday about the giant hoops that today's high school seniors have to jump through to ask the girl of their choice to prom . From the guy who added a slide to the senior slideshow to the guy who wrote PROM? in chocolate chips on some pancakes, kids today supposedly have to make their request like a marriage proposal lest the girl deem their question too unromantic and turn them down. Says one girl, "The romance is gone from everything else. All we do is go to parties and hook up. Prom is like a real date."

    In MY day, we did not spend our entire high school careers going to parties and hooking up (or maybe I just went to the wrong high school, or the wrong parties). If you wanted to take someone to prom, you either called them up, or spread word through the neighbourhood gossip. The person replied with either yes or no, and that was that. If you had a steady boyfriend/girlfriend that was obviously the love of your life and destined to be a husband/wife, then going to prom was an implicit part of the package. In fact, that was one major reason people dated at all -- so they wouldn't have to stress over who they'd take to the prom! When you blow a few hundred bucks on a new VCR, they make sure to include batteries to run the remote. Prom is supposed to be the cheap double-A battery of high school relationships.

    The bonus of this approach was that getting shut down remained a kind of private embarassment, like groggy mornings when you brush your teeth with hair gel, or the time you fell asleep on the toilet and fell in. If guys have to ask in front of the entire school and then the girl says no, they will most likely implode on the spot, or transfer to a private school.

    Just wait for the day that all people who were asked to prom on the deck of the Love Boat and then spent thousands of dollars on one night of entertainment are ready for marriage. Because marriage obviously has to outdo prom, the proposal will have to include at least two of the following elements, or the girl won't take it seriously: space travel, sky writing, erupting volcanos, or herds of wild horses.


    The two-hour LOST season finale is tonight! I'm guessing that Desmond will make an appearance for some reason, but I have no idea what they've been building up to these past eight weeks. That's the problem with trying to stretch a 22 show series over 40 weeks -- you lose the story's momentum and forget all of the clues amidst the absurd number of reruns. I also ordered the second season of The 4400 which came out yesterday.

    I am going to get your balls.
    Baboon didn't flinch after being hit with my secret catapult
    Laxative searches are kosher

    tagged as newsday | permalink | 2 comments

    Thursday, May 25, 2006

    Memory Day: High School High Points

    High school was a blatant waste of time and money, using up hours in the day better spent playing video games, going to the library and reading, or going out back to smoke crack with Zulfan Bakri. However, you could always count on a few peaks to brighten the year and prevent mass suicides.

    Field Hockey Home Games
    As a sign of solidarity, the field hockey team always wore their skirts on days when they were playing at home. Mix in a gaggle of goggling hormonal teenage boys, and you'll find that those boys will learn absolutely nothing during those school days, and remember very little other than a lot of leg by the time they leave for the day. We always tried to convince the swim team to have a similar practice, but were mostly unsuccessful.

    Substitutes
    Apparently substitute teachers did not get paid enough to care, so they were always fair game for any tricks the students could pull. The best type of substitute was the career-substitute: recently retired, living on Social Security, and already broken by years of rude and retarded kids, because they'd generally let you do anything you wanted. The more challenging subs were those having mid-life career changes after layoffs who felt the need to assert their authority in the classroom. In 12th grade, we had one of these types for Mrs. Buckbee's English class. He was aptly named Mr. Spindle Fibers, since he had exactly three thick hairs combed over an otherwise bald pate, and somehow we managed to convince him that we were supposed to be having a party to celebrate some assignment (maybe it was passing the AP exams or something) -- to the point where he wrote a permission slip to let one student leave campus to get soda and cake. When our teacher came back the next day, we used the leftover cake to have a "Welcome Back Teacher" party, successfully putting off whatever essay assignment was looming for another two days.

    Half Days
    Half days were the days when the period scheduler with the digital watch fetish decided that all classes would be exactly 27 minutes long, with a 4 minute window to move between classes. Combine this with a bell system that never worked and you breed a confusing day where every student could pretend to pack up their bags in the middle of class and the teachers would think it was time to quit. In the summer months, a half day also meant I could go over to Jack's house and go swimming.

    The Month of May
    May is when all the Crew races occur, from Regionals on the Occuquan River to Stotesbury in Philadelphia, to that race in Canada that us colloquial types always called "Canadas". Because Crew is a rich inbred yuppy sport, it would be unthinkable to have races over the weekend, so they generally started on Thursdays and ran through Saturday. This meant that everyone who did Crew generally spent a grand total of 10 days at school in the month of May, spending the rest of the time on buses and eating fast food three meals a day (and then vomiting it all up if they were on the Lightweight boat). I remember volunteering to sleep on the half-chair-half-bed luggage chaise in the motel rooms so the bigger guys could have the beds in a non-homophobic setting, which was just fine by me since I was only about nine inches tall. They'd always feel bad about it though and buy me extra fries for dinner or give me my own bus seat for my sacrifice. It was kind of like the way prison probably is.

    I also remember the time our band concert coincided with the Nationals trip. The director refused to budge on the date so the three band-crew kids (myself, Mike Polson, and Kim) literally rolled off the stage and into some parents' van for a madcap midnight trip to New Jersey. Though we were all band geeks, we came from vastly different social castes, and probably did not say much to one another on the way up.

    Get a surgeon that plays Super Monkey Ball
    Have a Hoffa Cake
    This valedictorian will obviously be a boon to society

    tagged as memories | permalink | 9 comments

    Friday, May 26, 2006

    Friday Fragments

  • I tried Rob's cornstarch thickening idea with my latest batch of Egg Drop Soup and it worked out quite well. The only caveat is that you need to continue stirring the mixture until it's ready to be poured into the soup or else the cornstarch will clump back up again, and no one wants a slurry with the fringe on top.

  • I almost considered putting a punny show tune in every fragment today, but I didn't have nearly enough time or patience to follow through. My week has been long, arduous, and onerous, so I apologize if any of this week's past posts lacked the normal polish and pizazz usually associated with my Pulitzer-possible production.

  • Alliteration is a fun device, even when you aren't the lead in a Gilbert and Sullivan performance. I'm surprised that more anti-war hippie poets don't rhyme "alliterate" with "obliterate" for maximum poetic impact. However, onomatopoeia would kick alliteration's ass in a poetry fight, any day of the week.

  • I heard a song on the radio the other day called Onomatopoeia by Todd Rundgren. That has to be the worst title you could possibly come up with for a song, because no one will be able to spell it, so how will they ever be able to Google the song title to find your band's website?

  • On a whim, I just tried going to onomatopoeia.com, but it's just one of those useless fake search pages that people use to trick Google into thinking their site is more important that it really should be. What's funny is that there are even fake pages at misspelled versions of the same address. If there isn't a real site at onomatopoeia.com, why would anyone ever try to get there and screw up? I'd rather own stock in amazom.com, or maybe a site with racy similarity like expertsexchange.com or penisland.net.

  • Speaking of islands, I loved the season finale of LOST. Plenty of resolution to tie up loose ends, and a couple new issues to think about over the summer break. I bet if you think back through the season now, there are enough disparate hints to tie together into a unified theory. It's like those logic puzzles on the GRE -- If A is true, then B is false and if B is false then C is true. We know now that A is false, which gives us dedicated viewers the chance to step backwards up the chain to earlier events.

  • I'm glad the season didn't end with a big cliffhanger like Season One did. The show would have just become annoying if the last shot we saw before the fade to black was someone hanging off a cliff or about to be eaten by a dingo. I recall reading online that the original ending for Alias Season Three involved Sydney Bristow on a cliff after an accident hanging onto the middle of a rope. On one end of the rope is her love interest, Michael Vaughn, and on the other is her dad. She can't hold both of them up without falling off herself and they're each telling her to let the other one go. I'm glad that ending never aired.

  • Alias Season Five is available in its entirety on the abc.com site as streaming video. This means I won't have to wait for the DVDs after all! Once I get a little more free time in my evenings, I'll have to start watching it, but I'm pretty busy for the remainder of the month. I have a backlog of games to play and movies to watch because work and life are working together to keep me running. I think I would rather be bored and not have enough to do.

  • This weekend, I'm going to be working on Saturday to make up for some time I had to take during the week, and then I'm driving up to New Hampshire for a Memorial Day barbeque at Dan's house who I haven't seen since college even though he posts here regularly. When I said New Hampshire, I may have meant Annapolis, but honestly they're both just far far away from where I live.

  • Have a great weekend!

  • The Dracorex hogwartsia
    I just want my 70s CD back.
    Luke Skywalker takes on the cops

    tagged as fragments | permalink | 4 comments

    Tuesday, May 30, 2006

    Spoiler Day

    I have decided that most of the population of the world is completely incapable of understanding the concept of spoilers, and even those that do are sometimes unable to effectively talk about the endings of books or movies in a non-spoilerish way. If you are unhip to the world of entertainment lingo like "jump the shark" and "frost up a smoothie", a "spoiler" is simply any detail about the plot of a movie, book, or show, that isn't common knowledge. It can be the big reveal about the murderer, or just a tiny detail about LOST that suddenly puts everything in a whole new light. Now that the Internet is here it's become even more difficult to read stories about other shows and movies without seeing pop references to spoilers from older shows, as if the writer has to prove that he's seen more TV than you have. And it's not that people are trying to be mean-spirited, like the guy that drove past the bookstore on opening night of Harry Potter 6 and shouted out the ending to hundreds of crying twelve-year-olds -- it's just that people don't think twice about where they discuss it.

    Here are a few spoiler incidents I've come across in my day:

  • After a prominent character was permanently killed off on Alias, there was intense speculation as to how permanent the death was. A month later, someone posted a news item on one of the Alias sites saying, "[Actor's Name] seen filming a new episode!". Then, he enclosed the body of the news in big SPOILER tags, as if the title wasn't enough to give anything away.

  • When reading Amazon reviews of 24 Season Three, one review started out with, "This is the season where [character] dies at [other character's] hands! It's Gr8!"

  • When talking to my dear, sweet mother about the current season of 24 which she's watching on TV while I wait for the DVDs, she said, "Well I'm not going to give anything away, but [character] dies!". After telling her it was a spoiler, she said, "Oh it didn't spoil anything, the episode was on last night!"

  • When watching The Usual Suspects with some folks who were seeing it for the first time, we got to the very first scene, where Kaiser Soze stands on the boat and talks. One of the girls immediately shouted out "That's [actor]'s voice!" completely giving away the entire movie. That one was just funny though.

  • This weekend, I devoured the entire second season of The 4400, that part X-Files part LOST show that airs on USA, the network no one even remembers anymore. Even though the writing is occasionally over the top and reaches WB-levels of melodrama, it's a very smart, well-written show. One of the main reasons I'm so engrossed in the plot is that I have yet to accidentally stumble across any spoilers anywhere. Since it's a show that no one watches, no one ever talks about it in passing, or writes about it in newspapers and so forth -- this makes the twists and turns and all the character development that much more entertaining.

    The third season starts on TV on June 11. I'm not sure yet if I'll watch it with commercials -- I'm dying to see what happens next, but not so much so that I want to commit my Sunday nights to sitting in front of the television.

    These T-Shirts were brought to you by the letters M and S, and the number 13.
    Silent teen-alarm backfires
    Way too much information about senior citizens

    tagged as random | permalink | 6 comments

    Wednesday, May 31, 2006

    List Day: Ten Things About the Custom Home I Will Build When I'm a Millionaire

    1. It will be built at the edge of a nature preserve in a suburban area, so the streets are still plowed when it snows but I have no neighbours except for deer and cougars. There will be a Costco, a Best Buy, and a grocery store chain within a twenty minute radius.

    2. It will have a secret passage opened with a wall sconce or a false bookshelf, and the passage will lead to a secret room whose windows you can see from the outside. This will be the study.

    3. It will have two floors and a finished basement, and will have two staircases at opposite ends of the house, so kids can play Cops and Robbers style games without any dead ends. Those are the coolest types of houses to play in.

    4. It will not have any of those retarded yuppy ceilings -- it will have normal ceilings like the houses from the 1970s which I can touch if I jump really hard and have a broom in my hand.

    5. In the basement, there will be a one-lane bowling alley with pinsetter, a pool table, and an air hockey table. Foozball is for wimps. I will also pay off the National Park Service to put an 18-hole mini golf course in the backyard. Every hole will have at least one animated obstacle like a windmill.

    6. There will be a fireplace in the den, and I will have grizzly bears on the nature preserve trained to collect firewood so I don't have to.

    7. The master bathroom will be as big as a bedroom and have both a shower and a jacuzzi tub. The toilet will be Internet-ready, and there will be a fully-wired sound system around the tub.

    8. It will have an attached garage to protect my Honda from the elements, and the garage will have a freezer full of steaks.

    9. It will have at least one upstairs room that opens up into a downstairs room via a balcony. This balcony may or may not have a fireman's pole to jump down quickly.

    10. It will have a small guest suite in the basement which I can rent out for low low prices to my indigent and transient music major friends.

    Happy Birthday Maureen Fish!

    It's only news because there are pictures
    It's only news because the cat has a funny name
    Australians smoke when they fornicate

    tagged as lists | permalink | 5 comments

     

    You are currently viewing a monthly archive, so the posts are in chronological order with the oldest at the top. On the front page, the newest post is at the top. The entire URI! Zone is © 1996 - 2017 by Brian Uri!. Please see the About page for further information.

    Jump to Top
    Jump to the Front Page


    May 2006
    SMTWHFS
    123456
    78910111213
    14151617181920
    21222324252627
    28293031
    BIRTHDAYS
    BLOGLOG
    10/14
    10/12
    09/08

    OLD POSTS
    Old News Years J F M A M J
    J A S O N D
    J F M A M J
    J A S O N D
    J F M A M J
    J A S O N D
    J F M A M J
    J A S O N D
    J F M A M J
    J A S O N D
    J F M A M J
    J A S O N D
    J F M A M J
    J A S O N D
    J F M A M J
    J A S O N D
    J F M A M J
    J A S O N D
    J F M A M J
    J A S O N D
    J F M A M J
    J A S O N D
    J F M A M J
    J A S O N D
    J F M A M J
    J A S O N D
    J F M A M J
    J A S O N D
    J F M A M J
    J A S O N D
    J F M A M J
    J A S O N D
    J F M A M J
    J A S O N D
    visitors since November 2003