Posts from 09/2007
in which I have thirty minutes to write a thirty second song
Reclusive: (adj.) Seeking or preferring seclusion or isolation.My Composition (0:30 MP3)
I felt that someone who was reclusive would also be a little unsettling, with a meticulous routine bordering on OCD. Had I had more time, I would have made the flute line a bit more droopy and less quarter-notey. This one's not bad, but not one of my favourites.Introducing the world's first female Beefeater
The Babysitter's Apartment:
On the ground floor of Mayflower Square, a solidly Latino apartment complex before it was hip to be Latino and densely populated, lived our babysitter who cared for us until the year I finished kindergarten. The nearest elementary school had every other grade, so my sister had to take a bus across the city to Jefferson Houston for first and third grades. The apartment looked over a one hundred foot hill which was perfect for cramming onto a tiny Tonka dumptruck and riding to the bottom without falling off. This was also the place where I got a scar on my thumb from a bathroom razor, had to sleep in the closet with the cucharachas because I changed the channel from The 700 Club during my morning quiet time, and accused Rashaad and Sunshine (fellow babysittees) of trying to steal my Transformer (the one that transformed from a pterodactyl into a cassette tape) by hiding it under a bed and hoping I wouldn't notice.
Dirt Bike Track:
In the woods near the creek, we discovered someone's meticulously fashioned dirt bike track, complete with hills, ramps, and jumps. We would pretend we were daredevils on our BMX bikes, performing dangerous jumps and races for hours until we were covered in mud. The track was less than a quarter mile from a popular campsite of homeless people, so we were obviously forbidden to come here by our parents, but we always reasoned that five junior high school kids on bikes were invincible.
Our Boy Scout troop met at the First Baptist Church on King Street. Because it was Baptist and in the South, it was massive -- even large enough to house an obese congregation from Houston. The church owned lots of forest land next to Chinquapin Park, and build a private softball field and volleyball field. Every July in our troop was "Sports Merit Badge" month, which was code for "everyone is too lazy to actually work on a real merit badge so we'll play games and invite the parents so they can watch their own damn kids". Imagine my surprise when I Googled the location and found that the church had transformed the fields into a parking lot at some point in the past ten years.
In Crew, runs came in three sizes: a "pleasant" 2 mile run to the horribly polluted coal power plant, a 3.5 mile run to the marina, and the dreaded 7 mile run to National Airport. As a coxswain, I didn't have to go running with the boat, but always felt like they'd listen to me better if I put in the hard work (though funnily enough, I always seemed to find an errand to run for the coach during the 7 mile runs). Seeing the intersection of the bike trail with the road into the marina was always a pleasant sight, because it meant I could turn around and start lollygagging home.
Theodore Roosevelt Island:
In tenth grade biology, I did a science project on the pollution of bodies of water in our area, taking samples from all over and then testing them with high-tech equipment (such as the fish-pH kit from your local Wally's Aquarium). I came to such brilliant conclusions as "the water near Theodore Roosevelt Island has a high copper content, probably because the bridge that goes over the river here is plated with copper". It didn't matter anyhow, because our teacher was old and lazy (and old), deciding two weeks into the project that it would be an oral report. My dad made me finish the written report anyhow.
Happy Birthday Julie Smith!Student suspended for We Suck prank
When we last left the game, I had just finished Chapter One (of eight) and the game was starting to feel more like its beloved prequel. Sadly though, it hit its high point around Chapter Three, and turned into a textbook exercise in tedium. If I were to write a Museday Tuesday song called Tedious it would feature the unimaginative and grating soundtracks from this game. If you were to look up the word, tedious, in the dictionary, you would find a picture of this game.
Actually, I take that back. If you were to look up the word, tedious, in the dictionary, you would find a note telling you to turn to page 68. On page 68, you would follow the directions to turn to page 97, page 24, and then 146. On page 146, there would be a picture of this game (followed by a
*** You have died! *** message and a prompt to restart the dictionary).
SPM does not fare well on the official BU Enjoyment Over Time chart, as you can see on the right. One major issue is the control scheme -- it's not complex at all, but the game throws so many options at you that you forget all of the available possibilities. By the end of Chapter Seven, you have a dozen retarded helper sprites that give you special powers (but you can only use one at a time), and three playable characters that each have yet another special power. If keeping track of these isn't bad enough, one of the special powers forces you to hold the controller like a pointer on the fly, which is a lot more clumsy than it seems since 90% of the game is played with the controller in a standard sideways position. Picture trying to play a version of Soul Caliber where every single attack combo is required at some point, and then make it so you have to go into a menu to switch between each combo. This is about as fun as turning on the Closed Captioning on your TV and compiling a list of places where the transcriber got lazy and used different words from the broadcast.
After Chapter Four, level design takes a nosedive like Pete Doherty in the champagne room. One Chapter actually begins with a directive to "kill this enemy one hundred times, with thirty seconds of cutscenes between each fight". The game thinks it's doing you a favour by ending at twenty-five, but I was ready to quit by enemy number three. Another world uses the tired "it's dark in here and you can only see a little bit in any direction" shtick mixed with the annoying "this room is nine million stories tall and we'll make ghosts appear in thin air so you'll fall all the way to the bottom and have to start over" motif. I finally made it to the end of Chapter Seven and quit for good. Even my OCD penchant for completeness couldn't convince me to go on.Just because they called the game Paper Mario doesn't mean it has anything in common with the older and better games. It's like they replaced the original Dumbledore with a Gandalf clone and hoped that no one would notice, but for no good reason. Richard Harris didn't even star in the original Paper Mario.
For editorial soundness, I pulled out the original Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door. I wanted to see if I was just viewing a three-year-old game through happy nostalgic lenses, or if it really was as good as I remember. I'm now four hours into it and loving it just as much as I did when I first played it, even though I already know the whole story and all the secrets! It's amazing that the exact same company wrote both games -- did everyone from the original team quit to do infomercials? I guess we'll see if the same thing holds true when the "new and improved" Pixar Studio tries to make Toy Story 3, 4 and 5.
Revised Rating: 1.5 of 5 stars (only for masochists, collectors, or the ridiculously bored)No more steamed crap for dinner
now available in four designer colours
♠ Writing about the Paper Mario series yesterday reminded me that I have outgrown the age of gaming nirvana. There was a time when I could buy, play, and beat nearly every game in existence, when people didn't have jobs, TV shows didn't have seasons on DVD, girls had cooties, and even the weakest game was worth a complete playthrough (I even beat Stonekeep).
♠ Nowadays, it's the rare game that will convince me to play for more than a few days at a time. Even with highly enjoyable games, I'll buy with every intention of playing a lot, and then letting it atrophy after just a week. I think I've even reached the point where I'd rather beat Doom 2 just one more time than invest time in a brand new game. Clunkers like Super Paper Mario don't help this.
♠ However bad SPM might be, at least they are not as bad as this TATU song (MP3) titled NOT GONNA GET US. The caps and the bold tags are an integral part of the title, as you will hear if you dare to listen to the sample, which may or may not feature a chihuahua on vocals. I'd sooner trim my toenails with a pair of kindergarten safety scissors than listen to an entire album of this. I don't even think the song would improve if the singer could speak English.
♠ Speaking of English, I listened to two units of a random "Learn Spanish Now!" CD for kicks, and can now greet people and ask if they speak or understand me. Of course, I don't even know how all these words are spelled, so maybe I should install a TV with over-the-air HD on my dashboard to watch Telemundo on the way to work. "Amo Booty!"
♠ The other day, Booty ate a Cup O' Noodles from the bulk crate of Cup O' Noodles I had sitting on my counter. I think she's learning to read English and misread it as Cup O' Bootles.
♠ The reason there's a bulk supply of Cup O' Noodles on my counter (rather, safely in my closet now) is because I'm going to Bethany Beach with Rebecca next week. This means that there will probably not be any updates until Monday the 17th, since I'll be busy doing science experiments at the point on the beach where the nuclear waste from Jersey mixes with the chicken waste from Delaware (with sexy results).
♠ Since I will miss a bunch of birthdays, happy birthday to Liz Fuller on the 11th, Becky Durham on the 12th, and Kevin Moorhouse and (not-the-real) Chris Smith on the 15th! I will also be celebrating my birthday on the 15th, probably with some form of illegal fireworks and/or firearms.
♠ Have a great week! I'm off!Scientology faces criminal charges
I'm uploading these pictures from a borrowed laptop, so my apologies if they look a little rough!
8:24 AM: Waking up to the sun over Bethany Bay
8:52 AM: The obligatory post-shower shot
9:12 AM: Making a ridiculous amount of breakfast food
10:05 AM: Looking down on Puzzle Time from the second floor balcony
10:44 AM: Out on the screened porch, enjoying the mild 70 degree weather with no humidity
11:08 AM: Apparently I enjoyed the weather a little too much
12:01 PM: Catching up on other 12 of 12ers courtesy of the free wifi in the beach house
12:22 PM: Marc arrives, fresh from Virginia
2:18 PM: On Bethany Beach, Rebecca becomes a mermaid
5:12 PM: After a nice afternoon lounging at the beach and/or digging, we go back to the car to return to the beach condo
5:34 PM: This is Shortie, the dog who lives two floors below us, always ready to greet us when we come back
5:45 PM: Having some Coconut Pie from Jimmie's Diner before heading out to Dogfishhead Brewery for dinner
I'm back from my week at the beach, three tones darker (burnt umber instead of yellow) and five pounds heavier. Among the major events that occurred in my absence:
While I occupy myself with going back to work, catching up on other peoples' blogs, and answering Mike's tag, enjoy my vacation slides !
Happy Birthday Tom!Monkey loves Pigeon
2) In a perfect world, Arnold Schwarzenegger would be president and Kim Jong-Il would have never discovered politics.
3) In a perfect world, all fast food would be free.
4) In a perfect world, Nickelback would give free concerts every night and a tribe of hungry cannibals would be their roadies.
5) In a perfect world, the highest paid job would be DVD reviewer and benefits would include the final say on whether or not to cancel a TV show.
6) In a perfect world, I'd be able to loiter in an adult bookstore in Southeast DC with no guilt or fear.
7) In a perfect world, speeding wouldn't be a crime but using your cellphone while driving would have a much harsher sentence (like death).
8) In a perfect world, there wouldn't be hunger because everyone was too busy cloning cattle.
9) In a perfect world, LOST would air a new episode every night.
10) A perfect world would require Paris Hilton, Lindsey Lohan, Britney Spears, and OJ Simpson to be sent to another planet.
From here, I tag Brianne, Kim, and Sam -- links in the sidebar!Smileys with noses turn 25
One of the many fine gifts I received for my birthday was the New Yorker Cartoon Caption game from Rebecca, where players try to make up captions for pre-existing cartoons (not unlike the URI! Zone Caption Contest, but with negligible cash prizes). You don't always have to be the funniest or cleverest cartoon to win, because you also get points for guessing who wrote which caption (and sometimes the funniest ones are the most nonsensical ones from the people who couldn't think of anything). Here are some of the funnier answers from a recent round of the game.
"It's my turn to pay, and I ain't fuckin' around!" - Kathy
"Those humans and their bestiality -- look at the ugly kids I got stuck with." - Rebecca
"Cluck the government, cluck the police, and cluck the motherclucking establishment!" - BU
"Fine I'll promote you, just quit grabbing my ass." - Jason
Cultural differences in how the Heimlich Manuever is performed can lead to awkward moments. - Chris
The rules are very simple, and a single game takes about an hour. The most interesting game would probably have 4-5 players at a time -- anymore than that and you start to lose track of players when guessing. There are plenty of cartoons in the game (we barely made it through fifteen in a single game), and they can easily be reused with different crowds.
Bottom Line: A. It's tons of fun and a good mix-in with a round of Apples to Apples!Man dies after head-attack from unarmed man
the critically-acclaimed literary sensation in the tradition of Hop on Pop
♠ The final portion of Extreme Makeover: The Three Year Home Edition has begun and there are now six-hundred-forty-five square feet of carpet in my basement, ready for unrolling. My dad and I tried to go with the fifteen-foot carpet rolls this time around since the space is so big down there. They're a little more awkward than a standard twelve-foot roll (not unlike a social face-off between a software engineer and a systems administrator), and ooze off the tailgate of the truck like a drunk Mexican on permanent siesta when you try to get them home.
♠ Before I tore down the basement, I had one final party there, mainly to celebrate my 28th birthday with four hundred of my dearest friends. We ate giant steaks, two kinds of mashed potatoes, and a variety cheesecake pack called "Sweet Temptations" (It was sweet). After that, we played caption games, drank lots of Guinness (or wine, in the case of Rosie), and then played several rounds of pool.
♠ Anna and Ben didn't come because they are no longer my friends, but while transferring the above picture from my camera to my computer, I discovered several cute pictures of Ella looking coy on my couch, just like this one. If you don't think this picture is cute, you have no soul. For more cute Ella, look at this.
♠ There are enough readers with babies (or expecting them!) now that it's high time we had a baby-off. Every reader with a baby could bring them over to my place, dress them up with tiny American Gladiator costumes, and put them in the ring. The last baby standing (or sitting up, or lying on their back, depending on their age) will win a $5 gift certificate to Amazon.com.
♠ Speaking of Amazon, I'm expecting my shipment of Heroes, season one, and Prison Break, season two any day now, because I don't already watch enough DVDs. Which should I watch first?
♠ I also finished the first season of Dexter, the story of the serial killer who only preys on criminals that slip through the cracks. The show was outstanding and no more disturbing than any given torture scene in 24 (most of the flinchy or truly gory stuff is implied off-screen, although there's lots and lots of blood). Michael Hall gives a great performance, and after just a couple episodes, you'll forget that he was ever a gay mortician on Six Feet Under. I highly recommend this series, especially if you are weird like me and have a fascination with reading about serial killers. Once you reach episode eight or so, make sure you have an evening blocked off, because you won't be able to watch any of the last four episodes without wanting to watch them all at once!
♠ At my birthday party, it was recommended that I open Uri!flix because I own more TV shows on DVD than God. A lot of people argue that owning a TV season on DVD is a waste of money in the days of downloadable episodes, but I always reason that thirty bucks for sixteen hours of entertainment isn't bad at all, especially since I tend to watch them multiple times and lend them out to friends. It's no worse than going to the movie theatre and buying a bottle of tap water and a movie ticket for sixteen dollars.
♠ When we went to the beach last week, we brought along 35 bottles of Costco water and 48 bottles of Yuengling. By the end of the week, all the water was gone, and there were only 2 beers left. This is because we spent most of the week drinking, and eating fruit dipped in chocolate.
♠ Dipping chocolate kind of sucks after it starts to harden. After looking like poop, it looks like the brittle and tasteless microwave brownie found in the Banquet TV dinners from the 1980s (part of this complete dinner including corn, some kind of jelly side, and two pieces of fried chicken).
♠ Speaking of fried chicken, it's Friday, and time for Popeyes! My weekend plans include some work on taxonomies, a trip to some Improv Show in DC, and some work in the basement. Happy Birthday Judy on Saturday. Have a great weekend!The cat was called Socks after staff changed the results of an online poll. Viewers wanted the cat named Cookie.
What does this mural say to you?Newscaster not shown in the breast of circumstances
in which I have thirty minutes to write a thirty second song
Trifid: (adj.) Divided or cleft into three parts or lobesMy Composition (0:30 MP3)
Museday Tuesday: it not only keeps my head in the composing game -- but also lets me learn new vocabulary words that no one would ever need, to be kept in store for the day that I write the great Asian-American novel or take the GREs again.
When this word came up, I immediately1 knew that it would involve a trio of some kind, and then decided that it would be a cliche contrapuntal jazz section building to the final chorus, using saxes, trumpets, and trombones as the three voices (because real trios are boring). However, with only thirty minutes to write, I knew I'd only be able to get one or maybe two iterations in before I ran out of time.
I started with a simple 12-bar blues harmony and a unision trombone/bass line. Pretending that it was already the second of three choruses in the contrapuntal section, I mixed trumpets in immediately, and then wrote the third chorus with saxophones on top, while the other two instruments contrapunt like an insane kicker in the fourth quarter.
This one was fun to write!
1: immediately after looking up the word
1990 was the watershed year when Aaron Ulm, Josh Lambert, Sharif Ahmed, and BU graduated from the SIXTH GRADE, a feat which is just slightly more impressive than beating Super Mario Brothers with a Game Genie inserted for permanent invincibility. Every speechmaker you might expect appeared at this ceremony: the musical arrangement by the vocal music teacher (who worked for at least four different schools), a first grader (who said "I wanna be like you!"), a senior (who said "In six years you'll be like me!"), the
smart kids TAG teacher, the principal from the elementary school, and the principal from the junior high school we would soon be attending.
In 1992, BU wins Best in Show at the high school science fair. His father makes him wear his Boy Scout uniform to the event to impress the judges during the question-answer period (which, judging from the picture, made BU very happy), and the blue ribbon is far overbalanced by all the high school kids making fun of him for the entire fair.
The year that our junior high school turned into a middle school, BU was a graduating freshman, about to go into 10th grade at high school. All the eighth graders were sent to a limbo quarantine with nothing but ninth graders in it. Because BU's class got a faux prom for graduating, the eighth graders complained that they should get one too, and it was held in the school cafeteria with BU's dad as the photographer. As a result, the Uri progeny spent the evening shuffling annoying eighth graders around, taking photo orders, and checking the lighting of the scene by posing. At least three of BU's comics were sketched on the backs of these order forms .
What's the most efficient way of getting your name in the local paper almost every other week? Simply find the guy who writes the neighbourhood column and get a job where he pays you $5 for every neighbourhood story you bring in. $5 a week for pimping yourself isn't a bad rate, especially when you don't have to put out.
Said Brian, "My experience at Pepco has taught me that delivering mail is inefficient when the mailboxes are not in alphabetical order, there are these things called chat rooms on the World Wide Web, and you can take over the computer of the highest-paid person in the company if he's on vacation and you argue that a fancy computer is a necessity for the high-tech work that you do. Brian is pictured here in one of the Vice President's offices, because "the computer in my cube doesn't have enough ???? for this
single web page database you want me to program".
At the critically-acclaimed, but box-office-light concert of the Manassas Dingalingers, Anna shows Rebecca how to ring with resounding joy.
Booty breaks into the Cup o' Noodles bulk box to lick the flavouring off the noodles, wisely leaving behind the fake corn because all it does is end up in your poop.
Baby baby baby baby baby baby baby baby baby baby baby baby baby baby baby baby baby baby baby baby baby baby baby baby baby baby baby baby baby baby baby baby baby baby baby baby baby baby baby baby baby baby baby baby baby baby baby baby baby baby baby baby baby baby baby baby baby baby
Ella poses in a commercial for the new Fall fabrics.
And you thought living at the ass end of campus was bad.
Look at the ripples of disturbed air to my left. Either there was a spectral ghost, we smoked a lot of pot, or the candles were really really hot.
Playing the New Yorker Caption Game with seven people is a long affair -- by the end, all of Kathy's captions were done in the mold of, "Hmm, I wonder when the cheesecake is coming." Rosie is really happy about cheesecake (or wine) (or both).
See more photos by clicking on the Photos link at the top of the page! I try to add new ones at the end of every month.Attend the $9.11 Fundraiser
now with onions
♠ Last week, I had my first bison burger at Joe's Montana Grill -- it was tasty but not that much different from a normal burger. Montana Grill also uses Earth-friendly straws, which must mean that they won't annihilate you with a ray gun if they ever arrive on a spaceship.
♠ On Wednesday night, I strayed off the beaten path of American chains to eat in an Ethiopian restaurant in Arlington, where we had tibs with spongy bread. It was pretty tasty.
♠ For work or for play (or to search out new members for my covert prostitution ring), I've been through Arlington every day this week. That's a nice fifty-mile round-trip every twenty-four hours, which means that I'll probably have to change my oil again before my trip to Blacksburg next month. On the plus side, a fifty mile trip for work nets me $25 in "gas / wear & tear" perdiem, which I immediately sign over to Amazon.com for whatever it can get me.
♠ Most recently, I purchased a book containing an amazing Janny Wurts short story, and seasons of Heroes and Prison Break. I'm currently watching the latter, and it's highly entertaining. It's not quite as tight as the first season, and you really have to suspend your disbelief much more than before. However, the writers have perfected the episodic cliffhanger in a way that the writers of 24 could never do -- Prison Break cliffhangers tend to be more personal (like one of the main characters might get his toes chopped off or the bad guys have figured out the secret plan), while 24 cliffhangers tend to be more meta (like a bomb is going to kill a million offscreen people) or ridiculous (Jack Bauer may miss the sale at Macy's).
♠ When not watching four, five, and six episodes at a time (that's the downside of well-done cliffhangers), I've been working with my Dad to renovate the basement. The walls are now "milk chocolate" which is apparently a "purply" colour. This is an interesting choice for me, because I can't see any of the red in the colour at all, so it looks just like my PUFFIN BAY GREY bedroom to me. To remedy this, I plan to wear 3D glasses at all times in the basement.
♠ Sunday is Jennie Geisner Gordon's birthday. Today is Anna's (and Becca's) mom's birthday, and also Anna's husband's (and Gabe's) brother's birthday (Jon). This sounds like the beginning of one of those ridiculous GRE logic puzzles where we find out that Becca is Gabe's uncle by following the family tree. Happy Birthday everyone!
♠ Have a great weekend / end-of-the-month!Come to the nerd auction
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