Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Oh, Yeah, I Do Have Random Links To Post.

In the absence of anything remotely interesting from yours truly, have some links:

Dave Barry Year in Review: Bailing out of 2008: Not exactly timely now, 28 days into the new year, but still amusing.

Jennifer 8. Lee: Who was General Tso?: Amusing and oddly fascinating lecture on Chinese food in America. I must admit, I always did kind of wonder who the heck General Tso was and why he had a chicken dish named after him. And, damn it, now I'm hungry...

The Best Cat Video You'll Ever See: After this, and you'll never have to watch another humorous cat video on YouTube ever again.

The 9 Reasons Doctor Who Is a Terrible Time Lord: Funny, affectionate snark from someone who clearly knows his Who (no matter how many humor-challenged commenters seem to think otherwise)

BOOM! Studios’ Chip Mosher on Hexed, Farscape and more: An interview with BOOM!'s sales and marketing guy about various comics, including Farscape.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Still Not Dead

I'm still not dead. Really. My sleeping patterns are still kind of fubared, however (although they are improving a bit), which means that I seem to spend most of my free time lately either sleeping (at strange hours) or trying not to fall asleep (and frequently failing). Which means that I have done very little worth speaking about in the last week.

Well, at least we have new TV... My reaction to Battlestar Galactica, oddly, is still to be perfectly interested in it while I'm actually watching it, and to immediately stop caring about its existence as soon as I turn off the TV. But I'm very much enjoying Lost, and the most recent episodes, pleasingly, give me what feels like the beginning of the glimmer of an inkling of the sense that things are developing in such a way that it will all make some vague kind of sense in the end.

Monday, January 19, 2009

I Aten't Dead. Also, Stuff.

Um, apparently it's been long enough since I actually posted anything here that people have started e-mailing me to make sure I'm not dead in a ditch or something. Well, no, I'm fine, just apparently deep in winter hibernation mode, in which my body moves slowly, my brain partly shuts down, and my blog goes sadly neglected.

But let's see what miscellaneous stuff has been happening in the last week that I can talk about...

1. We lost Ricardo Montalban, Patrick McGoohan, and now Bob May, the guy who played the robot on Lost in Space. It's been a bad week to be someone who's appeared in a genre TV show. I was the most bummed to hear about Montalban. I've watched The Wrath of Khan a truly disturbing number of times, and I never, ever, ever get tired of seeing Montalban doing his villainous thing.

2. Thanks to a $25 software upgrade, I can now send videos from my PC to my TiVo and watch 'em on my TV instantly. This came in really handy when the TiVo missed Sunday's episode of The Mentalist thanks to a stupid football game running long. I love the internet, and I love finally being all WiFi'd!

3. I watched Wall-E on DVD yesterday. It's cute, beautifully animated, and features a nice environmental message, so I definitely enjoyed it. But, y'know, while I like Pixar's stuff a lot, and while it's fascinating to watch their animation improve over time, I still don't think they've ever surpassed Toy Story for quality.

4. I'm basically keeping 26-hour days right now, in an attempt to switch over from last week's night shifts to this weekend's day shifts. Today I went to bed about 1:30 PM and woke up a little after 9:00 PM. Sometimes, this works incredibly well, and I feel great, if a little out of sync with the world, and never suffer from a lack of sleep. Other times... Well, let's just say it doesn't combine all that effectively with aforementioned winter hibernation mode. I'm feeling really drag-ass this week. Also, I've gotten to the point where I'm suffering a noticeable sunlight deficit, which, considering what a night person I am, takes some doing.

5. It's Martin Luther King Day. I feel as if I ought to say something meaningful about that, but all I can think is, man, it's Martin Luther King Day, and tomorrow we are inaugurating a black man as president of the United States. King was a dreamer and an optimist, but I'm not sure even he would have believed it. It's a very warming thought.

And, uh, I think that's about all I have to say at this point. Here's hoping it's enough to tide you over if I randomly disappear for another week.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Look, Now I'm A Comic Book Reviewer!

A buddy of mine who posts over at Comic Book Resources' Robot 6 blog asked me if I'd write up a short review of the Farscape #1 comic for them. Why people think of me for things like that I'm sure I don't know. Heh.

Anyway, I did so, and if you're curious, it can be found here. It's really just some vague comments on how Farscape-y it is -- answer: very! -- and contains no spoilers or anything.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

I Still May Not Have HD, But I'm Pushing My TV-Watching Forward Into The 21st Century In My Own Way.

I just tested it, and, thanks to my new state of wiredness, I can, indeed, talk to my TiVo over the internet and tell it to record stuff. If, say, I'm at work and somebody mentions that there's a really cool show on tonight while I'm stuck at the ol' data mines, never fear! Thanks to the power of the internet, that piece of televisual entertainment will be mine!

Of course, now that this is the case, that particular situation will probably never come up again.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

First "Currently" Meme Of The New Year! How Exciting!

Current clothes: Blue jeans. My "Irreversibly Contaminated" t-shirt from Blue Blogger hoodie over that. White socks. (And, hey, speaking of Farscape... I got an e-mail a couple of days ago saying the store was at last getting ready to send me the Farscape comic I pre-ordered, but I still haven't seen one letting me know they've actually mailed it. Why, oh why, must they tease me so?!)

Current mood: Pretty good. It took four hours and half a pot of coffee, but I did finally manage to clear out the mental cobwebs left over from my strange awakening this morning.

Current music: You know, I haven't been listening to much music lately. I think the last thing was the soundtrack to Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog.

Current annoyance: There's a cat crawling around on my lap/desk/keyboard and making it difficult to type.

Current thing: Um, obsessing over TV shows, still, I guess. But I'm also blogging more! Look!

Current desktop picture: This picture of Sarah Jane Smith and her kick-ass kids.

Current book: The Lucifer Effect: Understanding How Good People Turn Evil by Philip Zimbardo, creator of the infamous Stanford Prison Experiment. Not exactly a fun book, but a fascinating and rather enlightening one.

Current song in head: It's "Christmas at Ground Zero" by Weird Al Yankovic, for some reason. Which is better than most of the stuff that's been looping around in my skull for the last couple of weeks, so I'll take it.

Current DVD in player: Disc one of season three of The Pretender. I'm trying to stretch this season out a bit by interspersing it with some South Park, but I find myself starting to use it as an artificial mood-elevator. "Bah, I'm feeling cranky! I know! I'll watch a Pretender episode!" It works quite well, too, I think in large part because observing fictional characters' larger-than-life pain helps make my own trivial issues seem quite cheerfully bearable.

Current refreshment: Mint-flavored tea.

Current worry: Eh, there are plenty of things I could worry about, but why bother?

Current thought: My feet are cold.

Life Is But A...

I just had the strangest experience while I was asleep. I was having some not-terribly-interesting dream about being at work, when one of the people in my dream, who'd been doing an increasingly good job of intruding himself on my attention, mentioned to me that it was, in fact, a dream. I thought he was nuts. Huh? What? Dude, I know solid reality when I feel it! But then he pointed out that every time I looked at somebody they were wearing different shoes. Whaddaya know. They were! He was right. And at this realization, of course, I woke up. (Amusingly, it was only after I woke up that I realized that the fact that one of said people appeared to be Mickey Smith from Doctor Who, and that he was wearing bowling shoes, should have been more of a tip off.)

Man. I've heard of lucid dreaming before, and I've had the experience of escaping from a nightmare by suddenly realizing that it's just a dream, but having people you're dreaming about come up and insist to you that it's not real? That's the sort of thing I thought only happened in unconvincing TV dream sequences.

Freaky. And now, damn it, I'm awake too early. And I'm going to be checking reality for inconsistencies all day.

Monday, January 05, 2009

To Boldly Go Where No Cartoon Has Gone Before!

So, as I mentioned a while back, I got a copy of Star Trek: The Animated Series on DVD for Christmas -- thanks again, Sis! -- and it's become my new cartoon show to watch while walking on the treadmill, since I finished watching all of Futurama (again).

You know, I had some pretty fond memories of that cartoon, but it'd been ages since I'd seen it, so I was kind of wondering how well it'd hold up. The answer turns out to be "surprisingly well." The scripts may vary widely in quality, but, just as I'd remembered, they do capture the feel of original-series episodes remarkably well in a half-hour format. And while the animation is a bit crude and static, in that 1970s kind of way, it's actually really impressive for its time. They clearly went to a lot of trouble to illustrate the original Enterprise sets accurately, and the exterior shots of the ship are downright beautiful. They also made full use of animation's ability to create elaborate and genuinely alien-looking environments in ways that can't be done cost-effectively in live action. Actually, to be honest, I think they frequently got a little too fanciful with the alien planets, but I can't fault them for trying. And the characters actually look reasonably like the people they're supposed to be, which is never a given in cases like this. The one big negative, really, is that they skimped a lot on the casting... Apparently the lack of Chekov was solely due to budget issues, and although Jimmy Doohan and Majel Barrett tried hard to vary their performances as nearly every guest character on the show, the constant doubling-up is still obvious enough to be a bit annoying.

Anyway, I'm feeling all nostalgic now. Awww. I like TNG, and think DS9 was great, but for all its cheesiness and occasional self-righteousness, TOS was just something special. And I do consider the animated series, if not exactly part of TOS, at least an extension of it. In fact, I may be unusual among Trek fans in that I happily consider the animated show part of the Trek canon -- despite a minor continuity issue or two -- but stubbornly toss Voyager and Enterprise out.

Yeah, never mind the new prequel/reboot thingy. I'll be over here, happily watching my cartoons.

I Am Wired!

Well, after many, many months worth of delays (which were to a large extent my own fault, as I kept saying, "Eh, I'll call them about it later" for month after month), I now finally have wireless networking set up at my house! I can surf the internet in bed if I want to! And I was at last able to remove that unsightly telephone wire connecting my TiVo to the phone jack in the kitchen. Huzzah!

Saturday, January 03, 2009

The Doctor Is In!

OK, the announcement has just come through, seconds ago on British TV! The new Doctor will be...

...drumroll please...

Don't look if you don't want to know!




...some guy I've never heard of!

Apparently the honor goes to one Matt Smith, and the fact that I've never heard of him probably counts in his favor, as far as I'm concerned. Every time we go through this, famous names get bandied about, and so far, every time they end up casting someone I don't know (or, in Christopher Eccleston's case, had seen in something once, but wouldn't have recognized if I'd passed him on the street), and every time it's worked out well -- all the more so, I think, because I get to meet the new guy as the Doctor, without any pesky preconceptions.

The only thing I'm a little uncertain about is the fact that, apparently, this guy is all of twenty-six. Twenty-six! Dude, the Doctor should not be a decade-plus younger than I am! Should he?

Friday, January 02, 2009

Who's It Gonna Be?

Apparently the BBC ia planning to announce the identity of the actor to play the Eleventh Doctor tomorrow. Time to make your last-minute predictions and place your last-minute bets!

Thursday, January 01, 2009

My Year In Books

Traditionally on New Year's Day, I make a post looking back on the last year's worth of book-reading, and I see no reason to break with that tradition now. So here then, is the complete list of books I read in 2008. The grand total is 161, which seems quite respectable, even by my biblioholic standards. Given that number, though, it's a bit sobering to contemplate the fact that I started the year with 465 volumes on my unread pile and ended it with 453. And that's with the self-imposed (and more or less adhered-to) book-buying quota. My addiction, let me show you it!

I'll refrain from attempting to identify major trends in the year's reading, except to mention the obvious (to me, anyway) fact that I'm reading a lot more non-fiction than I used to. In fact, by the end of the year, the fiction/non-fiction ratio was pretty much one-to-one, with the two mainly alternating. Part of the reason for this is that I've been buying a lot more non-fiction, and at this point I literally have no more room for it on the unread non-fiction shelves, so I have to keep reading it, or I'll have nowhere to put it.

Despite my notorious inability to be decisive enough to feel comfortable making best-of lists of anything, I did sort of put together a "favorite books I read this year" list. It is, I should note, extremely subjective, being based more on personal interest and enjoyment than on any judgments about cultural importance or literary value. It's also to a large extent arbitrary, as there are lots of other books that could just as easily have made the cut, and if I were to draw up a list of honorable mentions, it would be several times as long. And I haven't even attempted to put them into any order except the order I read them in. But here we go...

Ten Favorite Books of 2008:

Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach: OK, I have to admit it. Even thinking about dead bodies creeps me out. I don't even attend funerals if I can avoid them, and you won't get me near an open casket. So I was reluctant to read this book even though I'd heard all about how cool and non-icky it was. Well, you know what? It's wonderful: well-written, thoughtful, compassionate, fascinating, and genuinely funny. I actually feel, if not better about death, at least much less squicked out by the subject than I did before reading this. I've also come to the conclusion that I actually very much like the idea of donating my body to science when I'm done with it. (If any of my next-of-kin are reading this, feel free to make a note!)

Soon I Will Be Invincible by Alan Grossman: I've never been a huge comic book geek, certainly not nearly as into the whole superhero genre as... well, as most people I know. But I do love seeing writers play around with superhero tropes in thoughtful and original ways, and this novel does a terrific job of that. It's impossible not to find the supervillain anti-hero both sympathetic and interesting.

Fray by Joss Whedon: Yes, it really has taken me this long to get around to reading this! Hey, I was late to discover Buffy in the first place, too. But it's a very good addition to the Buffy universe, capturing much of the sensibility of the TV show while still being very much its own story, with its own well-realized science fictional setting. I'm not entirely sure how it reconciles with the end of the series, continuity-wise, but I don't honestly care all that much.

Your Inner Fish: A Journey Into the 3.5-Billion-Year History of the Human Body by Neil Shubin: It may be just me, but there's something unbelievably, incredibly cool about being able to trace your own evolutionary lineage. I kept constantly looking up from this book to gaze in fascination at my own hands, picturing where all those little bones had come from, and where, in other creatures, they had gone. Understanding evolution means understanding the ways in which you are connected to all other life on this amazing planet, and that's such a rich, uplifting, and satisfying thing.

A Spot of Bother by Mark Haddon: A fairly lightweight, if slightly dark-ish comedy about a dysfunctional English family -- not really the sort of thing that usually grabs me and takes over my brain. But I was surprised how utterly absorbing I found it.

The Secret Life Of Houdini: The Making of America's First Superhero by William Kalush and Larry Sloman: A fascinating biography of a fascinating person who did some astonishing things.

Infidel by Ayaan Hirsi Ali: Autobiography of a woman who grew up in various Muslim countries before emigrating to Holland, where she became involved in Dutch politics. It's an enthralling, informative, insightful, occasionally disturbing story, and it certainly helped open my eyes to the complexity of the Muslim world and the role of women in that world today.

The Complete Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi: Coincidentally, another memoir of a woman growing up in a Muslim country (in this case Iran) and relocating to the West, this time in graphic novel format. This one, too, is highly moving and informative.

Bone: One Volume Edition by Jeff Smith: The cute, simple style of the artwork in this graphic novel gives a pretty good indication that this story will be funny and charming, but I wasn't at all expecting it to be as deep, nuanced, and downright epic as it was.

The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream by Barack Obama: Even when I don't entirely agree with him, this guy comes across as thoughtful, reasonable, intelligent, level-headed, and full of genuine integrity. He's making it very, very hard to hold onto my political cynicism, and, I must say, that's a really pleasant, if slightly scary, feeling.