George Lucas in Love

A short film.

"Can you talk, kinda, forward?"

"Too much already have I said."

(via Virg)

Pixar Short: Lifted

From the movie Ratatouille.

(via Neatorama.)


Musical Interlude: Hallelujah.

...the song sounds familiar because there's a version in one of the Shrek movies. But it was first a Leonard Cohen tune.*
Now I've heard there was a secret chord
That David played, and it pleased the Lord
But you don't really care for music, do you?
It goes like this
The fourth, the fifth
The minor fall, the major lift
The baffled king composing Hallelujah
*My mother can't stand Willie Nelson's voice, but likes his songs. I feel the same way about Leonard Cohen's productions. Bleaaaghargh.**

**Eventually, all my youtube musical interludes gravitate toward Concrete Blonde. "Everybody knows that you've been faithful, give or take a night or two."


Fall is coming! Fall is coming! Pickle chips (a quintessential summer food) and fresh salsa, while still craved, are now being at least partially supplemented by smoky foods: grilled sausages, tacos with chipotle powder, smoked-mozzarella grilled cheese sandwhiches (which will also contain basil, a summertime taste).

Movie Preview: Spiderwick Chronicles

...Feb 2008. Which means I have a little while to finish the rest of them, right?

Tardis Cake.

A cake shaped like the Tardis.

As gezelling girl says, "My love of food and nerdiness combine at last!"

101 Simple Summer Meals

by Mark Bittman.

...And I do mean simple.


lolz filosoferz

My favorite: i made u a hemlox but i drinkd it.

A close second: i dont haz a posse i is a posse (picture: Hobbes's Leviathan).

(via growabrain)


Christmas in July Stash!

So, I have to brag. After years of listening to Lee sigh and say, "I wish we could play Region 2 DVDs," I did five minutes of research and discovered our l33t DVD player (one of the last Really Good Deals Lee picked up before he left Best Buy) has a cheat code that lets you set it to Region 0.

Wellllllll. That plus a visit to amazon.co.uk =

Hogfather (live action)
Terry Pratchett's Discworld - Soul Music/Weird Sisters (animated)

We've watched part of Hogfather...I cheered!

Lee picked up Dar Williams's Mortal City, which is the best kind of folk music, the kind with lyrics you actually want to figure out, sung by the sweetest of voices. And Interworld, by Neil Gaiman and Michael Reeves, which I hadn't even heard of! And chocolate. And tea. He knows me well :)

Ray walked out with the most stash, including a keyboard (music) and a ukelele. We must really love her, because we also got her about 20 lbs of candy, and the combination has been deafening. AAAAAAAAAHHH! Trying to keep the uke in tune made me want a geetar again, just to fuss around with. I'm not a good teacher, though, so if Ray wants to learn how to play, we may have to look around...

do 2 Ur doodz = Ur doodz do 2 U

Not having a cell phone, text messages are somewhat like a foreign language to me.

Click here to turn your messages into text lingo (Lingo 2 Word).

Via BD, the text 10 commandments:

I can has commandments?

I r ur godxxor who has max pwnage. U can has no udder godxxorz b4 mes.

U can has no makes pirates jpegz.

U can no grief mes.

U can no has workinz on Caturdays

Max propz to ur momz and popzez.

U can no pwn ur doodz.

U can no makes teh sexy times

U can no exploit ur doodz cheezeburger.

U can no grief ur doodz.

U can no troll ur doodz.

U can no has ur doodz stuff.

U can no has ur doodz chickz.


Blogathon 2007: ***Dave Does the Blog

Dave's doing a 24-hour marathon blogging session for BLOGATHON on COMICS REVIEWS, starting very, very soon...now, this is a guy with some far-ranging taste in comics, everything from your superhero-addict fix to your deep and meaningful. Go check out his work throughout the day, pledge if that's your pleasure, and leave him a comment or two arguing with providing counterpoints to his opinion.

Meanwhile, our house celebrates Christmas in July, with special treats for Lee...I can't wait until they wake up...


Musical Interlude: Depeche Mode

John the Revelator.

"Seven lies/multiplied by seven/multiplied by seven again..."

Interesting. This morning, there were articles all over the 'net about how the number of deaths in the Iraq war was decreasing, but the terrorists were learning from their mistakes and becoming more accurate in their attacks. Now, they're gone -- or at least, I can't find them.

Fewer deaths due to increased insurgent competence! Halleliuia!

Someone I know has a kid probably going over in September, coincidentally after the Iraq report "assesses" the success of the Iraq war. Like they don't have the f@#$ing thing written already. It isn't the war that bothers me, as odd as that may sound. It's the lies.

I feel like I'm being governed by a Scientologist or a Branch Davidian!

Post-Rant Mode: And, on a lighter, brassier, and genetically nano-engineered note, another Depeche Mode video: Precious. Weird...I hadn't thought about it, but Steampunk is somehow another side of the harm humanity is doing to the planet. I'm not sure how, but it is.

Beowulf Trailer

...is up.


Book Review: Sweet Dream Pie

by Audrey Wood and Mark Teague.

One of the best children's picture books I've read in a long time:
Pa Brindle blew the cobwebs off the trunk, then threw it open -- and all the cats in the neighborhood opened one eye....

"I'll be good this time," Pa promised. "One big piece of Sweet Dream Pie, that's all I want."

"Well then...I'll make it, and you help," Ma agreed. "But if things get out of hand, don't blame me."


No Country for Old Men: Trailer

"If I don't come back, tell mother I love her."

"Your mother's dead."

"Then I'll tell her myself."
The trailer for the Coen Brothers' movie, No Country for Old Men. Serial killer obsessed with chance in the middle of nowhere...brrr...

(via Ectoplasmosis.)

Steampunk Essentials: A List

Aether Emporium lists "The Steampunk Essentials," including books, movies, and comics (I've read all but one of the comics, anyway). Oooooh, Phillip Reeve is the Mortal Engines guy. Yup. Him.



Click! On goes the lightbulb...

Dude. Everyone in Pokemon is not just characters in a video game, but characters whose in-game setting is, itself, a video game. Why do these kids' parents let them run around all the time? Why are all the Nurse Joys identical? Why do the Pokemons level? How, in fact, do they fit into those little Poke Balls?

Duh...this is what happens when I don't want to be writing, I watch the movie Ray has on instead...

Lester Dent Pulp Paper Master Fiction Plot Outline

The main author of the Doc Savage stories tells his secrets for writing a 6000-word pulp story that cannot fail to sell.

At this point, it might help to recall that action should do something besides advance the hero over the scenery. Suppose the hero has learned the dastards of villains have seized somebody named Eloise, who can explain the secret of what is behind all these sinister events. The hero corners villains, they fight, and villains get away. Not so hot.

Hero should accomplish something with his tearing around, if only to rescue Eloise, and surprise! Eloise is a ring-tailed monkey. The hero counts the rings on Eloise's tail, if nothing better comes to mind. They're not real. The rings are painted there. Why?

In the shower this morning, I kept thinking, "Steampunk + pulp = steampulp."


Harry Potter.

Done. Spoiler in comments.


The Eight Main Symptoms of Groupthink

Eight Main Symptoms of Group Think

  1. Illusion of Invulnerability: Members ignore obvious danger, take extreme risk, and are overly optimistic.
  2. Collective Rationalization: Members discredit and explain away warning contrary to group thinking.
  3. Illusion of Morality: Members believe their decisions are morally correct, ignoring the ethical consequences of their decisions.
  4. Excessive Stereotyping:The group constructs negative sterotypes of rivals outside the group.
  5. Pressure for Conformity: Members pressure any in the group who express arguments against the group's stereotypes, illusions, or commitments, viewing such opposition as disloyalty.
  6. Self-Censorship: Members withhold their dissenting views and counter-arguments.
  7. Illusion of Unanimity: Members perceive falsely that everyone agrees with the group's decision; silence is seen as consent.
  8. Mindguards: Some members appoint themselves to the role of protecting the group from adverse information that might threaten group complacency.
Or, "Throw a rock in the air and you'll hit someone guilty." I had to laugh. The base is offering classes on "Group Solve." The groups are supposed to get together to solve the problem of how to solve problems in a group, according to predefined methods that they're supposed to hit upon randomly, with no hints from their teachers whatsoever...

(Citation: Janis, I. L. & Mann, L. (1977). Decision making: A psychological analysis of conflict, choice, and commitment. New York: Free Press.)

Chore Wars!

A gaming system in which you earn points for completing chores! Based on my natural chore abilities, I have the following stats:

Level 1 Wizard

Str 10
Con 9
Dex 10
Int 10
Wis 9


(via Boing Boing.)


Save our Children!

The Onion records a serious deficit in our children's education.


Writerly Ramble.

Here's vanity for you: today I'm writing from the perspective of a girl, although very intelligent, tends to see things in black and white and cannot write very well. I feel like one of the characters out of "Harrison Bergeron."

Naked Geometry

Polyhedral, fractal, and other types of nerds with no clothes on! (Okay, okay, they're computer generated. Let's not start making cruelty-to-nerds accusations, after all; I am a strict nerdist myself.)

(via Reality Carnival)


Harry Potter: The Order of the Phoenix Review.

Ray and I went to the new movie yesterday. I'm not really in a mood to tell little stories about how our lives are going right now (my story brain is tied up in a book), which is a shame, because otherwise I would tell you about our walk to Chik-fil-A, or how Ray and I got in a fight over being quiet during a movie.

The movie itself was pretty good, much better than the last one. The director actually directed, the writer wrote, the actors acted...JK Rowling's longest book was fearlessly condensed down to its nutshell. It wasn't as good as The Prisoner of Azkaban, but probably my second favorite of the series.

Reponsibility and frustration were the cores of the movie. People taking responsibility for things that they have no business doing--and the frustration that comes from that. People taking too much responsibility. People saying, "It's not my problem." People saying, "You're in charge, so I'm not responsible for what I'm doing." People saying, "You're frustrating me, and I can't do anything about it." People saying, "You're frustrating me, and I'm going to do something about it." People saying, "I did something about it, and now I regret it." And so on.

The actress that played Dolores Umbridge, Imelda Staunton, stole the show. In a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad way. With her first little cough, you hated her. Helena Bonham Carter, her brain affected by all those Tim Burton movies, overdid it. Daniel Radcliffe grows up as an actor and manages to portray someone who often doesn't handle the situation well without being annoying about it. Evanna Lynch makes Luna Lovegood into an interesting character instead of a comic throwback to the style from the first book. Some of the special effects actually made me say, "Wow!" or "Oooooh." The opening shot was incredible, and the juxtapositions of the magic world and the muggles was brought home with shots of London. Some of the joys of the book--the scenes with the twins--were lost, but in such a way that fans of the book will only sigh and say, "But you should have read the book" rather than pitch a fit. There's only so much you can do in a movie, after all.

Writerly Ramble.

I sat down the other day and determined that I now know some things about writing. You know how I know I know these things? Because now I want to know something else.

So here's what I know:
  1. Pay attention.
  2. Don't waste the reader's time.
  3. The breath of the story is the conflict.
  4. Everything means something.
And here's the next question: What makes a scene exciting? or fun? or whatever? --I suspect the answer will be to focus on the particular scene itself. What makes this scene exciting?

When I think about those four things above, it's kind of weird. They don't make sense, not really. But there's a whole discussion behind all of them. "What about plot?" "The breath of the story is the conflict, which, with regards to plot, means the beginning of the plot should be a kind of question: what happens when the two ideas at the center of the conflict come into contact? The beginning should not answer the question, but only arrange that it come to life. The middle is the answer of that question--some good things happen, some bad things happen, some unexpected things happen. The end is the resolution of the question: how do these things come to grips with each other? Does good defeat evil? Does stability adjust to change? Does honor, ruined by lust, throw itself under a train?" "And yet, doesn't it become tiresome, writing about grand ideas?" "Yes, but pay attention. All grand ideas are clothed in details. And the details are just as important as the grand ideas, because everything means something."

I'm not saying I do these things well, mind you. Just that I know them.


The Names of Harry Potter.

Ray found this.

Musical interlude.

Turning Away, by Dougie MacLean (with Kathy Mattea). Lee has this on one of his folk music samplers, so I know the song pretty well.

There's a secret code word for country music that doesn't grate on the ears like a Microplane: bluegrass. There's another secret code word: blues*. And a third one: folk. (But the ultimate, secret, super-duper code word is Johnny Cash.) Please don't think I believe these people to be bad musicians. It's that "country" music has been taken over by people who like to make money--not people who like to make music, and "earnest" (cheesy) "smug" (jerky) and "eighties pop-synth production + electric guitar" = money. Check out how the more interesting pop-country artist pick up off their roots. And how alt-country sounds a lot like...uh...country used to.

*I heard on NPR the other day that The White Stripes had gone to a blues festival. No doubt.

Oooh...I finally found a link to the version of "Goodbye to You" from Buffy.

Harry Potter Recipes.

Ray and I are going to go to Harry Potter tomorrow or die trying. And I may pick up some butterscotch syrup on the way home. Heck, why not? We might need some butterbeer.

Guy with Ponytail! Guy with Shorts!


(more Neatorama.)


Click here to play Mr. PotatoHead with people's faces.

(via Neatorama.)

Word of the Day.

triskaidekaphobia \tris-ky-dek-uh-FOH-bee-uh\, noun:

A morbid fear of the number 13 or the date Friday the 13th.

--via Dictionary.com


Steampunk: Brass Goggles.

A reference for the Nine Princes in Amber game: Brass Goggles website.

The Secrets of Harry Potter Revealed!

...by Maureen Johnson.

“You mean . . . like Luke and Leia in Star Wars?”

“What’s Star Wars?” she asked.

“Star Wars!”

“I don’t watch much television. What is that? A reality show? Like American Idol?”

“It’s a movie!” I exclaimed. “A very famous movie. Darth Vader, the Dark Side, the Death Star, may the Force be with you? Is any of this sounding familiar?”

“Vaguely,” she said. “Is this one where, if you get the monsters wet, they multiply? All those little monsters with the cute names . . . Gizmo, Frodo, Bilbo. So they have to go back in time in a 1980s car to get rid of them?”

Once again, I ask myself, "Why, oh why, am I not that lucky, to meet JK Rowling in a coffee shop? Or so brilliant as to conceal a recording device in the one kind of muffin Ms. Rowling will not eat?"


Christine Lavin: Mother Knows Best

Christine Lavin throws a twist in the old mother-daughter conflict.


Come Closer Together...

A Beatles-Nine Inch Nails mashup.

This works absurdly well. Warning: Language.


It's research.

Here I am, writing a fight scene where none of the characters are working together, and the only thing that's saving them is that the bad guys are using a new tactic they don't know how to take advantage of, either. And I'm thinking, "You know, I know exactly how they should have handled this...because of the (admittedly miniscule) experience I have running with CoX groups."

That's right, folks. MMORPGs aren't just fun, they're research.

Open Source Universe.

Galaxiki, a sci-fi wiki.


Engineer Joke.

A priest, a doctor, and an engineer were waiting one morning for a particularly slow group of golfers.

The engineer fumed, "What's with those guys? We must have been waiting for fifteen minutes!"

The doctor chimed in, "I don't know, but I've never seen such inept golf!"

The priest said, "Here comes the greens keeper. Let's have a word with him." He said, "Hello, George! what's wrong with that group ahead of us? They're rather slow, aren't they?"

The greens keeper replied, "Oh, yes. That's a group of blind caddies. They lost their sight saving our clubhouse from a fire last year, so we always let them play for free anytime."

The group fell silent.

The priest said, "That's so sad I think I will say a special prayer for them tonight."

The doctor said, "Good idea. I'm going to contact my ophthalmologist colleague and see if there's anything he can do for them."

The engineer said, "Why can't they play at night?"

(via Joe.)


Interview: Wozniak

The other Apple guy has fun at other people's expense.

Musical Interlude: Talking Heads Featuring...

Johnette Napolitano. What a good song to get stuck in your head :)


Writerly News.

I'll be working on the first draft of the for-hire YA starting tomorrow. We've agreed on a plot, characters, I've done the outline and arranged the scenes for more action, etc., which will make this the most disciplined project I've worked on, bar none, and I haven't started actually writing yet.

I will probably not post much until I'm done (hoping by the first of August), and I'll continue the rest of the short-short story ideas I have jotted down when I get done. (There's more to the Hugin/Munin thing, but I think everything else is as done as it's going to be, if anybody cares.)


On the way back from Dave's, Ray and I stopped to watch fireworks go off.

Eventually, Ray said, "Mom, I'm bored and tired. I'm done with fireworks."



So we went. But as we were driving, she announced all the fireworks she saw as "pinalleys," as in, "That was a beautiful pinalley!" Finally, about Castle Rock or so, there was a particularly good one that she did not announce.

That's how I knew she'd fallen asleep.


Pangaeic connections: Blue Ginger

The rhizome--root--of the blue ginger plant is known as "galangal" and is the one ingredient I couldn't track down for the tom yum soup I made on Saturday. It's also called "laos."

But it's also called "John the Conqueroo," a frequent player in blues songs and a component of a mojo bag.


8 Random Facts About Me

Via Dave, whose parents were never married.*
  1. We have to post these rules before we give you the facts.
  2. Players start with eight random facts/habits about themselves.
  3. People who are tagged need to write their own blog about their eight things and post these rules.
  4. At the end of your blog post, you need to choose eight people to get tagged and list their names.
  5. Don’t forget to leave them each a comment telling them they’re tagged, and to read your blog.
  1. The country school I attended from Kindergarten to fourth grade had no running water. Someone would have to bring down a giant container of water from the mail stop/general store about half a mile away, and we had outhouses.
  2. I used to stare in the mirror and try to exercise my mental powers (or maybe just my eye muscles) to make my eyesight better. My eyes didn't get any better, and apparently my mental powers didn't either!
  3. I used to have long hair, and I wanted to grow up to be Crystal Gayle.
  4. I think the best 4-H ribbon I got was for angelfood cake, a blue ribbon at state. But I'm still so sick of having made so many of them that I haven't made any since.
  5. My DND alignment is Chaotic Good. Mary Poppins is my hero :)

  6. Update
    Ughh...I thought it was five things. Quick! Three more:

  7. I used to hate the color green as being altogether too boyish.
  8. When I was growing up, "Boy Cheese" sandwhiches were the ones with ham. Later I find out about the Croque Monsieur/Madame thing.
  9. A couple of years ago, I stopped enjoying fiction-based TV nearly so much. I want to say it was about the same time I decided I was done pussyfooting around with "someday I'll be a writer." This does not count against cartoons most of the time, apparently. Or Discovery Channel/Food Network...

I hereby tag the following folks:
  1. Matt 'n' Erica
  2. Katie
  3. Dale
  4. Heather
  5. Ian
  6. Aaron/Hythia
  7. ...and I'll stop there, because the rest of y'all have been tagged, and mostly I just want to bug people to update their pages (or just bug them).

*Bill Cosby quote. No offense to Dave's parents.