Sunday, June 30, 2002


A moment of silence, please, for my late, lamented Torg RPG character, Professor Wendell X. Bernard, who went out in -- if I do say so -- a pretty impressive blaze of glory in last night's game session.

I already miss him.

Despite which, it really is all my fault he got killed off. The interesting thing about Torg (well, one of the interesting things about what is, in my opinion, a really cool game all the way around) is that it uses a special deck of cards in addition to the usual dice action. In this case, I happened to draw the "Martyr card," which allows you to "defeat any enemy at the cost of your own life." No, I didn't have to play the thing. In fact, usually it gets passed back to the GM about as quickly as if it were on fire. But, you know, I'm a total sucker for a dramatic death scene. And the circumstances were so appropriate. So I held onto it. And the GM did such a good job of setting up the foreboding and foreshadowing that it would have been a tremendous shame to waste it.

So, in the end, it came down to the Prof and his loyal friend Keevok (who'd come back to rescue him) trapped in the bad guys' Evil Death Sun Device (that's not quite like a Death Star, being, among other things, smaller). The bomb I'd planted to destroy the device had ticked down to about 30 seconds, a horde of almost-impossible-to-kill monsters was swarming after us, and, while we'd found the exit hatch, it turned out that we were now a couple of hundred feet above the ground. So the Prof rigged up a makeshift parachute, slapped it on Keevok, pushed him out (he wouldn't have gone otherwise), and turned back to delay the monsters just long enough to keep them from defusing or destroying the bomb. Thus saving not only Keevok, but the millions of innocent people who would otherwise have been killed when the bad guys used the Evil Death Sun to carry out their nefarious Evil Plan. Oh, yeah, and took out pretty much the entire Bad Guy base, too.

I gotta admit, it wasn't entirely noble on the Prof's part. He was maybe 95% motivated by stopping the Evil Plan. 2.5% was wanting to get revenge on the bad guys for killing his dog. OK, it was only a robot dog, but he built it with his own hands, and was very fond of it. The bastards dismemebered poor Fluffy and threw its decapitated head into his cell to mock him. So he ripped the electronic components out of it and built the aforementioned bomb. I call that poetic justice. The remaining 2.5% had to do with the fact that the Pharoh (the major Evil Bad Guy behind the whole thing) had claimed not to remember him, despite the Prof having rather spectacularly foiled his Evil Plan on a previous occasion. The Prof, quite frankly, has (er, had) an ego the size of the planet, so that stung. He was pretty sure they'd remember him now, though.

Not just the other characters, but even the other players seemed extremely sad to see him go, which I find really quite flattering (especially as they did agree that, if he had to go, that was absolutely the way it should happen). For my part, I found the whole episode quite thrilling to play, but, man, I really am going to miss playing the old guy... I am glad that at least I'm not going to be the one who has to break the news to his girlfriend...

Saturday, June 29, 2002

I Feel So... Connected

I have discovered the fundamental interconnectedness of all things. And it's a lot of fun to play with. Apparently, it is possible to connect "Betty" to "Star Trek" in a mere four steps:

"Betty" is connected to "Barney" because they're married (in a Flintstonesish sorta way, that is).

"Barney" is connected to "Satan", because they're both evil. (OK, different Barney, but there's really no arguing with that!)

"Satan" is connected to "demon" because "Satan is a demon, or he has some or something."

And "Demon" is connected to "Star Trek" because "this was the title of a particularly crappy episode of Star Trek: Voyager."

Hmm. That's fairly impressive, I suppose, but I think I could have done it in one step...

Friday, June 28, 2002

Your Regularly Scheduled Pop-Cultural Wibblings

So, yeah, we're gonna leave the political and religious ranting and go back to talking about Farscape.[*] After the dark, freaky, don't-blink-or-you'll-miss-six-important-plot-points quality of the last few episodes, tonight's light-hearted and extremely funny ep came as something of a welcome change of pace. Sure, we still haven't been told what's been going on for the last few months, but I'm almost starting to become comfortable with that. It's like ignorance is the new status quo. Of course, we can't be having that, so it looks like the next one is gonna start shaking things up again. Not that I'm complaining! (Well, OK, I am complaining about the fact that we're going to have to wait two weeks for it. I've got news for ya, Sci-Fi, nobody can watch 48 solid hours of The Twilight Zone! I watched a ten-hour marathon of that show once, and it nearly made my head explode. I was walking around feeling vaguely freaked out for days. I never want to do that again. And I like The Twilight Zone.)

Anyway, the usual random thoughts on tonight's episode follow. (WARNING! SPOILERS!)

That old woman is still annoying, but at least this time she's annoying in a really funny way. D'Argo's and John's reactions to her were absolutely hysterical, in large part, I think, because I could sympathize with them so very much. ("She'll get shot!"/"This is a bad thing?") But, man, you think they'd've learned by now not to eat, drink, inhale, or, ideally, even touch anything she offers them. Let this be a lesson to you, kids! Don't do drugs, or you'll end up like Wrinkles!

Farscape has changed a lot over the years, but it's good to see that one thing, at least, has remained constant: the show's bizarre obsession with the subject of vomit!

It was good to see Harvey again, if only very briefly. I kept expecting him to show up at any moment during the last couple of eps, and he never did. Which was really weird, because, odd as this feels to say, I think John could have really used his help. Well, if he chose to curl up by himself in some distant corner of John's brain and whimper for a while after seeing what Grayza did to Scorpius, I wouldn't blame him. Or maybe there was just a really, really long line for that snow cone.

It was even better to finally hear Pilot's voice again. I hadn't realized just how much I'd missed him until then. I'm glad to hear that he and Moya seem to be all right. You think now they'll finally tell us what the frell happened?

Chiana and Sikozu are starting to develop some fun chemistry. I really hope that keeps up.

And what is this sudden fixation with John's butt? (Not that I can't kind of understand that. Ahem.) Not an episode has gone by so far this season without John making some reference to his ass. Maybe D'Argo should have shot him in it...

[*] Of course, I suppose the two things aren't mutually exclusive. I mean, I could talk about the politics and religion of Farscape. Like the fact that, galactic politics-wise, I think it's a big mistake for everybody -- John, the various interplanetary governments, and the viewer -- to focus so much on the Peacekeepers and the Scarrens that they forget about the Nebari. Sure, they prefer stealth, underhandedness, and a placid confidence in their own technological superiority to flashy superweapons and huge honkin' spaceships, but in my view, that only makes them scarier. And on the religious front, I could spend pages just analysing Stark's "different beliefs, different destinations" comment alone. But don't worry, I'm not gonna. At least, not right now.
One Final Word

OK, one final word on this whole Pledge of Allegiance issue, and then I really will return you to your regularly scheduled pop-cultural wibblings (there is a new Farscape on tonight, after all!).

A couple of hours ago, I was reading over what I wrote last night. Shortly thereafter, I got in my car to go out for a bite to eat and happened to catch a news report on the car radio. Unsurprisingly, it was all about still more violence in the Middle East. And, you know, it actually made me feel slightly ashamed. This is real intolerance. This is real ugliness. By contrast, quibbling over a couple of words, no matter how significant the issues behind those words may be, seems kind of... trifling.

I meant everything I said below, and I do still stand by it. But, you know, it is good to keep these things in perspective.

And I really am done now.
Now I'm Ranting About Politics and Religion. Yikes!

OK. [Deep breath] The thing is, yes, this whole Pledge of Allegiance issue has really touched a nerve with me. Honestly, I am for the most part a pretty apolitical (some might even say apathetic) kind of person, but there are certain issues that I feel very passionate about, and this whole freedom of religion/separation of church and state thing is definitely one of them. I'm feeling an almost irresistible urge to explain myself, to explain just why I feel so strongly about this, and maybe if I do it here, it'll stop nagging at me.

To begin with, I've read a number of different reactions to this decision over the past few days. And one of the reactions that keeps coming up can be summed up, basically, as something like: "Of course the United States is 'one nation under God.' This country was founded on Christian principles, by people who believed in God, and America is still a country that believes in God. Anyway, it's not like we're singling out the Christian God. The Pledge is all-inclusive, applying to whatever God you believe in, whatever your individual conception of Him might be. Why are people making such a big deal out of this?"

It's not that unreasonable of a question, when you're coming at it from a certain perspective. But maybe I can explain why it is such a big deal to some of us. It has to do with the question of religious tolerance.

Americans like to believe they practice religious tolerance, both on an individual level and on an official level (hence the existence of the "establishment clause" of the Constitution in the first place). What that means, however, in the average person's mind, is no more and no less than "every person has the right to worship God in his or her own way." I've heard it a zillion times. "It doesn't matter," people say. "Protestants, Catholics, Jews. We all believe in God, and that's the important thing. How you express that belief doesn't really matter."[*] And it's usually delivered in a self-congratulatory tone that says "look how very broad-minded and tolerant I am!"

Well, I've got news for you. That isn't religious tolerance. Tolerance is about accepting those who are different from you, those whose opinions or beliefs or lifestyles you don't agree with. The "as long as you believe in God, it's all good" attitude isn't about tolerance of those who believe differently. It's simply about expanding the definition of who counts as not being different.

I am an atheist. I don't believe in God. Not the Christian God, not the Jewish God, not the Muslim God, not any god at all. And for a long time, I was reluctant to admit that in public, afraid of people's reactions, embarrassed by the way they'd look at me when I did, as if I'd grown a second head, or revealed that I was some sort of amoral psychopath who could no longer be trusted not to axe-murder them in their beds. But you know what? I don't believe I have anything to be ashamed of. It's a perfectly rational, reasonable belief system to hold. Indeed, it's the belief system that my own rationality has led me to. And I think I am a good person, a moral person. Or at least, I try to be. I don't claim to be any less fallible than anybody else, but I do love and respect my fellow man, I'm kind to animals, I give money to charity, and I'm not remotely capable of axe-murdering anybody.

And, yes, I am an American, damn it. No matter what George Bush might think.

So, what does all this have to do with the Pledge of Allegiance? I think it's just this: the Pledge issue serves to highlight, in all its ugliness, the sheer hypocrisy of the US citizens and the US government when it comes to issues of religious freedom. This country claims to be founded on the ideals of personal liberty, including freedom of religion. But for those words to have meaning they have to apply to everyone, not just to the theist majority. If the Pledge made reference to Jesus, or to Mohammed, or to Zeus or Thor, for that matter, it would scarcely have been blithely accepted by mainstream America since 1954. Christians, ask yourself this: if the majority of Americans converted to Norse paganism tomorrow and changed "under God" to "under Odin," how would you feel about it? Would you feel inclined to accept the argument that, oh, well, this is a Norse pagan country, certainly the Norse gods belong in the Pledge, almost everyone believes in them, it'd be an overreaction to go making a big deal out of it? My guess is that no, you wouldn't.

The point is this. Either this is a country which practices true freedom of religion and true separation of church and state, a country where no one religious view is endorsed by the government or indocrinated into our children in the public schools... Or it isn't. "You have absolute freedom of religion, as long as you agree, at least in broad terms, with the religious majority" just won't cut it.

It'd be pretty damned ironic if people started leaving this country because they didn't feel that their religious views were welcome here. Maybe it hasn't come to that, and maybe it never will, but I honestly wish I could say that I thought there was no chance it ever would.

Anyway. That's why I object to "under God," and why I object even more strongly to the idea that it's a ridiculous overreaction to object to "under God." It's yet another manifestation of "as long as you believe in God, it's OK." The other side of that is, "if you don't believe in God, it's not OK," and it's definitely not OK to just sweep that under the rug. Not in a government that makes any pretense whatsoever of practicing religious tolerance and the separation of church and state. If I'm not welcome as a citizen of the United States, the rest of you can vote to amend the Constitution to say so and I'll bloody well leave, but do not stand there with self-righteous smiles on your faces and talk about how tolerant and accepting and inclusive you are as you're slamming the door in my face.

Ahem. OK, that rant did get a little out of control. I'll just wrap up with a trite but nevertheless entirely apt line: Freedom of religion also means freedom from religion. If God is inextricably linked to the very idea of America as a country, then freedom of religion isn't. You cannot have it both ways. Choose. And, as you're choosing, remember that Christians were once a discounted minority, too, and the Romans couldn't figure out why they were making such a big deal out of refusing to worship Caesar. A few more cycles of history, and you could always find yourselves back on the receiving end...

All right. Now I really am done. Feel free to flame me to ashes. I don't care. At least now I've gotten that off my chest.

[*] Which always raises questions in my own mind, like, if the details are that unimportant, why bother with them at all? But that's probably another issue entirely.

Thursday, June 27, 2002

Revenge of the Return of the... Ah, Skip It.

click to take it!

OK, I'll take that as a compliment.

I am a toaster!
what kitchen utensil are YOU?

Cool! I like toast. Can I be the Talkie Toaster from Red Dwarf?

I also took the Farscape Purity Test (because, come on, how could I not?) and got the following Personality Profile:

Your point score was in excess of 70%.
You are at the top of the class and very knowledgeable
about FARSCAPE.... erm Sir. There are also some other
interesting characteristics about your personality that you
might like to hear. A detailed breakdown is provided below.


FARSCAPE is better than sex.

You are addicted to FARSCAPE and it is my
personal opinion that you are a hopeless case.

FARSCAPE TWERPS are a source of cruel
amusement to you.

You will not admit this in public, but you have
also secretly written your own FARSCAPE
episode(s) and are currently plucking up the
courage to submit them to the Very Reverend
Rockne S. O'Bannon himself.

Your partner is convinced that you are crazy
especially when you make him/her
dress/talk/walk (?!) like a Luxan (male) /
Delvian (female).

You cry whenever John Crichton and Aeryn Sun
are in the same scene together.

You have, at one time experimented with
painting your skin gray and drawing boobs on
your chest.

You have been to at least one sci-fi convention.

Sexually, you are somewhat insecure, preferring
the purer more romantic relationships of the
series, to the tacky reality of everyday love and

You are either celibate or a committed family

You would be faithful to one partner and have not
necessarily fantasised about making love with
any of the more attractive FARSCAPE

You are highly intelligent but a bit stupid when it
comes to common sense.

People like you, but they think you're a bit of a

You have a good career but you do not own a
large house or flash car.

Other FARSCAPE fans look up to you.

You are a mine of information and you should be
careful not to become the 'party bore' or

commitment although you secretly admire their
social skills and in particular, the way members
of the opposite sex are all over them.

You have recently sent an email message to reporting an inconsistency in one
of the web pages.

Some people call you Mr Spock - this really
annoys you.

It should be pointed out that these conclusions should only be taken seriously if they are correct!

Well, a surprising number of those are, in fact, correct, but I'm not going to admit anything about which ones they are!

Wednesday, June 26, 2002

OK, Now I'm Actually Making a Political Statement

It seems that a federal court has ruled that the US Pledge of Allegiance is unconstitutional, due to the "under God" phrase, which violates the separation of church and state. To which I can only say: duh! I mean, this much was obvious to me in the sixth grade, which is when I stopped repeating the damned thing. And nobody ever told me it was optional when I was a kid, either. They just told me to stand up and say the words, in exactly the same tone of voice as they used to tell me to read chapters 5-7 in the textbook for Monday. (Hmm, I wonder if that was optional, too?)

"I think I'm a patriotic American," says the guy who brought the lawsuit. "I'm upholding the Constitution. Children shouldn't have the government telling them what the proper religious philosophy is." Amen to that, says I! The Attorney General, however, apparently begs to differ, saying that the decision is "contrary to two centuries of American tradition." Which I find really amusing, considering that the "under God" was only added in 1954, apparently out of fear of those Godless Commies infiltrating our schools or something.

OK. I'm getting off the soapbox now. Back to your regularly scheduled pop-cultural wibblings.

Tuesday, June 25, 2002

NRAO in the News

Somebody just sent me an e-mail pointing this out: there's a rather nice article about the Very Large Array over on today. Check it out!
Personally, I Was Fantasizing About the End of the Movie

So, I just finished watching Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within, which a co-worker of mine who just bought a DVD player lent me, in exchange for me lending him the director's edition of Star Trek: The Motion Picture. Boy, did he get the better part of that exchange. Frankly, Final Fantasy makes ST:TMP look like Citizen Kane, and you know that's saying something. Yes, it's an extraordinary technological accomplishment, but unfortunately, it's also a really, really bad movie. And not even amusingly bad like, say, Event Horizon. Just bad. The thing is, after about fifteen minutes or so, you finally get tired of oohing and aahing over how natural the shadows and the movements and the skin textures look, and then you realize that there is absolutely nothing else about the movie that makes it worth your time. The premise is nonsensical, the plot is dull, the dialog is trite, and no amount of CGI wizardry is ever going to succeed in making the characters three-dimensional. Plus, I was rooting for the bad guy, because in any remotely rational universe, he would have been right.

Honestly, the only thing that kept me from turning it off in the middle was the fact that when the guy who lent it to me asks if I watched the thing, I don't want to have to admit that I couldn't make it through. Don't ask me what happened in the last half-hour or so, though, because I suddenly developed a series of irresistable impulses to get up and use the bathroom, or see what was in the fridge, or straighten up the DVDs on the shelf, or basically do pretty much anything that didn't actually involve paying attention to the movie.

It's a damned shame, really. I'd love to see that level of technology applied to a good movie. Or even to a not-actively-sucky movie. In the meantime, I'm filled with a strong desire to watch Toy Story again. Sure, it may be more cartoony and less realistic than Final Fantsy, but it's about six hundred thousand times more watchable. At the very least.

Monday, June 24, 2002

Return from Sunnydale

The temperature here today hit 106 degrees[*], and even with the cooler going at full blast, it was still too stultifyingly hot to want to do anything except sprawl out in front of the TV with a glass of something cold and try not to move too much. Thus, I have now finally finished watching season two of Buffy, as well as all the extras on the DVDs. And what can I say, except: Damn, this is a good show.

Buffy really does have just about everything I love to see in a TV show: Humor. Snappy dialog. A rich and seamless blending of different genres (in this case, everything from comedy to horror to drama to tragedy to romance). Complex and well-developed characters (most emphatically not excluding the bad guys). Character conflicts. Continuity. Intricate story arcs which are allowed to develop gradually over time. Events having logical consequences, both in plot and character terms. A willingness to go out on a limb and do things that are unexpected or shocking, or that even break the usual rules of dramatic narrative.[**] In other words, pretty much everything I've been praising about Farscape and lamenting the lack of in Enterprise. Joss Whedon, Buffy's twisted-genius creator, has now joined my personal pantheon of scriptwriting gods, along with Chris Boucher of Blake's 7 and Farscape's David Kemper.

Oh, and did I mention that Giles is cool? 'Cause Giles is really, really cool.

I suppose the DVD extras probably deserve a mention, too. They included a lot of the usual miscellaneous stuff (TV ads for the show, character/actor bios, that sort of thing), as well as commentary tracks on a few of the episodes, and some nice little "featurettes" on the costuming and makeup and set design. Far and away the most interesting, though, was Joss Whedon's commentary on "Innocence," one of the more important episodes. Whedon is a tremendously funny guy, in his own self-deprecating kind of way, and he also has a lot of insightful and interesting things to say about the creative process and about exactly what he was trying to do with the show. Not to say that the commentaries that were done by other people weren't interesting, because they were. But I'm really hoping that they get Whedon to do more of them on the third season discs when they come out. Preferably as many as possible.

And, believe me, I'm going to be waiting with great impatience for the third season. According to the advertisement packaged in with the season two discs, it should be out in "Winter, 2003." I'm really hoping that means the January part of winter, and not the December part...

[*] I believe that's about 41 degrees to those of you from countries that use a more rational system of units.

[**] See previous blog entry. Hell, the pivotal event in that particular episode actually had me scrambling for the rewind button on my DVD player because, oh my god, that could not possibly have just happened, could it? Except of course, it had. Yikes.

Saturday, June 22, 2002


Actually, I lied last time. It wasn't three and a half Buffy discs I still had to watch, it was only two and a half. At any rate, after last night, I now have only five episodes left, plus the extras, which I haven't even looked at yet. And, yes, I am still majorly enjoying this show, though it's not necessarily always "enjoyment" in the sense that it puts a big old happy smile on my face. In fact, for a show whose main hallmark is the flip, goofy dialog, Buffy manages to do quite a line in genuine, gut-wrenching angst. (Which is all the more impressive when you consider the fact that the flip, goofy dialog doesn't ever stop, even in the midst of tragedy.) Yep, Buffy has now officially joined the list of TV shows that have actually made me cry, which is both kind of embarassing to admit and yet extremely cool at the same time. And it is good to know that, even in my largely-spoilered state, the show is still capable of surprising and shocking me. I'm not going to mention which particular plot twist it was that produced this effect, since for the vast majority of people it's either four-year-old news or a spoiler, but I'll tell ya, it got to me. Sniffle.

Friday, June 21, 2002

Yes, It's That Time Again...

Well, I am now back at home, and, yes, I have now watched tonight's Farscape. And, as is my wont, I am now going to talk about it here.

Truly, I will never cease to be amazed at this show's ability to pull a fast one on the viewer. They still didn't answer any of the major questions left over from last week (or from the season premiere, or from last season's finale, for that matter). I would have expected that to really piss me off, but, astonishingly, the episode was so full of so many cool and interesting things happening so quickly that for most of the episode I completely forgot my burning need for answers. That's impressive.

Some thoughts (WARNING! SPOILERS AHOY!):

Speaking of pulling a fast one on the viewer... I remember reading somewhere on the net a list of rules somebody wrote up describing how things work on Farscape. I think they called it "The Survival Guide to the Uncharted Territories." And one of the rules -- I remember it well, because I thought it incredibly apt -- was: "When you think you know who the monster is, you're wrong. And, just when you've figured that out, you'll discover that you were actually right the first time." Yes, they keep using that formula over and over again, and doggone it, it works every damned time. Fooled me again, Mr. Black Lagoon Guy!

Team Chiana-Sikozu-Jool was truly a joy to watch. I especially like Chiana in this ep. She's mad as hell and she's not gonna take it any more! You go, girl!

The old woman still annoys me. Even if she's acting a bit saner this ep, she still annoys me. At least she didn't lose Winona. (You know, it's weird, but I believe I'm becoming as attached to that pulse pistol as John is. The whole time he was fighting with Black Lagoon Guy in the water, I kept thinking, "Oh, no, don't lose Winona!" Sort of reminds me of Winston the volleyball from Castaway.)

And, hey, they've finally cleared up one of the biggest confusions in the Farscape lexicon: the definition of "metra." So, a "metra" is on the order of a mile, and a "matra" is on the order of a meter. That explains so much! Good save, writers!

OK, Scorpius can not be dead. Because, you know, he's Scorpius. It's like one of the Rules of Farscape: You can't kill Scorpius. He's just too cool to die. Besides, his name is still in the credits. But I can't for the life of me figure out how he's going to get out of that one.

Speaking of names in the credits (or the lack thereof)... Goodbye, Jool! It really doesn't surprise me in the least that she's leaving: all the signs pointed that way, really. But it is kind of a shame. Yes, she started off as an extraordinarily annoying character, but I was finally beginning to warm towards her. I think she had the potential to develop into something truly interesting, and I'm sorry that she's not going to get the chance. Here's hoping we'll meet up with her again some time. (Which seems pretty likely, really. I have the distinct feeling we haven't seen the last of that planet...)

In the meantime, I still have no idea what's actually been happening for the past half-cycle or so. But, you know, I think I can wait to find out. I really can. As long as they keep entertaining me like this while I'm waiting.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I've still got three and a half more Buffy discs to watch...
Other People's Blogs

So here I am, hanging out, just killing time waiting to go home so I can watch tonight's Farscape episode. And for the last little while I've mainly been amusing myself by clicking on random recently-updated blogs from the main blogger page. In the course of this, I have noticed several interesting facts. For instance (and this is something I've noticed in the past, as well, so it's not like there's just something special going on today), an astonishingly high percentage of recently-updated blogs appear to be written in Portugese. Seriously. Portugese. I have no idea why that should be. Is blogging a huge fad in Brazil? Is the entire population of Portugal on the internet? What? I've also noticed that there are a lot of blogs written in languages other than English whose titles are in English. Now, that's just annoying. Do I go naming my blog in Portugese so that unwary Brasilians will be fooled into thinking that the contents of my blog will appear in their native language? No, I do not. And it isn't just because I don't know a single word of Portugese, either.

Other things I have noticed while engaging in this singularly pointless activity: There are a lot of anime fans out there (and they appear to be really obsessive bloggers, too). There are also a lot of angsty teenagers out there, and weirdly, they all sound exactly alike. Also, there are a lot of people who eschew capital letters (whether because they think it's artsy or something, or because they're too damn lazy to hit the shift key, I don't know).

Oddly, the most appealing and possibly the best-written blog I found today consided almost entirely of one post dissing Attack of the Clones and one post about ear hair. This probably says something sad and profound about the state of the internet... But then, who am I to talk?
Return of the Revenge of the Return of the Silly Quizzes

what's your battle cry? | | merchandise!

You know, for some reason, I find myself absurdly pleased with that one.

take the antisocial test.
and go to because laura's feeling social.

Frankly, I'm amazed that it's only "a tiny bit." Truth to tell, I'm feeling very antisocial today. There've got this summer student program going on here at NRAO this week, and there are too damn many people here. I actually think I did, in fact, utter the words "People! I wish they'd all just go away and leave me alone!" at some point today. And then, mercifully, they did. Right now, it's just me and one officemate quietly minding his own business on the other end of the room (six hundred points for him!), and the headache I was starting to develop this afternoon has dissipated. *blissful sigh* Really, it's not that I don't like people. I like them just fine. I just like them better when I don't have to be around them.

Thursday, June 20, 2002

And It Gets Even Better...

Oh, this is lovely. I've been continuing to browse the "villain supply" website, and I just noticed that they have a picture of Avon from Blake's 7 modelling the "traditional silver lame jumpsuit" on the Henchman's Gear page. And I'm getting far too big of a chuckle out of imagining how he'd react to being called a "henchperson." (The Henchperson Uniform Mark II, by the way, appears to be standard Federation Trooper gear... Nice to know the evil supply company folks have such good taste in TV shows!)
One-Stop Shopping for All Your World Domination Needs

Hey, bad guys! Need to purchase some yourself some superweapons, hire a gang of henchmen, or outfit that secret lair? Well, I have found the website for you!

I think my favorite is the "Prop doomsday device" for $99.99.

Just wanted to say thank you to those who've helped me test out the new comments feature! It seems to be working fine, except for some weirdness with the date stamps. I'm not remotely sure what that's about... Sigh. Yet another unexplained mystery to add to the list, along with the way I'm suddenly unable to view this blog from the version of Netscape we use at work, and the recently discovered fact that it's no longer showing up on Google. (Did I offend the Internet gods somehow?)

OK, I'm probably not going to do the blogathon thing, really, but I did find a charity event I can really get behind: the Crichton-A-Thon! This is held by a group of Farscape fans who call themselves the Society Against Cruelty to Crichton, and whose main mission in life is to protest the frequency with which their favorite character gets the snot beaten out of him. I'm not sure what the charity is this season; last year, appropriately enough, it was the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. For the charity drive, you can choose either to be a SACCer ("Do you hate watching Crichton get hurt? Do you think there have been enough aliens in his head, up his nose, down his pants, in his stomach, and just in general beating him up?") or a WACKer ("...if you can't help but cheer on when our hero gets hurt, if you secretly enjoy watching Crichton get the stuffing knocked out of him...") In the former case, you pledge to contribute some amount of money (whatever you feel like -- I pledged two bucks) for each episode in which Crichton manages to go unscathed, and in the latter, you contribute instead for each episode where he takes physical abuse. I picked WACKer. Hey, I'm a Blake's 7 fan! Bring on the angst, the torture, the character deaths! I call that "drama"! Besides, the way things are going, I don't think you're very likely to raise any money for charity betting the other way...

Wednesday, June 19, 2002

Revenge of the Return of the Silly Quizzes!

Yes, it's that time again, boys and girls! Time to answer the burning question of which Peanuts character I best correspond to:

I am linus
Which Peanuts Character Are You Quiz

Yeah, well, not much of a surprise there, really.

Then there's this:

The Castaway Quiz deems me:
The Skipper
You are a natural leader, others respect your opinion. You have an anger management problem, and that little buddy thing is kinda weird.

OK, now that is a surprise. Personally, I'd've pegged myself as the Professor. Maybe Mary Ann. But I honestly can't see that I have any Skipper-like qualities whatsoever.

Moving from the island to the desert:

Take the Desert Creatures Test!

And here's a question I'm sure you were wondering about:

What Psych-Ward do you belong to?

You know what? The really amusing thing about that particular quiz is that one of the possible answers that didn't come up was in fact a disorder I've actually been diagnosed with at one point in my life. And, nope, I'm not going to tell you what it is. You'll just have to guess!

Meanwhile, to address the issue of which emoticon I am:

Your a toothy, you have poor dental hygine and are fucking insane. Some circles want you dead.On the upside you love life though!
Take the What FMC Emoticon Are You?? Quiz

And by now, you've already figured this one out:

You are an

Find out what kind of quiz-taker you are

But just to prove it, of course, I had to take a quiz to determine what kind of quiz I would be if I were a quiz:

[If I were an online test, I would be The James Bond Villain Personality Test]

I'm The James Bond Villain Personality Test!

I live in a fictional world of spies and blonde women with ridiculous names, and I like to give people plenty of options. Although whether they're villainous is not optional.

Click here to find out which test you are!

Season Two, Take Two

Got my replacement Buffy discs today! Yay, again! Although Murphy's Law does apply in full force... I had a nice, long weekend last weekend that would have been absolutely perfect for parking myself in front of the DVD player and having myself a big ol' Buffy marathon. Finding the time to watch it all now is going to be a little more problematical. Ah, well.

I must say, Amazon was really cool about sending the replacement discs. I went and filled out the "defective merchandise" form on their website late Friday afternoon. Friday evening, they sent me an apologetic e-mail acknowledging the problem, and apparently they had the new discs in the mail by the end of the weekend, before I'd even mailed the first set back.

(Disclaimer: I've got this "associates" thing going with through my website, so that if, say, you click here and actually buy something, they'll give me some of their spare change. I think I've made a grand total of about $20 in like the past two years (mostly thanks to a friend of mine who ordered about $500 worth of Star Blazers videos). So, if you are a savvy consumer who practices a healthy level of skepticism, you will quite reasonably be considering the possibility that am only saying nice things about Amazon in the hopes that they'll send me another $20. As it happens, you'd be wrong about that, but there's no reason for you to take my word for it. Except, of course, for the fact that I really am an incredibly honest person. And you can trust me on that.)

Tuesday, June 18, 2002

The State of the Blog

Well, I still haven't figured out why I'm having the problem viewing this page from work. The good news is, as far as I can tell, anybody using Internet Explorer can see it just fine, and presumably anybody using a version of Netscape that's actually been updated in the past five years or so can see it just fine, 'cause I'm not having any problems at all viewing it with Netscape on my machine at home. So hopefully this is a problem that won't be a problem for, well, anybody but me.

In other news, I've added a comments feature to the blog. I've used Enetation for that. They're new, they're in the UK, and I have no idea whether they're any good or not, but, unlike every other commenting service I've checked out, they are accepting new accounts, and not just at certain minutes of the day, either. So, we'll see how that works out.

I was going to suggest using the comment feature to report any problems you might have viewing the page, but it occurs to me that's a bit like the old joke about the letter that starts out with "If you don't receive this letter, please let me know." But, at any rate, you can now use it to rant at me, tell me how brilliant I am, correct my grammar, add your own two cents worth, whatever. Hey, all the cool blogs were doing it...


I heard about this event through JK's Trash Heap and thought it sounded interesting. The idea is that you get people to sponsor you, and then you spend a full 24 hours, well, blogging. You're required to update your page approximately every half-hour, and if you make it through the entire day, your sponsors have to cough up whatever they pledged, with the cash going to a charity of your choice. I think this sounds like a lot of fun. I'm rather tempted to participate, really. Staying awake for 24 hours is no biggie; I've done worse than that in the line of duty many a time. But the event's on July 27th, and that's the day I'm supposed to be heading out for the planet K-PAX. (Um, sorry. Gratuitous movie reference. Couldn't resist.) No, actually, it's a Saturday, and when I'm not working on Saturdays (which I actually don't think I am at that point, though with my schedule it's always hard to be sure), I'm usually gaming. And the idea of blowing off my one regular face-to-face social-interaction activity to sit in front of a computer screen for 24 hours doesn't entirely appeal. Besides, would anyone in their right mind actually want to read 24 hours of me talking about Buffy and Farscape? Because you know that's how it would turn out...
Test Results

Well, I just tried bringing up the page in Internet Explorer (ack! ptui!), and it worked just fine. So the only thing I can figure is that the problem lies with the fact that we're still using a cuneiform-on-clay-tablets version of Netscape here at work. Lots of web pages show up as blank expanses of nothingness on this thing. I can't for the life of me figure out why things have changed since last week, though.

Ah, well. The upshot appears to be that I can still blog from here at work, I just can't look at the actual blog pages. Sigh.
This is a Test!

I'm looking at what should be this blog page, and getting a big, blank gray screen with a banner ad at the top. This cannot possibly be good. I'm not sure if it's something I did, or if it's a problem with Blogger, or with the stupid outdated browser we're using here at work or what. It looked fine on my machine at home this morning. It looked fine on this machine last week. Now it does not look fine. I am hoping that maybe if I try republishing it, it'll look fine again. Here goes!

Monday, June 17, 2002

Movie Night

I rented a couple of movies today, something I haven't done in quite a while. (Mainly because I've still got a bunch of stuff here that I haven't watched yet, but for some reason none of it appeals to me very strongly just at the moment.) I ended up with K-PAX and The Astronaut's Wife, which made kind of an interesting double bill.

K-PAX was highly recommended to me by several people, and, yeah, I did enjoy it. It was a fun movie, at least by my own possibly idiosyncratic definition of "fun". You probably already know this, but it's about a guy (played, appropriately enough, by Kevin Spacey) who claims to be from outer space. He gets locked up in the loony bin (because where else would you put a guy who thinks he's from outer space?), but there are all kinds of indications that, hey, maybe he might really be from outer space after all. But then, there are also all kinds of indications that he's not. The fun comes in trying to decide what the actual answer is, and the movie does a very nice job of making both alternatives seem about equally plausible at various points.

The Astronaut's Wife I kind of have mixed feelings about. It's about, um, an astronaut's wife (surprise, surprise). During a spacewalk, said astronaut is caught in some kind of explosion, and he's out of contact with NASA and the shuttle for two minutes, and when he comes back to Earth his wife gradually starts to suspect that something weird happened to him up there and that he's no longer quite himself. It's a pretty creepy movie, but it's also pretty slow. And, while slow can actually work to enhance the effect if it's creepiness you're going for, it's a thin line to walk because the creepiness has to be sufficiently creepy to offset the slowness. Otherwise suspense gives way to boredom. Unfortunately, this movie teeters right on the edge of the acceptable creepiness/slowness ratio, so it almost manages to be creepy and dull at the same time, which is really kind of a weird effect.
OK, So I Am Obsessed with Farscape. What's Your Point?

I watched Friday's episode again last night, and I'm pleased to say that it actually did make more sense to me the second time. Or at least, the unanswered questions seem better defined now, and I am getting a sense that there's a method to the madness, even if I'm not quite sure yet just what it is. But I shall maintain my faith in David Kemper and his writing team. They haven't let me down so far...

If last season was the Season of Death, it looks like this one may be shaping up to be the Season of Episodes You Have to Watch at Least Twice to Really Understand. Which I'm actually OK with. The way I see it, a show that improves with repeat viewings is a lot more fun than one that's entertaining the first time, but that you never want to see again afterwards.

Sunday, June 16, 2002

Hot Enough for Ya?

I'd like to write something really insightful and intelligent here today, but I made the mistake of going out for a walk earlier this afternoon and completely fried my brain. Physically, I mean.[*] Like an egg on a griddle. Man, you gotta love New Mexico in the summer. The good news is, I hang the laundry out on the line, and it's dry fifteen minutes later. The bad news is, you walk outside and -- bam! -- you're instantly microwaved.

So, anyway, I'm afraid there's nothing to see here today. Come back tomorrow, after I've cooled off some.

[*]There's a Farscape reference waiting to be made at this point, but I was talking to my sister on the phone earlier, and, being the perceptive person she is, she informed me that "You're way too obsessed with Farscape." And I started thinking, yeah, there are lots of other things I could be talking about here other than Farscape. (Like Buffy, as soon as I get my replacement discs.) So I'm not going to mention it. See?

Saturday, June 15, 2002

Universe in a Bottle

Man, I so want one of these. But my cats would probably break it.

Friday, June 14, 2002

The Most Frustrating Words in the English Language: "To Be Continued"

I'm not sure whether tonight's Farscape has improved my mood or not... You know, I told my previously-mentioned deprived-of-cable friend that I'd make sure and get together with her after the first few episodes of the season so she could watch them on tape. She seemed really impatient at the thought of having to wait that long (yeah, I've hooked her good!), but at the moment, I think I envy her. At least she won't have to spend a week wondering what the HELL is going on. Because, at the moment, things aren't making a whole lot of sense. Not in a bad-writing sort of way (I don't think), but more like we're looking at a jigsaw with half the pieces missing. And reflected in a funhouse mirror. And viewed with a bad case of uncorrected astigmatism. Well, OK, maybe it's not that bad, but still...

Some random thoughts ((WARNING! SPOILERS! (YES, BIG ONES!)):

I notice they still haven't told us exactly what happened to Moya. Which in itself is really weird. I get the distinct feeling D'Argo and Jool are hiding something. Or that something really strange is up with them, anyway. They've sure done a very neat job of dodging all Crichton's questions. I'm just not sure why... Or am I just being paranoid?

Man, that old woman is crazier than Stark! And she's got this total thing about drugs. Say what you will about Banik-boy, at least he didn't go around spritzing people with LSD, or whatever it is she's got in that powdered stuff. And he never tried to kill any of them, either. Well, OK, yeah, Crais, but that was kind of understandable, if you ask me.

Braca is such a whore. Yeah, all right, it doesn't appear that he's acting entirely under his own volition. But still. I hearby rescind any meager scraps of liking or sympathy I might ever have had for the man.

Speaking of Braca... I'd be prepared to swear on any books you'd care to nominate that I have never seen those scenes between him and Grayza from the "Previously on Farscape" bits before. It actually kind of panicked me for a moment. Did I lapse into a week-long coma and miss an episode or something? The only thing I can figure is that they must have been scenes that were cut from the American version for time reasons. Either that, or I'm hallucinating worse than John when he's hyped up on weird Grandma-drugs. Either way, it's annoying.

Grayza reminds me more of Servalan than ever. I wonder if that pheromone trick (or whatever it is) is natural or artificial?

Poor, poor Scorpius. OK, it's arguable that he deserved the Aurora Chair, but the rest of it went way beyond poetic justice. Not even Scorpy deserved that. I really hope he gets the chance to give the bitch some payback. She's a much nastier (and far less sympathetic) villain that he ever was. Scorpius was certainly ruthless, and he could occasionally be cruel, but he was never that downright sadistic.

And poor Crichton, too. It's not enough that he's been mentally and emotionally frelled on a more or less constant basis for the last two years, but now apparently Grayza's doing it physically as well. With every passing episode, it seems less and less likely that the man is ever going to manage to pull himself back together and find his happy place again.

Looks like one thing we actually are going to get an answer to is the oft-speculated-upon connection between Humans, Sebaceans, and Interons. Which is funny, because it's not one of the questions I was really expecting an answer to. I wonder where they're going with that? I mean, there's an obvious (and rather cliched) possibility, but Farscape does have this interesting habit of taking obvious cliches and turning them completely upside-down.

Must... be... patient...
Buffy Has Failed Me!

Sigh. So, I'm watching the Buffy discs, right, and needless to say, I'm getting really into it, and I'm about 15 minutes into episode #7 and, bam, the thing just freezes up on me. Won't play, won't fast-forward, won't do diddly. I stop it, I skip to the next scene, it plays for about half a minute and then freezes up again. Stupid disc is denying me my Buffy!

I'm pretty sure it is the disc, and not my player. Everything up to that point played back fine. Disc One played back fine. If I go back to the earlier episodes on Disc Two, they play back fine. But that one spot on the disc just appears to be totally hosed.

I'm gonna send it back to Amazon. I'm pretty sure they'll replace it for me without too much of a hassle. But, dammit, you know how long it's going to take me just to be able to see the rest of that one damned episode?

No, don't tell me how it ends.


On the good news front, we did at least get some rain today. I think that's the second time it's rained this year. And there's a new Farscape on tonight. But neither of things things is quite enough to keep me from being bummed out over Buffy...
Bring on the Buffy!

Well, I've now watched the first four episodes from the Season Two Buffy discs. Man, that show rocks. I've already talked about Season One here, so I won't repeat my analysis of just why I like the show so much... Except to mention the wonderfully clever dialog. And the way it manages to totally work on its own terms, even while it refuses to take itself completely seriously. And Giles. I really like Giles.

It's really cool to have pretty much the entire series still ahead of me to watch for the first time. I only hope they come out with the rest of the discs on a timely basis. If they put 'em out fast enough, maybe I can actually get caught up and start watching it on TV. Won't that be a novelty?

Thursday, June 13, 2002

Look, This Time It's a Silly Quiz and a Star Wars Link!

Yup, here's another quiz-type thingie:

Find Your Star Wars Twin

This appears to be an actual psychological test, run by actual psychologists, as actual psychological research. I strongly suspect they just put the Star Wars stuff in there to get more people to take it. But it's kind of fun, anyway. Apparently, I'm a wampa. I'm really not at all sure how to react to that...
Make the Pie Higher!

Here's your random amusing link for the day: a "poem" composed entirely of quotes from George W. Bush. Like the website says, it's too good (or too excruciatingly bad) not to share.

(NB: This is not to be construed as a political statement of any variety on my part. When I make a political statement, you'll know it. But I probably won't...)

Wednesday, June 12, 2002

You Know, I Do Believe I'm Single-Handedly Keeping in Business...

Got my Buffy discs in the mail today! Yay! But there goes any idea I might have had of getting anything productive done this weekend...

Tuesday, June 11, 2002

Notice Anything Different?

Yup, I've finally gotten around to tweaking my template. (Ouch! Sounds painful!) So far, I've only added a few links, mainly to other blogs perpetrated by my friends and accomplices. But I'll doubtless be playing around with it some more in the future. So if you happen to visit this page and notice anything looking really odd, it's probably because I'm in the process of trying things out to see how they look. (And, man, did I get some ugly results before I finished fiddling today!)

Oh, yeah, look at me! Acting like I actually know HTML! Scary...

Monday, June 10, 2002


OK, here's another list-type thingy that I stole from... I dunno, somebody's blog somewhere. I'm starting to lose track of my wanderings across the internet.


Current Clothes: Light blue drawstring jeans. Dark gray polo shirt with NRAO logo on the breast. Black sneakers. White slouch socks.

Current Mood: Kind of neutral.

Current Music: Nothing's playing at the moment. Currently in my CD player at home is Jimmy Buffett's Floridays.

Current Hair: It's short. I put some gel in it this morning, with the idea of making it look kind of like the stylist made it look the last time I got it cut, but I have the sneaking suspicion it just looks kinda messy, in a gelled-up sort of way.

Current Annoyance: Well, I've sort of gotten over that being annoyed at people for dissing my favorite characters thing I was ranting about yesterday. If I have an annoyance today, it's, um, having people around. It's 5:30 already. Why don't they all just go home and leave me in peace? And why does everyone seem to think this room is some kind of hallway?

Current Thing: Being stuck at work. Again. Or is that not what "thing" is supposed to mean in this context?

Current Desktop Picture: The PC I'm using here at work has a nice picture of the International Space Station with part of the Earth visible "below" it. On my machine at home, I've been cycling through a bunch of Farscape images and wallpapers. Currently I've got a goofy picture of Stark up, but it's not really high-resolution enough to work well as wallpaper, so I think I'm gonna change it again soon.

Current Favorite Group: Well, based on the entry below, I guess we're gonna have to say Rush. They get six million extra points for including a tour date in Albuquerque.

Current Book: Brain Child by George Turner.

Current Video in Player: Nothing in there at the moment, actually, but most recently played video was Men in Black, which I picked up some time ago for like six bucks, and only got around to watching last night. I'd almost forgotten what a fun movie that was. Looking forward to seeing the sequel.

Current Refreshment: Cold water.

Current Worry: I'm pretty worried about a friend of mine who's having some health problems, actually, but I'm not sure she'd appreciate me talking about it to the entire World Wide Web, so I won't.

Current Crush: None I'll admit to!

Current Favorite Celebrity: I don't think I know any celebrities.

Current Thought: What is it with this whole obsession people have with celebrities, anyway? What on Earth makes people think they actually know something about someone they've never met just because they've seen them pretending to be someone entirely different in the movies or something?
The Spirit of Radio

Here's a nifty little exercise which I shamelessly stole from The Trash Heap, which shamelessly stole it from Bouillabaisse for the Soul. (Well, such is the nature of blogging, really.) The idea is to answer each of the following questions using nothing but song lyrics, all from the same artist. It's kind of a fun challenge; try it. My responses:

1. Are you male or female?

For you and me, sex is not a definition.

2. Describe Yourself.

rational romantic mystic cynical idealist

3. How do others feel about you?

Not the glamour girl
Who'd love to sell her soul
If anybody's buying,
Nobody's hero

4. Describe your current/ideal boyfriend/girlfriend/spouse:

I thought I was okay alone
Wait for the postman and the telephone
Lost in a world of my own
I thought I could run alone
Thought I could run through the night alone

5. What would you rather be doing?

I set a course just east of Lyra
And northwest of Pegasus
Flew into the light of Deneb
Sailed across the Milky Way
On my ship, the "Rocinante"
Wheeling through the galaxies,
Headed for the heart of Cygnus
Headlong into mystery

6. Describe where you live:

Imagine a place where it all began
Gathered from across the land
To work in the secrecy of the desert sand...

7. Describe how you love:

I don't believe in destiny
Or the guiding hand of fate
I don't believe in forever
Or love as a mystical state
I don't believe in the stars or the planets
Or angels watching from above
But I believe there's a ghost of a chance we can find someone to love
And make it last...

8. Share a few words of wisdom:

Why are we here?
Because we're here.
Roll the bones.

You know, it actually kind of surprised me just how easy I found it to answer all these personal questions using nothing but Rush lyrics. Well, OK, #4 was really hard, being as I have neither a current boyfriend nor any particular idealized concept of one. And, OK, I know, the answer to #1 was a total cop-out, but it was a cop-out I just couldn't resist...

Sunday, June 09, 2002

Stark Raving

It occurs to me that I get way too attached to TV characters. (I know, I know: "You're only now coming to this realization?") I was having this discussion on one of the Farscape forums with an intelligent, articulate fellow-fan whose opinions I generally quite respect even when I disagree with them. And, quite uncharacteristically, I found myself coming close to wanting to punch his lights out, just 'cause he said mean things about Stark.

It's odd. The other main fandom I'm involved with to the extent of having in-depth debates about the characters and things is Blake's 7, but I don't have any inclination to get all defensive about those characters. I happen to think Avon is one of the most fascinating characters in the history of science fiction, but you could call him an arrogant, big-nosed, psychopathic bastard and tell me that you hope he survived the final episode just so Servalan could torture him to death slowly, 'cause that's nothing more than he deserved, and I'd probably just smile and laugh. Well, OK, I'd argue about calling him a psychopath, because I'm quite sure he wasn't a psychopath, just a wannabe. And I'd probably go off into an analysis of why I believe he did the things he did, because that's what I do. And maybe that would in some sense count as defending him, because they do say that understanding is the first step towards forgiveness. But I'm not gonna get all emotional about it (except in that enthusiastic-fangirl, "gee, I love talking about my favorite shows!" way of mine). But start coming down on Stark, and apparently I react much like a parent seeing her kid being beaten up on the playground.

I think it's because the B7 characters are all very thick-skinned, and all quite capable of standing up for themselves. Yes, even Vila, who I do admit I sometimes get a bit protective towards. (I've certainly wanted to thwack Tarrant a few times for pushing him around.) But picking on Stark is like kicking a puppy. An abused, nuerotic puppy. An abused, neurotic puppy who finally got rescued from the pound by a kind and loving owner who then went and died on him, and all the owner's friends gathered around and patted him on the head and said "don't worry little puppy, we'll take care of you," but then turned around later and started kicking him all over again because they had their own emotional problems and because the damned dog wouldn't stop humping their legs and piddling on the carpet.

Ahem. OK, that analogy got away from me. But you see what I mean? I haven't found myself getting that defensive on a character's behalf since Dr. Pulaski showed up and started ragging on Data. (Damn, but I hated Pulaski!) Come to think of it, Data has a few puppy-like qualities, himself, with or without the emotion chip. And I've often wanted to smack his shipmates for encouraging his totally unwarranted inferiority complex...

OK, so it's not a unique reaction of mine. Maybe it's because I was picked on as a kid -- the same reason I identify with Spiderman! -- and have this urge to champion the downtrodden as a result. Or something. Actually, I strongly suspect it's some sort of manifestation of my own maternal/nurturing instincts. Man, I gotta go and spend some more time with my nephew...

Wait, does that count as telling myself to "Get a life"? I can't do that. I wouldn't know what to do with a life if I had one!

Right. Never mind, then. Back to the ol' VCR. Maybe I'll watch "Meltdown." At least that ghost chick appreciated poor Starky!

Saturday, June 08, 2002


I finally saw Spiderman. And, yes, it was extremely cool. I've never been all that much into comic books, really, and the ones I do read have tended to be more along the lines of Sandman than Spiderman. But I am definitely down with Spidey at the moment. I think it's because Peter Parker is such a complete geek. I'm not talking Superman putting on his Clarke Kent glasses and acting unconvincingly dorky, I'm talking science fair-winning, beaten-up-for-his-lunch-money nerd. I can so identify. I mean, consider this: Peter gets bitten by super-spider. Peter comes home and goes to bed. In the morning, Peter reaches for his glasses, puts them on... and suddenly realizes he doesn't need them any more. Talk about wish fufilment! Whoo, man, bring on the spiders!

Oh, yeah, and the action stuff and everything was pretty cool, too. And the romance was inifinitely more convincing than Anakin/Padme, but I think that's pretty much a given.
Strange New Worlds and Red-Headed Stepchildren

Well, I just finished the Strange New Worlds anthology. (Man, I really did used to get through books a lot faster before the Internet was around to distract me.) And the rest of it was pretty much the same as the TOS stories. A few very good pieces, a few "four thousand entries and this is the best they could come up with?!" pieces, and a lot of stories that fell somewhere in between. Quite a few time-travel stories, which was interesting, although, now that I think about it, probably not all that surprising. Time travel and alternate universes do, after all, allow you a sneaky way to change things in the Trek universe without actually changing them.

Together with the previous anthology, though, this collection does confirm one fact that I've been sadly aware of for years: Deep Space 9 truly is the red-headed stepchild of Star Trek. There were 5 TOS stories in here. 5 TNG ones. 5 Voyager ones. But only two DS9 stories, and one of those could probably have just as easily appeared in any of the other categories instead. Sigh. Come on, tell me I'm not the only Deep Space 9 fan in the universe, huh?

Not sure what I'm going to read now. Maybe the current issue of Fantasy & Science Fiction... I do think I've probably read enough Trek stuff to last me for a while, at any rate.

Friday, June 07, 2002

Here We Go Again!

So, I just finished watching the fourth season premiere of Farscape. I must say, that was... interesting. Some random thoughts (warning: contains spoilers vague enough to be annoying but detailed enough to be of concern):

So, apparently Crichton just decided to give up and go mad. Can't say I really blame him. Hmm. John Crichton. Arthur Dent. You know, I never noticed the resemblence before, but it's actually rather uncanny.

I haven't really looked at them close enough yet to be sure, but I don't think the visuals on new opening credit sequence are as exciting as the old ones. And they've changed the voiceover again, which is interesting. First and second season, it was basically just, "Help me, I'm a poor stranded human, I want to get home." Third season they added in some very interesting phrases that turned out to be hints towards how the entire season was going to develop, plot-wise. I think it also gave an interesting clue to Crichton's changing mindset, with those whispered additions to the commentary: "...full of escaped prisoners... my friends...," etc. And of course, that ended up being a major theme of the third season by the end, as well: this idea that Crichton is no longer the outsider in the Uncharted Territories that he once was, even as he no longer entirely belongs on Earth any more. And now the whispered interjections are gone, the ideas they embodied integrated into the normally-voiced monolog. A sign that Crichton has accepted the changes wreaked by the last three years and is coming to terms with them? Or am I overanalyzing? And how many hints are there in there of where this season is going to go?

Speaking of the credits, I see that Paul Goddard is gone from them again. Sigh. I'm gonna be real unhappy if they don't bring Stark back in the not-too-distant future. And not only because of my irrational fondness for the little nutcase, but also because the circumstances under which he left constitute a loose end as annoying as a piece of food stuck between your teeth. I wanna know if he's found what he was looking for. And if so, how and why and what it all means...

And speaking of where the season is going to go... I wonder to what extent this episode is meant to set the tone for the rest of the season (as the prophetically-named "Season of Death" certainly did for the last one). If so, things are certainly going to be... Did I use the word "interesting"? Because this one certainly is different in feel. It's even darker, and edgier and weirder than the third season generally was, a real portrait of people who have hit rock bottom. Mind you, I'm not complaining about that. I like the way the show has been continually reinventing itself over the last three years, especially as it's been done in a very believable way. And I'm all for "dark, edgy, and weird." I'm not sure how much darker it can get, though. I mean, it seems to me there's gotta be a light at the end of the tunnel somewhere... (Or maybe that should be the light at the end of the wormhole?)

But for the moment, man, they all look totally frelled-up. Especially Chiana. Poor Chiana. She didn't get a whole lot of attention last season, really. It looks like she might be getting focused on a lot more this season, and probably wishes she weren't...

I notice that they've managed to put off answering almost any of the big burning questions that the season three finale left us with, by the way. Damn writers are such teases...

As for the plot of the episode itself... Well, it did appear to have one. Something about space pirates who suck the brain fluid out of Leviathans or something. I dunno, I had trouble concentrating on the basic plot stuff, what with everything else they were throwing at us. At some point, I will definitely have to go back and watch it again and pay closer attention, if only to make sure I've got the backstory on the new girl straight.

Looks like we probably get to find out what happened to Moya next week. OK, OK. I can be patient... Sure I can...

More Star Wars Goofiness

Check this out! It's Attack of the Clones re-created using stick figures. Sort of. Decidedly goofy, and it takes a while to download, but definitely worth it, if only for the gruesome fate met by Jar-Jar and the amazingly authentic romantic dialog.

And the link I posted a while back to the Conan O'Brien thing with "Triumph the Comic Insult Dog" interviewing Star Wars fans no longer seems to work. Fortunately, you can see it here instead.
I Web Surf, Therefore I Am

Here's a really fascinating page which has been amusing me for hours: Philosophical Fun & Games! For instance, you can take a little logic test which supposedly stumps most people pretty badly. Personally, I didn't think it was all that hard, but then, my childhood role model was Mr. Spock... Then there's a quiz that purportedly analyzes whether your religious beliefs are internally consistent (apparently mine are!) and a really fascinating little exercise that invites you to examine your moral principles (according to which, I "utilised an average number of moral principles," which makes me feel less rather special after patting myself on the back for aceing the Logic and God tests). Good clean, intellectual fun!

Thursday, June 06, 2002

Should I Choose to Accept It...

Whoa. I just noticed that my Secret Mission (from two blog entries down) has changed. It used to involve carrying around index cards with peoples' names on them and putting little check marks next to their names whenever you saw them. I wonder if I'll get a new secret mission every day? How very exciting!
A Day in the Life

Stuck on the night shift, feeling restless and a little bored and more than a little sleep-deprived. Yup, pretty much business as usual, in other words. (Man, I'm really hoping we can do something about changing my work schedule before it grinds me into the dirt completely. Physically and mentally, this damned constant day-night flip-flopping is really starting to wear on me.)

Anyway, I feel like writing something -- maybe because I have a need to make some sort of connection with the outside world when I'm stuck here at work all alone in the middle of the night, though more likely just because I like to hear myself talk -- but nothing terribly interesting to talk about. Not that that's ever stopped me before. I suppose I could psychoanalyze some more Farscape characters. I mean, if you thought my analysis of Crais' mental instabilities was brilliant and insightful, you should see me do Stark.

No? Well, maybe later.

How 'bout, instead, a look at a day in the life of Betty Ragan. Oh, yeah, that's exciting. Let's see, what did I do today?

[Insert little shimmery "flashback" special effect here]

Woke up a little after 3:00 PM. Which means I'd only gotten about six hours of sleep. Yuck. Considered trying to roll over and go back to sleep, decided that if I did that I'd probably just end up in a repeat of yesterday, where I ended up not getting out of bed until 8:00 and felt as groggy from oversleeping as I would have from not enough sleep, without any extra waking hours to show for it.

Made coffee. Lots of coffee. Fed cats. Logged onto internet while drinking coffee and eating grapefruit. Discovered that I now had close to 200 e-mails (many of them left over from yesterday). Lots of traffic on various mailing lists. "It never rains but it pours" may be cliched and stupid-sounding, but it's kinda true, nevertheless. So I spent the afternoon (or, as I like to think of it, "the morning") making my way through the massive slew of e-mail. Also downloaded some fan-produced Farscape music videos, which were entertaining.

Took a shower. Grabbed some "food" at McDonald's. (One of the more lively mailing list topics today -- for some reason -- was a long international discussion about the difference between American and British eating habits, as far as which hand you hold the fork in goes. And I realized, with a vague sense of shock, that I can't really remember the last time I ate something that required using a knife and fork. Note to self: must eat more actual food.)

Took McDonald's food with me to friend's house for Dungeons & Dragons game. We were attacked by giants. Well, they didn't attack me all that much, because I mostly hid behind rocks and things well away from the main combat. My character is a firm believer in letting other people do the fighting and getting injured and stuff.

Had to leave D&D game early to come to work. Discovered that (amazingly enough!) things are actually running very smoothly, and there's very little that I have to do. Spent some more time surfing the web. (Nothing particularly interesting, though the Brunching Shuttlecocks'current feature was both amusing and, all things considered, rather disturbingly appropriate.)

And then I, uh, sat down and wrote this. I think next I'm gonna look at the Columbia House flyers I got in the mail yesterday and shoved into my backpack without opening, and then maybe I'll read some more Star Trek stories. Assuming that the actual work part of work remains this uneventful, of course. (And, of course, every time I say something like that, something breaks, so I really should watch myself...)

And there you have it. A typical day in my life. Wow.
Return of the Return of the Silly Quizzes

Oh, yeah, we haven't even begun to plumb the depths of my boredom yet. (Thanks to Deborah Beachboard of The Beachboard Bramble for most of these links (or links to these links)).

Find out which Discworld girl you are.

Which monkey are you?


I act like I'm 18.
This test was brought to you by David - Part of the David and James phenomenon. Take it here.

So I'm a developmentally retarded, eager-to-please wallflower who's in denial about reality? Hmm. I resemble that remark.

If you wanna see whether you resemble me: Compatibility Test

Your match with deborah
you are 82% similar
you are 80% complementary

How Compatible are You and Your Friends?

If so, maybe we'll have the same secret mission. Wouldn't that be fun?

It's Good to Know I'm Not the Most Obsessive Fan Out There

Yes, at least one person is quite literally counting the seconds until the 4th season premiere of Farscape. And it really is reassuring to know that there are others out there even worse off than me...
Strange New Writing Opportunities

I'm currently reading the second Star Trek: Strange New Worlds anthology. This is a pretty cool project, actually. Pocket Books regularly holds a contest inviting fans to send in their own Star Trek stories, and the best ones get published in the anthology (paid at the going rate), with the top three winners getting an additional cash prize. I think they've put out five of them so far. I keep thinking I should send something in for it. I mean, not to be immodest or anything, but having read the first anthology and having now gotten through the TOS section of the second one, I honestly think I can do at least as well as most of these. There are definitely exceptions[*], but for the most part, while they're all well written, I haven't found most of the stories to be terribly exciting or memorable or anything. Heck, I've read better fan fiction on the web. Of course, my tastes are apparently quite different from the judges', anyway. The stories in the first analogy that I thought were really excellent weren't the ones that won the big prizes. And the contest rules are very strict about what you can and can't do, such as the restriction against stories that "establish major facts about or make major changes in the life of a major character." Is it just me, or does that take a lot of the fun out of it? It's not too surprising, really, that a large number of stories in the first collection tended to focus on guest characters instead of the regulars...

The deadline for the next one is coming up in October, though, and I'm not feeling particularly inspired (or at least not in Star Trekish directions, anyway), so I kind of doubt whether I'll actually get off my fat ass and write anything for it...

[*] F'rinstance, just from the TOS section of #2, the prize-winning "City on the Edge of Forever" variant and the one with the (genuinely inspired) encounter between Dr. McCoy, Dr. Zimmerman, and Zimmerman's prototype EMH were both pretty cool. But the other three are just kinda... there.

Wednesday, June 05, 2002

Extreme Geekiness at Work!

My boss wants me to learn to program in Python. Which is not something I have any objection to at all. I mean, any programming language that takes its name from Monty Python is A-OK in my book. So I've been studying Python programming a bit off and on, but I'm getting a little tired of working through the exercises in the book. So I wrote a (to me) more interesting program: one that takes a big list of SF TV characters and randomly picks five people from five different shows to consitute my crack team of world-saving heroes. This is as frivolous as it gets, and it's not even a very complicated program, but, hey, I can actually claim it as work-related!

(What can I say? Like Homer Simpson, I like stories. I'll take a word problem over a meaningless exercise at least 99% of the time. I remember coping with the tedium of freshman chemistry class by adding embellishments to the textbook examples. You know, it'd give us a word problem that'd start with something like "A student adds 6 ml of hydrochloric acid to a beaker...", and I'd amuse myself by giving the student a name and a backstory and some sort of motivation...)

Anyway, the first time I tried this, it came up with the following list:

Captain Archer of Enterprise
Jool from Farscape
Scotty from the original Star Trek
Gan from Blake's 7
and Riker from ST:TNG

OK, I suppose as world-saving teams of heroes go, you could do a lot worse. If nothing else, all that Starfleetish competence in one place has got to count for something. But, man, I'm not sure I could have come up with a more boring combination of characters if I'd tried. Well, OK, maybe Jool adds a certain element of, er, non-blandness, but only by virtue of being really, really annoying. Could be fun to watch her get on Scotty's nerves, maybe, but otherwise, feh.

So I ran it through a second time and got:

Gan from Blake's 7 (again!)
Dylan Hunt of Andromeda
Stanley Tweedle from Lexx
T'Pol of Enterprise
and Captin Crais from Farscape

Hmm. That wouldn't exactly be my first choice of world-saving heroes. I mean, face it, Stanley'd hardly be anybody's first choice for anything, and Crais doesn't tend to do things from out of the goodness of his heart. But they'd sure as hell be a lot more interesting to watch, just for the personality clashes alone.

Oh, and I then figured these guys'd need some villains to fight, so I randomly picked bad guys for each of them. Group #1 got Davros, who I imagine they could probably deal with OK, even if he is a Really Cool Bad Guy. Maybe Scotty could sabotage his life-support chair or something. Group #2 got the Cybermen. Actually, you know, Gan, Dylan, Stanley, T'Pol and Crais vs. the Cybermen is something I might actually pay to see...

Monday, June 03, 2002

A Weekend in the Uncharted Territories

As mentioned last time, I did, indeed, tape the entire Farscape marathon, and then took the resultant big stack o' video tapes up to Albuquerque to show to my cable-deprived friend. So, basically, I've just spend two solid days doing nothing but watching Farscape (or, actually, more like two-and-half, since I watched at least 5 or 6 hours on the marathon while it was taping). My brain is now way too full of weirdness, but I'm not complaining! And the poor, unsuspecting friend is definitely now good and hooked. If it hadn't already become obvious, I could definitely tell when I finally heard her use the word "frell" in a sentence. Heh.

In addition to said unsuspecting friend, I was also accompanied by my new Scorpius action figure, who happened to be waiting in my mailbox when I checked it just before heading out of town. And I gotta say, this thing is cool. I mean, it looks just like him. I've got him sitting in my living room right now, and frankly he's kind of scaring me. Oh, and I'd like to take this opportunity to put in a plug for the online store I ordered him from: Cosmic Clutter. They not only had the cheapest prices I could find for the action figures, but they shipped the thing lightning-fast, so they deserve some good publicity.

Life, the Universe, and Everything

My sister, Kathy, sent me so many comments/responses/disagreements on the stuff I've posted here on my blog that the suggestion came up that she should just go and start her own. Well, she has! There isn't really anything there, yet, but I'm sure when there is, it'll be worth reading. (Ha! See, now you'll have to make it interesting, Kath, in order to live up to the hype!)

How Hot Is It?

In other news, it is now definitely summer here in New Mexico, as evidenced by the fact that it was hotter than the day side of Mercury this weekend. A fellow New Jersey-to-New Mexico transplantee sent me the following via e-mail, and I thought I'd share:

You know you are in New Mexico during the summertime when:
* The best parking place is determined by shade instead of distance.
* Hot water now comes out of both taps.
* You can make sun tea instantly.
* You learn that a seat belt buckle makes a pretty good branding iron.
* The temperature drops below 95 and you feel a little chilly.
* You discover that in July it only takes two fingers to steer your car.
* You discover that you can get sunburned through your car window.
* You actually burn your hand opening the car door.
* You break into a sweat the instant you step outside at 7:30 a.m.
* Your biggest bicycle wreck fear is, "What if I get knocked out and end up lying on the pavement and cook to death?"
* You realize that asphalt has a liquid state.
* The birds have to use pot holders to pull worms out of the ground.
* The potatoes cook underground, so all you have to do is pull one out and add butter, salt, and pepper.
* Farmers are feeding their chickens crushed ice to keep them from laying hard-boiled eggs.
* The cows are giving evaporated milk.
* The green chile roasts on the plant, saving you a step at the supermarket.