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Below are the 20 most recent journal entries recorded in Uber Asimov Fan's LiveJournal:

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    Tuesday, May 25th, 2010
    4:22 am
    Rabbits of the Corn
    It's three am and the concrete jungle is desolate. The lights of the false day illuminating the emptiness for only the foolhardy to see.

    Where you'd never expect to see them they wait. All in the same position they stand at attention: ass down, ears up, back ramrod straight and all staring at the same unknowable distance. Spread in some sort of standard parade ground formation only a rabbit can understand, they stand and they watch. Never moving, never twitching, just starting.

    Staring together. Staring at the same thing.

    All there is to see is concrete and distance. Distance and concrete. If you stare far enough the monotony is broken by walls of brick. Nothing for a rabbit to see. Nothing for a human to see.

    The false night hides little. It contains less. But, they seem to see.

    Certainly there must be a purpose. They ignore humans, they ignore everything, they just keep staring.

    They are staring at nothing. They are staring at the distance. They are staring if you follow their gaze--if you dare to extrapolate-- bunny miles away at a building. It seems silly, but the only building in the path of their gaze is the oldest biological sciences building on campus.

    You could dismiss it--oh how you'd like to--but you know: they have a relationship to this building.

    Together they stare at what is their ancestral home. Together they stare at what truth be told remains a rabbit concentration camp. Together they stare at the source of rabbit pain and an icy graveyard filled with less fortunate cousins.

    Do they know?

    Are they plotting something?

    Communing with the interred?

    Praying perhaps?

    Or, just remembering?

    Is it a sacred ritual?

    Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Lepus Capensis wgah'nagl fhtagn?

    Whatever they do, they do it in silence. Together.

    But why? Why do they stare?
    Saturday, February 13th, 2010
    1:09 am
    Superheroes that exist only to get punked.
    The Sandman* fascinates me as the golden age DC hero of modern death. He shows up regularly in recent DC tv shows...far more regularly than most characters. But he can't seem to make it more than 10 minutes of an episode before he dies. Which makes me wonder: "why do they always kill this guy?" What is it about this character that makes him instantly recognizable as an old hero, and yet too unimportant to the greater scheme of things to let live?

    In related news, the Smallville 2 hour mini-tv moive episode "Absolute Justice" is totally worth watching for any fan of expanded DC universe stuff, and can be watched without really concerning yourself with smallville in general. It's like a short graphic novel lead in to an alternate reality storyline that Smallville will only screw up down the line.

    *I've never read Neal Gaiman's Sandman, but I'm under the impression it's a very different take on things.
    Tuesday, November 3rd, 2009
    1:18 am
    Well that's just down right creepy
    Coyotes howling off in the background (I'm about 600 yards from where the sidewalk ends and what's left of nature around here begins) tonight. That's a bit random, but whatever. But then more of them got in on it, and they sounded a little bit like children laughing in a most unsettling way.
    Monday, October 12th, 2009
    12:08 am
    Metronomicon
    It's probably a given that the Lovecraft lovers on my journal have already seen this subway photo set, but for the rest of you, some of these are pretty cool.

    http://www.behance.net/Gallery/Metronomicon/278711
    Tuesday, June 30th, 2009
    1:37 am
    XXXXXXXXXXXXXXTREME!!!!!
    OK, this dream is too ridiculously awesome and hilarious not to share before going back to bed.

    I just had a dream where I and a rag tag team of friends/adventurers and clones of myself defeated a GIANT evil super T-Rex show host/mastermind/all around villain and several evil clones (robots?) of myself (minions/prop pieces) in a gladiatorial arena/Death Race style stunt race show Extravaganza!!! on a giant blasted alien volcanic/ rock landscape driving some sort of silver armored cars looking like a cross between the current era Batmobile and a Delorian, all while billions of aliens watch from space in some sort of planetary space bleachers, with obvious accompanying central super space cube tv.

    Said race culminated in a sequence driving/practically flying down through an underground cavern big enough to hold a city, hitting a hard turn under a rock bridge overhang with suitable stunts and trap dodging to cut off and outrace the clone minion's cars (insert line here about "oh no, what if the wrong one ends up in front?!") and race as fast as I possibly could up through a volcanic lava flow tube, culminating in a multi-MILE car jump over a caldera as the T-Rex set off the entire volcanic landscape behind and under me, all to the approving roar of the crowd.

    When I landed safely, I'd already won the approval of the crowd as the roaring of their applause assured that I and my friends had won the race and won our lives against the giant evil T-Rex show host.





    Needless to say, I woke up laughing a little bit on the inside.
    Friday, April 24th, 2009
    12:47 am
    As certain as Death And Taxes
    When you grade a homework set, you can frequently tell where a student got help with their answers.

    My students in my physics for humanities class were disproportionately describing exponential decay using the word "proportional."

    Somewhere around the 8th time I saw a similarly written and phrased sentence, I become convinced that the wikipedia article for exponential decay uses the word proportional prominently.

    And yep, first sentence, there it is.


    Wikipedia: the new constant in grading.
    Wednesday, April 15th, 2009
    12:51 am
    Artificial Boundaries and Lost Sales.
    I like the storyline of GTA 4. It's a well written story. It's nice to be playing a character who has some actual depth.

    That said, I'm glad I'm playing my roommates copy and that I didn't pay money for this, because I will never knowingly play a game designed by the design team of this game again. They do NOT design fun games to play.

    I've wasted three days trying to beat the last level of one of the two alternate endings. I haven't even gotten to the other ending. To date, I have been forced to replay the last stupid hour of stupid pointless fights and cut scenes and car chases 6 times because the game is designed to punish the players relentlessly for failure. 9 times out of 10 those failures are stupid and not the player's fault. 9 times out of 10, the failures stem from the fact the player was too busy doing something intelligent, or what they "told" you to do, instead of correctly anticipating the cinematic needs of the story.

    I've spent two and a half weeks on this game, getting progressively more and more unhappy with the game. At this point, when I'm stuck playing the same mission that isn't even that interesting over and over again, I've had all the fun sucked out of it. I think the best way to explain what bothers me is to explain one of my specific failures. You are on a motorcylce on the beach (a dicey problem in and of itself). There is a ramp you have to hit at a minimum speed on the first try, or you have to replay the entire last half hour (again). The last 45 min, if you aren't fast enough on the "retry" button, which will send you back to the half way point with low health, no armor and low ammo. (this is the only level where they even extend THAT curtousy to you, normally you have to start from the very beginning.) There are a variety of issues, but assuming you navigate the curvy beach, the guys shooting at you, the terrified pedestrians and properly line up your jump, you still have one more problem. You have to swerve to avoid the barrel lying on the beach directly in front of the ramp. Assuming you don't, you will go flying (but your bike won't) and you will get to repeat the level.
    Saturday, March 14th, 2009
    2:26 am
    OMG I love John Stewart
    Seriously, that Jim Cramer interview? Why the hell is the best interview I've seen on anything like this lately done by a man that does a "comedy" news show?

    It's a weird weird world.
    Tuesday, March 10th, 2009
    1:19 am
    Battlestar Galactica
    Is it me, or is there only one more two hour episode (split between the next two weeks) of Battlestar left?

    Doesn't it seem like there should be uh...more show left after the last three weeks of accomplishing next to nothing and if anything, ratcheting the tension DOWN?
    Tuesday, February 24th, 2009
    11:17 pm
    New Years Resolution: Volume 1.
    My resolution this year is to blog about every book I read (free reading anyways). At least a sentence. I've been compiling books since sometime in December (I can't remember when) so I should start now before I completely forget.

    1)The Best of Fritz Leiber by Fritz Leiber. I've actually already read the book that is basically volume two of this collection, and that one was good, but this one is better. Even with the notable lack of any Fafser and the Grey Mouser stories, this book is still incredible. I think that as I get older and more mature, Leiber finds his way deeper into my heart as the best of the best in authors. There are easily a dozen stories I could talk about in this book, but I'll limit myself to Space-Time for Springers. STfS is a story about cats. It might possibly be the best science fiction story about cats ever written. It is certainly the best I've ever read. I don't want to ruin it, but the story catches you by surprise and is so deep. It leaves you wandering and needing to analyze and then like ten minutes later it finally hits you what just happened. It's a completely different reading experience than any other story I've ever read and it does so only to its benefit.

    2) The Gripping Hand- Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle. The sequel to Mote in God's Eye is good, but not the greatness that the original was. Totally competent, probably one of the best sequels ever written 20 years later, but not incredible. It totally failed to make me like some of the key characters and somehow wasn't as gripping as Mote.

    3) Warm Worlds and Otherwise- James Tiptree Jr. I find it strange that Robert Silverberg was convinced that J.T. Jr. is a man due to his stories. I read the same stories and come across as finding them by a woman. Then I read other stories and they aren't the stories of men who like themselves. They could be written by a woman without issue, but a man who wrote that story would simply have a darker worldview in my mind than Tiptree has. Regardless, Alice Sheldon is a wonderful writer. Again, several stories I could talk about and this time I'll swing back to one of the best known Tiptree stories: The Girl Who Was Plugged In. The Girl Who Was Plugged In shows many of the hallmarks of Tiptree writing: engaging characters, an overwhelming understanding of teenaged angst and the individuals feelings of isolation and rejection, tight plotting, almost fairytale like narratives and Brothers Grimm style endings. This is one of her most famous works with good reason. It asks questions about our near future and what it means to be human that may very well be applicable. Again, a story that sticks with you for awhile. So does Love is the Plan, The Plan is Death, which is probably her next most famous story.

    4) Darkover Landfall- Marion Zimmer Bradley. I still don't know why I bought this. I decided awhile back that I'd read enough Darkover novels, but it was basically the origin story and two dollars. It was...strange. It turns out that all the Darkover stuff I'd read before now was set so so far past the time line of this novel as to be essentially completely unrelated. There were a few things that made sense, but mostly it left me confused how things in this novel slotted into the stuff I'd previously read. It was still worth the read and basically I read it in a day.

    5) Vault of the Ages- Poul Anderson. I'm angry I read this book. It'll fade, but this wasn't a worthwhile 170 pages of my time. The initial premise is interesting (if cliched), a scientist foreseeing mankind's doom seeds an underground vault with all the knowledge mankind will need to rebuild after the atomic war. The problem is that said vault is basically a McGuffin to tell a story about a 15 year old prince in what's the equivalent of maybe 10th century Ireland (except you know, it's South Carolina). I was almost half way through before I realized the story wasn't going to actually GO anywhere with the actual interesting plot piece. I read the rest of it in a few hours anyways because I was no where near the rest of my books.

    6) Ex Machina: Ex Cathedra by Brian Vaughn. This was the 7th trade paperback of Ex Machina. If you don't know what Ex Machina is, go read the series and come back. No really, you should be reading Ex Machina already. It's the only comic book currently on the market I actually consider worth reading. It's by the same guy as Y, The Last Man, and frankly, it's a lot better. Up until now I've been reading ningwers loaned copies, but since he moved I had to buy my own. It uh...doesn't work as a trade paperback, it's all about the individual issues in this case. Vaughn is a master of the last page, and you totally lose it when you have 0 stop time before the next page. Even the 30 seconds it takes to reseal one comic and open the next is enough to let you appreciate that moment by comparison.

    7) Old Twentieth- Joe Haldeman. I have a special place in my heart of Haldeman. I love Forever War and Forever Peace. Old Twentieth is good, but the ending is painfully predictable and mostly it's just an interesting read without actually being meaningful in some way. This is totally out of character for a Haldeman novel to me. Maybe he's growing as an author?

    8) Future Weapons of War- edited by Joe Haldeman and Martin H. Greenberg. I bought this at B&N on a whim. An author I like and the anthologist I trust most, I figured I couldn't go wrong. Unfortunately, I was wrong. This is one of those crappy short story collections of original works written that year instead of stories compiled around the concept from any year. Subsequently, I think almost every story used the phrase "Green Zone." Several of the stories in here were worth reading, but more than a few were drek or felt like rehashings of things others had previously written, and done better.

    9) The Last Colony- John Scalzi. Everything I've come to expect from a Scalzi novel- fun, fast, and meaningless. It's popcorn reading at it's best, but it does make me think I wouldn't want to meet Scalzi on the street. He simply revels in killing and murder a bit too much.

    10) The Android's Dream- John Scalzi. Old Man War is Scalzi's deepest work. This is his most satirical work. It's funny as hell and still not that deep. It's sorta like a much more shallow Snow Crash, but with an actual ending.

    11) Mything Person- Robert Asprin. Again, bought on a two dollar whim. This one I literally read in a day. Mostly, I bought it for the title. It turns out it's a Thieves World novel, and it was one of those books just dripping in accumulated back story. Thankfully each novel plot is stand alone so that didn't stop it. Fun, but I'm not a big fantasy reader.

    12) Conjure Wife- Fritz Leiber. People mention this as one of Leiber's best works. I don't know why. It's definitely gripping, but it's just not incredible in any way compared to say his short stories Sanity, or Space-Time for Springers, or Gonna Roll Dem Bones. It's also merely competent when compared to several of his other novels. Still, an excellent read with an ending slightly too abrupt and hand waved.

    13) Slan- A.E. Van Vogt. This is one of those novels that gets mentioned in every god damned blurb about Van Vogt in every god damned anthology ever written, so I decided to read it. It's a competent space opera, but nothing special. Again, not a particularly good ending.

    14) The Weapon Makers- A.E. Van Vogt. A decade ago (good lord, it's been that long?!) I formulated a policy on Van Vogt that while he was a pleasant read, there was absolutely such a thing as too much of him. He is very much a man of small doses. So I still don't know what possessed me to read Slan directly after reading The Weapon Makers. TWM is the sequel to The Weapon Shops of Isher. For those that don't know, The Weapon Shops are among the most famous second amendment science fiction stories. However, as there are very few science fiction stories written with the right to bear arms a central tenant, that's not a particularly impressive achievement. The first story in Weapon Shops (which I have still not read as I have yet to secure a copy) is called Seesaw, and it is one of those blasted stories that I've read six or seven times in various anthologies all of which mention in the blurb that it's the first story in the Weapon Shops series. So I decided to read the things. Briefly, the Weapon Shops are unconquerable stores which sell magic guns able to only be used for defense and which will not function for military personnel. Again, ultimately, it's space opera and that's about it. It's fun, and I liked it more than Slan.

    Bah, I have nothing left but anthologies to analyze. This is going to take awhile.

    15) Asimov's Mysteries by Take a Guess. The most annoying thing about Asimov mystery collections is how damned similar their names sound. I bought this collection not knowing if I already owned it. Wait, scratch that, I bought this collection TWICE in the last year without knowing if I already owned it. It turns out this was a worthwhile buy (both of them) as this is far and away my favorite Asimov mystery collection. It turns out I'd already read 3/4ths of the stories, but several of these are just classics (his first story ever, and Pate de Foi Gras) and the rest totally made it worthwhile.  There is also an enjoyable benefit sometimes to organizing all of an authors stories in a specific universe or theme in the same place sometimes as is the case in this book.
    This is basically his science mysteries, with all that is good and bad about that. To start, Asimov likes arm chair detectives. It would be nice if he also liked likable arm chair detectives. His science fiction mysteries (before Elijah Bailey) have Wendel Urth, possibly the most unlikable Sherlock Holmes character ever written. Any time he's in the scene you just want him to leave because he's so damned annoying. It's unfortunate that there are some good mystery stories grafted onto him. However, the real treasure troves of this collection are the stories you've never seen anywhere else, the stories that could only have been written by someone who spent too long in academia and while they are wildly funny to someone in academia probably would bore anyone else to tears. Reading these stories made me wonder if now that I've been through grad school I'd suddenly like Whiff of Death instead of thinking it was his worst novel. Anyways, What's in A Name is officially in my top 5 favorite Asimov stories now. Short simple and amusing.

    If you actually read this giant block of text please comment as I'd love to know if anyone is going to read an entry this ridiculously long.

    16)The 1985 Annual World's Best SF- Donald A. Wollheim Presents. This one was bought at the dollar book store (dangerous place) and totally worth it. It has a good story by Connie Willis (Cash Crop), a crappy story by Steven R. Donaldson (making me really not want to pick up the novel I bought by him awhile back), a very fun story by Gary Shockley (The Coming of the Gungas), the superb Salvidore (I think this won the Hugo) and the even better Press Enter *  by John Varley. Press Enter * has haunted me for years ever since I originally read it.  It's like zombies but not as prevalent.  In its own way, it keeps me up at night.  There's a good reason this story appears in every 1986 anthology and I hope it continues to stand the test of time.

    17) Combat SF edited by Gordon R. Dickson. It's the anthologies weapons of war should have been, only collected 20 years earlier! (actually given the total lack of some of the best 80s stories on this topic, it's probably 70s...1975, yep). It has some of those seminal stories you always remember. Poul Anderson's The Man Who Came Early (one of the best time travel stories ever written), Time Piece by Haldeman (I think this story twisted about and reworked is what become Forever War, as it's quasi-same universe, but at the same time, not), and The Horars of War by Gene Wolfe, which while a terrible pun and a total product of Vietnam still was a moving piece.

    18) New Dreams This Morning edited by James Blish. Anthologies are extremely dangerous things for authors. Because when I finally get to hear an author actually talk, I frequently conclude that they are a pompous windbag (::looks down at his black pot::) and idiots. James Blish does that in spades. It turns out that Blish is one of those "I'm an artiste!" types that annoy me to death. He seems to think that science is evil and will kill art and engineers have no souls and artists ultimately know what's right for the world. You know, one of those types. This is basically a science fiction collection of the "best" sf stories about artists and what it means to be an artist in a technological world. What I find most damning about this work is the lack of the uplifting stories about artists. It's like the academy awards of science fiction short stories about the arts, if the ending is too happy it's unacceptable. What I consider one of the top two stories about science swallowing art does not appear in this book and that it is ultimately the story on the subject that leaves you uplifted convinced that science can advance art, I find myself annoyed.
    However, now lets tangent to one place where this book confused me and opened my mind. Damon Knight's The Country of the Kind is one of those stories that if you've read anthologies of old science fiction, you've probably read at some point. It's often reprinted and well worth it. Before now, I had never before caught that the main character in the story is an artist. Even now, I'm still not sure what to make of it all. Briefly, the story seems to imply that in breeding a peaceful perfectly happy humanity, a humanity of infinite happiness (absolutely no dystopia here), it will probably breed out artistry as artistry requires conflict. It seems pretty clear that Blish thinks this is a travesty, but I'm not so sure and I'm not so sure Damon Knight (the perennial critic I might point out) thinks so either. It seems a more than fair trade for the life they lead. At least now I realize the ending to the story is open to the interpretation and eyes of the reader.

    19) Science Against Man edited by Anthony Cheetham. I don't think I'd ever read any of the stories in this collection before. None of them were bad, most of them were funny, some were downright good. I think the best was James Blish's (haha...I know) Statistician's Day, basically about a world in which population control means death and birth control.

    Just two more and they both deserve entire posts unto themselves.

    20) The Best of Lester Del Rey by Lester Del Rey. Maybe I should have ended with this one, as this one is just unmitigatedlably enjoyable. Del Rey writes stories with just terrible terrible names (Nerves! Day of the Giants!) but so unbelievably engaging. He writes a lot of space opera and yarns, but he always writes something interesting and you never regret reading it. I hadn't previously realized just how obsessed the man is with robots (robots which are quasi-Asimovian) but he does it well. Vengeance is Mine and Helen O'Loy both about robots are just wonderful. Similarly, For I Am A Jealous People feels like something I could have written, only better. Or rather it feels like something I wish I could have written, and perfectly ended. I could write about or analyze several of the other stories as well.  I always think of Del Rey for camp, but he amazes me time and again with his ability to write something worth reading.

    21) Starlight The Great Shrot Fiction of Alfred Bester by Alfred Bester. I had previously always thought Bester died young. I hadn't realized he just had a very low output of science fiction stories. The weird thing when you get a lot of Bester in one place is you realize just how similar a lot of his work is. He's completely obessed with Freudian psychology in his stories and they almost always play a central theme. Bester is a little bit of an arrogant artist type, but he's at least enjoyable at it. His stories are always experimental, and while their staccato style is sometimes frustrating it's at least interesting to read. Meanwhile, this is of course Alfred Bester, so the man can write. Time Is The Traitor, Hobbson's Choice and The Pi Man, are all often reprinted and with good reason. In particular, I've always loved The Pi Man. It's top tier among the various Wandering Jew style stories I've read (I've read at least a couple anthologies worth of them at this point) and just poignant. Making you feel that sorry and hopeful for an immortal takes work.

    Finally, done. This concludes the list of what I've read in approximately the last ten weeks.
    Wednesday, February 4th, 2009
    8:57 pm
    It's a fucked up world we live in.
    Ok, I don't know precisely what to make of it, but if you've seen that article about the Iraqi woman who recruited 80 women to be suicide bombers, have you seen the version being reported in Australia? (And apparently on the A.P. but it's not in both American and other [French] stories).  Apparently how she recruited the women was that she would have them raped to make them damaged goods.

    "Later, during an interview from jail with the The Associated Press, conducted with interrogators standing nearby, the woman told how she helped plan the rapes of young women.

    She said she would then step in to persuade the victims to become suicide bombers as their only escape from the shame."

    Here's the Australian version:
    http://www.news.com.au/story/0,27574,25006101-401,00.html

    And another one citing the A.P.:
    http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/news/world/rape-used-to-recruit-female-suicide-bombers/2009/02/04/1233423264406.html



    Ok, one, that's fucked up.  Two, the American version I saw talked about her recruiting women at the end of their ropes, in deep emotional stress.  That's a crazy departure from this version.  I wonder which one is the real one and which country(s) screwed up or are surpressing this.  And if they are surpressing it...why?

    Tuesday, January 27th, 2009
    11:19 pm
    It lives!
    It Lives!

    AHAHAHAHAHA!

    Now if only it had a brain.
    Friday, January 23rd, 2009
    1:51 am
    If I had more energy, I'd post this to the chatlist.
    Cupcakes of Catan.

    You're all going to want to see that.  The work involved is almost mind boggling for a one shot game that ends in crumbs.

    I particularly like the Robber.

    Warning!  This version of Catan may make you hungry!

    Tuesday, November 25th, 2008
    2:20 am
    Half a theory
    I know this is purely ancedotal evidence, but it always seems to me that when someone thinks they know where a show is going/call future plots, if they are right at all, they are usually only half right.  Sometimes though, the person they tell that theory to will whack off the faulty edges of the first persons theory, insert a new fact and together, they form a perfect key.

    My roommate and I totally did that with Dexter tonight.  He gave me his theory for the rest of the season, and I immediately filled in the holes in his theory, once filled, it all came together and made sense.  Now I'm kinda sad though, because while I still don't know the hows of the rest of the season, I'm fairly certain I know the whys.  Worse, if we're wrong, it's doubtful the actual solution could actually be better than our solution.
    Sunday, November 23rd, 2008
    12:04 am
    That weird front page "synposis" passage taken from the book.
    I'm about 50 pages from done with John Scalzi's "The Android's Dream."   It, like most of Scalzi's work is fun, but not deep.  Although this one at least wins points for excessive mocking of Scientology and possibly Mormonism in a very back end satirical sort of way.

    Anyways, near the end of this book, I think I've found the passage that sort of defines Scalzi's witty fun writing style.   The passage that should totally be on the first page of the book.  Slight spoiler warnings:

    ***SPOILER WARNINGS  THIS ISN'T REALLY THE KINDA BOOK WHERE THINGS DEVIATE FROM THE EXPECTED SO THIS IS EASILY EXTRAPOLATED BUT STILL SPOILERS!!!  SPOILERS!!!***

    "Robin," Creek said.  "Do you trust me?  I mean do you really trust me.  Trust me as in if I tell you to do something you'd be willing to do it even if seems irredeemibly insane."
          Robin stared at Creek for a moment and then started laughing.  "Oh God Harry," she said finally. "Since I met you, what have we done that hasn't been insane?  Do you even realize how ridiculous your question is at this point?"
         "So that's a 'yes,' " Creek said.
          "It's a 'yes'," Robin said.  "I trust you with my life Harry.  It's worked for me so far.  So hit me with what you've got."
         "Well,"  Creek said, "lets start with the big one.  You're your own nation."
         Robin considered that for a moment.  "For your sake, that had better not be a comment on the size of my ass," she said.
    Saturday, November 15th, 2008
    5:53 pm
    Left 4 Dead
    Ok, I've tried, I can't play this game alone.  It's impressively pulse pounding with "oh shit moments" some of which are cheating because zombies infinitely respawn as far as I can tell, but some of them are genuin and I can't win with the AI, because I'll get into a situation where I'm just auto killed on occasion because the NPCs are off doing their own thing.  The game will simply be a lot more fun with humans who can work together.

    Worst situation is easily the witch.  Especially the witch.  WTF.  20 minutes of play to die to a one shot kill and have to start over is totally not cool.  And "sneak around it" when you put the damned thing next to the minigun when you have to fight a giant horde of zombies?  Yeah..that's so gonna happen.  "Don't mind me little miss witch, I'm just going to be spraying bullets all over the place over your left ear, you won't notice a thing...please?  pretty please?

    But even with the frustrating instant death mechanic, this game is still fun and would be great in group.   If I can find a crew I'll buy the real game (instead of the demo) and play through the entire thing online group campaign.  That could be awesome.  Sean?  Nic?  Nick?  Anyone else?
    Wednesday, November 12th, 2008
    7:10 pm
    Rambling, rumbling to a point--a Science Fiction movie I want to see.
    A few days ago, essentialsaltes linked to an article 8 Science Fiction and Fantasy novels that should be movies.  The entry got me thinking about stories I would like to see on the big screen (or even as a tv series). 

    For me, that's a difficult question.  I read far too many short stories and far too few novels to be able to think of things that achieve those goals.  I'm well aware of the limitations of the medium and how many of my favorite stories would require a vast rewrite to be workable on the big screen.  I can think of a good dozen stories that would make exceptional episodes for an Outer Limits like show (and given s.f. short stories is where the Outer Limits has pulled many of its episodes  ex: SandKings by George R.R. Martin, many of those seem a crime they have never seen film).  I can think of another half dozen where I wish they would actually make a movie about the short story instead of what they made (ex: Farewell to the Master,* although its original form lends itself far better to The Outer Limits).  But I can think of little that isn't already owned and ruined in some way.

    Jumping to what seems like a complete tangent, but is in fact central to my point, there is a new song on the radio that I am quite taken with (well was...): The Killer's Human.  In addition to a great pop beat, I really like(d) the refrain "are we human or are we dancer?"  It's an interesting question, where one needs to begin with "what the hell does that even mean anyways?"  It turns out that the lyric (and potentially the entire song) is a direct reference to Hunter S. Thompson and his statement that America is raising a "generation of dancers."  I haven't found any explanation yet of what Thompson actually meant by that remark, but the accepted interpretation seems to be using the term dancer as a pejorative--someone who doesn't think about the world around them, someone who marches to someone else's beat.  If that's actually what Thompson meant, then its rather obvious that he never genuinely danced in his life.  Regardless, I personally interpret the term dancer to be a status to be desired.  It's something more than human, something deeper.  It requires complete understanding of your surroundings and yet single minded myopia.  To be dancer is to be more than human and to transcend.  All of which brings me back to some of the best science fiction ever written, a piece which asks are we human or are we dancer?

    The best stories are stories that never quite leave you.  On some level you will carry it with you wherever you go and in some idle moment of reverie take some aspect of it out to look at it again whether you want to or not.  For me, this aspect is what makes movies like Casablanca or Citizen Kane, or Shawshank Redemption masterpieces.  Its the same aspect that made Watchmen great in print and we can only hope will translate to the silver screen.  I don't have an official list of the stories that do that to me anywhere, but its these stories that I ultimately want to see on film. I want to see stories like E For Effort**, Bicentennial Man, Dog Fight, and Saint Dragon and The George, but there is only one story on the list that the moment I thought of it, I knew would be perfect for a film: Spider and Jeanne Robinson's novella Stardance. 

    Stardance is a story which has been comming back to me regularly ever since I read it in a colelction of Hugo winners (1977) several years ago.  The novella-- told from the role of a supporting character-- concerns the events and characters surronding the first zero g ballet.  Ultimately, the story hinges on the female protagonist star of the ballet who risks everything for the love of dance, and where it really shines for film is in the fact that unlike say Dune, the story is mercifully light on internal monolgues.  For once, it's a story that has everything actually needed to be perfect on film- a full plot, external action, and a setting that screams it's better for film than print. 

    The thought of Stardance on film excited me enough to try to pitch the film to aaronjv .  That won't be happening, as a quick google has revealed two things: 1) The novella has been expaneded in the last 30 years into a novel trilogy of unknown quality.   And 2) Jeanne Robbinson turned it into a short film last year and had been intending to expand in into a two hour IMAX experience, but as of last week that's been scrapped in favor of instead turning it into a genuine big screen adaptation!  It may never make it into theaters and it may completely fail to achieve its goals, but at least people genuinely invested in the original idea are going to try!



    *There is no Gort actor anywhere on the IMDB page and Keanu is a wooden enough actor to be a robot.  Think about it.
    **E For Effort is a novella that would actually translate very well to a two hour movie format (or Outer Limits) but I doubt it will ever be made.  By the nature of the story, it will never have mass market appeal.  It can be made, and made well, but it's like Arlington Road- yes it was good, but I still don't ever want to see it again!
    Tuesday, November 11th, 2008
    1:57 am
    That is a lot of Racooons.
    I guess this story is for ningwers really.

    So I think we should start with a bit of background to make it make more sense. I now have a parking garage in my building. It's old school, narrow door, hand lift and close etc. It's also directly across from the trash dumpsters in a fairly narrow street and I drive a Saturn (A.K.A. the turning radius of a Cutty Sark). So to make parking easier, I stop directly next to the dumpsters and then open my garage door and then park.

    So tonight, after parking my car and getting out (and leaving my door half ajar as I usually do) I take three steps from my car when I hear a rustling in the trash. I look over and see above my head about four feet away something about two feet long staring at me. My first thought is the complex's resident bobcat and cub, but then I'm comforted that it's only a raccoon.

    ...Then 4 more suddenly pop up, some nearer my car, and one on the ground directly behind my car. The are all looking at me curiously with an appraising eye "do you mean us trouble? Can we go back to foraging? Do you have food? Are you food?"

    Ultimately this story goes nowhere as they basically left me alone.  I didn't feel entirely comfortable leaving my car door open with this band of nimble fingered thieves about, so I walked back and shut it before opening the garage. Some went back to foraging, some watched me, and the one behind my car laid about on the ground behind my car. That one was one fat bastard but at least had the good sense to run away when I came back to my car.



    ...seriously, 5 raccoons at once?! In Irvine? And they are apparently thriving! I remember when Irvine was possum territory, and now it seems like I never see or hear of a possum, but hear rather frequent mention of raccoons.  Have they supplanted them?  I wonder how they fair against the coyotes?

    Sunday, November 9th, 2008
    12:38 pm
    The new moral center?
    This article discusses sexual mores in red vs. blue states, and argues rather compellingly that blue states (and the middle class) are the new protectors of the traditional family. It's an interesting argument and I suspect that parts of this will resonate with the 20 somethings on my chat list.


    http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2008/11/03/081103fa_fact_talbot?currentPage=4
    Saturday, November 8th, 2008
    2:19 am
    Smallville- Will this be awesome or a shark?
    So I think I'm the only one still watching Smallville. That's unfortunate as the writing has gotten really good (to be fair I skipped seasons 2-5 which means it may have always been good, but I also skipped pointless angst loops which is nice) in a witty sort of way and the removal of Lana has really pushed the show forward and it's doing an excellent job building momentum for coming of Superman.

    That said, the show has two major potential flaws:

    1) Complete terror of Moonlighting syndrome leading to potential X-Files syndrome. The show keeps ratcheting up the buildup to Clark putting on the cape and suit, but if they don't do it soon, the show is going to collapse in on itself. He's now a nighttime crime fighter in Metropolis accepting his destiny as a symbol of hope. It's hard to go much farther without becoming superman.
    2) Doomsday. The simple fact I can invoke that name alone suggests shark jumping potential. There is a character on the show who until the last episode, I totally thought was a werewolf and instead it turns out that he is Doomsday. Like the kills Superman Doomsday. I don't know how many seasons this character is intended for, and he's a complete re-imagining of Doomsday, but I'm just generally doubtful. Doomsday storylines are pretty much inherently bad. It's hard to write a worthwhile Doomsday storyline because even the original storyline ultimately was pretty awful. At the same time, to trot out a character like Doomsday, you're obligated to see it through to some massive truly epic fight for the face of the Earth...in front of the public, which requires Superman. One could say that the fight to the death with Doomsday for the fate of the planet is Superman's defining moment in the modern era, and to handle it badly is something simply not worth doing.

    So anyways, I'm excited. It might be good. At worst, the show is becoming more and more Buffy the Vampire slayer, which isn't really a bad thing. Hell, at this point Chloe has totally become Giles: the know it all protector of the Clark who will do anything to save him, anything to help him, has access to precisely the right information and will kill anyone who Clark is too much of a hero to accept needs to be killed.

    Anyone else still watching?
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