Posts from 12/2007
A little over six months ago I was in the local Lowe's, purchasing up some parts to construct the set for my movie, Brian Uri! and the Amazingly Blue Bathroom. When I arrived at the counter, basket in hand, the cashier immediately began speaking in Spanish, an extended unintelligible string of colloquial banter with nary a taco or cucharacha to clue me in.
I must have looked confused, but the cashier tried yet another string before pausing and asking a single word question that I COULD understand: "Espanol?"
I quickly shook my head -- a universal sign of negativity (void in Bulgaria) and the cashier looked embarassed. "Sorry, you looked like you spoke Spanish." At the time, I simply dismissed it, paid for my goods, and left the store.
This event left my mind until just yesterday, when I was at the Lowe's again to purchase shower curtain rings that don't suck. Different season, different checkout line, different cashier, same situation. The clerk immediately looked me up and down and asked "bueno?" before I had spoken a word. I actually know what bueno means now, but was not expecting Spanish, so I stuttered a bit. She apologized and said that I looked like someone who spoke Spanish.
Intrigued, I went home and downloaded pictures of famous Spanish actors to see if perhaps my visage had changed dramatically in the past ten years. I admit, I see a tiny bit of resemblance between myself and Catherine Zeta-Jones (mostly because of my awesome rack), but not really enough to be mistaken for a Latino twice in a year.
I guess the ultimate test will be to buy a set of construction boots and show up at the day laborer center in Herndon . If I get a job, maybe I should investigate the possibility that I am distantly related to Ponce de Leon who, unbeknownst to historians, must have made a trip to South Korea around 1499 and had a torrid love affair with a Korean farmer's daughter while seaching for the fountain of youth (this would have the side effect of explaining why people still continue to card me for alcohol).Puppy rescued from watering can
It's a widely accepted fact that I am the leading American storehouse of musical knowledge, so it's no surprise that A&E referred to the Museday Tuesday phenomenon as "a rare glimpse at the inexorable and inevitable direction of modern music". Since I started this little featurette seven months ago, I've written sixteen short excerpts of varying musicality.
Now that 2007 is coming to a close, it's time for you to pick your favourite snippet (out of a subset of MY picks, because after all, I invented the treble clef). I've posted the recordings of each snippet, along with a synopsis that is exactly seven words long below. Any of the compositions with the double-thumbs-up icon is eligible for your vote. I will end the year by taking one of these sixteen works and expanding it into a longer work with a beginning, middle, and end (probably about two minutes in length).
Cast your vote before this Friday night using the Poll in the left sidebar! The extended composition will be aired exclusively at the URI! Zone on Tuesday the 18th.
Also realize that my picks are based on how much more can be said with the initial idea -- for example, I really like Moodily, but don't think I'd have much to add to it if I wanted to extend it. Don't agree with my picks? Sound off in the comments section!Wachovia Bank Tells Man He Owes $211 Trillion
Share your own gym experiences in the Comments section!
Happy Birthday Layla Lewis and Ben Seggerson!Rich US dog in hiding after death threats
What do you do with a B.A. in English,
What is my life going to be?
Four years of college and plenty of knowledge,
Have earned me this useless degree.
I can't pay the bills yet,
'Cause I have no skills yet,
The world is a big scary place.
After the "Avenue Q theme and opening sequence" play on two massive television screens that drop down from the ceiling, this is the first song of the evening, sung by the fresh-faced puppet, Princeton, who has just graduated from college and realized that he has no idea what he wants to do with his life. He moves onto Avenue Q (because the rent on Avenue A through P is too expensive), and meets a Sesame-Street-like collection of neighbours, both puppets and humans (the superintendent of the building is Gary Coleman, bemoaning the fact that he was a has-been at the age of 15 after Different Strokes).
From beginning to end, the musical is non-stop belly laughter, touching on all manner of hot topics with a surprisingly high level of intelligence. Anyone who has fond memories of Sesame Street from their youth will be feel right at home as the cast addresses tough issues like racism ("Everyone's a rittle bit lacist"), homosexuality ("If you were gay, that'd be okay"), and even simulated puppet sex. Here's a clip of "It sucks to be me" from the London show.
Performances were universally excellent, which is surprising since every musical has that one actor or actress that can't sing a note, or the one singer that can barely act. Everyone, even the understudy, managed to do an amazing job while controlling a puppet on one arm (and sometimes singing the parts of two different puppets at the same time). Two of my favourite characters from the show were the Bad Idea Bears, a pair of cute Care-Bear-esque fuzzballs who randomly showed up to dole out bad advice, like telling Princeton that he should spend all his money on beer, preferably a keg, instead of saving it up.
The show wasn't just fornicating puppets though -- the two televisions would often drop down from the ceiling with a short video to further teach one of life's lessons. One such video shorts five nightstands stacked in a pyramid. One by one, a nightstand is removed while the voices of children count backwards from five. When only one is left, the children shout ONE NIGHT STAND and the words flash on the screen.
On the technical side, the show was a little bit and heavy on the treble timbres. The accompaniment (mostly electronic keyboard with spare orchestration around it) sometimes swallowed the lyrics. The show could have been helped by turning the master volume down one click and turning the singers' mics up half a click. All the important lyrics get through though, and the music sounds like it could have come straight out of Sesame Street.
All in all, it was an excellent show and capped a perfect evening with Rebecca, Anna, Jack, and Kristy, despite the cold rainstorms blowing through the city.
Happy Birthday Kim's Mom!Sex in Space: The Final Frontier
helping you to feel like an alligator in a handbag factory
♠ Don't forget that tonight at 7 PM is the deadline for voting in the Museday poll on the left sidebar! You can listen to all the samples in Tuesday's post.
♠ Many people have sent me cards and letters wondering why my crotch seems to be emanating heavenly light in the photo from Tuesday's post. As a matter of fact, that light is actually coming from my pants, and not the lamp I keep under the desk for when I tinker inside my computer. It makes life pretty difficult when trying to fall asleep, but it's great for reading in bed. Life is trying with a heavenly body like mine.
♠ Other non-believers wrote in to say that they saw no similarities between me and Welsh actress, Catherine Zeta-Jones, in Monday's post. This is pretty hard to fathom since I was her body double in several movies and autograph events. You know that boring, plotless movie, Entrapment, with Sean Connery that was only made so Catherine Zeta-Jones could shimmy under a laser beam with her ass in the air? They paid me double for that scene. I'm probably just taking pictures from bad angles -- otherwise, you'd see the resemblance almost immediately.
♠ Speaking of cameras, I just purchased a Canon A650 and it should be arriving by UPS sometime today. The hand-me-down Canon S3 I got from my dad takes great pictures, but it's so cumbersome and heavy that I never want to take it anywhere. I don't really have much use for the 12 Megapixels that the camera boasts, but the older model cameras in the same family line were actually more expensive than an A650. I guess this is how Canon phases out the old technology.
♠ Speaking of old technology, the XM Radio I purchased last year isn't nearly as well-engineered as the one I bought in 2004. The contacts are smaller and more prone to snapping, while the power jacks tend to wiggle out during normal car ride vibrations.
♠ I might not renew my XM subscription next year anyhow -- it's starting to sound more and more like normal radio every day (loops of the same three or four payola'd radio hits and the increasing presence of ads, combined with the fact that they take my one station, UPOP off the air for a month every Christmas). Even the introduction of Channel 59 LED (All Led Zeppelin All the Time) hasn't helped. All that station has taught me is that Led Zeppelin achieves a droning timbral homogeneousness that's like listening to paint dry if you try to listen to three or more songs in a row.
♠ The above fragment is probably inflammatory enough to get me removed from Mike's (of Mike and Chompy) blog links. That's okay though, because I'll retaliate by removing him -- there's already one too many blogs in the Friendly column on the sidebar. It's just not well-balanced.
♠ Speaking of blogs, Kathy (of Kathy and Chris) has been writing in her new blog for over a month now. She's linked on the sidebar, so why haven't you visited it yet? Chris could not be reached for a statement, but he probably would have said "What could be more exciting than reading about a Music Theory Conference? Leave some comments, bitches".
♠ Speaking of music theory, Finger Eleven has a surprisingly good song on the radio now called Paralyzer . I never thought I would say the words "Finger Eleven" and "good" in the same sentence without also using the word "riddance", mainly because their original one-hit-wonder song was One Thing , a horribly-sung, mind-numbingly boring song that used up all its good will in the first thirty seconds, and overused the tonic like a bartender in a trashy dive trying to conserve the gin.
♠ While trolling YouTube for those videos, I also found this one for Jack Penate's Second Minute Or Hour , a fun little ditty that sounds like a less annoying version of The Hives. I really hope he was able to record this music video in a single take.
♠ This weekend we're hitting up the National Building Museum in D.C. on Saturday, and then going to a Potluck Holiday Dinner on Sunday. The remaining time will be spent doing my annual clean-out of the filing cabinet, wrapping Christmas presents, playing with my new camera, watching the second season of MI-5, and getting all the extra stars that appear after you beat Super Mario Galaxy (review on the 20th!).
♠ Happy Birthday Matt Koerner on Sunday! Have a great weekend!Help yourself to a little placenta pizza
All of you readers will have your chance to influence the course of my updates sometime soon, as if you were members of my board of directors (without the 401k). I'm planning on doing a week where you guys pick each day's topic, which could either be highly inventive or highly disasterous.
This is a quote from an entry I wrote on December 1, 2006. That was over a year ago -- an era where some of us were single or unmarried, didn't own cacti, and others of us had not yet ejected babies like little watermelon seeds of DNA across the linoleum floor of life. I even solicited ideas from the masses and then dropped it off the radar.
It's been so long since that happened that you probably forgot all about it. Or worse, you thought I'd forgotten about it. But, you see, I have a mind like a steel trap, and never forget a thing. I was actually just letting the idea simmer in the creative juices of my brain. Here then, is the culmination of a 12 month wait, since blog ideas, like cod, only improve with age.
Pay attention to that number 12 as well. You're going to be seeing a lot of it this week. As you can see, I am also the master of foreshadow, which is like the master of eyeshadow but less "Priscilla Drag Queen" and more "Nostradamus".
Do your blog in the style of a choose your own adventure novel - Beavis
You have entered the door to the north. You are now by yourself, standing in a dark room. The pungent stench of mildew emanates from the wet dungeon walls. What do you do?
Chef Brian's Cooking Guide For the Helpless - Jaood
Easy Bacon-Wrapped Scallops
|10 half-dollar sized scallops|
10 slices of uncooked bacon
small bag of baby spinach leaves
Audience Participation Day: Mad Libs - Rob
I think it's safe to say that Mike (of Mike and Chompy) is the monopoly holder on Mad Libs style posts. Go to his site and make yourself a Christmas card .
More Name-That-Tune Contests! - Kathy
The first person to send an e-mail with both the name of the tune and the band will win a $5 gift certificate to Amazon.com. There are six 3-second clips in the MP3 in chronological order. The first and last clips are from the beginning and the end of the song.
Things Grown Children Can Do For Their Aging Parents That Will Make Them (i.e., the Parents) Happy - Mom
What If?: A Week Without Doobie - Doobie
The picture on the left is me at work with Doobie in my life. The picture on the right is following Doobie's mysterious disappearance in Warez, Mexico. I am slightly sad.
Top Ten Annoyances - Anna
On October 18, 2005, I had a List Day with five annoyances (bikers in the road, books with recaps, Homestar Runner, comedians who laugh at themselves, and DVD menu screens. On May 24, 2007, I added another five (lane floaters, speakerphone, the AIM sound, loud commercials, and Brangelina). Consider this wish fulfilled!
|Top 12 News Updates from 2007||Top 12 Songs First Heard in 2007|
|Top 12 News Update Graphics from 2007|
January 3, 2007
March 2, 2007
January 17, 2007
April 9, 2007
April 19, 2007
April 24, 2007
June 6, 2007
May 10, 2007
July 7, 2007
August 22, 2007
November 2, 2007
December 7, 2007
Happy Birthday Scott Elliott!Pigeons kill man
5:33 AM: Up and at 'em, to the sounds of Booty turning on the printer in the next room (she's realized that simply knocking the clock off the end table is no longer sufficient to secure her breakfast).
5:46 AM: Obligatory bathroom shot.
7:18 AM: Watching the sun rise while I wait for my bagel to toast (Wednesday is Bagel Day).
8:04 AM: Earning the "big bucks".
12:42 PM: While leaving work, a massive police motorcade swarmed through an intersection, holding up traffic in all directions for two light cycles.
12:42 PM: Bonus Picture: I could not BELIEVE that the motorcade was for a silly toy charity. I was hoping for some celebrities.
1:27 PM: Unpacking the boxes after a quick trip to Costco to procure the staples (and Scotch tape) of life.
1:34 PM: There's nothing worse than raking leaves after a thick layer of snow has melted over top of them.
1:57 PM: My new Canon A650 has a 6x Optical Zoom and a 4x Digital Zoom, which in laymen's terms means I can spy on people in Secaucus. Today I just used it to capture this nature shot of a squirrel in a faraway tree.
2:45 PM: Booty and Amber fight over the makeshift bed next to "Squirrel Lookout Point".
4:16 PM: Wrapping presents for some, and deer poo for others. I hate wrapping non-rectangular objects, but didn't have any Christmas bags, so I had to improvise.
5:14 PM: Having an early dinner of wings (from Costco), and finishing off the last hour of Pirates of the Caribbean 3: Dead Men Died Because of Long Movies, which I started on Monday.
|My Old 12 of 12s|
Also, no one has correctly guessed the song from Monday's Name-That-Tune contest, so here is your first hint: the song first appeared on a commercial album in 1990, and has five syllables in its title!How to get really cheap gas
The final post of the 12 of 12 series is supposed to be a highlight reel with the best picture from each month (because highlight reels are only a rip-off when they're in sitcoms).January: The best kinds of parties involve standing around a table eating fudge, followed by a game of Munchkin.February: A little tech company humour.March: They always said that Booty was pretty stacked.April: This is Amber's "at rest" pose.May: Because a view from your crotch is better than no view at all.June: Good old Cheetos. Nothing beats Cheetos.July: INVISIBLE TRAMPOLINEAugust: I always knew my girlfriend was a little fruity.September: Eating pie off of fishies.October: I just generally like this picture.November: More food than you can possibly imagine.December: Have you done your Christmas shopping yet?
|My Old 12 of 12s|
Congratulations to Jim Barry who successfully named the Queensryche song from Monday's Mini-Name-That-Tune Contest!Original Excerpts
Jim wins a $5 gift certificate to Amazon.com, even though he offered to give his prize away to someone else!Using your Myspace page as a defense
The final Fragments column of 2007
♠ I received an email invitation to my company's holiday party last week. You can ignore the now-typical January date (because scheduling things in December is so stressful for everyone, so it's better to place the party alongside the delivery of the first post-Christmas credit card bill). What you can't ignore is the location: the office. While I do like our office, it's definitely not the proper setting for anything labelled as a party. Were both the Hyatt and the Elks Lodge Community Center booked up already?
♠ I would be more mocking of this if I actually attended office parties, but that fact that I don't takes away some of my mocking privileges. Generally, I just stay home where I can be "firing ice" in private and waiting for Anna to drink too much at her office parties and have to crash at my house.
♠ However, I fully expect to get the money they saved on renting a party location as a Christmas bonus. If not, I may choose to continue mocking the party venue from this website behind my alter-ego, "BU".
♠ I saw a fun typo online the other day that I have claimed for my own. Some clueless individual used the nonsense word "anonymosity" when they really meant "anonymity". This new word is the perfect term to describe the viscious sniping and ranting vitriol that you encounter online from nameless, faceless Internet people who wouldn't be nearly as scathing in a face-to-face conversation.
♠ Here's a lovely picture of my icicle-like Christmas lights, a subdued non-denominational expression of holiday cheer guaranteed to appeal to everyone. Even though Anna hates them, they're far better than one of those ludicrous globes. I'm not sure where Santa and Baby Jesus want to be this holiday season, but I'm pretty sure it's not inside a drive-by peep show that gradually deflates a little bit every hour.
♠ There's a house on Church Road with one of those ridiculous inflatable snow globes surrounded by all manner of glow-in-the-dark festive-yuppy paraphernalia. The effect of this Fairfaxian Winter Wonderland is marred by the 1970s era car sitting in the back yard. It's not even up on blocks -- it's just parked on the patio next to the screen porch.
♠ Apparently, these people never learned the basics of topography. Lesson number one: If you try to hide an abandoned vehicle in your back yard, and you live on the corner of two streets, you've pretty much put it in your front yard. All you need is a lawn chair and a six pack of beer and you could be from West Virginia.
♠ I picked up a twenty-four pack sampler of Sam Adams Winter Ales at Costco on Wednesday, because a Sam Adams lager is almost as good as half of a Guinness. That was my thinking, at least, before I tried the hideous Cranberry Lambic which tasted like someone tried to make a dessert wine out of hops and Jolly Ranchers. Whoever thought cranberries and beer would make a good fit should be shot. Cranberry lambic is the worst of all.
♠ (The last sentence in the above fragment was written in lambic pentameter).
♠ I had to look up iambic pentameter for today's post because I couldn't recall exactly how it went. I remember very little from any given English class.
♠ I'm not sure I can trust my Learn Spanish Now CDs anymore, because the previous lesson introduced conjugations with this description: Consider the English verb "to be". There is a different form of this verb for each pronoun: I am, you are, he is, she is, we are, y'all are, and they are. I did not realize that y'all had been promoted to an official pronoun. If that's the case, then Pluto should be a planet, even if it is just a tiny ball of rock and ice.
♠ Speaking of ice, the plan for Saturday calls for ice-skating at the Sculpture Garden in the evening. I've never been ice-skating before, but it's essentially attacking some ice with paired metal blades, and I'm expecting to be a pretty decent ice ninja. Sunday is "put up the tree and make cookies" day at my parents' house. Next week at work should be pretty relaxing, because it's the first week in which everyone who works for the government or pretends to be a business developer takes off for a month-long vacation. The offices will be pretty quiet, no doubt.
♠ Happy Birthday Kytty! Have a great weekend everyone!President of Iceland calling
Watched the movie, Superbad, a comedy in the style of the American Pie movies. It had some really funny moments if your sense of humour is the kind that can navigate past vulgarity and foul language. Carla Gallo from Undeclared (by the same writer) has a brief cameo which is billed in the credits as "Period Blood Girl".
Braved the imminent Snowstorm of Death to go to the National Sculpture Garden to do some national ice skating. Had some overpriced but decently tasty national pepperoni pizza in the National Sculpture Garden Restaurant. Not being a fan of cold-weather sports , I wasn't sure how well I'd do on ice skates, especially since all of my physical balance and rhythm comes from my conducting arms, which means that I have no balance or rhyhthm in the rest of my body. Thankfully, I only fell down once, although I did show off the kung fu move, Flailing Windmill, at least four times.
After all the feeling had left my lower legs, we wandered down National Constutition Avenue to see the National Christmas Tree as well as the National Firepit, where they burn up the trees that don't pull in tourists fast enough as well as all the composers that try to arrange Jingle Bells. Tried to sneak into the White House but was turned away by the White House Border Patrol who said that the sidewalk was closed.
Since the Snowstorm of Death never materialized, we went to the parents' house to participate in the annual cookie-making / tree-decorating ritual during which we, not surprisingly, decorate a tree and make cookies. The paucity of Christmas cookie recipes involving chocolate chips was tragic. Ended the evening with dinner plans at the Capitol City Brewery in Shirlington where I had fish and chips which were nothing more than glorified fish sticks when compared to the Fish and Chips meal at Red Robin.
What did you do this weekend?Teen admits feces attack
Introducing Surefooted, a two-minute work based on a Museday Tuesday snippet originally written on November 6, 2007.
The piece is loosely written for banjo, celeste, piano, fiddle, harmonica, horns, and percussion (because this most closely resembles the collection of instruments you might find thrown in the Grand Canyon, or other places the buffalo may or may not have roamed. "Loosely written" is a euphemism for "whored out the sounds of the instruments without considering the ranges, technical aspects, or whether such a player would want to waste their time playing my music", just as "euphonium" is a euphemism for "almost a trombone". It was written over the course of eight days, and I generally worked on it for 10 to 20 minutes a day.
Booty doesn't like to be looked down upon by mere mice.
For the two weeks when the leaves were falling, I didn't have to buy a single cat toy.
Anna is scary.
Ella gets a Christmas present.
The worst job in the world must be dressing up as candy and taking pictures with people laughing at you.
Group shot, after some National Ice Skating.
The first snow of December.
Someone must have farted.
MoviesBooty and Amber like leaves
Pirates of the Caribbean 3: At World's End:
Weighing in at 2 hours and 48 minutes, this movie is too long and has a plot that's more complex than it needed to be. If the trilogy were rewritten to trim the plot fat and about an hour of playing time, this would have the potential be a classic trilogy like Back to the Future. The unnecessary bloat just makes me feel like it should have been a single movie (see also, The Matrix).
Final Rating: B-
This is another sufficiently artsy movie with Guy Pearce. From the initial voice-over, it feels like a spiritual successor to Memento, but the plot is much more straightforward and easy to follow. If a fortune teller predicts your imminent death, how do you use the remaining time before you go? Do you try to avoid it? Use the time to say goodbye? First Snow examines this question and in the process, gives Guy Pearce another chance to show how solid of an actor he is. Pretty suspenseful, though I didn't care for the ending. Then again, the whole point of the movie is that an ending is less important than the journey to get there.
Final Rating: B
This movie could be summed up as a more indie, less vulgar version of Knocked Up. It's filled with snappy dialogue and touching little moments. Some reviewers have called it the next Little Miss Sunshinesque movie that steals all the Oscars. I thoroughly enjoyed it, though it didn't change my life.
Final Rating: A
MI-5: Season Two:
The second ten-episode season of MI-5 was slightly better than the first. The fifth episode, during which a dirty bomb goes off in London while MI-5 is locked down in an emergency drill situation, was a must-see and worthy of any of the best episodes of 24 or Alias, but the rest of the season was just dinner fodder -- good enough to watch over a meal but not good enough to watch two in a row. I probably won't watch the remaining seasons.
The show's score is really crappy electronic music that can't hold a candle to Michael Giacchino, and the DVDs easily win the award for most annoying non-interactive cutscenes between each click of a menu option. It takes a good thirty seconds just to load an episode.
Final Rating: B-
Super Mario Galaxy:
This is the Wii's "killer app" for any video gamer that doesn't just want to pretend to bowl all day long. When I think of the Super Mario franchise, I Nam-flashback to Mario 64, the first in the series to go 3D. That game was marred by horrible camera controls, poor depth perception, sluggish controls, and levels of ever-increasing frustrations. In Galaxy, almost every one of these issues has been addressed -- the camera is occasionally flaky, and touching lava still sends your character into an random uncontrollable bounce that makes the odds very likely you'll hit more lava -- but the end result is a fun, addicting product. This is the first Mario game in years that's made me want to continue playing just to see what comes next.
Worlds are never boring, and there are enough sidequests to keep play fresh without feeling gimmicky. The final collection of levels is the only really tricky batch -- playing these will make you feel like you're playing SMB3 again -- but they're all completely optional. Boss fights take a page from the Zelda playbook: you figure out the weaknesses of the boss and then perform some action two or three times. There are also fifteen additional "Purple Coin" challenges opened up after you beat the game, but I lacked to patience to get through more than a couple.
If you own a Wii, you SHOULD own this game.
Final Rating: A+Couple forced to take in criminal lodger
Happy Birthday to Karen Hovell tomorrow!Man doubts his existence after Facebook ban
Happy Birthday to James Houck! Happy Birthday to Becca tomorrow!We are pretty sure this is not Santa Claus
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