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[Comments] (3) Peanut Brittle Again: I thought it would be a good idea to make peanut brittle for my family in memory of my grandmother. But it turns out that my cousin Brian has inherited the peanut brittle equipment and duties, so that isn't neccessary. But I have to get rid of these peanuts somehow, so I thought I'd make peanut brittle for my friends in the Bay Area. Send me email if you are interested and I'll let you know when you can come over and get some peanut brittle, or I can give it to you when next we meet. Now I just need to figure out how to make peanut brittle.

The Acts of the Muppets: On the satelite radio on the way to Bakersfield we heard the title song for Jesus Christ Superstar. I noted that it sounded like it was being played by Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem. This opened up a fruitful discussion about a Muppet version of Jesus Christ Superstar. The problem is that Big Bird would have to play Jesus, for the same reasons he would have to play Gandalf in the Muppet Lord of the Rings, and I don't think Big Bird could carry a whole Andrew Lloyd Webber musical.

So I proposed that the Muppets could do the book of Acts instead. That's more of an ensemble piece, so it would work better. Plus that makes it possible for Kermit to play the part of Paul, which is excellent because the Muppet Panic was invented to depict the conversion of Paul.

[Comments] (3) Crazy Scrapbooking Idea #2: We went to a craft store the other day and I was looking at the aisles of scrapbooking stuff (when I was a kid there was no scrapbooking stuff at the craft store!) when I had an idea. The main problem with scrapbooks is that they're big bulky physical objects, and the cute stickers that go into them are incredibly expensive to buy or time-consuming to construct.

What if there were a DTP program for scrapbooking? Something like Kai's Power Tools that simulated the experience of real scrapbooking, except you ended up with a web page you could share, and you didn't have to buy those decorative scrapbooking accessories--you could use clip art. It would not be nearly as complicated as a normal DTP program.

Like my previous scrapbooking idea, this one is probably already implemented. But there's always the possibility that no one would actually want this, in which case the field is probably wide open.

: Sometimes I post here Project Gutenberg texts where you can get a story if you read the names of the illustrations. This list of illustrations forms a story because almost every sentence in the story has an illustration to go with it.

Really plays merry hell with the meter though.

[Comments] (2) Peanut Brittle: The Foisting: I made a batch of peanut brittle yesterday and it turned out pretty well. However I still have many peanuts left, and I have gotten no requests for peanut brittle except for the one from Susanna, who is already going to get peanut brittle from Brian. If this keeps up I will have to start foisting peanut brittle on people. Foist!

Christmas List Addendum #2: More things I thought of, in decreasing order of me actively wanting them rather than them just being nice to have. The top one is a lot more important now that I've finally set up recording on my computer. Last night I made up a song about House for Sumana and we recorded it w/Audacity, just like that.

[Comments] (5) Eggnog: A couple things about eggnog. I found out from John that the eggnog you buy at the store is supposed to be diluted. Specifically it's supposed to be diluted with booze, but you can dilute it with milk, so long as you dilute it with something. My whole life I've been drinking concentrated eggnog. This explains a lot about my relationship with eggnog.

Before I learned the truth about eggnog I was planning to make some homemade eggnog to see if that was any better (I still am, actually). One thing that occured to me when looking at the recipes is that the ingredients for eggnog are exactly the same as the ingredients for ice cream. So you could make the eggnog ice cream that John loves so much just by pouring eggnog into an ice cream maker. But then I saw an episode of Good Eats where the exact same thing happened, so I can't take the credit for that idea.

House Band: I redid the House song mentioned yesterday with a drum track, and got Sumana to lay down some backup vocals. Here it is: House, M.D.. Includes bonus Stacy's Mom backup vocals joke, because we're still in love with Stacy's Mom (I like songs where people try to justify their unethical or socially frowned-upon behavior, which actually explains this song too). It sounds better than any song I've produced to date, but don't let that fool you; it's actually sillier and more pointless than the majority of my songs.

Incidentally, the drum machine I'm using is Hydrogen, which is wonderful. All it's missing is a cursor that shows you what part of the song it's playing. Also it would be nice to have a little tool that shoves all your note events over one sixteenth note because you designed the whole measure a little bit off.

[Comments] (1) : The Brendan Leonard Show actually looks like what you'd get if Brendan and I had a TV show.

[Comments] (2) : Bizarrely, both my NYCB entries today are IMDB links. Read the Prairie Home Companion Movie and weep. Woody Harrelson? It's like the Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back of A Prairie Home Companion.

: This film has been modified from its original version. It has been formatted to fit your preconceptions.

: I think not enough people realize the genius of Kevan's Christmas cracker joke generator. It takes advantage of the fact that, while there are an infinite number of bad punny riddles, there are only a finite number of punchlines to such riddles. The infinite aspect of the jokes has been parameterized as user input.

The Jerk: Saw this from TiVo and it was really funny. But pretty obviously it had undergone severe cuts for television, unless the director was way ahead of his time in developing an Adult Swim-like style of split-second cuts right when a joke was about to happen. But man, what a funny movie, right down to the bits that weren't funny. They anticipated those SNL skits that go on way too long without being funny, even though "too long" here was only about a minute.

My "H" key stopped working, so I think it's time to sleep now.

Truth In Advertising: I misread "Is SRSM the Next Microcap Stock Opport unity?" as "Is SPAM the Next Microcap Stock Opport unity?"

[Comments] (5) : Now that I've gotten recording to work on my computer I'm having a rare old time actually doing recordings. So far I've recorded two new songs for my upcoming album, which I hope to release next month in time for the ten-year anniversary of the day I bought my first guitar and started learning to play. I'm not totally sure why I would want to advertise the fact that I've been playing guitar for ten years, given my current level of ability, but it seems like the kind of things real musicians do to prove how self-indulgent they are.

Should I release (drafts of) my songs as I complete them, or keep them hidden from you until everything's ready to be released? Also I need to pick a name for the album. This is my first serious musical release in five or six or eight years (depending on what you count as "serious") so I'm a little out of practice with the cover art and the naming and whatnot.

Quote: "These hypothetical scenarios are weird; you can go back in time and tell someone what job to take, but you can't say 'Hey! Stop 9/11 from happening!'"

[Comments] (1) The Ultimate Star Trek Slash Pairing Generator: I created a web toy that generates pairings for your romantic or erotic Star Trek fan fiction. No longer need fanfic authors fall back on the standard pairings in use since 1966. There are bold, new, arbitrarily complex romantic entanglements to be explored!

Sumana claims that people keep writing slashfic with the canonical pairings because they prefer those pairings. I think this just shows a failure of imagination. If I wrote Trek slash I would like an occasional challenge like trying to fit Phlox, Lore, and Yeoman Rand into the same story. At any rate, the generator comes up with some really funny pairings.

This is also my first Ruby CGI program. The code's pretty bad; I've decided I don't really like Ruby's HTML generator. It's very idiomatic, but it combines logic and presentation like... well, like the farewell embrace between Spock and Vic Fontaine that fateful day on Starbase 26.

Penguin Update: There have been some great penguin pictures from this person's Flickr feed, especially this penguin picture. Also, Pokey the Penguin is still updating occasionally, and it has an RSS feed, so if you haven't subscribed to it and have therefore forgotten all about Pokey the Penguin, I'm telling you to cut it out.

When I stop the drum machine: Does anyone else get into a fugue state programming a drum machine where it feels like you're playing Space Invaders or using the old TheDraw drawing program?

I like how Hydrogen makes you come up with names for your drum patterns. Never before have I had to name parts of songs. My names for the patterns of the song I'm working on:

I also find myself putting down dummy tracks that give a visual picture of the different parts of the song; otherwise I get confused and forget how long things take. Yes, I'm a worse percussionist than George Michael Bluth.

[Comments] (1) : Playground is a shared space for building things out of virtual click-bricks. Opens up lots of possibilities for games. Are there any networked games with Lego-like mechanics? I'll settle for LEGO-like mechanics.

[Comments] (5) Nitpick: "Primer really isn't a sci-fi film...what's happening with the characters emotionally is the focus of the film."

Why can't a piece of sci-fi explore peoples' emotional reactions to something that can't happen or has yet to happen? This seems like "it's a graphic novel, dammit!" territory.

[Comments] (3) I'll Clobber Your Heart With My Dancing: We watched Holiday Inn, another Tivoed classic. Pretty good; there are not enough movies where people start businesses. However, all the songs except "White Christmas" were forgettable. I'm not someone who goes around claiming that polygamous marriages will solve everyone's problems, but it really would have helped the characters in this movie.

There was an odd wartime newsreel type song for the Fourth of July, where the chorus sings "Freedom! Freedom! Here comes the Freedom Man!", and, yes, here he comes, the Freedom Man, to sing about freedom. "I'm singing a song about freedom," he sings. I think a lot of the problems in this country stem from the fact that freedom is no longer sold door-to-door.

Blackface. Argh. Every movie I've seen with Fred Astaire (a grand total, I believe, of two) also has hideous blackface. In this movie I suspect there was an actual blackface number which was cut for cable, but they couldn't cut it all because there's a touching scene where Bing Crosby proposes to his beau... while making her up in blackface! Gah!

Also we recently saw A Day at the Races, where the Marx Brothers put on blackface for no reason at all. Supposedly they did it to hide among genuine black people, but the authorities are fooled for precisely 0.0 seconds, so they could have just skipped it. The only interesting aspect of it is that Harpo only puts blackface on one side of his face, making him look like the racial allegory aliens from the original Star Trek.

: Kevin heard the songs I've been recording, and compares my music to Joan Jett's. That's nice of him to say, but I think he's only saying it because "Get Around" has the same meter as "I Love Rock and Roll".

Finished two songs and two recipes today!

: Feedburner's FeedFlare looks like the feed-annotation device I proposed early this year in the Ultra Gleeper post-partum entry "RSS aggregator as task aggregator". FeedFlare lets you munge the entries in your RSS feeds, adding arbitrary sidebars and tools to each. In the original entry I said:

It's a good idea though, until someone gets mad that you're changing their RSS feeds, which I estimate would take 16 seconds.

I was clearly a little off on my timing there, because it's been at least 18 seconds and I don't see anyone who's complained about this yet. I guess all the people who would get mad are still diverted by the spectacle of Greasemonkey modifying their web pages.

: "Halcyon days" explained. From Kevin.

Joke: Sumana is reading The Mythical Man-Month. This reminded me of a Segfault story I never finished, in which I alleged that most of the people who'd originally bought that book had confused it with a sensationalistic book of cryptozoology published at the same time: The Mythical Moth-Man.

Buzzword Namespaces: Wes Felter on CodeCon: "Unfortunately I don't have any decentralized scalable anonymous version-controlled power management code to present."

MIDI Madness: ASCII : Unicode :: General MIDI :: ?

Apparently nothing, but I did learn about the game MIDI Maze while trying to answer that question. Man, that's awesome: using MIDI as a networking technology. The equivalent today would be USB Maze or something.

Eggnog Transitive Closure: Here's another thing that has the same ingredients as eggnog: the batter in which you dip French toast.

[Comments] (1) The Story Of oooooo: Sumana and I once tried this experiment, except we were seeing how many "a"s we could put in "It's a faaaaaake!" before we stopped getting Google results. I think the answer was somewhere in the 50s.

[Comments] (5) Five Children and It: I forgot all about this book until it came up in the Gutenberg feed. The sequels are also in the foggy swamps of the public domain.

My mother read me this book, and at least one of the sequels, when I was young. Man, she must have read to me for years because we went through The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings, the Narnia books, these books, and who knows what others, all presumably before I started reading at that level myself.

Anyway, it's a really fun book, though looking at it now I see a Victorian subtext of "Don't go around wishing for things to be different than they are!" Well, it's not really fair to malign the Victorians for that subtext, since it's the subtext of any wishing story, from old genie folktales to contemporary time-travel movies. The only thing I can think of that doesn't have this subtext is the wishing in Nethack.

PS: There was also a similar book, a lot more recent, also British, which had some siblings finding a pink creature that had grown in toxic waste. I mainly remember it because the book mentioned the "loo", and for a long time afterwards I thought that bathrooms in England had a strange device called a "loo" that nobody else had. Has anyone else read this book?

: Today, nothing happened. Hey, them's the breaks.

: Okay, okay. Here's a cute elephant picture.

: Sumana wrote a weblog entry on my behalf. Here it is:

I like Python! Also, here is a picture of a penguin. A meta-penguin!

[Comments] (1) : Things did happen yesterday, but I couldn't write about them because my neighborhood had no power all day because of a big thunderstorm. Mike Popovic came over (he was briefly in town from Maine), and we had lunch (produced on my gas range), and talked for hours.

Tonight: random date night. Sumana and I walked down Valencia and went into, I believe, every bookstore that was open. We also ate dinner at a tapas restaurant which was not good enough to justify its price.

I like the tapas idea though, and I wonder if other types of cuisine might start having tapas-style restaurants, and if this would encourage experimentation. Though I know nothing about Spanish food except what I've eaten in tapas restaurants, so for all I know this has already happened, and the tapas I've been eating are fusion tapas.

[Comments] (1) The Invisible Weblog: You probably can't see this because Kevin's DNS server has croaked again, but nothing will stop me from writing in NYCB. Except laziness.

Speaking of which, it is time to really put the NYC in NYCB, because Sumana and I are moving to New York City. I am apprehensive about this move, but it will probably work out.

We are selling and giving away a lot of furniture and other stuff, so let me know if we have something you covet that you're willing to come and take. I'll be sending out an email with more details.

[Comments] (1) : Bounty County keeps track of open bounties for work to be done on free software projects. And by "free software projects" I mean GNOME.

: "That makes it official, when he was a baby he was the happiest on earth."

[Comments] (10) Anti-palindromes: What is the term for a sentence that reads as a completely different grammatical sentence if you reverse it? I've never heard of any such sentences, and I can't think of any, but they must exist. Seems like they'd be O(n2) times more difficult to construct than palindromes, because you have to combine the letters and then try to split them up again.

[Comments] (1) Awesome Josh: I never told you this (and apparently I forgot to tell Josh too). Back when I posted about opportunities in book-writing, Josh Myer took up the project I had announced. Recently he thanked me for the tip by paying me an "agent fee": a copy of Rules of Play, a book on game design. Awesome.

Also, hilarity occured in conjunction with the book delivery. It was delivered over Thanksgiving weekend, when we were all at the zoo with Riana. Now, Riana used to date Josh, so when I opened up the package and read the note inside her gast was flabbered. "You got a present from my ex?" she said. "He never sends me presents!" Man, you can't buy that kind of hilarity. At least not since my hilarity store went out of business.

Missing the Point: In Lego catalog: "Build your own custom model just like this one!"

[Comments] (3) Retief: To what extent do you think Keith Laumer's Retief stories are good clean biting social satire, and to what extent are they reactionary claptrap? The question comes to my mind as I prepare to save space by parting with my nearly-complete Retief collection. Also because there's a new, post-Laumer book in the franchise called Retief's Peace, which looks a little closer to the reactionary side. I still plan to read it eventually, despite Sumana's continuing amazement that I can stand to read Retief stories at all.

Meaningless Milestones: The Ruby Cookbook has over 200 recipes completed.

NYCB is eight years old!

: Today we visited Rachel and Jeremy and I tried my Christmas pudding out on them. They loved it, to the extent that they are going to deal out the rest of it at a Christmas dinner tomorrow. So I think my second pudding (yes! I made a SECOND PUDDING) will be well-recieved in Bakersfield.

Funny story: I also brought hard sauce for the pudding. Rachel put the sauce in the freezer during dinner, under the theory that hard sauce should be hard. As far as I know this is the only confusing food name for which the French are entirely blameless.

Useful tip: to make hard sauce, simply start making cookies and then don't finish.

[Comments] (2) : Having fun in Bakersfield where it is incredibly warm. The pudding did not go over as well with my family as I'd hoped; oh well. It was received okay.

Susanna and I have gradually taken over all the work that my mother used to do: filling stockings, cooking dinner, etc. The cooking is exhausting but the stocking-filling is really fun.

[Comments] (1) Apples to Apples Variant: This variant was discovered at a CollabNet retreat in 2004, but I remembered it last night and we played it. The variant is that you can't draw new cards until your entire hand is used up. As the game goes on, you have to get more and more imaginative about your cards' connections to the adjective cards, and it gets funnier and funnier.

You can also use this to wind down a standard game of Apples to Apples.

[Comments] (2) Apartment Criteria: Unless you live in NYC this is a boring entry. In fact, I find it a boring entry, but that might be because we haven't moved yet. In order to move we need to find an apartment, which means I must inflict upon you our list of criteria. Please send me mail if you know of an apartment that satisfies the following fitness function. We have other types of search going on in parallel with this one.

Apartment criteria listed in descending order of importance:
 Under $1800/mo
 2 bedrooms
 Brooklyn (Park Slope? Sunset Park?) or Astoria in Queens
 <= 5 minute walk from subway, 10 minute walk maximum
 <= 3 blocks to full service grocery store
 Low crime neighborhood
 Washer/dryer in building
 Low street noise at night, preferably during day also
 Big kitchen
 Well-lit by natural light
 Part of house rather than apartment building
 Gas range rather than electric
 <= 10 minute walk to restaurant clusters
 Known responsive landlord
 Little or no vermin problem
 On first floor of building

Things that are okay:
 1 bathroom
 Small apartment building (< 6 units)

: I just realized that How the Grinch Stole Christmas has basically the same plot as the book of Job.

: For probably the third time in my life, my dreams were accompanied by music that turned out, when I woke up, to be memorable and pretty good. This time it was a Sheryl Crow-type song which, though no Jake Berendes West Covina, was not bad at all. In retrospect, I think the song was about the singer's status as a character in my dream. I think that's a good meme-propagation technique if you're a singer-songwriter trying to make it big in my dreams.

Eventually I'll have enough remembered dream-songs that I can do a real analysis of the musical style and see how it differs from my normal style.

[Comments] (3) The Violence-Screen's All-Time Rocker-Shocker!: That's the heavily-hyphenated tagline for The Big Sleep, which we borrowed from Andrew and watched in our ongoing orgy of pre-move borrowed media consumption. I didn't even know there was such a thing as a "violence-screen", but they had all sorts of weird movie gimmicks back then.

We put the DVD in upside down and ended up watching the unreleased 1945 version of the movie, which included long dialogueless scenes which were presumably the ones not written by William Faulkner. Most memorable is the text adventure-like scene where Humphrey Bogart is snooping around a house, finds some keys, unlocks a desk with one of the keys, finds a box in one of the drawers of the desk, takes it out of the desk, unlocks the box with another one of the keys, and takes out a book of ciphers. Next scene: he's in his office trying to solve the ciphers! What's next, the Towers of Hanoi?

Afterwards we found out that we'd seen the 'wrong' version of the movie so we flipped the disc and saw some of the scenes that were added before the movie's 1946 release. They were better than the cut text adventure scene, but not by much since their only purpose was to save Lauren Bacall's career with crude sexual innuendo. (I am not making this up; that's more or less the reason given by the UCLA film professor who guided us through the 1946 scenes on one of the bonus features.)

There's a lot of stuff that happens in this movie, and Sumana kept getting tired so we had to take it in shifts. It was worth it, though. Strong characterization, great cinematography, nicely confusing plot. It also has good Marxesque comedy bits, like one where Lauren Bacall's need to call the police loses out to her insatiable desire to participate in telephone comedy routines.

No NYCB discussion of this movie would be complete without a comparison to The Big Lebowski. IMDB trivia claims that the latter movie actually has more in common with The Long Goodbye, which I haven't seen. But there's nearly a complete mapping from the characters in The Big Sleep to characters in The Big Lebowski, and some of the themes are similar, so I think the relationship is like that between O Brother, Where Art Thou? and the Odyssey.

I think The Big Lebowski is a better movie than The Big Sleep; it's not as complicated, per se, but it's more complex. It has more interesting things in it. Sumana became agitated when I made this statement, so I'll qualify it by saying that my judgement might be different if I'd seen the 1946 version first. Incidentally, I recently saw a tremendously patronizing Big Lebowski "Achiever's Edition" boxed set for sale and was very glad that no one got me that for Christmas.

Bonus: The Big Sleep includes a hot bookstore clerk who takes off her glasses and lets down her hair and -- bam! -- she's milquetoast and not that hot after all! How do they do that? Why do they do that?

Welcome To The... Oh, Forget It: TrueCrypt could be the cross-platform disk encryption software you've been looking for. Via yoz.

[Comments] (2) : I was going through this big list of DVD nerds' favorite DVD releases of 2005 and I saw a really nice-looking Japanese film called University of Laughs. It's kind of similar to The Five Obstructions, except that the obstructions are imposed on a playwright by a WWII government censor. The playwright keeps rewriting his play to satisfy the censor, who ends up using his power as a collaborative tool.

That's a funnier premise than The Five Obstructions, so I have high hopes for this movie. Plus it's got a great "Japanese comedy troupe" name (which is, within the movie, actually the name of a Japanese comedy troupe). It looks like I'd have to go to one of those importer web sites to get it, though.

Also, Kevan may be interested in the French film Les revenants (English title "They Came Back", which doesn't seem to be any kind of translation), assuming he hasn't seen it already.

[Comments] (4) The Juicer Is For Making Juice: Every year John Allison has his cartoon character Shelley Winters review the albums of the year. Every year I'm reminded of how much Shelley reminds me of my sister Susanna.

I have an awesome Christmas present still to give Susanna. Also a juicer.

[Comments] (2) Contents May Transitize In Transit: A bunch of these secondhand boxes I got for moving are from Alcoa, and all over them is written talk about closures. "Improper handling may result in damage to closures", "Closure temperature should be no less than 65 degrees F", et cetera. I couldn't figure this out, since closures are abstract concepts which don't need to be put into boxes.

Then I noticed that the company name on the boxes was Alcoa Closure Systems, and it dawned on me that the boxes themselves were the closures. "Closure" is just a fancy word for "box". All the warnings are regarding the operational tolerances of the boxes, and the contents be damned.

Plasma Fractal: "I think we can safely say that recursive algorithms will never go out of style!"

Some Kind of Chaat: Another recipe from Sumana's mother. I asked her what it was called and she said "snack". Pretty generic name for something I can't find on Google. Anyway, here it is.

Fry this all together on low heat. Mix in:

Stir for a while, turning the rice over and over, until all the rice is crispy and turmeric-colored. Store at room temperature.

You can just grab a handful of this and eat it whenever.

Update: Shweta (who got married on Friday) says it's called bhal puri. Also, it's 2006!

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