Thursday, October 31, 2002

Oh, By the Way...

Happy Halloween! I am dressed today as a respectable member of society, but I don't think it's fooling anybody...
Look at the Klingons

Well, OK, I watched last night's Enterprise episode, in which Archer and co. come to the aid of some deuterium miners who are being raided by a gang of marauding Klingons, and I hate to say it, but I think we've gone right back to the status quo of the first season, in which the episode starts, some not-terribly interesting stuff happens to people I don't have much of a reason to care about, the episode ends, and I'm left with the vague lingering feeling that I've sort of wasted the last hour of my life. I honestly can't think of a single comment to make on this episode, positive or negative, except to say that I did kind of like the costumes on the Klingons. Y'know, they looked quite appropriately scuzzy and disreputable.

Well, no, that's not quite true. I can think of one other thing to say about the episode, which is that it left me with a really strong desire to go and watch some Farscape. Which, since I still hadn't finished with the latest batch of episodes on DVD, I did. In fact, I watched the whole of the three-parter "Look at the Princess." And while that episode doesn't even come close to making my top-10 list, it did give me exactly what I was wanting: a complex plot with lots of interesting twists, character development, something for all of the regular characters to do, humor, sharp dialog, a dollop of angst, scenes that offer subtle contributions toward a larger story arc, at least one exciting action sequence, and a lot of stuff that works towards establishing the larger political context of the universe in which the characters exist. And, that, my friends would be my personal wish list for Enterprise.

Wednesday, October 30, 2002

Suddenly, I Find Myself Catching The Halloween Spirit

So, I've just started reading Ray Bradbury's Something Wicked This Way Comes, which is doubtless one of those books that I really should have read ages ago, but somehow never got around to. And a more utterly perfect Halloween read it's hard to imagine. There's just something about Bradbury's writing style that, all by itself, is capable of sending lovely little shivery feelings down your arms and the back of your neck. Man, but that guy can write.

Just take a look at the prologue:

First of all, it was October, a rare month for boys. Not that all months aren't rare. But there be bad and good, as the pirates say. Take September, a bad month: school begins. Consider August, a good month: school hasn't begun yet. July, well, July's really fine: there's no chance in the world for school. June, no doubting it, June's best of all, for the school doors spring wide and September's a billion years away.

But you take October, now. School's been on a month and you're riding easier in the reins, jogging along. You got time to think of the garbage you'll dump on old man Prickett's porch, or the hairy-ape costume you'll wear to the YMCA the last night of the month. And if it's around October twentieth and everything smoky-smelling and the sky orange and ash gray at twilight, it seems Halloween will never come in a fall of broomsticks and a soft flap of bedsheets around corners.

But one strange wild dark long year, Halloween came early.

One year Halloween came on October 24, three hours after midnight.

At that time, James Nightshade of 97 Oak Street was thirteen years, eleven months, twenty-three days old. Next door, William Halloway was thirteen years, eleven months and twenty-four days old. Both touched toward fourteen; it almost trembled in their hands.

And that was the October week when they grew up overnight, and were never so young any more...

And if that doesn't make you want to read the book, nothing will.

Here's something this book's got me wondering about, though: What on Earth is it that makes carnivals seem so creepy? When you actually go to them, there's nothing remotely scary about the things at all. Even the haunted house, if there is one, is usually pretty lame. But in books and movies, there's something about a carnival that can just totally make your flesh crawl and all the hairs on your neck stand up. Why is that, do you think?
This Is Weird

Every time I look at a blogger-powered page, a box pops up asking me for a password (which, fortunately, it doesn't actually seem to need). What's up with that?

Also, where have my comments gone?

Has the entire web just gone nuts on me? Am I supposed to go nuts, too, and nobody sent me the memo? I'm so confused...
Ladies and Gentlement, I Give You... Jack Frost

When I went out this morning, my car windows were all frosted up. This tells me two things: 1. Winter really is just around the corner. And 2. I definitely am having to get up way too early this week.

Tuesday, October 29, 2002

The State of My Buffy-Viewing Report

Well, OK, as mentioned before, I've now seen through about half of season 4 of Buffy (albeit with gaps), and I've seen random scattered epsiodes of season 6, including the finale. And I figured, given all that, I really might as well jump in and start watching the current season 7 episodes. After all, if I wait until I'm all caught up, it's likely to be years. And I don't think I could handle the withdrawl symptoms. So I watched the rerun that was on tonight. (I actually intended to start with last week's episode, but my VCR screwed up. Stupid machine.) Anyway, I didn't have any problem with it at all; the necessary continuity points all either involved things that I had seen or things that I've just sort of resigned myself to accepting on faith until I do eventually get to see the relevant episodes (like the origin of Dawn, which I am confident that one day I will actually understand). So, as it happens, I really only have one question about the progression of the show during the episodes I've missed: Just when, exactly, did Xander become an adult? Not that I'm complaining. It looks good on him. (Though not, admittedly, as good as that duster looks on Giles. (OK, there, my shameful secret is out: I'm a complete sucker for a man in a duster. Happy?))

Oh, and I have absolutely no idea what that obvious new Big Bad is that appears at the end of the epsiode, but I like it. More, please!

Monday, October 28, 2002

I'm Really Bored

Fortunately, the internet has the answer for everything.

Sunday, October 27, 2002

Singin' in the Rain

It was rainy yesterday, so I didn't get the chance to get up on the roof and paint on the waterproof coating. I have to admit, part of me is actually a little relieved. It's undoubtedly going to be a really big job, and I'm just not looking forward to doing it.

So, instead, I had fun playing around with the new computer. Believe it or not, my old one didn't even have a CD burner, so I'd never before experienced the joy of creating my own CDs. Since it was high time I rectified that, I spent a big chunk of yesterday going through my music collection and putting together a compilation of science fiction-themed songs. (It will probably surprise no one who knows me to learn that I could have quite easily put together a second CD on that theme, as well, possibly without even having to dip into the soundtracks.) I have to say, I was really quite pleased with the results. Making CDs is fun!

And, amazingly enough, far from being yet another time-waster, embarking on this particular project actually resulted in me getting a hell of a lot of stuff done around the house. Because, before I commited all this stuff irrevocably to disc, I had to preview all 80 minutes of it to make sure it flowed nicely. And then afterwards I had to play the whole thing again to make sure it came out OK. And I needed something to do while I was listening to the music... So now my computer room is no longer full of boxes and miscellaneous loose junk; instead there's just one big pile of boxes and miscellaneous loose junk in the middle of the room, which is a big improvement, believe me. Also, you can now see some portion of the surface area of my kitchen table under the piles of paper. And there's a new water-flow valve in my toilet, a feat of plumbing which I'm actually a tiny bit proud of.

The other unforseen benefit is that I discovered the secret file on Weird Al Yankovic's Running with Scissors. It's a little "documentary" video that features Al giving interviews and visiting his parents. I had no idea it was even on there. Sneaky guy, that Al!

It also got me thinking about music and science fiction, and inspired me to create the following list:

  • Gary Glitter's "Rock and Roll Pt. 2" immediately makes you think of Doctor Who, not sporting events.

  • You hear The Kinks doing "Lola" on the radio and start singing along: "I met him in a swamp down on Degobah..."

  • You have been known to critique the scientific accuracy in songs. (I mean, I still can't quite figure out just what the planetary disaster in Peter Schilling's otherwise excellent "The Noah Plan" is meant to be, becaase the description of it just doesn't make any sense.)

  • You have checked the accuracy of the astronomical figures given in Monty Python's "Galaxy Song" (as seen in The Meaning of Life).

  • You know all the words to "Star Trekkin'" and are perfectly happy to listen to it three times in a row.

  • You think an album full of metal songs based on the plots of science fiction movies is a really cool idea.

  • You create a CD compilation of science-fiction based songs...

  • ...And then you make up a "you know you're a geek when..." list based on the experience.

  • Saturday, October 26, 2002

    Spaceward Ho!

    Let's talk about Firefly, since I've been largely ignoring it here in favor of other SF shows, and it really deserves better. I am definitely liking this show. I like the characters, I like the smart-assed sense of humor, and, as I believe I've mentioned before, I like the western-in-space feel of the whole thing, too.

    Last week's episode, in which Jayne, improbably, discovers he is honored as a folk hero in some "crappy little town" where he once pulled a robbery, was especially good. It was wondefully funny, it raised some interesting issues about ethics and human nature without succumbing to the temptation to preach or moralize about them, and it did an excellent job of humanizing Jayne without ever turning him into less that the complete bastard he really is. Good stuff.

    Though this week's episode, while still entertaining, wan't quite up to the same level. It starts with Malcolm lying alone in the ship, bleeding, and then proceeds to flash back and forth, without much in the way of transition, between that point in time, the events leading up to it, and Mal's first meetings with the various members of his crew. This kind of non-linear storytelling can be made to work well -- Reservoir Dogs leaps immediately to mind as an example -- but it's difficult, and I don't think it's completely succeessful in this case. Not only is it a bit confusing, but it does leave one wondering exactly what the point was in structuring the story that way. Though I have a strong suspicion as to what the reason might be... From what I've heard, Joss Whedon wrote and shot a two-hour premiere episode which was intended to introduce all the characters and explain how they got together, and then Fox apparently decided they didn't want to start the show off with a two-hour episode and never aired it (though supposedly they will eventually). And it seems to me that someone -- presumably Whedon -- is extremely concerned over the fact that we were never properly introduced to these people and is trying hard to make up for the fact. So we've got the new opening, which introduces each of the characters specifically, instead of just describing the setting (and which, in my humble opinion, isn't nearly as good as the original version). And we've got episodes like this, which try to explain what these people are doing together via flashbacks. But personally, I don't think it's really necessary. I think we've already got a pretty good handle on who these people are, and even if there's a lot of backstory that we don't know about, it hasn't resulted in any serious confusion, at least in this viewer's mind. I say, Relax, Joss! It ain't broke, and there's no need to fix it!

    Then again, what do I know? I definitely seem to be out of the mainstream American viewing audience, or at least out of what the networks perceive to be the mainstream American viewing audience. I've heard rumors that Firefly may be facing cancellation in the pathetically near future, which, all things considered, really shouldn't surprise me. I like it, so of course it's likely to be cancelled.

    Sorry. Let my cynical side take over there for a minute. Anyway, bottom line, it's a fun show. If you haven't yet, I'd definitely suggest checking it out before it gets axed like everything else good on TV.

    Friday, October 25, 2002


    More wacky search engine requests that led to this humble (and largely nude-picture-free) blog:

  • butt pirate locket of trust: The more I try to figure out what that means, the more bizarre and kinky the images it conjures up...

  • wide feet pictures free: Eww. I find it slightly disturbing to think that whoever this was actually came here and read about my feet.

  • "high arches" + "long toes": On the other hand, I prefer to imagine that this was just another fellow sufferer of weird-shaped feet, looking for helpful podiatric information.

  • KAI BOOBS: Obviously, this person was thinking of a different Kai than I was.

  • perceptions on trailer park trash: Hey! Watch who you're callin' trailer trash, buddy! I'll have you know that I live in a trailer park not because I am the kind of redneck freak one sees on Jerry Springer, but because the extremely low rent allows me to spend more money on books.

  • how to build yourself a swamp cooler: You've got me. I mean, we've already established that I can't even figure out how to do routine maintenance on mine!

  • Gilligan's Island Season One Episode Transcripts: Dunno what you'd need transcripts for. All the episodes were pretty much exactly the same, weren't they?

  • verbosity spell: I think I'm under one of these!

  • soap operas on tape kept in archives for loan: Sorry. I could loan you some Star Trek: The Next Generation tapes if you like, though.
  • OK, I'm Ready for Winter Now!

    Yes, that's right, I've finally packed up all the shorts I didn't wear over the summer and unpacked all the sweaters I won't wear over the winter. I feel such a sense of accomplishment.
    The Friday Five Reminds Me That Halloween Is Just Around the Bend

    1. What is your favorite scary movie? You know, I'm finding that surprisingly hard to answer, possibly because I don't mentally categorize "scary movies" as being different from any other sort of movie, and if I like a scary movie it's probably for reasons other than its sheer fright value. But, let's see... The Sixth Sense is wonderfully creepy, and a very good movie on a number of levels. And I was amazed by how much I liked that old Halloween standby, Scream, when I finally got around to seeing it. I'd maybe nominate Alien, too, but honestly I liked the second movie a lot better, and that was less of a traditional kind of horror story, I think.

    2. What is your favorite Halloween treat? Anything chocolate makes me happy.

    3. Do you dress up for Halloween? If so, describe your best Halloween costume. I haven't for years and years. Not since I was a teenager. I think the last time I dressed up for Halloween was in junior high. I was Mr. Spock.

    4. Do you enjoy going to haunted houses or other spooky events? Nah, I'm afraid Halloween is generally pretty much a non-celebrated holiday for me.

    5. Will you dress up for Halloween this year? Only if, for some strange reason, my friends suddenly decided to exert massive amounts of peer pressure on me to do so. Then maybe I'd put on a bathrobe and say I was dressed as Arthur Dent.

    Thursday, October 24, 2002

    Minor Renovations

    OK, I've decided to do a bit of clean-up on my Blogger template page. I've been using the links section over on the left there to link to various blogs I've found that looked interesting and that I wanted to revisit periodically, but, well, I don't know about anybody else, but I've started to notice that there are a number of them that I pretty much never click on. So I figured I might as well just remove the links to things that turned out not to interest me as much as I thought, or that interest me in theory but that I never seem to look at anyway, or that haven't been updated in a zillion years. (I've made exception for the small block of friends-and-family's blogs at the top there, even though some of those haven't been updated in a zillion years, either. (Yes, little Sis, I am thinking of you!)) Anyway, just in case anybody is deeply distressed by losing those links, here's the ones I've removed. If you wanna keep 'em, hey, put 'em up on your own page!

    Backup Brain
    Book Slut
    Bouillabaisse for the Soul
    Fresh Hell
    The Louisiana Mars Society
    Musings from the Gutter
    Outside of a Dog
    Weasel Words

    Absolutely no disrespect is meant to the authors of any of the above, by the way! It's just that I was starting to feel guilty about all those links going ignored by me, their creator, over there in that incredibly prominent place on my own blog, and, you know, if I don't have to look at them any more, I won't feel bad any more. Or such is the theory, anyway.

    That's One Small Contest Entry for a Man...

    'Nother interesting site I found in my random wanderings around the internet while trying to avoid doing anything productive. This one features the results from a contest to pick what the first words spoken from Mars ought to be (assuming we ever actually make it to Mars). Some of these are really very good, in both the serious and the humorous categories.
    A Long Time Ago, On a Computer Far, Far Away

    Check this out: it's Star Wars done as an ASCII animation. Some people really do just have way too much time on their hands, but I gotta admit, it looks pretty cool.
    Let's Not Try To Analyze This One, Okay?

    I had another Buffy dream this morning. Actually, it didn't start out as a Buffy dream. There was a lot of stuff at the beginning involving my ex-boyfriend, I think, but I don't remember that part all that well, and I'm sure it wasn't remotely as interesting, anyway. But, in the dream, when I got home from my ex's house, or wherever the hell I was, there were these people outside my house. Turns out they were some kind of exterminators, although the didn't use the word. But they told me that there all these really nasty vermin critters crawling around in the ground under my trailer -- I was vaguely imagining that they meant crawling around in tunnels, but I'm not sure -- and they wanted to set off some explosions or something down there. Rather foolishly, I gave them my permission, and they assured me that the trailer would hardly be affected by it. Probably. They thought. Well, this started to make me a little nervous, but before I had time to think any more about it, they'd fired off these missles, which promptly flew into the ground and disappeared. (I don't know whether they were burrowing missles, or whether they just had the ability to fly right through normal matter, but either way, they really were kind of cool.) We all stood there and watched. There was a slight vibration. There was a slight noise. Some mud fell off the bottom of the trailer. We kept waiting. More very slight vibration. More mud. Where was the explosion? Surely there had to be something more than that? Actually, it was an extremely suspenseful, tense, even rather creepy moment, with everybody standing around waiting for the other shoe to drop. And this is where we get to the Buffy part, becuase, at this point, Giles came running out, completely naked[*] and looking extremely panicky. He demanded to know what was going on, and the exterminator-people explained it to him. (Interestingly, at some point during this conversation, he suddenly and mysteriously acquired underpants and a t-shirt. My subconscious mind apparently decided to engage in a little censorship. Or else maybe it just figured he'd be cold and embarrassed, and was being considerate.) Anyway, they were all standing around, looking a little lost, wondering what they should do next. And Giles pointed out that, wait a moment, wasn't my trailer located directly over the Hellmouth?[**] We looked at each other for a moment, and suddenly we both knew exactly what to do. "Run!" we shouted simultaneously. And then we did. We were in the process of hurtling over a fence[***] when I woke up. Why is it my dreams always seem to end right before the big climax? No, wait, don't answer that. I really don't think I want to know.

    [*] I have no idea what a naked Giles was doing in my house. Unfortunately.

    [**] Ordinarily, it's not.

    [***] Well, it was, like, a 3-ft. fence, so it's not as if I was performing some amazing athletic feat, there. That would have really stretched the credibility of the whole thing.

    Wednesday, October 23, 2002

    Because No Movement Can Be Truly Effective Without a Pithy Catchphrase

    The Save Farscape fan campaign, it seems, now has an official slogan for promoting the show: "Farscape: Use Your Mind, Lose Your Heart." I can see why that one won the vote; it sums up the attractions of the show extremely well. I mean, damn, how many shows are there on TV that completely engage both your brain and your emotions?
    Things I Should Have Learned By Now, #193

    I should really, really know by now that when I'm on morning shift and I wake up thinking, "Hey, I'm awake before the alarm went off! Wow, great, I can just stay snuggled here in this warm, comfy bed for a few mintues until it does," that it always and without exception means that I somehow neglected to set the alarm the night before, and I am now about to be late for work.

    And now I have to sit here all day without even having had a shower. I hate being unwashed.


    Monday, October 21, 2002

    There Is No Hope for Me Now.

    Well, I hope all you Buffy fans are happy. (Yes, you know who you are!) There's just no denying it: I have become a pathetic, drooling, Buffy addict. Is there maybe some kind of Buffyholics Anonymous support group I can join or something?

    Yesterday, instead of any of the things I really should have been doing -- working on my Phoenix zine, getting out my winter clothes, answering my e-mail, bringing some order to the chaos that I call my home -- I spent the day watching Buffy. All day, from almost the moment I got home from work until I went to bed at what, considering how early I had to get up this morning, was probably a somewhat later hour than it should have been. And then, when I did go to bed, I had trouble sleeping, because I was excited about still having more Buffy to watch, as well as being all upset about what happened with Willow and Oz.

    That's not all, either. I'm even dreaming Buffy. I'm serious. I had this dream where they were all on some kind of organized camping trip, and the scout leader or whatever he was turned out (of course) to be a vampire. Giles was actually arguing against killing it for reasons I'm a little vague on. I think his argument was that this was a very powerful vamp that was obviously going to become the head vampire back in Sunnydale, but that he seemed to be a lot more amenable to reason than most vamps, so it was better to have him around to deal with as the leader of the vampires. Which logic seemed a little strange to me (and Buffy thought so, too). But they went out hunting the thing, anyway. Giles had this big old rifle with a telescopic sight on it (which is perhaps in slightly poor taste right about now, but I refuse to accept responsibility for the content of my dreams). I think he was going to shoot it with a tranquilizer dart. I never got to find out how it came out, though, because that's when my stupid alarm went off.

    And that, boys and girls, is how you know you've been watching too much Buffy.

    I have to say, though, that watching through the end of the third and the beginning of the fourth season has been both extremely wonderful and extremely frustrating. Wonderful because, well, it's Buffy. It's awesome stuff! I mean, geez, did you see the third season finale? Does TV get any cooler than that? Yowza! But it's frustrating because there are a few epsiodes missing from the tapes I've been watching, and every time I start getting really, really into the story arc-y stuff, I'll hit, say, an episode with "previously on..." scenes that I haven't seen before, and I'll find myself wailing "Wait, I missed that?! Nooooo!" Of course, thanks to the modern marvel that is the internet, it's easy enough for me to go and look up episode transcripts of the ones I missed so that I know everything that I need to know about what's going on, but it's just not the same. I need DVDs! I need them badly! I need them now!

    Man, is there, like, some kind of Buffy methadone that I can take until the next batch comes out? Maybe reading the novels will help...

    Yes, my name is Betty, and I'm a Buffyholic.

    Thanks, guys. Seriously!

    Sunday, October 20, 2002


    I've been googling around the web, hoping to find something along the lines of a Swamp Cooler Maintenance for Complete Morons site. No luck so far, but I did find this not-terribly-helpful but decidedly amusing do-it-yourself cooler-maintenance guide.

    Saturday, October 19, 2002

    I'm Fixing a Hole Where the Rain Gets In...

    Well, I finally managed to get up onto my roof and to apply some sealant gunk to the holes where (I think) the water was leaking in. I still have to coat the whole roof, but that project is going to have to wait until next weekend. (Assuming it doesn't rain. Which I really, really hope it doesn't.) While I was up there, I had intended to drain and winterize my swamp cooler, but I'm afraid that still needs to be done. See, this is what a complete and utter ignoramous I am when it comes to this "household maintenance" stuff: I couldn't find the drain hole. According to my Mobile Home Fix-It Guide, which is the only guide I have at the moment, there should be a drain plug on "the base of the unit" that I should unplug and hook the garden hose up to. But unless it's very cleverly disguised, it doesn't appear to exist. (Advice from anybody who actually knows anything at all about swamp coolers would, needless to say, be appreciated.)

    Anyway. On a more amusing note, as I was lying on the couch this afternoon, all tired and dirty from having been climbing on the roof, and all annoyed at having failed at a task as trivial as draining the water out of my swamp cooler, I started thinking about what these irritating but completely mundane problems would be like if my life were anything at all like those TV shows I'm always rattling on about here:

    If my life were like Star Trek, I'd've come home the day the roof started leaking and ordered Scotty to fix it. And he'd've said something like, "But, Captain, ye canna fix a roof in a rainstorm! It's never been done!" And I would have said, "Scotty, you've got to try! If that roof doesn't get fixed, the whole trailer is going to blow!" And he would have said, "Aye, Captain, I'll try, but dinna guarantee anything." And there would have been a few tense moments with music going "BA dum, BA dum, BA dum, BA dum" in the background, and then in about ten minutes it would be fixed, probably just before the Klingons next door got the chance to fire disruptors at me.

    If my life were like Blake's 7, the roof would fix itself. Unless it was the fourth season, in which case I'd have to go out and steal some crystals -- I don't know why, but it always had to be crystals -- in order to repair it, only the crystals would turn out to be bait in a trap, and I'd be lucky to get out with my skin intact, let alone my roof.

    If my life were like Doctor Who, every household malfunction would lead to an exciting adventure. Like, the water leaking in from the roof would get into the circuitry in the walls that keeps my trailer anchored at this point in spacetime, and I'd suddenly find myself in the Jurassic or someplace. Where there'd undoubtedly be an evil fellow time-traveller plotting to change history so that humanity never evolved.

    If my life were like Farscape, I'd go out and hire a roofing contractor, who would then proceed to try to cheat me out of large sums of money, steal my trailer, and sell me out to people who wanted to take my brain apart so they could learn my secret brownie recipe. (Not that my brownie recipe is all that secret, but I needed an analogy.)

    If my life were like Buffy, I'd discover my roof was leaking, and I'd start looking through books for what to do about it, probably finding a lot of stuff that was vague and difficult to understand. And then I'd set out to do something about it, and there would be a lot of dangerous activity, but things would probably turn out to be not quite what I thought they were, and I'd have to do some more research and maybe talk to someone who actually knew something about roofs before I was actually able to get up there and stop the leak, most likely in a frantic burst of activity and just in time to keep the entire house from collapsing, thus magically opening up a portal to Hell and destroying the world.

    Hmm. You know, except for the destroying-the-world thing, that last one sounds disturbingly close to the truth...

    Friday, October 18, 2002

    Buffy! How I've Missed You!

    Was I just saying recently that I've got too many things to watch? Or that I'm a little worried about getting done all the stuff I need to do in the next few weeks before I take off on vacation? Well, now I'm really not going to get anything done, because my good friend and fellow Buffy neophyte, Greta, just sent me another batch of Buffy tapes. I've already watched three episodes this afternoon! (Well, hey, what else was I going to do in my antihistamine-induced haze?)

    I am definitely groovin' on the third season, too. You know, one of the (many) things I really like about Buffy is how well-drawn the bad guys are, and I gotta say, the Mayor ranks right up there with the best of them. That guy cracks me up! He's just such a cheery, wholesome kind of evil. And he can say the most outrageous things with that goofy, pleasant smile on his face. ("There's more than one way to skin a cat. And I happen to know that's factually true!") And then there's Faith. Now, that girl has issues. But she's a great character.

    The last episode I finished was the one where Buffy temporarily gains the ability to read minds, and, man, was that one a hoot and a half! (I always did wonder just what goes on in Oz's head when the only thing that comes out of his mouth is "huh.") I believe that means I've only got a few more third season episodes to go, and then it's onwards to Season 4! Huzzah!
    I Took the Red Pill

    I woke up this morning, rather earlier than I would have liked, with my nose all itchy and runny and stuffy and immediately began fumbling around groggily for some pharmaceutical relief. I found it, too, but it wasn't exactly what I wanted... See, I meant to take a decongestant. Not terribly effective against allergies, but at least it would help unstuff my nose a bit. What I somehow ended up swallowing was an antihistamine: wonderfully effective on the allergies, but as a bonus side effect also knocks me completely on my ass. So, at the moment, I'm feeling really, really out of it. I just went out for some lunch, and it was all I could do not to slump face-first into my plate of food. I'm just glad it wasn't one of those 12-hour pills; with any luck, maybe it'll start to wear off by the time I have to go in to work.

    What I want to know, though, is this: Why is it that I can walk into the grocery store and buy stuff like this that sends me into a drug-induced semi-stupor and doubtless makes me a major hazard on the highway, but I have to get a prescription for allergy medicine that doesn't have any stupid side effects? Does this make any sense to anyone?
    Now, This Is a Friday Five After My Own Heart!

    1. How many TVs do you have in your home? Two. One in the living room and one in the bedroom.

    2. On average, how much TV do you watch in a week? Surprisingly little, considering how obsessively I ramble on about TV here. I actually don't watch very many shows, it's just that the ones I do watch, I watch with extreme dedication! But I'd say, in an average week, I probably only watch about four or five hours, possibly even less. Now, if you include videos and DVDs into your definition of "TV," that number expands hugely.

    3. Do you feel that television is bad for young children? Ooh, now, that's a very complex question. Honestly, it depends on the child, and it depends on the TV show, and it depends on how the child interacts with the TV show. I will say that I don't think there's anything intrinsically bad or dangerous about TV. I know that, since I don't have any children myself, many people would say that I don't really have a right to declaim on this matter, and maybe they're right, but I do remember what it's like to be a kid. And I think that, in many respects, we in our society tend to be a little too overprotective of children. What I mean is, kids are often a lot more savvy and a lot more resilient that we tend to give them credit for, and I really do believe that even if an 8-year-old gets hold of the remote control and watches six hours of the Playboy Channel and the All Night Late Nite Blood and Gore Fest on USA, it's probably not going to scar him for life, if his environment is in other ways healthy. Which isn't to say that I don't think it's good to keep an eye on what your kids are watching (and to talk to them about it, because talking to kids is always good!), it's just that I think parents tend to (understandably) over-react to the possibility that their kids will see something they can't handle. There is, of course, another sense in which TV can be bad for kids, because watching 16 straight hours of Gilligan's Island and stupid game shows will turn you into a zombie, at least temporarily. I know this becuase I did it as a kid, on a semi-regular basis. It's a habit that I'm very glad I grew out of, but a lot of people never do. Passive TV-watching -- just sitting there and letting words and images flicker into your eyeballs and take up residence in your brain without having passed through any kind of higher thought processes first -- is not good. On the other hand, TV watching doesn't have to be like that. If a kid is watching an intelligent show with his brain turned on (or, heck, even a stupid show with his brain turned on), then that's a good thing.

    4. What TV shows do you absolutely HAVE to watch, and if you miss them, you're heartbroken? Farscape. Sigh. Other than that... I've been making a point of watching Enterprise consistently, to the point that I'll go and borrow a tape from someone if I manage to miss it, but I honestly can't say I'd be anything remotely resembling heartbroken if I did completely miss an episode. At the moment, I'd be pretty pissed off if I missed Firefly and couldn't get it from someone, but I haven't gotten emotionally involved enough in it yet that I'd be heartbroken.

    5. If you had the power to create your own television network, what would your line-up look like? I'd buy Farscape! And I'd treat it right! Sigh. Actually, you know, when I was a kid and specialty cable networks were just beginning to come into existence, I used to fantasize about having my own network. It was going to be the Science Fiction Channel. All SF, all the time! I'd have all the great shows that never ran long enough to make it to syndication. (Like Starman. Anybody but me remember that one?) I'd have all the great old British shows, like Blake's 7 and Doctor Who. Indeed, Doctor Who was going to be the backbone of my network, because there's just so darned much of it and it's just so darned cool. Lots of Star Trek, of course -- uncut! And all kinds of SF movies, esepcially the classics like Forbidden Planet and The War of the Worlds and The Day the Earth Stood Still... When the Sci-Fi Channel first came out, it seemed like my teenage daydreams come to life (well, except for the name, which, in retrospect, maybe should have served me as a warning sign). It's gone downhill so rapidly over the last few years, though, that I find I've started daydreaming about what a real science fiction channel would be like again. My channel would have no pseudoscience shows (although shows featuring real science, and particularly shows focusing on the science in science fiction would be most welcome). It would have no cheesy horror movies. I'd be pretty liberal in my definition of science fiction, and would probably be quite willing to program some fantasy or horror, if it was good enough, but the farther from genre SF the stuff was, the better it would have to be. (Forever Knight and Buffy would be welcome on my channel. The Attack of the Giant Killer Snakes crap that Sci-Fi likes to show would not.) I bet I'd put them out of business within a few years. And, oh, I would cackle evilly over my victory...

    Thursday, October 17, 2002

    Cannot... Resist... Stupid... Quizzes...

    I took the McDonalds test, and guess what I got?

    You can take the McDonalds Product Test by Matio64 here!

    Eww. I don't even like Big Macs. That special sauce stuff is nasty.

    I'm a "Nifty Little Blog"!

    Thanks to Sardonic Views for the compliment (and the link)!
    Warning: Possible Spoilers for This Week's Enterprise Episode, "A Night in Sickbay," to the Extent That Anything Actually Happens in It.

    Last week, I offered my opinion that the relationship between Archer and T'Pol had the potential to develop into something interesting, if the writers didn't feel the need to force it to happen. Well, I was thinking about their relationship as Captain and First Officer, but, really that goes double for any kind of a romantic relationship. Unfortunately, I fear my words were prophetic... Now, don't get me wrong. I'm all for developing relationships between characters, or for unresolved sexual tension, if it's handled right. (Farscape, for instance, has had tremendous dramatic success with everything from sexual tension so subtle it was impossible to say how you even knew it was there to characters going at it like bunnies practically on-screen.) But, to be done right, it has to be something that comes naturally out of the characters. You can't just impose it from the outside by scriptwriter's fiat. It depends on the chemistry between the actors, and on the subtleties of how their characters interact. That last, of course, is a question of writing, at least in large part, but there is an art to it. Freudian slips and revealingly sexual dreams simply do not substitute for geniuine chemistry or real characterization. As I see it, Archer and T'Pol may well have the potential to develop that kind of chemistry, but it isn't there yet, and simply saying that it is doesn't make it so. Oh, I do understand what they're trying to do here, I think. Enterprise wants to be sexy; it wants to be not your father's Star Trek. But it's pushing too hard. I wish it would ease up and have a little more faith in its characters, and in its audience.

    On a completely different note, I'm somewhat amused (and a tiny bit annoyed) to notice that this episode borrows a trick from what seems like every action movie made in the last ten years: if things are getting too boring, put a dog in danger! This actually kind of worked on me at first, too. I was leaning towards the screen muttering, "Poor Porthos. Oh, he has to get better. He's too cute to die!" (What can I say? I like Porthos.) But it all too quickly became apparent that his illness was simply a plot device, and not even a very interesting one at that. Besides, he didn't get to do much but lie around unconscious for most of the episode, and he's not nearly as cute when he's doing that.

    There was, however, lots of Phlox, so it's almost as if they'd heard my plea last time for "More Phlox!" Unfortunately, although he does get a lot of screen time in this episode, I don't know that most of it serves him terribly well. The affable energy that is his defining (and most appealing) characteristic seems oddly muted.

    All of which isn't to say that there weren't a few things I liked about it. Phlox does get a couple of good scenes. Some of the humor was pretty amusing. And I do very much like the idea of the Enterprise crew having to deal with major culture clash as they encounter new life and new civilizations; it's something that previous Treks really should have run into more often. I would, however, never be shallow enough to mention the fact that it also includes many scenes featuring Scott Bakula without a shirt. Shame on you for even thinking it!

    Wednesday, October 16, 2002

    I Am So Weak...

    I've been spending far too much money on DVDs lately, and I'm having real difficulty finding the time to watch them all. So I was starting to form the notion in my head that, you know, maybe it's time to start engaging in a little self-denial. Yeah, I told myself, what I should do is ease off on the shopping a bit, at least until my finances are in a better state. After all, between household repairs and saving up for my vacation and Christmas shopping, the money is a little tight just at the moment. OK, sure, there are a few specific things coming out that I really do have to get (for some mildly idiosyncratic value of the words "have to"): the director's edition of Star Trek III, the expanded version of The Fellowship of the Ring, the third season of Buffy, the second season Farscape discs as they're released. But I really don't desperately need the entire Blackadder collection, or that cool anime series my friend just introduced me to, or any random movies that might pop into my head, no matter how good they might be. I can keep adding things to my wish list, I told myself, but let's hold off on everything but the can't-live-without items for the moment, shall we?

    Yeah, like I ever listen to myself when I'm being the Voice of Reason.

    The thing is, I just got this little ad-thingy from Columbia House, where they offer you subscriptions to various TV series on video or DVD. (Tangential rant: I love the whole subscribe-to-an-old-TV-series concept, but the way they print their advertising flyers really annoys me. You know, they make out like they're going to give you a free video or DVD! just because you're such a good customer or something, and it's only if you look at the fine print on page 6 that it tells you that what you're actually doing if you check, "Yes, please send me my free video or DVD!" is signing up to subscribe to the rest of the series. OK, yeah, I know what the deal actually is, because I've seen it before, and most other people probably do, too, but it still strikes me as fundamentally dishonest. End tangential rant.) Anyway, I figured, well, I'll take a look at it and see what they have. So I'm idly flipping through the little catalog dealy, and, I must admit, some of the options are a little tempting. Babylon 5? Well, I really do want to get that series on disc and watch it through properly from the beginning, but I'm pretty sure it'd be cheaper just to buy the boxed set(s). Lexx? Yes, tempting, but I'm not sure the quality episodes/lame episodes ratio is quite high enough to justify picking up the entire series (although I very well may end up doing so sometime, anyway). A few other midly interesting things, but nothing too... But wait! What's this? Alien Nation? They've got Alien Nation?! On DVD? Yes! Well, I'd heard somewhere that Columbia House might be bringing it out, but I wasn't sure if it was true or not, and Amazon didn't seem to have the show listed as available (at least, not the last time I checked).

    Yes, you can see where this is going. Yes, I ordered it. I know, I know, the last thing I need is another bill every month for $20 plus Columbia House's exhorbitant S&H fees for a DVD that I may quite possibly never even get around to watching. But, man, it's Alien Nation! I loved that show! It was a terrific blend of buddy-cop show and social-commentary science fiction, intelligently written, well acted, and just a generally all around high-quality piece of TV. TV movies aside, it deserved a much longer run that it got, and, yeah, in my estimation, it's well worth owning on DVD.

    I am so weak.

    By the way, trivia fact for the day: Alien Nation's Gary Graham (who played the human detective, Matt Sikes) has shown up again on SF TV recently as the Vulcan ambassador to Earth in Enterprise. Now, I hate to admit this, because I dislike seeing actors becoming typecast, and I dislike even more the idea of contributing to the effect (not that that's usually much of a problem for me, since I'm so bad with faces that 9 times out of 10 I won't realize that Character X in TV Program Y was played by the same person who was Character Z in Movie W until it's been pointed out to me). But, honestly, I simply cannot look at Gary Graham's Enterprise character without seeing Matt Sikes in a Vulcan costume. Which is a deeply weird image, since Sikes is probably the most emotional, most irrational, most completely un-Vulcan-like person imaginable.

    And soon I shall be able to view him on disc. Whoo-hoo!

    Tuesday, October 15, 2002

    Geez, I Bear More Resemblance to Count Chocula!

    Count Rugen

    Which Princess Bride Character are You?
    this quiz was made by mysti

    Hey! That's not true! I'm a very forgiving person! I even told it that! I'm not much for the plotting and scheming and murdering and torturing, either, come to that. Really.

    Monday, October 14, 2002

    Who Killed Farscape?

    Fans of Farscape -- or of SF TV in general -- should check out this lovely little article on what made the show so remarkable, the possible real reasons why it was cancelled, and what it all might mean for the future of science fiction television.
    Let's Get Physical!

    A friend of mine recently sent me the URL for an interesting site: The Insultingly Stupid Movie Physics Page. These guys use basic high school physics to explain why, for instance, real cars almost never explode like Hollywood cars, or to calculate just how big a wheelbarrow full of ammo your typical action hero would actually need when he's out there mowing down everything in sight with his automatic weapon. They also have reviews of a number of movies, with specific attention paid to how reasonable or ridiculous the physics is (thus making it a rather nice companion page to Phil Plait's Bad Astronomy Page, which does the same thing with particular reference to astronomy). It's so nice to know that I'm not the only one bothered by the impossible thermodynamics in The Matrix. Not to mention the "artificial gravity" seen in Armageddon, which had me quite literally howling with laughter for several minutes...

    Elsewhere on the site is The Physics Savvy Quiz, designed to test your knowledge of basic physics. I scored 92.5%, which goes some way towards reassuring me that I haven't forgotten all my physics, although some of those questions did have me wracking my brains a bit. Oddly enough, I'd say the ones I got wrong were probably some of the simplest ones on the quiz, though exactly what that says about me, perhaps I'd rather not imagine.

    Sunday, October 13, 2002

    They Just Don't Make 'Em Like This Any More...

    As I've probably mentioned in here at some point or another, I'm currently engaged in the long-term project of watching all of Deep Space 9 over from the beginning. Columbia House sends me two episodes a month, and I've been getting pretty backed up on watching them, so I made some time tonight and watched "Improbable Cause"/"The Die Is Cast" (despite the two different titles, it really is one two-part episode). And, well... wow. This is a very, very serious contenter for my all-time favorite DS9 episode, possibly even my favorite episode of any Trek series. ("In the Pale Moonlight," an ep with which it has many features in common, might just beat it out, but it's hard to say.) TV episodes I really liked the first time they aired often turn out, on re-viewing years later, to be a little disappointing (I feel that way about a lot of TNG, for example), but this one was even better than I had remembered. Talk about an episode with everything: Mystery, skullduggery, and intrigue; more plot twists than an entire season of The Twlight Zone; sharp dialog; space battles; and layer upon layer upon complex, wonderful layer of deft, subtle characterization.

    Oh, and Garak. Lots and lots of Garak! Truly, the fact that the "plain, simple" Cardassian tailor plays a central part in it is almost enough to make this a standout epsiode all by itself. Garak is, in my opinion, one of the truly great characters in TV science fiction. He's mysterious. He's incredibly cunning and intelligent. He's witty. He's quite ruthless, skilled at assassination and torture... and yet he has a conscience, a heart, and perhaps even his own unique code of ethics. He is an incredibly accomplished liar: a man who can deceive by telling the simple truth in exactly the right way and express the deepest truths through barefaced lies. His charming smile is, of course, carefully crafted, a tool with which to manipulate others... and yet, you can't help but like him for it anyway. He has a subtle, devious, complicated mind, and it's fascinating.

    Oh, and he gets some of the best lines, too. Some particularly appealing Garak-isms, just from this one episode:

    Garak on Shakespeare:
    Garak: I'm sorry, doctor, I just don't see the value of this man's work.
    Bashir: But Garak, Shakespeare is one of the giants of human literature.
    I knew Brutus was going to kill Ceasar in the first act, but Ceasar
    didn't figure it out until the knife was in his back.
    Bashir: But that's what makes it a tragedy. Ceasar couldn't conseive that his best friend would plot to kill him.
    Garak: "Tragedy" is not the word I'd use, "farce" would be more appropriate.

    Garak on Aesop:
    Garak: Why is it no-one ever believes me even when I'm telling the truth?
    Bashir: Have you ever heard the story about the boy who cried wolf?
    Garak: No.
    Bashir: It's a children's story about a young shepard boy who gets lonely while attending his flock, so he cries out to the villagers that a wolf is attacking the sheep. The people come running, but of course there's no wolf. He claims that it's run away and the people praise him for his vigilance.
    Garak: Clever lad! Charming story.
    Bashir: I'm not finished. The next day the boy does it again and the next two and on the fourth day a wolf really comes. The boy cries out to the top of his lungs, but the villagers ignore him and the boy and his flock are gobbled up.
    Garak: That's a little graphic for children, wouldn't you say?
    Bashir: If you lie all the time, no one is going to believe you, even when you're telling the truth.
    Garak: Are you sure that's the point, Doctor?
    Bashir: Of course. What else would it be?
    Garak: That you should never tell the same lie twice.

    Garak's further thoughts on lying:
    Garak: The truth is usually just an excuse for a lack of imagination.

    I could go on, but frankly the quotes lose something when you can't see his facial expressions or hear his tone of voice, so I'll stop.

    It wouldn't do, however, to concentrate so hard on Garak that we forget all about the other major character in this story... It's wonderful to watch Garak and Odo play off each other. (Indeed, it's a dynamic I really wish they'd used more often.) Odo's passion for honesty is as strong as Garak's love of deception, but they share the same incisive intellect, the same keen powers of observation. I love the scene on the shuttlecraft in which the two of them make astonishingly astute guesses about the other's darkest emotional secret, with whole volumes being communicated between the lines. And speaking of dark emotional secrets, there's also, of course, the utterly unforgettable interrogation scene and its sharp reminder of just how much else the two of them have in common... Powerful stuff.

    See, this is how I like my Star Trek! Do you think a little more of this kind of thing is too much to ask? Really?

    Saturday, October 12, 2002

    I Am a Biblioholic. If You Are a Decent Person, You Will Not Sell Me Another Book.

    Today's big adventure was a visit to the semi-annual Socorro Friends of the Library book sale. I love library book sales; I'd say they bear a very large portion of the blame for the ridiculously bloated state of my To-Read Pile(s). Paperback for fify cents? Hardbacks for a dollar? Let me at 'em! Before I know it, I'm grabbing weird, random books that I will later look at and wonder, "Why on Earth did I decide I needed these?" But it's a tremendously satisfying experience, anyway.

    My haul this time (and I was being rather restrained) consists of:

  • Night Shift by Stephen King and The Talisman by Stephen King and Peter Straub. Every time I go to a library sale, I end up buying some Stephen King, which I then completely fail to get around to reading before the next sale, in which I buy more Stephen King.

  • Julius Caeser and Four Comedies by William Shakespeare. Believe it or not, I have never read Julius Caeser. Every other American schoolkid in existence had it as assigned reading in high school, but somehow I missed out. This makes me feel sort of culturally illiterate, so I figured it was high time to rectify the oversight. And I while I was brushing up on my Shakespeare, I figured I might as well check out some of his comedies, too. Four Comedies contains A Midsummer Night's Dream, As You Like It, The Tempest and Twelfth Night, none of which I've read, either.

  • Rendezvous with Rama by Arthur C. Clarke. I've been meaning to pick up a copy of the original Rama for quite some time. The sequels with Gentry Lee left rather a bad taste in my mouth, and I'm hoping re-reading the original will help to get it out.

  • Sturgeon in Orbit, a collection of stories by Theodore Sturgeon. Sturgeon is one of the truly great science fiction writers of all time, and you can never have too much of his stuff.

  • Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes. This is the novel-length version, expanded from the short story after the movie (Charly) came out. I've read the orignal short story many times, and it makes me cry every single time. I don't really see how it could be expanded out to a novel without losing something (it was, after all, absolutely perfect as it was), so I'm a little hesitant about reading this one. Still, I am kind of curious...

  • Fallen Angels by Larry Niven, Jerry Pournelle, and Michael Flynn. I seem to recall reading some negative reviews of this one, but it's supposed to have a lot of in-jokes about science fiction fans and science fiction authors, and that sounded like it might be kind of fun.

  • The Snow Queen by Joan D. Vinge. I recall hearing good things about this one. The only book by Joan Vinge that I've read was Heaven Chronicles, which was pretty forgettable, but this is probably the book she's best known for.

  • False Memory by Dean Koontz. I don't know why I felt the need for more Dean Koontz. He writes entertaining books, but once you've read four or five of them, you start to realize that they're pretty much all exactly the same.

  • Bones of the Moon by Jonathan Carroll. I've got one of Carroll's books (The Wooden Sea) on my Pile already, but I've never read anything by him. I've heard good things about him, though, and this one looked interesting.

  • Gila Descending: A Southwestern Journey by M.H. Salmon. Some guy's account of his trip down the Gila river through Arizona and New Mexico. I've done some backpacking along the Gila, myself, ages ago, so this kind of appealed to me.

  • Top 10 of Everything 2001 by Russell Ash. Exactly what it sounds like: a big book of Top Ten lists. Top 10 most endagered species, top 10 longest bridges (of various types), top 10 movies of various decades, top 10 chocolate brands in the US, top 10 worst oil spills, top ten Olympic volleyball teams... You get the idea. Looks like fun.

  • And for all this, I paid a grand total of $8.50, and they threw in a nice paper shopping bag with handles. Did I mention that I love library sales?

    Friday, October 11, 2002

    The "Cakes of MRE do not matter"

    As I mentioned a little while back, I'm reading a book called Le Ton beau de Marot: In Praise of the Music of Language by Douglas Hofstadter, which is, among a lot of other things, about the joys and difficulties of language translation. The particular section I'm reading now talks about how things change when translated from one language into another (or into several different languages in succession, like an interlingual game of "telephone"), and about what kinds of differences you see when they're then translated back into the original language. In this same chapter, he also makes some very dismissive comments about the concept (or at least the current state) of machine translation.

    All of which gave me an idea for an vaguely entertaining thing to do: I ran my last blog post through Babelfish, "translating" it from English to Spanish, and then back into English. I hereby present the highly amusing results:

    The "Cakes of MRE do not matter"

    There are uniform ventilators of Farscape in Afghanistan! It sees, cancelling the demonstration is not right travesty, is downright unpatriotic! The right glance in all those soliders poor, having to leave and to face minefields without uniform consolation of having its demonstration of the favorite TV to watch...

    Yeah, I think Hofstader's pretty much right on the money as regards the state of machine translation...
    "MRE Crackers Don't Matter"

    There are even Farscape fans in Afghanistan! See, cancelling the show isn't just a travesty, it's downright unpatriotic! Just look at all those poor soliders, having to go out and face minefields without even the consolation of having their favorite TV show to watch...
    They'll Take My CDs Away When They Pry Them Out of My Cold, Dead Walkman! Or, Er, Something Like That.

    Oh, and just to drive the point made in my answer to question #1 below completely into the ground, I'll add that, about five mintues after I hit "publish," I immediately started thinking, "Oh, wait, I really want to add Billy Joel's Greatest Hits to that list. Yeah, all three discs! And, oh, man, I can't believe I left off the Alan Parsons Project's I, Robot! And..." Well, you get the idea, I think...
    A Frustrating Friday Five

    1. If you could only choose 1 cd to ever listen to again, what would it be? One? One!? Listen, with a lot of agonizing, I could maybe whittle it down to the traditional Desert Island Discs selection of five or ten. Let's see... Paul Simon's Graceland would definitely have to be on there, because, if there is such a thing as an Objectively Great Album, Graceland is it. There'd have to be some Floyd; Dark Side of the Moon springs to mind as an obvious choice, but on second thought, I'd probably pick Wish You Were Here instead. Rush's Roll the Bones, no question. Gotta have some Tull, maybe The Broadsword and the Beast. And I'd have to have a Leonard Cohen disc for when I got depressed. Damn, that's five already. And I haven't even picked a Beatles album. I think it's one of the rules of picking desert island discs that you have to have a Beatles album. Come to think of it, I'd really want that disc of Pachelbel's Canon in D that I mentioned a couple of days ago, too. And some Weird Al. How am I going to stay sane on a desert island with no Weird Al? Gotta have some Celtic stuff, too. Maybe something by the Chieftans? How many is that? Well, more than one, that's for sure...

    2. If you could only choose 2 movies to watch ever again, what would they be? Two? Movies? What the...? Um. Maybe Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, since I love it dearly, and since I seem to have watched it about an average of once a year since I was a teenager, anyway. Then again, I've pretty much got the whole movie memorized by now, so maybe I don't need to have it with me. And I have no idea what the other movie would be. Can I maybe trade my two movies for a season of Buffy or something?

    3. If you could only choose 3 books to read ever again, what would they be? What?! Why not just kill me and have done with it, you sadist? OK, OK, I'll try to answer the question, but really... Shudder. I'm seriously tempted to pick three books I haven't read yet, because at least that'll give me three new books I can read before I have to -- sob! -- stop forever. But then, what if they turned out to suck? I'd be stuck with them forever. So... Can I count The Lord of the Rings as one book? Because I've been meaning to re-read that forever, it's nice and long (which is good because I want as many words as possible if they have to last me for the rest of my life), and by all accounts, it does reward repeated re-reading. Plus, if I got really bored, maybe I could teach myself Elvish from the appendix or something. As for the other two... Ah, hell. I can't do it. I just can't. Shoot me and put me out of my misery, instead.

    4. If you could only choose 4 things to eat or drink ever again, what would they be? I'd have to consult with a nutritionist before answering this. If I just chose foods because I liked them, I'd die of malnutrition.

    5. If you could only choose 5 people to ever be/talk/associate/whatever with ever again, who would they be? Is that talk/associate/whatever in person, or does over the internet also count? Oh, never mind. Either way, I don't think I could answer it. I'd feel compelled to name members of my family, but, honestly, much as I love them, if my family were the only people I ever got to talk to, I think I'd go crazy.
    This One's For the Comic Book Geeks (Especially the Female Ones)

    I jut stumbled across this: fangirl blogger Meryl of rates comic book superheroes as potential dating material. I don't even know some of these characters, and I was laughing until tears came to my eyes. (Warning: slightly naughty. Duh.)
    Life Imitates Monty Python?

    As you may have already heard, a team of researchers has recently concluded a search for the World's Funniest Joke. They also looked into which jokes were considered the funniest by citizens of various different countries. I present some of the results to you below. I may not be entirely convinced of the scientific merit of the whole thing, and, in my estimation, some of these are a lot funnier than others, but the best ones are pretty darned funny, indeed. Heck, even the ones I've heard before still make me smile...

    TOP JOKE IN THE WORLD. Two hunters are out in the woods when one of them collapses. He doesn't seem to be breathing and his eyes are glazed. The other guy whips out his phone and calls the emergency services. He gasps: "My friend is dead! What can I do?" The operator says: "Calm down, I can help. First, let's make sure he's dead." There is a silence, then a shot is heard. Back on the phone, the guy says: "OK, now what?"

    TOP JOKE IN WALES. A turtle was walking down an alley in New York when he was mugged by a gang of snails. A police detective came to investigate and asked the turtle if he could explain what happened. The turtle looked at the detective with a confused look on his face and replied "I don't know, it all happened so fast."

    TOP JOKE IN ENGLAND. Two weasels are sitting on a bar stool. One starts to insult the other one. He screams, "I slept with your mother!" The bar gets quiet as everyone listens to see what the other weasel will do. The first again yells, "I SLEPT WITH YOUR MOTHER!" The other says, "Go home dad you're drunk."

    TOP JOKE IN SCOTLAND. I want to die peacefully in my sleep like my grandfather. Not screaming in terror like his passengers.

    TOP JOKE IN NORTHERN IRELAND. A doctor says to his patient, "I have bad news and worse news". "Oh dear, what's the bad news?" asks the patient. The doctor replies: "You only have 24 hours to live." "That's terrible," said the patient. "How can the news possibly be worse?". The doctor replies: "I've been trying to contact you since yesterday."

    TOP JOKE IN UK. A woman gets on a bus with her baby. The bus driver says: "That's the ugliest baby that I've ever seen. Ugh!" The woman goes to the rear of the bus and sits down, fuming. She says to a man next to her: "The driver just insulted me!" The man says: "You go right up there and tell him off - go ahead, I'll hold your monkey for you."

    TOP JOKE IN USA. A man and a friend are playing golf one day at their local golf course. One of the guys is about to chip onto the green when he sees a long funeral procession on the road next to the course. He stops in mid-swing, takes off his golf cap, closes his eyes, and bows down in prayer. His friend says: "Wow, that is the most thoughtful and touching thing I have ever seen. You truly are a kind man." The man then replies: "Yeah, well we were married 35 years."

    TOP JOKE IN CANADA. When Nasa first started sending up astronauts, they quickly discovered that ball-point pens would not work in zero gravity. To combat the problem, scientists spent a decade and 12 billion dollars to develop a pen that writes in zero gravity, upside down, underwater, on almost any surface including glass and at temperatures ranging from below freezing to 300 C. The Russians used a pencil.

    TOP JOKE IN AUSTRALIA. This woman rushes to see her doctor, looking very much worried and all strung out. She rattles off: "Doctor, take a look at me. When I woke up this morning, I looked at myself in the mirror and saw my hair all wiry and frazzled up, my skin was all wrinkled and pasty, my eyes were bloodshot and bugging out, and I had this corpse-like look on my face! What's WRONG with me, Doctor!?" The doctor looks her over for a couple of minutes, then calmly says: "Well, I can tell you that there ain't nothing wrong with your eyesight...."

    TOP JOKE IN BELGIUM. Why do ducks have webbed feet? To stamp out fires. Why do elephants have flat feet? To stamp out burning ducks.

    TOP JOKE IN GERMANY. A general noticed one of his soldiers behaving oddly. The soldier would pick up any piece of paper he found, frown and say: "That's not it" and put it down again. This went on for some time, until the general arranged to have the soldier psychologically tested. The psychologist concluded that the soldier was deranged, and wrote out his discharge from the army. The soldier picked it up, smiled and said: "That's it."

    Thursday, October 10, 2002

    Enterprise Pit Stop

    You know, I really am liking this season of Enterprise. Last night's episode (which I taped and watched this morning) was the third one in a row that I've actively enjoyed watching, as opposed to the "Well, I'm watching it because it's on, but, damn, isn't it over yet?" reaction I had to a lot of the first season. In case you haven't seen it, the plot of this one is that Enterprise stops at this incredible alien super-science repair station which fixes the ship -- and the injured Malcolm -- up real nice for a bargain basement fee. So, naturally, Archer (and the viewer) spends the whole episode just waiting for the catch... (And, no, I'm not going to tell you what the "catch" is, but there may be other mild spoilers, so be warned!)

    Yeah, OK, it's far from a perfect episode. It drags a bit in the middle, and the "catch," when it comes, isn't as startling and shocking as one might hope. It also leaves a lot of unanswered questions: Who built this thing? Why, if the computer has so much processing power, and if the rest of the technology is so frelling incredible, does it seem to be totally incapable of understanding 90% percent of anything anyone says to it? Etc., etc. Actually, though, I'm not too bothered by those. I almost kind of like the fact that the whole thing remains a mystery. And, as for that second question, I find it easy to convince myself that the machine was just playing dumb.

    But the concept itself was neat (and visually quite well-realized, although I would have preferred it, I think, if the interior sets had been a bit more alien-looking). The suspense worked pretty well, because (unlike with many Enterprise episodes), I couldn't predict exactly what was going to happen. Even more important than that, though is the fact that the Enterprise writers have finally figured out how to blend characterization and plot into the same story.

    I complained last season that Enterprise always seemed to do either characterization-based stories in which nothing much happened, or plot-based stories in which the characters pretty much could have been replaced with any random set of Generic Starfleet Officers and absolutely nothing would have to be changed. This season, though, that seems no longer to be the case, and the improvement, in my opinion, has been vast.

    Some random thoughts about this particular epsiode:

  • I like the fact that last week's events had consequences, and even dictated what the plot was going to be this week. There was a time, back in the Next Gen days, when I would even have gotten really excited about that. Look! Continuity! Wow! I've since been completely spoiled to the point where I now expect that kind of continuity, and get unhappy when I don't see it, but perhaps it's worth mentioning, anyway.

  • Speaking of continuity, I like the way the Tellarites have now been referred to a couple of times this season. The Tellarites are a species we haven't seen since the days of TOS (understandably, really, because they're obnoxious and look silly), but one got the impression that they were an important part of the Federation, so it's good to see their existence acknowledged, at least.

  • Back in TOS, the joke was that Kirk always had to go and get his shirt ripped in the fight scenes. Enterprise seems to have gone one better in this regard; there seems to be a rule that at least one crewmember has to get his or her shirt completely off every other episode or so, whether there's any plot reason for it or not. Two weeks ago it was Hoshi, this week, it's Travis. And, judging by the scenes from next week, they're definitely continuing this trend...

  • I love the comedy team of Malcolm and Trip. It was fun watching them get in trouble together in "Two Days and Two Nights," and it's fun watching them get into trouble together here.

  • And I am deeply impressed with John Billingsly as Phlox. I don't know how the guy does it, but he manages to take even the most mudane or sheerly expository lines and endow them with a real sense of (if you'll pardon my use of the word) humanity. Phlox gets more solid characterization in one line of technobabble than most of the other characters get in an entire episode, and I think all the credit for that has to go to Billingsly. Phlox rules! I want more Phlox!
  • Wednesday, October 09, 2002

    Come on Baby, Light My Fire

    When I woke up this morning, my nose was all chilly where it poked out from under the nice warm covers. "Aha!" I said to myself. "It's starting to get pretty cold at night. Time to fire up the ol' furnace!" And thus I began the regular autumn ritual of utterly failing to get the god-damned pilot to light.

    Normally, this would be the point at which I would start getting upset and swearing a lot and muttering under my breath about how I never wanted to be a homeowner, etc., etc. But, honestly, I'm actually feeling quite good about the whole thing, because I've at least managed to avoid a repeat of last year.

    Last year, you see, we had a very abrupt cold snap at round about this time. One day it was nice and balmy, then suddenly, wham, the temperature dropped to the freezing point overnight. And that, of course, is when I discovered that my furnace didn't work. Needless to say, the cold snap snapped over a weekend, because every serious problem that requires service people coming out to your house invariably happens on a weekend. All in all, between waiting to get hold of the heating guys and waiting for them to get around to stopping by, I think I was without heat for the better part of a very chilly week. I eventually had to borrow an electric space-heater from a friend, just so I didn't turn into a popsicle during my sleep.

    Anyway, the point is that, by checking on the furnace while the thermometer still reads "mildly chilly" instead of "bone-achingly cold," I've apparently managed to avoid a repeat of last year's experience, so, yay, me. I've also apparently managed to avoid the rush, because the furnace guy says he can be by tomorrow morning.

    So, by this time tomorrow (unless something else goes hideously, horribly wrong, which is always a distinct possibility), I should once again be blessed with the miracle of central heating, thus ushering in the official start of the Season of Spending Large Amounts of Money on Propane. Sigh. I miss being a kid. This time of year was much more fun when I could think of it as The Season When We Might Get Snow Days, instead.

    Tuesday, October 08, 2002

    I'm So Vain, I Probably Think This Blog Is About Me

    OK, I'm going to do this "Currently..." thing again. It's become something of a tradition by now, right? I have made one more change, though. Last time I did this, I mentioned that "current favorite group" was kind of a pointless question, because my favorite groups really just don't change. There are three bands tied for first place in my favorites list: Pink Floyd, Jethro Tull, and Rush. And they're very firmly ensconced there. There are probably 20 or 30 groups tied for second, and while which ones actually pop into my mind at any given time might change, the truth is, my muscial tastes really don't. So I'm zapping that category and replacing it with "current song stuck in my head." Because there always is one, and because that does change. (Thank goodness! Having the same song stuck in your head for days at a time is hell.) Anyway, without further ado, I present October's "Currently..." list:

    Current clothes: Rush concert T-shirt: white, with a variation on their latest album cover on the front and the tour dates on the back. Blue jeans. (They're a bit long and are rolled up at the bottoms, so I think these are actually the same pair I was wearing last time.) White socks. Black sneakers.

    Current mood: I've been at work for a couple of hours, and I'm only just starting to feel like I'm waking up. Most of the day, I've felt sort of half-asleep. Though not in a groggy and irritable kind of way, more like a dreamy, out-of-it sort of way. If that makes any sense at all.

    Current music: Currently in the CD player at home is Pachelbel's Greatest Hit: Canon in D. As the title might indicate, it's a disc containing nothing but variations on the same classical tune. Which is cool by me, because Pachelbel's Canon pretty much is my entire taste in classical music. I wouldn't cross the street to hear Bach, but I'll happily listen to "Canon in D" eight times in a row. I have no idea why.

    Current hair: It's just now starting to grow out a bit. Which means that, if I was really conscientious, I'd go in and get it cut now, before it gets long enough to start getting unruly. But I'm never that conscientious when it comes to things like that...

    Current annoyance: The fact that I'm still not managing to get to sleep before about 7 or 8 AM. Although that's a lot less of a problem now that I don't have to be at work until 4 PM, rather than starting my shift at noon. I'm really not looking forward to switching onto the morning shift in a week and a half, though.

    Current thing: Laziness. Pure, simple, can't-get-motivated-to-do-anything laziness.

    Current desktop picture: This really cool composite picture of the Earth at night. Although it looks a tiny bit funky on my computer, because it's been stretched a bit to fit the screen.

    Current song stuck in head: "You're So Vain." Because, see, I was looking through this music catalog, and I happened to notice an album by Tracy Chapman, and started thinking about the fact that, for some reason, I'm always getting Tracy Chapman and Carly Simon mixed up (not that I think about either of them all that much), and reminded myself that, while it's Carly Simon who does "You're So Vain," Tracy Chapman actually does... Well, I suspect she does all the other songs I tend to want to attribute to Carly Simon. And now Carly's singing in my head. Possibly as a form of revenge, I dunno.

    Current book: Le Ton beau de Marot: In Praise of the Music of Language by Douglas R. Hofstadter. Ostensibly, it's a book about the difficulties of translating a French poem into English, but, this being Hofstadter, he rambles cheerfully on about a wide variety of interesting subjects, including language, music, artificial intelligence, and pretty much anything else it occurs to him to toss in.

    Current video in player: A "tapeover" tape with last week's Firefly on it. (That was a really fun epsiode, by the way, even if I didn't necessarily find the big plot twist 100% convincing.) Currently in the DVD player is Reservoir Dogs. It's taking me forever to get through all the extras on that one.

    Current refreshment: A can of Pepsi.

    Current worry: Getting everything done that I need to do before I take off on vacation in a month.

    Current thought: I think the difference between Carly Simon and Tracy Chapman is that Carly Simon gets annoying a lot quicker...

    Good Googley Moogley!

    Because I never get tired of checking out the wacky search requests that bring poor deluded souls to this blog, here's the latest batch:

    naked pictures of the crew of lexx. Yeah, but Kai is a lot more attractive with his clothes on.
    weather for cast. Dry, with streaks of magic marker and occasional flakes of plaster? (This poor soul went through nearly 200 results without getting a clue.)
    naked boobs. Now, that's almost refreshingly simple.
    illustrated slut wife stories.
    the sims slut skins.
    slut shoes. All these hits for "slut" were really confusing me, because I couldn't remember ever using the word... Then I realized that it was because of the link to the "Book Slut" page on the sidebar. Heh.
    T'Pol boobs Carbon Creek. But it was Hoshi's boobs that were hanging out in "Carbon Creek," wasn't it?
    over-rated novels. Personally, I'd rather go looking for under-rated novels, but, hey, whatever makes ya happy.
    rich beyond imagine. Oh, yeah, I wish.
    MAXIMUM BOOBS. Interestingly, apparently there is "Maximum Boobs" site out there (and, no, I'm not going to link to it!). They're "All boobs, all the time!", according their listing in the search engine results. Really makes me wonder why whoever was actually looking for boobs bothered coming here instead.

    Monday, October 07, 2002

    OK, So Maybe yet Another Another Farscape Post Is Hardly Mandatory, But I Just Had to Quote This Guy...

    A while back I stumbled upon a cool little webpage called My Summer With Farscape. It's written by a guy who's pretty much new to the show[*] but has started watching with the fourth season, and it features some absolutely hystericial "reviews" describing his thoughts and reactions on the individual episodes. Anyway, he's finally gotten around to doing "Unrealized Reality" (the last new episode before the current hiatus), and, well, like I said, I just had to quote ths guy's comments on finding out the show had been cancelled after he'd only just really started getting into it:

    "It's kind of like that jarring feeling you get when you're reading a magazine while you're walking upstairs, and you think that there's one more stair than there really is -- so you miss the top step, and bang your foot down really hard. You know that feeling? It was kind of like that, except that your hamster is sitting at the top of the stairs, so instead of just stepping down too hard on the floor, you crush your hamster under your foot. I don't know if you've ever had that specific experience, but it's sort of unsettling and depressing and irritating all at once, like the universe is playing tricks on you while you aren't looking."

    Now, that's what I call eloquence. He then adds:

    "What makes it worse is that this episode is all about a creepy white guy in a three-piece suit who spends the whole hour patiently explaining to Crichton why he has to be killed. And that just seems so much like a hideously ironic metaphor for the Sci-Fi Channel cancelling Farscape that I start to get that hamster feeling all over again."

    And then he goes on to further explicate the "metaphor" in truly inspired fashion. Suddenly, it all makes such frightening sense...

    [*] Well, more or less. He did have a basic familiarity with it through "relationship osmosis," apparently, which is what happens when you're in a relationship with a person who's a big fan of a show you don't really watch, yourself. I know all about that; my own knowledge of Babylon 5 is pretty much based on it. Also Space: Above and Beyond, but I think I've pretty much blanked that one out.
    How Long Has It Been Since I Did a Stupid Quiz? Too Long!

    What lesser-known Simpsons character are you?
    Brought to you by the good folks at

    Yeah, like that surprises anybody.

    Although I thought watching Star Trek was a social activity?
    Mandatory Farscape Post

    There was a big "Save Farscape" fan rally in Atlanta this weekend. Actually, there were big "Save Farscape" fan rallys in a lot of places this weekend, which is cool, but the one in Atlanta was notable because Farscape actors Lani Tupu (Crais/Pilot), Gigi Edgley (Chiana) and Paul Goddard (Stark) put in an appearance. You can find interviews with all three of them here. I haven't actually listened to all of them, myself, because I keep losing the damned connection for the streaming audio, but I did manage to play most of the Paul Goddard interview. From what he said, it seems that he is in the final episode of Season 4 (which, unfortunately, still seems likely to end up being the final episode ever). This makes me happy, because I'm a big fan of Stark's, and I really want to know what he's been up to since we saw him last. According to Goddard, Stark would also have stuck around for a good chunk of Season 5, as well, which just makes me feel all the more frustrated about the whole cancellation thing, if that's even possible. Aaaargh. Maybe it's time to go and write yet another letter to UPN. They have got to want this show. I mean, UPN actually seems to have a clue about the value of the science fiction audience. Unlike a certain grossly misnamed cable network I could mention...

    Sunday, October 06, 2002

    Gee, thanks, Greta.

    So, I made the mistake of checking out the Bookworm Game Greta linked to recently on her blog, and have thus found yet another way to waste time, which is something I really, really don't need. I should learn to just say "no" to addictive internet games.

    But I did manage to match Greta's rank of Senior Librarian on only my second game. Ha!

    Saturday, October 05, 2002

    Smoke 'Em If Ya Got 'Em

    OK, I'm about to do something that's a real rarity for me. I'm about to make a political statement. No, not about Iraq or anything like that... I admit it, I have trouble forming opinions on the really big things. No, we're talking local politics here.

    The thing is, Socorro, NM, where I live, is considering passing an ordinance banning smoking from public places, including bars and restaurants. There's a lot of public support for this, from nonsmokers and health officials and People Who Think of the Children. And, needless to say, there's also a fair amount of opposition, particularly from bar and restaurant owners. (Also from people who simply think that the ban should be put up for a public vote rather than decided on by the City Council, but that's a slightly different issue.)

    Anyway, the thing is, I was in my favorite all-night diner[*] tonight, eating "lunch," and I noticed they had a petition up at the front counter protesting the proposed smoking ban. (Understandable, since said restuarant has not only a large smoking section, but also a bar/lounge where smoking is currently permitted.) I signed it.

    Now, those of you who know my opinions on smoking are probably pretty surprised by that. I make no secret of it: I hate smoking. I think it's a fithy, nasty habit, and I can't for the life of me understand why anybody would want to take up in the first place. I dislike being around cigarrette smoke, and I won't allow it in my house or my car. Hell, my parents both smoked when I was young, and, while I don't have any solid scientific evidence, I'm inclined to blame that fact, at least in part, for my life-long history of respiratory problems. I. Don't. Like. Smoking. So, personally, I only stand to benefit from a city-wide smoking ban.

    But the principle of the thing is another matter altogether.

    Don't get me wrong. I'm all in favor of banning smoking in government-owned buildings, and in places where people don't have a great deal of choice about going: airports, bus stations, hospitals, the County Courthouse, whatever. I'm 100% for that. But restaurants and bars aren't really public places in the same sense those kinds of places are, and I honestly think it should be up to the proprietor to decide whether to allow smoking in his establishment, in the same way that it's my decision whether to allow it in my home. People who don't want to be around smoking don't have to go there. I see no reason why smokers shouldn't have places where they can gather and smoke to their hearts' content, as long as nobody's forcing me to go in there and breathe it. You want to stand around and pollute each other's lungs, who am I to say you nay? It's a free country. You have the right.

    Or rather, I figure you should have the right. Which is why I signed the petition.

    And that's my political statement for, oh, the next six months, at least.

    [*] It's my favorite in large part because it's the only all-night diner in Socorro besides -- ugh! -- Denny's, but also because it's fairly cheap, the food's decent, and the service is good. Hey, what more can you ask for?

    Friday, October 04, 2002

    I Forgot Some Shoes (Hmm, Does That Make Them "Lost Soles"?)

    I was just looking over my Friday Five answers, and I realized that I'd forgotten to mention the big ol' pair of waterproof Wellies I bought recently for trekking across my front yard when it floods. And, for some reason, this fact bothered me. So I figured I'd mention it.

    Look, I've generated my very own diabolical curse. Um.

    Diabolical Curse Generator
    The Diabolical Curse Generator - Get yours!!!

    Actually, I don't think that one comes remotely close to topping "May you go blind and may your seeing eye dog develop rabies and bite you," which I came up with in college to apply to the unnamed person who took my nice clean laundry out of the dryer in the dorm laundry room and dumped it all into the nasty, dirty, skuzzy sink so that I had to wash it all over again.

    (Later note, after editing this post a couple of times to make the image show up right: Hey! It changes! And some of the possibilites apparently are as good as the Seeing Eye Dog one. Cool.)
    The Friday Feet... Er, Five

    1. What size shoe do you wear? A women's 9 1/2 or 10, or a men's 8 or 8 1/2. (Those are American sizes, of course. I have no idea how they translate to the rest of the world, except that anywhere you go, I still have big feet.)

    2. How many pairs of shoes do you own? Um, well... I have this bad habit of very rarely throwing out shoes that have worn out or that don't fit or that I never wear for one reason or another (like the purple pumps I was forced to buy when I was a bridesmaid in my sister's wedding), so the actual number of pairs of shoes I own is probably up over a dozen. As for shoes I actually wear, let's see... There's my sneakers, a pair of ankle boots (Is that the term for them? They're boots, and they come up to just over my ankles), a pair of hiking boots, and, if you want to count them, a pair of slip-on sandals. So, four.

    3. What type of shoe do you prefer (boots, sneakers, pumps, etc.)? Sneakers. I quite like hiking boots, too, but it's very hard to find ones that fit me properly, because I have really weird-shaped feet. (Wide feet, really long toes, high arches, and bunions. Since I'm sure you were really desperate to know.)

    4. Describe your favorite pair of shoes. Why are they your favorite? Favorite shoes? I'm supposed to think about shoes enough to pick favorites? I guess my sneakers, 'cause they're comfiest to walk in.

    5. What's the most you've spent on one pair of shoes? I think I paid about $120 for the Gore-Tex-lined waterproof hiking boots I bought for my trip to Ireland. And worth every penny they were, too, for keeping my feet dry while slogging through the bogs.
    Next Stop, the Trivia Zone

    OK, so, a week ago I posted a blog entry titled "Time Enough at Last" and challenged my loyal readers (all, what, four of them?) to identify where I stole the phrase from. I got one very good guess, but no right answers, so the trivia points go unclaimed. (Oh, the humanity!) Since said post is soon to scroll off into the archives, and thus out of mortal memory, I thought I'd actually offer up the correct answer before I and everybody else forgot about it.

    So. "Time Enough at Last" was the title of an episode of the original Twilight Zone. Burgess Meredith plays a mousy little guy who just wants to be left alone so he can read. But his wife won't let him read at home, and his boss yells at him for reading at work. As it happens, he works in a bank, so at some point he sneaks off and locks himself in the bank vault for a little private time with his poetry book, and, of course, that's when World War III happens (as it is so wont to do in the Twilight Zone). When he emerges from his nice, secure, apparently atom bomb-proof bank vault, everybody's dead, but there are enough books to be found in the ruins of the public library to last him forever (or at least until the fallout kills him, though the episode tactfully fails to mention that part), so all things considered, he's basically a really happy guy. "Time enough at last!" he burbles as he scoops up a nice fat work of literature and sits down to read in the ruins. Of course, this being The Twilight Zone, we've got to have more of a twist ending that that, so he then goes and breaks his glasses, and can't read a damned thing.

    I always felt for that guy.