We went to see this "play with music" at the National Theatre last Saturday following a nice meal at the inexpensive Chef Geoff's around the corner. The 100 minute show is a parody of your typical televised spelling bee, with zany characters such as the antisocial nerd from TJ, the crazy home-schooled boy named Leaf, the perfect Asian who knows six languages, and the Boy Scout who gets an unfortunate erection in front of the audience.
There are no sweeping themes or French revolutions, but in this case, it's fine. The show never tries to be more than a nonstop barrage of one-liners and funny quips. Many of the quips are obviously improvised, since four of the contestants are randomly picked from the audience at show time, to compete against the six main characters. These ringers are given easy words until the plot needs to push forward, and then they're knocked out with impossible words (the losers are met by the "comfort counselor", a gang member doing community service who gives them a hug and a juice box before sending them home. Some of the funniest lines come from the Vice Principal's example sentences: "In the schoolyard, Billy protested that he wasn't cockeyed. 'I suffer from strabismus,' he said -- whereupon the bullies beat him harder."
One of the ringers was a little boy who faced this exchange:
The set of the show was built to distort the perspective of the stage, which helped to make the actors seem much shorter (and more middle-school-like) than they really were (except for the Asian girl, who was in the lobby after the performance and really was only two feet tall). Unlike most shows, the musicians sat in the wings rather than the pit. The piano player who doubled as a conductor sat at an upright piano in the midst of the show like your favourite music teacher from grade school during an assembly. This greatly reduced phasing between the musicians and the singers.
For the most part, the music was fun but forgettable, with the parts between songs more entertaining than the songs. A couple songs (especially the last "My mom's in India" one) were completely unnecessary. Also, the accompaniment was mainly piano-based with occasional interjections from other instruments -- by the end of the show, the timbres felt overused and washed out (in the same way that the Les Mis orchestra loses its character by the last act, since every arrangement uses exactly the same instruments).
Some of the ensemble songs are impossible to understand because there's so much going on onstage, and every song by the actor who was supposed to be deaf was unintelligible, but otherwise the performances were solid across the board. You can listen to sample songs through Amazon's new MP3 store, which has become my new favourite way to purchase songs online.
Final Rating: B+, a hilarious, but expensive show. If they ever release a DVD version, snatch it up.
Happy Birthday Donnie Riddle!Washington Post review of Spelling Bee
it's sixty degrees in November -- somebody screwed up
♠ The high temperature over the weekend is supposed to be 66 degrees (Farenheit, you dirty Euros). This is completely unacceptable for a Fall season, and I may decide to sue someone. I guess there was some truth after all to Al Gore's claims of global warming. Luckily, I have a book ready to take advantage of his success.
♠ Since I generally spend 98% of my day behind a desk, in a car, or in my house, I first noticed the unseasonable mildness on Wednesday afternoon, when I was putting a spare tire on my car. I had to do this, you see, because I somehow managed to run over a giant hex bolt within fifty yards of my home on the way back from work.
♠ I'm not fibbing when I say the bolt was giant -- I would not have been surprised to learn that it sprang fully formed from Zeus' ass. The head of the bolt was a half inch across and the whole thing was over an inch long. The devious steel beast managed to inject itself into my tire, causing it to deflate faster than a partying frat boy who's just discovered that he's been flirting with a drag queen. As a result, I spent three hours on Thursday, wandering around Costco and eating at Friendly's, waiting for the Tire Shop to replace it under warranty. On the way home, I saw gas selling for over $3 a gallon.
♠ I've never understood all those gas stations that require you to pay in advance -- when I go to a gas station, I want to be efficient and fill up the tank. I honestly don't know exactly how much gas I'm going to want before I fill it up, and I definitely don't want to make a trip in beforehand to pay and a trip afterwards to collect the change.
♠ I always top off the tank so that the final amount works out to a multiple of five cents. This is a throwback to the days when I always bought gas with cash (and I hated pennies), because you don't know what those shifty gas stations will do with your card numbers. Now, I'm much more practical, and buy everything with my debit card, even Popeyes ($4.68 per week).
♠ Actually, there IS one thing I don't pay with a card -- the Wednesday bagel at work. Every week, the local bagel guy drops off a batch of bagels for a dollar each. I burn through all my spare change on bagels (and steal change from Jack's office when I'm low, but it's okay because he eats my chips).
♠ I realize that I could probably bring my own bagel to work for much less than a dollar, which is why I load up on cream cheese. (That's where I make my dollar back).
♠ The bagel guy has drastically reduced the amount of cream cheese provided, which is where coming into work at 6 AM comes in handy. I am wholly to blame if the cream cheese block is reduced by 25% after a single visit.
♠ People are supposed to learn from their mistakes, but there's one mistake I have never learned from: every so often, I'll try buying the 1/3 fat Cream Cheese at the store, figuring that it'll be a much healthier, and taste reasonably similar to the real fatty thing. THIS IS A 100% INCORRECT CONCLUSION AND WOULD GIVE ME AN F IN CREAM CHEESE IF I WERE IN A CREAM CHEESE CLASS.
♠ Lite Cream Cheese is the worst. Normal cream cheese is wonderful though. I would marry a block of cream cheese and then eat it like a popsicle.
♠ Speaking of marriage, I heard from Nikki that Liz Benyo got married recently. Congratulations to her! Liz Benyo was one of the two singers on my fifth year recital at Tech -- she never did like it when I called her "Liz B'o" though.
♠ This weekend, I have plans to play a little poker and do a little raking. My new computer is supposed to arrive at some point too, so I'll spend three or four days rebuilding it from the ground up to get rid of all the annoying shovelware they pre-install at the factory. My new Janny Wurts book is also arriving sometime soon by International Mail, so I'll be reading fantasy books and installing operating systems, like the Computer Scientist that I am at my core. "I want to cast MAGIC MISSILE!"
♠ Happy Birthday to Andrea Principe! Have a great weekend!He's not undead, just unsober
It's now been 1562 updates since I first started my daily writings, and I'm pretty sure that all of my regular readers know me inside and out by now, either from my 222 Things About Me or the stunning regularity with which I repeat myself on the front page after I think no one will notice. Since I'll be busy this week setting up the new computer and reading new books, I'm enlisting your unpaid aid to provide thought-provoking questions for Wednesday's update. The rules are simple:
in which I have thirty minutes to write a thirty second song
Surefooted: (adj.) Not liable to stumble or fall.My Composition (0:30 MP3)
Share your impressions in the comments section!
Happy Birthday Annie Mueller!Kind of a shitty way to get high
If you were at a party where celery and wing dip were served, and guest was using the same piece of celery over and over to acquire more dip, dropping the used celery on the tray, and then doing the same with bagels and cream cheese, what would you do?
Had I been at this party, there would not have been any cream cheese left. Ergo, this catastrophe would have been thwarted at the outset.
Will you share the story of the time you saw a ghost?
I told the story of the ghost I saw in 1994 as well as the ghost car I saw after making the 222 Things list a couple years ago:. This story was immediately dismissed by Kelley, who thinks that there are no such things as ghosts, only zombies.
How many filing cabinets do you have? Did your Mom save some of these items and then pass it down to you?
There is a single four-story, legal-sized filing cabinet in my office which I bought at Costco for $90 (the barely legal-sized version was twenty bucks more). The top drawer is filled with artwork, original music scores, and every letter I've ever received by post. The second drawer contains instruction manuals for all the electronics in the house as well as news clippings, programs from concerts, Convocations, plays, weddings, et cetera. The next drawer down is filled with bills and invoices, and the bottom drawer contains oversized calendars dating back to 1993, as well as office supplies like envelopes.
Anything from before high school was preserved by my parents and passed down as part of their "the basement is full so let's get rid of this crap" ritual. The rest was all saved intentionally by me!
Who are the 2 people you've been in love with (#113 on your list)?
I cannot publish names, since neither one signed a release form, and that would open me up to lawsuits over the massive advertising profits I make on this site. However, I am still friends with both, and keep in semi-regular correspondence (one more than the other). Both were people from my undergraduate years -- the first circa 1998 and the second towards the end of my tenure.
I suppose that if I'm to update my 222 Things, I should also add one to this number! (awwwww)
If that is too personal to answer, how about this general question: how do you know when you're in love?
I learned everything I know about love from listening to Avenue Q ad nauseum (1MB MP3).
How long before you complete your world domination plans?
Below is a graph of visitors to the URI! Zone since November 1, 2003. As you can see, my plans for world domination are progressing nicely.
Pretty soon, I'll be able to move my roman numeral V markers out of North America and across the sea routes to neighbouring continents (because, as musicians knows, V is the dominant piece in the game of world domination), where I'll set up dictatorships in whirlwind coup d'etats.
Provide a detailed comparison of the relative merits of the fried chicken served by three major fast food chains, one of which must be Popeyes.
Table 1: Fried Chicken Comparison
|Category||Popeyes||KFC||Banquet TV Dinner|
|Batter||evenly crispy||soggy||soggy in the microwave, too crispy in the oven|
|Chicken||always juicy and tasty||usually juicy and tasty||often dry|
|Portion Size||shrinking every year||medium-sized||small|
|Convenience||slightly out of the way||three blocks away||requires prep time|
|Cost||$4.68 for a meal||$4.98 for a meal||$1-$2 on sale|
|Sides||Cajun fries and a buttermilk biscuit||two small tasteless sides and a non-buttermilk biscuit||a brownie, mashed potatoes, and corn|
Conclusion: KFC may be a bit more convenient to my house, but Popeyes has a cheaper, and better-tasting, package when you consider the sides.Obama supporters pressed officials to keep Colbert off ballot
On Tuesday evening, I drove two blocks over to the shopping center which is the star of Sterling, its centerpiece being a masterfully architected Big Lots, where all the signs are in Spanish and all the wares are under ten dollars. My aim that evening was to have a meal from Kentucky Fried Chicken, strictly to do research for yesterday's question and answer session. (I take my web updates seriously, as evinced by this post and would never think to do an in-depth comparison of fried chicken without trying all the available options).
While driving away with two-piece meal in hand, I passed the McDonald's. Rather, I passed a massive crater in the earth where McDonald's used to be -- the fault of construction, not PETA. In place of the golden arches was a fenced-in block of rubble hanging with banners proclaiming that the renovations were for your future enjoyment of a new and improved McDonald's. Anna and I saw a similar situation last month in Manassas, where her neighbourhood McDonald's closed up in much the same way.
My first thought as I did my detritus drive-through was, "Oh no, how will people know how to get to my house, since they're supposed to pass the McDonald's on the right?". This worry was quashed after I realized that when people get lost on the way to BU parties, it means there's more leftover beer for me.
My second though, then, was that McDonald's doesn't NEED to improve or renovate. Everyone knows the food is crappy and the bathrooms resemble tongue-licked Petri dishes. Everyone knows that eating a hamburger every day will turn you into a master of the eat attack. The draw of McDonald's is nostalgic consistency -- no matter which one you go to, those Chicken McNuggets will taste exactly as they did the day you stopped there as a reward for getting a Pass in first grade social studies. If you change the physical shell of the building, the next thing you'll try is messing with the magic elixir of instant fat rolls.
I personally haven't eaten anything other than hashbrowns from McDonald's since last April, the month where I consumed a cheeseburger after years of being a member of the McDonald's cult and found that my stomach had, overnight, decided that it would no longer tolerate having five-thousand calorie burgers for meals anymore. Since then, the only McDonald's trips I make are at Bailey's Crossroad at six in the morning while waiting for the lab next door to open up so I can go to work.
However, should this trend of renovation continue, the world will soon be faced with hordes of svelte people trying vigorously to reach my house, but failing and ending up on the street corners, where they smother the sorrows of missing Poker Night by eating Veggie Subs on Wheat Bread with Baked Potato Chips. Then where will we be?
Happy Birthday Doug Linden!Giggling robot becomes one of the kids
revealing the secrets of the universe to the unworthy since the dawn of time
♠ Newest in the series of "songs where you compare yourself with inanimate objects is Katie Melua's new single, If You Were a Sailboat. This came on the radio the other night and I could help but to burst out laughing at the line "If you were a piece of wood, I'd nail you (to the floor)". Obviously there are no hidden double entrendres in that lyric, or at least no more than in the line "If you were a house I would live in you".
♠ When I first heard of Katie Melua, I kind of liked her music, but now it seems like every one of her songs sounds exactly the same -- sterile, emotionless, and slightly annoying in the timbre department. "If she were on TV, I would mute her."
♠ I've watched very little TV since I finished the first season of Heroes, but in the interim, I wrote three symphonies, discovered a home remedy for conjunctivitis, and built a spaceship for my cats.
♠ I haven't watched any of the second season of Heroes but I chuckled at this Superficial article: (no spoilers)
♠ Last weekend, I raked my entire yard to keep the new grass from spoiling underneath the heavy leaf coverage. It was round one of about four in the annual fight against the leaves. The bad part about having a forest in the back yard is how many leaves fall, but this is counterbalanced by the fact that I can just dump all the leaves in the woods and pretend I'm one of those illegally dumping industrial plants. Since the first frost was just two nights ago, pretty soon I'll be able to move around some of my hibernating flowering plants in an attempt to appear as if I had a green thumb.
♠ It's a good thing that my roses and tulips essentially thrive on their own, because garden maintenance is one of the few things I never got around to picking up from my Dad. Usually, such secrets are passed down from father to son, as part of their floral tradition.
♠ One plant which is doing surprisingly well is Pointy the Cactus, the spunky cactus Rebecca gave me six months ago from Colorado. After three months of feebly surviving indoors, I finally gave up and put him outside, where he was exposed to rainstorms and frigid temperatures. Ever since then, he's gone from being moldy and soggy to having multiple shoots and pricks -- this may or may not be false advertising. I'm not sure what I'll do when true Winter finally rolls around.
♠ Since Winter is almost here, I'll be putting up my blue-light-special Christmas lights soon. It's not truly Christmas unless the porch is festooned with blue lights like some homely edition of K-Mart.
♠ This weekend will be a mix of working, going to some far off land called Clarendon for Annie's birthday dinner, and the first of three "Month of Thanksgiving" dinners. Usually there would be four, but I was so wiped out on entertaining after the Halloween party that I preemptively cancelled the one that would have been last weekend in favour of sitting around my house setting up a computer.
♠ Happy Birthday to Vu today and Kelley Corbett on Sunday! Have a great weekend!I don't wear a shirt that says Ask Me About Cherry Pit
5:47 AM: Checking on the status of a laptop shipment from Dell, which I'm receiving for CC, another 12 of 12er who's currently out of Spain and roaming Virginia. She'll be visiting here next weekend, and delivery to Sterling is a wee bit cheaper than deliver to Spain. Had it been arriving today, I would have stayed home all day to sign for it.
7:22 AM: There was a planned power outage at work on Sunday, and the last of the servers wasn't turned back on until around 8 this morning. Rather than go to the office and sit in the dark waiting, I went back to bed for an hour and then took a leisurely shower.
7:30 AM: My fridge is a little more bountiful than it was last month because I had a Thanksgiving Dinner last night with plenty of leftovers. Breakfast was a pair of lonely bacon-wrapped scallops and a glass of orange juice.
Also, the Miller Lite is leftover from Halloween Beer Pong -- I am not still in college.
9:20 AM: Doing a little telecommuting in the morning. Booty took this picture.
10:33 AM: Gas has finally broken $3 here, and every twenty-five miles I drive is the equivalent of six hash browns at McDonald's. Luckily when I drive on business, government perdiem is $0.49 per mile.
10:38 AM: Driving to work, where our building is ominously shadowed by the much-taller giant corporate contractor that supposedly eats little contractors like us for breakfast. Our building also appeared in the background of an image for a Washington Post article on the Dulles corridor today, so fame and fortune cannot be far off.
2:25 PM: Going home for the day. The name of our building is "Two Reston Overlook", but it's situated at 12021 Sunset Valley Drive which, to me, reeks of potential misunderstandings.
3:10 PM: I've purchased several big ticket items with big boxes recently, mainly computers and alcohol. The combination results in a magical funland for Booty and Amber.
3:22 PM: Cleaning up in the basement, the site of last night's Thanksgiving bacchanal.
5:45 PM: Making leftovers for dinner, to balance out the day. Turkey, stuffing, gravy, green beans, and a roll. Tragically, there was no cheddar cheese soup remaining.
6:12 PM: Playing a little Zelda to let the food digest.
6:36 PM: Working on the musical composition for tomorrow's web site update. The word of the day was Gamy.
|My Old 12 of 12s|
in which I have thirty minutes to write a thirty second song
Gamy: (adj.) Showing an unyielding spirit; pluckyMy Composition (0:30 MP3)
Today is Rosie's birthday, and her brother's name is Gammy -- when "gamy" popped up on the Random Word Generator, I figured it was fated! Since Rosie also likes Zelda games, I decided that the plucky tune in question would be written in the style of a Zelda theme song -- specifically a song you might hear while riding on a gamy colt. Happy Birthday Rosie!
What does this song evoke? Leave a note in the comments section!
When I was growing up, my dad took so many pictures that their value is depreciating faster than the US dollar. The current rate is roughly ten pictures for 1 yen, and it's sure to sink further now that I've discovered another bin full that were never scanned or added to albums.
Here are some long lost pictures from various Band Parents' Days since 1993. Like rings in a tree, you can tell how old I am by how long my hair is and how round my glasses are.
Tenth Grade, 1993: Our marching band had some ridiculous uniforms with capes hanging off just one shoulder (capes are why people in band are so popular, and the half-cape lets you pretend you can fly, but only to the left).
Twelfth Grade, 1995: This was, quite possibly, the worst can-can line ever. Not to mention that the flag corp uniforms look like a tragic industrial stapling accident.
Freshman Year, 1996: The thick winter coat is misleading -- I weighed 108 pounds here.
Sophomore Year, 1997: The crew cut could never be seen this year, since it was always hidden underneath the classy crew cap, and I never went anywhere without this classy thousand dollar Members Only jacket. That's Jason Mirick in the background.
Junior Year, 1998: The crew cap was replaced with a white VT hat this year, because I am into peer pressure, and because you're supposed to wear college gear at the college, just in case people can't figure out that you go there by seeing you in class or in the marching band or in the dorm. That's Kelley Corbett in front of me.
Senior Year, 1999: This was the first year I had hippie hair. My long, wavy locks were almost one inch long! The circumference of my glasses shrank to zero once I started wearing contacts too. That's Rosie on the left.
Fifth Year, 2000: Remember when I could part my hair? Me neither. Wearing that warm-up jacket, I could pass for a very Asian Randy Bird.
KT Tunstall's new CD, Drastic Fantastic, was released in September. Since her first CD, Eye to the Telescope, was one of my favourites, and stayed in my car CD player for months on end, I finally got around to picking it up. The CD arrived two weeks ago, and I also purchased the album as MP3s for $8.99 because I'm a yuppy and like supporting artists.
This particular CD is more acoustic and poppy than the original, but less acoustic than her aptly-named Acoustic Extravaganza. Weighing in at 39 minutes, it's a little on the short side, but the quality is quite high. Though the first couple listen-throughs were unimpressive, it quickly grew to be almost as catchy and enjoyable as the original. Below are a few song samples (greatly compressed) for your consideration.1) Little Favours (360KB MP3)
The opening tune almost sounds like it should be crooned by Morrissey, and perpetuates two features of Tunstall's music that I enjoy: the back-and-forth between major and minor keys, and the ending of a song with a C section, rather than a repeat of the A section.2) If Only (448KB MP3)
This particular song effectively highlights her accuracy of pitch. I've always been impressed with how her live voice is just as exacting and pretty as her recorded voice.5) Hold On (532KB MP3)
This is the song that was first released as a single which you've probably heard by now (It probably won't be long before it's in an iPod commercial). Some people compare it to Black Horse and Cherry Tree but I didn't like that song much. This one is far more interesting harmonically and rhythmically.7) I Don't Want You Now (489KB MP3)
If the CD starts with a Morrissey tune, it's only fair that it has a Gin Blossoms-y tune too. Pleasant, harmless, and even channels a little bit of the Cardigans, which is never a bad thing.8) Saving My Face (258KB MP3)
This song highlights the lean away from blues and towards pop that permeates the entire CD.9) Beauty of Uncertainty (256KB MP3)
A nice, mellow tune to showcase KT's lower register, which is just as rich as it was on her other CDs.10) Someday Soon (425KB MP3)
This song feels like it fell off of a Dave Matthews CD and landed here. It's not my favourite, but I would like it less if Dave sang it.11) Paper Aeroplane (368KB MP3)
In my opinion, this is the only weak link on the CD, even though some people have said it's their favourite song. The tempo is a few clicks too slow, bordering near the "perpetual fermata" tempo that I hate, and she sings too many 9ths until they lodge in your brain like tiny machine gun pellets of timbre.
Final Grade: A- Give it a chance, and you'll end up loving it!The man with tree roots for arms (warning: gross pictures)
I'm on vacation and Paige is in town! Updates will resume next Tuesday -- there WILL be updates throughout the normal Thanksgiving holiday.Santas are instead instructed to say 'ha ha ha'
in which I have thirty minutes to write a thirty second song
Chichi: (adj.) Ostentatiously stylish; deliberately chic.My Composition (0:30 MP3)
For this word, I focused more on the chic definition rather than the ostenatious one. The definition evoked a feeling more than a melody, but the eventual melody is hinted at in fragments throughout this extended introduction. I was hoping to start the melody, but ran out of time. Share your impressions in the comments section!
Word on the street states that Doobie got married in Tuscon a week and a half ago. The actual sequence of events involved Paige wanting to know what Jason Chrisley was up to these days, after which we visited his Facebook page and noticed a message from Shac. Since I don't have any pictures of Doobie's wife (or husband) and tubas don't come on gift registries, I'll cheaply devote today's web update to Doobie, the music/math major from Richmond, VA.
While at Virginia Tech, Doobie was a member of the Blue Ribbon Brass quintet. Blue Ribbon is a beer. He also played tuba on my fifth-year recital, but only had one solo.Hear Doobie play the tuba (290KB MP3)
Doobie was also a founding member of Delta Mu, the non-service music fraternity which was cool until they bought Greek letter shirts, and much of his wisdom has been preserved for posterity.
"If you ain't following, you ain't leading." - Doobie
"Don't think of it as circular logic, think about it as linear with crossed out answers. Linear logic is white out." - Doobie
"Val Kilmer is sweet!" - Doobie
Doobie is anti-Dutch.
Crouse can kiss Doobie's ass in Miami.
Doobie dwells in uncomprehension.
Once, Doobie watched a cartoon with the Harlem Globetrotters as inanimate objects.
Doobie drinks beer with his left hand. He is mostly left-handed.
Doobie is like the lighthouse. "Come to the shore!"
Doobie dated Elayne. Next is Carly and Carly's mom. Doobie can't handle the father.
On Tuesday night, people are either sleeping or pissin' Doobie off.
Doobie does not want to be dismembered via words.
Liz wants honeymoon in Australia. Doobie wants to "go down under."
Doobie is five minutes long.
Doobie has a 72 game win streak on FreeCell.
Congratulations to the newly married pair! Stay tuned for exclusive news of a future Doobie Jr.The dog might be appropriately characterized as now being anatomically correct
The number of hungry, hungry hippos present at my dinners seems to grow linearly every year -- I should never have bought that bigger table.
It only took three attempts to take this picture . Old Paige (not to be confused with Young Paige) managed to be directly behind Becca, so she gets to suffer the ignominy of an extra picture.
Here she can be seen on a jungle safari in my office, wearing a camouflage sweater so she can get a picture of Amber in her natural habitat (the basket).
This was also the first Thanksgiving to feature a baby for desert. It took a little while for her to wake up and be cute though.
Sterling's longest running Friday-themed column
♠ The final "Month of Thanksgiving Dinners" dinner took place last night, and immediately afterwards, my fridge was packed with two gallons of cheddar cheese soup, a pound of stuffing and gravy, a pound of mashed potatoes, five buttermilk biscuits, two pounds of leftover turkey, two bacon-wrapped scallops, three pounds of tomato-roasted lamb, two pounds of cooked ham, a small leprechaun named Hal, five cinnamon pears, a quarter of a homemade chocolate pie, two uponened packs of bacon, and fourteen Miller Lites (as you can tell, I've been working hard on those, having originally started with thirty-six).
♠ With the dinner over and the temperature having dropped twenty degrees overnight, it's now time to seal off the basement behind blast doors for the winter. Shutting down the room drops the basement temperature to around 58 in the winter, saving at least twenty bucks a month -- perfect for the installation payment option on all those prostitutes.
♠ The prostitutes aren't for me of course -- they're a Christmas present for Kelley.
♠ Once the mailman arrives today, I'll be 100% done with all of my Christmas shopping. This is helped by the fact that my sister and her husband aren't coming up this year, so we've agreed to delay our presents until next year. I can never figure out what to get them so they always get gift cards and video games.
♠ Speaking of video games, I recently beat Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass on the DS. It was surprisingly good and gets a 90 - 10% split on the fun-to-annoyance Zelda scale. I'll probably do a full review next week. In between work these days, I'm also enjoying Super Mario Galaxy on the Wii -- the first 3D Mario game that doesn't just make me want to feed my console to a hungry goat.
♠ November has been crunch month at work, which as not as cool as it sounds, since no one actual gets to gorge on Crunch bars. However, this month has been a lot easier than the crunch period LAST year when I was regularly working 60 to 80 hours a week. Plus, someone finally realized that it's good for morale if the crunch time is in November rather than the December holidays. Because of crunch time, I've been typing on the computer enough to not want to be typing anything witty when the time comes to write an update here (If I could have done a Museday every day this month, I would have, but that's a hint of weak sauce). Once December arrives, I'll have plenty more time to write more interesting updates -- December is always fun anyhow, since I can do "best of the year" posts, have contests, and make fun of the Reuters Pictures of the Year.
♠ There are no birthdays coming up in the near term which, if we extrapolate, means that no one's parents were making babies nine months ago. Since that date would have been 2/22, it's obviously that everyone's parents were too busy getting drunk to get nasty.
♠ Have a great weekend!Jellyfish vs. Salmon
In November of 1997...
What were you doing ten years ago?Giant claw points to monster sea scorpion
in which I have thirty minutes to write a thirty second song
Chirk: (v.) to make a shrill chirping sound; to cheer upMy Composition (0:30 MP3)
For this Museday word, I pictured a plethora of Disney wildlife creatures flying out of the forest to cheer up the scullery boy / princess / orphan / cancer patient.
I don't have as many pictures to upload this month, either because the number of social events I attended was drastically reduced by my raging halitosis, or because I was just tired of dragging a camera around everywhere I went.
People never believe me when I say that Amber is a lap cat.
Booty, on the other hand, prefers to sit behind me on the chair, and gradually stretch out until she's taken over.
At one of the dinners, we used Scrabble as a turkey timer. I kept getting crappy letters like these. O RELENT.
The three gay football players in the sixth season of Scrubs apparently went to my high school.
It's my cat in a box.
Another ancient band picture I discovered last week. I am in eighth grade and wearing a dickie.
MoviesElla dances to Super Mario Galaxy (2MB WMV)
More PhotosSee more pictures of Ella
Blades of Glory: If you add up all the true laughs in this movie and then round to the nearest ten, I'm pretty sure the answer is right around zero. Another movie that proves that Will Ferrell is very, very funny, except when he isn't. D+
Ratatouille: This was a pretty fun cartoon movie, but not as universal or enjoyable as any of the other movies in the Pixar stable. It didn't help that the two main characters are a rat and a human who cannot have a conversation (even though the rat seems to have a firm grasp on the nuances of English, which seems to be the official language of Paris). The animated movie, Car Wash, with Will Smith reminds me of this movie -- mildly entertaining but without any lasting effect. The best part of the movie was the preview that mentioned the release of a DVD consisting of all the Pixar animated shorts from over the years. C+
Shrek the Third: The Shrek franchise has essentially run out of ideas, but the movie is still enjoyable. There are a couple obligatory jokes that you're just supposed to laugh at because they were in the first two movies (and this is also what annoyed me about the later Austin Powers movies), but it's short and sweet. B
Scrubs, Season Six: If Shrek is trying to shake new ideas out of an empty Scrabble bag, Scrubs is on their third or fourth consecutive enema from the idea colon. The show is still half funny and half touching, but more of the jokes come from overusing character stereotypes rather than making up new situations. The season got better as it went along, and the musical episode (starring writers and actors from Avenue Q) was surprisingly not awkward. This season was about as good as season five, but I think seasons two, three, and four were the high points. B
MI-5, Season One: MI-5 is a BBC show that's like Alias without the mysticism. The pilot was uniformly dreadful, but the remaining five episodes of the first season weren't half bad. A good watch if you like spy shows and don't mind occasionally turning on subtitles. B-
Sopranos, Season Six Part II: Taking a page out of the playbook of Ultima VII in its title, the last half of the last season of The Sopranos was out on DVD for some ridiculously expensive price. Unlike half the Internet, I thought the final ending was decently artsy and fit the tone of the entire show. The sixth season as a whole was well-written, if not on par with the original two seasons, but it did a good job of tying up many of the loose ends from previous seasons. B
Meteos (DS): Meteos is a Tetris-like game on the DS that you play with the stylus and touchpad. Blocks with different colors fall out of the sky, and you can drag a block up or down in its stack. Line up three or more colored blocks and they will launch into the air, carrying any surrounding blocks with them. The goal is to launch all your blocks off the screen, and the game has a variety of worlds with differing levels of gravity and block speeds. Music and sound effects range from fun to kooky to annoying, and the game is addicting like Tetris -- there's no real point to playing it, but it draws you in for "just one more game". B+
Zelda: Phantom Hourglass (DS): Zelda was perfectly sized and paced for a handheld game. Every action is done with the stylus and touchpad, from drawing the path for your boomerang to scribbling notes on your overhead map to reveal secrets. Sailing is still annoying but faster, and there is one timed dungeon that can get frustrating as you visit and revisit it over the course of the game. Otherwise, the game is fun and even has a little humour in its story. A-
That Way Lies Camelot: I found this collection of fantasy and science-fiction short stories in a used bookstore and read almost the entire collection on the day that the world bolted my car's tire. Some are better than others, but I especially liked the four stories with the recurring character of Ensign Jensen, chasing a space bandit across the galaxy -- it reminded me of a written Firefly. B+
Stormed Fortress: Today's update is pretty long, and Kathy has probably already tuned out, so I won't go in-depth with this book. Instead, you can read my review on Amazon if you're interested. I engulfed this book in just a few days, and am now in the process of reading it at a more stately pace. I also read two WoLaS short stories recently, Reins of Destiny, and Child of Prophecy, both of which were great, if over too quickly. AZoo Fire Suspicion Centers On Armadillo, Lamp
only twenty-seven shopping days until the day after the day after Christmas
♠ Metrobus advertisements are out of control now, especially the environmentally safe buses that supposedly run cleaner than others -- they're wrapped in a technicolor outer shell with flowers and jungles like someone mated a caterpillar with a box of crayon.
♠ You know those vans with advertisements and directional arrows emblazoned across the sides that just sit on the edge of the parking lot to entice drive-by customers? A few days ago, someone had backed the Dunkin' Donuts van into its spot, which made the giant arrow point at Chik-fila instead of Dunkin' Donuts.
♠ Later that same day, I saw an arrow-van for the Cigar Connection sitting in the parking lot of Costco. Apparently Mr. Arrow-Van-Guy needed to make a bulk run. When I am old and have more money than I know what to do with, I'll make an arrow-van that says "FREE BEER THIS WAY", and just drive it around the city all day long to see how many people will follow.
♠ Q: What do customers shout when their barber is taking haircut requests? A: FREE BEARD!
♠ I cannot grow a beard, which also means I will not grow a mustache. Mustaches look pretty sleazy without a full face of hair. Everyone I've ever met with just a mustache has either been a redneck or possible sex offender.
♠ This weekend, a group of five of us are heading to the National Theatre to see Avenue Q during its brief two-week run in D.C. This is the musical that gave us such classics as "The Internet is for Porn" and "Everyone's a Little Bit Racist". It should be fun!
♠ I also need to check in on the cats, Lake and Titan, on Saturday. Evidently the boarding costs at Chateauri are spiralling out of control so they aren't going to come over and harass Booty this time around. Instead, they'll stay home, throw a party, use catnip out of a hookah, and clean everything up before I stop in to check on them.
♠ Happy Birthday to Chris Moorhouse! Have a great weekend!Buttocks Sign Rejuvenates Neighborhood Cam Battle
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