Thursday, April 29, 2010

Denver Events: Spelling Bee(r) (5/1)

Hello, fellow Denverites: check out a local event, Spelling Bee(r), if you get the chance.  (Here's their upcoming schedule if you can't make the May 1st event at Hanson's Grill and Tavern here in Denver.) 

My understanding is that Spelling Bee(r)  is essentially a drunken spelling bee, with the words getting easier as the night goes on.  I totally want to see this, because I love watching drunks try to do anything technical that doesn't involve heavy machinery, but I'll be pulling out of town in about a week, so something tells me it's not going to happen.  Let me know how it is if you end up going.

A Brief Explanation

Hello, folks, I know it's been a while--life has taken kind of a crazy turn the last couple of weeks.  Trying to organize a move in about a fortnight (yeah, I said it--I'm bringing "fortnight" back) has been the worst thing I've experienced in a long, long time.  Despite the fact that I don't have to actually move my stuff, I've still had to find a new apartment in Houston, break my lease here in Denver, spend as much time as possible with my completely awesome Colorado friends, and tie up all my loose ends at work--which has amounted to a huge ulcer-inducing stress ball.  Add to that the car I'm buying this weekend and I'll be ready to sleep for a month once I finally get to Texas.

Still, I'll probably have more time for blogging once I get settled in my new place, so bear with me the next couple of weeks.  I'll be back.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Not-So-Gentle Viewer: Sassy Gay Friend: Othello (2010)

These seriously crack me up.   I think I need to start incorporating, "What are you doing?  What, what, what are you doing?" in everyday conversation.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Friday Featured Comic: Frazz

Those of you who, like me, adore Calvin and Hobbes would probably like Frazz, as well.  In many ways, the two comics are incredibly similar (to the point that some have speculated that Jef Mallet, the artist, is actually Bill Watterson in disguise.  Even this conspiracy buff can't buy into that one, though, although Watterson's influence on Mallet is undeniable.)  There are numerous literary references throughout the strip, including the fact that one of the characters is named Caulfield (after Holden Caulfield) and dresses up like literary characters for Halloween.

Anyway, check it out if you haven't already.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Science and Art: Evolution and Fiction (Again)

Did you disagree with that article about "Knowing They Know You Know" a couple of days ago?  (Homero, I'm looking at you here.)  Then check out the op-ed follow-up from The New York Times, "Can 'Neuro Lit Crit' Save the Humanities," which has a bunch of people tell you their opinions on this new phenomenon.

I think I most agree with William M. Chace, who says, "In all such instances, 'English' behaved as supplicant, assuming that the other discipline was powerful in ways that it was not. But in all such instances, what began as infatuation ended with a dismal parting." 

Prose Before Hos

Not entirely sure what this means, but I did laugh.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Wednesday Dog Ears

This week's Dog Ears feature a round-up of some of the online April Fools jokes last week, as well as the changing rules of Scrabble"
  • Did anyone else get punked online for April Fool's this year?  How about at Locus Mag?  Or Smart Bitches, Trashy Books?  Or Vroman Bookstore?  The one that got me really excited was Tor.  Bastards.
  • John McWhorter of The Republic takes a look at "What Does Palinspeak Mean?"  Summation: "Palin is given to meandering phraseology of a kind suggesting someone more commenting on impressions as they enter and leave her head rather than constructing insights about them."  Um, yeah.
  • Any other Baby-Sitters Club fans here?  (Or former fans, I should say.  I haven't actually read one of them in a good fifteen years, but I still have fond memories of them.)  Read "An Open Letter to Ann M. Martin From Mallory Pike" in response to Martin's admission that she has no "strong feelings" about Mallory Pike.  It's awesome.
  • Apparently the recently-released iPad is filtering its online bookstore, which makes for some pretty ridiculous asterizations (if that's a word).  And really, in my opinion and depending on context, "dick" is much worse than "sperm."
  • In more Apple news, apparently the iPhone is easier for dyslexics to read than other forms of media.  Interesting...
  • "Not in my house!"  Will anyone else continue to ban the use of proper nouns in Scrabble, even if Mattel is officially changing its rules

You Can't Fight the Twilight: Chapter Eight

(Words used to describe Edward Cullen in Chapter Eight: furious, commanding, murderously angry, curt, livid, threatening, authority, disapproving, mocking, ominous, smirking, rolling his eyes, cold, and clenching his teeth.  Sounds like the ideal mate, and if any of you want to use this list on your eHarmony account as descriptions of what you're looking for, feel free.)

Chapter Eight
I went to Port Angeles with my two new BFFs to shop for dresses for the dance, and they couldn't believe it when I said I had never been to a dance before!  Who would believe that someone made entirely of awesome sauce like me had never had a boyfriend?  Then I found out that Tyler's been telling everyone he's taking me to prom, because I sort of let him thnk he was.  The nerve!

I decided to find a bookstore, but wouldn't let my BFFs come with me, even though I didn't know Port Angeles that well and it was supposed to be a "girl's night."  When I didn't like the bookstore I found, I wandered off by myself because I have absolutely no survival skills.  Then I ran into a group of four guys who had no good intentions toward me and I had to run away.  Unfortunately I ran to a deserted street with no exits.

Then, can you believe it, Edward Cullen showed up!  I got in his car and he told me he has a bit of a temper problem.  Then he told me he was taking me out to dinner.  I started to ask him how he knew where I was, but decided it didn't matter, even though some people would think it's creepy when a guy follows them around.  When we found my BFFs, who had already eaten dinner because they were obviously really worried when I disappeared, Edward told them he would drive me home.

After they left, Edward and I went into a restaurant and he flirted with the hostess to get a good table.  Then we talked for while, about how I'm not normal because I don't react to things the way Edward expects me to.  Then I finally asked Edward how he knew I was in trouble with those guys, and he said he was following me to keep me alive by stalking on of my BFFs.  Then he said that he had insisted on taking me to dinner because if he was left by himself he probably would have killed those guys.  Then we left the restaurant and he told me it was "my turn."

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

The Ethics of Biographies

Has anyone seen Robert Bolt's Lady Caroline Lamb, produced in 1972?  I just recently discovered there was a film based on the author of Glenarvon who's better known for her infamous relationship with Lord George Byron.  I haven't watched it yet (and am not sure I will), but read this description of the film from Yahoo! Films:
Set during the early 19th century, a romantic drama about the controversial, free-thinking wife of William Lamb, a British politician who eventually became Prime Minister. While married, Lady Caroline Lamb conducts a scandalous affair with the notorious Lord Byron, which threatens to ruin her husband's political aspirations.
Um, okay, "free-thinking" makes it sound like she was an abolitionist or something.  She may have been free-thinking, but a more accurate term might be "bat shit crazy."  She became obsessed with Byron, and during the course of their association tried to stab herself in public, sent him a lock of her pubic hair, and wrote a novel decrying him.  I'm thinking Bolt may have changed history just a little bit.

This brings me to my point: do you think directors (or artists, in general) have an ethical responsibility to be as true-to-life as possible when making biopics?  Someone who doesn't know any better might watch Lady Caroline Lamb and decide she was a wronged victim, while the truth is much more textured and layered.  Why not make up a character who conducts an illicit affair with a poet who's a lot like Byron, saying that the story is loosely based on history? 

Not-So-Gentle Viewer: White and Nerdy (2006)

So, this is old and I'm sure everyone's already seen it, but after our nerd-gasm (I just made that up, but you can use it if you want) last week, I thought this Weird Al Yankovic song was entirely appropriate.  (You'll notice, however, that Yankovic combines the criteria for dorky, nerdy, and geeky in this video.)

Also, speaking of nerds, the first time I heard the line, "They see me rollin' on my Segway," I thought he was referring to a segue, or "an uninterrupted transition made between one musical section or composition and another" (according to, not a two-wheeled, self-balancing vehicle.  Not only did I think he meant "segue," I laughed my ass off.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Science and Art: Evolution and Fiction

There's a really interesting article over at The New York Times, "Next Big Thing in English: Knowing They  Know You Know," which reports on the growing field of "cognitive theory" in literature programs.   The argument is that keeping track of multiple points of view (a necessity when reading complex literature) is an evolutionary development, and fiction not only encourages that development, but in many ways helps develop altruism by providing examples of characters who have nothing to gain by their own heroism.

I freaking love stuff like this.  Seriously, I can't get enough of it.

I also think the following is an interesting take on the ol' humanities-vs-sciences, us-vs-them mentality of academia:
Jonathan Gottschall, who has written extensively about using evolutionary theory to explain fiction, said 'it’s a new moment of hope' in an era when everyone is talking about 'the death of the humanities.' To Mr. Gottschall a scientific approach can rescue literature departments from the malaise that has embraced them over the last decade and a half. Zealous enthusiasm for the politically charged and frequently arcane theories that energized departments in the 1970s, ’80s and early ’90s — Marxism, structuralism, psychoanalysis — has faded. Since then a new generation of scholars have been casting about for The Next Big Thing.
P.S. (on a mostly un-related note): If this continues, it's really going to make a mess of the UCLA campus, which has "North Campus" (the arts) and "South Campus (the sciences).  I didn't have one class on South Campus--ever--and always got lost whenever I had to be down there for some reason.  Whenever someone from UCLA finds out I also went there, s/he asks, "What did you study?"  When s/he finds out I was an English major, s/he says, "Ah, North Campus," in a smug, we-have-a-commonality-that-others-really-don't-get tone.  If, however, English majors are now tiptoeing into the realm of cognitive theory, they might have to take some courses--God forbid!--south of Ackerman Student Union.  Oh, well, it's the price of progress, I guess.


Check out this letter a fan of a book series "geared toward younger readers originally" wrote to  Ask Amy.  While Ask Amy automatically assumes that the letter-writer a die-hard Twilight fan, however, 'Obsessed' could be... well, obsessed with any number of series:
  • My Teacher is an Alien. Who wouldn't fall in love with a guy who can pull his face off?
  • A Series of Unfortunate Events. The creepy uncle / would-be-husband Count Olaf is exceedingly charming.
  • Goosebumps. R.L. Stine (pictured right) is a sexy beast.  (I know, I know, he isn't a character, but that picture seriously cracks me up.)
  • Harry Potter. If anyone is actually obsessed with Harry Potter, she obviously hasn't read Order of the Phoenix, when he becomes the biggest whiny bitch in the entire history of literature.  That's right, the entire history of literature!
  • The Chronicles of Narnia.  I guess it depends on which character she loves and whether or not she 'gets' the metaphor, but let me just put this out there: bestiality is never okay.  (I will, however, admit to having a slight crush on Mr. Tumnus in the most recent film adaptation, but can you blame me?  I love me some James McAvoy, cloven hoofs or not.)

The Wonderful World of Tech Writing

Well, folks, my sell-out to corporate America has been rewarded with a promotion... and a transfer to Texas, so I guess you win some, you lose some.  (Just kidding, Texans.  Actually, if anybody from the Houston area is reading this, let me know what you think about the Heights neighborhood, since I've never actually been to Texas.)

I will be working as a technical writer in the IT department, a job that I really think I'm going to enjoy.  I regret, however, that I will not be able to write training materials like this computer manual for the Franklin Ace 100

(By the way, here's the site for merchandise with the above image.)

Friday, April 2, 2010

Friday Featured Comic: Calvin and Hobbes

Weird Children's Book Covers

Normally I try to save this kind of thing for the Wednesday Dog Ears, but check out HuffPo's "Creepiest Children's Books Ever" slideshow.  It's a great pick-me-up for those of you who, unlike me, don't work for a company that gives you Good Friday off. 

P.S. Does that strike anyone else as a little strange?  My company didn't get MLK Day or President's Day off, but we do get the day off to celebrate the day that Christ died.  I'm not complaining (because I got to sleep in this morning), but it's still a little strange.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Get Ready Early for Banned Books Week!

Has everyone already seen the ALA theme for Banned Books Week this year?  (I know, it's not until September, but I'm still really excited.)  I'm pretty much crazy for the robots theme.  Anyway, check out the ALA Store.

Poets Extraordinaire: Simon and Garfunkel

I was listening to Pandora the other day (which I love, by the way) and realized that many of the folk songs of the 60s are more like poetry than not.  Anyway, I decided to feature some of my favorite "wow, this is poetry" music for a while, but I can't promise it will end up being a regular feature.

For example, if you didn't know any better, you could read the words to Simon and Garfunkel's music and think it was Beat poetry.  Often, the rhythm isn't standardized and there is no rhyme scheme to speak of, which is in almost direct contrast to many of the songs that are hits today.  (Taylor Swift, anyone?) 

A Friend's Trouble with Audiobooks

I have a friend, see, who sometimes likes to listen to audiobooks while she walks to work.  And this friend uploaded an audiobook to the MP3 player my mom--I mean, my friend's mom gave her for Christmas.  And she really didn't think she needed to read the instructions, because how hard could it be?  She's an educated, reasonably intelligent, 21st century woman.

So, anyway, this morning, when I... er, she was walking to work, the story she was listening to made absolutely no sense.  She was well into the second cd of the book, but the main character seemed to be having extremely vivid flashbacks to the first chapter.  You might think that it should have been immediately obvious that there was a problem, but in my friend's defense, the story wasn't making a whole lot of sense up to that point, anyway.  In addition, the character was "psychic" and was having flash-forwards and visions at the same time.

Long story short, it took twenty minutes for my friend to figure out that somehow the MP3 player had collated the first cd of the book along with the second cd, so that each sixty-second track from the second cd was followed by a sixty-second track from the first cd.  Twenty minutes.  Obviously, my... er, her coffee hadn't kicked in at that point.

Anyway, the moral of the story is: read the instructions.
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