The URI! Zone - 12/2010
A few snapshots of our recent Scrabble games, in which Booty finally makes an appearance. Anytime you see an incredibly low-scoring word on a Triple Word Score, it signifies my attempts to defensively use up the spot (generally to no long-term avail).Talking cats play Paddycake
New York man jumps to save subway rider - and get to work
Foie gras burger blurs fast food and fine dining
There are no major spoilers in these reviews.
Fringe, Season 1:
This X-Files-esque show from J.J. Abrams leaves something to be desired. As a set of standalone episodes with a new gory conundrum of the week, it's entertaining with a solid cast of supporting characters (even if the main one is very dull). The overarching story moves far too slowly though, and doesn't really give much incentive to "get to the next episode". There were a few brief sparkles of plot motion around episode nine where it looked like things were going to get interesting, but the show quickly reverted back to Law and Order with more disfigured bodies until the decent season finale. I would watch the next season if there was nothing else to watch, but would not choose it over any marginally better show.
Final Grade: C+
Dollhouse, Season 2:
This thirteen episode collection is the second and final season of Joss Whedon's Dollhouse, and after three forgettable throwaway episodes, the story cranks into overdrive and doesn't stop. The twists and turns keep piling on top of each other, obviously abetted by the fear of (and then the realization of) cancellation. The ending is satisfying in much the same way that the movie, Serenity culminates the watching of Firefly. My only complaint was that character development moved a little too fast by the end, so some of the emotional milestones didn't have as much impact as they might have with four or five more episodes. Also, any TV episode with an extended dream sequence is probably retarded -- this is the primary negative impact that The Sopranos has had on TV culture.
Final Grade: A-
How I Met Your Mother, Season 5:
This season is at least twice as good as the previous, since the number of fake teasers for who the mother will be and the number of episodes with stories told out of temporal order for cleverness' sake are at a minimum. It's a pleasant throwaway show that'll make you laugh any time you fire it up.
Final Grade: B+
Mystery Surrounds Cyber Missile That Crippled Iran's Nuclear Weapons Ambitions
Giant Noah's Ark bound for Kentucky
official sponsor of official sponsorship
♠ While driving through Seven Corners on the way home from DISA on Wednesday, I realized how much of my childhood geography was defined by the locations of game stores. My preteen topography was bound by the Software Etc at Seven Corners Mall (where we bought Zork I), the Babbages at Springfield Mall, the Egghead Software on Route 7, and the Lionel Kiddie City on Little River Turnpike. If there was a chance to earnestly scan a game until my parents got the hint and bought it, I probably knew the way to get there, even at age 9.
♠ The other night, I was in the local Gamestop in search of an alternative to the many hours I waste playing Minecraft, and narrowed down the choice to a DS RPG and the new Donkey Kong game for the Wii. The decision at that point came surprisingly easy when I realized that I no longer have the patience to turn on the Wii, switch all the TV settings, and sit through four hours of company logos and warnings to hold on to the controller tightly. It's a huge production any time I play the Wii, and I'm surprised more people don't get fat during all of the LOADING screens in Wii Fit.
♠ I left the store with Dragon Quest XI, a choice which was evangelized by the girl working the register who apparently spent her entire summer vacation playing the game and wanted to tell me all about her pink-robed mage guy. It's a smart business move hiring the only girl gamer in Sterling to work in your game store.
♠ As has been the tradition ever since I lived with Anna and played Zelda: Wind Waker, my hero's name is Gassy, and he's supported by a party consisting of Bloaty, Stuffy, and Crampy. For some reason, Farty and Poopy were deemed unacceptable character names by the Nintendo corporation.
♠ It's a little known fact, but in L. Frank Baum's original manuscript, Dorothy passes out due to the overwhelming scent of a poopy field -- as king of the jungle, the Cowardly Lion did not have to bury his. Unfortunately, this did not go over well with Hollywood movie censors of the era.
♠ This fragments column is probably highly uninteresting to anyone who doesn't play video games or poop, so here is a picture of my nephew for the other demographic.
♠ Plans for the weekend include a 90s Party (the first decades party I've ever gone to that ISN'T the 80s) and using my lack of a cable subscription as an excuse for not watching the Virginia Tech / FSU football game on Saturday afternoon. What are you up to?
♠ Have a great weekend!The Quaid Conspiracy
Teens lost in Pacific looking for vodka, not love
Lead thieves use Google Earth to target churches
Friday afternoon was a techy one -- I'm reducing my stable of home computers by one, so I've purchased an external hard drive for backups and a USB-parallel cable for my trusty Florida State era laser printer. In the evening, we went out to Gordon Biersch for dinner with the Cranes, followed by a rousing game of Scattergories in which I got a point for "Seacrest, Ryan" under the category of "Tools".
We attended a 90s party on Saturday night, a logical way to celebrate the birth of someone in the 80s. Other than a denim shirt, I didn't have any wardrobe accoutrements from the era since my Members Only jacket is long disintegrated. Instead, I wore my blindingly shiny band jacket from high school, complete with URI! embroidered on the right pocket.
Sunday was a lazy day with a mild migraine, during which we finalized our New Years plans in Williamsburg, ate steak for dinner with Petit Verdot, and made chocolate chip cookies.Dying with debt: A dirty little retirement secret
The Mystery of the Red Bees of Red Hook
Let's Meet: Chicago Police's New Approach To Gangs
A smattering of events from 2010January:
- We travelled to Columbus, Ohio in the dead of winter for New Years, and then got snowed into a B&B in Pennsylvania on the way home.
- We attended our last CustomInk holiday party, and our first FGM holiday party (where we won the docking station that forced the purchase of an iPod).
- I added song information to all 1200 MP3s in my collection.
- It snowed, a bit more than usual.
- DDMSence was conceived (blizzards often lead to conceptions).
- We saw Muse in concert at the Patriot Center.
- We spent a week in Puerto Rico, hiking and avoiding beach stalkers.
- DDMSence was released.
- Rebecca took a pottery class.
- Rebecca bought a new car!
- Ella turned 3. Some other babies aged throughout the year too, but there are too many to list now so you can assume they are all 3.
- Jack became the boss of the boss of the boss.
- Rebecca went to the Grand Canyon.
- LOST ended, with the series finale having been written by the producer's seven-year-old.
- We joined a volleyball team, and competed against the volleyball team at my work.
- We went camping at Assateague next to piles of pony poo.
- We attended an outdoor wedding in 100 degree heat.
- Rebecca turned 27.
- We bought a Kindle.
- We spent the Fourth of July with family, building things out of matches and torching them down.
- We attended a wedding in Spokane, Washington.
- We visited San Francisco and its environs, including the Sterling winery.
- Mike (of Mike and Chompy) came down to visit on the spur of the moment because he is incapable of planning ahead.
- Starcraft 2 was released.
- We went to Jazz in the Garden on the one day there's a lingering thunderstorm, and ate weird food with people from Grinnell.
- We traveled to Barboursville for a winery tour and a baby shower.
- Rebecca quit her T-shirt bidness.
- We traveled to Emerald Isle for beach week with Sam and Kristen.
- I turned 31 and likely died.
- Sam the Nephew was born.
- I discovered Minecraft.
- We traveled to Massachusetts and New Hampshire to see Chompy and hike up White Mountain.
- We survived one full year of marriage.
- We traveled to Blacksburg to meet the baby.
- We hosted a rocking Halloween Party which was deintensified by the day-long Jon Stewart rally that everyone got tired at beforehand.
- Emily visited, with the obligatory cute Spellerberg baby.
- We went to the Potomac Point Winery and pretended to be yuppies.
- We ate three Thanksgiving dinners.
We look a lot less lazy than we actually are when I write everything down!Wild boar gets the wurst of the attack
Explosive-laden Calif. home to be destroyed
Woman reports snowman theft
Stuff In My Drawers Day: Classic Movies
GPS watching over baby Jesus
Hooky detectives track corporate Ferris Buellers
Quick List Day: Things That Should Be Banned
Bagging bucks from your recliner
Man changes name to Captain Awesome
Whipped cream truck crashes outside home
independent, ignoble, and illegitimate
♠ Yesterday afternoon, I finally got around to putting up our Christmas lights -- just three months late according to the definitive calendar of Costco. Unfortunately, we're down to a single strand of my classic non-Christmas-coloured lighting, which barely wraps around the edge of the porch. The display is so anemic that it merely looks like my house is attending a very staid rave, rather than bombastically celebrating the coming of Santa and/or Jesus.
♠ I am no longer big on giving or receiving gifts at Christmastime, probably because we were overloaded on complete collections of He-Men and Legos as kids. However, if you feel slighted that you haven't received anything from me, I'll be glad to have Booty send you something -- she's been diligently making stocking stuffers in the litter box for months now.
♠ The go-to stocking stuffer of my youth was edible coinage: chocolate coins wrapped in golden paper. Stuffing stockings was difficult, in general, because the stockings were hung via static electricity on the bricks ofver the fireplace, and too much loot would knock them down. Luckily, the living room floor had no such weight restrictions.
♠ This seems like an appropriate location for a segue into a joke about your mother.
♠ Plans for the weekend include a surplus of bachelor time while Rebecca goes out of town with her lady friends. This probably means there'll be some DDMSence work tonight, some Dude Poker tomorrow night, and an overabundance of bacon for each meal throughout the weekend.
♠ Have a great weekend!Consumers go online to get better prices, but Web merchants have their own tricks
U.S. Arrests Online Seller Who Scared Customers
Another Stradivarius lost
Chad Darnell's 12 of 12
1:17 AM: Stumbling to bed after winning $50 in assorted poker games.
8:47 AM: The cats decide to sleep for a couple more hours.
9:26 AM: Breakfast and the Post.
9:45 AM: Cold, foggy, and rainy -- the perfect combination for staying indoors without guilt.
10:23 AM: Taking advantage of indoor time to get ahead on some of this week's web page updates.
11:17 AM: Reinstalling World of Warcraft, not because I plan to readdict, but because if I do want to check out the new expansion pack I don't want to wait through the 8 hour patching process.
12:48 PM: Braving the chill to cook a 12 of 12 steak.
1:10 PM: Eating an entire steak before Rebecca comes home and I have to share it.
2:00 PM: Going through some wedding photos from last year.
4:30 PM: In the parking lot of Home Depot, picking up new snow shovels for next week's blizzard.
7:15 PM: Trying my hand at homemade chicken noodle soup.
8:01 PM: Dinner, a nice wine, and movie choices!
See more 12 of 12ers at Chad's site!Jigsaw expert saves man's shredded cash
Flaming drives online social networks
When computers go wrong
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 show how you've blossomed into a beautiful songbird over the course of the year.
|January: Artsy vistas on the way to work.||
February: Lusting after sandwiches.
March: Greetings from my crotch.
April: Butt ghosts.
May: Giant (visible) sandwich!
June: Weddings on the hottest days of the year.
July: Mr. Crepe is unhappy.
August: The cat market is bullish this week.
September: On Emerald Isle, playing with knick-knacks in a tourist shop.
October: Sleeping in.
November: Suitably rustic.
December: Delicious homemade soup!
Terribly hairy fly found in Kenya
Jackass IT: Stunts, idiocy, and hero hacks
List Day: 2010 in Twelves
Top 12 Songs First Heard in 2010
With the increase in garbage music on my XM Radio directly correlating to my decrease in usage and subsequent cancellation, I figured that it would probably be difficult to come up with 12 new songs. Thankfully, Pandora and the fact that some of my favourite artists put out more than just a catchy single filled in that gap.
- Amy MacDonald - This Pretty Face:
The lyrics of this song are pretty trite, but the descending chromatics in the introduction grabbed me as something I would have written myself in my undergrad days. The rest of the song is catchy, although Amy's overuse of makeup in the music video seems unnecessarily ironic.
- Feist - Mushaboom:
There's nothing amazing about this song, but it's cute and infectious.
- Dirt Poor Robins - Love Again:
This was one of those random songs that popped up on Pandora, which I never would have found on my own.
- Mark Ronson - L.S.F.:
Mark Ronson specializes in funkier versions of well-known songs, and this Kasabian song is more of a funky augmentation than a total rewrite. I do wish he'd hire some better trumpet players though.
- Mika - Good Gone Girl:
I felt like most of Mika's second CD was "more of the same with less intensity", but this song stood out.
Wallis Bird - Traveling Bird:
It's easy to make a rhythmically catchy song in 3/4 time, but that doesn't diminish my enjoyment. Somehow, this song hasn't appeared on the poor man's jukebox that is Youtube, so I've posted a low quality MP3 of the intro.
- Gomez - See the World:
I like this singer's timbre, as long as he remains two points mellower than Chad Kroeger. In fact, just imagining a Nickelback cover of this song makes me wretch.
- Hoosiers - Glorious:
This song is the high dramatic point in the Hoosier's second CD, and will doubtlessly close numerous concerts in the future. In fact, many of the songs (this one included) seem like they would also work as a duet with Mika -- especially the one with the lyrics "I like everybody but not everybody likes me" which could have been ghostwritten by that clown.
Gomez - Tear Your Love Apart:
I have a soft spot for songs that could double as psycho clown music.
- Plan B - She Said:
I listened to this song far too much this year, because I like the dichotomy of swing versus straight that switches back and forth throughout the song. Plus, British rappers are funny.
- Wallis Bird - To My Bones:
This is an irrevocably cheery song, and the video is pretty neat as well. Try it out as a pick-me-up.
- Hoosiers - Live By the Ocean:
Besides the classy metric ambiguity in the first bar, this song has a lot of appeal. The tritones in the melody irritated me for the first few days, but then I started liking it in spite of myself. There's also a little psycho clown thrown in for good measure.
The top 50 Gawker passwords
Online flirting: it's all about lip service
List Day: 2010 in TwelvesTop 12 Posts from 2010
- BU has army men
- BU has pet peeves
- BU goes to Puerto Rico
- BU creates a new top web search (after "practica musica cheats") by writing about Jack
- BU on the Gay Navy (The Gavy)
- BU no longer likes LOST
- BU on Merit Badges
- BU in training
- BU has a census
- BU on causation
- BU is unappealing
- BU on banning
January 22, 2010
January 29, 2010
February 5, 2010
February 17, 2010
February 17, 2010
March 8, 2010
April 27, 2010
May 11, 2010
June 2, 2010
June 2, 2010
June 2, 2010
September 24, 2010
Disagree with my picks? Sound off in the Comments section!Why surgeons dread redheads
Thieves target Edmonton free store
Italian hospital asks doctors not to snort cocaine at work
Chicken BUdle Soup
On the spur of the moment last Sunday, I decided to whip up some homemade chicken noodle soup for my tired wife. I didn't start from any known recipe and used only what I had around the house, but just continuously threw things into a pot until I deemed it complete. It was surprisingly delicious, which is why I've tried to recreate the directions here. Enjoy!
- 1 pot of water
- a dash of olive oil
- 3 chicken bouillon cubes
- 1 full sprig of fresh rosemary, diced small enough to not get stuck in your teeth
- garlic powder
- onion salt
- fresh ground black pepper
- pre-cooked chicken pieces
- vegetables of choice
- linguini (for Campbell's style, or egg noodles for Progresso)
- In your big shells and cheese pot, bring about six cups of water, 3 bouillon cubes, and a dash of olive oil to a light boil. Keep it cool enough to taste easily.
- Mix in spices to taste. I used these rough proportions:
- lots of rosemary and onion salt
- some thyme, garlic powder, and pepper
- a dash of savory and salt
- Once you get your desired taste, bring to a rolling boil and dump in a quarter box of linguini, broken into 1/2" sections. Boil over medium heat.
- Meanwhile, mix a cup of cold water with however much cornstarch accidentally explodes out of your old box when you tap on the bottom. When dissolved, pour into your broth and stir slowly until thickened. You don't need a chowder, but it will definitely start to resemble the thick noodle soup broth you might find in a high quality lunch buffet.
- Let your broth and noodles cook for 30 - 45 minutes total. Tweak your spices or thicken with cornstarch and cold water as desired.
- When you have about 15 minutes left, add any vegetables you might want. We used frozen broccoli, straight from the freezer.
- When you have about 8 minutes left, add pre-cooked chicken, cut into cubes. We used the pre-grilled chicken strips you can get in a bag at Costco for salads and burritos.
- Enjoy! And then serve to others.
"Whatever" voted most irritating word in poll
2010 in Photos
Update cancelled for migraine. This weekend, I went to a Game Night and a Christmas Party, and worked on my Museday Finale, which will be posted on Tuesday.
Museday Tuesday Wrap-up
This short piece is an extended version of the Museday fragment written on October 19, 2010.
Mendacious (2:02 MP3)
I started with the bass clarinet (as the most mendacious member of the orchestra) and surrounded it with guitars, strings, horns, percussion, and an atarigane patch. Since I've never actually picked up any atariganes, I used them purely as sounds rather than scoring an actual playable line -- so, this piece probably isn't a good performance piece unless you have about six octaves worth of Japanese gongs lying around your home.
The original fragment can be heard here. Merry Christmas!Family fed up with 'neighbors' ruining holiday lights display
Running red light leads to 500-pound marijuana bust
Ghosts of the Cold War haunt hotel
Stuff In My Drawers Day: Classic Movies
Evil Mike and Jon Ahlbin may think they first met two weekends ago, but they were both present for the inaugural Sterling Poker Night on April 2, 2004.
BU composes a song in the style of David Gray, January 12, 2006
Bowser teaches us that seizures can be fun party activities, March 18, 2006
Jack W. punches a duck (and Annie dresses herself), September 15, 2008
Taylor police catch suspected bank burglar snarfing on M&M's
New Mexico governor to weigh Billy the Kid pardon
There are no major spoilers in these reviews.
Toy Story 3:
I always preferred the Toy Story franchise to the Shrek franchise, and number 3 doesn't disappoint. It hits all the right notes, blending the humourous with the touching, even if the giant zombie baby doll is too creepy for redemption. The only problem was with our local Blockbuster (if five miles away can still be called local) who decided to rent a disc containing none of the special features. Netflix Instant is probably soon to be in our future.
Final Grade: A
Iron Man 2:
This movie was pretty forgettable, in spite of the incredible make-up job that makes Terrence Howard look like Don Cheadle. The one-liners and Downey Jr. magic are still there, but once the movie devolves into a bunch of robots fighting each other and the actors themselves are replaced by special effects, it gets pretty tedious. I greatly preferred the first movie.
Final Grade: C+
Dragon Quest XI:
I always expect that I'll like JRPGs more than I actually do, and to be honest, this one is pretty good for what it is -- catchy music, good translations, and a fun feel. Its downfall comes in the form of unchangeable text speed, something that should be a given in ANY video game in 2010. Although the base default is pretty zippy, there's still too much time spent waiting since Dragon Quest, by its nature, is a very grindy game with lots of battles and merchandising. The menu system is old-school, so selling a piece of thread takes you through menus for "Buy / Sell?", "Which Character?", "Which Item?", "I can pay X, is this good?", "Would you like to sell again?". This is more tedious than watching robots fight.
Final Grade: B-
Just a Geek by Wil Wheaton:
Back when Rachel was a regular reader, she'd occasionally plug the blog of Wil Wheaton, former child actor in Stand By Me and Star Trek: The Next Generation. This book is a collection of blog posts over the last ten years coupled with a retrospective memoir of his transformation from "former child actor" to general mayhem maker. Although I don't care a whit for anything related to Star Trek, I found this book to be an enjoyable read, and easy to relate to, enough so that I now link to his blog from the Bloglog so I can read it live and uncut. The only negative comment I have relates to the Kindle edition rather than the content itself: the Kindle version makes no delineation between where a blog post ends and his "post-thought commentary" begins, not even a line break, so I spent a few sentences of each chapter confused as to what exactly I was reading.
Final Grade: A-
Google sued for showing underwear in Street View
Gabor's prince mistakes glue for eye drops
Bank of America seeks monopoly on sucking and blowing
Dead or Alive? The Eyes Hold the Answer
Is that really Kate? UK royal coin raises eyebrows
2010 in Review, Part I of III
Toronto Public Library introduces the Human Library
Oregon State Tests To Allow Spell Check In 2011
2010 in Review, Part II of III
Students opting out of P.E.
Palin compares herself to Shakespeare
2010 in Review, Part III of III
Amazon patents bad gift exchange system
Smugglers confuse religious holidays
I had a hopefully intermittent motherboard-level failure in my three-year-old Dell on Monday night which finally pushed me towards upgrading to a fresh new machine. The main reason I've not done it in quite some time is simply that computer comparison shopping is a much bigger pain in the ass now than it once was.
Gone are the days when you could just assume that the model with the bigger number is faster or better -- this time around I spent hours comparing CPUs, graphics cards, and memory configurations. I spent two hours alone trying to figure out which Nvidia GeForces were actually good cards and which were just rebranded versions of older cards (pro-tip: even for their gaming machines, NONE of the graphics cards you can order with Dell and HP computers are worth a damn).
I'm also switching over to HP after years of loyalty to Dell (and Gateway before that), because a comparable model was $200 cheaper, it was easier to deselect a bunch of My Little Pony crap that I didn't want, and because Dell now charge an extra $15 for a Windows Recovery Disk which is just plain greedy.
My current Dell never worked perfectly anyhow. The DVD drive would cause old-fashioned IRQ blue screens (which I thought had died with Windows 95) when playing music CDs, and sometimes the camera disk drive would just shut off when I inserted disks, forcing me to open the box and reseat it before the computer would recognize it again. Back in high school, I would have had the time to troubleshoot these tricky problems for more than the few hours I put in today, but I'm now a busy, respectable, and important man, having to provide for my wife while reactivating my World of Warcraft account and caring for two and a half cats.
Here are the specs of the new machine, which I'll be ordering tonight so it doesn't arrive while we're in Williamsburg and get stolen by MS-13.
HP Pavilion Elite 450t
- i7-870 CPU, 8 GB RAM expandable to 16
- 1.5 TB HD
- NVIDIA GeForce 315 1GB (free to a good home)
- 16x DVD Drive
- 15-in-1 memory card reader
- Sound Blaster X-Fi XtremeGamer (crappy, as the name implies, but halfway between integrated sound and a high-end card)
I'll also be ordering these from NewEgg:
- Gigabyte overclocked edition of a GeForce GTX 460 1GB
- Antec 500W Power Supply
I'm also in the market for a better constructed external hard drive, since the Western Digital My Book 3.0 1TB is a piece of crap that I could have put together in my diorama days in 4th grade, but that's a story for another time. Instead, I plan to take an undeserved vacation from updating this site.
Updates will resume on Tuesday, January 4. Don't kiss any uggos this New Years Eve!Man playing real-life 'Frogger' hit by SUV
Sears rolls out online movie download service
"Eat' em" stratagem for lionfish invasion in Florida
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