Holiday Secrets

December 9, 2008 at 9:53 pm (Comics, History, Horror)

Something about the winter holidays makes me think of drafty castles, ancient mysteries, and lost treasures. Does that make me weird?

In any case, I recently came across this article about a real story of, well, drafty castles, ancient mysteries and lost treasures, that I couldn’t pass up posting. For anyone else who likes secret passages, well, Happy Holidays!


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Survival of the Poorest

April 20, 2008 at 6:04 pm (Comics, Economics, Education, Environment, History, Horror, Wine)

I was thinking today about what would happen to our society if we ran out of oil, and therefore could not afford to transport food between cities, states and nations the way that we currently do, and it occurred to me that the wealthiest people in the world, those inhabitants of the Western Hemisphere who have embraced the economic promise of cities and the specialization of labor, will be the group most affected, and hardest hit, by said (still hopefully hypothetical) collapse. After all, the bulk of the world’s population is much closer to the land than your average Angelino, and is either capable of, or knows people who are capable of, large-scale agriculture, animal husbandry, and other activities associated with pre-industrial human life. It’s only us city-slickers, who are used to our frozen pizzas and two-dollar lattes, who will find ourselves suddenly without food when the crash comes. Although that’s kind of terrifying, since I am one of those city-slickers, it’s also kind of heartening, since it means that, whatever happens to the population of North America, humanity will almost certainly survive and prosper somewhere else, whether it be Africa, Asia, Australia or elsewhere.
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In Memoriam

March 20, 2008 at 1:59 pm (Books, Comics, History, Horror, Languages, Movies, Travel)

It saddens me greatly to think that we have lost two of the greatest minds in the history of science fiction and fantasy in the last two weeks. On March 4, Gary Gygax passed away, and then, just two days ago, Arthur C. Clarke died in Sri Lanka. Arthur C. Clarke, I must confess, never made that significant of an impact on me, although I recognize his influence on the field of science fiction and, frankly, science. I’ve only actually read one of his books, Rama Revealed (which was an excellent novel, although it will also make you loathe the base nature of the human race), and I’ve only seen 2001: A Space Odyssey once. However, he fell into the brilliant class of authors who wrote what is called “hard science fiction,” that is, sci-fi that is firmly tied into what we know/believe to be possible, and was quite a visionary: For example, he was the first person to suggest the system of communication satellites which currently orbit the Earth. Read the rest of this entry »

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Revisionist History

March 11, 2008 at 7:38 pm (Comics, History, Humor, Movies, Music)

As I have only two readers, I’m trying to be more sensitive to your tastes in what I post. Unfortunately, your tastes differ dramatically. ;o) So, Shannon, I’m warning you in advance that this particular Youtube video will probably NOT be your cup of tea, and I’d suggest keeping the kids away from it, too. Mary, you’ll love this. It is a… somewhat novel take on our dear first president, George Washington, and is solidly one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen.

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Mad Science

March 10, 2008 at 10:57 am (Comics, Horror)

It’s no secret that I’m a fan of science fiction. But I also love science fact, if only because each new development gets me closer to the fantastic future of which I’ve dreamed since I’m a kid. So, while this little study mentioned today on NPR may not seem like much, I promise you, it’s super-cool. Why, you ask? Because it shows that creatures which can effectively change their shape can still retain memories from their previous form.

Yep, you head me right. “Change their shape.” I like how the article describes the transformation from caterpillar to moth, which “turns their brains and bodies into soup.” But the implications for me go way beyond insects. If insects can do it, why can’t aliens, or humans with advanced technology, or whatever, while still keeping their mind, and therefore their identity, intact? Just yesterday, this was essentially science fiction (at least, to me), but today, it’s science fact. And that’s pretty cool, if you ask me.

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Comics Comics Comics

February 27, 2008 at 11:15 pm (Books, Comics, Family, Horror, Humor)

About a year ago, I went cold turkey and cut down the number of webcomics I was reading by about 80%. I was reading 20 or 30 a week, and could easily drop 45 minutes a night keeping up on all of them. And, frankly, if I’m going to blow 45 minutes a day, every day, I’d really rather I have something to show for it, like maybe MY DISSERTATION. It’s the regular updates that kill you, because you get sucked into the story, and then you have to go back every couple of days to see what else is new! So, I’ve worked really hard to keep my reading list lean, with only the choicest gems of comedy and adventure at my fingertips. Read the rest of this entry »

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I’m Not the Only Crazy One

February 27, 2008 at 9:26 pm (Comics, Humor)

Maybe it’s people named Jo(h)n.  Maybe it’s cat lovers.  Whatever the reason, “Garfield Minus Garfield” (which, as the name might suggest, is the Garfield comic strip with Garfield himself removed) is genius.  Perhaps (dare I say it?) even funnier than the original???

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Digital Locative Storytelling

October 24, 2007 at 2:45 pm (Arts, Books, Comics, Computers, Movies, Travel, Writing)

I’ve been thinking rather a lot about geotagging lately, not only because my new job is with a project to map cultural heritage data, such as archaeological sites and antiquities collections, onto Google Earth. In fact, it really starts with my recent trip to Spain (which maybe I’ll blog about one of these days, if I can ever get over my perfectionist streak), namely, the possibility of geotagging my photos to construct a locative narrative. For those of you who don’t know, “geotagging” is the act of adding longitude and latitude data to a photograph (or any digital object, really), which enables it to then be plotted on a map. And “locative” is a great linguistic term referring to units which mark a noun as a place at which something happens, and which I’ve borrowed to also describe any narrative in which geographic location is an important component (not just that the actors in the narrative travel, but that the viewer of the narrative travels, as well). I have two main questions. The first is, “Why?” and the second is “How?” Read the rest of this entry »

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“Gentlemen, we can rebuild him.”

June 6, 2007 at 8:04 pm (Comics, Computers, Horror)

I’m a little too young to have watched the original Six Million Dollar Man; I didn’t discover him until my teenage years, when reruns appeared (to my utter joy) on the Sci-Fi channel. I do remember seeing one episode (probably a rerun, since the show aired in ’77 and ’78) of The Bionic Woman on TV when I was a kid, although what I remember most is being scared. As I remember it, the Bionic Woman crashed her car at the beginning of the episode because she saw the apparition of a Native American shaman of some sort dancing in front of her, and that was close enough to ghosts for me to get absolutely terrified and turn it off, to the point that I’m still getting a bit of a chill remembering it, over twenty years later. Read the rest of this entry »

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A Dramatic (and Surprising) Week

March 19, 2007 at 8:37 pm (Arts, Comics, Family, Horror, Languages, Music)

In case you haven’t figured this out, I love being the center of attention. When I was a child, I was involved in musical theater; once I hit junior high school, I dropped out of that and got into Speech and Debate instead. And, one of my first acts upon arriving at UCSB to start my MA in Classics was to join the Middle Eastern Music Ensemble, which was a rocking good time if there ever was one. However, since coming back to LA, my opportunities to perform have been rather limited. So, it shouldn’t surprise anyone that, when given the opportunity to participate in a play with a budget that might possibly include negative numbers, and in German, no less, I leapt at the chance. Read the rest of this entry »

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