Saturday, May 31, 2003

Missing Time

OK, I knew my body really didn't want to be on the night shift any more (despite having done it for the past month, so you'd think I'd be used to it by now), but I'm a little disconcerted by how, uh, aggressively it wanted to make the changeover. Friday afternoon I woke up at about 5:30 PM (a pretty normal time when I've worked the night before). I answered my e-mail, took a shower, ate a light meal, read 96 pages of A Fine and Private Place (excellent book, by the way)... and fell right back to sleep. At 10:30! In other words, I pretty much got cheated out of my Friday. And now I feel all disoriented and I have to keep checking to make sure what day it is. On the upside, though, I guess I'm pretty much set for the switch to evening shift next week...

Friday, May 30, 2003

Hey! It Ate My Meaning!

OK, this thing generates the most compellingly bizarre gibberish I have ever seen. (Link via Presurfer.)
Life with the Friday Five

Difficult questions this week, but at least they're more interesting than "What brand of toothpaste do you use?"

1. What do you most want to be remembered for? In truth? I'd rather not be "remembered" at all. In the words of Woody Allen, I'd rather be immortal by not dying.

2. What quotation best fits your outlook on life? "Why does it happen? Because it happens." -- Rush, "Roll the Bones."

3. What single achievement are you most proud of in the past year? Ummm... Nothing stands out as a single achievement, really. I've written a few bits and pieces of things that I'm fairly pleased with, I guess.

4. What about the past ten years? I feel like I ought to say "graduating college," but I think that was more relief than pride, to be honest.

5. If you were asked to give a child a single piece of advice to guide them through life, what would you say? Well, that would depend on the child, really. But if I have to generalize, it would probably be something like: "You know all those people you feel are judging you or whose approval you worry about? They're all thinking more about themselves than they are about you, so don't worry too hard about 'em. Inside, they really aren't any different than you, anyway. Nobody's got the secret of life. Everybody's just muddling their way through it in one way or another, whether they want to admit it or not... So if that's what you're doing, congratulations, you're normal." It took me a long time to figure that one out, but I gotta tell you, once it did, it made all the difference in my life.

Thursday, May 29, 2003

"Respect My Chain of Command, Gorrammit!"

If, like me, you miss the heck out of Firefly, and if, like me, you think seeing people drawn as South Park characters is absolutely adorable, then you gotta check out Lex Lucre's South Park Firefly Page. Be sure and scroll down for the "Firefly Park" cartoons!
Thursday Is Wacky Search Request Day

So here's the latest batch:

  • "fourth doctor" livejournal: Hmm, I do believe the Doctor has a 500-year diary, but I seriously doubt he keeps a livejournal.

  • eyeglass near frame near repair and tulsa: I can only assume that this person was in such desperate need of eyeglass repair that they were unable to ascertain which words they'd already typed.

  • 100% free video clips no e-mail pass words just free video clips of squirtting little girls: Well, I don't think there's anything I could possibly add to that. Um.

  • miss nude galaxy pics: So, who won this year's pageant? Eccentrica Galumbits?[*]

  • pics of people doing nasty stuff: After some of the disturbingly specific search requests I've gotten for various types of nasty stuff, this one's almost refreshing in its all-accepting vagueness.

  • blog dream betty: Yes, I have a dream...

  • halloween pirate backstory: Heh. I just have this image now of some poor out-of-work Hollywood actor donning the pirate costume for the Halloween party and saying, "But what's my motivation? I can't play this character unless I understand his backstory!"

  • war conspiracy quicktime clips: Yes, that's right, I have quicktime video clips of George W. Bush and his evil cronies plotting a vast war conspiracy, and I'm willing to let you download them for... Hold on, there's some men in dark suits at the front door. Just let me... Aaaargh!

  • shift personality stark farscape: Ooh, I'm actually tempted to go off into an essay about Stark's personality shifts on Farscape, but I think I'll spare you. Suffice it to say that I think all the "inconsistencies" in his character make perfect sense if you look between the lines and do a bit of thinking about what he's been through. Start off with the fact that it's got to be a bitch to put your brain back together from randomly scattered energy, especially when it's been messed with that much to begin with, and then move on to the fact that lots of bits of other people's personalities have also gotten stuck in said brain, and I think it's not at all difficult to understand his weird mood swings. (This will be your first homework assignment for Farscape 101. Next week we'll be covering Scorpius, so be sure to watch "Incubator" and come to class prepared to discuss the list of questions on page 73 of the workbook.)

  • [*] I'm sorry. It appears to be a new rule that I have to make at least one Hitchhiker's Guide reference per Wacky Search Requests post. But I think I'm done now.

    Wednesday, May 28, 2003

    More Farscape Wibblings

    Well, I did just watch "...Different Destinations" again. Man, I do like that episode. It gets me thinking about quite a number of things, but one of them is the fact that one of the truly refreshing things about Farscape is the way it so often uses characterization in exactly the places where where something like Star Trek would use technobabble. If Trek -- or Next Gen-era or later Trek, at least -- were going to do this story, you know for sure it would start off with a lot of tricorder readings and discussions about "temporal distortion effects" and "chroniton particles" and it would probably be some strange encounter with a Spacetime Anomaly of the Week that'd cause the whole time travel thing to happen. How does Farscape achieve the same effect? Take one attempt to console a distraught and grieving character, add in a gadget whose exact workings are never explained because frankly nobody really cares, add a dash of previously-established mystical funkiness, mix well, and serve. No long-winded explanations or chroniton particles needed.

    The first season's "Through the Looking Glass" does very much the same thing, too. The freaky interdimensional schism the crew are forced to deal with isn't caused by, oh, wandering into an area of space with a high density of particle-of-the-week-ons which react on the quantum level with the harmonics of the warp drive to cause dimensional fractures in space (which you know is exactly how TNG would set it up). Instead, it's caused by Moya being (justifiably) afraid that the others are going to abandon her and starbursting before she's ready in an attempt to prove herself to them. Once again, characterization taking the place of technobabble.

    Now, I don't know which of those two approaches is the more plausible, really, but I do know which one is far and away the more interesting...
    The History of the Internet

    Check out this highly amusing internet timeline. Sample item: "2001: Blogging invented. Promises to change the way people bore strangers with banal anecdotes about their pets." Hee. (Link via Futurismic.)
    So, What Kind of Union Do You Think They Have at the Supernova Factory?

    Since I've started passing these along, here's another interesting NRAO press release: "Using the National Science Foundation's Very Long Baseline Array (VLBA) radio telescope, astronomers have discovered a newly-exploded star, or supernova, hidden deep in a dust-enshrouded 'supernova factory' in a galaxy some 140 million light-years from Earth."

    As well as being scientifically interesting, it's this kind of stuff that keeps me in a job.

    Tuesday, May 27, 2003


    Well, I've now finally seen The Matrix Reloaded. And I have to say, I'm feeling pretty underwhelmed. I mean, what did this movie have to offer? Lots of special FX tricks, most of which were really nifty when they showed up in the first movie but which have since kind of become old hat. Lots of pointless kung fu/car chase action interspersed with lots of pretentious philosophizing. Lots of incredibly stilted dialog and acting. On the other hand, it did have lots and lots of Agent Smith (quite literally!), and Agent Smith is extremely cool. Come to think of it, so were those guys with the dreadlocks. Hmm, it almost makes me want to root for the bad guys, really...

    Ah, well. At least now I can say I've seen it, since everybody seems to keep asking me.
    I Like Season Three!

    Just got my latest batch of Farscape discs in the mail today! I'm particularly happy about this set, because it contains two of my very favorite episodes:

    "...Different Destinations" impresses the hell out of me, because I honestly had thought I'd seen every possible permutation of every possible time travel story... But this one, in true Farscape fashion, takes some very familiar elements -- the similarities to Star Trek's classic "City on the Edge of Forever," for example, are obvious -- gives them a twist, and uses them tell a dramatic story that is, in my (fairly extensive) experience, completely fresh and unique. Plus it has angst levels through the roof. And Stark's in it. So, really, how could I not like it? And that's even before you throw in a some great lines of dialog and that charming appearance by everybody's favorite hallucination in his delightful cowboy getup.

    And "Green-Eyed Monster" is a terrific example of the kind of storytelling that is one the things Farscape does best. Here we have an absolutely standard, arguably even cliched, science fiction adventure plot. But the episode itself isn't about being swallowed by an "absurdly large space monster" and racing against time figuring out how to get out. That's just the setting for the real story, the catalyst that sparks off the character interactions that are at the heart of the show. I'm happy to note, by the way, that the DVD features a commentary track for this episode by Ben Browder who, of course, both wrote and acted in it. And a damned fine job he did, too. The guy's got not just Crichton's dialog down pat, but everybody else's as well. I'm particularly impressed by the way he manages to make Talyn come alive so completely and believably. That can't be an easy thing to accomplish with a character who has neither facial expressions nor dialog.

    Of course, this set of discs also features the episodes that set in motion the biggest plot development of the third season... You know, the one that leaves you going, "Well, they certainly can't leave things in this state after the end of the episode! Oh, wait, I forget, this is Farscape... Of course they can!" Man, I just love that.

    Sniff. Have I mentioned lately how much I miss Farscape?
    Because, Of Course, Numerology Doesn't Lie

    Proof that I am evil.

    Monday, May 26, 2003

    Bitching and Moaning

    I have a headache, and my muscles are all sore from climbing around on the roof and stuff yesterday while I was working on that damned swamp cooler. And the bottle of Tylenol we used to have sitting by the first aid kit in the kitchenette here at work appears to be gone. Therefore, my only recourse is to make myself feel better by complaining here on the internet.

    Hmm. That didn't help for very long...

    Sunday, May 25, 2003

    Captain, We Have a Malfunction in the Environmental Control Systems.

    Well, I finally got my swamp cooler hooked up and working, but now thing's leaking like crazy. I told myself I probably shouldn't use it, what with the possibility of it damaging my roof, not to mention wasting The Desert's Most Precious Natural Resource and running up my water bill in the process, but I was too damn tired of living in this big metal box with no air conditioning in 90-degree weather, so I left it on for quite a while today, anyway. It retaliated, of course, by dripping water through the vent and all over my floor. I suppose I'm gonna have to get somebody who actually knows what they're doing to come and look at it... But that's probably going to have to wait until next week, when I'll actually be home and awake during the day. Meantime, I guess I have a choice of internal climates: hot or damp.

    Sigh. Why does nothing ever just work?

    Saturday, May 24, 2003

    My Evil Twin?

    Would you be his friend?
    You are Mr. Teatime from Terry Pratchett's
    You are a sociopathic assassin who would like to
    kill every fairytale character, including the
    Discworld equivalent of Santa Claus.
    Strangely, nobody wants to be your friend.

    Which Cool Evil Guy Are You?
    brought to you by Quizilla

    Hmm, not sure how I ended up with that result, but at least I'm from a really good book.

    Finally made to to the end of Spider and Web! And, yeah, OK, I did need a couple of hints, but they were small and suggestive hints, not actual giveaways, so I'm really quite proud of myself.

    Man, but that's a nifty game. Who knew text adventures could be so elegantly raised to the status of an artform? At some point, I think I'm gonna have to play it over again from the beginning just to appreciate it as a unified whole...

    Friday, May 23, 2003

    Laugh While You Can, Monkey-Boy!

    The power was out here for several hours today due to a thunderstorm. (No actual rain, mind you, just thunder. Ah, life in the desert!) And, you know, it's amazing how completely my entire life grinds to a halt when I'm deprived of electricity. The good news, I suppose, is that being forcibly deprived of computer access does give me more time for reading honest-to-gosh paper books.

    So, I've just finished The Island of Dr. Moreau. Finished re-reading it, actually, as I did read it, along with most of Wells' other books, back in my teenage years. I remember being quite creeped out by it back then, though my reaction wasn't nearly as strong this time (possibly, I admit, because for much of the book I was in a rather distracted state of mind, what with being busy obsessing over computer games and all). Dr. Moreau is an interesting read for a number of reasons, not least of which is the way it deals with the issues of what defines humanity and what (if anything) it is that separates men from beasts. Mostly Wells is pretty subtle about it, I think, and is content to raise the questions rather than delivering preachy lectures about the answers. Which I like. But there's this one particularly biting passage that, for some reason, tickled me immensely, so I thought I'd pass it along. Gotta have some Literature in here in among all the TV stuff, don't we?
    The Monkey-man bored me, however; he assumed, on the strength of his five digits, that he was my equal, and was for ever jabbering at me,—jabbering the most arrant nonsense. One thing about him entertained me a little: he had a fantastic trick of coining new words. He had an idea, I believe, that to gabble about names that meant nothing was the proper use of speech. He called it “Big Thinks” to distinguish it from “Little Thinks,” the sane every-day interests of life. If ever I made a remark he did not understand, he would praise it very much, ask me to say it again, learn it by heart, and go off repeating it, with a word wrong here or there, to all the milder of the Beast People. He thought nothing of what was plain and comprehensible. I invented some very curious “Big Thinks” for his especial use. I think now that he was the silliest creature I ever met; he had developed in the most wonderful way the distinctive silliness of man without losing one jot of the natural folly of a monkey.

    Heh. I don't know why, but I love that last sentence...

    (By the way, you can find the whole book online here. Let's hear it for Public Domain!)
    And I Bet He Did Shoot That Deputy, Too.

    You know you're losing it when you start having conversations with songs on the radio. I was driving through town a minute ago, on my way back from picking up something for lunch, and Clapton was wailing at me for about the three thousandth time that he shot the sheriff, but he swears it was in self-defense. And I found myself responding, out loud, with "Dude, we don't call that self-defense, we call that resisting arrest! And it's not really considered a mitigating circumstance!"

    I think the moral of this may be that it's time to lay off the classic rock station for a while...
    Look, Up in the Sky! It's a Nebula! It's a Galaxy!

    Here's an interesting press release from the National Radio Astronomy Observatory, where I work: "New observations with National Science Foundation's Robert C. Byrd Green Bank Telescope (GBT) suggest that what was once believed to be an intergalactic cloud of unknown distance and significance, is actually a previously unrecognized satellite galaxy of the Milky Way orbiting backward around the Galactic center."
    The Friday Five Goes Commercial

    I have no idea why anybody would want to know this stuff, unless they're doing marketing research or something, but here goes:

    1. What brand of toothpaste do you use? Crest.

    2. What brand of toilet paper do you prefer? Charmin Ultra. I am extremely cheap when it comes to some things, but soft 2-ply toilet paper is one luxury that I regard as worth having at any price.

    3. What brand(s) of shoes do you wear? Whatever's cheap and actually fits my feet.

    4. What brand of soda do you drink? I'm not really picky. I prefer Pepsi to Coke, but only marginally. I'll drink pretty much anything that doesn't have one of those nasty artificial sweeteners in it. I don't care what anybody says, Nutrasweet is not a foodstuff. If I want to taste chemicals, I'll go lick a test tube.

    5. What brand of gum do you chew? Oh, geez, OK, this is just how inconceivably geeky I am. I seldom chew gum, but of late I've taken to picking up the occasional pack of Orbit gum. Why Orbit? Uh, well... Because "Orbit" was the title of a particularly memorable episode of Blake's 7. Yes, seriously. Tell me you're surprised.

    Thursday, May 22, 2003

    Caught in the Spiderweb

    I'm constantly telling people not to recommend me computer games because I have more than enough major time sinks in my life as it is. I should really, really start listening to my own advice, though, because I did not need to spend large chunks of the last two days playing Spider and Web[*]. Now that I've started, of course, it's far too late to turn back.

    This is one of those old Infocom text adventure games, and one that, despite being deeply fond of these back when they were state of the art, I'd never even heard of, let alone played. It's basically a spy story: apparently you're a secret agent sent to infiltrate an enemy base where they're developing some kind of ultra-dangerous technology. There's a nifty wrinkle, though. As the game starts out, you're strapped in a chair being interrogated, and the gameplay itself consists mostly of flashbacks in which you (the player) get to figure out just what it was you did to get there as you (the character) reconstruct your actions for the interrogator. It doesn't sound like something that should work, but it does. Brilliantly. In fact, the whole setup makes for what is quite possibly one of the single cleverest plot twists I've ever seen (let alone participated in), and for that alone it commends much respect. But there's also really interesting puzzles to solve, some great character interaction with the interrogator, and some nicely subtle bits of science-fictional world-building. Terrific stuff, and proof positive that you don't need flashy 3D graphics to make for a good computer game.

    Unfortunately, I have now become stuck on the damned thing... For the second time, in fact. I had to get somebody to give me a teensy weensy hint the first time and I may have to again, if my poor character keeps getting shot every time he turns around, as does seem to be happening with annoying regularity now. And giving up doesn't seem to be an option, because I want to find out how this story ends, damn it!

    Sigh. Sometimes I think I should just turn the computer off and leave it off. It's hooked up to way too much tempting stuff...

    [*] If you're interested in checking it out for yourself, you can play it on the web here. There's a major disadvantage to that, though, in that you won't have the capacity to save the game or undo your last action. For a lot of the game that doesn't actually matter very much, since you can't get killed or even screw up in any permanent way in the flashbacks. Eventually, though, you do want that save capacity, believe me! Fortunately, it's also available for download, via this link. You'll need an interpreter for it, also, but you can get those here. I used this one, which claims to be for Windows 95 and NT, but which is working just fine on my XP box. You'll also need a lot of free time, so don't say I didn't warn you...
    Google-Mania Continues!

    I said I might just start doing this once a week, didn't I? Well, nothing wrong with Thursdays (unless you happen to be Arthur Dent, I suppose). Interestingly, I've been getting a lot of hits lately from people looking for nude Klingons, for some reason. Have there been some especially sexy Klingons showing up on Enterprise of late? Anyway, here's the latest batch:

  • metaphor of fire swamp in the princess bride: The fire swamp is a metaphor? Hmm, OK. I wonder what the Rodents of Unusual Size are supposed to symbolize, then?

  • farscape pics of scorpy as a teenager: Here ya go. Not exactly a face that's going to make the cover of Non-Threatening Boys Magazine, is it?

  • keanu reeves *vomit* matrix: Wow, I didn't think he was that bad! Mind you, I still haven't seen the second one yet...

  • ragan vs peterson: Did I win?

  • tomtit model picture: Hey, if you can find the plans on the internet, I bet Transmission of Matter Through Interstitial Time would make one hell of a science project!

  • farscape personality quizzes that include stark: If you have Stark's personality, I somehow don't think you'd need a quiz to tell you so.

  • "doesn't look pregnant": Well, maybe she's not, then.

  • what does "on a tree fallen across the road" mean?: Ah, the old "let's get the internet to do my homework for me" trick, eh? Actually, I love that poem, because ostensibly it's about the human capacity to overcome obstacles, a declaration that Nature is no match for us, by Jove, not even if we have to grab a lever and move us a world! It's all very Star Trek, really. Except... Except there's that tiny little parenthetical phrase just there under the title that delightfully subverts the whole thing, because of course it's actually "On a Tree Fallen Across the Road (To hear us talk)." Heh. I love Frost, have I mentioned that?

  • fix leaks swamp cooler: Fix it yourself. I haven't even had the time to get mine hooked up yet, and it's getting pretty damned hot here...

  • a lot of pictures of ringtails: Haven't got any, sorry. I did see a ringtail in the wild once, though, at the Grand Canyon. It was very cool.

  • supplies astronauts need when going to Mars: Food, water, and oxygen are very important, but Mars-bound astronauts should also make sure not to forget to pack a toothbrush and several changes of underwear.

  • latest funniest nude pics: But none of those dull old nude pics, thank you very much!

  • xander, shut up by dayna: Hey, Dayna, whoever you are, leave Xander alone! Poor boy's been through a lot lately.

  • werewolves nude pics: Yeah, but can you see anything interesting under all that fur, anyway?

  • Wow, you know, I think I may have just set a new personal record for most unrelated pop-culture references in one blog entry. I feel like I should be handing out trivia points for recognizing them or something...

    Tuesday, May 20, 2003

    Now Leaving Sunnydale (WARNING: Spoilers for the Final Epsiode of Buffy!)

    Well. So that's it, huh? Bye-bye Buffy. Now there's really nothing left on television. *Heavy sigh*

    For what is likely the last time, then, random Buffy thoughts follow:

  • I hate to say it, but here we are, at the final Big Climactic Moment, and the pacing's still off. I mean first we talk about Buffy's sex life for ten minutes, and then we cut away to the planning session where we're not actually told what the plan is, and then it's back to talking about Faith's sex life. Now, don't get me wrong, those were good, character-based scenes with lots of great dialog (in fact, the dialog throughout the whole episode was top-notch, absolutely classic Buffy). But all the way through I kept thinking, yes, this is all well and good, but isn't the time for this stuff past? Now is the time for Action! and Climax! and Triumphs! and Sacrifices! And then, suddenly, we had all those things, but after an entire season's worth of agonizingly slow buildup it all happened so quickly that it was difficult to appreciate properly. We were just drrrraaaaaged along for week after week after week, and then, suddenly, BOOM, ten minutes of climax, and now both the characters and the viewer (or this particular viewer, at any rate) are left with a sort of stunned "what the hell just happened?" feeling in the aftermath.

  • Lots of great individual scenes in here, though. That lovely moment when Buffy tells Giles she wants his opinion and he smiles at her and you know everything is OK between them again. The D&D game, which had me laughing in utter delight (especially as I'd actually started thinking about some of the stuff in this show in D&D terms in recent weeks: "Ooh, magic axe! +5 against ubervamps!"). Andrew's farewell speech (I care, Andrew!). The endearing optimism of "So, what do you want to do tomorrow?" and all that stuff about going to the mall. And, of course, the sight of Sunnydale as a smoking hole in the Earth, which, in retrospect, seems like the only way the series possibly could end.

  • OK, who had a "death pool" going on this one? The "surprise" with Wood at the end was kind of a cheap joke, but you just know that Whedon knew that people would practically be taking bets, and it's hard to blame him for giving in to the temptation to play with our heads a bit on that score. I wish I felt more... something... about Spike, but I don't. I did get a tiny bit choked up over Anya, especially when Andrew was talking about her saving his life. Which is odd, because, while Anya is -- er, was -- a cool character, I never really felt all that attached to her. Maybe it's because I've become so attached to Andrew. Speaking of Andrew, at some point during the battle prep I found myself thinking, "You know, Andrew is so convinced he's going to die that it's pretty much a sure bet that he's going to survive." I'm glad I was proven right.

  • On a completely frivolous note: Did you notice that Giles drove the getaway schoolbus on the left side of the road? There's something about that tiny detail that I find utterly, totally charming.

  • The idea of bestowing full Slayer powers on the wannabes is such a good one that I can't help but wonder why they didn't think of it before, if it was so easy to do. Once Buffy came up with the idea, it seemed to take remarkably little time for Willow to get the mojo together.

  • I know one of the things that Buffy has always been about, thematically, is female empowerment[*]. But usually they've been good about keeping the metaphors, well, metaphorical. This time, though, Buffy's speech about girls getting power feels very preachy. It feels like the show telling us what it's about rather than like the character talking. Not only was it overly obvious, but it actually threw me out of the fantasy for a few moments, reminding me rather uncomfortably that I was in fact watching a TV show. Which is somthing I really didn't need just then.

  • I was hoping for a bit more of Caleb, but I gotta say, the way he ultimately went down was extremely appropriate, if rather... disturbing.

  • So the First's motivation is that it wants flesh? I really wish they'd gone into that more over the course of the season, not just because it would have been nice to be clearer on what it was trying to accomplish in plot terms but because that sounds like a really interesting piece of characterization to have missed out on.

  • OK, maybe I'm just dense, but how the heck did Buffy recover so quickly from such a nasty wound? Was there something magical going on there?

  • And the ultimate question, of course: now what am I gonna do with my Tuesday nights?

  • [*] I hate the word "empowerment," with all its yuppie PC buzzwordiness, but I'm afraid I can't be bothered just at the moment to come up with a more original phrase.
    But You Knew That

    My Geek Test results: "37.86982% - Major Geek." Personally, though, I think I should get extra points due to the fact that my immediate response to said result was to think, "Hmm, is this really valid to that many significant figures?"
    More Trekkie Humor

    Via Ferro Lad, it's Star Trek answering machine messages! Some of these are absolutely hysterical. I particularly like Khan's. And Spock's. And Dr. Phlox's. I'm actually tempted to steal the holo-Doctor one, but would hate for it to lead people trying to reach me by telephone to conclude that I actually liked anything about Voyager other than the Doctor.

    You know, years ago I did have a very funny Star Trek message on my answering machine, taken from a Star Trek comedy tape I bought at a convention sometime in the dimly remembered mists of my youth. I didn't leave it up very long, though. People kept calling me just to listen to it, and it got kind of annoying...
    Somehow, Though, It Doesn't Make Me Feel Any Better...

    Well, it seems Farscape has won yet another Saturn Award, making it the first (and so far only) show to have taken home the "Best Syndicated/Cable Television Series" prize three times. Not bad for a show that's been cancelled, eh?

    Monday, May 19, 2003

    Speaking of RPGs...

    Ultimate Roleplaying Purity Score
    CategoryYour ScoreAverage
    Enjoys the occasional head-lopping
    Sensitive Roleplaying54.43%
    "But what's my motivation for this scene?"
    GM Experience100%
    The power of the GM's screen compels you!
    Systems Knowledge95.06%
    Played in a couple of campaigns
    Livin' La Vida Dorka72.41%
    Goes nuts on the weekends
    You are 82.36% pure
    Average Score: 65.5%

    And, wow, but some of those questions were really hard to answer...

    Sunday, May 18, 2003

    Up, Up, And Away!

    Sorry for the lack of blogging over the past couple of days. I've been busy expanding my pop-culture horizons.

    The thing is, the group I game with is going to be dropping our current Torg campaign for a while in favor of D.C. Heroes. While I don't necessarily mind the change of pace, I have to admit to a certain amount of hesitancy about this particular choice. I have played the D.C. Heroes system before, briefly, but I don't really remember the mechanics of it at all. Well, to be honest, I'm not sure I ever completely understood the mechanics in the first place. And superhero stuff is really not my genre. As I put it to one of my fellow gamers, my idea of a comic book is Sandman.

    Well, they seemed to consider that easily fixable, with the result that I've spent a largish chunk of this weekend being educated in matters superheroic. Or at least, I got handed a stack of comics[*] and shown a bunch of superhero cartoons[**] featuring Superman, Batman, and the various members of the Justice League of America. I have to say, I was quite pleasantly surprised by the Superman cartoon series (which, unlike the Batman, I don't think I'd ever seen before). Superman tends to be associated in my mind with a certain over-the-top level of cheesiness[***], but this was actually pretty intelligently written, with humor, character development, and what looked to be some very interesting setup for future plot developments[****].

    Anyway, we did that on Friday, and Saturday was the character creation session, so I now have a "superhero" PC: a gadgeteer kid whose only superpower is a weird psychic affinity for machinery. But I do get to pal around with a giant robot (also a PC), which promises to be fun. All in all, I'm starting to feel considerably more enthused about the whole thing. We'll see how it goes!

    [*] I'm not at all sure what reading about "Mr. Nebula, Cosmic Redecorater" was supposed to do for me, but I have to say, it was pretty darned funny.

    [**] Not that that was entirely for my benefit. Watching some superhero stuff as "prep" for the game was mainly considered a good excuse to get together and grill up some hamburgers.

    [***] Not that there's necessarily anything wrong with cheesiness. I think Superman II is tremendous fun. Kneel before Zod!

    [****] Indeed, I'm rather tempted to check out some more of the show, if only out of curiosity to see what they ended up doing with the Kryptonian computer[*****] they introduced in episode 1.

    [*****] I gather this character had a very different origin story in the cartoon than in the comic books, but the comics fans in the room all seemed to think it was a definite improvement.[******]

    [******] You know, when you start adding footnotes to footnotes, things are really getting out of control. Help!

    Friday, May 16, 2003

    Dishing Out the Friday Five

    1. What drinking water do you prefer -- tap, bottle, purifier, etc.? I use a Brita water filter. Paying for bottled water annoys me, but the tap water in Socorro is kind of nasty, so it's a good compromise.

    2. What are your favourite flavor of chips? Bar-B-Q.

    3. Of all the things you can cook, what dish do you like the most? Um, man... It's been so long since I did much of anything in the way of actual cooking... I used to have this Hungarian goulash dish that was pretty damned good. Haven't made it in ages. I don't know that I could say it was my favorite, since I didn't cook it very often, but I'm suddenly feeling hungry for it now... Apart from that, maybe I'd have to say my chicken & dumplings. Great comfort food, always very well received. Haven't made that in a long time, either. If we include baking, though, it's gotta be brownies. I have a great brownie recipe I cut out of a magazine ad when I was a teenager. I've made those somewhat more recently, because it's what I always end up making when I'm supposed to bring something for a potluck-type situation and can't get away with being the one to show up with the sodas. (I'd post the recipe here, but I'm at work and it's at home. Let me know if you're interested.)

    4. How do you have your eggs? Scrambled.

    5. Who was the last person who cooked you a meal? How did it turn out? A friend of mine made a ham last week and invited me and a couple of other people over. It was yummy.

    Thursday, May 15, 2003

    Pondering the Big Questions

    OK, here's what I want to know. Why is it when you buy an ice cream cone the person behind the counter always -- and I mean invariably -- takes your order, goes off and makes the ice cream, hands the cone to you, and then proceeds to ring up your order, thus forcing you to dig awkwardly through your wallet while you grip your ice cream precariously in your other hand? Why don't they take your money before they make your cone? Or at least sit it in that little cone-holder device most ice cream places have (but which of course is always located out of reach of the customer) while they ring you up? Is it some petty act of vengeance on the part of ice cream vendors? "I may be stuck in this tedious minimum-wage job while you are out enjoying yourself with tasty dairy treats, but at least I can exercise this miniscule amount of power over you! Ha!" Or possibly a means of discriminating against single people? "If you're that much of a loser that you don't even have anyone to hold your ice cream for you, you really have no business eating it." Or what?

    OK, there are probably ways to avoid doing the ice cream/wallet juggling act. Like, you could get out the exact change while the person's making the cone (assuming you're lucky enough to have exact change, of course), so that all you have to do is hand it to them when the time comes, or even leave it sitting on the counter, if you're feeling especially lazy or uncoordinated. But most places in the US, at least, you have to be something of a math whiz to pull that off. I mean, the sales tax in, say, Albuquerque, New Mexico is 5.8125%, for reasons which have never remotely been clear to me. By the time you've either done that in your head or put away your calculator, they're probably already handing you the ice cream.

    When I am Emperor of the World, these things will be done properly. Also, I will impose heavy fines for public misuse of apostrophes, pulling into the driveway and honking to get someone to come out of a house instead of walking up and knocking on the door, and failure to turn off cell phones before entering a movie theater.

    Yes, that's right, it's time for the latest batch of wacky search engine requests that have washed poor misguided websurfers onto the shores of this humble blog. You know, maybe I should make this a regular weekly thing. I certainly get enough material for it... Anyway, here ya go:

  • Farscape sims skins moya: Geez, how would you fit a Moya sim in the house?! I think it'd make more sense to have Moya be the house.

  • fish shocker desktop: I cannot help but wonder whether this involves fish being electrocuted or images of fish which are intended to be shocking. And I'm honestly not sure which would be more disturbing.

  • Naked Tinkerbell pictures: You know, I really ought to know better than to make jokes about the weird images that these search engine requests call to mind, because, sooner or later, somebody will come along looking for them. And things can only snowball from there...

  • inspiring anecdote about the galaxy: As featured in Milky Way: The Official Biography, no doubt.

  • Quicktime alcohol infomercials: And how much would you pay for this crate of premium rotgut whiskey? $50? $100? No! Now this amazing offer can be yours for only $19.99! But wait! There's more! Act now and we'll throw in this set of flimsy plastic shot glasses absolutely free!

  • spoiler warnings annoying: Not half as annoying as not having 'em when you need, 'em, buddy.

  • bondage on farscape video clips: Sorry, haven't got any. Will a picture of Scorpius on a leash satisfy you?

  • scotty dog candy dish: Just what I needed for the kitchen!

  • nude cliff jumping pictures: Now that's what I call an extreme sport!

  • what personality traits do you possess that you are least proud of: Um... My apparent compulsion to make fun of the people who come here via odd search requests?

  • "werewolf sex" pics: Some people have such interesting kinks...

  • nude I sometimes wonder if people don't randomly toss the word "nude" into their search requests just to make them more interesting.

  • portugal "axe murder": Don't look at me, I didn't do it. I've never even been to Portugal!

  • bug butt vocs: OK, chalk me up for a great big "huh?" on this one...

  • cartoony bomb prop: For when you're staging live action Looney Tunes! Actually, that sounds kinda fun...

  • Voyager/Andromeda crossover: Aka "cavalcade of shows that made a deliberate decision to suck."

  • sexy plumber outfit: What was that I said about some people having weird kinks?

  • snow crash screensaver: Wouldn't that be just a field of static? I mean, that's how it worked in the book...

  • Groovin Granny's too sexy for her boobs: Ooooooh-kay.

  • Scotland perverse nude free: Insert your own jokes about bagpipes and haggis here.

  • Buffy's muddy socks: Poor Buffy, has she been tramping through the cemetery in the rain?

  • NUDE FARSCAPE SKINS: For when you take your Farscape sims to that nude beach you built for Vacation, I guess. Of course, what really concerns me is that I'm now sitting here thinking that that sounds like an interesting idea...

  • spike sneezing buffy: 'Cause, you know, he's extra cute when he's sneezing. I guess. Hey, do vampires get allergies? I would think not having to breathe would help with that...

  • farscape astronomy mistake: Actually, although Farscape seldom got very hung up on the whole scientific accuracy thing, the show's astronomy never bothered me very much. Now, the biology, on the other hand...

  • avon command module bubble bath: OK, this is either an interesting piece of Blake's 7 fanfic, or a really cool new bath product.

  • NASA jet packs for sale: Really? How much?

  • T'Pol +A/T +pregnant: OK, now does that "T" stand for T'Pol, or Trip? Because if it's the latter... No, never mind, I really don't want to think about it.

  • "church of star trek": Live long and prosper, brethren! All praise to the Great Bird of the Galaxy!

  • Wednesday, May 14, 2003

    An Astronomical Heads-Up

    I imagine pretty much everybody's already heard about this, but here's a reminder, anyway: be sure to turn your gaze skyward tomorrow (that's Thursday) night for the lunar eclipse! It'll be starting at 10:03 PM EDT, reaching totality at 11:40 and ending at 1:18 AM EDT, and should be visible across all of North America. Always a sight worth seeing, even (or perhaps especially) for those who don't normally pay too much attention to the sky.
    Because Even I'm Not Too Much of a Trekkie to Laugh...

    It's "The Top Ten Things I Hate About Star Trek." ( I particularly liked the comparison with Firefly. Sigh. I miss Firefly.)

    Tuesday, May 13, 2003

    Random Thoughts on Tonight's Buffy (WARNING: Spoilers!)

    Just a few general remarks this time out:

  • Hey, I'm finally starting to feel that ominous sense of impending doom the writers have been trying so hard to instill in the audience for so long. I suspect it probably has a lot more do to with the fact that it's finally starting to sink in that the series really is almost over than with the actual storyline, but it works just as well either way.

  • It's good to see Buffy finally getting her head together and breaking that cycle of alternating bitchiness and self-pity she's been in for most of this season, even if I do think she took a bit too much screentime doing it. And the scene she had with Xander was really quite touching (much more so than anything involving Spike, if you ask me).

  • I heart Andrew. Completely. I mean, just how adorable is he in this one? I think I'm going to miss him way more than Buffy.

  • Judging by the previews, next week's series finale does look pretty exciting. (Well, it'd be a major anticlimax if it wasn't, wouldn't it?) I'm glad to see that apparently we haven't yet seen the last of Caleb. I'm liking him better as a bad guy all the time.

  • Okay, I really want to see some Buffy-Giles interaction. Now. Please.
  • More Cartoonage

    This may be the funniest thing I've seen in days. You gotta love those cross-fandom puns!
    Fun, Fun, Fun in the Sun, Sun, Sun...

    Well, I've now finished watching through my latest DVD acquisition: Red Dwarf Series 1. I love Red Dwarf. It's funny, funny stuff, with good characters, a fun premise, witty dialog, and some very clever writing. More than that, I think one of the reasons why it still holds up so well more than a decade later is that there actually is more to it than the jokes. Despite its silliness, many of the stories were interesting and original enough that they could have worked perfectly well even without being played for laughs. (And I'd say that's true even in the early days of the show, when it had more of a straightforward sitcom sensibility and less of the traditional sci-fi feel it developed in later seasons.) And although the show was not infrequently known to play pretty loose with its own continuity (especially when it came to Kochanski), it still showed an attention to detail many more serious SF shows might have done well to emulate, making both the Red Dwarf itself and solar system it's left behind feel very much like real, lived-in places. I like that.

    The discs themselves are pretty cool, too. This set features all six episodes of the first season, in their original form (which I personally much prefer to the later versions with the snazzed-up FX, anyway). And there's lots of extras. All the episodes have commentary tracks featuring all four cast members. Those might be a little disappointing if you're hoping for a coherent discussion of what it was like to film the series... or a coherent discussion, period, really. It's mostly a lot of joking around, some very disjointed reminiscing, and lots of making fun of people's hairstyles (something that, as far as I can tell, these guys never do get tired of!). It is kind of amusing, though. The first episode also features a bonus commentary track by the writers and director, though they're not actually commenting on the episode itself, just talking a lot about how the series got onto the air in the first place. Then there's an entire second disc full of extras. Some of these are more interesting than others, of course. The deleted scenes were all clearly deleted for a reason, but the outtakes are great. And there's something oddly fascinating about seeing the premiere episode dubbed into Japanese. (Actually, two main things struck me about the Japanese version. One is that, even when he's "Yowww"ing and "Owwww"ing in Japanese, the Cat is still really, really cool. The other is that apparently Holly's cockney slang simply doesn't translate, and whoever was responsible for the dubbing refused to even try. Very weird to suddenly hear "Gordon Bennet!" pop out in the middle of a stream of Japanese.) There's also a half-hour documentary featuring interview snippets with the actors and pretty much everyone involved in the series on the production side. Personally, though, I think my favorite extras were the longish extracts from the audiobook version of Infinity Welcomes Careful Drivers, in which narrator Chris Barrie manages to pull off some truly uncanny impressions of his fellow cast members.

    Oh, and for anyone who might have or plan to get this particular DVD, be sure to hunt down the easter egg on Disc I. It takes you to another interview with the show's creators, which is well worthwhile if only to hear them reading out the utterly appalling newspaper review of the first episode.

    Now I really do need to go out and get Season 2...

    Monday, May 12, 2003

    What Was That About My Priorities?

    I think this should be the Official Theme Comic of Maximum Verbosity.

    Sunday, May 11, 2003

    Jumping on the Bandwagon (Or Possibly the Hatchback)

    OK, people keep sending me links to this car commercial with comments about how incredibly cool it is and how it took them hundreds of takes to get it right, and so on. And up 'til now, I've grumpily refused to go and take a look, because, you know, it's a car commercial. And I hate commercials. I don't care how cool they are. In fact, the cool ones are in some ways the worst because they're the most manipulative, and I hate being manipulated.

    But after hearing "Oh, but you gotta see this!" from about the sixth person, I finally broke down and went and looked at the damned thing. And you know what? It's cool. Really, you gotta see it.

    Saturday, May 10, 2003

    Radiantly Kick-Ass!


    What Kick Ass Fandom Lady Are You?
    brought to you by Quizilla

    "Sorry about the mess!"

    Friday, May 09, 2003

    I Said A L B U... Querque

    Hey, I just found out that Weird Al Yankovic is going to be in Albuqurque in August! Yes! I never did quite get over the fact that I missed him when he was here in '99 while I was away on vacation in Ireland, but now suddenly it's as if my life has meaning again...
    Organizing Some Friday Five Answers

    1. Would you consider yourself an organized person? Why or why not? No. Although I'm not nearly as disorganized as some people I've known (not that I'm naming any names!), I'm still more towards the disorganized end of the spectrum than otherwise. Some aspects of my life are far more organized than others, though. OK, here's an example that tells you pretty nearly everything you need to know about my organizational habits: I have a filing cabinet with labelled files for all kinds of things: bills, credit card statements, medical records, all the usual stuff. I also have huge piles of papers on my kitchen table, consisting of unsorted bills, credit card statements, medical records, and, well, all the usual stuff. Every few months, I will sort through the latter, organize it into the former, and start building up the piles all over again.

    2. Do you keep some type of planner, organizer, calendar, etc. with you, and do you use it regularly? Nope. I bought a very cool Discworld appointment book/planner thingy, because, you know, it was Discworld, and it was cool! And then I realized I had absolutely nothing to use it for. I think it's somewhere on the kitchen table, among all the piles of bills and stuff. What can I say? My life just isn't that full.

    3. Would you say that your desk is organized right now? Well, if I did, I'd be lying. My desk at work is mainly dominated by two large piles of papers. I think there was supposed to be some logic to what went in what pile, like one of them was important stuff I might need to look at often, and the other one was unimportant stuff I could safely ignore. But I don't think that's actually the case, and even if it was, I have no idea which one is supposed to be which.

    4. Do you alphabetize CDs, books, and DVDs, or does it not matter? Yes. In fact, this is the one area of my life in which I am probably the most organized. My CDs are in order, first by (very broad) genre, then alphabetical by artist, then by title. The books are divided into non-fiction paperback, non-fiction hardback, fiction paperback, fiction hardback, poetry, humor, Star Trek books, and Doctor Who books. (The other media tie-in books aren't numerous enough to rate their own sections, and get filed under the appropriate category of fiction.) The fiction books are sorted alphabetically by author and title, and the non-fiction ones are loosely organized by subject. That's all just for the books I've read, though. The To-Be-Read Piles are only sorted by fiction/non-fiction status and cover type, not alphabetically or anything. Which is starting to make it very difficult to deal with, actually... Oh, and the DVDs go: first TV shows, then movies, organized by title within each category.

    5. What's the hardest thing you've ever had to organize? That'd have to be the book collection. Keeping them sorted alphabetically is a pain, because every time I finish a book and add it to the appropriate section, I've got to move everything around. And there's really no good way to organize the non-fiction books. Deciding exactly what a book's subject is is a fuzzy enough judgment call. (I could use the Dewey Decimal System, or, better still, the Library of Congress system, but not all of the books have Dewey numbers and fewer still have LC ones.) And figuring out a way to keep books of similar height together is a good thing, especially when the height of your shelves varies. That's not much of a problem with the paperbacks or with the fiction hardbacks, whose heights don't vary all that much, but the non-fic is all over the place. I'm not 100% happy with the way I've got them all arranged now, but it's acceptable and at least I'm not having too much difficulty finding things.
    Why So Difficult?!

    Within the last 24 hours or so, everything seems to have been breaking. Everything. It started off with some minor problems at work last night. Nothing too catastrophic, though I did at one point get an error message I'd never seen before. (Six and a half years I've been working with this machine, and it still has the capacity to surprise me.)

    Then, I was walking home from work yesterday morning, happily bopping along to Warren Zevon on my portable CD player, when suddenly the music just... stopped. Batteries must be dead, I thought. Hmm, that's odd. Usually it gives you a lot more warning than that. I tried pushing buttons for a while to see if I could make it work again. No dice. Oh, well. I shrugged my shoulders and kept on walking. A couple of minutes later, I realized that there was this really weird, very rapid clicking sound that appeared to be following me. I'd been vaguely aware of it for a little while, but had thought it was coming from somewhere farther off and surely had nothing to do with me. Well, nope. It was the CD player. So I opened it up, popped the disc out, and took a look. It wasn't too hard to figure out what was making the noise: the lens was vibrating back and forth so fast I half expected it to fly to pieces at any moment. I eventually had to yank the batteries out of it to get it to stop. I've no idea what might have caused that, but I'd be willing to bet that the "fix" is going to involve buying a new player.

    Then, tonight I was watching Farscape, and, about halfway through Act I, the cable cut out. I'm just really glad I happened to have that particular episode already on tape elsewhere; "The Way We Weren't," wins my vote for "Best Season 2 Episode" against some extremely stiff competition and is definitely not an episode to miss. I'd really hoped to get a nice copy of it with the commercials zapped out, though. And copying tapes for people would be a lot easier if I actually had them all in order on one batch of tapes. (Not that Sci-Fi's scheduling hasn't already rendered that goal problematical. Guys, you know, there's a reason they decided not to use the original version of "Dream a Little Dream" as the season opener, and it works even less well in that capacity after they added the framing story to final version. Sheesh.)

    Um, where was I? Oh, yeah, things breaking. So, OK, after not getting to watch the rest of the Farscape ep, I headed on into work. And I had to take a detour on the way, because the street I usually use was blocked by a host of vehicles with flashing lights. When I got into work, I was told that there'd been a power outage, which they'd only just recovered from. Apparently, somebody hit a power pole. Hmm, that must've been what the flashing lights were about. It might or might not explain the cable. Anyway, things were in a really messy state after the power loss. Some of the computers hadn't rebooted properly, and a little later, when I tried to look at my e-mail, I couldn't. (This was particularly annoying, because I was kind of in the middle of an extended e-mail conversation trying to sort out some problems I was having after a new software installation a few days ago, and I was interested to see what the relevant expert would have to suggest. Not a big deal, though. Certainly nothing that can't wait 'til Monday.) But everything we actually needed to do the essential part of our job seemed to be functioning, so I finished up the usual diagnostic self-test that gets run at shift changes and started 'er up. And... blooey. Wouldn't work. Apparently, we couldn't connect to one particular vitally needed computer. I went back and took a look at the stupid thing. It seemed to be functioning fine; it just wouldn't talk to us. Network problem, in other words. Nothing I can fix. Aaargh.

    Fortunately, the next thing on our projects queue (somewhat unusually) was one that didn't actually need to use the stuff on the computer we can't connect to. And, hey, it's almost exactly one shift's worth of stuff. (Longer, probably, given overhead and any potential delays caused by the more normal sort of problems.) So I figured I'd skip down and run that, instead. It took me about ten minutes to get everything ready to go for it and get it started up, compared to the probably-several-hours it'd take to get hold of the computer people and for them to wake up, come in, figure out what the problem is, and fix it. I figure, as long as I can accomplish a full shift's worth of what I need to accomplish, anything else can wait until morning. (Mind you, normally I'd call my supervisor and consult him on something like this, but he's on vacation at the moment, so I guess it's up to me to make the command decisions. If I really wanted to pass the buck, I could call my boss' boss and wake her up, but I really don't see any point.) Amazingly enough, this strategy does seem to be working. So far.

    I'm just seriously hoping that nothing else breaks for the rest of the night.

    (Oh, and while I'm thinking about it: 50 trivia points for anybody who can tell me where the title of this post came from!)

    Wednesday, May 07, 2003

    What We Aren't Going to Get

    Just finished reading through the latest (which is also -- *sniff* -- the last) issue of Farscape magazine. And you know something? I thought I was finally getting over it. Finally moving into that "acceptance" stage. Finally being able to tell myself, "Listen, it's only a TV show. So you don't get to find out how all the plot threads come out. It's not the end of the world. Ten years from now, what will it matter?" and actually kinda-sorta talk myself into believing it. Then I read this bit from producer/writer David Kemper's final magazine column, in which he answers questions sent in by readers:
    "With Farscape ending prematurely (sob), there are a lot of plotlines left dangling and many potential stories remain unexplored. Which story, out of all the planned storylines, do you really wish you could have brought to fruition?" Martin Eden (yes, our Martin Eden [i.e. the magazine's editor]), Titan Towers.

    Well, Mart, that's a good question. Obviously, the easy response is the Crichton/Aeryn relationship. However, since I've known that one for so long, it seems too easy an answer. I'm very intrigued by the Crichton/Scorpius relationship, and we had some remarkable turns in mind for the last season. Nevertheless, after actually thinking about it for a bit, I'd have to say -- and this is not a put on -- that I'm sorry you won't get to experience Crichton coming to grips with himself, since the resolution to that dilemma will surely influence all the others. There was a plan in the works to allow Crichton to finally accept and feel comfortable with his new place in the universe, far from Earth. How that was to be accomplished is the what and why of the fifth season.

    Also, as a postscript. I lament you not seeing the single greatest action sequence [producer] Andrew [Prowse] and I have ever planned, which was scheduled to take up most of acts two, three, and four of the last ep of season five. That one sequence alone is something that's been driving me for three years now, and I feel incomplete that I didn't get to write it.

    Aaaaaargh!!! Dammit, I wanna see this stuff! I wanna see this great character development, this fantastic action sequence, this series finale that he'd been working towards for the past three years! And I particularly want to see these "remarkable turns" in the Crichton-Scorpy relationship, since I've always found the interaction between those two characters deeply fascinating.

    Yeah, I definitely think I've gone and slipped from "acceptance" all the way back to "anger" again. Sigh...
    Ragan. Betty Ragan.

    My score on the James Bond Secret Operative Test:
    YOU SCORED: 81.33 %

    Top Drawer - congratulations.

    It appears that you may have what it takes to become a full service agent. You are clever, knowledgeable and have lightening reflexes.

    Fulfil your potential and you'll be cruising your way around the world with other Double Os before you can say Vodka Martini. Don't attempt to contact us, say your goodbyes and we'll pick you up in 30 minutes from there.

    But do I get a really cool car? With rocket launchers? 'Cause otherwise, I'm not entirely sure I'm interested...

    Tuesday, May 06, 2003

    There Can't Be Only Two Weeks Left! They've Still Got Too Much to Resolve! (WARNING: Spoilers for Tonight's Episode of Buffy)

    Doin' the "random thoughts" thing here:

  • You know, I really do think Faith is making a much better leader than Buffy. She's listening to the others and not alienating them, but is still willing to put her foot down and make the decisions. She also gets points for actually picking as a starting point a mission they could actually handle and which had at least some reasonable possibility of paying off. Hey, at least they had better morale when they finally walked into the trap...

  • So Dawn's reading Turkish spellbooks -- in Turkish! -- as well as studying ancient Sumerian? Hmm. She may have not turned out to be a Buffy-in-waiting, but she seems to be making serious progress along the path to becoming a Junior Giles. It's kind of an odd thought, but she might have quite a career ahead of her as a Watcher some day. Assuming they still exist when all this is over, of course.

  • Does Wood just have a fixation with Slayers? Is this some kind of weird Oedipal thing I really don't want to know about?

  • So, Willow can have sex without turning evil. I wasn't aware that this was a concern, but I guess after the whole "Warren incident," I can understand why she was worried. Well, it's good to know we don't have another Angel on our hands, anyway, I suppose.

  • We don't get to see much of Caleb in this episode, but what we do see is extremely effective. I don't know that I thought too much of him as a bad guy at first, but there's something about that really creepy smile he gets to flash a couple of times here that just works. And, you know, of all the various relationships that are being -- ahem! -- explored in this episode, I'm actually finding the one between Caleb and the First the most interesting. Looking at the way they interact, I can see how all the threads of Caleb's abnormal psychology tie together in a very consistent (if extremely disturbing) way. I mean, here's a creature who appears to him as a woman, but is "uncorrupted" by flesh. That's got to have some special resonances for him, twisted misogynist that he is.

  • The First does a great Mayor Wilkins impression! It was really cool to see him again, even if it wasn't exactly him. And, you know, I have always believed that the creepiest, scariest thing about the First is its ability to manipulate people and push their psychological buttons. It picked a very effective way to get to Faith, and I think that just one of this kind of mind-games scenes is worth a dozen fights with Ubervamps and Bringers to really bring home just how evil and dangerous the First actually is.

  • Well, we're now getting very, very close to the end of the season and the end of the show. And it still feels to me like we're building up to the climax at far too leisurely of a pace. I imagine they'll wrap the plot up in a suitablely dramatic fashion, but I'm a bit worried about how much of a resolution we're going to get on some of the character stuff. Yes, I'm sure Buffy will get a great big, life-validating climax, but I want everybody else to have their stories wrapped up on a satisfying note, too. In particular, I really want to see a reconciliation between Buffy and Giles. It's very sad to me to see how estranged they've been lately, and I would hate for things to end on that kind of a note.

  • So, anybody want to place any bets on who lives through next week and who doesn't?
  • No, I Don't Know Where All These Quizzes Keep Coming From

    You have ADD!

    What is your mental profile?
    brought to you by Quizilla

    Huh? What was that? Sorry, I got distracted, there...

    What Is Your Animal Personality?

    brought to you by Quizilla

    But do I get weird, bouncy theme music, like Puma Man?

    Yeah, it's about time for this thing again...

    Current clothes: Khaki-colored jeans. An oversized t-shirt from a Moody Blues concert (black). White socks. Black sneakers.

    Current mood: Tired.

    Current music: In the stereo at home are Paul Simon's Negotiations and Love Songs and the Muppets' 25th Anniversary CD.

    Current hair: I should probably start thinking about getting in to get it cut again in the next few weeks.

    Current annoyance: Oh, man, I've got a whole list of those. Starting with constantly having to schedule appointments for various things during the day when I'm working the night shift, and moving on through various minor work-related annoyances.

    Current thing: Uh, man. I seem to be out of "things" at the moment.

    Current desktop picture: A picture my dad took at the Japanese Garden in Portland, OR.

    Current song stuck in head: I've had "A Passage to Bangkok" in my head for at least the past three days, which has finally proven conclusively that even I can eventually get tired of Rush.

    Current book: I most recently finished Matt Groening's Big Book of Hell. At the moment, I'm reading the latest issue of Skeptic magazine, and I've got some other non-book reading material I'll probably get to after that. Next book will likely be The Man Who Folded Himself by David Gerrold.

    Current video in player: The one I caught tonight's Farscape rerun on, of course. They're a few episodes into the second season, now. Before that, it was a tape with some Doctor Who episodes on it. I was watching "The Space Museum." For some reason.

    Current refreshment: Cold water.

    Current worry: Time and money. I seem to be continually short of both. I've got a to-do list as long as my arm, and a to-buy list as long as my other arm. Sigh.

    Current thought: I'd much rather be home sleeping.

    Monday, May 05, 2003

    Google Update

    I just got a search engine hit on "Jool nude" in my site referrer log! I do believe that means I've now got all the female characters covered (uh, so to speak) in my continuing quest to collect search engine hits for naked pictures of Farscape characters. Right, ladies, now the rest is up to you! Well, you and the gay guys, I suppose. Come on! Don't let me down! You know y'all want naked pictures of Braca!

    Sunday, May 04, 2003

    No Quiz Too Geeky! No Quiz Too Obscure!

    You are . . . Max
    A continual optimist, you look on the bright side
    even in the face of impending doom. Your
    chirpy confidence might not save you when
    things turn sour, but at least you'll go down
    with a smile on your face.

    Which Blake's 7 guest character are you?
    brought to you by Quizilla

    Hmm, I'm a likeable but kinda forgettable guy in one of the better episodes. Given the kinds of guest characters that tended to show up on that program, it could have been a lot worse...
    That Other Movie with an X in the Title

    In honor of the soon-to-be-released Matrix sequel, I present to you The Matrix Sucks! page. Personally, I don't think The Matrix sucks, though I do think it was extremely over-rated[*]. It's always struck me as one of the best examples of Keanu Reeves actually not sucking, however, and finally I understand why. It's because he has almost no actual content-bearing dialog!

    [*] But I must admit, I'm quite looking forward to seeing the second one, anyway.
    A Vague and Incoherent (but Spoiler-Free) Late-Night Fuzzy-Brained Movie Review Type Thingy

    Well, I just did something that's becoming increasingly rare for me: I went to an actual movie in an actual theater, on actual opening weekend, no less! Yep, that's right, I've just been to see X-Men 2, and I very much enjoyed it. OK, there were one or two plot points that seemed a little iffy to me, and one bit of backstory I completely failed to understand until I got somebody at least moderately familiar with the comic books to explain it to me. And, OK, the characters are god-like enough (and, in some cases, at least, the limits to their powers ill-defined enough) to approach the point of ridiculousness. And, yes, that sort of thing would probably be enough to ruin some movies for me. But this one... Well, I don't find myself saying stuff like this much but: Who cares? It's cool. I mean, it's possible that this movie doesn't actually hold the record for Most Cool Stuff Happening Per Unit Time, but it's definitely a serious contender for the title. And it's not just eye candy, either. It's cool stuff being done by neat characters for interesting reasons. Well, mostly for interesting reasons. And there's some actual serious thematic content, to top it all off (though not, admittedly, nearly as much as in the first movie).

    Betty says: go see it. If you can sit through, say, once of Magneto's big scenes without once thinking "Woah, that's cool!", then I strongly suspect you're simply lacking in one of the major entertainment-appreciation genes.

    Friday, May 02, 2003

    A Friday Five Singalong

    Wow, these are really kind of difficult...

    1. Name one song you hate to admit you like. "The Highwayman" by Willie Nelson. In fact, I think this is the first time I've ever admitted to that. And I'm feeling embarrassed about it already.

    2. Name two songs that always make you cry. "Angie" by the Rolling Stones. "Also Sprach Zarathustra" (aka the theme to 2001: A Space Odyssey), if I'm in exactly the right mood. (Not that I think I've ever actually cried at either of those, but they kind of make me want to, though for completely different reasons.)

    3. Name three songs that turn you on. Um, I don't think I've ever noticed music having that effect on me, actually.

    4. Name four songs that always make you feel good. "Graceland" by Paul Simon. "Werewolves of London" by Warren Zevon (because you can't listen to it and not howl along, and it's impossible to feel bad while you're doing the werewolf howl). The Doctor Who theme music. Pachelbel's Canon.

    5. Name five songs you couldn't ever do without. Oh, come on, this is even more impossible than the whole Desert Island Discs thing. If I can't pick ten albums, how on Earth do you expect me to pick five songs?!

    Thursday, May 01, 2003

    So Many Books, So Little Time!

    Well, that's April over and done with, I suppose. You know, it's kind of depressing... For quite a while, I've been keeping a month-by-month track of how many books I've bought or otherwise acquired vs. how many I've read. The idea was that it would help keep me cognizant of how rapidly the dreaded To-Be-Read Pile was growing, and thus to help me not go overboard with the whole buying-books-faster-than-I-can-read-them thing. Unfortunately, it hasn't much. This month's Read total was a whopping 10[*], with the Bought total weighing in at no fewer than 23. At this rate, not only will I never catch up, but soon I'm not going to have enough room in the house for the stacks of unread books! A lot of April's excess has to do with the library sale a couple of weeks ago, but far too much of it is due to my pitiful weakness of will when it comes to book clubs. All sorts of stuff that I probably wouldn't look twice at in a bookstore manages to catch my attention when it's presented in those nice, shiny book club flyers. The fact that I don't actually have to give them any money until the books arrive doubtless has a lot to do with it, too. It's much easier to be restrained when you know you're going to have to fork out cash on the spot.

    Sigh. I really do need to find some kind of Bookoholics Anonymous group to join...

    [*] It should have been 11, but I fell asleep before finishing The Stars My Destination last night.