10/2006

Monday, October 02, 2006

Picture Day: Kathy and Chris' Wedding

This is my far too comfortable room at the Mount Olive Residence Inn which came with a full kitchen set (including dishwasher), high speed Internet access, grocery delivery service, and free hot breakfast. Tragically, I only stayed in the room for about ten hours (eight that spent sleeping) so I did not get to avail myself to most of the services like the indoor pool and the bordello. However, this hotel would be first on my list if I ever had to have an Extended Stay in the ass-end of northern New Jersey.

Mr. and Ms. Biddick walking down the aisle of the chapel at Aldersgate Camp.

Obviously they aren't sure where to go next, having spent most of the rehearsal in the back with a bottle of Jack and a doobie.

This is why you don't seat your grad student friends at the table near the open bar.

Kathy and Chris dance to a tune they danced to in high school (1958 sure had some great music!)

Our hero makes sure to get a picture with the bride.

The Florida State crowd engages in one of those picture-taking opportunities where there are four separate cameras and no one's quite sure which one they're supposed to look at. Where was Mike of Mike-and-Chompy fame?

You can see larger versions of these pictures (and more!) on the Photos page. If you would like uncropped, uncut copies of all the pictures to print out or build a creepy shrine with, you can download them here (8MB ZIP). I will keep them up for about a week or so.

My work schedule for the next couple of weeks is going to be pretty hectic, so there may be more than one Picture Day per week, which should suit all the illiterate bastards in the audience just fine.

Happy Birthday Dutton!

Ethnic games tainted by cross-dressing cheats
Dry cleaner finds murder note
America's Ten Biggest Wastes of Money

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Tuesday, October 03, 2006

List Day: Ten Random Road Trip Thoughts

  1. There's a commercial bus line called LAMERS. At first glance, the website emblazoned on the side of the bus could have been a one-word last name of the company founder (www.golamers.com), but it turns out to be a positive, upbeat, Special-Olympics-style cheer for people who are lame. No word on whether or not you must be this lame to ride, but I bet the company is missing a huge target market: sports teams could charter the bus line to ferry visiting teams to and from their stadium -- yes, I have the maturity of a twelve-year-old.

  2. People in Delaware and New Jersey actually slow down to the posted 10 MPH in EZ-Pass / Smart Tag toll lanes, an outdated local practice that I discovered while simultaneously testing out my anti-lock brakes. The last time anyone went lower than sixty miles an hour in a Virginia toll lane was the week when the Post revealed that all the toll cameras were fake and everyone wanted to see for themselves.

  3. I don't know what exactly you do in a Truck Climbing Lane, but I hope it's something like the Physical Challenge from Double Dare.

  4. You can tell that your company's fleet of trucks is exceeding the emissions laws when the thick black smoke emanating from the wet dungeon walls exhaust pipes curls through the air and projects a solid shadow on the ground below the truck. Then again, the likelihood that New Jersey has emissions laws is roughly equal to dying from a Flying Donkey Tiger Punch to the neck.

  5. There's a name for everything in New Jersey -- I did not stop at the Joyce Kilmer Rest Area on the way to the wedding, but I'm sure it would have been a poetic experience. With a little cash I might be able to get something named after me. A rest stop's probably too expensive, but someday you might drive past "Brian Uri!'s Mile Marker 94". I'd buy 222 but I don't think Jersey is big enough to have one.

  6. I have dubbed my blue suit, my "wedding suit", because I only wear it to weddings now that I'm no longer a performing monkey musician. I can provide a chronological history of the suit based on the wedding programs in the right pocket which, on Saturday, contained a program from Philip Barbie's wedding in 2004 as well as four other programs.

  7. My tie has not been retied in almost six years now. Someday I will learn to tie it.

  8. Piscataway would be the perfect marketing birthplace of Nature's Miracle.

  9. New Jersey townships love to tinker with the speed limit along their routes. In the twenty mile stretch between Mount Olive and Swartswood, the speed limit jumped randomly between 25 and 50 miles per hour, with no direct correlation to whether the road was in the city or the country, a main street or a commercial route. Given the Jersey love of roads and building roads, I'm sure someone analyzed every 50 foot section of road and determined the optimal traveling speed (rounded to the nearest five) then billed the government eight million dollars. I felt like I was following a strategy guide for a really tedious platformer game.

  10. Not being able to pump your own gas means that there's a ton of minimum wage jobs available in New Jersey. They should improve the economy and extend this concept to other arenas, like not being able to wipe your bottom, not being able to make left turns or U turns, and not being able to buy your own beer if you're under 21. Hopefully no one has stolen any of my ideas before I patent them and make millions.
Escaped hamster interrupts jet flight
Idiot Baggie gets passenger detained
Dodders have bad taste in host plants

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Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Open-Ended Games

I've played many a game in my day, and am equally good at first-person shooters and puzzle games -- any game, in fact, that has a set of tangible goals and a feeling of accomplishment at the end. However, the one type of game that has never appealed to me is the open-ended experimental game, like SimAnt or Black and White. If the game has not been given an ending by the game developers, I lose the impetus to continue playing. Even more lightweight titles like A Wonderful Life where you live the day-to-day life of a farmer, or Nintendogs where you care for a dog, lasted only a few short weeks in my gaming library. Even when my puppy was a dirty, crusty whore of a lab from neglect, I felt no compulsion to turn it on and play.

The same applies to my personality in real life. If you give me a list of things to do, everything on life's checklist will be marked with a big fat X in record time. If, however, you tell me to go make my own goals, I'll either mill about in the comfort of the status quo or I'll set goals that allow me to move laterally without much accomplishment or effort.

Flight Sims are the worst offenders -- what do you do once you've successfully launched a plane into the air and are now pretending to fly around the world? Is it even worth the bother when the flight sim box contains a two ounce floppy disk and a twelve pound instruction manual?

For some reason, there was always a copy of Microsoft Flight Simulator in our house growing up, dating all the way back to Flight Simulator 2.0, released in 1985 with CGA graphics that made the skylines an impressive four-colour pastiche of leprechaun scabs and vomit. I confess now, after the gamers' statute of limitations has expired, that I never once managed to get a plane off the ground in a flight simulator, no matter how many times I tried. Not reading the instruction manual was part of the problem, but on the rare occasions I'd load up the game, I would generally try to get airborne once more before giving up and purposefully crashing off the runway.

And even then, my need for endings was denied, since the game just reset rather than exploding your plane in a giant monochrome ball of fire.

Season premiere of LOST tonight! Happy Birthday Deborah Lipnick!

Implants act as airbag
Burger King goes gamer
Avoid dark-alley gropery and unladylike fumbling in the back of a cab

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Thursday, October 05, 2006

Cat Media Thursday


Lake, the poster cat for the coming famine. Last night he walked across a heating vent and fell in.

Lake wants to be a tuba player because "that's where the bass clef is".

It's like a Pottery Barn advertisement but with more wrinkles and a digital clock.

The crafty Siamese mix plays dead until lunch prowls into view...

Contortionist Kitty climbs a rope.

What is left of dignity?

"Red Rover, Red Rover, send BOOTY on over."

Titan amuses the older cats (1.8MB WMV)
Lake takes a turn (2.4MB WMV)

You can see more pictures on the Photos page.

Babysitter picks up wrong child
Parents kidnap the bride
Police hunt boob job cheats

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Friday, October 06, 2006

Friday Fragments

The leading cause of childhood blindess in Norway and its environs

♣ The premiere of South Park which revolved around World of Warcraft was hit or miss. It was too WoW-centric for non-WoW-fans to enjoy, but not quite enough to really make it hilarious to people who play WoW. It had its moments though, and definitely got a ton of the cliches and absurdities correct.

♣ The premiere of LOST was pretty good even though it's once again taking us in a different direction without answering all of the old questions. I think this could be a really strong season -- I just hope they don't keep giving flashbacks to the people with boring lives. I'm glad they brought back Henry Gale as a main character -- as an actor, he's impeccable.

♣ The English language would not nearly be as fun without adjectives and synonyms.

♣ I love how every political scandal gets assigned a representative noun or adjective from the media that will stick in your head long after the scandal is forgotten. For the Foley scandal, it's "lurid", and for Allen's recent brushes with controversy, it's "scrutiny". Scrutiny appears seven times on the first page of this article .

♣ Foley D-Fla sounds like a hip hop name.

♣ George Allen's campaign manager is not very good at the "deflecting the blame" game. He is quoted in the article as saying, "What I will say is the preponderance of scrutiny of Sen. Allen, as opposed to lack of scrutiny of Webb, suggests that one candidate is getting all the scrutiny, and the other is getting away with no scrutiny at all". He later commented on the liberal theory of migration, "The fact that Canadian geese fly south for the winter merely suggests that they are not flying north, east, or west."

♣ It's finally starting to cool off now, but it's at that annoying midpoint where it's too warm for covers when you go to bed, but too cold to get out from underneath them when you wake up in the morning. Australia is on their way to summer right about now -- I should get a winter/summer house down there and just relocate every fall/spring to enjoy the warmth and then migrate back in the spring/fall just in time for summer/winter.

♣ I also need to buy winter clothes, a need that I have every year but never get around to fulfilling. There just aren't enough hours in the day.

♣ This weekend I'll be working full-time on both Saturday and Sunday since we're in one of our yearly tight periods. In my minimal spare time, I'm also watching Scrubs: Season Three, reading Fugitive Prince, and writing a comprehensive strategy guide for Warsong Gulch in WoW. I was also going to paint my porches with my dad, but the rain cancelled that.

♣ Happy Birthday Mike Robb on Saturday! Everyone else, have a great weekend!

5 shrimp, 5 scallops, 1 unhappy diner
Gizmondo's Spectacular Crack-up
Millionaire Bruce McMahan loved his daughter so much, he married her.

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Monday, October 09, 2006

Holiday Trifecta


Happy Birthday Mike Catania!


This is Mike and his brother discovering a new world.


They then trapped and ate a turkey vulture to give thanks for Canadian people everywhere.

Mom made son plant drugs on enemy's son
Do big breasts lead to paradise?
Spider murders teens

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Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Pointless Vignette Day

He's there with clockwork predictability, no matter what time of the day you visit. He's there when you slip in at 9:25 on Saturday morning just as the big gates open, he's there when you stop by the Costco at 2:00 on your way home from work, and he's there at closing. He's the guy that sits alone at the Costco eatery with a pizza meal that plays understudy to breakfast, lunch, and dinner spread across the table in front of him.

Look to your left as you pass the geriatric bouncer and you'll spy him there, hunched over his meal. Once you've made your purchases and arrive in line behind the Vietnamese guy with the flatbed cart full of bottled water, you'll see him again. He's never that interested in the meal itself but it's always one of his props. He talks to no one and always faces away from the eatery, watching some invisible point beyond the warehouse at large, eyes unfocused and lost in thought. He may not be the same person every day, but he and his brethren always have the same habits.

Is the food really that good? Why would you come to Costco at 9:30 in the morning just to eat pizza? Is he just a worker on break? If so, where's his uniform? Maybe he hates shopping with his wife and finds less argument in waiting for her to browse than tagging along through the store. Or maybe he's staging a sit-in for some kind of Civil Rights movement, except he eats instead of hunger striking. He could just be people watching, but his eyes never really focus on anything tangible.

Who is this mysterious Costco Eatery Man?

Man eats 247 Jalapenos to win contest
Porn model sues radio host
Woman shoots lightning out of her ass

tagged as random | permalink | 1 comment

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

All About Me


I am Brian. I like to go to the swimming pool. I like to watch TV -- especially Batman. I like to go to my firend, Megan's, house. I like to go on vacation to the fun places. The fun places are just south of the border on I-95 and also in my pants. My grandpa has a garden. He lives in Michigan. I play with the cat there and probably got fecal cat disease from all the times it scratched me because it was an outdoor cat and never had its nails cut. I like the scarecrow (which apparently is a mutation-cross between a bald eagle, a manatee, and a operatic soprano in an evening dress) and the corn.

I like to ride my bike every night. It has training wheels. I like to make tracks with it. I like to do stunts. One time I barrelled down a hill over the curb and jumped a Yugo. I like to make skid marks with it. The wheels were made of plastic, and if you keep making skid marks with plastic wheels eventually you don't have any wheels left. I keep my bike by the table. He Man rocks.

My dad's painting the house. The sun is saying "Hi". I am saying "Hi". My mom is saying "Hi". My dad is saying "Hi". My sister is saying "Hi". This is what's known in the "biz" as a "hi five". We cut roses together. We have to fix the chimney because only one puff of smoke is coming out. Obviously the fact that the house is holding all the smoke in is the reason the entire family is "hi".

This is my kitchen. I like to eat these foods. Actually bananas suck. Yellow milk sucks. Pears suck but not as much as peaches. Olives are key. I like to help my mom wash the dishes. I like to help my mom cook. I get the things out. I like to sit at the table and wait for dinner. Sometimes if I'm good my parents give me dinner every day and I don't have to fight the rats for it.

I like to wait at the bus stop. We always talk about things. I like to meet my friends there. I went to kindergarten at the M.C. Escher School of Design. It was guarded by camouflage alligators that disguised themselves as trucks. That's how my friend, Paul, got eaten. He thought his dad had come to pick him up.

My house always has lots of birds around it. My dad doesn't like dogs barking. We help cut the flowers. We spray the birds' nests so those avian scavengers of the suburbs don't come knocking around here. This page is just like the page about my family except that I moved into a multi-story hotel, painted blue. I like blue.

Yale student's video resume raises eyebrows
Google Code Search reveals coder comments
Vote for pubic office

tagged as memories | permalink | 6 comments

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Normally, I block out an hour or two for leisurely sitting at my computer in search of inspiration to write the following day's news post. These past couple weeks, it's been hard to keep that time reserved for such pursuits because of a rather hectic work schedule, and yesterday I completely blew that period on putting the finishing touches on my Warsong Gulch guide for Warcraft . This guide should improve your WSG skills and is conveniently located at the subdomain, wsg.urizone.net.

In the three years since I first bought this domain, many quaint subdomains have come and gone, like illegitimate foster children of the Internet. Here is a list of them -- how many did you know about?

  • chompy.urizone.net: The home of Mike Catania's personal "not-for-profit" blog (distinguished from his "I'll write about mass-market-appeal-TV-shows so I get more money from Google ads" blog)
  • frenzy.urizone.net: My strategy guide for Footmen Frenzy, which moved to the official Frenzy site last year .
  • java.urizone.net: The site for my Java Training course materials at work
  • mdr.urizone.net: Prototypes and mockups for the Metadata Registry at work
  • nohunters.urizone.net: The mugshots for a Starcraft/Warcraft guild that's survived for almost ten years now
  • turtle.urizone.net: The forum for my current Warcraft guild
  • wedding.urizone.net: The wedding information site for Anna and Ben's 2005 Wedding Extravaganza and Potluck Dinner. Who needs The Knot when you've got The Zone?
  • wow.urizone.net: The forum for my old Warcraft guild
  • yourethemannowdawg.urizone.net: Someday I will have content and a good reason to set up this subdomain, at which point the world will tremble.
Scott Blauvelt is an American with a disability.
Cut in line after eating a cockroach
The JL421 Badonkadonk Land Cruiser/Tank

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Friday, October 13, 2006

Friday Fragments

the reason why your kids are so ugly

♣ I had actually planned to do Chad Darnell's 12 of 12 this month, but time flew by like Harry Potter to an Angst-Ridden Teenager Conference, and it was almost noon by the time I realized it was the 12th. You can still visit his site to see pictures from everyone else's day.

♣ As for my own, it was about the same as usual. I got to work at 6:09 AM (I know the exact time because you have to sign in and deactivate the alarms if you're the first one in), worked until 1, came home and made a ham and mayo sandwich with three pieces of 97% Fat Free ham, worked for another two hours and then went to Boston Market for dinner with Anna and Becca. My life would not make a very exciting Choose Your Own Adventure book.

♣ When I was a kid, I wrote a manuscript that had some resemblance to a CYOA book, except that every page had a two-option question and one of them always led to death. It was not a very forgiving scenario. If you could chart the flow of the narrative with a plant, it would have been a pussywillow.

♣ Also from my treasure trove of childhood memories, I recall watching the movie Willow over and over. Eighteen years later, I don't remember much about the plot other than the fact that there was a midget who sucked at magic, a baby, and a witch. I certainly loved it back then though, and childhood movies always retain a special magical quality as long as you never try to watch them again as an adult.

♣ It's crazy to consider that kids of today have a completely shifted spectrum of childhood movies than I did. Most kids who are entering their teen years now have probably never even heard of those 80s classics like Howard the Duck, Back to the Future, and Gremlins. What will the world be like when you exclaim, "One point twenty-one jigawatts!" in a crowded room and receive only blank stares in return? Won't it be sad when kids cite The Grudge as the scariest movie from their youth rather than Friday the 13th?

♣ I remember one of Encyclopedia Brown's Two Minute Mysteries that occurred on Friday the 13th -- the questioned crook mentions that, like clockwork, he always goes to the bank to pay his rent on the first of month. The Inspector realized he was lying because whenever a month has Friday the 13th, the 1st is a Sunday.

♣ Friday the 13th never really bothered me because I'm not very superstitious and don't care about numerology other than the "oh neat" factor (like the way the digits of factors of 9 add up to 9).

♣ My numerology is in perfect working order anyhow, since this site recently had its 40,000th visitor since 2003 and my car broke 50,000 miles. Also, there are 60,000 women in my home harem.

♣ This weekend I'll be working again, and using the off hours to clean up the pigsty that is my home harem. Why just yesterday, I found a dirty fork on the floor! Or not so much the floor as in the sink, soaking in warm, soapy water. That will never do.

♣ Happy Birthday Rick Dunham (Gold Medal) today, and Dan Shiplett (Beavis) tomorrow! Have a great weekend!

Gaming with your brain
Vote Pirate Party in Iowa
Disney says no to Mouse Orgy

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Monday, October 16, 2006

Capsule Review Day

Medium Energy - Todd Barry: This is a stand-up routine of a comedian I heard on XM Comedy. The material itself isn't that funny, especially on repeated listenings -- it's his manner of presentation, in a slow, Steve-Wright type of monotone with a little profanity mixed in. The funniest part of the album is several tracks where he talks about various MTV shows, and the rest is hit or miss. It was only $9 so I can't complain. Final Rating: B-

Skanks for the Memories - Dave Attell: Dave Attell is a very funny guy if you are not easily offended by foul language and coarse topics.I laughed out loud several times while listening to this CD -- here's a "clean" sample that's still quite funny. (530KB MP3) Final Rating: A

Journey from Mariabronn - Kansas: This is a song off one of my recently rediscovered Kansas Greatest Hits CD (3MB MP3). I've always liked how cleanly orchestrated and rhythmically interesting the rock operas of Kansas are, and this is a really catchy example. It's hard to make shfiting meters the foundation of your song without making it an academic exercise or a confusing morass. Final Rating: A

Scrubs - Season Three: Not quite as good as the first two seasons, but still better than most sitcoms on TV. It's amazing that the writers can continue to churn out stories that are both hilarious and touching at the same time. Final Rating: A

Mario vs. Donkey Kong 2: March of the Minis: This is a new game for the Gameboy DS which is real-time strategy game similar to the old Lemmings. With the stylus, you tap and drag Mini Marios around the screen, through obstacles, and to the exit. The controls are a little frustrating when you want to stop multiple Minis at the same time, but it's an easy game to learn. Since each level takes just a couple minutes, it's a perfect travel/waiting-around game. Final Rating: B+

Principal May Be Charged In Cat Killings
Cat-cloning firm turns tail
Pampered pets dress up for Halloween

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Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Newsday Tuesday

The Handwriting Is On The Wall




Carnivorous plant eats mouse
Dog saves owner, dies trying to save cat
MySpace predator caught by code

tagged as newsday | permalink | 6 comments

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Letters of Recommendation

In an ephemeral span of nine days in February 2003, I wrote eight letters of recommendation that would ultimately change the course of Man's evolution. You see, Florida State had built an all-inclusive dormitory specifically for music majors, where students could live in high tech suites with computer labs, practice rooms, and classrooms all in the same building. The concept was very similar to that of a mental hospital, but with slightly more sanitary conditions. As an aside, it should also be noted that Virginia Tech tried the same type of idea, and ended up with an abandoned building that used to be a campus hospital, with one classroom and forty-seven used hypodermic needles littering the floors like pointy presents for piccoloists.

Now it wasn't just any old music major that was allowed to stay in this dorm at Florida State -- you had to have impeccable credentials and be able to read alto clef, which meant that most of my "half a semester behind the curve didn't quite pass the entrance exam" students were already at a disadvantage. To remedy this, a few of them came to our hero, their favourite instructor as evidenced by the student evaluation form below.

This was the first time I had ever been able to directly mold the course of innocent students' futures (apart from the time I taught a class that tenor clef was called the K clef because it transposed the standard A to G notes to a new set from K to Q) so I took my responsibility quite seriously. First, I asked them all why they wanted to live in this magical dorm of candy and unicorns. I had to ask, because I was having trouble thinking of good reasons for myself. Why would you want to live with people you have to attend every class with already, people who you're probably staring mental daggers at during rehearsals because you think they suck and you should be first chair? Wouldn't living in a music dorm be giving yourself tunnel vision instead of experiencing the full college experience? Who wants to live over a tuba practice room?

The only reason I could come up with was "sometimes cute girls drag themselves out of bed and stumble into morning classes in their pajamas" which did not seem compelling enough to deserve a change of residence. Then again, I could be biased coming from a computer science background -- living with one computer science major was enough for me and I would have dropped out of college the minute someone suggested a dorm full of nothing but guys with the social skills of that one flatulent dolphin in the pod.

The difficult part of writing letters of recommendation is not making an average student look decent or going overboard with praise. The kicker is trying to make each one a little different than the last. This isn't so noticeable with two or three, but by the time you hit number eight, you're struggling for ideas like John Grisham after taxes. Ultimately all of my letters followed a similar pattern to this one:

This letter is in regards to Leeroy Brown, who is applying for residency in Cawthon Hall next year. This is the second semester that I have been Leeroy's instructor -- he was enrolled in MUT 1001: Music Fundamentals last semester and is currently my student in MUT 1241: Sight Singing and Ear Training I.

Change the name for each letter, and I'm good to go.

Leeroy has an extensive background in theatre and dance, but did not have any formal music theory training before he came to Florida State University. However, this did not deter him from choosing the B.M. Musical Theatre track over the B.F.A. track in Theatre. He chose this more difficult path so he could have a full understanding and appreciation for music theory, and possibly compose his own music at some point in the future.

Or I have no idea why he picked that track, except that taking the B.F.A. track would get B.F.A. embossed on his diploma, and that's just going to lead to unfortunate misunderstandings in interviews. Smart choice, Leeroy, smart choice.

Leeroy started Fundamentals with a 100% on his first quiz, but his grades began to drop as the materials became increasingly harder. However, he was one of the few students in the class to take advantage of extra help, and put in extra time to make sure that he understood the material. Other students with declining grades either changed their major or learned just enough to succeed on exams. By the end of the term, Leeroy had bumped his quiz scores up to a competitive level against the class average.

"Competitive level" is a nice way of saying that if his grade and the class average had a fight, his grade would last at least two rounds.

So far, Leeroy has perfect attendance in my sight singing class (which is held in Cawthon). The atmosphere of being surrounded by like-minded musicians has had a positive effect on his studies, and I believe that it would be beneficial for him to live there next year.

Notice my subtle segue into mentioning the dorm -- now you can see where those crazy Friday Fragments skills came from!

The best part is that I don't even know if any of them made it into the dorm the following year, or if they all dropped out of college and danced tables to fund their out of control meth habits.

Dooce in the news
Jill Splonskowski plans to attend a Halloween party as a sexy firefighter
The suspect was missing a large quadrant of hair from the front of her head

tagged as memories, teaching | permalink | 3 comments

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Collage Cheese

This is the only collage I ever made as a budding teen artist, and it was made completely under duress. Stemming, perhaps, from the fact that I am far too right-brained for my own good, I always considered collages to be the useless stepchild of the art family, lacking in originality, purpose, or artistic merit.

It's bad enough that making a collage entails taking the detritus of human existence and gluing or stapling it to construction paper with a few strands of wasted macaroni that would be better served up with some Velveeta Cheese. What's worse is that every time a school teacher assigns a collage, there's always some deep psychological mindset instilled upon the students to make it seem more important than it really is. In the case of the above example, the assignment was "make a collage that expresses who you really are".

Most teenagers are incapable of expressing that idea in written or spoken words, so how could they possibly do it with a cutout of a Chanel perfume ad featuring a cowboy, and a low-boobied African tribeswoman from a 1983 edition of National Geographic? The process is only saved by the hilarously painful process at the end where students have to describe their collages to the class. Inevitably, every student says something literal, akin to "this up here is an apple, and I put it in because I like fruit".

I now open the floor up to the future armchair psychiatrists of America. Feel free to analyze me, my thoughts, my wants, and my needs based on this collage!

Teen faces litter charge for bra antenna
Tyson wants to box women
White House, NSA staff said to be buyers from online diploma mill

tagged as random, media | permalink | 3 comments

Friday, October 20, 2006

Friday Fragments

nuggets of wisdom made with all yellow meat

♣ I'd originally planned to spend yesterday afternoon painting my front and back porches with my dad, but the grumbly fog with its 95% humidity shot that idea down. Instead, I spent the afternoon working from home. Luckily the sprint-like conditions of the past three weeks are now wound down like an exhausted grandfather clock.

♣ As you can see in the picture, the stoop of my porch is larger than the picturesque roof and railing above it. There's three square feet of useless space outside the railing on either side of the porch which I only use on a yearly basis to set up jack-o-lanterns. I think at one point in the house's twenty-eight year lifespan the two widths matched, but then the wood shrunk after years of being left in the sun for too long, much like a raisin or an old person in Florida.

♣ I often have trouble with buying clothes that seem safely oversized in the store but then shrink ridiculously in the first wash, preventing me from wearing them even once. I think the lesson I'm supposed to learn is to just stop washing my clothes. Either that, or wear the clothes I already own until the end of time.

♣ I really need to buy a new pair of jeans -- my daily wear pair has the telltale frayings of a hole forming on the lower right posterior, and while having one butthole is necessary for bodily functions and evolution, having two is just impolite to random passerby.

♣ That's not me in those jeans in the picture. That's merely the second picture that pops up when you do a Google Image search for "jeans". I figured most of you would rather see a picture of that than my own jeans.

♣ When I was a kid, the first part of the jeans to go was always the knees, resulting in those iron-on knee patches that permanently prevent you from ever bending your legs again. Now, the ass of the pants is always first to go. This really reflects on my sedentary lifestyle, in which I spend eight to eleven hours per day sitting in an office chair.

♣ My posture in office chairs is uniformly horrible. Over the course of the day I'll gradually slouch lower and lower in the chair until the lumbar support supports my shoulder blades and my legs form a hypoteneuse with the chair and floor. The only way to prevent this slippage is to sit Indian-style in the chair or get a chair seatbelt. I haven't tried the latter yet, but I've thought about it.

♣ It amazes me that there are still places in this country, and in this state even, where people don't regularly wear their seat belts in the car. How is that not ingrained into the psyche of every single child that grew up in the Buckle Up! era?

♣ I'm taking today off to help balance out the overtime of the past couple weekends. Tonight I'll be going down to Manassas to fix Ben's computer since he downloaded some kind of malware onto his computer and now boobies pop up at random intervals. Tomorrow, we'll all go to Maryland to do Halloween-y stuff with Spellerbergian tykes, and I'll be back on Sunday, rested and ready to write Monday's update.

♣ Have a good weekend!

Aquatic car drives with oomph
America's Dumbest Congressmen
Man allegedly fires crossbow at motorist

tagged as fragments | permalink | 4 comments

Monday, October 23, 2006

Tag Day: Soundtrack of Our Lives

I borrowed today's idea from a bulletin that Anna answered on MySpace, the world's most poorly designed social networking site. Simply load your entire playlist on your favourite music-playing device (be it an iPod, WinAMP, your 99-disc CD changer, or a comely soprano named Katya) and hit the Shuffle button. Then, use the shuffled playlist make the soundtrack for the movie of your life, using the life events in the table below. The choices Shuffle bestows upon your life will range the gamut from completely nonsensical to eerily perfect.

Long time readers will remember that the movie of my life is currently in production, so creating the soundtrack is the logical next step. I now tag Mike , Brianne , and CC . The running commentary is unnecessary -- feel free to just do the column where you shuffle your playlist if you are feeling lazy.

EventFate's SoundtrackCommentary
Opening Credits Coldplay - One I LoveThis is one of several Coldplay songs that involves singing random phrases over a nondescript vamp for three to four minutes before fading out -- a perfect underlay for the extensive credits, since some of my stars will not want to share the same screen of credits with their rivals.
Waking Up Procul Harum - Whiter Shade of PaleThis choice doesn't make sense at all for a wake up song. I would choose the aptly-named "Wake Up" by XTC because I could take the metrically ambiguous beat and mix it in with the sound of a digital alarm clock for extra artsiness.
First Day of School Natalie Imbruglia - Counting Down the DaysThough the "I don't wanna be here" is apropos, this song seems too girly to start school with. All the other boys would make fun of me (rather, the actor playing little me, a.k.a Short Round).
Prom Monkees - Giant StepApparently, it's a retro prom.
Life's Okay Vertical Horizon - ForeverThis is a good, upbeat, status quo song. Good work, Mr. Shuffle.
Driving Aerosmith - What It TakesNot quite impatient or fast enough to accurately characterize my insane driving skills.
Falling in Love Cardigans - I Need Some Fine Wine"So I need some fine wine and you, you need to be nicer, for the good times and the bad times we know will come"... Such a positive forward-thinking way to start an affair of the heart.
Breaking Up Chopin - Preludes 28 #16Apparently, the break up occurs in black and white, after which I don a Charlie Chaplin hat and comically run through a general goods store causing mayhem. I then rob a bank in subtitles and escape with white canvas sacks that have $ emblazoned on the side.
Mental Breakdown Henry Mancini - Shot in the DarkNot a bad choice at all.
Reconciliation Blood, Sweat and Tears - And When I DieI don't know why Shuffle would match this song with that event, but maybe it's so I can yell "Yeehaw!" afterwards.
Wedding Candide - Oh Happy WeThis is the song in which Candide and Cunegonde have completely different perceptions of what married life is like and sing about how happy they will be after marriage. I swear I didn't manually pick this -- you can't make this stuff up!
Sex Scene Muse - Feeling GoodBased on the music, this might be the most disturbing sex scene in cinema. However, moviegoers will get to see Daniel Dae Kim get it on with Rachel McAdams and Alyssa Milano, so box-office receipts will probably be overflowing regardless.
Birth of Child Peggy Taylor - I Can't SleepVery appropriate. I almost hit Shuffle one more time, because it was too good and I didn't want it to look like I was influencing the results. However, what you see is what I got.
Dance Sequence Mitch Rider - Devil With a Blue DressAt first glimpse, not a good choice. However, I then realized that this was one of the songs from the Marching Virginians which had a dance in the middle of it, so I expect the sequence would somehow involve "Shopping", "Riding the Burro", and "The Butt". All of these will get good acclaim at the Sundance Festival, but a better choice for the masses might have been "I Don't Feel Like Dancing" by the Scissor Sisters , which is (no doubt) destined to be this generation's Dancing Queen.
Flashback J.J. Abrams - Theme from AliasPerfect.
Final Battle Henry Mancini - Baby Elephant WalkI did not realize that my nemesis in life would be a clowny, oafish pachyderm. It may not be the most intense boss fight of all time, but it'll certain draw the chuckles!
Death Scene Erin McKeown - Born to HumWith my final dying breaths (after being gored by the elephant), I gather my closest friends in a circle and sing folk songs until the end.
Funeral Song In-Grid - Only LiesThe funeral will be held in a French discotheque (after which Carlos Adolfo Dominguez will take all the ladies to the movies).
Closing Credits Decemberists - O ValenciaNo one sticks around for the closing credits anyhow, so might as well go with a song that no one knows!

On another note, new cat pictures were added here (scroll down) and new weekend pictures were put here .

Happy Birthday Jason Mirick!

Kitten left on runway
Man with mannequin fetish arrested again
Worst 20 video games of all time

tagged as tags | permalink | 3 comments

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Newsday Tuesday

BBC admits to bias

Senior figures admitted that the BBC is guilty of promoting Left-wing views and an anti-Christian sentiment. They also said that as an organisation it was disproportionately over-represented by gays and ethnic minorities. It was also suggested that the Beeb is guilty of political correctness, the overt promotion of multiculturalism and of being anti-American and against the countryside.

However, the summit on impartiality failed to find conclusive evidence that the BBC clubbed baby seals, took your lunch money, or voted Independent in the 2000 Presidential election. When asked which other news organizations might hold some sort of bias, chairman Michael Grade said, "We think something fishy is lurking under the bonnet at FOX News. They're up to their wellies in right-wing spirit."

Be Loyal, Kind and Don't Steal Movies

Boy Scouts in the Los Angeles area will now be able to earn a merit patch for learning about the evils of downloading pirated movies and music. Unlike a merit badge, an activity patch is not required to advance in the Scouts. Instead, they are awarded for various recreational and educational activities, such as conservation or volunteering at a food bank.

Even though it's not a full-fledged merit badge, this will probably be one of the most boring Scout activities in the history of Scout activities. You can trust my expert opinion because I earned the Farm Mechanics merit badge. It's good to see that Scouts are learning about topical issues for the 21st century -- downloading is bad, as are gay people, athiests, and anyone who doesn't know all the words to "Do Your Ears Hang Low?".

I'm still amazed by the fact that the industry believes that movie downloading is so prevalent. The size and quality of the downloads means that it's almost always worth taking five minutes to rent at a video store or order on Netflix. College students are probably the only segment of the population that downloads and watches movies regularly -- I bet The Evils of Internet Pirating will be part of every university's core curriculum by 2010.

Turret Vision in Del Ray

"I think Del Ray is all about people and their front porches. That's why we loved it," Carroll said. "I felt if we let him do this, if we all just walked straight into our living rooms, besides having architectural ramifications, it would have cultural ramifications for the community. It would have taken away what makes Del Ray Del Ray."

This lady blocked the expansion on one of those tiny Del Ray bungalows with the ridiculous anthropologic reasoning above, that sounds more like a really bad entrance essay on a college application than a legitimate quality of life issue. Now, I think McMansions are just as ugly as the next guy, but there's a line between preserving the neighbourhood and sticking your nose in other people's business. This was an addition on an existing lot, not two lots razed and rebuilt à la gaudy, and it was on a 1000 square foot house holding a family of five that couldn't afford to move to a larger place. Carroll didn't even live on the same street as the modified house (she lived behind it), and she doesn't live there anymore, but continues to protest it from Connecticut. I'm glad the owner of the house decided to hang a turret off the back of house as a big "F U" to all the neighbours.

Is it just me or is that turret making the house sink?

Happy Birthday Beza!

It's only indecent if it's a man
Bigger horns mean smaller balls
Police are still trying to figure out who to charge

tagged as newsday | permalink | 0 comments

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

List Day: Ten Most Listened-To XM Stations

10) 75 - Hear Music:
I suppose I should be embarassed that I listen to a radio station that allows you to "Hear the Music You Would Hear in Line at Starbucks!", although I guess it's more embarassing for our country that such a channel even exists. You can occasionally find a good tune here amongst the dime-a-dozen folksy caterwaulers like Beth Orton. Notable names include KT Tunstall, Norah Jones, and James Blunt when I only knew his one good song.

9) 20 - 20 on 20:
This is a revolving "Top 20" picks based on listener votes, so it's mostly comprised of the latest rap, or prefabricated pop garbage. The fact that the playlist is democratic means that it's not always great, because the average human being's taste in music blows goats, and not in the polite way. This station is essentially identical to 30 - XM Hitlist, except that they play Kanye West - Golddigger roughly four more times per day.

8) 73 - Frank's Place:
This station plays nothing but American jazz vocal standards from Ella Fitzgerald and Frank Sinatra to more recent acts like Manhattan Transfer. I often play this in the background at dinner or hosted dinner parties when I want to look fancy.

7) 83 - Chrome:
Nonstop disco and funk from the 1970s -- a smorgasbord of ascending octave bass lines, whicka-wow guitar riffs, and unison strings. You may laugh, but it's great music for unwinding in the car on the way home from work. I defy you to be other than light-hearted to a tune like Sound of Philadelphia .

6) 27 - Cinemagic:
I love movie scores, even those that are completely paint-by-numbers and lacking in innovation. Cinemagic devotes ten to fifteen minutes to a single movie, interspersed with memorable dialog snippets from the movie itself. They don't just play James Horner and John Williams either -- Michael Giacchino and even a little Phillip Glass has been known to slip in every once in awhile. Slightly related to 27 is 28 - On Broadway, but I usually only stop there when I'm changing channels off of 27 and see a song I recognize.

5) 47 - Ethel / 43 - XMU:
These two stations are tied for my rock needs (although I'll sometimes slip down to 41 - Boneyard for hard rock and hair bands). 47 bills itself as Modern Rock but tends towards more somber groups like Muse, Coldplay, and Radiohead. 43 is the College Rock station and features up and coming artists, thankfully low on homogenous frat rock content.

4) 5 - 50s on 5:
This is where I go for simple, unpretentious music when I'm disillusioned with the dross to gem ratio of current popular music. They can get a little Elvis-heavy on the weekends, although I guess there's no better place to be Elvis-heavy than here. This is the default station when there's nothing good on any other station.

3) 150 - XM Comedy:
Features uncensored portions of stand-up routines from classic comedians and up-and-comers. You can never laugh too much, and this is a good way to brighten the day. The big downfall of this station is that there are commercials on it, and as Mike said on August 6, 2004: The only downside is that they say there are no commercials but there are some on the best channels -- and not, like, good commercials either. Stuff like "tax shelter in Nevada! Listen to my tape while you sleep to stop being so lazy!" Those are real examples. After ten or fifteen minutes of uninterrupted comedy, you get three or four minutes of commercials, which means I change the channel quite often.

2) 26 - Flight:
This station plays popular music from the 90s and today -- safe stuff like early Dave Matthews, Hootie and the Blowfish, and Smash Mouth. The music's not old enough to really evoke nostalgia, but it's comfortable enough for enjoyable listening.

1) 29 - UPOP:
This is the station I'm generally listening to in the car -- a world-based popular music station. They have weird portions like the random hit from Madagascar (the country not the movie) or the all night "Iron Otaku: Music of Japanese Animation" special on the weekends, but I hear lots of fresh music by listening in, and I'm especially interested in the UK Top 40. They've got a great DJ (Mark Daley) in the afternoons, and a really horrible one (Ted Kelly) in the mornings. The latter is completely enamoured with his own voice and talks too much. He always likes . . . to say a few words at a time . . . so you can't listen . . . to the music playing . . . underneath, a maddeningly trait that kills his timing. I still tune in, because this is where I'm exposed to the most new music that I actually have an interest in, like Scissor Sisters, Muse, and KT Tunstall.

Honorable Mention) 24 - Christmas Classics:
24 is normally the Easy Listening channel, but in just a few weeks, they'll be switching over to peaceful holiday tunes and carols, which means I'll have it on in the background at home until all my guests go crazy. Christmas music is key.

Happy Birthday Anna and Booty!

Clinton foe: 'Whew' she was hideous before 'work'
White, nerdy, and here to stay
LICKY LICKY

tagged as lists | permalink | 4 comments

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Audience Participation Day: Name That Tune

It's been six months since the last Name That Tune contest which was handily won by Anna and Beavis. The rules are what you've come to expect: Correctly guess each song and send your responses to my e-mail address (there's an e-mail link at the bottom of this page). Song artists are not necessary this time around! The person who gets the most correct will win a $5 gift certificate to Amazon.com. If I get multiple correct entries, the first three to get all of them correct will each get a gift certificate. Deadline for entry is next Tuesday, October 31 at Noon EST. Any entries received before midnight today will be ties (so people who check this site early in the morning and people in oddball Spanish time zones don't have an advantage).

The songs in this contest have a common association with each other, but you will need to derive this theme by guessing at least one song correctly (much like the Junior Jumble in the cartoon section!) The first five tunes are fairly easy, and the last five are slightly more tricky. Each excerpt is only a couple seconds long, but they all start at the beginning. Good luck!

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

David Blaine Street Magic: YouTube Edition
25 Rules to Grow Rich By
Paris Syndrome Leaves Tourists in Shock

tagged as contests | permalink | 2 comments

Friday, October 27, 2006

Friday Fragments

Halloween Edition, now with 50% more bats

♣ Police are on the lookout for a criminal. Call the station if you've seen him.

♣ Never have I ever called a television hotline or tried to be the ninth caller in a radio contest for random prizes and fame. I have called radio stations twice for requests, and both times they had never heard of the song. Stupid radio stations playing only the songs everyone already knows.

♣ This three-part movie trilogy of Lake and Titan's last visit to my home has a recognizable and quite apropos song for its soundtrack: (#1, 2MB WMV), (#2, 1MB WMV), (#3, 3MB WMV)

♣ The Staples Copycat commercial makes me smile, and not just because the cat looks like a chubby long-haired version of Amber. Amber is far cuter.

♣ All kittens are cute, but adult cats really aren't that cute at all. However, you will always find your own cats to be cute regardless, because you watched them grow up from kittens and associate their former cuteness with the less cute animal they turned into. This applies to human kids too. Who would put up with them through adulthood if they didn't have big saucepan eyes and make funny sounds?

♣ If I go to bed late and want to sleep in, sometimes I will feed my cats a little midnight treat of food on the sly, which screws up their internal food counters and prevents them from waking me up at my usual early hours. I don't find this to be bad parenting in the least bit.

♣ I probably won't do this if I ever have kids, because I'd be afraid that they'd turn into Gremlins and I'd have to trick them into the microwave and turn it on to protect myself from being mauled.

♣ I have not bought any tempting treats for the neighbourhood kids because I barely get a soul on Halloween Night. Rather than buy a box of tasty candy for one-year-old kids who have no idea what's going on and fourteen-year-old kids who are too cool to have a costume, I'll just hide in the back of the house with the lights out and take all my candy to work.

♣ I don't even have a costume, but it's not a crisis since I don't plan on attending any costumy affairs. I did promise that this year's costume would somehow involve a ukelele, since the ukelele from last year's costume didn't arrive until after Halloween was over. Give me a table cloth and I could be a ukelele-wielding superhero.

♣ Everyone says that that Heroes show is great, but I have yet to watch it.

♣ This weekend, I'm going to become an expert on the Spring MVC Framework since it's a likely candidate for the next version of our applications at work. I never did finish the book on AJAX and never started the book on Ruby, but at least those books look impressive on my shelf. Besides that, I may go to Kathy and Chris' for poker one night as well.

♣ Have a superb end-of-October weekend! Keep guessing those Tunes from yesterday!

High-rise Shark Hunter
Nursery rhyme cures speechlessness
Pelican pops pigeon in park

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Monday, October 30, 2006

Fall

Even though the first day of Fall was over a month ago, the season has now arrived in earnest. One way to tell is by the clock-flip of the utterly useless Daylight Savings Time -- although some people may get excited at the prospect of bringin' daylight back, it doesn't affect me in the least bit. Working on the "six to two" schedule means that it's still going to be dark when I wake up, and it's still going to be light when I get home, regardless of chronological contortions. Instead of continuing to use a system that makes Arizona feel left out, what we should do is enact a year-round system that takes one hour away from the workday and adds it to the sleeping schedule of all Americans (because it's been proven that a sleeping American uses much less electricity than one that's awake). Write me in next week and those are the kinds of innovative forward-thinking ideas you'll see on my platform.

Actually, screw Arizona. What kind of nutter wants to live in the desert year-round anyhow?

Another sign of Fall: the leaves around my house have turned this brilliant shade of orange (it can solve quadratic equations without paper). After a particularly fierce wind storm that shattered the very backbone of my beliefs (if my beliefs were a patio table with a giant umbrella supported by rotting wood), roughly half of the leaves made the one-way trip to the ground.

It's always hard to figure out the best times to rake -- you have to find the sweet spot where enough have fallen to make it worth your while, realizing that another round is just going to fall again in a few weeks. Plus, waiting too long turns the once eminently rakeable leaves into a soggy concoction that sticks to the rake and the grass. When I'm rich, I plan on solving the problem by renting a helicopter to fly out and hover over my house for a couple hours every weekend during the Fall. Bonus points if I can blow away a deer or two.

Don't forget that the deadline for last week's Name That Tune contest is Tuesday at noon!

Six word stories
Murder juror kicked for using numerology
Vampires a mathematical impossibility

permalink | 5 comments

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Halloweens of Yore

In 1992 (ninth grade), I went trick-or-treating as a Candy Recycler (a.k.a. teenager who is too cool to think up a real costume but still wants candy). The recycling sign hanging off the trash can was a carry over from my Environmental Science merit badge and is still highly useful at parties. "Do you recycle beer bottles? OH."

I've gone trick-or-treating as both a wizard and a warrior (but never a rogue). Coincidentally, the walking stick I used for my wizard costume and the wooden warrior sword made by my grandparents' neighbour were both later destroyed by situp-farting Tony who tried attacking a cinderblock wall with them. I was not happy about that.

In 1999, I went to a party at the Tuba House. I was a Math Major (complete with tape on the bridge, high waters, and impeccably combed hair), except when I was talking to Math Majors, in which case I was a Physics Major. Nikki was a schoolgirl, but everyone kept thinking she was Britney Spears -- since she was into peer pressure, she ran with that instead. Liz was some kind of sexy cat.

In 1994, I climbed up onto the roof of my house with a giant bag of leaves. When the passing populace knocked, I scared them with a homemade ghost on a bungee cord and then lowered the candy down, occasionally stopping to dump leaves on parents. I said nothing, communicating only with the buzz of my trumpet mouthpiece. The professional trumpet player from down the street took the opportunity to explained to his daughter how the embouchure worked.

In 2003, I was a gangster. I picked this costume because I could also wear it to work without getting strange stares in traffic, or walking about. Booty was a ghost, but only for about ten seconds.

One year in elementary school, I wanted to get one of those orange and black shirts that said, "This is my costume", but my parents didn't want to spend $14 on a T-shirt that I would only wear once a year, so I had to write it in black marker on a white shirt. This did not achieve the desired effect whatsoever -- no one could read the shirt so I had to hold out stretched out as if I were concealing a pregnancy at every house I went to.

In 2005, I was a ukelele-playing Hawaiian without a ukelele, but with a coconut bra, which was much more crucial.

Happy Birthday Eric Barberan!

SEXY CAT
Manatee loves Memphis a little too much
Bat-infested town needs Batman

tagged as memories | permalink | 1 comment

 

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