Monday, May 31, 2004

Just Call Me a Cultist

Despite the fact that I no longer watch television, like, pretty much at all, I do have a subscription to TV Guide. I think at some point I ordered a 5-year subscription, and I guess it still hasn't run out yet. I've taken to joking that I have TV Guide so I don't have to watch TV. It tells me what's on, so I know exactly what it is that I'm missing, which is, generally speaking, nothing.

Anyway, TV Guide had a cool little feature this week naming their "top 25 cult TV shows," and I simply couldn't resist commenting on the list. So, here 'tis, complete with my random natterings:

25. Freaks and Geeks. Never saw it. Funny. You'd think something with a title like that would appeal to me.

24. Absolutely Fabulous. I don't think I've ever seen more than five minutes of this show at a time, believe it or not. I have friends -- many friends -- who absolutely adore it. From what little I saw, I must admit that I don't really know why. Obviously one of these days I need to watch the thing in order to understand the attraction.

23. Forever Knight. For a very brief period, I was a massive fan of this show. That was long after it was cancelled, of course, because that's how these things tend to go for me. But I fell absolutely in love with it while watching re-runs on Sci-Fi. The angst! The mixing of disparate genres! The action! The drop-dead gorgeousness of Geraint Wyn Davies! The Nigel Bennett! OK, yeah, it kinda went downhill in the 4th season, a lot, but even that didn't really put me off. I was utterly obsessed with it for, oh, a year or so, and then after I'd finally managed to watch all of the episodes (including some I missed on the first go-round and had to catch in the second batch of reruns), I abruptly lost interest. I've got the first season on DVD now, though, and I'm kind of looking forward to re-acquainting myself with it.

22. H. R. Pufnstuf. I remember racing home from school each afternoon to watch Sid & Marty Kroft shows on TV. They never told you which one it was going to be, so it was always a surprise. One day it might be Sigmund and the Sea Monsters, the next day maybe it'd be The Bugaboos. I loved 'em all, for reasons which utterly escape me now. Oddly enough, though, Pufnstuf was probably my least favorite of the bunch. I remember always being disappointed when it'd turn out to be Pufnstuf instead of Sigmund.

21. Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman. I'm honestly not sure I ever saw this.

20. Twin Peaks. My sister was a big fan of this show, but somehow I never bothered to watch it when it was on.

19. Dark Shadows. I adored the short-lived remake series of the 90's. All I've seen of the original, other than a few random moments here and there caught in the course of channel-surfing, was the TV-move House of Dark Shadows. I was deeply unimpressed, but maybe that wasn't representative.

18. Doctor Who. Oh, hell, yes. I'm afraid if I get started waxing rhapsodic about Doctor Who, I'll never stop, so I won't say too much about it other than that absolutely nothing belongs on this list more than it does.

17. The Avengers. I remember spending a wonderful summer during high school where I pretty much did nothing but watch great old TV shows on A&E. Among other wonderful things (The Fugitive, All Creatures Great and Small), that was my introduction to The Avengers, and I think I was hooked on it almost instantly. Emma Peel is my hero, and John Steed... mmmm, John Steed. Haven't watched it in ages, though, and to this day I think there are a bunch of episodes I've still never seen. Which is an immense shame.

16. My So-Called Life. Never watched it. It looked like it was about a whiny teenager, so I gave it a pass.

15. Quantum Leap. I was extremely fond of this show, and not just because I had a huge crush on Scott Bakula's character. Although that didn't hurt, I admit. Really jumped the shark in the last season, though, alas.

14. Beauty and the Beast. I hate romances, but this one made me all warm and fuzzy and weepy and everything else that romances are supposed to do to you. Neat premise, great characters, and how cool was Ron Perlman in that makeup? My two cents on the controversial series ending: It was well-written, well-acted, and the writers were clearly trying to do their very best under the circumstances. On another show, it would have been great, and even on this one, it was affecting. But it just didn't fit comfortably with the tone of what preceded it. When you're promised a happy-ending romance, even an angst-fan like me can't handle that abrupt of a U-turn into tragedy.

13. Babylon 5. I watched this sporadically when it was originally on and am trying to make up for it now with the DVDs, even if my progress is very slow. Not all the individual episodes were all that great, and occasionally it came across as a little pretentious, but it aimed extremely high and mostly hit the target. And it ushered in a whole new era of SF television, even if that era now sadly seems to be ending.

12. Family Guy. I was never exactly a regular watcher of this, I don't think, but what I saw of it I thought was quite funny. Nobody I know liked it, though.

11. Mystery Science Theatre 3000. Some episodes are better than others, but the best ones are frickin' hysterical. Haven't seen nearly enough of them.

10. Pee-Wee's Playhouse. Never saw it. Pee-Wee kind of irritates me.

9. Xena: Warrior Princess. My sister was a big fan of this, although as I recall she really disliked where it went in the last season. I've only ever seen a few episodes, most of them because my sister made me sit down and watch them. What I saw wasn't at all bad, though I think I kind of preferred the tongue-in-cheek nature of Hercules, which (from what I've seen) appeared to recognize just how ridiculous its premise was and just be out to have fun with it. Xena, by contrast, was clearly trying to be all Serious and Angsty, and I don't think it worked quite as well.

8. The Twilight Zone. Hasn't necessarily aged well, as all the creepy twist endings have long since become cliche, but a classic, nonetheless.

7. The Prisoner. I still haven't seen all of this series, and I really need to. I've never been quite able to make up my mind whether it's brilliant or just insane, but whichever it is, it's certainly got style.

6. The Simpsons. I was a little surprised to see this on the list, as The Simpsons have long been an essential part of mainstream American culture. Can anything that universally popular really be called a "cult" show? Then again, my friends' ability to hold entire conversations in nothing but Simpsons quotes does kind scream "cult," no matter how popular it is.

5. Monty Python's Flying Circus. Never ceases to be funny. Never. Even if, a surprisingly large amount of the time, part of what I find so funny about it is the very fact that I'm finding something that patently absured to be so very funny.

4. Farscape. Wow, number four! I suspect recent high-profile fan activity is what prompted that rating, and that, were this list compiled a couple of years earlier or a couple of years later, it wouldn't rank nearly that high. Still, I'm not complaining, 'cause it deserves the slot, in my biased opinion. I only hope it has the staying power of some of these other shows.

3. Buffy the Vampire Slayer. No show with a hero named "Buffy" should be that well-written, witty, involving, and deep. This is another one of those shows that, once I finally started watching them, made me really want to smack myself on the head and shout, "Why was I not watching this sooner?!"

2. The X-Files. Ah, the premiere example of a cult show going mainstream. Personally, I always had extremely mixed feelings about it. At its best, it was damned good; you won't find many hours of television capable of surpassing "Jose Chung's From Outer Space." And the characters were interesting, particularly Mulder (who, OK, wasn't exactly unpleasant on the eyeballs, either). But, somehow, I always liked it best when it was being light-hearted, or even bordering on the self-parodic. When it tried to be serious, if often tried too hard, and ended up being murky, pretentious, and dull. And I loathed the whole "mythology" thing, as it seemed to me that the writers were not gradually unveiling a carefully-thought-out mystery so much as they were making shit up on the spot, and then cutting away before the ending primarily because they didn't have an ending. Maybe it wouldn't have seemed so much like that to me if I'd watched it more consistently and thus had a clearer idea of the big picture, but I really doubt it.

1. Star Trek. Well, of course. What else could hold the #1 slot? Trek -- the original Trek -- is the granddaddy of 'em all, and even if, with over 35 years of perspective, it now seems a little silly, a little cheesy, and rather dubious in the morality department, it still holds an important place in our culture, and a very dear place in my heart.
Aw, I Was Hoping for Spaceballs.

You are The History of the World: Part 1
You just can't make up your mind as to where or
when you are. You like to see the bigger
picture, but remember, not everyone get's to be

Which Mel Brooks Movie Are You?
brought to you by Quizilla

Saturday, May 29, 2004

Things I Should Know Better Than To Do #1,561

Note to self: When feeling kind of blah and in want of relaxation and cheering-up, I should not, not, not watch things on DVD which I know are going to be upsetting.

Joss Whedon, I hate you. Absolutely hate you. But in a good, you're-fucking-brilliant-and-you-know-exactly-how-to-make-my-heart-hurt way.

(Yes, those who know Buffy can easily guess just where I am in my viewing of season five... *sob*)
Why I Should Be Kept Away from the Internet

List of things I just ordered on Amazon:

  • The Burning (the next Doctor Who novel after the previously-complained-about Ancestor Cell)

  • Eats, Shoots & Leaves

  • Buffy Season 6

  • Northern Exposure Season 1

  • Futurama Season 3

  • Farscape 4.4

  • I will never be caught up on books and DVDs as long as I live.

    Went to bed at 5:00 AM (not even feeling particularly sleepy). Woke up at quarter to eleven with a headache.

    I hereby declare today to be a day of lying around in my pajamas watching DVDs.
    Farscape News!

    Apparently there was a nice little article in Sci-Fi Magazine about the upcoming Farscape miniseries. You can read the text of it here. (Warning: contains spoilers for the 4th-season cliffhanger.) A sample:
    The final result is vast, said Henson. "It's a very big miniseries. It's a very big, high-budget, action-packed epic. We were faced with how do you take Farscape, which was already a television series where every episode was meant to look and feel like a movie, and make that series into an event television miniseries? It's really tough to figure out how to make it even bigger, but we did. It is bigger. It's a lot bigger."


    Friday, May 28, 2004

    Booking It!

    As some of you may have noticed (although perhaps not all that many of you), it's been a long, long while since I last updated my book review pages. There are a lot of reasons for that: I'm reading far fewer books lately (alas), so I have far fewer books to review. The website has long since become rather large and unwieldy, and really, really needs a major redesign that I have neither the time nor the interest (and, OK, possibly not the HTML skills, although those can be faked) to do. And, perhaps most significantly, my tastes and standards have changed so much over the years since I first started doing the book reviews that it seems ludicrous to keep using the same rating system now. A book I can't bring myself to give more than a D today might well be a better book than something I gave a C+ five years ago, and how the hell do I reconcile that in any kind of consistent way?

    So I may or may not return to "Betty's Book Reviews." But I still like to talk about books once in a while, doggone it, and I'm seized with a sudden desire to post some mini-reviews here.

    Thus, the books I've read this month:

    Starfarers by Poul Anderson: A deeply mediocre SF novel. Has some good science-fictional ideas scattered through its ~500 pages, but that's about the best thing I can say about it. Anderson is clearly conversant with the idea that his characters ought to be 3-dimensional, but he's so obviously trying to force a faked-up semblance of 3-dimensionality onto boring cardboard cutouts that it's painful to watch. It's badly-paced. And it's written in an odd style that might be interesting in a different context, but utterly fails to work for this particular story. Anderson's written better stuff. I might recommend Tau Zero or The Boat of a Million Years, both of which do some of the same thing he's trying to do in this one (namely capture something broad and sweeping in scope), but do it considerably better.

    The Exploits of Sherlock Holmes by Adrian Conan Doyle and John Dickson Carr: I talked about this one before, but to reiterate: The first handful of stories are reasonably competent pastiche, but generally very weak as stories. But the much stronger ones later in the collection go quite a long way towards making up for them.

    Zen in the Art of Writing by Ray Bradbury: A collection of essays on writing in general and Bradbury's own writing in particular, gathered from a fairly wide period over the course of his career. I think books on writing should come with a great big disclaimer, because I've heard many writers talking about their own individual writing processes, and have done a bit of writing myself, and it's very clear to me that the process of creative writing is a deeply individualized thing, and that trying to force oneself into a writing pattern that isn't what's natural and best for you is a certain recipe for frustration and disaster. And yet, when a writer finds a method that works for him, it's almost impossible for him to resist trumpeting about how great it is and how it's obviously right for everybody... and Bradbury isn't an exception. Still, Bradbury's own method clearly does work brilliantly for him, because he's an absolutely amazing writer. He says many true and insightful things in these essays, and says them beautifully. And the glimpses he gives into his writing and life experiences -- the two things being quite inseparable for him -- are fascinating.

    The Ersatz Elevator by Lemony Snicket: This is Book 6 of the "Series of Unfortunate Events," which I'm finding to be an utterly delightful, wonderfully fun read. I'm really sorry these weren't around when I was a kid. Adult-me enjoys them, but I suspect kid-me would have loved them. That having been said, Ersatz Elevator struck me as possibly the weakest of what I've read of the series so far, though my disappointment may be in large part due to the fact that The Austere Academy, which may well be my favorite of the series so far, is kind of a tough act to follow. But it really seemed to be reaching for the satire in a way that Academy and the previous books didn't. Maybe yuppies are just harder to satirize with any subtlety than schools...

    The Ancestor Cell by Peter Anghelides and Stephen Cole: This is a Doctor Who novel, one of the "Eighth Doctor" adventures, a series that I'm making my way through very, very slowly. It resolves (I think) the "Faction Paradox" plot that had been a continuing thread through the previous several books, and is in many ways a conclusion to the story arc introduced in Lawrence Miles' two-part novel Interference. Which is a shame, really, because Interference was bloody brilliant: wildly inventive, perfectly plotted, and just generally a damned good read. Whereas Ancestor Cell is a dull, muddled mess of a book. It features so many ridiculous or confusing plot elements that I eventually just sort of gave up attempting to make any sense out of them. (This may be attributable in part to the fact that it relies very heavily on knowing the events of previous books, which I had read long enough in the past to no longer remember terribly well. But I think that accounts for only a small fraction of my difficulty. Most of it, I think, was the writing.) I had a few problems with some aspects of the characterization, most notably finding it nearly impossible to suspend my disbelief as one particular character suddenly did an emotional 180-degree turn for no good reason. With the exception of a few interesting, but sadly wasted details, Gallifrey did not feel like Gallifrey. And, perhaps worst of all, Faction Paradox, who started out with the potential to be incredibly interesting bad guys, unique, complicated, and creepy, are reduced to little more than moustache-twirling, "mwahahahaha"ing cardboard villains. Sigh. I gather the ending was really controversial among Who fans and upset a lot of people. Me, I didn't have a problem with it. Indeed, in a different context, it could have been wonderfully shocking and deeply, thought-provokingly exciting. As it is, I'm just sorry that such major, important events (both for the characters and for the universe at large) came wrapped up in such an apathy-inducing package.

    And, currently, I'm reading Blue Latitudes by Tony Horowitz, about the voyages of Captain Cook. Apparently the author sailed for a while on a modern replica of Cook's ship, the Endeavour, which certainly sounds interesting. Can't really comment on the book at all, since I'm only about 12 pages in, but Horowitz has definitely earned my approbation already with his extended comparison between the voyages of Cook and those of Kirk:
    Like most Americans I grew up knowing almost nothing of Captain Cook, except what I learned in fifth-grade geography class. Though I didn't realize it at the time, I also absorbed his adventures through episodes of Star Trek. A suburban kid, growing up in a decade when even the moon had been conquered, I never ceased to feel a thrill at the TV show's opening words: "These are the voyages of the Starship Enterprise. Its five-year mission to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no man has gone before!"

    It wasn't until years later that I realized how much Star Trek echoed a true story. Captain James Cook; Captain James Kirk. The Endeavour, the Enterprise. Cook, the Yorkshire farm boy, writing in his journal that he'd sailed "farther than any other man has been before." Kirk, the Iowa farm boy, keeping his own log about boldly going "where no man has gone before!" Cook rowed jolly boats ashore, accompanied by his naturalist, his surgeon, and musket-toting, red-jacketed marines. Kirk "beamed down" to planets with the science officer Mr. Spock, Dr, McCoy, and phaser-wielding, red-jerseyed "expendables." Both captains also set out -- at least in theory -- to discover and describe new lands, rather than to conquer or convert.

    OK, yeah, I admit it. I'm just unfairly biased towards books written by Trekkies...

    Thursday, May 27, 2004

    Where Has Everyone Gone?

    what kind of social software are you?

    Search Request Thursday

    Here they are, the latest batch of weird, wacky, disturbing, or at least mildly interesting search requests that have brought people to this blog:

  • faramir ticklish: I have no idea whether Faramir is ticklish or not. I guess you'd have to get under the armor to find out...

  • bad Mary Sue Lexx fanfiction: Man, there are some major masochists out there on the 'net...

  • plumber's putty t-shirt: The very height of fashion!

  • vulcan blog: I bet Vulcans make really boring bloggers. They probably think blogging is illogical.

  • garak trembled: Aww, poor Garak. Is his claustrophobia bothering him again?

  • quiet pet tag silencer: This probably shouldn't be conjuring up images of shutting up the neighbor's barking dog with a silenced handgun, should it?

  • blog socorro swamp NRAO: No, the Socorro Swamp was at my house, when we got flooded out the year before last. NRAO stayed pretty dry.

  • quicktime stunt crashes spectacular: Well, who doesn't like the spectacle of things crashing?

  • sex on a spaceship, porn movie: You know, I'm remembering how they used airplane dives to film zero-g scenes for Apollo 13 and imagining somebody using the technique for an outer space porn movie, and am finding myself deeply, unreasonably amused at the thought.

  • pictures red sore bunions: I really hope that's not another foot fetishist, because, if so, that's an even freakier request than usual.

  • GEEK QUIZ AND ignoramus: Can one be both a geek and an ignoramus? Hmm, well, if "ignoramus" can be said to apply to social skills, then I guess one pretty obviously can.

  • "black hole" cygnus "time flies": Or, depending on your perspective, time grinds to a complete standstill...

  • ethnic spiritual clothing: I'm not sure I'd be comfortable wearing "spiritual clothing." Does it pray when you put it on?

  • unexplained astronaut visuals: You mean, like, Dave Bowman sightings?

  • betty white naked: Well, now, there's a nude-pictures search request I don't get every day.

  • tatoos of surfings: "Surfings?"

  • ragan sex nude: Sorry. No sex from me, nude, clothed, or otherwise.

  • "I like licorice" book: I like licorice, too, but not enough to write a book about it.

  • swamp pictures books blog NRAO: This is sorta like what you'd get if you put my blog into a blender and started pulling out random words.

  • ww1 dart: Hmm, well, my dad used to have a Dodge Dart that was pretty old, but it definitely postdated WW1.

  • www ebony booty hole: You know, that's bizarrely fun to say. Come on, say it with me! "Ebony booty hole!"

  • crais "betty ragan": Yeah, what about me and Crais?

  • Blakes Lotaburger Fan: Those things didn't work nearly well enough in the summer, let me tell ya. Especially not when you were standing over the grill, dripping with hamburger grease and sweat. Gaah. Man, am I glad my fast food days are over.

  • egm skeleton jacket: I don't have any idea what an "egm" even is, although I guess I must have mentioned one at some point. Anyway, what does a skeleton need with a jacket?

  • Sleep Update (Just in Case, for Some Odd Reason, You Care)

    Went to bed today a little before 9:00 AM. Woke up around 1:00. Hmm, that averages out to about 8 hours, right?

    Wednesday, May 26, 2004

    Rip Van Winkle, Watch Your Back!

    Did I say in the last post that I was becoming unhappy with the idea of sleeping my life away? Gaaaah!

    I got off work this morning at 8 AM, utterly exhausted, went to bed a little after 8:00... and woke up at 3:00. About like I've done every day this week. Now, this is not enough sleep, and I was well aware that if I got up then, I'd be tired and blah and even more exhausted on the trip home the next morning (at which point, even on my ten-minute drive home, I start to become a road hazard). But that little voice in the back of my head kept saying, "Yes, but if you get up now, you can do stuff!" Well, I fought a mighty battle with that voice, eventually won, and went on back to sleep. And woke up at 9:30.

    Nine frickin' thrity! I've lost my entire day, and now I feel... strange. Damn. Next time I'm listening to that voice.

    Tuesday, May 25, 2004

    If Patience Is a Virtue, I Am Sinking Rapidly Into Vice.

    Are people generally supposed to get more patient and mellow with age? Because I keep hearing about things like "the impatience of youth," but I find that the older I get the more short-tempered I'm becoming, and the more things I have no patience left for at all.

    Some things I have found myself becoming increasingly intolerant of and annoyed with:

    Waiting: I feel like some awful modern-American stereotype here, but I find that, more and more, it drives me crazy to have to wait for anything. Waiting at stoplights, being stuck behind a slow-moving car, waiting for web pages to load, waiting for my PC to reboot (which it's having to do far too often these days), waiting in line at the grocery store... I just sit (or stand) there thinking, "Aaargh! It's taking entire minutes! Why is it taking minutes?! I have a goal! I want to reach that goal! I don't want to be stuck here! Grrrr!" Sometimes, I have to tamp down the urge to just drive through the car in front of me.

    Television commercials: I've always deeply disliked TV commercials but these days I find them actively, painfully unwatchable. This is yet another reason why I've mostly abandoned watching television "live" in favor of DVDs. Or maybe it's a consequence of that, actually. When you're used to being bombarded with the things every day of your life, you don't realize just how obnoxious they truly are.

    Fragile egos: I was going to type "people with fragile egos," but that's totally inaccurate, because some of the coolest and most likeable people I've known have been sufferers of Fragile Ego Syndrome. But you have to be careful what you say to Fragile Ego people and how you say it, because it's very easy to hurt their feelings and even easier to induce them to hurt their own feelings. And that demands a form of self-censorship that I find increasingly frustrating to practice, because the older I get, the more I just want to say what the hell I mean. The most insidious form of Fragile Ego Syndrome is the one that results in someone being so afraid of offending you or putting you out (because if they do that, you'll think badly of them and it will hurt) that you do have to put yourself out making sure you don't say something that will make them believe they've offended you or put you out when they haven't. (Or, worse still, when they have, a little, but it's no big deal, or, worse still, when they have a lot, but you still like them just the same anyway.) This variation bothers me particularly because I used to be a major sufferer of it, myself, and our own past issues are always difficult to bear when we see them manifested in somebody else. Also, I too often feel the urge to shake such people a little and yell at them. "Stop it! You don't have to be like that! Hell, it's the only thing I don't like about you! Just get over it! I did!" But I know perfectly well that that doesn't work, or I would have listened the first six thousand times someone told me that I shouldn't worry about what other people think, instead of basically just waking up one day and discovering that somehow I no longer cared that much.

    The telephone: Worse than people I don't want to talk to calling me are people I do want to talk to calling me at the wrong time. Because then I sit there the entire time I'm talking to them feeling bad about the fact that I'm thinking about my burning desire to get back to what I was doing when they called instead of what they're talking to me about.

    Sleep: Back when I was in high school, I used to be a world championship sleeper. During summer vacation, sometimes I'd sleep 15 hours a day, and have the most interesting dreams. It was great. Now, I just keep thinking about how utterly unfair it is that I have to waste one-third of my life being unconscious. But I do have to, of course, or the other two-thirds become unbearable. Life would be so much better if sleep were an optional thing you could indulge in for pleasure when you wanted and do without when you didn't. Someone should really look into that.

    Bad books: I used to be compulsive about finishing books, no matter how apocalypatically suck-worthy they might turn out to be. I'd always have this ridiculously optimistic feeling that they might suddenly get better any minute now, really, combined with a charming ability to find something worthwhile in even the most dire of texts. These days, I still have the compulsion, but the emotion that originally inspired it seems to have vanished. All I feel now at reading a mediocre book is a sense that I'm wasting my time, and all I feel at finishing one is relief. A while back, when I spent half a day seriously thinking that the world might be going to end because my friend on asteroid watch slipped me an alarming false alarm, I deeply surprised myself by discovering that my only actual regret was, "Man, I really wish I hadn't spent the last week reading that shitty Buffy novel." And, yet, I keep doing it. Somebody smack me over the head with a copy of Battlefield Earth and knock some sense into me, will you?
    But I Know Many Interesting Facts About Sheep's Bladders.

    My liege!

    What Monty Python Character are you?
    brought to you by Quizilla

    So It Works Out Either Way!

    Just had an amusing conversation with a co-worker. I was bemoaning the fact that I really, really like the whole not-working thing, and that my vacation wasn't nearly long enough.

    Him: You need to hit the lottery.
    Me: I've got a better chance of being hit by lightning.
    Him: Hey, if you get hit by lightning, you can go out on disability!

    Heh. I am easily amused at this hour of the morning.

    Monday, May 24, 2004

    Should I Leap at the Chance?

    Quantum Leap is coming out on DVD. Next month.

    OK, somebody talk me out of buying this. I really don't need to add any more DVDs to my wish list.
    Still More Pointless Quizzage

    Which internet subculture do I belong to? [CLICK]
    You are a Trekkie!
    It's a geek, Jim! You probably have a starfleet uniform and a tricorder. Bonus points if you speak klingon. One day you will walk down the aisle with your buttertroll trekkie partner, humming to the Yoyager theme.
    More Quizzes at

    Hmm. Don't have a uniform. Do have a t-shirt with a Starfleet insignia on it. Don't have a tricorder. Do have a TNG communicator pin. Only know a few words of Klingon. Do have a personally autographed copy of the Klingon dictionary.

    Yeah, OK, I think I qualify.

    But Voyager? Please.

    Sunday, May 23, 2004

    Back to the Data Mines

    Alas, my wonderful week o' sittin' around on my butt is over, and I have to be back at work in, oh, about an hour from now. Sigh.

    I got a few small things done around the house... Not as much as I'd have liked to, but about what I'd actually expected, really. Got a couple of minor projects successfully completed, too. I did rather less reading than I'd intended to, which is a little disappointing, but made reasonable progress through the DVDs; in addition to all those movies I rented, I've now seen about half of Buffy season 5. And spent way too much time online, unsurprisingly.

    So, yeah, all-in-all not a super-productive week off, but nice. I ate when I was hungry, slept when I was tired, got up when I was rested, and basically just spent all day doing whatever the hell I felt like, and it was good. This is so the way I want to live my life. Why, oh why, am I not independently wealthy?
    Content? What Content?

    You are Neverwhere! You are dark, intriguing, and
    lenient. You might make people feel
    uncomfortable, either because you are
    intimidating or you dress differently possibly
    both. In reality you are a nice person, but
    people tend to make snap judgments about you
    and think they can push you around. You
    probably are idealistic and dream of a utopian
    society. The friends that you have are the kind
    that last forever and you are fun and
    easy-going when people bother to get to know

    *~Which Neil Gaiman book are you?~*
    brought to you by Quizilla

    Not a bad choice, but then, I don't think there's a single Gaiman book that would be a bad choice. But... "lenient?"

    Saturday, May 22, 2004

    Yes, I Am Flammable.




    Yet Another Quiz


    ?? Which Of The Greek Gods Are You ??
    brought to you by Quizilla

    Hmm, no mention of my warmongering side, though...

    Thursday, May 20, 2004

    Search Request Thursday

    Here's the latest batch, such as it is...

  • childhood armpits: Ah, the innocent armpits of childhood...

  • "of you on the toilet": Look, buddy, whatever it is you're wanting of me on the toilet, I guarantee you ain't gettin' it.

  • Detective arrested and told on... her mom... 2004 barstow ca: A detective got arrested and they told on her to her mom? Wow, that's harsh.

  • children's permanent teeth coming in discolored: You shouldn't have let them inject that coffee into their gums.

  • Granny's gone computer: Look out, internet!

  • BLAZING SADDLES CHESS PIECE: Ooh, I want a Blazing Saddles chess set!

  • Vulcan mating ritual mp3: Look, it's supposed to be "a thing no outworlder may know." Now, admittedly, that bit of continuity has been pretty thoroughly trashed since "Amok Time," but I still really don't think it's the sort of thing Vulcans are going to make recordings of and post them on the internet.

  • spirograph knobs motor light: Knobs? Motors? Lights? Geez, kids today. Gotta have everything computerized. My spirograph consisted of nothing but plastic pieces and some sheets of paper, and I was happy with that. (Hmm. Do they actually still make those things, even?)

  • "mutara nebula" nasa: Fortunately, the folks at NASA do know the difference between reality and Star Trek. Most of them.

  • reality show man starts "dropped" left naked nude: I'm sure we'll be seeing this one on Fox soon, if it hasn't aired there already.

  • clips of freddy kruger pretending to be people: Yes, Freddy puts on a mask at Halloween and pretends to be a person, just like people pretend to be him.

  • sci-fi AND (spy or agent) AND (rape OR ("sex pics") OR ("sex comics"): Someone has "too many google skills" AND "too much time on their hands."

  • BANIK PARACHUTE: I now have an amusing image in my head of Stark jumping out of a plane.

  • nestle takeover of Clarke's ice cream: Ah, the cutthroat world of chocolate production. Brutal.

  • "I, Claudius" "ciff notes" graves: OK, the cliff notes to I, Claudius are called history books.

  • fanfiction aeryn whip: But it's Rygel who gets to wield the whip on the show!

  • dobby gollum and yoda fanfiction: Now there's a dialog challenge!

  • cowboy bathtubs: Don't know anything about cowboy bathtubs. I have seen little packages of beans being sold as "cowboy bubble bath," though.

  • "lizard mask" kids: Because what kid doesn't want to look like a lizard?
  • Movie Madness

    As I think I mentioned before, I took some time off work this week in the interests of saving my sanity. (Well, OK, it might be a bit too late for that, but the experiment was highly successful in other ways, anyway.) And I decided to take advantage of my expanded lazing-around time by doing something I hadn't done in a depressingly long while: renting some movies.

    So, here's what I watched:

    Pirates of the Caribbean: I must be the last person in America to have seen this movie, and I'm sorry now I didn't go catch it on the big screen when I had the chance, because I bet it would have been even better viewed that way. But, even on the small screen, this was a lot of fun. Not exactly the endless cavalcade of over-the-top swashbuckling I was, for some reason, expecting, but lots of fun. There's a wonderful main character in the person of Captain Jack Sparrow, there's some great touches of humor, the visuals are impressive, and, most surprisingly of all, the central plot conceit is actually really, really good. There's a major plot twist that I'm still mildly confused about, but I can't bring myself to really care that much. Glad I finally got around to watching this.

    Lost in Translation: Like I said earlier, I only got to watch the first half of this before the disc crapped out on me. Grrr. But what I saw of it, I very much liked. It's a very low-key comedy, with the kind of naturalistic dialog you seldom see in movies (and even more seldom see done well), so if you're going into it expecting belly-laughs and polished wittiness and wacky action, you're bound to be disappointed. Me, I kinda like low-key once in a while, and this is low-key done really, really well. Maybe one of these days, I'll actually get to find out how it ends.

    Big Fish: This movie was so damned near perfect in damned near every way, that I find myself hard-pressed to say anything specific about it. So I'll just say that it was delightful, moving, thought-provoking, funny, off-beat, visually well done, and just generally very, very much worth watching if you have any soul or imagination at all. I'm really glad I got around to watching this one.

    Wednesday, May 19, 2004

    Mystery Solved!

    Hey, I think I figured out where that weird smell was coming from! There was... something... on my stovetop. I don't know what it was, and I don't really want to know, but whatever it was is now gone. Woo-hoo!

    (Oh, yeah. I am so winning Housekeeper of the Year.)
    OK, Now I'm Starting to Remember Why I Don't Usually Do This.

    You know what's really annoying? Renting a movie on DVD, watching it long enough to start really getting into it, and then suddenly discovering that the disc is bad. Alas, I fear the second half of Lost in Translation will remain lost to me, possibly forever. Somebody want to tell me how it ends?

    I now have a functional swamp cooler! Ah, life is looking up...

    Tuesday, May 18, 2004

    Ah, Mystery.

    There's a funky smell coming from somewhere in my kitchen, and I can't for the life of me figure out where. I find this rather disturbing.
    Hey, Paul Goddard Can Sign Me Anywhere He Wants, Too!

    Speaking of Farscape (and when am I not?)... You gotta love The Onion. "A girl who can spout detailed specs of leviathan spaceships appeals to a very limited niche." Aw, frell. There go those dating prospects I never actually cared about anyway.

    (Actually, though, most of the Farscape fans I know are female. And, as I recall, the ratings demographics were remarkably close to 50-50...)
    Just Because They're Distributing The Farscape Miniseries, That Doesn't Mean I Have to Stop Making Fun of the Sci-Fi Channel.

    Just read this article reviewing (or, OK, "bitching about") the insanely bad TV-movies on Sci-Fi and couldn't stop laughing the entire way through. Here's their description of Deadlands: Homeward Bound, a movie I remember being bombarded unto nausea with ads for while I was taping Farscape reruns:
    Though I am loathe to admit it, I have actually seen more than half of this movie in a single sitting. It manages to resemble a really pretentious episode of "The Highlander" TV series - and I mean even more pretentious than that time Adrian Paul fought mimes - by using Batmanesque camera angles and long heavily processed shots of people walking around. If you've got Vincent Spano walking around in an eye-patch you can bet your movie is not going to make Ebert's ten best of the year list. Traci Lords' contribution to the film was to make me think that I was watching some sort of late 90s videogame cut scene. This caused me to repeatedly mash a nearby PS2 controller trying to skip the tediously long and idiotic mission briefings.

    Hee. Go read the whole thing. It's worthwhile.

    Monday, May 17, 2004

    Yet Another Book Meme

    Found this while surfing around LiveJournal, uh, somewhere. Yes, it's Yet Another Version of that "random sentence from a book" meme. What can I say? I find these endlessly fascinating. And I have a lot of books. So, here it is:

    1. Take five books off your bookshelf.
    2. Book #1 -- first sentence
    3. Book #2 -- last sentence on page fifty
    4. Book #3 -- second sentence on page one hundred
    5. Book #4 -- next to the last sentence on page one hundred fifty
    6. Book #5 -- final sentence of the book
    7. Make the five sentences into a paragraph.

    I walked around to different bookcases, picking the last book on the first shelf of each one, and ended up with the following:

    In its five hundred millennia of existence, the entity had been given many names. Too heavy for gold -- or any other metal. "Doctor?" Under differing forms he traverses the ten thousand worlds, and appears in the hour of need and prayer. The deepest secrets are the ones that keep themselves.

    Wow. Very poetic, huh? That's either a profound musing on the nature of the mythological archetype, or a piece of Doctor Who fan fiction. Or, really, both.

    The books were:

    1. Probe by Margaret Wander Bonnano
    2. 50 Short Science Fiction Tales, edited by Isaac Asimov & Groff Conklin (The sentence came from the story "The Mist" by Peter Cartur.)
    3. So Vile a Sin by Ben Aaronovitch & Kate Orman
    4. The Hero with a Thousand Faces by Joseph Campbell
    5. The Origin of the Universe by John D. Barrow
    I Love Living in the Future!

    Check this out: flying cars, invisibility cloaks, robots, and my personal favorite, the Zen computer game. ("The more relaxed you are, the more you can get unconnected to your state of winning and wanting that you actually win this game. Brainball measures your alpha waves and the person who is the most relaxed can push the ball to the other side and win.")

    It really is the 21st century, isn't it?

    Sunday, May 16, 2004

    Space: It Ain't Just for NASA Any More

    I meant to blog about this a couple of days ago, but forgot. Even a couple of days late, though, it's worth drawing attention to. To quote the article's opening sentence: "A privately built manned spacecraft has reached a record altitude of 211,000ft (64km) over California on one of its final tests before officially entering space."

    I'm very much in favor of the development of private-enterprise spaceflight, personally. How economically feasible it is to do it on any kind of significant scale in the foreseeable future, I honestly couldn't say, but my bet is that, long-term, it's going to be very much the way to go.

    Saturday, May 15, 2004

    Is It Live or Is It DVD?

    Now that I've made it through the Babylon 5 bottleneck (and I'm still not sure why it took me as long as it did to get through season 2), I'm really working on getting caught up on my DVD-watching. Well, OK, catching up is not going to happen, really, as I've still got literally hundreds of hours of unwatched discs and an unabated urge to buy new ones. But I've been making progress, anyway. I've been watching season 4 Farscape eps, and have finally gotten around to starting season 5 of Buffy. And both of these things have got me thinking a little about how different an experience it is watching TV shows on DVD (whether you've seen them before or not) than watching them as they come out on television.

    I hadn't seen any of Buffy season 5 before, although I have seen some of season 6 and all of season 7 and have come across a few spoilers on the internet, so a lot of what's going on I already know about. But I'm trying to imagine what it must have been like for a regular watcher of the show to enter season 5, going in cold and unspoiled, and being confronted with the sudden, unexpected presence of Dawn. It must have been freaky. Heck, it's freaky enough even for me, and I already at least kinda-sorta vaguely know what the explanation is. I'm actually rather sorry that I'm not having that experience.

    More and more, I've been falling into the habit of just not bothering to watch stuff when it's on television, instead opting to check out shows when they come out on DVD if they sound interesting. (This is certainly what I did with Angel.) And there are definite advantages to that. But I am starting to see the downside.

    On the other hand, re-watching those early season 4 Farscape episodes, I find that I almost enjoy them more now than I did the first time. Back then, I was pretty unhappy about the fact that they weren't giving me what I wanted, mainly explanations for the stuff that happened between seasons and which mostly never did get properly explained. Now, I'm pretty much reconciled to the fact that that information was just never divulged (and was possibly never going to be, either, as I'm not sure even the writers knew what the hell was going on) and can just enjoy those particular episodes on their own terms.

    Oh, well, I guess everything's a tradeoff, really.

    Friday, May 14, 2004

    Stupid Fossil Fuels

    Frell! I should have got gas yesterday. Looks like it went up eleven cents overnight. Eleven cents! And my tank's empty, and I need to go to Albuquerque today. Sigh.
    Ah, I Remember the 80's Fondly.

    speak and spell
    You're a Speak & Spell!! You nerd, you. Just
    because you were disguised as a toy doesn't
    mean you weren't educational, you sneaky

    What childhood toy from the 80s are you?
    brought to you by Quizilla

    Thursday, May 13, 2004

    Search Request Thursday

    A rather interesting batch this time out, I thought:

  • lavatory mpg: Man, the last thing on Earth that I want to listen to the sound of is a lavatory.

  • "betty's brain" home: Actually, my brain isn't at home at the moment. I'd advise trying again later.

  • bunion chat line: Hello, you've reached 976-BUNION! All our feet are busy right now, but please stay on the line...

  • "bill maher" "indoor cat": "Bill Maher" would be kind of a cool name for a cat.

  • wicked ass pitbull terrier: It may just be me being cynical, but this immediately makes me think of that peculiarly pathetic breed of guy who thinks having a vicious dog will somehow make up for his own state of weenie-ass loserhood.

  • aeryn sopping: Been standing out in the rain again, has she?

  • naming generator for sci fi films: I think a random generator would actually do better than some of the crappy titles Hollywood comes up with.

  • Ragan Nude: You don't want to see that. Really.

  • phooey hairball wav: I never thought of that hairball-coughing sound as "phooey" exactly... But I guess it's close enough.

  • Online Vulcan Fanfiction stories with Spock in them: I was going to say that I imagined it might be more difficult to find Vulcan fanfiction stories that didn't have Spock in them, but I expect I might be showing my age there. They're probably all about T'Pol now, aren't they? Sigh.

  • video game download sex: Alas, the time still has not come when one can download sex as a video game. Which is probably just as well for the future of the human race, really.

  • lifespan of a shiftworker: The lifespan of a shiftworker can be hard to predict. We just keep going until the constant disruption of our circadian rhythms inevitably grinds us down. Or until we fall asleep face-down in a pot of coffee and drown.

  • ticklish frodo: Hey, now I'm curious. Are Hobbit feet ticklish? I bet they're not, being all thick-soled like that.

  • Gollum card Happy Birthday my precious: Gollum never, ever, ever forgets to send his precious a card on its birthday.

  • free porrrrn: Is that, like porn with a Scottish accent? Porn for cats, maybe? (Oooh, how much you wanna bet I start getting hits on "porn for cats," now?)

  • Bart Simpson's little sister sucks his dick: Lisa says she'll see you in court, you slanderer.

  • the fifth appendage nude male: I don't want to know what it says about me that, for days my only thought about this was "Hmm, must be looking for Centauri porn."

  • "i have blepharitis": I'm sorry. It'll probably clear up in a few days, though. Mine did.

  • gray tube sock fetish: Well, I suppose that's better than having a fetish for something dangerous and expensive...

  • "googlize me": Oh, googlize yourself.

  • ticklish tickling armpits insane: Yeah, I suppose maybe you could drive somebody insane if you tickled their armpits long enough.

  • farscape out of their minds episode addition: Man, there are so many interesting possibilities for additions to that episode.

  • scientific classification for Parrothead fish: Pisces Jimmybuffetus?

  • stellar phoenix cracked download: I have no idea what a "stellar phoenix" is, but it sure is poetic. Pity it's cracked, I guess.

  • teen sneezing fits: Fortunately, teens should be able to open the childproof caps on the allergy medications. Being still, technically, children.

  • celebrity verbosity: Yep, that's going to be my next stunt to try and jack up this blog's ratings, er, hit count: Celebrity Verbosity! Tune in as celebrity guest bloggers compete against each other for fun and prizes! (Note: celebrities will be impersonated.)

  • Spiderman Maximum courage girl enemy: I'll let the comics fans in the audience explain this one to me. Come on, don't let me down, guys!

  • military verbosity: That'll be the next stunt after Celebrity Verbosity: Maximum Verbosity, the Armed Forces Edition

  • talkie toaster desktop toy buddy: I don't know what this is, but I want one.

  • las vegas fully nude gentlemen club lists: I've always thought "gentlemen's club" was a bit of a misnomer, really.

  • "low production value" definition: When you can see the strings, that's low production value.

  • woodpecker behavior "swamp cooler": My swamp cooler is metal. I'd like to see some woodpecker try and bother it!
  • Everybody Likes Me.

    Raspberry Filled

    What Kind of Krispy Kreme Doughnut Are You?
    brought to you by Quizilla


    Wednesday, May 12, 2004

    Week From Hell

    Ye gods, isn't this work week over yet? Isn't this night over yet? I swear, every single piece of technology I've touched this week has broken. And considering some of the technology I work with, that's kind of disturbing.

    I'm taking most of next week off. I don't think I have ever in my life been this glad to have vacation time coming up. Urrrrggh!
    Book Report

    A few days ago, I mentioned that my "current book" was The Exploits of Sherlock Holmes, and described it rather dismissively as being "really, really not the original." Well, that's true, but I've finished it now, and I'm quite pleased to report that it gets a lot better as it goes on. I think I'd actually recommend it to any Holmes fans in the audience (of which I know there is at least one), with the caveat that it might be better to just skip the handful of comparatively weak stories at the beginning.

    Monday, May 10, 2004

    I Am Easily Impressed By Trivia.

    According to Blogger's spiffy new interface, I've made 1,342 posts on this blog. 1,343 now, I guess.

    Whoa. Is this thing aptly named, or what?
    Just What We All Needed. Another Way to Waste Time on the Net!

    Word association is not generally a terribly fun game, but I have to admit this site kept me amused for ridiculously large amounts of time.

    (Link via The Presurfer.)

    Sunday, May 09, 2004

    Hey! Change Is Good!

    Me am liking this new Blogger interface! Yippee!
    Stop Me Before I Quiz-Take Again!

    Grrr arrr Rum and Monkey.

    Well, that was even more pointless than usual.

    I am Gonorrhea. Love me.
    Take the Affliction Test Today!
    A Rum and Monkey disease.

    But I Fear Change!

    Whoa! Blogger's all, like... different.

    Saturday, May 08, 2004

    This Again

    Current clothes: Blue plaid shorts. A white t-shirt from the Museum of Space History in Alamagordo. White socks. No shoes.

    Current mood: Kind of groggy and blah, like I haven't gotten enough sleep. Which, oddly enough, I haven't. I actually feel slightly better, though, after having stepped outside for a bit to hang up the laundry. It's a beautiful day out there. I should go for a walk.

    Current music in CD player: Scattered amongst various players are Rush's Roll the Bones, the soundtrack to Buffy's "Once More, with Feeling," the Lexx: The Series soundtrack, and the soundtrack to Moulin Rouge. Hmm. Apparently I've been in a soundtracky kind of mood lately.

    Current annoyance: It's starting to get uncomfortably warm here, and I haven't got my swamp cooler up and running yet. I should get on that.

    Current thing: Being lazy and antisocial and not returning people's phone calls. Apparently.

    Current desktop picture: A lovely picture of Saturn, taken by the Cassini spacecraft, which I got from this news article.

    Current song in head: Wow, it's amazingly quiet in here at the moment! Though if I stop and listen, I can faintly hear the Farscape theme music.

    Current book: The Exploits of Sherlock Holmes by Adrian Conan Doyle and John Dickson Carr. Sherlock Holmes stories written by Arthur Conan Doyle's son and a co-author, based on various cases alluded to in the original Holmes stories, but never written up by the elder Doyle. A reasonable enough pastiche, I suppose, but it's really, really not the original.

    Current video in player: Still copying Farscape. Now playing: "Look at the Princess, pt. 1."

    Current DVD in player: The first disc of Farscape 4.1. Which just goes to show you how far behind I am on the DVD watching, as 4.4 is out this month.

    Current refreshment: Nothing at the moment. Most recently, Darjeeling spring tea.

    Current worry: I'm still a bit concerned over what to do about the kittens under my trailer. Haven't seen them in a couple of days, but then I haven't really been around much.

    Current thought: I need to do the dishes.
    Worship My Bookishness!

    You seem older than your years, like a wise sage.
    Your head always either buried in a book, or
    discussing what you have learned with others,
    you are Thoth. The creator of writting, and
    language, you are full of wisdom. When you
    talk, people listen, knowing they will learn
    something new.

    Which Ancient Egyptian Diety are you?
    brought to you by Quizilla

    Friday, May 07, 2004

    I Am Loveable and Sweet

    I may think I am an asshole or a bitch, but the truth is I am a good person at heart. Yeah sure, I can have a mean streak in me, but most of the people I meet like me.
    Being Reasonable

    Unfortunately I missed it, but apparently yesterday was The National Day of Reason. I think I'll mark that on my calendar for next year.
    Search Request Thursday... Er, Friday.

    Here ya go:

  • bad behaving grannys: See them abusing their senior citizen privileges! See them cheating at bingo! See them telling their grandchildren embarrassing stories about Mom and Dad!

  • swedish chef woodpecker: Feerst we take de pecky birdie... Heer, pecky birdie!

  • cartoon characters in bathtubs: Hmm, you'd think the ink would run.

  • bunions fetish 2004: Y'know, I can sort of understand, intellectually, how people might have foot fetishes. But... bunions? There is nothing sexy about bunions.

  • funny dental catchphrases or quotes or jokes: How about, "Don't worry, this won't hurt?" 'Cause that's always a joke.

  • downloadable Muppet answering machine message: Hmm, now I'm wondering about what the Muppets might have on their answering machines. Like, Oscar the Grouch probably just has something like, "Go away!"

  • sex porno futurama: Well, that episode they made of Single Female Lawyer was kinda racy...

  • meaning of "no one together": You mean the song? Huh. I was all set to explain it, and then I realized I actually had no clue.

  • astronomical references in the hitch hikers guide to the galaxy: Personally I find Ford Prefect's claim to be from Betelgeuse highly dubious. What with it being a red giant and all.

  • celtic wailing songs armageddon: Yes, when Armageddon finally happens, if there are any Celts left, I fully expect them to be wailing about it in song.

  • eeyore's birthday nude pictures: OK, number one, isn't Eeyore pretty much always naked anyway? And number two... No, never mind. I really don't want to think about number two.

  • bondage pic doctor who leela: I think she's a lot more likely to kick your ass and tie you up.

  • farscape jumped the shark adding comments: I could add a few comments on the subject of whether Farscape jumped the shark, but I'm sure you've heard it all by now...

  • "3d animation" gallery spaceship captain sex: There's a really rude Captain Kirk joke in there somewhere, I can just feel it...

  • zen sushi captain ahab: I think Captain Ahab was probably the least Zen person in literary history.

  • fixing methadone recipe: Whatever this is, I do not want to get mixed up in it.

  • emergency room embarrassing pics: Ha, ha! My liver fell out! How embarrassing!

  • baseball sneezing fits: Sounds like a lame excuse for striking out to me.

  • surreal poems locked my mind in a candy jar: OK. That is pretty surreal... I mean, who puts locks on their candy jars?

  • geeky nude girls made website pics: Well, I guess non-geeky girls are less likely to be into website design...
  • Alas

    No more Friday Five. Where will I get my weekly meme-age from now?

    Thursday, May 06, 2004

    Long-Winded Ramblings About Age and Technology

    I am 32 years old. In a couple of months, I'll be 33. A third of a century. Yikes.

    I find myself being reminded of my age more and more often these days. I look into a mirror and see something that looks disconcertingly like my mother's face looking back. Well, no, that's not quite accurate: my mother's hair is still mostly dark, and my own is already visibly flecked with silver. (Thanks a lot, Dad genes!) A few days ago, a friend I went to college with called me up and reminded me that the 10th anniversary of our graduation is coming up very shortly. It caught me flat-footed, even though it really shouldn't have. I mean, it's not like I hadn't looked at a calendar in the past ten years. Still...

    And, yeah, yeah, I know that I'm not yet old. 32, or, heck, even 33, is hardly doddering senescence. But it's increasingly being brought home to me that I'm no longer exactly young, either.

    You know what else brings it home to me? The internet. The internet, and the progress of technology. As I surf around blogs and livejournals (especially LJs, as they generally seem to serve a much younger demographic), I'm brought up short every time I see someone off-handedly remark that they got their first e-mail address in the sixth grade, or that they send text messages to their friends in study hall, or that they have fond memories of long chats via instant messenger after school.

    When I was seven years old, I made the profound observation that most adults seemed not to understand children at all, and I concluded that that was because they'd entirely forgotten what it was like to be one. I promised myself I'd never make that mistake, and, although it's grown harder and harder as the memories of childhood have faded, I've at least tried to keep that promise. But I suddenly see a problem with that: even if I remember perfectly, what I remember is what it was like to be a kid two decades ago. How completely different is it now? Have I perhaps discovered the other reason adults never seem to understand children, which is that we all regard our own childhoods as normative and are incapable of imagining that the experience is ever different for anybody else?

    I honestly can't imagine what it would be like growing up today, in the Age of the Internet. What would it have been like for me if we'd had the kind of instant community that the WWW provides back in my junior high school days? Because, of course, I was your typical lonely, isolated geek. I knew that there were people out there who were interested in the things I was interested in -- science fiction, science, books -- but they certainly didn't go to my school, and I could never actually interact with them. I went to a few Star Trek conventions, and whatever other geek-attracting events I could get to, and those were wonderful, but in the long run they only increased the sense of isolation. Because I was too shy and socially awkward to easily form connections in person, and because in an hour or a weekend it was all over, anyway, and I was back to feeling all alone in my geeky teenage angst. Pen pals helped, and I had a couple, but a letter once a month isn't much in the way of social interaction.

    Now, of course, two clicks of the mouse and I'm in happy communication with people all over the world who are actually interested in talking to me about the stuff nobody ever wanted to talk to me about when I was thirteen. So, yeah, I can't help but wonder just how different it is for all the nerdy, socially awkward thirteen-year-olds living now. I find that I'm actually deeply jealous of them for having, at least potentially, what I didn't have. Would adolescence have been less painful for me if I could have posted on a bulletin board somewhere and found people (other than my long-suffering family) to discuss the latest Star Trek movie with? Would I have grown up a healthier, better-adjusted person if I could have found some SF-reader my own age to trade e-mails with? I can't help but suspect that I would have.

    On the other hand, if the web had existed back then, I almost certainly would have posted my horrible, horrible teenage Star Trek fan poetry to the internet for the entire world to see, and that would have just been far too awful a thing to contemplate. Especially if it still existed in an archival cache somewhere now. *shudder* Yeah, I hate to say it, but years of teenage angst might very well have been a small enough price to pay...
    Search Request Thursday

    ...will be delayed until Friday, because I'm stuck at work until after midnight, and I forgot to bring my notes. I'm sure you're all devastated.

    Wednesday, May 05, 2004

    Marshmallow Physics!

    OK, this just strikes me as incredibly nifty: you can measure the speed of light using a microwave oven and some marshmallows. If nothing else, how many physics labs let you eat the equipment afterwards?

    (If anybody actually feels moved to try this, hey, let me know how it goes!)

    (Link via GeekPress.)

    Tuesday, May 04, 2004

    Look Into My Eyes

    Just got back from an appointment with the eye doctor. I don't need new glasses, which is kind of amazing, since I got my current pair in '98 and, prior to that, I was needing a new prescription every year or two like clockwork. He did tell me that I spend too much time at the computer, though, and that I should get up and look at something else every once in a while.

    Yeah, it's kind of hard to argue with that.

    I should not be up at this hour.

    I hate my nose.

    Sunday, May 02, 2004

    There Are Reasons Why I Love That Show...

    Via Sore Eyes, here's a really nice review of Futurama, paying special attention to the show's roots in literary science fiction. A quote: "It's the future as it might have been envisioned by Alfred Bester or Frederik Pohl, if they'd grown up as Southern California mallrats."

    Must buy season 3...
    And the Book Meme Becomes a Music Meme...

    Variations of the "pg. 23" book meme are popping up everywhere. Here's a musical version, lifted from Return of the Ghost of Ferro Lad:

    1. Grab the nearest CD.
    2. Put it in your CD-Player (or start your mp3-player, I-tunes, etc.).
    3. Skip to Song 3 (or load the 3rd song in your 3rd playlist)
    4. Post the first verse in your journal along with these instructions. Don't name the band, nor the album-title.

    OK, I'll admit, I was lazy and just grabbed the CD case and copied this from the liner notes, rather than playing anything. But here ya go:

    I sat down and wrote this letter
    Telling you that I felt better
    Since you'd gone and I was free
    I'm so happy

    Whoo-hoo! Name that song for 300 trivia points!