31 October 2009

Happy Halloween!

Why hello Mr Pumpkin, how are you today?

My goodness. You're not looking well at all, How about we remove some of that excess?

What, you felt okay to begin with? No need to make faces.

This is the Calvin (of Calvin and Hobbes) pumpkin I carved and then mailed to The Amazing Lauren. That's right, at some point in the last couple of days, one of my friends received a pre-carved pumpkin. I am currently accepting applications to be my friend, but the requirements are strict. You need to be a minimum of half as awesome as me.

Oh, also, she got a cake.

You can't tell in the picture, but that is a four inch tall seven-layer cake. I told her to take pictures when she ate it, I will update accordingly.

I, unfortunately, have no reason to dress up for Halloween. I am not currently working (house remodeling is taking precedence), not attending school and no one I know is having a party. To combat this, I will have a party later this year and it will involve costumes. Anyway, since you don't get to see me dressed up in a costume (and since looking at my computer I see that I have no previous Halloween pictures [what's up with that?]), have this instead.

Senior year, high school drama production of A Midsummer Night's Dream. I played Hippolyta. I was deemed a natural queen. Thank you, thank you.

Note: Faces have been blurred to protect the innocent.

23 October 2009

Look what I won!

Here's the thing- @geekgirldiva was challenged by her boss to get 5,000 followers on Twitter. Okay, why not, I like the name. It turns out, there were prizes too. That was kind of exciting.

Well, she hit her mark and asked us to tweet her on what prizes we might want. After looking at the list, I chose the Tonner Edward (as in Twilight - I know, I know). If you don't know why this is awesome, go spend a few hours with the Secret Life of Dolls. It's okay, I'll wait here until you get back.

So the thing is, I won it. I really wish I had a recording of my evil cackl
e when this happened. (I'll try and record one later tonight.) I don't have the foggiest idea what I'm going to do with it, but I have great faith in my imagination.

Update: I'm going to have to invest in some Bella Barbies for it to eat aren't I? Yes, yes I am.

22 October 2009

Chauvet Caves

Back in my college days, I lived in a dorm as so many do. Being an RA (yes, I'm a total goody-two-shoes at heart), I also had the privilege of my own room - which I proceeded to decorate.

Being the kind of nerd I am, I avoided the 'favorite sports team' and/or 'favorite band' themes for something decidedly more cerebral.

The Chauvet Caves were my inspiration, although my artistic abilities were not on par with the original creators. (And how sad is it that I am not as good an artist as a palaeolithic painter?) All of the works were created on plain white paper, then taped up on the walls. I have to admit it was a surreal experience. You could actually see a portion of my walls from the main school grounds if you were looking and I had several people ask me what the heck was going on up there - many of them unaware it was in fact my dorm.

I make no apologies for the follies of youth and say this with utmost certainty, I would totally decorate a room of my house like this if I ever, you know, own a house. It would the Chauvet guest bedroom, all done up in earth tones with a starlight ceiling instead of an overhead lamp.

Oh man, I need to go write this down somewhere - other than online that is...

19 October 2009

The Annotated Movies in Fifteen Minutes: Wizards

Cleolinda Jones
Grade: A

I don't even know where to start with this book because if you don't know what the Movies in Fifteen Minutes are, you're not going to really get the Annotated Movies in Fifteen Minutes.

Back in, what was it, '04?, Cleolinda Jones (names have been changed to protect the innocent, that and like me she uses a nom de plume online) wrote a parody/summary of Van Helsing called "Van Helsing in Fifteen Minutes." Others followed, she got a book deal (that hoor) and went on to take the Twilight fandom by storm.

But that's just the backstory, I personally caught up with Cleolinda during the Potterdamurung. Since then, I have been a pretty rabid (hey look! froth!) follower of her blog. When the Compocalypse struck this last August and everything that Cleo had so much as glanced at quit working, she went back to work she knew was successful, spruced it up a bit, and decided to sell it on Lulu. I tell you all of this backstory because, despite the horror, it is pretty funny and if you've got a few hours to spare (serious, bring a snack) you should go read all about it.

The Annotated Movies in Fifteen Minutes: Wizards is the M15M entries for Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire and Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince (all of which are free online) with annotations by Cleo herself. They include the origins of w00t, commentary on Narcissa Malfoy's hair and six degrees of M15M which sounds like fun. Also, I did not know the origins of w00t. I'm a bad nerd.

Before you even buy the book, Cleo starts with the funny "..it's actually sort of interactive. I mean, it won't play checkers with you or anything, but it does stuff dead-tree books can't do..." and it only gets better from there. I don't want to give away any of the jokes, so I'm just going to gush a little more about how great it was without giving you any examples.

The thing is, I am a huge HP fangirl. Go read my Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince movie review if your curious. What I love is that it is very evident that I'm not the only one of the two of us who loved the Harry Potter books. The fact that these were something that she both loved in book and movie format shines through every word and it separates it from many other parodies out there. Not liking it and making fun of it can be funny. But when people who genuinely love something understand its flaws, that has the potential for hilarity. Cleo hits it perfectly.

I'm going to go ahead and throw this out here, 'cause it seems to fit. This is the second book I've read recently that functioned as a commentary for something I really enjoyed. The first being, of course, Memories of the Future; and while Wheaton left me a little confused and disappointed, Cleo knocked it out of the park. I actually LOLed. If you've never read Harry Potter you can still read this. If you've never seen the movies it's still easy to read. Of course it helps to have done one or both, but it is not necessary. It does help a bit if you are familiar with the M15M format or you might be a little lost for a bit.

My only complaint (and it is a tiny tiny one) is that on my ereader it will not be anywhere near as much fun. This is because Johnny 505 does not have wireless so none of the links will work. This is definitely best read on a Kindle with wifi or on your document viewer of choice on your computer. I read it in my Ubuntu document viewer and it was lovely.

I can't stress enough how much you need to buy this book. At $6.25 it's a total steal and I'll probably buy another copy on principle. (Aw, Lulu won't let me. I haz a sad.)

What are you doings still reading this, go!

Note: Yes, I call proper authors by the last name (Wheaton, Moning, etc.) yet I call Ms Jones by her first. This is because it isn't her real name anyway and the Jones is tacked on because people need a last name, even fake ones. She will be Cleo until I decide otherwise. This has been your friendly neighborhood "you totally didn't care did you" announcement.

18 October 2009

Memories of the Future: Volume One

Wil Wheaton
Grade: B+/C-

I have a real problem with Wil Wheaton. I like his work in principle, but the execution always leaves me wanting (see my Sunken Treasures review for example). Memories of the Future was no different. I really really wanted to love this book. Like, really. I wanted to love it like cake and buy copies for all my geek friends for Christmas.

The proper place to begin, is of course the beginning so let’s back up a bit. Memories of the Future is, for lack of a better term, an episode guide for Star Trek: The Next Generation (which I do love like cake – chocolatey, yummy cake). Each episode is broken down into: Summary, Quotable Dialogue, Obligatory Technobabble, Behind the Scenes Memory, The Bottom Line, and a Final Grade. The summaries are not meant to be scene by scene episode details, but rather if you were sitting with a few buddies doing a running commentary of the show.

I will give Wheaton this, the summaries of the episodes are, by and large, hilarious. Wheaton really shines when he is taking the piss out of himself, and while this could have easily devolved into Wheaton pointing fingers and saying “What an idot!”, he instead treats his fellow actors and crew-members with a great deal of respect. Unfortunately, in order to honor them, he sometimes loses opportunities for humor – a trade-off I can both understand and support. It’s better to not be funny than to be funny at your friends and colleagues expense. With that said, a mention of a particular first officer walking into a turbolift door when it did not open as he thought it would, awesome.

What I wanted from this was a book about Star Trek written by someone who lived the on-set experiences. I wanted a Star Trek book that only that person could have written. Instead, Memories of the Future reads for the most part as though any person with a background in on-set politics could have written it. The Behind the Scenes sections are quite short, and as they were one of the reasons I bought the book to begin with, I was a quite disappointed. It felt like the Behind the Scenes sections were an afterthought, added in when someone editing the book pointed out it needed a little something to make it more Wheaton’s.

What it boils down to is I continuously feel that I am not getting what I paid for with Wheaton’s books. I understand that Wheaton is a self-published author and that’s how he does his thing, but if I had bought Memories of the Future as a paperback and not as a PDF I would have been pissed off beyond all measure. Twenty bucks for a paperback that’s less than 150 pages? That’s just plain silly. I also think that he should have released the first volume as the whole of season one. Assuming he finishes the entire series, we’re talking fourteen books in total. I can say that if all of season one had been in Memories of the Future Volume One I would not have anywhere near as many complaints as I do. I suppose it deserves two grades, what the book contained and what my expectations of it were (the book grade has been revised for this).

Again, back to my first paragraph, I really want to like Wheaton as an author but if he continues to disappoint me like this I’m going to have to... oh who am I kidding? A Star Trek book written by a Star Trek castmember? I’m going to buy it no matter what.

Do as I say kids, not as I do.

15 October 2009

Their finest hour - Churchill

Winston Churchill gave many great speeches in his time as Prime Minster of Great Britain. I imagine that in the future a high percentage of 'Speeches that make me cry' will come from Sir Churchill. This is an interesting one in which Churchill speaks of many military matters, and even cracks a joke or two (I have included one)... Again, I urge you to read the full text provided below.

This was their finest hour...

The disastrous military events which have happened during the past fortnight have not come to me with any sense of surprise. Indeed, I indicated a fortnight ago as clearly as I could to the House that the worst possibilities were open; and I made it perfectly clear then that whatever happened in France would make no difference to the resolve of Britain and the British Empire to fight on, if necessary for years, if necessary alone.


We are also told that the Italian Navy is to come out and gain sea superiority in these waters. If they seriously intend it, I shall only say that we shall be delighted to offer Signor Mussolini a free and safeguarded passage through the Strait of Gibraltar in order that he may play the part to which he aspires. There is a general curiosity in the British Fleet to find out whether the Italians are up to the level they were at in the last war or whether they have fallen off at all.


What General Weygand called the Battle of France is over. I expect that the Battle of Britain is about to begin. Upon this battle depends the survival of Christian civilization. Upon it depends our own British life, and the long continuity of our institutions and our Empire. The whole fury and might of the enemy must very soon be turned on us.

Hitler knows that he will have to break us in this Island or lose the war. If we can stand up to him, all Europe may be free and the life of the world may move forward into broad, sunlit uplands. But if we fail, then the whole world, including the United States, including all that we have known and cared for, will sink into the abyss of a new Dark Age made more sinister, and perhaps more protracted, by the lights of perverted science.

Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duties, and so bear ourselves that if the British Empire and its Commonwealth last for a thousand years, men will still say, 'This was their finest hour.'

-Winston Churchill, 18 June 1940

13 October 2009

Die Science Fiction, Die!

(I don't mean it, come back!)

So some idiot on the internet (I know, narrow it down a bit why don't I?) has gotten it into his pretty little head that woman have ruined science fiction. It was so idiotic in fact that I won't even link to it. It's all over the interwebs, you can find it if you really want to.

The main thrust of the article is that science fiction, by attempting to appeal to more females in their audience, has lost the plot entirely.

I love Scifi, if my profile picture doesn't clue you in (and, yes, that is my neck and it is permanent), then let me say that I have made special efforts to see Ray Bradbury speak on more than one occasion and just spent a ridiculous amount of money to ship my Asimov and Adams across the Atlantic Ocean. I watch Star Trek (all incarnations), Battlestar Galactica, and Firefly. I just abandoned six years of work and waiting to do a degree in Physics. What's wrong with the womenfolk invading Scifi?

The Battlestar Galactica rant was, I have to admit, kind of fantastic. It had women in roles of power making decisions that the men were struggling with. And they turned Starbuck into a woman! Oh. Em. Gee! He even quotes the ridiculous Dirk Benedict article lamenting that they turned his swashbuckling Starbuck into a Stardoe. Get over yourself. The only thing the least bit feminine about the newly re-incarnated Starbuck was that she had tits. That's what made her so awesome. Also, having seen both the new Battlestar and the older one, Stardoe is by far more interesting and better played than your Starbuck. Sorry. I would imagine that having hot chicks like Starbuck, Roslin, and every female Cylon (you know it's true) running about probably brought a great deal more boys into the Scifi fold. It's not just bespeckled men in lab coats blowing things up! It's hot women in lab coats blowing things up! Yay!

But it is the ending that really grabs my goat.

"As we know science fiction has inspired boys to pursue careers in science, engineering, and technology as men. With women killing science fiction on television, the current generation of boys won’t have this opportunity to be inspired to work in these fields. There is still a great deal of written science fiction that is real science fiction so all is not lost. However, many boys who would have gone on to make scientific discoveries and invent new technologies will not do so since they will never be inspired by science fiction as boys."

I'm sorry, boys, that you find it so difficult to be inspired by the male based comic books, movies and TV shows featuring Summer Glau that cater especially to your prurient interests. I suppose the slew of women who will flock into this field (including myself) will just have to pick up the slack.

Honestly, if you don't want us in there with you, you can go play in some other sandbox. I hear Westerns are dying off, they could use an influx of whiny, self-obsessed crybabies.

*I love the description of slash by the way, "[s]lash fiction is a form of fan fiction written primarily by women where characters in science fiction TV shows are gay and have homosexual relationships completely contrary to the established canon of the show." Hate to break it to you buddy, but slash isn't limited to science fiction shows.

12 October 2009

Mr Deity

I know I mentioned PZ Meyers a few posts back, but I want to throw his name out there again as he is in the new Mr Deity video. If you have not seen Mr Deity, you should go there right this minute and watch all of their videos. Then donate them money. Go on. I'll be here when you get back.

06 October 2009

Are you doctors?

In my time in London (did you know I was in London? Yeah, it was where I was supposed to be doing my MSc... now I'm on a bit of a vacation) I have spent a lot of time in museums. Most of my evenings have been spent at the theatre.

Last week, I saw Wicked for the second time. Still my all time favourite show, even if this cast didn't quite measure up to the first time.

Monday night I saw We Will Rock You which is the Queen musical that my Auntie Mame has been after me for years to see. I dutifully went and can I say this? It was awful. It was poorly put together, made absolutely no sense, and bored me to tears. I'd have been better off listening to my 'Best of Queen' album and burning the thirty quid I spent on the ticket.

It was that bad.

On a brighter note, Tuesday night I saw Avenue Q which has puppets and is snidely funny. Featuring such novel tunes as 'The internet is for Porn'. I enjoyed it a lot. I would have enjoyed it more if I hadn't had to throw down with the group of young girls sitting to my left. Five minutes into the show, the girl next to me opens her phone and begins to write a text. With all the disdain I could muster I turned to her and said, "Really?" She promptly apologised and put her phone away.

The five other girls she was with apparently did not hear me. Not only did they text on and off, they talked enough that the British person sitting in front of them turned around and shushed them. I thought the woman next to me was going to lose her mind over the texting - you see the backlight on the phone is very distracting in the corner of your eye in a dark theatre. So at intermission, I leaned forward so I could talk to them all.

"Are you doctors?" Stunned faces but no reply, "Then turn your fucking phones off. You are pissing off every single person in this row and for several rows behind you." The guy behind me clapped. The woman next to me asked what I'd said, I told her the edited version and mentioned I thought the girl next to me was terrified of me now. Her response? "Oh, she hasn't met me yet. I'll go over these seats if I see a phone in the second half." I promised to lean back out of her way if it came to that.

Thankfully, the phones stayed blessedly put away.

02 October 2009

Johnny 505: the Test-Drive Conclusion

I just got an email from one of my fellow test-drivers about whether or not I will be keeping Johnny 505. This was my reply:

"After all my bluster about the ereader market being outrageous I still ended up keeping mine. I thought about holding out for one of the new ones with wireless and all that, but I like task specific gadgets. Especially when it comes to reading.

When it came down to it, the convenience of having 100+ books at my fingertips - be I at work, commuting, or just lying in bed - was the main draw for me. While I will continue to purchase paper copies of books I truly enjoy (I don't want to end up the technological age equivalent of the gentleman from Twilight Zone's "Time Enough at Last"), most of my "looking for something to read" purchases will be done for my Sony505."