12/2008

Monday, December 01, 2008

Weekend Wrap-Up

On Saturday night, we hosted the final Thanksgiving in my Month of Thanksgivings, and this time, our guest list was solely people directly related to us. The main course was an eleven-pound organic turkey, because the normal (read: cruelly-raised yet DELICIOUS) turkeys were all sold out on the day after Real Thanksgiving, and I didn't really notice a change in taste despite the extra $1.60 per pound I paid.

The meal also included sour-cream mashed potatoes, spiced pears, marshmallow yams, stuffing, Big'N'Buttery croissants, leftover ham from last week, almond green beans, bacon-wrapped scallops, pigs in a blanket, and cheddar cheese soup, which I have decided to retire this year and replace with something more exciting next year. Maybe a dish involving grasshoppers?

On Sunday, a cold drizzly mist was coming down all day long, closely equating to the misters at the National Zoo, or standing next to a trough urinal at a football game. We braved the digusting weather to buy our first (fake) Christmas Tree at Target, seven feet tall with wiry branches that you have to splay out like a deck of cards to achieve a natural look.

We spent the afternoon listening to Christmas tunes, like Weird Al's "Christmas at Ground Zero", and hanging the starter set of ornaments we'd purchased, which included a complete set of Billiard ball ornaments, some traditionally coloured ornaments, and a set of blue balls that I personally chose. I like blue balls, and not just because of my colour-blindness.

I was going to close the afternoon by hanging my Blue Icicle porch lights that Anna hates so much, but the rain deterred me. However, I did notice that the white neighbours across the street who never talk had hung some Blue Icicles of their own, so obviously I am a trendsetter. A decade from now, when Stering is the Alexandria of Northern Virginia, everyone will be Blue, and not just in the electorate.

How was your weekend?

To some psychiatric patients, life seems like TV
Too much deodorant leads to death
Carjacker clubbed with frozen turkey

tagged as day-to-day | permalink | 3 comments

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Museday Voteday

During this year's Museday Tuesday featurette, I composed eighteen fragments of questionable musical impact. Now, it's time for the voting -- the fragment with the most votes will be extended into a longer work (about two minutes in length) and posted on December 23rd as an early Christmas present. Any snippet with the double-thumbs-up icon next to it is eligible for your vote (these are the ones that seem to have potential for expansion, and are not necessarily the best of the bunch).

For added artistry, I have described each snippet with exactly seven words.

Damp: There is mold growing under the sink.

Effuse: Hard to fly on a windy night.

Accursed: Some quintets prefer easy-to-count arrangements.

Furfuraceous: Dog itchy. Dog scratching. Fleas are everywhere.

Afire: Brianne gets violas for having cute kid.

Stertorous: Grandpa thinks he is a German general.

Punchy: Squirrel Nut Zippers has a comeback tour.

Knightly: Obviously written for a movie about knights.

Flyblown: Feels like the sequencer is slowing down.

Jerkwater: Country puppy is playing in the barn.

Boggy: Almost like the fart bog from Labyrinth.

Frazzled: Song hindered by way too much plucking.

Uncomplicated: Dance your cares away at Fraggle Rock.

Lachrymose: Too many alto flutes to be performed.

Owlish: The Littles return in live-action movie.

Academic: The music world requires fewer trumpet sonatas.

Votary: The cult prayed then turned into zombies.

Propulsive: Someone get this band a new metronome.

Cast your vote before this Friday night using the Poll in the right sidebar! If you are interested in the Musedays from 2007, they can be found here.

Japanese man releases hundreds of worms on the train
Butt bandit arrested
Ads arrive on math tests
Which Museday fragment should be expanded?

Damp (0 votes, 0.0%)

Afire (3 votes, 42.9%)


Stertorous (0 votes, 0.0%)

Punchy (0 votes, 0.0%)

Flyblown (2 votes, 28.6%)


Owlish (2 votes, 28.6%)


tagged as museday | permalink | 1 comment

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Pet Day: Booty

Booty (born Athena) was only fourteen weeks old when I adopted her from a rescue agency in Tallahassee in March 2003. Mike (of Mike and Chompy) was in attendance at Petsmart when I picked her out of the cage full of ugly kitties and did the obligatory lying to the stereotypical rescue worker who believed that all cats needed someone to be home 24 hours a day and have access to fresh salmon and litter boxes full of shredded money. I took her back to my two-room apartment in Parkwood and she promptly squeezed through a tiny slot under my cupboards where I could see her but not reach her.

She finally came out six hours later when I tempted her with food, after which I sealed up every crack in the kitchen with two-by-fours and duct tape. It only took a couple days to get acclimated, and soon she was tearing around the tiny rooms like an ADD three-year-old living in a closet. Her favourite toys from this era were empty paper towel rolls and bags from my Tuesday trips to Wal-mart, and one night, she demolished a full bag of bagels I'd left out on the counter. She was also a lonely kitty, and would pee on some part of the room every time I left for classes. Once, I had been gone for less than a minute to check on the laundry to find a nice wet stain right next to the front door.

After finishing up my Master's at FSU, Booty and I took a road trip back to Virginia where we moved into a Centreville apartment with Anna and Kitty. Kitty is also a peecat, and I was worried that I would have to open a corporate account with Nature's Miracle, but fortunately the introduction of a new cat ended Booty's rain of terror, and she's never peed inappropriately since. Kitty and Booty's favourite pastime was wrestling, and I've got enough footage in my archive to create a full-length wrestling epic if some indy director ever wants to turn it into a movie.

One thing Booty learned from Kitty was how to be fat -- namely, how to eat alot, how to stop exercising, and how to convert complex carbohydrates and proteins into blubber. Despite looking permanemently pregnant, she hit it off with Anna's future husband, Ben, often seducing him after dinner.

In 2004, I bought the house in Sterling and moved up north. With Anna's wedding imminent, we decided to purchase two MORE cats so that Kitty and Booty would each have a friend when it came time to split them up. Amber and Sydney arrived in March of 2005, and when it came time to choose, Booty greatly preferred Amber over Sydney (she said she was irritated by Sydney's howl, and felt that two food-oriented cats would not get along well in the same house).

Although they weren't instant friends, Booty and Amber now get along pretty well, since Booty can kick Amber's ass, and Amber can squeeze into safety spots that are too narrow for Booty. Amber's story, however, will be saved for another day!

Man robbed and glued to steering wheel
Contestants Bailed Out Of Truck After 55 Days
Man with no arms caught driving

tagged as memories, cats | permalink | 3 comments

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Review Day: CDs Galore

Set the Mood, David Jordan:
I purchased this import album based on the strength of the UK hit single, "Sun Goes Down". David Jordan does have talent that goes beyond looking like an angsty Wallace Fennell, and the songs on the CD are catchy, if more at home on an episode of American Idol than anywhere else. The tunes are forgettable but fun, and the only noticeable shortcoming is when Jordan tries to sing below his vocal range and ends up sounding like a character from Sesame Street.
Final Grade: B-

Sun Goes Down (300KB MP3)
Love Song (340KB MP3)

Best Of, The Cardigans:
All too often, greatest hit compilations are done incredibly poorly. However, this Cardigans compilation is perfect for any Cardigans fan or someone interested in their work. The CD is 80 minutes long (something I haven't seen in at least ten years) and comes with interesting liner notes from the band on each of the selected tracks. A few highlights are chosen from each of their six albums, from the harmless syrup of Emmerdale, to their obsession with electronica on Gran Tourismo, through their "country" album Long Gone Before Daylight, and beyond. The CD also contains two unreleased tracks, one of them a duet with Tom Jones, which really only serves to highlight how much Nina Perrson's voice has aged in ten years. You can hear the difference by comparing the first and last example track below.
Final Grade: A

Sick and Tired (330KB MP3)
Favourite Game (440KB MP3)
For What It's Worth (490KB MP3)
Godspell (420KB MP3)

BE OK, Ingrid Michaelson:
Although this is a new album, it's only 30 minutes long and contains only 7 new songs out of 11 tracks (it can be bought for $9, a portion of which is donated to a cancer organization). Only a couple of the new songs are notable -- the rest are charming and fun but a little too "indie acoustic" for my tastes. Michaelson also covers two existing songs and I skip them both every time they come around (her interpretation of Somewhere Over the Rainbow is especially cringeworthy). So, the CD is a mixed bag -- It's a cheap investment for a good cause, and Ingrid's singing is always adorable, but it's no Drastic Fantastic.
Final Grade: B-

Be OK (410KB MP3)
You and I (450KB MP3)

Spoons, Wallis Bird:
Wallis Bird strikes me as something of an Irish KT Tunstall. Her songs are well-composed and have a consistent sound and her voice is strong in both rhythmic charts and ballads. I especially like her use of shifting meters. The only downside to this CD is the last song, which is annoying by the nature of it being seven minutes long. This is also the reason I finally deleted Kashmir from my MP3 playlist last month.
Final Grade: A-

Moodsets (540KB MP3)
Counting to Sleep (700KB MP3)
Country Bumpkin (390KB MP3)

Myspace ruling could lead to jail time for lying online daters
Thief gets his own billboard
Inflatable boobs lost at sea

tagged as music, reviews | permalink | 1 comment

Friday, December 05, 2008

Friday Fragments

keeping you emotionally, if not physically, warm today

♠ In all the hubbub of the Month of Thanksgivings, I forgot to mention that Paige, Male-Paige, and Mini-Paige came to visit me while in town from Houston last week. I didn't get a chance to take any pictures, so I just stole one off of her blog. To celebrate their return from Spain and the baby in a proper fashion, I heated up some leftover ham from Thanksgiving #2 and served it with all the fixin's.

♠ Ham was the meal of choice for the middle dinner to break up the neverending parade of tasteless turkeys. Maybe next year I'll nix turkey completely and come up with a more tasty Thanksgiving tradition. Wouldn't the Pilgrims have eaten buffalo wings if they could make them? As a Hokie, should I even be eating turkey anyhow?

♠ Speaking of Hokies, you know that technology has finally caught up to real life when Dave McKee cancels Marching Virginians practice via the Status Update feature of Facebook. In my day we actually had to send out a really slow mass-email to achieve the same effect.

♠ There are now 222 photos of me on Facebook, which is probably equal to Volume I of XC from my childhood albums. After high school, I was rarely in any pictures since I was usually the one taking them (and this will also help to set the stage for my eventual disappearance into a yellow ops division of the CIA).

♠ My plans for the weekend are actually quite relaxing. Other than an Indian Food Night at Shakir's where I will bring something less spicy and safer for the poophole than Indian Food, I'll probably be staying in for most of the weekend, catching up on my pleasure reading, my Wiki work, and my News posts. December is easily the most structured month of my website updates, since you can expect such yearly features as the Top Twelve, the Pictures of the Year, and the Museday Finale to make an appearance.

♠ Have a great weekend! Don't forget tovote for your favourite Museday excerpt by tonight!

Jesus chocolate found tasteless
Nine-year-old's dating guide wows singles
Man subdues attacker with candy cane

tagged as fragments | permalink | 2 comments

Monday, December 08, 2008

Weird Search Day

or "how I stumbled upon the URI! Zone"

Those strange Google searches just keep on pouring in. Here's the latest batch and my attempts at fulfillment.

  • TWO REDHEADS BENT OVER

  • clothing optional sterling va
    I think I'll include this clause in all future party invitations I send out (at least, for the women invitees).

  • rideable hippo
    Experienced hippo riders can make due with just a saddle. If your hippo has an unusually voracious appetite, and you anticipate that your trip might take you past a field full of large white marbles, I would recommend using a bridle as well so you don't get thrown off during a sudden lunge.

  • prostitute's slang for "want a date?"
    My experience with prostitutes is limited, but wouldn't this just be "want a date?"

  • chicken nugget that looks like a penis
    I think we'll all be okay if I don't create a picture for this one.

  • looking for a idea of how to fix up my childs science project backboard
    Pro Tip: If you cut out pieces of construction paper and offset the text down and to the right, you will give the backboard a stunning 3D look without needing expensive 3D glasses! However, more importantly than a nice backboard, make sure that you give your child some talking points to memorize, since you probably did the project yourself.

  • my cat occasionally coughs and makes a long,screeching sound.why?
    Your cat may need new brakes. Consult with your local mechanic.

  • auto-tune efx sucks
    Amen.

  • chompy string quartet
    To the best of my knowledge, Chompy has never written a string quartet, although she occasionally employs double stops while pooping.

  • "how to hang chili peppers"
    Your best bet would be to wait until the band tours Alabama, and then assemble a homophobic lynch mob which disagrees with their oft nude demeanors.

  • "will tippon" "walmart"
    On the next episode of Alias, Will Tippon's source leads him to the dangerous knowledge that Target is actually an undercover extension of Walmart, a known moneymaking entity of SD-6. This causes a panic among shoppers who prefer Target "because it seems more high class".

  • everybody poops lesson plans
    It would seem to me that if a child has not yet mastered pooping by the time they reach the structured education of public schools, there are probably bigger problems to worry about. I would start the lesson by pointing out the unacceptable receptacles for poop, such as your cubbyhole, your pants, the class bunny's cage, and little Jenny's lunchbox. Save the advanced advice like why you shouldn't strain too hard and how diet affects your poop for the second grade.

  • Lesson Plans Kindergarten "Do your ears hang low?"
    It's good to know that the URI! Zone is slowly becoming the definitive source for elementary school lesson plans. This was not in the repertoire of songs I learned in kindergarten, since we were more concerned with Sneaky Snake or whether the bus would pass its Virginia Safety Inspection. I actually didn't learn this song until Boy Scouts, where we replaced ears with male genitalia.

  • Woman's disability payments stoped because of large breasts
    Garden gnomes banned from cemetary
    Disguised Mother Woos Juror in Bid to Free Son

    tagged as website, searches | permalink | 5 comments

    Tuesday, December 09, 2008

    List Day: Top Five Pet Peeves of the Moment

  • Unit Prices on Lunch Meat
    I always thought that the purpose of unit prices in supermarkets was to make comparative shopping a little easier. It's common knowledge that the ten gallon tub of low sodium chicken broth is more cost-effective than the two cup resealable travel-size chicken broth, but the unit price gives you immediate visual gratification that Home Ec was not a wasted semester. Why, then, do the deli meats always use different measurements? It seems like the rows of turkey and ham alternate between pounds and ounces, and I even saw a tub of sliced ham with a "by the slice" unit price once.

  • Really Fast Blinkers
    A small subset of cars on the road seem to have turn signals that flash exorbitantly fast, as if to say, "OH BOY, I CAN'T WAIT TO MAKE THIS TURN!" I get uncomfortably antsy just sitting behind one of these cars -- it's nice to know that you're turning right, but please do not invite my epilepsy to the party.

  • Ad-Filled Magazines
    Grab any popular magazine off the news stand and you'll find that almost every other page is an advertisement for something ridiculous you'd never buy. You'll probably be hard-pressed to find two consecutive pages that are completely ad-free. Every article will be split into eight or nine sections across hundreds of pages, like a Choose Your Own Adventure book with a single path leading inexorably into ad hell. See also, online articles that are only a page long, but spread themselves across six pages (with a word or two on each page) to increase ad revenue.

  • Costco Shoppers
    People in Costco are incapable of driving their carts with any sense of direction, which is hopefully not indicative of their life at large. Despite the fact that the aisles are wide enough for a three-lane bowling alley, every aisle will be perpetually clogged by slow movers who must have gotten lost on their Skyline Drive trip and are still on the lookout for fall foliage. Plus, the next time some soccer mom leaves her cart right in the middle of the aisle while she dawdles over to get a free sample for her twelve kids, I'm going to take it.

  • Transforming Cyclists
    My dislike of cyclists on major thoroughfares is already well-documented, so I won't repeat it. For the sake of argument, let's suppose there IS a good reason for you to be biking at 12 mph on the Fairfax County Parkway in a car lane. When you arrive at a red light, you can't just decide to change your phylum to "pedestrian" and use the crosswalk against the light. Be a car or get on the sidewalk for good -- just because it's a "bi"cycle doesn't mean you can play for both teams.
  • What are your pet peeves today?

    First 3D football game fumbles then recovers
    Sheep poo causes mountain bike vomit carnage
    Chinese man ruptures girlfriend's eardrum with passionate kiss

    tagged as lists | permalink | 15 comments

    Wednesday, December 10, 2008

    2008 Timeline

    a smattering of major events from 2008

    January:
    • I ate pizza at Jumbo Slice for the first time.
    • I learned that one of my high school friends was arrested for soliciting a minor on IM.
    • I finished writing entries for the entire book, Curse of the Mistwraith, on the Paravia Wiki.
    February:
    • Rebecca went to Guatemala for a month to learn Spanish.
    • Paige moved back to the States from Spain, but overshot Virginia by about 1400 miles.
    • Brianne birthed a real live human.
    March:
    • Mike (of Mike and Chompy) moved to Washington, D.C.
    • I had dinner at Chuck E. Cheese for the first time since elementary school.
    April:
    • Rebecca and I took a trip to Europe, passing through London, Paris, Carcasonne, Collioure, and Barecelona.
    • Ella turned 1.
    May:
    • My sister graduated from vet school.
    • Emily Spellerberg got married.
    • Paige birthed a real live human.
    • I leveled another 59 Twink in World of Warcraft.
    June:
    • We took a bunch of babies to the National Zoo.
    • My dad and I laid concrete underneath my heat pump.
    • I hiked up Mount Old Raggy Mountain for the first time.
    • I bought my first laptop.
    July:
    • I abandoned FuturePoint's crap web hosting and lived happily ever after at Kattare.
    • We went camping at The Cove.
    August:
    • I revitalized and exfoliated this website with Java.
    • Nothing else happened this month.
    September:
    • I celebrated turning 29 by punching a duck.
    • We went to Bethany Beach during a hurricane.
    • I leveled another 59 Twink in World of Warcraft.
    October:
    • I got engaged!
    • I became a Sun Certified Web Component Developer.
    • We had a Halloween Party.
    November:
    • Sarah Palin was successfully kept away from the White House.
    • I leveled another 59 Twink in World of Warcraft.
    • XM and Sirius merged into the Voltron of satellite radio, if Voltron were made of poop.
    • Emily moved to Oklahoma.
    FDA says gun for the handicapped is not a medical device
    Vet fixes feline face after cat-astrophe
    Car dealer offers second car for free

    tagged as day-to-day | permalink | 8 comments

    Thursday, December 11, 2008

    2008 in Twelves

    Top 12 Posts from 2008
    1. January: BU on the Silver Line
    2. February: BU on the Far Side of the Moon
    3. March: BU on Facebook Parents
    4. April: BU goes to Europe
    5. May: BU on the BU Line
    6. May: BU and LOLLost
    7. June: BU on Wimpy Birds
    8. July: BU gets adopted
    9. July: BU on Ethics
    10. September: BU on Facebook for spies
    11. September: BU on breast milk ice cream
    12. October: BU's engagement FAQ
    Top 12 Songs First Heard in 2008
    1. Hoosiers - Goodbye Mr. A
    2. Kaiser Chiefs - Ruby
    3. Duran Duran - Skin Divers
    4. Wallis Bird - Counting to Sleep
    5. Ingrid Michaelson - The Hat
    6. Finger Eleven - Paralyzer
    7. Amy MacDonald - This is the Life
    8. David Jordan - Sun Goes Down
    9. Last Shadow Puppets - Age of the Understatement
    10. Lupe Fiasco - Superstar
    11. Kate Nash - Pumpkin Soup
    12. Busta Rhymes / Linkin Park - We Made It (runner-up)
    Top 12 Post Graphics from 2008


    January 31, 2008


    February 26, 2008


    March 28, 2008


    April 24, 2008


    May 2, 2008


    June 16, 2008


    August 8, 2008


    July 22, 2008


    September 4, 2008


    September 9, 2008


    October 23, 2008


    November 14, 2008

    Disagree with my picks? Sound off in the Comments section!

    Don't forget that tomorrow is 12 of 12!

    Musicians protest use of their songs as weapons
    One giant leap for teddynauts
    Inventor builds robot wife

    tagged as lists | permalink | 7 comments

    Friday, December 12, 2008

    Chad Darnell's 12 of 12 on 12/12

    5:36 AM: Apparently I slept in this morning.

    5:45 AM: A change of camera angle to spice it up in the bathroom.

    5:56 AM: Excuse me, I was told there would be snow.

    6:56 AM: Even at this early hour, there's a neverending chain of commuters making the thirty mile trip to DC.

    8:14 AM: Apparently we were allowed to take the day off today. I did not receive the memo.

    11:08 AM: Chocolate Satin Pie for tomorrow's Poker Night.

    12:26 PM: Wings and liberal propaganda for lunch.

    1:14 PM: Amber appreciates it when I come home because I turn a space heater on near her bed.

    2:35 PM: Working on the final Museday composition of the year.

    4:12 PM: On the laptop doing some web site management stuff with an unending spill of Friends playing in the background.

    6:47 PM: Done wrapping presents for Christmas! I really should buy more than two colours of wrapping paper.

    7:16 PM: Rebecca comes over to visit Booty!

    See more 12 of 12ers at Chad's site!

    Chef's award for lard sculptures
    Company buys back Bush Library domain name
    Man sprays TP teens with fox urine
    Should I do 12 of 12 in 2009?

    Indubitably. (11 votes, 78.6%)


    Only if you get a more exciting life. (3 votes, 21.4%)


    Let it die. (0 votes, 0.0%)

    tagged as 12 of 12 | permalink | 15 comments

    Monday, December 15, 2008

    Twelve 12 of 12s

    The final post of the 12 of 12 series is a highlight reel with the best picture from each month to prove just how exciting your life is not.


    January: Ella is "SO BIG"!

    February: Ham and mayonnaise sandwiches on potato bread are the lunch of champions.

    March: A drink for every occasion.

    April: Pierre the French Poodle has some squid tapas in Barcelona.

    May: Composing for kitties.

    June: Heavy thunderstorms rock the world.

    July: Catsitting.

    August: The Tuesday Special, which has since gone up in price.

    September: Traffic forever in every direction.

    October: Happy Birthday Unicorn Mike!

    November: Teaching Booty how to drink and drive.

    December: I need to include more cat pictures. Cats and food are definitive in 12 of 12.
    Actor slashes his own neck with knife
    Kentucky Fried Chicken trio photographed turning sink into hot tub
    Pajama police fight a daytime love of nightwear

    tagged as 12 of 12 | permalink | 3 comments

    Tuesday, December 16, 2008

    Poker Day

    The 2008 Sterling Poker Tournament came to a close this weekend with the fame and glory of first place going to Kristy Wilmer, a dark horse winner who consistently came in second place in all two of the games she played (two is the minimum you must play in to have your score count). Kristy also played a single game in 2007 (where she came in 2nd place as well), so SAT pattern recognition would dictate that she'll be at 3 games in 2009. As a reward for winning this year, Kristy gets bragging rights over her husband, Jack, who tied with Chris (another "husband who lost to his wife") for 6th place.

    Here are the scores (not including players who only played in a single game this year):

    In second place, Ben turned poker into a lucrative side job and was one of only two people to turn a profit. Poker is SERIOUS BIDNESS when Ben plays. He is also the only husband whose poker skills did not atrophy after marriage: Third Place Larry started strong with a first place win on 2/23, got married on 3/4, and then tanked three months later. In fourth place, Mike C. (of Mike and Chompy) was sporadically decent, obviously confused by the switch between Florida and Virginia rules and weighed down by the grease from all the Chick-fila he brought to each game.

    Kathy came in fifth and attended as many games as possible for chocolate pie. Mike J. (Jaood) took 7th place and although he started strong, that Power-10 in the middle of the race obliterated him. However, he ended up about $50 richer than he started. Ninth place was Rebecca, whose poker dreams were hindered by a month long trip to Guatemala (the numbers on the cards are all way different in Spanish and she had to relearn it all back in the States). Finally, Anna got the highest possible place (10)! Apparently, playing poker with babies is like subtracting one face card from each hand.

    Missing this year from the games were Jason and Rosie, who were probably tired of losing all the time in 2007 and turned their attentions to the safer investment of making babies to raise for manual labour.

    As for me, I was consistently weak this year, not playing well with others, and showing no attempt to learn. I spent $130 (not including drinks, pies, eclairs, and freaking diamond rings) and only won $60 back -- as the old maxim goes, "There is no BU in winner, but there's definitely one in BUY-IN". I did manage to snag first place in the final game, but only because I was dealt a flush when Chris went all in.

    My next goal is to parlay this win into another success at the Work Poker Tournament this Thursday night. Since I came in dead last out of about 50 people last year, there's nowhere to go but up!

    No birthdays for Hitler
    Burglar held captive by ghost for 3 days
    When sleepwalkers go online

    tagged as day-to-day | permalink | 8 comments

    Wednesday, December 17, 2008

    Review Day

    Wall-E:
    The latest Pixar movie tells the store of a solitary robot who cares for the Earth thousands of years in the future, after humans have abandoned it to garbage. He falls in love with a "female" scouting robot and eventually stumbles upon the fate of mankind. Pixar did a great job imbuing the inanimate robots with human qualities, although they're actually MORE interesting before they start speaking English. There are a few live-action humans in the movie, but they're constrained to video tapes and old films, which works well. Because much of the movie has no dialogue, the humour is at a more visually abstract level, which means that kids probably won't enjoy it as much. Overall, as good as you'd expect from Pixar, but not an instant classic.

    Final Grade: B

    Michael Clayton:
    This movie is about a sleazy "fixer" who quietly solves the problems of his law firm and their important clients. The story employs the Alias technique of opening with a bang and then backing up forty-eight hours, but this only obfuscates the story for the sake of obfuscation, and doesn't really add any twists or turns. It's a little long-winded and may confuse you if you don't give it your full attention, but has a decent ending.

    Final Grade: B-

    Get Smart:
    This is a fun, light-hearted movie starring Steve Carell as Agent Smart. It's refreshing to see a spy comedy which can still be funny without making the lead character a total moron. You also get to see Anne Hathaway recreate Zeta-Jones' laser-beam shimmy scene, and if you prefer dudes, Steve Carell does it too. The movie also sports a few fun cameos, like Bill Murray as the spy who permanently lives inside a tree on the Mall.

    Final Grade: B

    Watching romantic comedies will spoil your love life
    Sarcasm useful for detecting dementia
    Santa saves children from molester

    tagged as reviews | permalink | 7 comments

    Thursday, December 18, 2008

    Review Day: The Sequel

    Why have I watched so many movies this month?

    Tropic Thunder:
    This satiric skewering of the movie industry is also funny enough to be enjoyed by an average joe who know's nothing about movies. It starts with faux advertisements and previews (which just might be the best part), like Scorcher VI, and Alpa Chino's Booty Sweat energy drink (audio not safe for work). Highlights include Robert Downey Jr. pretending to be a black guy and Tom Cruise dancing his way through the closing credits. Jack Black costars, but his performance registers very low on the "I'm Jack Black, Look At Me Act" scale of annoyingness.

    Final Grade: A-

    Dark Knight:
    By the time I finally watched this movie, it had been three years since I watched Batman Begins. I didn't really remember any of that movie, but was able to jump onboard pretty quickly with its sequel. The acting is top-notch and the ending is gratifying while also setting up the final movie in the trilogy. However, I have no idea how a third movie can be made without Heath Ledger -- his interpretation of the Joker character is really a foundation of the movie, and working around it in the future seems pretty impossible. Musically, I was impressed with how many scenes had no music at all, letting the onscreen action direct the momentum.

    Final Grade: A-

    Australia:
    This movie is a three-hour Baz Luhrmann special, which will either sound wonderful or terrifying, depending on your impressions of Moulin Rouge. It's far less weird and more coherent than the previous movie, but still ends up as a mashup of multiple genres -- it's Dances With Wolves meets Pearl Harbor meets City Slickers with bits and pieces of several other movies thrown in. All the music in the soundtrack is organically spun from two themes, "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" and that shepherdy hymn that shows up in everyones' weddings. This is intellectually appealing at first, but gets old around hour two. In fact, the entire movie might have been stronger had they cut about forty minutes from the running time. Rent it and watch in two parts.

    Final Grade: B-

    Letters to Santa: A Muppet Christmas:
    This Christmas special aired last night on NBC, and was about what you'd expect from a Muppet special. The first fifteen minutes are a glorified commercial for the US Postal Service (starring Jesse Martin of RENT fame), and the actor chosen to portray Santa seemed to have some sort of strange pasty skin disease. It was at its best with the snarky one-liners and dragged the most during the three or four obligatory songs. Cute, and definitely not rated R, although Beaker makes a Christmas wish and ends up with a half-naked female model who talks just like him.

    Final Grade: B-

    Boy shoots parents to play Halo 3
    Armed robbers steal egg beater
    Introducing body spray from Burger King

    tagged as reviews | permalink | 3 comments

    Friday, December 19, 2008

    Final Fragments

    ending 2008 with a bang, like this: 2008!

    ♠ While looking for those Tropic Thunder clips for yesterday's post, I realized again how dangerous browsing YouTube can be for productivity. Last year was crowned by "Harry Potter and the Mysterious Ticking Sound", and I'd say that the two most memorable videos this year are the French Orangina commercial with the weird sexy animals, and the Ernie and Bert gangsta-rap (audio not safe for work).

    ♠ I don't think I could ever make it as a gangsta-rapper although I'll try anything once. I have been hard at work on my Museday expansion, which will come out next Tuesday for anyone that likes their disco records to have a Latin flair.

    ♠ I already like this year's tune more than last year's, and even though it's less than two minutes long right now, it's far better than anything Britney Spears has released recently -- her new single has her repeating the word, "womanizer", over and over across roughly three and a half notes from the chromatic scale (The half comes from the note that would have been out of tune without Auto-Tune effects).

    ♠ When not working on my Museday this week, I was doing a side project restoring all the apostrophes into the 3182 comments posted here before July 2008. They had been stripped out when I migrated everything from PHP to Java, and I was originally just going to leave it that way and hope that no one would ever notice. However, I couldn't stop looking at the apostropheless comments without realizing how it made all of my readers look like morons, so I finally went through them all one by one and put them back in. Now you can easily tell when something belongs to Doobie and when someone is discussing the possibility of multiple Doobies. Im so nice. Youre welcome.

    ♠ There are three other big web projects in my queue -- first I have to pick out the twenty-four Reuters pictures to be used in my (fourth) annual Pictures of the Year featurette. After that, I'd like to implement a community calendar, where people can submit birthdays, anniversaries, and events that might appeal to my readers (like free trumpet concerts and free daycare services). Instead of relying on me to remember to check my birthday list, wouldn't it be nice if the URI! Zone were intelligent enough to check those dates itself and inform everyone?

    ♠ The third web project will be the Brian & Rebecca wedding site which initially depends on finalizing the venues and foods, which we're planning on doing soon after the holidays. We're expecting to have the wedding on October 3, 2009 (one day less than a year from the engagement), but there's no need to write that on your calendars. For one, the URI! Zone's new COMMUNITY CALENDAR will be able to remind you about that (and each visit will auotmatically wire five dollars from your debit account to our Gift Registry, with no initial setup required). In addition, none of you are invited anyhow, probably because of your unfortunate projectile vomiting incident from our last party.

    ♠ Speaking of projectile vomiting, I take custody of the two gay kitty brothers, Lake and TitanPunchy, for a week of fun starting tomorrow. Plans for the weekend also include the various aformentioned web projects, a little Snood, which I have become strangely re-addicted to, and baking cookies with the parents for Christmas.

    ♠ The URI! Zone will be on a three-day update vacation for the next two weeks -- updates will appear on Monday through Wednesday for the rest of the year. Have a great weekend!

    $54 million pants suit unravels again
    Man who snatched wig will have toupee
    69 Rabbits discovered in one bedroom apartment

    tagged as fragments | permalink | 4 comments

    Monday, December 22, 2008

    Hollyday

    In the spirit of giving, I have donated today's post to my loyal readers. Are you going somewhere fun this week? Do you have a deep dark secret from Christmas Past? Do you just want a chance to bestow the merry on other readers or confess your yuletide crushes? Head to the Comments section and share your Seasons' Greetings, your favourite recipes, or your most embarassing Christmas story.

    In particular, today's post is dedicated to all the lurkers who visit regularly but never comment. Make your grand entrance by saying hello and meeting some new friends (since the URI! Zone is the LinkedIn of the slacker world) -- you might even discover true love (or at least a one-email-stand).

    If I get thirty unique commenters who aren't just Mike spoofing different names, I'll even toss in a Christmas present of my own -- a $10 gift certificate to Amazon.com to be given to a lucky commenter chosen by a random number generator!

    Father offers daughter to shoe-thrower
    Mother protests one-sided suspension
    Zoo drops brussel sprouts to prevent gorilla farts

    tagged as you speak | permalink | 16 comments

    Tuesday, December 23, 2008

    Museday Tuesday Wrap-up

    Afire (1:48 MP3)

    This short piece is an extended version of the Museday fragment written on March 4, 2008.

    The piece is written for saxophones, violas, and trombones (also known as "the neglected instruments"), as well as various percussion instruments and drum machine effects). I wrote it over the course of two weeks, generally spending about an hour a day on it.

    The original fragment can be heard here. Merry Christmas!

    Suspicious wife demands to smell husband's genitals
    Mice responsible for cat deaths in shelter
    Michigan bans being annoying in public
    How would you rate Afire?

    4 stars! (3 votes, 50.0%)


    3 stars (2 votes, 33.3%)


    2 stars (1 vote, 16.7%)


    1 star (0 votes, 0.0%)

    0 stars (0 votes, 0.0%)

    tagged as museday | permalink | 2 comments

    Wednesday, December 24, 2008
    Mosquito bite catches car thief
    Snowzilla rises again
    Chicago sheriff baits fugitives with holiday ruse

    tagged as media | permalink | 7 comments

    Monday, December 29, 2008

    2008 in Review, Part I of III

    based on Reuter's Pictures of the Year

    Old Pictures of the Year: 2005 | 2006 | 2007

    Father punishes son with public humiliation
    Dead man receives calls in the grave
    Monkeys fight back

    tagged as media | permalink | 0 comments

    Tuesday, December 30, 2008

    2008 in Review, Part II of III

    based on Reuter's Pictures of the Year

    Old Pictures of the Year: 2005 | 2006 | 2007

    MMO female gamers more likely to be lesbians
    Surgeon uses human fat to power car
    UPS package signed for by terrorist

    tagged as media | permalink | 0 comments

    Wednesday, December 31, 2008

    2008 in Review, Part III of III

    based on Reuter's Pictures of the Year

    Old Pictures of the Year: 2005 | 2006 | 2007

    Have a happy new year! Updates will resume next Monday.

    Couple arrested in Wii brawl
    Amateur crime fighters are surging in the US
    Man in idling Zamboni faces OUI charge

    tagged as media | permalink | 1 comment

     

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