Tuesday, December 30, 2003

Underwater Times names its Underwater Stories of the Year. There's the Bethany Hamilton shark attack and the whale hunting stories, but you know what is No. 3? Colossal Squid Found! Woohoo, go giant squid! Also, the Chilean sea blob makes No. 4.

Citizens' Association to Blow Up the Moon: "We are a group of citizens from all walks of life who share a common realization and thus a common goal: the Moon is our enemy and must be destroyed."

Monday, December 22, 2003

Have I mentioned Henshin!Online is a great site for Godzilla news? That's why it's up their on the right. Today's news: the new Godzilla X Mechagodzilla will be released in America in the first half of 2004! This is great. I haven't even gotten GMK and Godzilla X Megaguirus, which are coming out in January. It seems like Sony is really trying to boost the Godzilla fandom in the U.S. I hope so. I would like to see these movies come out here right after they're released in Japan.
Also at Henshin Online is an interview with one of the creators of the Ultraman comic book.

Friday, December 19, 2003

DVD Review takes a look at "Godzilla, Mothra, King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack."
"So, in a nutshell, ’Godzilla, Mothra And King Ghidorah’ is a must-see for all kaiju fans. It’s just really cool..."
And here is the page with the info about the Boston showings of "GMK." I really want to go. Any other Godzilla fans out there who would like to take a trip to Boston next week?

The Astronomy Picture of the Day (Dec. 14) is the Face on Mars. Of course, it doesn't look anything like a face in this picture. A conspiracy to hide it, I'm sure.

Bookslut links to a very interesting article, an interview with Anthony Lane, the New Yorker's film critic. Lane is asked about the writer's life, he then proceeds to go on a monologue about the kind of life he leads. It's fascinating, at least I think so.

Thursday, December 18, 2003

Excellent article about Alan Moore. Although, I must say that "Swamp Thing" was not "a terrible American comic book" when it began. Len Wein did some good stuff that Moore was able to build on later. It wasn't great, but it certainly wasn't "terrible."

Doctor creates anti-bullet charm. "To confirm its efficacy, the herbalist tied the charm around his neck and insisted that Akor should fire a gun at him. The experiment proved fatal for the herbalist and his skull was shattered," said a police spokesman.

Platypuses Hunt With Electro-Sensor. With cute picture!

The headline says it all: Ugly slug lures amateur divers to their death. If you want to see what a sea cucumber looks like check Google image search.

The New Yorker's Alex Ross ponders the similarities and differences of "The Lord of the Rings" and "The Ring of the Nibelung." Also here is a Washington Post article on the influences behind "The Lord of the Rings."

This beetle is actually made of opal, at least in part.

The Eldritch Dark, which is a great Web site for reading all of Clark Ashton Smith's fantasty works, now has the correspondence of H.P. Lovecraft and Smith up. Lovecraft is famed for his letter writing. Besides Smith, he wrote to Robert E. Howard, Robert Bloch, Joseph Payne Brennan and many more. (Link found via Return of the Reluctant.)

Wednesday, December 17, 2003

Well, it appears there is a new weirdwriter out there. He's 19 and lives in New York. Impostor! Nah, I'm just kidding. Welcome. (And yes, I found this because I searched for my own name on Google. I'm a narcissist, sue me.)
And while I'm at it, you can find another Weirdwriter here.

It seems the Wright Brothers had a lot of competition. This being the 100th anniversary of the Kitty Hawk flight, everybody is writing stories like these. Locally, we have Gustave Whitehead, who never claimed a first flight, but many people say he flew first on a hill in Fairfield. Texas claims a first flight in this story. And Brazil makes their claim here. It seems there was a veritable fleet of airplanes in the air as the Wright Brothers took off.

Well, there's stuff on Edward Kelley here, here, and here. I haven't had a chance to read any of them though.

There's a new article about the Voynich Manuscript. The Voynich Manuscript is an illuminated manuscript housed at Yale's Beinecke Rare Book Library. The manuscript is written an apparently untranslatable language and is full of bizarre pictures. You can find some detailed stuff about the Voynich Manuscript here, here and photos here. The second link is probably the best introduction.
So in the new story, a researcher says he can show that the Voynich Manuscript is a hoax perpetrated by Edward Kelley ("a forger, mystic, alchemist, mercenary and wife-swapper") who originally sold the book. I think I need to find out more about Edward Kelley.

Museum workers are spooked out by Egyptian funerary figures that move around at night. The figures, or shabtis, are supposed to be servants of the dead.
"'They were neatly packed in a case when we brought them up. When we came to work the day after, they were lying all over the place, except for two - two false shabtis,' [Museum guard Richard] Saure said."

Tuesday, December 16, 2003

Ghosts blamed for runaway train. The lead says "superstitious Indonesians" blamed ghosts. Well, where is the real explanation then? Hmm? (Well, it does say "Indonesia's railways are often plagued with rolling stock and maintenance problems," but let's not go pointing fingers yet.

A booming business: "They run the nation's only sea slug farm, filling a growing global demand for squishy, slimy, slithering purplish-brown blobs."
With picture!

The World Wide Web takes a step towards fighting censorship and promoting the "marketplace of ideas" worldwide: "Exiled Bangladeshi writer Taslima Nasreen whose latest work has sparked off a controversy prompting the West Bengal government to proscribe it, has now decided to post its entire manuscript on the net. "

Monday, December 15, 2003

The first review of the latest Godzilla film is up at Monster Zero. I wish these films were released more quickly and more reliably in America (and in theaters, wouldn't that be great?) At least "GMK: All out attack" and "Godzilla X Megaguirus" will be released on DVD here in January. Also, "GMK" is going to be playing in a theater near Boston on Christmas week. I'm going to see if I can make it. I would love to see that on the big screen.

Friday, December 12, 2003

SciFi Audio has recordings of China Mieville reading from his novel, "Scar," as well as an interview with him. I think I've mentioned it previously, but among fantasy writers, I really think Mieville is one of the best, if not the best. He's also high on my list of writers in general.

Thursday, December 11, 2003

I just picked up "The Coming of Conan the Cimmerian" a book collecting many of Robert E. Howard's original Conan stories in their original glory. This got me thinking of Conan, so I looked up the Official Website, which has all kinds of interesting Conan news. Apparently, McFarlane Toys will take on Conan next year. Also, there is a new Conan comic book coming out, written by Kurt Busiek. Dark Horse is collecting the classic Barry Windsor-Smith Conan comics of the '70s. And finally, a Conan video game is in production. In fact, there is a trailer for it here. Looks like it might be good.

Ever wonder what it's like to live in a snowglobe? This link might give you an idea. (Thanks to Charles for the link.)

A pilot is stranded in Antartica on McMurdo Base because he ran out of fuel. The Antarticans won't give him any fuel, and I don't blame them. According to the story:

Antarctica New Zealand spokeswoman Shelly Peebles said Mr Johanson had taken an irresponsible approach. No one knew he was coming and he had done nothing about emergency or refuelling plans.
"He abdicated complete personal responsibility for any kind of contingency plan or consideration of how he was going to get back with limited fuel," she said.

This guy sounds like one of those balloon guys trying to set travel records. You know, the guys who cost us money because the Coast Guard has to pick them up and transport them home when they inevitably fail. I don't enjoy paying for rich men's hobbies.
By the way, if you're ever looking for a good site about life on Antartica, check out Big Dead Place. It's written by people living on Antartica. Lots of good stuff there.

Wednesday, December 10, 2003

A scientist suggests that the red skies of Edvard Munch's "The Scream" might have been influenced by Krakatoa, which caused red skies throughout the world. Personally, I think it was a crossover with "Crisis on Infinite Earths." /obscure joke

Here's a "how to" on keeping a dream journal. There are also a bunch of other stories about dreams and nightmares if you click the "index" link. I kept a dream journal for a while. I just left a notebook beside my bed and when I woke - before I was really awake and aware - I'd scribble down whatever I had just dreamed. You remember your dreams much better that way and it's really weird to look back on some of those dreams.

Weird world report: The globe is getting dangerously warmer, so watch out for falling ice balls.

Check out the world's fastest growing snack foods cult! Behold the fork of transcendence, beware the stark spoon of evil.

Tuesday, December 09, 2003

I just bought this The Outer Limits - The Original Series, Season 1 DVD set used at a local record store for $40. How cool is that? And, just for fun, here's a Salon Masterpiece article on the series. It looks like you won't have to watch an ad to read it either!

Have you been following the German cannibal story? It's too bizarre for words and just keeps getting weirder. Now, the killer says he was "a bit like a werewolf" during full moons. Also, he taped the whole dinner. Yipe.
If you want to know more (and who doesn't really), just take a look at Google news, there are about a hundred stories just today on the case. I haven't even gotten into to the whole cannibal email list thing.

Stylist's hair bursts into flames, showing that big hair can be dangerous to more than just your looks.

Five-legged dog ends up with three after operation, with sad, hideous picture.

Researchers are looking at a submerged city off the coast of India as the birthplace of modern civilization. However, the man attached to this research is named Graham Hancock. I'm curious if this is the same Graham Hancock who wrote several ridiculous books about the grail and the lost ark of the covenant.

Thank goodness! Seattle has made it once again safe for Elvis impersonators to drive a cab. I know you were all worried. (Link via the absolutely wonderful Cylindrical Primate Storage Unit.)

JenniCam, after more than seven years of documenting Jennifer Ringley's life, will be shutting down Dec. 31. Terry Teachout has some interesting things to say about it. I think he sums it up well here: "She was present at the creation of a radically innovative form of interpersonal communication, and used it to show the world her underwear. What’s more, the world turned out to be interested in her underwear—briefly."

Issue 17 of Bookslut is up, check it out. I haven't read any of it yet, but the review of Flann O'Brien's "The Third Policeman" as well as the magazine and horror columns look to be of interest. It's always worth reading anyway.

Monday, December 08, 2003

Ricky Moody writes a rather pretentious article called 'We recognise the scepticism, the disgust, the coiffure. We recognise this because we have stood in front of mirrors and fleetingly believed in ourselves'. It's about the Talking Heads and how they created a moment of ecstasy for a geek who gets beat up in high school.

Blogger is not working right at the moment, so I'm going to write up a few links at once and blog them later.
First off is this entry by Forager 23 about why he likes country. Now, I'm not going to like modern country music, but this article does give a good perspective on it. It's down home music about living real life.
He also praises modern country for using songwriters, rather than allowing the singers to come up with their own navel-gazing songs. I always liked the idea of songwriters, tin pan alley, that kind of thing. The Associated Press did a great story a few years back about country songwriters, specifically a member of the crew hired by Reba McEntire. Every morning the guy woke up, went to his little office and tried to think up song lyrics. The article had the writer create a song about a computer crashing at work. I wish I could find the article, but a Google search turns up nothing.
Jay Lake links to this great Jack Chick parody, Who Will Be Eaten First?. A basic understanding of H.P. Lovecraft might be necessary to get the joke. "There is one thing we can hope for ... TO BE EATEN FIRST!"
Meanwhile, at Useful Noise, insurance companies are preparing for fungi and nuclear radiation and we should all be worried because of it.

Friday, December 05, 2003

According to TheSpark.com's Bastard Test!, I am 30% bastard. The worldwide average is 44%. 3% of test takers are the same amount of bastard as I am. Isn't that fascinating? (Link found via The Mad Dater.)

I had to stop reading this article at about the halfway point. It's about how parasites might make you feel better. Once I saw the picture of the hookworm and the scientist say that he had about 300 of them in his "gut," it was all over. The world still seems weird, but now slightly less wonderful.

This New Scientist article suggests that tiny black holes may be continually raining down on Earth's atmosphere. And, if proven, could also show the existence of other dimensions.
We are living in a truly weird, really wonderful world.

In case you were wondering, Colymbosathon ecplecticos means "swimmer with a large penis." Also from the same story, ' "The copulatory organ of the fossilised male is "large and stout" which indicates that "maybe size mattered" for the ancient ostracods, he added. ' Damn. Even prehistoric creatures agree.

Thursday, December 04, 2003

Thank you to Cowboy X's Blog of Blogs. Cowboy X reviewed my site and said some nice things. I'm now a member of "The Herd." I'll chew my cud and ask you to check it out here.

Wednesday, December 03, 2003

Now, you can see the Mothra music video! Just click on the link, it's a Japanese Godzilla page. Scroll down slightly and you will see a pink button with the two Mothra girls on it. Click that link and you can watch the video!
The video is really goofy. It's the original Mothra song from the '64 movie, updated with a backbeat and synthesizers. And the best part: When an image of Mechagodzilla firing its cannons is shown, there's a drum beat that goes right along with it! Oh how I love it.

The new Battlestar Galactica gets some praise over at BoingBoing. Xeni Jardin says the first episode (shown during a launch party for the show) was "nothing short of breathtaking, and lives up to its producers' promise to turn the science fiction TV genre on its head." That's high praise. Hope it turns out that way.

If you ever thought people seeing the Virgin Mary or some other religious thing in birth marks and tree knots was a good thing, this article may make you think differently. A new baby has a birthmark that resembles the name of its uncle, a member of Hamas who may have been involved in a suicide bombing that killed 12 people, including a 10-year-old girl. The family says the birthmark is a sign from Allah praising the fight against Israel.

People in Sydney, Australia, heard a loud bang, which shook windows and woke people out of their sleep. Yet, there is no explanation for it.

While I'm at Salon, this article expresses just about exactly how I feel about Monica Lewinsky. She was a girl who made a stupid mistake and has been paying for it ever since. However, she has done nothing to help herself.

Salon has a good article on the friendship of J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis. It focuses on how one night's argument over Christianity changed both men's writing careers forever.

Did you know Salam Pax is still writing his blog from Baghdad? Of course you did. Did you also know his friend Raed, the one for whom the blog was named, is now also writing? It adds a whole new element. Raed isn't as good a writer as Salam, but he's funnier and a bit more pissed off. I've been enjoying his stay on the site recently. For instance, check out his entry on camels and their association with Arabs.

Tuesday, December 02, 2003

There has been so little giant squid news these last few months, it makes me sad. However, this story about catfish as big as a bear does help to cheer me up a bit.

Monday, December 01, 2003

I was listening to the radio the other day and had a moment of clarity. I want you all to know that "Still of The Night" is the best Led Zeppelin song ever. That it's not written or performed by Led Zeppelin makes no difference.

Orgasm Implant Trials Stall: If this thing goes off, what will men be needed for? I mean, there's that whole baby thing, but really, so what? (Link from Jay Lake's new blog, once called Caprine Eructations, now called Cylindrical Primate Storage Unit, either way it's filled with lots of cool stuff.)

Thursday, November 27, 2003

Words of advice for Justin Timberlake: If your ex-girlfriend disparages your manhood, it does no good to have/let your grandmother defend you. That is all.

Authors writing about their pets can be a sugary-sweet thing, but I'm usually a sucker for it, especially when it's about a cat. And Jeff Vandermeer writes wonderfully about his cat, Pretty Ugly, which died recently. It's a nice story and he shows the cat, warts and all.

Wednesday, November 26, 2003

Which Historical Lunatic Are You?
From the fecund loins of Rum and Monkey.

Well, my novel for National Novel Writing Month is almost done. Actually, the story is done. It just came up about 8,000 words short, so I'm writing a long afterword about the writing of the novel. Kind of like a commentary track on a DVD, except more rambling. So I should be done in a day or two (it's much easier for me to ramble on about myself at length then it is to write a story that way.) After that, I should be back to more regular blogging.
I hope everyone has a good Thanksgiving and eats a lot. I'll be seeing you after the holiday.

They have a first trailer up for Hellboy. It seems to have all the right elements: Abe Sapien, Liz Sherman, big tentacled things, Rasputin, Nazis. But it also has this Xmen thing going on, something about hiding the facility from the public. That was something never dealt with in the comic book. But even that has its good point, Jeffrey Tambor plays the politico. So, here's hoping it's good.

Tuesday, November 25, 2003

More than 100 whales and 10 dolphins beached themselves in Tasmania.

Monday, November 24, 2003

It's getting to be Christmas shopping season, so here's a little something everyone would like: A purple frogskin stereo theremin.

3 a.m. magazine has an interview with Michael Moorcock. (Link via Bookslut.)

Friday, November 21, 2003

Who knew the "B.C." newspaper comic strip could be so interesting. A controversy has erupted over one strip which shows a character enter an outhouse at night, slam the door and then say "Is it just me, or does it stink in here?"
The strip, when I read it, just seemed a rather unfunny joke, nothing unusual for comics pages these days. But some people have taken it as a slur on Islam. The image includes six crescent moons, which is a relevant symbol to Islam, and the word "slam" (which some argue seems unnecessary) is written upright, as if the word were an "I", therefore, somehow, translating to Islam.
The strip's author is an evangelical Christian and has done religious strips in the past. But he denies he put any anti-Islam message in the strip.
Personally, I just see it as an unfunny joke that unintentionally had a few too many symbols for its own good. But the article offers a lot of interesting insights on the issue, including the idea of ignoring authorial intent.
It's probably the most thought put into a "B.C." comic in ages.

Thursday, November 20, 2003

The Guardian picks the 40 best directors and David Lynch makes No. 1. It's a good list, whether you agree with it or not, and has a lot of interesting choices. They are especially conscious of directors outside the English-speaking world, people like Takeshi Kitano and Takashi Miike. Good stuff.

Margaret Armen, one of the first successful female TV writers, died. She wrote for both "Star Trek," "The Rifleman," "Wonder Woman" and "Land of the Lost," therefore I love her. Here's a listing of the episodes she wrote.

A woman is suffering: "'I looked at him in the face and said: 'How would you like to walk around on the verge of an orgasm every second?' And he shut up.'"

Terry Teachout gives a good account of the National Book Awards, in particular Stephen King's speech and the little acknowledged response to it by Shirley Hazzard.

Tuesday, November 18, 2003

Interesting story on a caretaker looking to preserve the Easter Island head stones.

There's an interesting thing going on. At twinkle twinkle blah blah blah etc., a blogger writes that an anarchists' party was broken up by police. At HereIType, another blogger gets a short firsthand account of what happened.
What's interesting about all this is that there hasn't been any report on this, except for a small one in the Daily News, apparently. So, really, bloggers are the only one doing the journalistic work on this thing. That's kind of exciting, if they follow through on it.
However, traditional alternative media have already gotten wind of the story. Here's an account from Pacifica Radio, which is a liberal (radical?) radio show played locally on WPKN. And here's a version from infoshop, an anarchist news source.
Now if there was only some reporting from straight media to give a more "official" account of the story.
I'm always interested in seeing first hand reporting by blogs, but I haven't seen too much of it yet.

Monday, November 17, 2003

Here's an interesting article on "Topsy Turvy" and its use of "The Mikado." The article goes into great deal about Gilbert and Sullivan's intentions with the opera and seems to get it right. But why question Mike Leigh's use of the opera? It seems obvious to me that it was a crucial time in Gilbert and Sullivan's partnership and that's why he chose it as the subject.
As for the racist aspect, the opera certainly has that in it. But Leigh doesn't hide from that. The movie offers up the musical without comment. He expects his audience to be smart enough to make up their own minds about the musical and its political intentions, aspirations or unintentional messages.
And Leigh makes it explicitly clear in the movie that England at this time was a very racist place, that racism was not only accepted but was considered common sense.
I just don't see the problem. The movie tells the story of how it was. The director obviously loves Gilbert & Sullivan, but he doesn't give them any free passes. I think the director expects you to make up your own mind without any heavy-handed politicizing.

Here's the classic tale of the exploding whale. You'll need Quicktime to enjoy the blubber blast.

Looking around on the Web, I just realized that Tuesday is the 25th anniversary of the Jonestown mass suicide. So let's see what Jonestown linkage we can find. This one is first up at Google and seems to be created by a former Peoples Temple member. Looks like it has a lot of info. Here's a conspiracy theory about the events that transpired in Guyana. Here's the FBI's version gathered from the Freedom of Information Act.
Here are the lyrics to Concrete Blonde's song "Jonestown." (For some reason, I can't find lyrics that include the words in the third line of the second verse. Odd.)
Anyway, spend a little time on it and I'm sure you could find a lot more.

How could you not read a story that starts like this: "Large groups of screaming women passing dildos between their legs may sound like a scene straight out of a porno movie, but it is actually a sight that is becoming more and more common in suburban homes nationwide."
I'm also curious how a newspaper allowed the phrase "cock rings" to appear in its pages. (I would also be surprised if "f-ckerware" got into my paper.)

Friday, November 14, 2003

Attention: If you go to Yale don't drink from the water fountains. I'll only warn you once.

Thursday, November 13, 2003

I've never seen a story so monumentally stupid. It's a guide to watching TV, starting with "1. Take the TV schedule and chart your viewing. You wouldn't wander into a movie theater without knowing what you're going to see. "
Who needs this? Is there anybody who looks at that box in their living room and is not quite sure what they should do with it? (Link via the great TMFTML.)

Here's a really interesting reflection by Jay McInerney on Raymond Carver as a writing teacher. The article makes me want to go back and read more Carver stories (which I do all the time, anyway.)

Wednesday, November 12, 2003

Flannery O'Connor
Flannery O'Connor wrote your book. Not much escapes
your notice.

Which Author's Fiction are You?
brought to you by Quizilla

Wow, I'm Flannery O'Connor. It works for me, although I've only read a few of her stories ... and she's a woman ... and she's Southern. Still, can't complain.

Monday, November 10, 2003

Short interview with Michael Moorcock on his character Jerry Cornelius.

I should be writing my novel right now. I'm not, because I'm a filthy, filthy procrastinator. Bad me. I'm up at 16,024 words and I want to be at 18,000 by the end of the day. So I'd better get to it. The lack of posting continues at Weirdwriter.

I have soft spot in my heart for gentle manatees. It's always sad to hear they are dying at increased rates. It doesn't help to be slow moving, gentle creatures in waters infested with humans.

I took one of those obnoxious quizzes everybody takes and then puts a link to on their blog. (You know, like the Kaiju quiz I put on a month or two ago.) This one tries to determine what religion is right for you. I got Mahayana Buddhism, which is weird, I always thought I would be a Theravada Buddhist. You just never know.

Friday, November 07, 2003

This article at Slate is spot on about what was right about "The Matrix" and wrong about the sequels. Meanwhile, Roger Ebert has gone crazy. He likes the film, he hates the film, his sister, his daughter. He thought it was pretty, so he'll forgive all the other details.

Well, I saw The Matrix Revolutions, and I now realize the Wachowski Brothers have never seen a metaphor they didn't want to beat into the ground until it cries for mercy.
Here is what's good about it: It is exciting. Lots of beautiful battles and escapes and visions. And the message is not a bad one, if overly sappy and drawn out and hammered on again and again and again (and if I seem to be hammering that home, well I learned it from the Wachowskis.)
What's bad about it: It's drawn out. It could have been chopped by a half-hour. I don't mind sitting through a long film, I just don't want the same things to flash before my eyes over and over.
Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Ann Moss still have no chemistry. Nobody liked their "love" scene in "Reloaded" and I never liked the ending to the original "Matrix," though I could (barely) stomach it. But so many scenes between them is absolutely dependent on that chemistry and it's just not there. I blame this on Keanu Reeves, just because I want to.
Oh yeah, and the symbols were WAY TOO OBVIOUS. Not just the ending either. I loved the Merovingian and his wife in the first one, but in this movie, they just spell out what he's supposed to be. You know Trinity goes through hell to meet them, they're both dressed in red, etc etc.
And then there's the Train Man, or whatever they call him. He plays the same role as the Key Master in "Reloaded," a huge walking plot device. Ugh.
Enough, I was disappointed. The action scenes are still good. The message isn't all bad. But the movie disappointed in a major way.

Here's an entertaining account of Lou Reed's Book Party. Apparently, Lou Reed has a small dog and Salman Rushdie likes all of Martin Amis' stuff.

Thursday, November 06, 2003

Fascinating post at Forager 23: J.R.R. Tolkien vs. Robert E. Howard. I'm particularly interested in this at the moment because I'm writing fantasy for Nanowrimo, but it has always been an issue I think about. Tolkien and Howard were my introduction to fantasy and my inspiration to be a writer. By necessity, the story I'm writing is more Howard than Tolkien (I didn't spend anytime creating a world; instead, I work episodically, trying to think up the wildest thing possible while I'm writing, a much more Howardian style of writing.) Be sure to read the comments on that post too, they add much to the discussion.

And you can hear the sound a herring makes here: New Scientist.

Scientists say they have figured out what the mysterious sounds herring makes are:
"But a team from the University of British Columbia in Vancouver say the noise matches bubbles coming out of a herring's anus."

FARK.com is running an interesting thread on what part of the body is your state? Of course, this being Fark, people have taken off in all different tangents. Here are my favorites for Connecticut:
Connecticut - We're bigger than Rhode Island
Massachusetts is the alcoholic rich uncle, and Connecticut is his gay boyfriend.
Connecticut -- The state that owns you...so please return to work so we can go back to sipping cocktails by the Sound.

Wednesday, November 05, 2003

OK, that's it. One man-nipple blog item too many. (That last entry comes from the excellent Twinkle Twinkle Blah Blah Blah by the way.) I have to go to work, my day has been eaten by Nanowrimo. See you.

You must see this gum commercial from Europe. Too bizarre for words. (You will of course need a Quicktime plug in.)

Tuesday, November 04, 2003

Unfortunately, that's it for me today. It's Election Day, so I have to get into work early and start getting the paper ready. Also, I actually want to vote in the local election, so I need to get out and do that too. This is going to put me a day behind in Nanowrimo, but really what can I do?

Romanian doctors extract living plant from boy's nose. "As the boy didn't cry or tell his mother anything, it sprung to life and had little leaves when we found it."

Monday, November 03, 2003

If you haven't already noticed, my comments generator seems to be acting kinda funky. For a while, it was reading as if there were zero comments, when there was actually one or two. So I'm not ignoring you if you wrote a comment! Keep writing 'em, I love to see them. I'm going to have to start looking into another comments generator.
And to JCF: Thanks for the info on the Nova episode about JFK, sounds fascinating. What I really want to know is if the angle of the shot is really all that difficult. I remember some study suggesting that most marksman couldn't hit the target from that book depository window. Oswald was reportedly not that good a shot, so I think this is one of the crucial bits of information.

Nanowrimo continues. I'm at 4,000 words or so. And I realize, I really need to plot out some more of my story. I'm running into brick walls everytime I put fingers to keyboard. A farmer in my story is forcing me to come up with answers, he's asking a lot of questions I don't know the answers to yet. Uppity fictional farmers. Once I answer his questions, I'll probably be able to sail along in the story. (God, I hope so.)
The forums at Nanowrimo are abysmally slow. I think they've quadrupled the number of people taking part and it's just bringing their machines to a halt. Oh well, it keeps me from getting distracted.
Some of the other CT wrimos met tonight (Sunday night). I hope they had a good time. I hope to make it to a few more of these events. It seems like we have some interesting people and I'd like to get to know them better. I don't know enough writers in my life.
Anyway, I should be spending this time writing my story. But until I work out some plot points, that's not likely to happen. Alright, time to knuckle down.

So I picked up two of the Continuum - 33 1/3 books, "The Piper at the Gates of Dawn" and "Forever Changes." If I had known the Velvet Underground book was out, I probably would have looked for that too. I picked these two because I actually own those albums. And to put my biases out front, I really love "Forever Changes" but I find "The Piper at the Gates of Dawn" kind of boring (but I love, love, love the song "Astronomy Domine.")
But I really don't think that bias accounts for why I liked the "Forever Changes" book and didn't like the "Piper" book. They're both very different.
"Piper" was about the band. It explored who the band members were, what they were doing and what the engineers thought of them. It goes on and on about new techniques they used in the studio. It talks about how cool the shows at the UFO club were, you know, when everybody took acid, tripped out and danced maaan.
Much time was spent on the the minutiae of studio work. Most of the people interviewed were producers and engineers. There's some talk about lyrics and what the band was trying to say, but very little.
"Forever Changes," on the other hand, was all about the lyrics and the philosophies it pulls from and it offers up. It talked about the societal influences surrounding the album and the psychological influences of Arthur Lee (Love's chief musical "architect," as he's referred to several times in the book.)
The author, Andrew Hultkrans, makes references to prophecy, gnosticism, "Marat/Sade" and the Manson murders. Actually, if the book has a failing, it's that it could have been somebody's graduate class thesis paper.
That's not to say that the book is filled with jargon and deconstructionism and other boring academic crap that means nothing in the real world. Hultkrans never goes too far, he always keeps it grounded.
The main difference between the two is simply this: after reading "Forever Changes" I wanted to listen to the album again. After reading "Piper," I didn't.
There's my review, take it for what you will. I think the format of the books is great and if I see the others in stores (especially the VU, Jimi Hendrix and My Bloody Valentine books) I'll probably pick them up.

Sunday, November 02, 2003

Despite the weird things the government did with her story, I don't think Jessica Lynch did anything wrong and she probably deserves the couple million she'll make off her biography. But it's nice to know that people are writing about the other soldiers who did the real fighting during that ambush. This Miller guy doesn't seem like the kind of guy I'd get along with, but he does seem like one brave man. Good to see he's getting some recognition for it.

Smelly grasshoppers have afflicted people with asthma in Sudan. How freakin' weird is this world?

Saturday, November 01, 2003

Well, I've gone and done it. The first 2,000 words of my Nanowrimo novel are done. I've given it a title: "A Brother's Duty." I don't know if I'll stick with it, but it focuses on one of the themes I thought about for this story.
I realized, as soon as I started, that I'm going to pay for not having thought out my plot more. I keep coming up short as I realize I don't have a name for this person or that city or this religion or whatever. If you don't have an obvious goal in mind, it gets harder to write towards one. So I'm going to try and think more about where this is going.
At least I managed to get ahead of the game. I need to do at least 1,600 every day to make 50,000 words by Nov. 30. Last year, I got stuck with trying to do 5,000 in one day. It was fun, but it was sort of awful too, trying to pound out that many words when you can't think of anything. I want to keep this at a more even pace.
I'll probably write some more tonight to get further ahead.

Friday, October 31, 2003

Interesting article on Alice Cooper and how he was where punk started. Actually, he kind of loses that point halfway through. I think he's right though. Alice had an immense effect on punk (just ask Johnny Rotten (you know, the guy from PiL) who wrote the liner notes to the Alice Cooper box set). I think the writer is way too hard on Alice's solo efforts though. His late '70s albums are some of the weirdest and most entertaining albums of his career.
I also like that he mentions "Easy Action" in some detail, Alice's most underrated album, I think.

Don't go anywhere without your Vampire Killing Kit. Now only $12,000! (By the way, that story has possibly my favorite headline ever.)

Here's an article trying to spoil our fun in believing that lemmings band together and jump off cliffs in an annual mass suicide. Another great legend lost.

According to Pravda, Noah's Ark may have been a submarine. Pravda is about the most untrustworthy news organization in the world, so don't hold your breath waiting for this to be confirmed. Still, it's awful entertaining.

It's Halloween, so what better time to look at Zombie Pinups.

Thursday, October 30, 2003

Here's an interview with Stephen Bissette focusing on horror. Bissette is always interesting on the subject. He has an encyclopedic knowledge of horror movies and comics, and probably better than most knowledge of horror literature.
I'm hoping the article goes at least a little into why he quit comics.
I've always thought it was a damn shame that Bissette quit and gave up working on his masterpiece, "Tyrant," a comic book taken from the perspective of a baby T-Rex. The book explored the dinosaur's world with exacting detail. The only thing like it is Robert Bakker's Raptor Red (an excellent book for dinosaur lovers, like myself.)
I'm hoping Bissette someday returns to the independent comic book fold.

Wednesday, October 29, 2003

The members of the Gnome Liberation Front were right all along, people don't care about their garden gnomes. Won't someone think of the gnomes?

The CIA is just weird. Not only did they create a dragonfly "insectothopter," they also created, "a 24-inch-long rubber robot catfish named "Charlie" capable of swimming inconspicuously among other fish and whose mission remains secret."
Remember, this is the same agency that tried to kill Castro with an exploding cigar. Really, I think they have an overdeveloped sense of humor.

Wow. An environmental group released these pictures of a dolphin massacre that turns the sea blood red. Also Underwater Times has a link to a video of the dolphins being loaded into the boat. This is pretty brutal stuff, so if you have a special attachment to Flipper, don't look at those links.

Interesting article on the growing number of singles in the country.

Tuesday, October 28, 2003

According to Fangoria, "Godzilla-Mothra-King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack" (which may well be the world's longest movie title) and "Godzilla vs. Megaguirus" will be out on DVD on January 6. Woohoo!
Which reminds me, I have to get to a record store and see if the "Destroy All Monsters" soundtrack is available. It was supposed to come out today.

ABC News reconstructs Kennedy assassination, confirms Warren Commission conclusion. This would be something I'd be interested in watching. The sticking point for me is, can an average gunman (not a sharpshooter) make the shot from that book depository window.
Oliver Stone's movie made a lot of the "back and to the left" of Kennedy's head, but a person's head isn't like a watermelon. There's muscles in the neck, there is good reason to argue that his head could push back after being shot forward.
No one will ever come up with a clear enough answer that everyone will be satisfied. Still, I would like to see a well done documentary that really tries to come up with the simplest, most likely answer -- be it a guy on the grassy knoll or Oswald himself.

Random House has a nice animation of Franz Kafka's "The Metamorphosis" using the comic adaption by Peter Kuper. It mostly reminded me that I should reread the story. Also, the music is cool.

Monday, October 27, 2003

There are so many good links at Fortean Times today that I'm just going to refer you to them. Just listen to these headlines: "Unexplained Boulders Found In Treetops", "Perfectly formed egg found inside egg", "Living on Butt Hole Road not as much fun as it sounds." And those are just the top ones. The Times is on its game today. Check it out.

Here's a great little article on Cowboy Bebop: The Movie (I found it after reading their article on Kill Bill, also worth a look.) It seems to me the author understands the appeal of the series very well. And he also doesn't fall for the "the movie is the perfect introduction to the series" thing that many other people have said. It's not. It's really just another episode (and not the best episode either.)
But the best thing about this article: there's a link to download the theme song "Tank!" Even if you have no interest in the show, download this song (you'll need WinZip). It's such a cool mix of big band jazz, '70s TV theme song and rock rhythms. It's awesome and I love that it's on my computer now.

A professor is researching earworms, those annoying ditties that get stuck in your head. You know, like the theme of the "Andy Griffith Show." Go ahead, start whistling it, I dare you.

Sunday, October 26, 2003

Find out about how Google exploits animals. (Link via Neil Gaiman's journal.)

Saturday, October 25, 2003

NASA has released documents about a crash in Kecksburg, Pa., that some believe was a UFO crash. The SciFi Channel put its weight behind the request, which actually got the documents to move, so it can a "documentary" called "The New Roswell."

Apparently Will Ferrell will play Ignatius in a film version of "Confederacy of Dunces." The dialogue from the event seems perfect for Ignatius, but Ferrell seems completely wrong physically for Ignatius. He's a fat, sloppy guy (I can't remember if he's tall though.) At the very least, Ferrell could capture the humor. I just think Philip Seymour Hoffman or Jack Black or Michael Knight or somebody would be a better physical match (and they're all good actors).

Friday, October 24, 2003

I saw Texas Chainsaw Massacre last night. It was good. It was gruesome without showing a lot of gore (like the original.) It was definitely created by people who had a lot of respect for the original movie, and they show it through various visual homages to the original.
They do some things better. You get to know these characters better than the original. You care about Jessica Biel's character. And when people are in pain, you feel it. They're not just hacked away like all those nameless slasher movie victims (not that there's anything wrong with that.)
And they retained the deep, black humor of the original, which is probably my favorite thing about that movie. R. Lee Ermey was fantastic. If you like horror movies, check it out.

There's a pretty common belief that what you write or post on the Internet can always come back to haunt you. (This is usually noted about naked pictures of people.) But, it also seems to be true of governmental bureacracy.
When I owned my last house, I was a slacker. I didn't pay bills on time -- or at all -- I let things go to pot. I was basically a bad owner. I've improved since then. I paid off those bills and moved out. But they keep coming back to haunt me.
A year or two ago, the IRS started bugging me about a quitclaim that said I'd made a gift of my house when I gave it to my sister. I hadn't. I'd sold my half. But it wasn't recorded that way. So we went back and forth for quite a while until I finally got it straightened out and ended up paying $600 in taxes. This took place 4 years after I was out of that house.
Here we are, 6 1/2 years since I lived there. And it's haunting me again. We're trying to remortgage my current house. Up pops something about me still having a $1,500 lien. 6 1/2 years later! This mysterious lien hasn't turned up on credit reports before this, the town's tax collector says I don't owe anything. What the hell?
Was I that bad a person that I need to pay for these previous sins over and over and over again? Nothing depresses you quicker than the fear you will have to pay money you don't have.

There's a Star Wars fan film called Art of the Saber that is really neat. It's just a light saber fight with some nice music and a monologue based on a Civil War letter. Considering the budget they must have had, it's very well done.

"The Iceman" kills a shark: "Peturrson, 55 and a muscle-packed 12st, grabbed the 14ft shark’s tail, pulled it to shore and killed it with a knife. " But another report says: "This sounds like a human attack on a shark, not the other way around," said George Burgess, director of the International Shark Attack File. "The shark was coming in for a free meal, and this guy decided to kill it."
This is like the famed "man bites dog" journalism dictum amped up a few hundred notches.

Thursday, October 23, 2003

Here is a great Web site: The Federal Vampire and Zombie Agency. The Web site creates a whole history for an imaginary federal agency. It never lets up on the fiction. Make sure you check out the movie reviews where Dr. Hugo Pecos writes about films, detailing both their educational and entertainment value. He had me going for a second with a listing for "Vampires" by Ken Burns, which Pecos calls an excellent documentary and not boring in the least.

Look, somebody has created Giant Monster Monopoly! Don't how well it will work, but it sure looks cool. (Link found via As Above, which is the blog of the guy that created the Zombie Infection Simulator.)

Who dares to fight the awful monster known as Brian? Hmm? Do you dare?

Well thank goodness someone has finally written it: The Zombie Survival Guide by Max Brooks. The book seems to sum up all your survival needs in case of a zombie plague. He even has a links page for finding out more about zombies (including another version of the Zombie infection simulator which gives the humans the ability to fight back, hurrah!). Also, the music on the sight is great and spooky. Check it out.

Scientists conduct first-ever fish census. It must be difficult counting all those fish with the way they move about and all. (Thanks Aimee for the link.)

And thanks to rockcritics daily, I've found The Rock and Roll Report, which immediately endeared itself to me by praising Rush. (Which all the critics are supposed to hate, it's required by law or something.)

At rockcritics daily, an article in Slate about "School of Rock" leads the writer to think about the punk/hard rock divide and if it still exists. He doesn't come to much of a conclusion, but the history of his high school years is fun.

Wednesday, October 22, 2003

We just passed "Summer of the Lake Monsters." Did you know that?

A publicly-displayed woodcut of a woman making love to an octopus has caused some controversy. Who woulda thunk it?

Times-Picayune has an interesting article about George Alec Effinger, a science fiction author who died recently. He's another author I've long wished to read, but haven't got around to. His "What Entropy Means to Me" is sitting on my shelf. He was regularly praised by Harlan Ellison and others.

What month is it? Oh, October. It must be time for newspapers to do articles on the horror genre. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel gets a few interesting quotes. Laura Miller writes a self-contradicting column on horror in the New York Times Book Review. And there has been a ton of reviews of Peter Straub's new book "Lost Boy, Lost Girl" and Tananarive Due's "The Good House."

Fantastic Metropolis is offering 10 excerpts from upcoming novels by some of my favorite writers. On the top of the list is The Shadow Year by Jeffrey Ford. But there's also Shrek: An Afterword by Jeff Vandermeer and The Dead of Night: Dusk by great new horror writer Tim Lebbon. There's also a story by Nick Mamatas, who I've been meaning to check out for a while. If you are at all interested in any of the things I am, then check out some of these.

Tuesday, October 21, 2003

Ooh, here's some fun, it's the Zombie Infection Simulation v2.3. The little pink dots are humans, the slow grey dots are zombies (you won't notice the gray dots at first until suddenly whole blocks seem to become gray.) Watch as the humans get infected and spread the disease. It's fun.

And while we're on the subject of jellyfish, here's the newest species of jellyfish, called Big Red.

Here you go, an excellent picture of a massive jellyfish. Imagine rubbing up against one of these suckers. Eww.

Giant jellyfish are turning up along the coast of Japan. Apparently this happened last year as well. I'm diligently searching for a picture, but have yet to find one. If you look at Underwater Times, they have a small picture up, but I have no idea where they got it from.

Monday, October 20, 2003

This is an interesting idea, Continuum - 33 1/3 is doing a series of small books about people's favorite albums. They have a great list of albums up, although I don't recognize most of the writers' names. I'm going to keep an eye on it.
Side note: The introduction says this "By turns obsessive, passionate, creative, and informed, the books in this series demonstrate many different ways of writing about music. (A task which can be, as Elvis Costello famously observed, as tricky as dancing about architecture.)"
That quote about "write about music is like dancing about architecture" has been attributed to every smart musician from the '30s to the present. I think it has been traced back to Thelonius Monk, but who knows. I was hoping Snopes would have something on it, but no such luck.

Well, I don't have much time at the computer today. I have to wait for a utility man to show up anytime between noon and 4 p.m. There doesn't seem to be any giant squid news of import today anyway.
I'm finally starting to get excited about Nanowrimo again. I feel like writing. I still don't have many more ideas for my story than I had on Oct. 1. But that's all right. Flying by the seat of one's pants is what Nanowrimo is all about. Last year, I had a plot that completely changed by Nov. 2, so it's not like I haven't done it before.
The Connecticut wrimos are holding a get-together on Sunday. I've said I'll be there. It's probably one of the only events I'll be able to attend. My wonky schedule doesn't allow for many night events.
We have a municipal liaison this year and she really seems to be on top of things. She's already got a whole list of events for November. I half-heartedly started that kind of thing last year, but gave up rather quickly. It's a lot of work and I wish her the best.
I saw Kill Bill Vol. 1 Friday. It was exactly as I expected, a good ride with lots of blood. There's almost no dialogue, but when they do speak (as in Lucy Liu's marvelous speech), it's pure Tarantino. I think there's more depth to be found in this movie, but we won't know until the second "volume" is released. I'm probably going to see it again in another week, so we'll see if my impressions change.
This week I hope to see Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Which reminds me. This Slate review of the original Massacre annoys me. It's written by somebody who obviously is written by somebody who knows nothing about horror and decided to write about Texas Chainsaw Massacre as a way to show how hip they are. The writer says: "But the new film is a cynical exercise in fright and disgust, where the original had a deep resonance to it."
Yeah, maybe so, I don't know. But I bet if it was 1974, this writer would be telling us how horrible Massacre is and pointing out what a magnificent movie "The Wolf Man" is.
The writer also doesn't what they're talking about. "Chainsaw gave birth to the multipart horror franchises that have filled multiplexes for the last two decades and may have convinced Hollywood that good money lay in bloodwork" Um, no. Chainsaw was an inspiration many, many films. However, Chainsaw followed in the path of other multipart franchises. Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 didn't come out until after Halloween 2 and 3 and well into the Friday the 13th series.
I like that the article praises Texas Chainsaw Massacre, but I just feel it's kind of hollow.

Saturday, October 18, 2003

Prozac is found in Texas fish: "'It's very early, but the implications are potentially serious.'" No kidding. Who knew they suffered from depression too?

Friday, October 17, 2003

Giant squid news is becoming more and more rare lately. I don't think I can resort to San Matias' record catch for squid news. It's just not interesting. I'm sorry. I'll endeavor to do better in the future.

This is not a political blog and will never be. However, this story, Senate Turns Half of Iraq Aid Into Loans, disturbs me. I don't care whether you're against the war or for it, who really thinks making Iraq a debtor nation before they even get on their feet is a good idea? Let's bomb the crap out of a country, invade, take over, replace the government and then ask that government to pay for half of what you did to it. This isn't moral or well-thought-out lawmaking no matter what side of the fence you're on.

Thursday, October 16, 2003

The idea of a space elevator is now being taken seriously by NASA. This would be such a technological achievement, it boggles the mind. Skyscrapers twist and shake in the wind, how is this miles-high creation going to hold up? It's bizarre, but I'd really like to see it. With this and the Chinese space flight, there seems to be a renewed space race going on, globally.

Also in that article, the writer makes the comment: "In journalism since the mid-ninetheenth century, barriers to entry have been high." I just don't see that. Nearly every town in this country has a weekly newspaper. Weekly newspapers are always looking for stringers (if they have a budget). You need to be able to do very few things to become a stringer: 1. Be able to write. 2. Know the basic journalism form (the inverted pyramid style). 3. Not be crazy, at least outwardly so. That's really it. Whether you move up in the field, well that depends on your abilities, but becoming a journalist is not so hard. If there are barriers, they're pretty low.

Interesting article about PressThink: What's Radical About the Weblog Form in Journalism? A "Bryant" in the comments section makes a good point that is missed by the article: "Weblogs are a technology. Journalism is a process. As the sidebar here demonstrates, the process of journalism can use the technology of weblogs to good effect."
I've yet to see much journalism done on blogs. I see two things: essays and commentary. I guess that's journalism in a sense, but it's not all that you look for in a newspaper or a television news show.
The blog has unlimited possibilities in journalism. For instance, some person in West Haven, upset about the administration, could start attending meetings and reporting on what he sees in his blog. This would be journalism (although, most likely tinged with commentary, but that's no different than say The New Haven Advocate.) Actually, I'm hoping to see more of that kind of thing.

Scientists have discovered a prehistoric frog that is still living. And, man, is it ugly.

Wednesday, October 15, 2003

I want to spend more time looking at The High Hat, which has a special Sam Peckinpah edition. It also has interesting reviews and interviews. Looks good.

Pterosaurs (you know, pteranadons, pteradactyls, Rodan) are stranger than scientists believed in the past. Apparently they walked on four legs and had big crests. Apparently a University of Bridgeport professor is jealous:
"'I know if I had one of those, women would be throwing themselves at me, convinced of my sexual prowess and reproductive fitness, and men would shrink from me, sure that my strength greatly exceeded theirs.'"

You should all be reading one of the funniest blogs out there: dong resin's joint. Here's part of his entry on fake bullet holes:
"Guess what Capone, I come across a car with fake bullet hole stickers on it, I'm throwing a rock through the motherfucking window with a note on it that says 'soon.' "

It's the coffee, baby, I'm telling ya.

Tuesday, October 14, 2003

M. Night Shyamalan is in talks to direct "Life of Pi", which has been the "it" book for the last year or so. I was thinking about picking it up, now I might have to.
I hated "Signs," but Shyamalan fascinates me and I want to see him do something good again. Either way, I'm keeping an eye on him.

A dam in a South African town dried up, then started smoking and now sparks are showing up. The experts have been called in.

Interesting survey on people's beliefs in heaven, god, UFOs, etc.
I'm always amused by these surveys that ask if people believe in witches. Yes, in fairy tales, witches are malignant spirits. But just about everyone knows a wiccan, who are most often called witches. Isn't it about time they removed this question from the surveys?
Also, this is a very monotheistic survey. They ask if people believe in God. But they don't ask if people believe in gods. There are thousands of people in this country who follow Hinduism, Jainism, Shintoism and many other polytheist and pantheist religions. Isn't about time we start acknowledging that?

A major political and religious figure suggests blowing up the United States' State Department with a nuclear bomb. Osama Bin Laden? No. It's Pat Robertson.

Monday, October 13, 2003

This set of articles, Rastafari: The Life of Bob Marley, is a fascinating explanation of Rastafarianism. I was always interested in what the religion was about (besides reggae and marijuana). I don't think I could believe in any religion that believes marijuana leads to wisdom, however, it seems to be a peaceful and thoughtful religion otherwise.

People are looking into a possible UFO crash in Shag Harbour in 1967. Apparently, it's well documented. It's a good article, although they quote a Fate Magazine guy as saying he "is also convinced the sighting in 1967 was that of a UFO." That's like quoting a Cat Fancy journalist saying "everybody loves cats." (Link via The Anomalist.)

Remember the story about the kid who snapped a picture of a fiery object in the sky? Well, it turns out not to be a meteorite. At least that's what scientists are saying. They claim it was the Concorde and some really unusual reflections of the sun. Sounds suspect to me. Still, it is a cool picture, whatever it turns out to be.

"So I hate it when rock is used as a responsible tool. Rock 'n' roll should be very irresponsible." Alice Cooper is out promoting his new album, "The Eyes of Alice Cooper," and its stripped down sound. I gotta getta listen to this.

Lou Reed is apparently learning tai chi from a master. Check out the cool pics of Reed in his martial artist get-up. Especially check out the cover of the magazine with Lou wielding a sword.

Sunday, October 12, 2003

Toy Vault is making plush Godzilla figures! And they've already come up with a Mothra doll. I must get these -- my wallet cringes in fear. They are also planning Godzilla bobble-heads.

Russian TV reports say the leg of a yeti has been found. They have a picture too. Meanwhile, in Japan a mountaineer says he has disproved the yeti, pointing out that it is a brown bear. Now Reinhold Messner is upset because he said the same thing in his book "My Quest for the Yeti" five years ago. Those crazy mountaineers.
No comment from Bigfoot yet.

Locus Online reviews (well, sorta) Jack Vance's "The Dragon Masters" and "The Last Castle." I have the original Ace Double version of these stories I bought at a tag sale years ago. They are great. Vance always created great, exotic locales and truly alien happenings. Anyway looking for good science fiction adventure, Vance is your man.

Friday, October 10, 2003

Roger Ebert heaps praise on KILL BILL: VOLUME 1 , despite noting "The movie is all storytelling and no story. The motivations have no psychological depth or resonance, but are simply plot markers. The characters consist of their characteristics."
It seems to me that when you go into this film, you have to keep in mind what Tarantino has said about it. He said he has two types of films. The first is his more serious films "Pulp Fiction," "Reservoir Dogs," "Jackie Brown" and "True Romance." Then he has films that the characters from the serious films would watch and enjoy. (Think about the movies the producer in "True Romance" makes or "From Dusk till Dawn.") This is the first time Tarantino has directed one of the second type of films.
This is Tarantino doing huge, operatic, B-movie, comic book action film. I wish I wasn't working tonight so I could go see it.

And while we're at it, this squid story from CNN: "The squid axon is so useful in the general study of nerves that some joke the squid deserves a Nobel Prize for its contributions to science."
Making your life better, with squid.

Finally, more giant squid news. Apparently, they're cannibals. And, really, that just makes them cooler.

Dear God,

What did the 20 young pregnant cows do that so pissed you off? We're all just curious.

Yours truly,

Thursday, October 09, 2003

Scientists discover what you already knew: "'When someone hurts your feelings, it really hurts you,' said Matt Lieberman, a social psychologist at the University of California, Los Angeles, who worked on the study."

Weird news of the day. Odd rock carvings found in UK.

Wednesday, October 08, 2003

If I blog myself will I cause a feedback loop?
Figured I'd try it now while blog*spot seems to be taking an hour to load a page. Hopefully this will be cleared up soon and people can get back to my blog-a-liciousness.

The Onion A.V. Club interviews Randy Newman. I love Newman's stuff. The interview is nothing special, no big revelations. But now I have to find out more about this "The Randy Newman Songbook Vol. 1" that's coming out.

Here is an interesting article on Peter Straub from Publishers Weekly. The writer talks to Straub, his publisher and his editor about his position and how he is going to be marketed. Makes for interesting reading, not your usual profile.
Straub is one of those writers I always want to read more of, but rarely do. I have "Koko" sitting on my shelf, I should probably get to that. He had a terrific novella a few years ago, I think it was called "Mr. Chubb and Mr. Cuff." It made it into all the year's best horror anthologies. It was very good and very creepy.

Tuesday, October 07, 2003

Can't... stop ... blogging hand.
Wizard Entertainment has comic book babe archives, the latest in creepy geekiness. (But you know you love it.)

Monday, October 06, 2003

Bookslut has a new issue up. Check it out. It's one of the best book sites out there. It's also got a great blog.

Saturday, October 04, 2003

This live journal post, nihilistic_kid: Letters To (And From) A Young Dipshit, is cynical and absolutely correct. The more of Nick Mamatas's stuff I read on the Web, the more I want to buy his books. About time I did, I guess.

"Everywhere in the lights from the Enterprise were hundreds of the aggressive, cannibalistic cephalopods that can grow to 6 feet in length and weigh up to 100 pounds. Surrounding the boat was a sea of writhing tentacles from opalescent squid aglow with chemical luminescence, a living light show."
It's not giant squid, but it's an exciting story. (And by the way, it's good to see Henry Miller is still writing.)

Friday, October 03, 2003

Look kids, it's Halle Berry as Catwoman! Why exactly does Hollywood keep pushing the superhero-sadomasochism connection? (As if that picture doesn't answer the question.)

Thursday, October 02, 2003

According to the most famous Dr. Who, Eddie Izzard will playthe new Dr. Who. At first I was taken a back. But now I like the idea. Dr. Who was always funny and quirky. He was never a transvestite. But then, he's a Time Lord, what can't he do?

Well, Nanowrimo has started, so I should start writing a bit about it here. Last year, I wrote a 50,000 word horror novel (actually it was slightly over 50,000 words, but I can't remember by how much.) It was fun, difficult, agonizing and wonderful. After I was done, I had a very bad 50,000 word novel on my hands and a great feeling of accomplishment. I knew I could do it, I could write a whole plot, I could stick with something to the end, and there were even parts that weren't awful.
This year, I'm going to be more ambitious. I'm going to write a fantasy novel. I've loved fantasy since I was a kid reading "Wrinkle in Time," "Lord of the Rings" and all the Conan stories (plus movies like "Dark Crystal," "Krull" and "Conan.") As I've grown up, fantasy has remained a major force in my reading habits. My favorite current writers are all fantasy: Jeffrey Ford, Jeff Vandermeer, China Mieville. And even my favorite horror writers tend toward fantasy and the supernatural.
But I've never been able to really finish a fantasy story. I always stall. I love coming up with worlds and strange visions, but putting them to use has been tougher.
But that's what is great about National Novel Writing Month. You're free to experiment without feeling like something good or relevant has to come out of it. So this is the year I'll write a fantasy story. (Unless I change my mind by Nov. 1.)
My inspiration came from a dream I had a few days ago. It was about a guy (in the dream it was me, in the story it won't be) who lives on a secluded mountainous island. He has 20 wives, all of whom are trained assassins. In the dream, a giant monster attacked the island and the wives fought it back.
I don't think that exact scene will be in my story, but this character and his 20 assassin wives will be. I don't think they will be major characters, but they'll be important to the story.
So does that sound goofy enough? I'm hoping I can make it sound more serious in the narrative. The dream was a lot of fun though.

Holy crap! SBC is offering DSL for $26.95?!? I have to call my phone company and see if I can get in on this deal. I need DSL bad.

This British teenager took a really neat photo of a meteor burning out in the atmosphere. NASA was so impressed, they put it up on their Web site.

Gothic.Net is back online after nine months off. The site has had its problems, but it has always had good horror fiction (including work by Caitlin Kiernan, Tom Piccirilli and Ramsey Campbell among others) so check it out.

A book columnist has a crisis of faith. He stares at a 700+ page book and can't decide whether he will be able to read it. I always wondered if this kind of thing happened to reviewers (the good ones, who won't review if they haven't read the book). I would think it would take a lot of enjoyment out of reading. (Link via Bookslut.)

ScienceDaily: "'Scientists have wondered for a long time why madness and creativity seem linked,' says Carson. 'It appears likely that low levels of latent inhibition and exceptional flexibility in thought might predispose to mental illness under some conditions and to creative accomplishment under others.' "
Now I can understand why I would do something like Nanowrimo. I'm crazy.

Wednesday, October 01, 2003

The Amazing Live Sea-Monkeys are online! You can buy them, raise them etc. Almost everybody I know tried to raise Sea Monkeys at one point in their childhood. I know very few people who actually saw the little things grow to full size though. One kid I knew actually managed to do it. He showed me the creatures. God, they were awful, ugly little monsters. If most people knew this is what they looked like full grown, they'd never have bought them. The Sea Monkeys Web site actually includes a picture of the creatures grown, which I think is probably not a good idea. Stick with the cute pictures of underwater monkey creatures with a little crown. That's what sold everybody on it.

I won't pretend to really understand this article: Object big enough to see with microscope could be in two places at once. However, I find it fascinating. What if scientists were able to make humans do this? When you are in two places at once, is your consciousness duplicated? Or is one of you a mindless drone? It would be a way of showing whether the mind, the soul, whatever, was a physical part of our being or not (or exists at all). (Of course, even then it couldn't prove its existence or nonexistence.) I see a great science fiction story in these theories. Of course, Schrodinger's cat has been around for a long time and people have probably already explore this theme. But I can't remember a story about it.

Courtesy of The Fortean Times comes this article on the PANAWAVE. I tell you, Japan has the best cults. I mean, we Americans come up with some great, zany stuff, but the Japanese are just the masters. We can only hope to reach their level of weirdness.

There's an interesting profile of The Far Side's Gary Larson. He's basically made a lot of money and given up doing his cartoons. That seems to be the gist of it. Too bad. He was one of the funniest cartoonists out there. At least Berkley Breathed is coming back.

Tuesday, September 30, 2003

This is an exciting new blog (well what he's doing is new): American Hot Wax. Michael Daddino has decided to review every American #1 single since 1950. As he put it: "These are the kinds of challenges I like taking up: the stupid ones." It's just starting but he already has some interesting reviews of things like the "Theme from the Third Man" and "Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer." I'll have to keep a watch on this, it seems like fun.

Well, as of yet I've no good linkage for you today. Sorry. But lucky you, I've called in sick to work today. (Nothing serious, just a general feeling of total crappiness.) So I have the rest of the evening to dig up some interesting Web news.
I finished Robert Twigger's "The Extinction Club" and sort of agree with the review I linked to earlier. The book doesn't really go anywhere. Twigger rambles on about extinction, secondhand book shops in Egypt, swallows, the Boxer Rebellion and the deer the book is about. To his credit, it's all interesting. But it doesn't add up to much.
Now I'm not sure what to read next. I have so many short stories yet to read, and I've read a few of those already. But I'm not sure if I want to jump into another novel now. With Nanowrimo coming, I'm not sure I want to tie myself into one genre. We'll see how I feel.
Speaking of Nanowrimo, the signups for new members starts tomorrow. Actually, I'm hoping the forums open up tonight at midnight, which will give me something new to do. This year, Connecticut actually has a municipal liaison. That means we have somebody to organize parties and give out gifts and what not. I'm glad somebody took up that job.
Well, that's all of my ramblings for now. I'll link if I find anything of interest, as always.

Monday, September 29, 2003

Well, that's about it for me today. Sorry, no giant squid links from me today. But if you're looking for more ramblings from me, check out my old diary. I've updated there for fun. Enjoy.

There's a new entry in the Where's Atlantis? sweepstakes. This guy claims it's off the coast of Cyprus. As the article points out, other entries have included the Azores, the Sahara desert, Malta, Central America and Antarctica. We can also include the Bermudas, the whole American continet, sunken islands off the coast of Italy and probably thousands of others.
As much as I like weird stories, I find the whole "where's Atlantis" thing to be getting quite boring. It's almost certain Plato made the place up for a morality tale.
On the other hand, I'll be just as fascinated as everybody else if this guy comes up with some convincing evidence.

Well, I just finished Gene Wolfe's "Book of the New Sun" with the final volume "Citadel of the Autarch." The story is good, there are wonderful images and the prose is flawless. It's also frustrating. It's the kind of book you can't read once and understand fully. It requires that you go back and look again. The narrator basically says that at the end of "Citadel of the Autarch":
"Have I told you all I promised? I am aware that at various places in my narrative I have pledged that this or that should be made clear in the knitting up of the story. I remember them all, I am sure, but then I remember so much else. Before you assume that I have cheated you, read again, as I will write again."
And I will do just that, but it will have to wait. I have so many books stacked up waiting for me, I have little time to reread. (Which is something I'm starting to change.) I moved right onto the next book.
That book is "The Extinction Club" by Robert Twigger. Here's a review of the book. They pretty much don't like it and for good reasons. However, when I started the book I approached it differently and that may make all the difference. I'll tell you more when I come out the other end.

Here's a good article on the cassette tape, which is now 40 years old. When I was a teen, the tape was the only music format. Records were still around, but kind of fading. CDs were yet to make their mark. The tape was king. I had everything on tape.
Which, of course, means I've had to re-buy my collections on CD. But I haven't given up on the cassette. I have a cassette player in my car and I tape all my CDs for it. I occasionally go to record stores and thumb through the bargain bins full of old tapes. It gives me the chance to pick up something without risking $15.
I don't make mix tapes enough. I love the mix tape, but I rarely make the time to do it. Occasionally, a friend will ask for a mix and I'll have a ball coming up with one. Here's a good site on the Art of the Mix.
I just watched "Royal Tenenbaums" again the other night and that always gets me thinking about mix tapes. The soundtrack of both that film and "Rushmore" are such eclectic mixes, yet it all hangs together. Both those films and Quentin Tarantino's films inspire me to think about mix tapes.

Sunday, September 28, 2003

Ah, the classic Snipe Hunt. I remember my father sending my brother and I out into the woods with a flashlight and a styrofoam cup to catch the elusive snipe.
I'm sure most guys have gone through this initiation at one point or another, in a camp or cub scouts or some other place. I'm not sure the Snipe Hunt is ever afflicted on women though.
My friend Charles and I once had two friends, both women, going on about a snipe hunt for at least a day. One of us mentioned snipe hunting as a joke, figuring the women would get it. They didn't. So instead of explaining, we started offering details about the "elusive snipe." Everytime we went too far ("the snipe is invisible"), the other one of us would come up with some plausible-sounding explanation ("well, it's not invisible really. It just has a natural camoflauge that is almost impossible to see.")
I don't think we ever told them it was made up. They just started doubting our conflicting stories after a few days. Ahh. Why is it so much fun to string along the gullible?

The Internet is a wonderland. Sometimes, you throw a word you're interested in into Google and find wonderful things happen. Case in point, science education at work: Squirrel Fishing. Enjoy.

Friday, September 26, 2003

The much praised Segway scooters are being recalled. So much for the future.
And by the way, marketers of the world, the Segway should be an object lesson in the problems of overhyping things. Beware.

I suppose I should also blog the death of George Plimpton. He is an important writer and done many things in his life. Unfortunately, I grew up in a time when the only thing I knew him for was all the movie cameos he made.

Robert Palmer dies aged 54. I need to find another obit for him. While his biggest hits were indeed "Addicted to Love" and "Simply Irresistible," much of his '70s stuff was better and deserves more attention. It won't get it. Ahh, here we are. Check out Allmusic's biography of Palmer. Much better. Plus you can look at reviews of his albums.

Following up on John Sayles, there's an interview with him at Suicide Girls. It's pretty good. However, for those of you at work, it is a porn site, so beware. There's not a lot to see on the interview page, but you probably don't want your boss behind you when you click.

Thursday, September 25, 2003

An atheist group has a bright idea. They are going to fight religious conservatives at their own game. They want to make an inspirational atheist movie, called Heart of the Beholder. The movie seems to center on people wanting to rent "Last Temptation of Christ" on video tape and the protests against them. This somehow snowballs into murder, blackmail and other evil things.
There's a teaser on the site. It's animated and they make sure to point out that this is not what the final film will look like. And well they should, the film looks just as cheesy as "Left Behind" and other scare tactic religious movies do. It's a trip, check it out.

And at Rotten Tomatoes, John Sayles' latest film, "Casa de los Babys" just barely gets a fresh rating. But then, even bad Sayles is better than most anything else.

Here's a good article on John Sayles and Roger Corman. The article talks about what Sayles added to the Corman films he worked on and how Corman influenced Sayles directing tactics. It also points out a Corman film I'd never heard of, "The Challenge," which stars "Seven Samurai" star Toshiro Mifune.

Here's an item only of interest to giant monster obsessives like me. At Henshin!Online, they have an interview (dated 9/24/03) with Hiroshi Koizumi. Koizumi played in many of the early kaiju films and in the new "Godzilla X Mothra X Mechagodzilla: Tokyo S.O.S." will be playing the same scientist character he played in the original "Mothra" from 1961. The original "Mothra" is one of my favorite monster movies and part of the reason for that was the characters were well developed (something that rarely happens in those films.) So for me, this is exciting news. It's an interesting article, check it out.

We're still deprived of giant squid news, but this might make up for it: Octopuses get erections.
"But Voight glimpsed a rather different ligula while watching a failed mating. "It was quite prominent," she recalls."
I think I'll leave it there without comment.

The giant insects in yesterday's story seem to have shrunk: "had a body more than an inch long and was close to five inches long when including the antennae and long ovipositor. " They also appear to be larger than normal ichneumon wasps, which are common. Funny how these stories fall apart after a day.

Alien sex, not all it's cracked up to be: "As his wife and daughter slept below, a 3-m-tall, six-fingered alien with braided fur on her legs straddled his waist. After 40 minutes of levitational copulation she departed through the wall, leaving Meng with a 5-cm mark on his thigh. " The story goes on to say that a son will be born. You know there is a paternity suit coming.
It's an interesting article on Chinese reporting of alien encounters. Good stuff.

Last year, one of my favorite stories was the giant snakehead fish. It's a native of China that suddenly appeared in a Maryland pond. The problem with these fishies is they eat everything in a pond, then crawl over land to another pond and eat everything there. They keep doing this, eliminating whole ecosystems. You can see why it's a worry. Well, the Maryland authorities killed everything in the pond in an effort to stop the snakehead.
But now the 'Snakehead' has been found in Wisconsins Rock River. One way or another, this monster fish is going to come to America. In fact, it seems to already be here. Beware the monster fish!
Which reminds me, there was some talk a month or two ago about somebody making a movie about the Snakehead. Of course, in this movie, the snakehead will be gigantic as a result of genetic testing or something. Can't wait for that to come out. (Could find any links about it though.)

I just want you all to know that it's Be Kind to Editors and Writers Month, not that it's of any interest to all of you or anything.

Wednesday, September 24, 2003

I got my notice from the people at National Novel Writing Month. I updated my profile and I'm ready to start writing. Of course, I still have another week to go before the forums open and then another month before writing begins. Still, this is the first sign of things getting under way. I guess it's about time I start planning what I'm going to write about.
I want to write something fun. Something set in some kind of crazy fantasy world. I'm not going to do a horror novel (which is what I did last year.) I want to be upbeat this time around. That would probably be more of a challenge for me anyway. Most stories that I complete are horror or, at least, dark. Other things seem to trail off. So this time, I'm going to complete something weird and wild.
What it will be, I have no idea...