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November 17, 2005

Open thread 54
Posted by Teresa at 10:00 PM *

Potrzebie, frammistan, excelsior!

Comments on Open thread 54:
#1 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2005, 09:57 PM:

Do not, do not again I say, drink the bruise juice. It will not ease the ache inside!

#2 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2005, 10:15 PM:

I saw the teaser for Bryan Singer's Superman Returns on TV a few minutes ago. Boy, it looks good.

#3 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2005, 10:25 PM:

I thought it was 'potrzebie axolotl fink!'

#4 ::: Harry Connolly ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2005, 11:26 PM:

The Night Stalker has been euthanized-- er, I mean cancelled.

I've been watching the show, and frankly, I'm relieved.

#5 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2005, 11:33 PM:

I don't like the MAD system of measures as much as the one in Science Made Stupid, which had an entry for a "millihelen," the amount of beauty required to launch one ship.

#6 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2005, 11:36 PM:

i'm officially p.o.'d. Kansas City does not get any first run IMAX movies. I'm jealous of St. Louie, who is getting Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire in IMAX. A lot of times we don't get them ever.

BUT we do have tickets for a showing tomorrow, which i'm now VERY primed for because of an A&E 'preview' program tonight.

#7 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2005, 11:42 PM:

Larkin's Dispensationalist charts are, in their own way, brilliant.

You can almost picture them on magic lantern slides. The 19th century sectarian version of a PowerPoint presentation. Put a half-way decent lecturer in front of the screen and your audiance will be ready to sell its possessions and head for the designated hilltop.

It would be fun to satirize them, but it is really too late for that. Their memes have been so thoroughly sold as what Christianity is about that mocking them would come across as bigotry.

Man, where's Dr. Brainiod and his DeFanaticizer Ray when you need him?

#8 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2005, 12:23 AM:

I am about to sit down with a Celebration Ale (made by the guys who make Sierra Nevada) and watch episode 9 of Firefly. I am mucho happy. I still want an anti-gravity doohickey for Christmas, however.

On another subject entirely: anyone else paying attention to politics? John Murtha, Conservative Democrat, Viet Nam veteran, out there in public saying "Bring the troops home now." Woo. And Mr. Bush's popularity numbers are in the toilet, except with the 30% or so who would be happy with David Koresh if he were a rich Republican.

As I said, I am mucho happy.

#9 ::: Jonathan Shaw ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2005, 12:24 AM:

Superman Returns was shot in Fox Studios in Sydney. An acquaintance of mine worked in the special effects department, and had a great time. One of his tasks was to create the fibreglass body suits worn by Superman and Lois -- the suits had to be exact fits for the actors' actual bodies, so that the suits held the bodies rigid and horizontal in front of the green screen for the flying scenes, but looked just like the bodies to the camera. In order to take the mould for the suits, my acquaintance had to cover every centimetre of the actors' Lycra clad bodies with Vaseline. After such intimacies, it was no surprise that when the stars walked into the mess they invariably greeted him by name, much to the envy and mystification of other members of the tech crew.

#10 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2005, 12:38 AM:

Potrzebie axolotl fink, yes; also durmish, moxie, poiuyt, squamish, and veeblefetzer.

Was there ever such a visible retcon as Larkin's Dispensationalist charts?

Celebration Ale, Firefly, and lousy Republican poll numbers: altogether good. Now all you need is a hamster.

#11 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2005, 12:50 AM:

Why do I need a hamster? she asked plaintively.

#12 ::: protected static ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2005, 01:05 AM:

quoth Lizzy L: "Why do I need a hamster? she asked plaintively."

[rolls eyes] Silly, everyone knows that... What else would you use to sodomize the dinosaur?


No, wait; don't answer that. Please.

#13 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2005, 01:10 AM:

protected static wrote:

[rolls eyes] Silly, everyone knows that... What else would you use to sodomize the dinosaur?

No, wait; don't answer that. Please.

... and you got it wrong, anyways [rolls eyes, then searches desperately for the missing one] Everyone knows that you have to use guinea pigs to sodomize dinosaurs!

#14 ::: Manon ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2005, 01:26 AM:

Do the guinea pigs know that?

#15 ::: Kate Yule ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2005, 01:34 AM:

The children's zoo in Pittsburgh included one exhibit with the sign "These rats are not hamsters, they're guinea pigs".

As for Potrzebie axolotl fink and all the other little finks: There is a charming picture book titled Sarah So Small in which the title character is shrunk to the size of a teacup and seeks to return to her proper size. The magic words? "Klaatu barada nikto". I Am Not Making This Up.

#16 ::: protected static ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2005, 01:35 AM:

xeger, xeger, xeger...

[sigh]

I told you not to answer, but you couldn't help yourself, could you?

[cracks whip]

Now come here before I unleash the dinosaur. And the hamsters.

#17 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2005, 01:46 AM:

But Frammistan is at war with Potrzebie. Frammistan has always been at war with Potrzebie. Fortunately, the excelsior ration is to be increased next week, so more of us will have a place to sit during the Two-Minute Fold-In.

Bill Gaines, Mad's publisher, once visited the Soviet Union, and drew a great deal of attention. (Certainly more than I did, despite the Pigeon Story.) If you don't already know why, you can examine the photograph here.

And, of course, the reason one needs a hamster is that parakeets look weird trying to run the wheel, and require large capacitors to smooth the power output. Sometimes these . . . well, let's just say that the Intelligent Design Studio* has failed to provide the bird kingdom with ground-fault interrupters.

*Think of it as Muppet Labs run by Fozzie.

#18 ::: miriam beetle ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2005, 03:04 AM:

And, of course, the reason one needs a hamster is that parakeets look weird trying to run the wheel,

oh, no way. not if you mean budgies. watching budgies playing on a hamster wheel is awesome. i suppose i'm not sure how much power they'd actually produce, though.

#19 ::: Peter Hentges ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2005, 06:23 AM:

Speaking of dairy-free cocoa: I favor rice milk for my morning Cheerios (and other cereals, but I don't eat those very often) due to its nutty flavor. Does anyone know if it would also make good cocoa? I limit my dairy intake for reasons of taste more than tolerance, so having alternatives is always interesting.

#20 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2005, 06:46 AM:

(I'm responding here to this comment from thread #53 because the latter is approaching critical mass.)

"Serge, did you never watch Super Friends?"

Actually, Nomie, very little, for some reason. I do remember the episode where Darkseid took away their superpowers then proceeded to tell Wonder Woman she could still be his girlfriend. Heck, not all her superpowers had gone away, if you know what I mean, and I think you do (as movie critic Joe Bob Briggs would have said).

Anyway, what happened on the show that explains how Grundy can be on the same level as Lex in the criminal-mastermind dept?

(Sory to the site's people who aren't comic-book geeks.)

#21 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2005, 06:54 AM:

Did you see that coming attraction for Superman, Jonathan? It looks like a live-action rendition of an Alex Ross graphic novel. Very Grand in feel, especially as Superman is seen high above the Earth, his eyes closed. And... and... It has Eva Marie Saint as Martha Kent.

America's ultimate immigrant is back.

#22 ::: Wesley ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2005, 07:45 AM:

Anyway, what happened on the show that explains how Grundy can be on the same level as Lex in the criminal-mastermind dept?

This might be a reference to the season that featured the Legion of Doom. The idea was that Luthor gathered a group of villains to plan ridiculous crimes in a swamp. For some reason, the Legion mostly consisted of the lamest and least powerful villains in the D.C. universe, including the Riddler, Black Manta, and Solomon Grundy.

#23 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2005, 08:22 AM:

"The idea was that Luthor gathered a group of villains to plan ridiculous crimes in a swamp."

He took over the D.C. Republicans?

#24 ::: Keith Kisser ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2005, 09:00 AM:

I think some of us are confusing the old Super Friends show (circa 1980s) with the recent and far more interesting Justice League show. It's understandable,a s they feature the same characters. Sort of like mixing up Batman Begins with Batman Returns. One fetures Val Kilmer in a suit with rubbe rnipples. The other is good.

#25 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2005, 09:43 AM:

Batman's rubber nipples? That was George Clooney, not Val Kilmer. Amazingly, Clooney's career wasn't totally wrecked. (Anybody seen Good Night and Good Luck?)

Yes, Teresa, I think Luthor did take over the DC Republicans. In fact, there was an issue of Green Arrow where I found that Lex is now President of the USA.

#26 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2005, 09:44 AM:

What Pigeon Story, Mike?

#27 ::: Barry Ragin ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2005, 09:51 AM:

This letter from Cindy Sheehan to Barbara Bush is worth a read.

#28 ::: Adrienne ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2005, 09:52 AM:

Completely off the subject, frankly, but I have a deep need to tap the collective mind, which is wise both deep and wide, at Making Light. Here is my plea:

I'm putting together a book list for a writing course that I'll be teaching during "spring" term. I quote spring merely because only the last month is really spring-like around here and the term would be more accurately called "yes, yes, it's still winter" term.

Anyway.

The books that I'll be using in one of the units are Slaughterhouse Five, The Forever War and Starship Troopers. Last night I realized that these three, while great books all, need to be balanced by something written by (and, if possible, featuring) someone who wasn't white and male. But I'll be darned if I can figure out what that would be. It could be that my brain is simply soft (more than usual, that is) right now.

But I would like to ask the assembled: Can you think of a title that would fit? The books in question are used to generate writing themes and topics as well as discussions. There is a separate text that deals with the nuts and bolts of writing.

And, clearly, the hamster is to keep the wombats away. Wombats love Celebration Ale, Firefly, and lousy Republican poll numbers.

#29 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2005, 09:53 AM:

Night Stalker has been cancelled, Harry? I watched maybe three episodes, but mostly out of a sense of obligation. They went about it all wrong (says Serge the Wise One)... I mean, what people remembered from the original show was the mixture of humor and horror. There certainly wasn't any humor in this version. No, they didn't have to do McGavin's over-the-top kind. Heck, there was plenty of dry humor in the X Files.

#30 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2005, 09:55 AM:

Does anybody remember how, when they started filming LoTR, ther was someone other than Viggo Mortensen playing Aragorn, but for reasons unknown they replaced the original with Viggo. They had never said who it was. I just found out that it was Night Stalker's Stuart Townsend.

#31 ::: Bob Oldendorf ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2005, 10:06 AM:

Ah, an open thread.
I recently learned that the release date for the Serenity DVD is December 20th.

Plan your holidays accordingly.

#32 ::: hrc ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2005, 10:10 AM:

Adrienne: how about Octavia Butler? Parable of the Sower?

best I can do this am before coffee.

#33 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2005, 10:19 AM:

Adrienne: can't help with the non-white-non-male aspect, but I heartily recommend John Scalzi's Old Man's War as a counterbalance to the Heinlein and a complement to the Haldeman. Oh!! Wait--give them The Deed of Paksenarrion by Elizabeth Moon. It's not sf, but then neither is Slaughterhouse Five. And it's a much better book, IMO.

#34 ::: Vassilissa ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2005, 10:19 AM:

Peter Hentges wrote:
I favor rice milk for my morning Cheerios (and other cereals, but I don't eat those very often) due to its nutty flavor. Does anyone know if it would also make good cocoa?

Yes, it does. It's thinner than soymilk-based cocoa, and less 'creamy'. Whether that's a feature or a bug depends on your personal taste.

#35 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2005, 10:22 AM:

Serenity out on Dec 20, Bob? It IS starting to feel like Xmas.

#36 ::: Laura Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2005, 10:22 AM:

I had a question about something on the "Dirty hippies" thread, but, being a little slow off the mark, I didn't get around to asking it before the discussion evolved.

Marna said:

Oh, there were whole heirarchies. The anti-war folks who weren't in the streets didn't want to be associated with the ones who were, the ones who were in the streets THIS time didn't want to be associated with anyone who'd been out for Afghanistan, the ones who'd been out for Afghanistan didn't want to be associated with anyone who'd been out for Seattle or Quebec, and NOBODY wanted to know the Quakers.

What's wrong with the Quakers?

#37 ::: theophylact ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2005, 10:24 AM:

I was delighted when I discovered that "It's crackers to slip a rozzer the dropsy in snide" makes perfect sense.

#38 ::: Neil Rest ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2005, 10:28 AM:

(I've long insisted that) Bill Gaines is the most important American cultural figure of the third quarter of the Twentieth Century.

I demonstrate this with the impossibility of naming any important American creative personality from, say, the Sixties to the Nineties, who wasn't influenced by MAD.

#39 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2005, 10:32 AM:

Adrienne, what were the criteria you used to pick those three books?

The hamster was because if you're stacking up joyful circumstances, a hamster is an appropriate addition.

#40 ::: HC ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2005, 10:32 AM:

So - do we need a password to see this 100 swords link, or what?

#41 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2005, 10:33 AM:

The protagonist of _Starship Troopers_ is not white.

#42 ::: Barry Ragin ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2005, 10:43 AM:

The Female Man
Babel-17
anything by Josephine Saxton

#43 ::: jennie ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2005, 10:49 AM:

Adrienne,

What was the reasoning behind your original three choices, besides all being great books (there are so many great books)?

If you want to be genre-based, how about something by Nalo Hopkinson—say Midnight Robber? Or are you looking for war stories? How about Lois McMaster Bujold's Barrayar (it has some stylistic issues, IMO, and my former employer loathed the excessive adjectives, but the storytelling is good enough to pull most readers through them.) For damn' fine, beautifully crafted writing on all levels you can't really go wrong with Jo Walton. If you're being a traditionalist, Ursula K. LeGuin is canonical, and a rich source of thematic material. For breathaking writing, and use of myth, archetype, and id, I'd recommend Patricia McKillip, and if any of your students can figure out how to do that thing she does, well, good—the world needs more of it, IMO (see also Pamela Dean.)

If you're straying from genre, but sticking with fiction, try The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood, Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston.

Here's a post-colonial reading list (non-genre). I vouch not its contents, as I haven't read everything on it, but it seems like pretty canonical place to start. Also, Nalo Hopkinson has edited an anthology of postcolonial SF, which might be a useful resource.


#44 ::: Keith Kisser ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2005, 10:59 AM:

I really must get my Batmen strait. It was George Cloony with the rubber nipples on his batsuit, not Val Kilmer.

It's too bad about Mr. Cloony's career, though. He had such a promissing future as a shiftless B list actor and then he went and screwed it all up by making good films. The world has been denied seeing him play Buckaroo Banzai's older brother or Mr. Fantastic. Oh well.

Good Night and Good Luck hasn't come out down South yet, and I doubt it ever will but I look forward to adding to my Netflix Queue.

#45 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2005, 11:00 AM:

'Poiuyt' is one name for that pronged optical illusion thing. I've also seen it called a three-pronged slot-finder, but 'poiuyt' is much better.

#46 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2005, 11:05 AM:

By the way, what is the origin of the name Luthor? The movies and TV always pronounce it as if it were 'Luther', but I don't suppose that 'Luthor' is also germanic.

#47 ::: Sandy ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2005, 11:06 AM:

Odd trivium: I didn't know that Joe Haldeman was white until I searched for a picture. I think my semiconscious mind went, "Most of the people who got blown up in Vietnam were black; Joe Haldeman got blown up in Vietnam; Joe Haldeman is probably black."

#48 ::: Adrienne ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2005, 11:07 AM:

Thanks for all of the great suggestions. Not only will all of these titles make great additions to my own reading list, they are also making me clarify my own muddy thoughts on the class.

The loose theme is "books about soldiers and war, with an emphasis on those with science fictional elements." I've toyed with Scalzi's Old Man's War, but it is merely in pencil at this point. Not to slight Scalzi -- it's a great book -- but OMW doesn't quite feel like it fits. No, I can't quite explain why -- and if I never figure out what my qualm is, then I'll add it.

If I can't figure out another genre-ish title to add, other possibilites are Atonement, Testament of Youth and Jarhead.

And, yes, the protagonist in the book Starship Troopers isn't white, the actor in the movie is -- and my brain keeps substituting Casper Van Dien's face when I think about the book. Damn you Verhoeven.

#49 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2005, 11:15 AM:

Isn't the protagonist of "The Forever War" black? Or am I just confused by a) his being called Mandella and b) the protagonist of "Forever Peace" being black? It's a long time since I read it.

And most of the people who got blown up in Vietnam were Asian. Of the US troops ('real people') who got blown up or otherwise killed, most were white. (Over 80%.)

I'm interested why your reaction was "this list needs to be balanced by including someone non-white and non-male" rather than "this list needs to be balanced by including someone non-American"...

#50 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2005, 11:19 AM:

Keith, did you know that Clooney was originally the actor playing Aretemus Gordon in the disappointing movie version of Wild Wild West? They had to let him go because he kept trying to play Artemus as if he were James West. (Kevin Kline did a good job in that role, but couldn't save the movie.)

#51 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2005, 11:25 AM:

On the subject of joyful circumstances: I have beheld a basket of Buddha's Hand citrons. They looked like Cthulhu! I didn't buy one, since they were $10 per, but what a beautiful scent. And soon enough it will be blood-orange time. Maybe this year they'll be maroon and sweet instead of those nasty high-acid orange ones.

#52 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2005, 11:29 AM:

Whatever happened to American-Indian writer Craig Strete? He was around in the Seventies, had a few things that got some attention then he just vanished.

#53 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2005, 11:32 AM:

For books about soldiers and war I would recommend "The Last Enemy" by Richard Hillary, "The Cruel Sea" by Nicholas Monsarrat, "Memoirs of an Infantry Officer" by Siegfried Sassoon, "Count Belisarius" by Robert Graves, "Quartered Safe Out Here" by George MacDonald Fraser, and "The Ship" by CS Forester.
For books with a more SF element, "Use of Weapons" by Iain M. Banks is the most military of the Culture novels. SF seems to be somewhat short of good novels from the footsoldier's perspective (as distinct from space battles) - I don't know if this matters?

#54 ::: Madeleine Robins ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2005, 11:47 AM:

Teresa, you have corrupted me. Or inspired me. I not only got myself a Microplane grater, I've started making cordials. One batch of habanero (now settling in to age for a while) and one of limoncello. I'm eying the herbs. Any advice?

#55 ::: Jimcat Kasprzak ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2005, 11:49 AM:

Ajay:

Isn't the protagonist of "The Forever War" black? Or am I just confused by a) his being called Mandella and b) the protagonist of "Forever Peace" being black? It's a long time since I read it.

There's a passage at the end of The Forever War in which Mandella explains the origin of his name. His parents were hippie-types who decided to both change their names to something new when they got married. They wanted to use the word "mandala" (the Buddhist symbolic chart representing the Universe), but neither the parents nor the judge performing the marriage were sure how to spell the word. So they took their best guess and came up with "Mandella".

It's a pretty obvious parallel to / satire of Starship Troopers, in which you find out at the end that the protagonist's ethnicity was not what you might think it would be based on his surname.

#56 ::: Nancy C ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2005, 11:51 AM:

Adrienne,

If your looking for a war book, try, "The Healer's War" by Elizabeth Ann Scarborough. A sci fi/ fantasy set in Vietnam. Fantastic.

Amazon link

#57 ::: protected static ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2005, 11:56 AM:

Sandy: Joe Haldeman served as a combat engineer - grunts with shovels first, guns second. Marginally more elite than regular infantry, and as such were similar to infantry units in composition.

Compare and contrast Haldeman w/ David Drake, who served in the 11th 'Black Horse' Armored Cav Regiment, an elite (and at the time exclusively white) unit.

Interestingly, despite the differences in the way they write about war, they share similar positions - or at least they did when I saw them on a 'military sf' panel at Boskone 23 or 24 (23, I think). They both pissed off a lot of fanboys dressed up in Aliens/Colonial Marines getups, Drake in particular. During the Q&A, Haldeman said something about how much war sucked and damaged everyone involved, including the victors. Someone in the audience started giving him grief and Drake quietly told the fanboy that Haldeman was right, so sit down and STFU. More eloquently than that, but still...

#58 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2005, 12:03 PM:

Drake said that wa sucked? Is that what comes across IN his novels?

#59 ::: Daniel Martin ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2005, 12:04 PM:

I would also recommend Octavia Butler's "Xenogenesis" series as a counter to white male overload. (especially Dawn, the first in that series)

Not only is the protagonist non-white and non-male, but the narrative begins with the human beings having blown themselves to bits and being at the complete and total mercy of aliens who swooped down after the nuclear holocaust to save what humans they could.

#60 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2005, 12:05 PM:

It doesn't really solve the 'not by or about a white guy' problem, but I'm strongly tempted to suggest The Defense of Duffer's Drift, which should not be disqualified merely because it's a tactics manual. (It's a repeated-dream, fictional setting tactics manual.)

Kipling's The Army of a Dream is a primary precursor for Starship Troopers, and would be a very fertile source of contrasts. (The Kipling story about a Sikh telling his village elders about what the Ghurkas did at the funeral of the King-Emperor, also.)

Tanya Huff has some mil-sf books, quite new; there's the Rig Veda and the Lay of Helgi Hundingsbana (where the magic-working women have more to do with success than skill with swords) come to mind, too.

Cherryh's Hellburner might make a better or more immediate contrast to the three you've got. (The book is about a group of people caught up in the development of a new military technology in the midst of a very tangled political controversy over that tech, and if you are familiar with the future history in question, what seems like a success at the end isn't, at all.)

#61 ::: Alison ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2005, 12:12 PM:

While people are asking questions about science fiction choices, I'm looking for a good shortish novel to include in an interdisciplinary seminar on family. we're looking at family from all sorts of angles (history, sociology, anthropology, legal battles, etc.) and I'd like to have something that forces people to expand their ideas of what counts and how things could work. (It doesn't have to be science fiction of course, but it would be fun.) I have the vague idea that there has to be the perfect story somewhere, but I can't quite think of what.

Alison

#62 ::: protected static ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2005, 12:12 PM:

Serge: I know - pretty amazing, isn't it?

I don't know if Drake was just protecting Haldeman or what, but you know that quiet, exasperated yet patient, but-if-you-keep-pushing-it-I'll-tear-off-your-head-and-drink-from-your-skull tone that people with horrible personal experiences sometimes use when dealing with morons who deny the reality of those experiences?

That's how Drake was.

#63 ::: protected static ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2005, 12:15 PM:

Alison: Left Hand of Darkness comes leaping to mind. See also Sturgeon's Venus Plus X.

#64 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2005, 12:17 PM:

So, that's the real Drake. Interesting. About Haldeman, does anybody know what his politics are? At last year's World Fantasy Con, he made a comment on a panel about war where he referred to the Liberal Media. I thought "Huh?"

#65 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2005, 12:21 PM:

Serge --

If you read Drake's Slammers stories carefully, I think it's very clear that they -- which are the direct Vietnam-experience ones -- are about the living dead, people whose souls have been destroyed. (Never mind the direct Vietnam ones, which are few in number and exceedingly bleak and creepy.)

Don't let the clinical detachment in the descriptions of violence fool you; this is a man who very publically compared the experience of a soldier on a modern battlefield to that of a hunted animal.

#66 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2005, 12:28 PM:

Which of Drake's Slammers novels would you recommend, Graydon? Just to see if I can be shocked any further about Drake, do you know what his political affiliations are - if he has any?

#67 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2005, 12:35 PM:

Someone already mentioned Jo Walton: her The King's Peace and The King's Name are about soldiers, and war, and what is worth fighting for. Among other things--and I hope Jo will correct me if I'm getting it badly wrong.

#69 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2005, 01:14 PM:

Serge --

There aren't any, you realize; novellas, and short stories, variously grouped together, that can be mistaken for novels, yes, but no actual Slammers novels. (There might be one story over 40 kwords, come to think, but I don't think many.)

The one you might find clearest on this point -- if I had to guess -- would be "The Warrior"; there's also something to be said for Cross the Stars and Birds of Prey, an sfnal Odyssey and an sfnal Roman Empire thriller of sorts.

Drake's politics I know nothing about; I do know he's remarked that he read Ovid in Vietnam to stay sane, and that's he's extremely clear in the forewords and afterwords of his books that his motivation for writing is in part to convey the costs of war to the people who might vote to start one.

#70 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2005, 01:23 PM:

Colored bubbles - cool!

Disappearing hair dye - oh, goody, I can have blue hair!

#71 ::: Keith Kisser ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2005, 01:25 PM:

did you know that Clooney was originally the actor playing Aretemus Gordon in the disappointing movie version of Wild Wild West?

I was unaware of that fact, Serge. He's an odd duck, that Cloony fellow. It took until he was the Daily Show a few weeks ago, when he mentioned his Aunt Rosemary did a bit of singing that I realised that, in fact, yes she did at that. What a strange and wonderful family he comes from.

I still think his best role was in O, Brother Where Art Thou? but thgen I haven't seen Good Night yet. Or Syriana.

#72 ::: protected static ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2005, 01:25 PM:

My impression of Drake is that he's influenced enough by Greco-Roman ideals that the whole "citizen's duty to the State" thing weighs very heavily upon him... I see how that could be construed as militarism, if seen through a particular lens.

As for Haldeman and his views, he's a professor at MIT - probably one of the most liberally conservative (or conservatively liberal?) places on the planet: lots of defense money, but also lots of hacker-esque libertarian-ish anti-authoritarian meritocratic influences floating around - it doesn't matter if you're gay or straight or black or white or male or female or whatever as long as you know your stuff (glossing over the point that being black or gay or female or whatever can have a tremendous impact on your ability to even get to a point where you can learn your stuff, but still...). Sure, he's an ex-hippy, but he's still an MIT professor.

(BTW, they both have their own websites - Haldeman updates his much more regularly than Drake)

#73 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2005, 01:31 PM:

Great! It used to be available online, then disappeared. Glad to hear it's back.

#74 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2005, 01:34 PM:

Ah! Por-cheb-ya! I can pronounce this. Excelsior! I can sing this. Alas, I can't find Frammistan on a map. Two out of three.

P.J., "poiuyt" is not only a better name, it's easier to type. Especially for a one-armed touch typist.

Am I repeating myself yet? How about this: right after Bill Gaines died, one of the MAD anthologies came out -- MAD About the Sixties, as I just verified -- and it has the most touching and personal dedication (which should be centered, but that HTML tag doesn't work here -- pretend the periods are invisible):

......To William M. Gaines:
..."FUN AROUND THE CLOCK
.YOU BET WE HAD OUR FILL!"

..--"The Usual Gang of Idiots"

As soon as it all clicked into place, I realized how sincere it was.

see chapter 2 of The MAD World of William M. Gaines by Frank Jacobs -- page 16 in my paperback edition

#75 ::: Lisa Spangenberg ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2005, 01:36 PM:

Allison--Octavia Butler's novella Blood Child.

#77 ::: Clark E Myers ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2005, 02:00 PM:

My own suggestion for the most accessible Drake - written with more distance from the experience and more practice in writing - is Redliners which is available in the Baen free as in beer library.
REDLINERS is possibly the best thing I've written. It's certainly the most important thing, both to me personally and to the audience I particularly care about....to understand the novel's underlying optimism you have to have ..... Perhaps in order to make the story more general the military is infantry. There is perhaps more in common with The Forever War here than in the Slammer stories - not exactly a spoiler but although you may disagree you'll see what I mean if you read Redliners. I'd argue that this book is more accessible to conventional SF reading techniques (inclueing, "turned on her left side"). I'd guess that when Drake says important he means at least in part important for getting the point across to a general reader rather than important for communicating to an in-group.

Notice especially that "The Warrior" is grounded in Achilles, an eternal type not a creation of war but one who finds a place in war. The contrast reminds me of a lecture to Rod in Tunnel in the Sky - compare and contrast a romantic and a practical man in a romantic and a practical age.

For my money much of the interest in Cross the Stars is in the quite explicit and carefully explained changes from the received text at points in the story.

I agree with Drake about the emotional impact he claims for the shepherd with his flock scene in Voyage and I rather suppose it helps to have at least a little farm background to follow Drake - YMMV.

To speak of "grunts with shovels" rather passes over what the job was and the price of a hot lunch.

#78 ::: Brooke C. ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2005, 02:39 PM:

Superman Returns looks promising, from the preview last night after Smallville. Though I can't stand that girl they've got playing Lois. Why can't we have a Lois who'll be credible as a smart, hard-hitting reporter? Why? (See also: why Katie Holmes was cast in Batman Begins.)

At any rate, it can't be much worse than Smallville itself. I used to watch it to snark (and, let's face it, for dreamy Lex Luthor and all the hilarious homoeroticism), and then it got SO BAD I couldn't even stand to do that. Lana Lang is possessed by an evil 14th c. French witch who allows her to do kung-fu wirework and swordplay in the context of an episode which (I swear to God) stole its plot from "Big Bird in China"? Lord.

I started watching again this season out of "Lost" disillusionment, and it's been pretty good (well. Good for Smallville) but there's only so much emotional and physical abuse you can stand watching being heaped on poor, well-meaning Lex by every single villain as well as the so-called heroes... Also, my favorite character, Chloe, (who's exactly what Lois should be) is walking around with a giant blinking "Gonna Die Soon" sign over her head. I'll probably stop again when that happens. Chloe should really have her own show...oh, wait. She does. It's called "Veronica Mars."

#79 ::: Jules ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2005, 02:41 PM:

Ah. The 'elothtes' wiki site (100 swords link in Particles) has a sentence-at-a-time collaboritive story.

And you have to admire the style involved in the phrasing "It had been almost literally ages"!

#80 ::: protected static ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2005, 02:45 PM:

re: "grunts with shovels" - no kidding. In Haldeman's own words:

"Twenty-eight years after Vietnam, the smell of roadkill still brings back the smell of days-old bodies rotting in the jungle heat. My first combat experience was to jump out of a helicopter into a "hot LZ," a landing zone that was under enemy fire. We jumped into six-foot-high elephant grass and lost sight of one another and all sense of direction. There was steady machinegun fire from both sides. One side yelled in English and so I staggered over there, having learned nothing from twenty years of war movies, and rolled over a dusty berm to relative safety. As soon as I dumped my cargo -- plastic explosives, a chain saw, and a welcome case of Budweiser -- I was overcome by the smell of the dead. It was mostly enemy dead, too close to our position for retrieval, but there were four or five of our own, lined up in plastic wrap, waiting for things to calm down enough for a helicopter to actually land. I'd never seen a dead person before who was not in a coffin. Their feet were at uncomfortable angles. I wonder now why they weren't in body bags. We usually carried enough for everybody."

and

"When I got to Vietnam they made me a "combat engineer, pioneer" -- which they told us meant we were sort of like infantry, but too dumb to carry a rifle, so they gave us a shovel. Actually, our primary tools were high explosives and chain saws -- and yes, some were dumb enough to be killed by both. (The man who died from his own chain saw may have been a bizarre suicide. We were working on a slippery hillside and it appeared that he had fallen on the blade and nearly cut off his leg before it stalled; he died of shock and blood loss before a helicopter could come. But all of our saws had dead-man switches; all you had to do was let go of the trigger, and it would stop.)"

And that's before you get to his account of being blown up. But 'grunts with shovels' wasn't a bad thumbnail.

#81 ::: Sandy ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2005, 02:51 PM:

I never said my semiconscious mind was right, or even smart.

Having said that:

"And most of the people who got blown up in Vietnam were Asian. "

This is entirely right, and I am entirely wrong.

#82 ::: Mina W ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2005, 02:57 PM:

Adrienne — I'd like to second or third the recommendation for Lois McMaster Bujold, and suggest either The Warrior's Apprentice (in Young Miles) or Shards of Honor (which you might have to find in Cordelia's Honor), which also contains Barrayar). Those are both good introductions to the series, and contain some very varied views of militarism. Barrayar is fantastic too, but it takes place during a 'civil' war.

A later intro point to the series is Komarr; less explicitly military, but contains a look at the generation-later consequences of a breach of honor (slaughter of unarmed captives) and both sides of the origin of the quarrel. And the folly of end-of-the-world-revenge. Also an amazing portrayal of betrayal in a marriage.

Allison — There's the classic Heinlein, The Moon is a Harsh Mistress which contains some unusual blueprints for family: line marriage for instance. I think that's a sidelight of the book though.

#83 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2005, 03:03 PM:

protected static wrote:
quoth Lizzy L: "Why do I need a hamster? she asked plaintively."

[rolls eyes] Silly, everyone knows that... What else would you use to sodomize the dinosaur?


Ummm, I don't see this. Would a big ol' dinosaur even notice the hamster?

No, this scenario calls for three-way sodomy: hamster, R*ch*rd G*r*, dinosaur. (Yes, I know the Official Urban Legend version calls for gerbils. Tough.)

I think this would be the XXX-version of a turducken.

#84 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2005, 03:09 PM:

Serge wrote:
"Batman's rubber nipples? That was George Clooney, not Val Kilmer. Amazingly, Clooney's career wasn't totally wrecked."


Just goes to show: If you're the star of a bad movie, make sure your character wears a mask.

#85 ::: protected static ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2005, 03:12 PM:

Bruce: depends upon the size of the dinosaur. And the size of the hamster, of course...

Though an appropriately asterix-laden felch-o-phile would definitely be of use with, say, apatosaurus.

#86 ::: Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2005, 03:32 PM:

You know, the science in the colored bubble article is fascinating, but all my mind keeps saying is GIVE ME NOW! WANT WANT WANT

#87 ::: hrc ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2005, 03:45 PM:

One more great military sci fi: Keith Laumer's Bolo series.

#88 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2005, 03:47 PM:

There's something, a meta-tone perhaps, which I feel in books written by people who were there. It comes out in brief flashes of almost unreal imagery of the horror. In Guy Gibson's Enemy Coast Ahead there's the image of the floods sweeping over the car headlights, just anther machine, like the Lancasters that carried his now-dead frienda. (And, in the movie The Dam Busters you have Richard Todd, who was a paratrooper on D-Day, playing Guy Gibson saying he has some letters to write.)

And the Slammers stories have that same feel, almost backing off from the detail.

#89 ::: Allen Baum ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2005, 03:53 PM:

Is it too late to mention that the Potrzebie System of Weights and Measures in that early issue of MAD was the first publication by famed computer scientist Donald Knuth?

Yea, I thought so, too.

#90 ::: Alison ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2005, 04:03 PM:

Thanks enormously to everyone so far. I can't imaging how I forgot Left Hand of Darkness, and I'm heading to the library this afternoon (as soon as students stop coming in and asking questions every time I'm about to leave) to check out the Butler and the Sturgeon. I thought about The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, but I decided that the discussions of family were too tangential to justify spending a week of class on. All other suggestions eagerly awaited-- it's great to have an excuse to spend the weekend reading fiction.

#91 ::: Kate Nepveu ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2005, 04:06 PM:

The bubbles link is way cool.

Teresa, is "Kansas Morons" really meant to link to "Duffer's Drift"?

#92 ::: Scott H ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2005, 04:54 PM:

Serge wrote:

"About Haldeman, does anybody know what his politics are? At last year's World Fantasy Con, he made a comment on a panel about war where he referred to the Liberal Media. I thought "Huh?"

I used to read Haldeman's web site a good bit. In that venue his feelings toward Bush & co. could be fairly characterized as 'open disgust.' I'm sort of surprised to hear that he used the phrase 'liberal media'; any chance he was being facetious?

Anybody here actually know the man?

Also, since this is open forum, I will opine that that Showtime series "Masters of Horror" (Fridays at 10:00 EST) is pretty darn good.

#93 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2005, 04:54 PM:

Aaaargh, no, I've fixed it.

#94 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2005, 05:13 PM:

Thanks for all the comments about Drake and Haldeman. About the last, I am relieved that he is not one of those liberals/Democrats/whatever who became Republicans after 9-11. As for his reference to the "liberal media" at the WFC last year, maybe he was facetious, but it didn't look that way. Of course, a facetious Haldeman may not look like what I expect.

#95 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2005, 05:25 PM:

Brooke, you said you didn't care much for the actress playing Lois Lane, but I'm not sure you're referring to the one in Smallville or to the one in Superman returns. The one from TV leaves me cold. My Lois should be played the way Chloe is played: smart, inquisitive, and caring. Which isn't that different from the way Katharine Hepburn's characters usually were, amanaging to come out as strong and fragile at the same time. And speaking of Hepburn, the actress playing Lois in the movie said that some of her research' involved watching Katharine's old movies. That is quite promising.

Back to Smallville... I got quite tired of it after the first year. The plots usually revolved around kryptonite-induced mutations that unfailingly were bad guys, although they eventually got away from that. The rest of the episodes seemed to be Clark and Lana doing this damn mating dance that was leading nowhere. Basically the only episodes I watch were the one about Clark's kryptonian origins.

#96 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2005, 05:27 PM:

What? Not everybody knew that George Clooney's aunt was singer/actress Rosemary Clooney?

How about this? Can you find a direct link between Deep Space Nine and... yes... Singin' in the Rain? Nana Visitor, who played Kira on DS9, is the niece of Cyd Charisse.

#97 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2005, 05:49 PM:

And, in the movie The Dam Busters you have Richard Todd, who was a paratrooper on D-Day, playing Guy Gibson saying he has some letters to write.

While he was with 6th Airborne, at D-Day he landed with the glider units. In The Longest Day he plays his CO, Major John Howard, and during a crossing shouts "Over you go, Todd!" a line I very much doubt was coincidental.

Anybody here actually know [David Drake]?

For twenty-five years or so; about as long as I've known Joe Haldeman. While we're at different points on the political grid (a great number of my friends are, in many directions), he's never said anything to me that I found outrageous. He doesn't talk much about his military experience -- most of the Vietnam vets I know don't, except for the funny stories, or when they have a specific point to make -- but I have not once heard him romanticize, never mind glamorize, the experience, and while I haven't read all his fiction, what I have seen doesn't, either.

#98 ::: Lenny Bailes ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2005, 06:19 PM:

The Smallville TV series becomes annoying in exciting new ways after Jeph Loeb's influence starts dominating it (around season 3 or so). I liked Loeb's Batman "Halloween" books, which seem to have been dutifully integrated into the bible for the "Batman Begins" movie. But the Smallville stuff is loaded with false teasing for DC geeks (in addition to the patented WB teasing that's part of everything they do: required scenes of semi-naked teens frolicking to pop-rock single background music.)

What bugs me is the stuff targeted at us hardcore geeks: "Oh look, a naked blonde teenager with superpowers named 'Kara;' a kid named Wally West who runs at super speed; a newspaper reporter named Perry White. Any credible resemblance in this stuff to anyone we know? Not really.

(I've been taping this season without watching it; so I can't comment on the 'Aqualad' episode, or last night's introduction of James Marsters as Brainiac.)

#99 ::: Brooke C. ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2005, 06:28 PM:

Serge--I actually don't like either of those actresses. I wanted to like Erica Durance, despite her rather plastic prettiness, because I like canon Lois and OMG nothing could be worse than f#$*ing Lana Lang. But then the Smallville writers got hold of her and made the character completely ineffectual while denying her any of the classic Lois's personality (aside from a vague abrasiveness). Became a general damsel-in-distress/fount of unintelligent snarkery. Chloe, being smart, strong-willed, witty, and caring, never has anything good happen to her and spends half her lines apologizing to Clark or Lana for things that are totally not her fault. And she's so marked to die this season. *sigh*

The Hepburn quote is v. encouraging, but let's not forget that Kate Bosworth's last starring role was in "Win a Date With Tad Hamilton!", and most of the critics said her performance actually made the material worse. If that were possible.

Isn't George Clooney cousin to character actor Miguel Ferrer, who was the boss in "Crossing Jordan" and has had small parts all over the place? I think Fametracker or some such site commented that both men look like they should have the other one's name. I think they're both grandsons of classic swashbuckler Jose Ferrer, and the same article expressed a wistful hope that one day Miguel would get a part wearing a ruffled shirt and sword and rescuing a buxom bodiced lass. I'd go see that.

#100 ::: Brooke C. ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2005, 06:38 PM:

Lenny--the other fake crossovers did indeed suck. The worst was the "Adam Knight" character, who was falsely rumored to be somehow connected with Bruce Wayne, and ended up being a pretty-boy zombie who was (of course) obsessed with Lana. But the Perry White ep turned out to be, IMHO, one of the best of the series, largely because he was played by the brilliant Michael McKean. Plus, tractors falling out of the sky for cheap laughs! Always works for me.

#101 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2005, 06:41 PM:

George Clooney and Miguel Ferrer are indeed cousins. Miguel's parents are Jose Ferrer and Rosemary Clooney; Rosemary's brother is Nick Clooney, who is George's father.

One of Miguel's brothers is Rafael Ferrer, who voiced the arch-villain Darth Malak in the "Knights of the Old Republic" video games, and splendidly too. I've been hearing him lately doing VO for Discovery Channel promos, and it's a tad bit eerie, though I suppose being a Sith Lord doesn't pay like it used to. "I find your lack of desire for fries . . . disturbing."

#102 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2005, 07:11 PM:

And Mel Ferrer was Jose's bro and was married to Audrey Hepburn, right?

#103 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2005, 07:17 PM:

One of my co-workers is a Vietnam vet, but he seldom talks about that time of his life. True, he seldom says anything about who he is. Still, on a couple of occasions, he told me something about that war, without my asking. That was strange. A couple of years ago, he went back to Vietnam.

Another co-worker is from Ireland, but her hubby was born in Vietnam. She once told me he doesn't care much for movies with explosions in them.

#104 ::: Marna ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2005, 07:31 PM:

this scenario calls for three-way sodomy: hamster, R*ch*rd G*r*, dinosaur. (Yes, I know the Official Urban Legend version calls for gerbils. Tough.)

I think this would be the XXX-version of a turducken.

Excuse me, but has anybody got any bleach and a nice stiff brush?

Thank you. *scrubs brain vigorously*

Quakers, right, Quakers.

Not "quackers", definitely not (maybe a pterodactyl...) NO. No. Quakers.

So, what's wrong with Quakers.

If I recall the reasoning correctly, the opinion of anybody who a) was a pacifict on September 10th and b) was still a pacifist on September 20th (just... don't ask me about the 10 days in between, ok?) was, by virtue of, um, having had a general objection to war in the past or being, like, the sort of person who went around objecting to wars in general, suspect or downright obviously woo-woo. "Of COURSE the pacifists are against this, what we need are big hairy macho violent people who are against this, that'll grab attention ..."

All anti-war arguments were to be preceded with "I'm not some kind of damned pacifist (insert 'not a damned pacifist' credentials here) BUT..."

I exaggerate and overgeneralise, and I know it. Please don't assume I mean anyone in particular.

I'm not making assertions about anyone's motives. I am only saying, that was what the energy in the air was, and to some degree continues to be.

Objections to the war were to be tactical, and were not, for example, to contain any reference to such floofy notions as moral wrongness.

And, you know, you always get that divide between people who oppose and resist war and people who are against a particular war, but it was for a number of reasons particularly vivid and difficult this time.

And, again. Maybe it might have worked. I don't know. I don't think so, but maybe.

And that is more than I meant to say, but I did want to at least take a crack at answering the question.

#105 ::: John Hawkes-Reed ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2005, 07:51 PM:

Spotted in Bristol, at the Louisiana. (A venue of the earnest indie variety, and far from being a toilet)

Your basic touring weblog.

#106 ::: Jonathan Shaw ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2005, 09:09 PM:

Serge: You asked me a question a long way upthread. No, I haven't seen it.These things can take a while to reach teh antipodes.

#107 ::: Chad Orzel ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2005, 09:16 PM:

Alison: While people are asking questions about science fiction choices, I'm looking for a good shortish novel to include in an interdisciplinary seminar on family. we're looking at family from all sorts of angles (history, sociology, anthropology, legal battles, etc.) and I'd like to have something that forces people to expand their ideas of what counts and how things could work. (It doesn't have to be science fiction of course, but it would be fun.) I have the vague idea that there has to be the perfect story somewhere, but I can't quite think of what.

Most of the books I would recommend on the topic of "family" use more of a traditional family structure, and so might not fit your needs. I'll recommend them anyway, because, well, why not? Everybody can always use more good books...

Sean Stewart has a couple of terrific family stories in Mockingbird and Perfect Circle. Both are modern-world fantasy; the former has a single mother dealing with voodoo spirits, while the latter is more of a ghost story.

There's also a book that Patrick recommended very highly the last time Kate and I were in The City, called Coyote Cowgirl by... Kim Antieu (he says after getting up to check the shelves). That's sort of Southwestern magic realism, with food.

If you specifically want science fiction, I'd recommend a book by Making Light's own John M. Ford: Growing Up Weightless. It's got all sorts of good stuff-- virtual reality, trains on the Moon, interesting moral dilemmas-- all wrapped around a great story about parents and kids.

#108 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2005, 11:13 PM:

Dr. Fun's Turducken comic:

http://www.ibiblio.org/Dave/Dr-Fun/df200312/df20031210.jpg

#109 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2005, 12:12 AM:

"...a good shortish novel to include in an interdisciplinary seminar on family..." ?

I'd recommend CJ Cherryh's space adventure Merchanter's Luck, which, to me anyway, is about the creation of a family. That's probably why it's one of my favorites. (Come to think of it, that very theme is probably what drew me the most to Firefly.

There's also pretty much anything by Sharon Lee & Steve Miller.

#110 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2005, 12:19 AM:

Poor you, Jonathan, for having missed the teaser for Superman returns on TV last night. I understand that it's also being shown with the Harry Potter movie.

Like I said before, it looks good. And what didn't hurt was that they reclaimed the best elements from the original movie's first half. Not just John Williams's score. Thru all the scenes, you hear again Marlon Brando's words in the Fortress of Solitude, when he tells Clark that humans are capable of greatness, if only they'll be shown the way, and "...that's why I'm sending them you, my only son..."

#111 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2005, 12:38 AM:

It's a pretty obvious parallel to / satire of Starship Troopers, in which you find out at the end that the protagonist's ethnicity was not what you might think it would be based on his surname.

At the end? I recall several points in the book where we're reminded that Juan Rico is a Filipino.


#112 ::: Paula Kate ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2005, 12:54 AM:

There's a teaser for Superman Returns on MTV Overdrive.

#113 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2005, 01:02 AM:

For those who remember Sgt. Rock, DC has a 6-issue series done by Joe Kubert coming out as of January.

#114 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2005, 01:25 AM:

When I think of science fiction about alternative visions of family, the first thing that comes to mind is Growing Up In Tier 3000 by Felix Gotschalk. In the future they take Freud very, very seriously.

It's way out of print, though, and definitely not for all tastes, being as strange and intense of J.G. Ballard's more extreme stuff.

#115 ::: Julia Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2005, 02:17 AM:

Amazing how little it takes to cheer me up. I've just been writing a review of Lars Eighner's Elements of Arousal for a writer's magazine, and as a result I now know that alibris *still* hasn't updated that rather unfortunate description of the book. :-)

#116 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2005, 03:31 AM:

I'm still digesting having seen Harry Potter at a 6:50 showing, it launched my brain into hyper and I'm still trying to wind down. I loved it but I need to think it through before I can say more. They left out a lot of bits and pieces yet I still ended up weeping when Cedric got killed and Harry realized he was dead. I'm more scared for Harry than ever, and I've read the next two books...

I was not impressed by the Superman trailer. My first impression was 'gag'. Pretty, but really touchy-feely for a superhero movie. And, despite dealing in comics for years, I never read the superhero books, I mostly read the weird ones or picked comics up as used. Or Classics Illustrated (papa bought those for me as a treat when he went on flights). There were other trailers, including one for a film by M. Night Shamalyan that gave me the willies. Most of the othe trailers were stupid, like the next 'cheaper by the dozen' franchise and its ilk.

#117 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2005, 04:01 AM:

John, you're slightly confused about Richard Todd. He was an officer in the 7th Battalion, The Parachute Regiment, which was dropped into DZ-N, between Ranville and Breville. The battalion had the job of reinforcing Major John Howard's gilder-borne assault force which has captured Pegasus Bridge, and Richard Todd was the officer who made the initial contact. So he was there, but he didn't land by glider.

He played John Howard in The Longest Day, and his own battalion commander in another movie, which must have felt rather strange, as somebody else in both movies would have been playing him.

And it wouldn't quite be like I Was Monty's Double

#118 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2005, 04:52 AM:

He played John Howard in The Longest Day, and his own battalion commander in another movie, which must have felt rather strange . . .

There's another story -- and I hope I've got this one right in detail -- that at the premiere of Longest Day in New York, Red Buttons, who played John Steele (the paratrooper who gets hung up on the church), was introduced to the real veteran. Steele said, "You know, if I had that to live over again . . . I'm glad it was you that did it."

I still think, when SF: the Motion Picture* gets made, I want David Hyde Pierce to play me. (Our birthdays are actually a week -- plus a coupla years -- apart, so this seems curiously right.)

*Still in committee, as it has been since 1937. Currently the first scheduled project of the revived PRC studio, as the top of a double bill with the remake of The Devil Bat with Jeremy Irons in the role made so famous by Bela Lugosi.

#119 ::: Jo Walton ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2005, 07:54 AM:

SF about war -- nobody's mentioned Cherryh's Rimrunners which is really very directly about war, and by a woman. I also endorse the previous suggestions of Bujold's Cordelia's Honor.

#120 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2005, 08:05 AM:

Spike Milligan wrote a brilliant series of books about his military service in WWII which are funny, serious, profane, surreal, brave, cowardly, mad and hopeful--sometimes all on the same page. They're not available in the U.S.A. for what seems to be a strange licensing deal--Volume 1 was made into a movie, and the copywrite page on the Penguin editions has a notice that it can't be sold over here. Apparently nobody here wants to publish volumes two through six of a trilogy without volume one. (Boy, am I glad I bought mine in London.) I recommend the hell out of them, but have quit lending them since someone stole one of the middle volumes from me.

(Volume 3 (?) has an introduction where Milligan destroys a high-ranking military idiot who publically said it was all lies because the British military wouldn't do any of the stuff Milligan described, and after all Milligan is a professional comedian. Turns out that Spike had been working from copies of the Regimental War Diaries to ensure that whatever he wrote had happened when and where it happened and corresponding furiously to make sure he wasn't misremembering things.)

The books do have lots and lots of silly joke captions by the photos and silly bits of dialog between military leaders on both sides, but they're also full of incidents that have to be true because nobody would make them up. To boil down one example ruthlessly (you really need to read this in the original), during one practice session at a remote location a gun misfired and blew off another gunner's hand. The response from the victim, staring at the stump: "Well, I'll be fooked." While he was being bandaged up the rest of the group went looking for something to bury the hand in, and found a biscuit tin that would fit. They dug a hole for the tin and before it was sealed the guy holding it, in some sort of spasm of good manners, asked the victim "Did you want to shake hands with yourself one last time before we bury it?"

I believe it.

#121 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2005, 08:46 AM:

The Superman teaser, "...Pretty, but really touchy-feely for a superhero movie..", Paula? I can see that, but this IS Superman. You probably wouldn't like the graphic short-story Peace on Earth that Alex Ross did about the Ultimate Boy Scout a few years ago. Well, different strokes for different folks. (And, no, I am not condenscending. I really mean it.)

#122 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2005, 08:51 AM:

Darn. my last post should have read "I am NOT being condescending...", not "condenscending", whatever THAT means.

#123 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2005, 08:55 AM:

Mike writes that "...when SF: the Motion Picture gets made, I want David Hyde Pierce to play me..."

And if they ever get around to filming the spinoff Making light, who should play our hosts?

#124 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2005, 09:58 AM:

Serge, of course I remember SGT ROCK. Anyone like me who was deep into comics during the 60's would, even if the title wasn't their primary interest. Rock was THE "real-world" character in comics.

Not that the "real world" Rock and the rest of Easy Company lived in was that real. They seemed to have served on every battlefront, in every situation, hopping back and forth in time and space.

(I'd place a bet that Kurt Busiek's Old Soldier character, from the Astro City series, was deeply influenced by that aspect of Sgt Rock.)

Easy Company seemed curiously detached from the rest of the Allied war machine, and were bizarrely free of (non-enemy) death and details of bloodshed. (As I recall, it was a Really Big Deal among comics fans when someone in Easy Company actually got -- holy crap! -- killed.)

I also recall that in (I think) one of the "Batman and..." team-up stories in THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD, Batman got together with a silver-haired General Rock. (The backstory, IIRC, was that the eternal non-com had become an officer via battlefield promotion, by virtue of being the sole survivor of an enemy siege on a dug-in position. So much for the rest of Easy Co.)

Did you see the ENEMY ACE mini-series a few years ago?

#125 ::: bryan ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2005, 10:11 AM:

to condenscend is to condensate in a manner belittling to the process of condensation.

#126 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2005, 10:20 AM:

And if they ever get around to filming the spinoff Making light, who should play our hosts?

Patrick is played by Johnny Depp. Teresa is played by Meryl Streep.

#127 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2005, 10:28 AM:

For some reason, Bruce, I didn't have access to many Sgt. Rock stories, but enough to see that, unlike Nick Fury, he didn't thrive on War, kind of like Battleground compared to a John Wayne thing. I remember a sense of Rock being bone-tired, but he had a job to do, no matter what. Do you know the genesis of the character?

The Old Soldier, inspired by Rock? Hmm... Busiek's character has been a rather mysterious figure that comes in and out of stories, so it's hard to tell. But I can see what you mean. One could think of a cross between Rock and Captain America.

There was talk circa 1986 of a Sgt. Rock movie, but nothing ever came out of it. Which is just as well because he would have been played by Arnold Schwarzenegger. Barf.

#128 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2005, 10:30 AM:

Johnny Depp and Meryl Streep... And who would play you, James? For myself, I want Clint Eastwwod when he was about 50. Or Terrence Stamp now.

#129 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2005, 11:04 AM:

And who would play you, James?

Sir Sean Connery?

Meanwhile, on the WWII movies and actors -- Sir Dirk Bogarde (who played LGEN Browning in A Bridge Too Far) had been in Arnhem during the battle as an intel officer.

#130 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2005, 11:12 AM:

Actually, James, MY first choice is Sean Connery, the way he looked in The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, but thinner. Nothing that CGI can't fix.

Dirk Bogarde? Oh, I know who he is. Darn, what's the title of that British movie kind of like 'The Great Escape', but less heroic? Ever seen him in the aborted movie adaptation of I, Claudius? (That was in a documentary included with the DVD of the Derek Jacobi version.)

#131 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2005, 11:26 AM:

Darn, what's the title of that British movie kind of like 'The Great Escape', but less heroic?

The Password is Courage?

To tie in to another thread here, he was in an couple of WWI films: For King and Country and O What a Lovely War.

#132 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2005, 11:46 AM:

That's the one, James. And I remember that his character's name was Coward.

Your mention of his having served in the War reminds me of something about Patrick Macnee and The Avengers. Noticed how his character never used guns and was more likely to resort to his bowler & umbrella? Macnee had had his fill of guns during the War and had no intention of dealing with them ever again.

#133 ::: Richard Anderson ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2005, 01:00 PM:

For some reason, Bruce, I didn't have access to many Sgt. Rock stories, but enough to see that, unlike Nick Fury, he didn't thrive on War, kind of like Battleground compared to a John Wayne thing.

To tag onto Serge's comment above and ajay's post about war memoirs earlier in this thread, I seem to recall that William Manchester, who served as a marine in the Pacific and wrote about the experience in "Goodbye, Darkness," recounted a story about John Wayne visiting a military hospital and being booed by the wounded soldiers there. Or maybe the anecdote came from (coincidentally) another academic, Paul Fussell, who had been an infantry officer in Europe. His memoir, "Doing Battle," was BTW published only a decade or so ago. (Well worth reading too are Fussell's collections of essays titled "Thank God for the Atom Bomb" and "Wartime.")

Along with Manchester's and Fussell's works, the WWII combat-soldier memoirs I've found that best capture the futility of war include "With the Old Breed," by E. B. Sledge (Pacific Theater), "And No Birds Sang," by Farley Mowat (the campaign in Italy), and "The Forgotten Soldier," by Guy Sajer (the war in Russia; Sajer was an Alsatian who had served with the SS Gross Deutschland division). Not quite as downbeat, but an interesting historical read full of Brit sangfroid, is Robert Crisp's "Brazen Chariots," a narrative of early tank warfare in North Africa. ajay mentioned George McDonald Frasier's "Quartered Safe Out Here," which dealt with the Burma theater -- I'll second his recommendation; the book is both witty and deeply depressing. And while Charlton Ogburn lacked Frasier's chops as a writer, he ably presented an American perspective of the Burma experience in his grim memoir, "The Marauders."

To the extent that comic books capture the WWII combat experience, Sgt Rock and Easy Company clearly beat Sgt Fury and his Howlin' Commandos. Same with "Battleground" and "Saving Private Ryan" over most other war movies. But comics and movies have nothing on the memoir....

#134 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2005, 01:35 PM:

Thanks, Richard, for the recommendations. Of course, comic-books don't beat memoirs, but if they can make people think, more power to them.

John Wayne... I've heard that the medical reasons given for his not serving turned out to be BS so maybe that's why he got boo-ed in that hospital... I am also reminded of a biography of Rod Serling, who had fought in the Philippines. At some point in his bio, he is shown going to see whichever Wayne movie is set over there and muttering the the Duke sure made it look easy.

I understand that Samuel Fuller's fully restored The Thin Red Line is now available on DVD. Is it as good as critics say? (By the way, did you know that Lee Marvin served? He joined the Marines when he was 16. Geez, how did HE manage to fool people into thinking he was older than that?)

#135 ::: bryan ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2005, 02:09 PM:

'By the way, did you know that Lee Marvin served? He joined the Marines when he was 16. Geez, how did HE manage to fool people into thinking he was older than that?'

Maybe he looked like Lee Marvin.

#136 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2005, 02:13 PM:

Jim: not Sean Connery. I hold that you're played by Billy Connolly.

Mike Ford is played by Hugo Weaving.

#137 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2005, 02:23 PM:

Evil Agent Ford, Teresa?

#138 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2005, 02:32 PM:

Speaking of veterans in movies:

Hell in the Pacific had Lee Marvin (a Marine who fought in the Pacific in WWII) and Toshiro Mifune (a Japanese Army soldier who fought in the Pacific).

In the movie, the two of them are stranded on an otherwise-deserted island in the Pacific during WWII.

#139 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2005, 02:49 PM:

I suspect that the artists for Sgt. Rock were influenced by Bill Mauldin.

#140 ::: Richard Anderson ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2005, 02:54 PM:

Serge, seems to me that a war memoir presented as a comic -- er, as a graphic novel -- could have a really interesting synergy from the combination of visual and textual mediums.

I think you're referring to Fuller's "The Big Red One." I wasn't impressed with the film when it was released back around 1980, but 25 years have passed, so perhaps it's time to revisit the thing.

"The Thin Red Line," conversely, hit the theaters a few years ago. I had very high hopes for it given that the film's director, Terrance Malick (sp?), was responsible for one of my all-time faves, "Badlands," as well as for the visually stunning "Days of Heaven." "The Thin Red Line," however, seemed muddled to me -- or perhaps I just wasn't able to discern the director's intentions. I'll have to view it again.

#141 ::: Richard Anderson ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2005, 02:58 PM:

Oops, "novel" isn't synonymous with "memoir" -- but you get the idea....

#142 ::: Adrienne ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2005, 03:08 PM:

ajay: I'd actually considered Use of Weapons, which is one of my all-time fave books, but decided that my students would get too hung up on the island of the body fluid (among other things) eaters and not look at the larger themes.

And, yes, I did give away my bias when I didn't immediately question why I didn't include works that weren't American/British. Thanks for providing more food for thought.

Great SF about foot soldiers would be ideal, but is turning out to be too hard to come by -- especially in inexpensive and readily-available forms

I am going to pick up some Cherryh and dig out my Shards of Honor and Warrior's Apprentice. The help has been most helpful. Thanks to one and all.

#143 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2005, 03:30 PM:

Oops. Yes, Richard, I meant The Big Red One. I understand that the 1980 version didn't make anybody happy because it was chopped way down from its intended length. I don't know if Fuller had to do the cutting himself, but I can't imagine he'd have been happy about it as it apparently was quasi-autobiographical. The re-release is apparently closer to Fuller's vision so who knows?

As for Mallick's The Thin Red Line, I didn't care much for it myself.

#144 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2005, 03:59 PM:

Bill Mauldin, an influence on Sgt. Rock, linkmeister? Bruce Arthurs might know since he's been acquainted for way longer than I have. Bruce?

Speaking of Mauldin, have you ever seen in in John Huston's The Red Badge of Courage?

#145 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2005, 04:02 PM:

Has there been any word about a new edition of "Totally MAD" on DVD outside of a line in a FAQ on DC's site? I'd love to quit losing eBay auctions for the multiple CD version and get it all on DVD if possible...

#146 ::: Mina W ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2005, 04:47 PM:

BBC News — Space Designs from ants and squirrels

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/4378162.stm

interesting

#147 ::: Peter Erwin ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2005, 05:04 PM:

Along with Manchester's and Fussell's works, the WWII combat-soldier memoirs I've found that best capture the futility of war include "With the Old Breed," by E. B. Sledge (Pacific Theater), "And No Birds Sang," by Farley Mowat (the campaign in Italy), and "The Forgotten Soldier," by Guy Sajer (the war in Russia; Sajer was an Alsatian who had served with the SS Gross Deutschland division). Not quite as downbeat, but an interesting historical read full of Brit sangfroid, is Robert Crisp's "Brazen Chariots," a narrative of early tank warfare in North Africa. ajay mentioned George McDonald Frasier's "Quartered Safe Out Here," which dealt with the Burma theater -- I'll second his recommendation; the book is both witty and deeply depressing. And while Charlton Ogburn lacked Frasier's chops as a writer, he ably presented an American perspective of the Burma experience in his grim memoir, "The Marauders."

I would (tentatively) recommend Samurai!, by Saburo Sakai, one of the very few Japanese fighter pilots to survive World War II (and who started out flying in China in the 1930s). The only reason I say "tentatively" is because I read it when I was about ten or twelve, and I have no idea whether I would be as impressed today. But at the time, it impressed the hell out of me, and did give a very strong sense of war's futility.

#148 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2005, 05:20 PM:

Serge, I read Crane's book a long time ago. I'm not sure I've ever seen it on film.

By "influence" I mean the art. I remember (and maybe I'm wrong) that none of Rock's company had neat spiffy uniforms; rather, they were rumpled, wrinkled, dirty and sweaty. Which makes me think of Willie and Joe (are those the right names?), Mauldin's characters.

#149 ::: Richard Anderson ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2005, 05:47 PM:

"Willie and Joe" is right. For examples, visit here.

Mauldin's cartoon got wide circulation during the war and afterwards, so it's hard for me to imagine that they wouldn't have had some influence on the comic-book artists who would be illustrating WWII tales two decades later.

#150 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2005, 06:01 PM:

A hard-cover of Mauldin's WW2 cartoons was released in 2000, with an introduction by Stephen Ambrose. I think I'll call my favorite bookstore tomorrow and see if they have it and, if they don't, if it can be ordered.

#151 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2005, 06:30 PM:

Returning to potrzebies:
When I was a freshman in college, in one of those 900-person lecture halls, there was someone in the row in front of me reading '201 Minutes of a Space Idiocy'. They probably got more out of that than I did out of whatever the class was on that day (given that all I can remember is that it was either US history or art history/appreciation).

#152 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2005, 06:38 PM:

I was wondering if that is Vin Diesel in Saving Private Ryan and a quick visit to imDB confirms that it is him. And, yes, Serenity's Nathan Fillion indeed is the wrong Ryan.

#153 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2005, 06:46 PM:

Bill Mauldin's Army, the "best of" collection, and the earlier Up Front are both still in print, though Up Front sold a vast number of copies on release and is usually easy to find used. I have one and have given away at least three others; it's one of the books that I almost always buy inexpensive used copies of, because there's always someone who needs one.

#154 ::: Laura Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2005, 06:54 PM:

Marna, thanks for answering my question.

#155 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2005, 07:00 PM:

Thanks for the recommendation, Mike. And do you agree with Teresa that Hugo Weaving should play your part in SF - the motion picture?

#156 ::: Clark E Myers ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2005, 07:16 PM:

Joe Haldeman comments on THE THIN RED LINE
with asides on Saving Private Ryan on his blog.
The military tactics were handled well, too. Very realistic, as opposed to the sappy fantasy of _Saving Private Ryan_. The weapons special effects were pretty realistic. I especially liked the constant background rumble of artillery, like an approaching storm. I remember that sharply from Vietnam, the quiet menace of it.

On the general topic of Big Red One driving into the McCormick estate - Cantigny on a cold gray morning with snow on the ground and fog in the air was a scary experience for me.

John Masters seems to me unjustly forgotten as a writer of men in war - although Far Far the Mountain Peak and some stories of the Savage family between wars tell as much of the story.

Speaking of veterans in the movies who'd expect that Maxwell Smart was "was the only member of his platoon to survive the Battle for Guadalcanal. "

#157 ::: Clark E Myers ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2005, 07:30 PM:

I liked Samurai!, by Saburo Sakai (with Martin Caiden - if you choose to read only one book of WWII may I suggest Caiden's: The Night Hamburg Died with special attention to the week following). It's worth noting that Sakai called Joe Foss his best friend many years later. Also for those who know the story only from the book that the blindness responded readily to treatment that was long but unnecessarily delayed. I wonder if there isn't a little bitterness in the title for someone of those accomplishments but not officer class - I'll always wonder what the details were of his wife's starving to death.

#158 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2005, 07:31 PM:

So, Clark, it's thumbs up for the remastered version of The Big Red One?

#159 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2005, 07:32 PM:

Was a book ever written about the Japanese-Americans who served in Europe?

#160 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2005, 07:52 PM:

Sunday's CBS Movie, Snow Wonder, is based on Connie Willis' "Just Like the Ones We Used to Know." That's the one where it snows *everywhere*.

#161 ::: Clark E Myers ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2005, 08:41 PM:

If you are asking me for a movie recommendation I'd have to say no - war is too much for an afternoon. See Donovan's Reef if you like Lee Marvin - might as well watch a fun movie.

Of Lee Marvin's movies I'd pick Attack (1956) as the one most likely to be remembered by those who could best compare the movie to the reality.

That said there is a case for the unit not the hero as a focus - cf. Ed McBain's Precinct series in which the Precinct was to be the focus. The author first killed Carella and then brought him back for money (cf Podkayne of Mars - see assorted rules for writers and artistic integrity and money). Given a good deal of input Audy Murphy tried hard to give a broader focus to his own story - see the fight over the stove.

Don Adams story has been debunked to the point of denying some things I'm pretty sure are true but there probably were others in his platoon who also made it a hospital.

One of the points I repeat on this board is that folks like "Mr. Roberts" (one of the great stories, plays and movies) author's real name Thomas Heggen who ranks right up there with David Drake as a famous Iowa Writer (http://www.iowalum.com/magazine/jun04/people_drake.html)

Heggen sent his shipboard stories to his cousin, Iowa novelist Wallace Stegner, who encouraged him to flesh them out for publication. The war novel was an instant success, and the subsequent Broadway play starring Henry Fonda brought Heggen fame and fortune after its opening in February 1948..... A medical examiner ruled the death [May 19, 1949] by drowning "a probable suicide," although no note was found. ........Heggen did not live to see "Mister Roberts" become the popular 1955 movie. http://desmoinesregister.com/extras/iowans/heggen.html

I'd say read Hans Helmut Kirst instead of going to the movies -

#162 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2005, 09:58 PM:

It wasn't really a request for a recommendation, Clark, about The Big Red One. It was more like asking... Oh, what's the point of lying? Yes, I was asking for a recommendation. YES! I did it, I did it, and I'm glad I did it!!!

(I must have spent way too much of my life watching Perry Mason.)

I think 'Lee Marvin' and that takes me to The Dirty Dozen and to Turner Classic Movies's ballet-on-ice version a couple of years ago. It was played straight, which made it all the more hilarious. For some reason though, they never showed it again. Must have been expensive to make, but, like I said, that was the only time they ever broadcast it.

#163 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2005, 10:15 PM:

Clark, Donovan's Reef is on my Amazon wish list right now. I may end up buying it myself, I want to see it again! (Another favorite is Hatari! and The Gentle Man, watched that the other night on DVD)

I'm a real wuss and do not like war movies. I empathize too much. And Wayne westerns are sort of predictable. Well, umm. so are the above three. But I watch movies that amuse me and those three always work.

#164 ::: Jonathan Shaw ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2005, 10:15 PM:

I loved The Thin Red Line, but for idiosyncratic reasons: it was shot in North Queensland, where I spent my childhood. I had serious trouble during the battle scenes tearing my eyes away from the way the grass grew, and was completely thrilled by the moment in the middle of a battle when one of the soldiers notices how sensitive weed responds to touch. Other people were watching a war movie; I was almost weeping at the pastoral nostalgia of it all.

#165 ::: j h woodyatt ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2005, 11:17 PM:

"What's wrong with the Quakers?"

The short answer: the Peace Testimony.

Nobody wants to know the Quakers mainly because 1) almost everyone can imagine themselves committing justifiable acts of violence, and 2) almost nobody really believes that nonviolence is an effective method of countering violence. The people who are so easily made uncomfortable by Quakers tend to be the ones who 1) don't really know much about nonviolence, and 2) don't want to think too hard about how they go about justifying the violence they do support.

#166 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2005, 11:40 PM:

Charlie Grant's War was made well before Schindler's List, and is IMHO a much better movie in almost every way. Predictably it had next to no distribution.

#167 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2005, 02:07 AM:

Was a book ever written about the Japanese-Americans who served in Europe?

I don't know of a book specifically about the 442nd RCT (although the absence of one seems odd), but there is a movie: Go for Broke, written and directed by Robert Pirosh (who wrote the Bulge film Battleground). It's a fairly conventional training-then-combat picture, with Van Johnson as a prejudiced lieutenant who eventually figures out that the men in his platoon are genuine American soldiers. Though one could argue that framing it this way -- making the point that they are like any other GIs, and that some people's prejudice keeps them from seeing that -- is more effective than lecturing on the point would be. You know, kinda like the way SF is supposed to do things, with the expository lumps reduced to a roux.

#168 ::: Marna ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2005, 02:41 AM:

jh:

The short answer: the Peace Testimony.

Well, that, yes. I don't have that argument anymore. I just tell people the honest truth, which is that I became a pacifist like some people join AA, and derive excellent additional work at my discipline by not reacting nastily when they pat me on the head, verbally or physically and tell me I am a sweet dear woman and surely exaggerating. Really, I say, you should have met me before I got off the shit.

What bothers me about the way this played out in this case is not that I got my feelings hurt, cause I didn't. Nerves shredded, yes, feeling hurt, no. It's that I think it contributed enormously to a situation where the principled opposition to the war that was ready to go out in the street had bad organization and worse optics, as a direct consequence of trying to control how we were seen.

#169 ::: bryan ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2005, 04:37 AM:

Is there a problem with the thread the story is in the ny post? because it's not on the front page and one can't comment in it, but older comments do show up in the sidebar.

#170 ::: Jeremy Osner ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2005, 09:10 AM:

I have not been around here for a little while -- appypollylogies to anyone who has directed a comment or question towards me and found it ignored. Just dropping by to exhort everybody to go read Hilzoy's latest essay on failures of will -- it is a response to an earlier, Riefenstahl-esque post by Charles Bird on the lack of masculinity exhibited by Rep. John Murtha in his call for American troops to withdraw from Iraq. An amazing piece of writing.

#171 ::: Jules ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2005, 09:42 AM:

You know, kinda like the way SF is supposed to do things, with the expository lumps reduced to a roux.

So, before cooking, one should mix one's exposition with melted characterisation, then slowly add the story, stirring constantly to ensure no lumps form, before bringing to the boil until the plot thickens?

Everything suddenly becomes clear! :)

#172 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2005, 09:45 AM:

What the heck is a 'roux'? I know, I know, it's a French word, but I've never seen it used in English in a culinary context.

#173 ::: Jules ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2005, 09:45 AM:

(Sorry about saying "the plot thickens.". You see, once I had begun extending the metaphor, I couldn't see any other way of finishing it.)

#174 ::: Jules ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2005, 09:49 AM:

Serge: a type of sauce usually made of flour and melted butter. See here for details.

#175 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2005, 10:10 AM:

And does the resulting sauce have a reddish color, Jules?

#176 ::: Jules ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2005, 10:15 AM:

Not usually, no. Think of the cheese sauce in lasagne, that's probably the most common use of the method.

#177 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2005, 10:24 AM:

Hmm... Then I don't know why a sauce would be given a name that means 'red'. Oh well...

#178 ::: Melissa Mead ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2005, 10:41 AM:

"There are three basic types of roux: light (or what the Cajuns call "blond"), medium (or "peanut butter" colored), and dark. There is white roux also, which is cooked for just a minute to get the flour taste out, but this is rarely used in Louisiana cooking."
(From here: http://www.gumbopages.com/food/ingred.html)

I've also heard of "brick roux." Maybe that's where the name comes from?

#179 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2005, 11:02 AM:

Who knows, Melissa? I thought that maybe 'roux' was a reference to 'roussi', which means slightly burned. Does that help things make more sense?

(From Sgt. Rock to cuisine...)

#180 ::: Tamnonlinear ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2005, 11:34 AM:

Hey folks, I'm trying to hunt down a SF story for my Dad. He asked if I could use my internet skills to find a story for him. I said I couldn't, but I can find people who can.

My Dad has always been an avid science fiction/fantasy fan. When he was a young man, he used to receive several of the regular magazines of sf/fantasy stories, such as analog, If, and Galaxy. Since he was an impatient person, he made a point of not reading the serialized stories until the last installment was published, as he didn't want to wait between issues to find out what happened next. There was a story he read Way Back When that he's been looking for again for some time now, but has had no luck. His information is a little vague, but I'm hoping it will ring a bell for someone here and they'll say "Oh! I know that story! Everyone knows that story!".

So here's what he could recall after I questioned him for several minutes:

The reason he remembers this story is that it seems to feed in well with the modern trends in personal computing and the information age, making a number of predictions that seemed to fit with some of what we're seeing these days. He doesn't recall title or author.

He thinks the story was in six parts or so, published in the early to mid sixties, most likely in Analog/Amazing, though it might have been one of the other (he said Astounding but I don't know if he meant Amazing or if that's something else).

The story covered several hundred years or more of time, told in what Dad described as 'Mitchner style', with successive generations of related and overlapping characters. It was set in America (probably). In the story, personal computers were initially little Blackberry-like PDA devices, organizers and such. With each generation, the personal computing devices became faster, more integrated into human life, altering the course of society. As the machines developed greater and greater abilities, they started affecting the course of human evolution and development to the point that they merged into a single species.

Now the plot sounds like a common enough theme these days, but Dad said it stood out in the early 60's.

Does this sound familiar to anyone?

Thank you for any help.

#181 ::: Lin Daniel ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2005, 11:46 AM:

My husband, in searching job postings, found this interesting listing. It looks to me that a company's home-grown expert has quit and they're trying to replace him with an exact replica. Good luck.

Requirements:

1) At leat five years 5 years' online/PC application program development, or "heavy" online/PC application maintenance, using Cobol.
2) Experience with Visual Basic
3) Experience with VC++
A plus: Net express and C++

Skills:

1) Complete understanding/working knowledge of Ansi 85 Cobol. (Microfocus Cobol version 3.0 or higher preferable.)
2) Working knowledge of Windows 95/98/XP/2000.

=====
Or, cynical me, the IT staff is currently taking up the slack, so they don't really need to hire someone. So if they ask for the impossible/highly improbable, the peons think the boss is really looking, while they're busting their little tushes off doing more work for the same pay.

BTW, productivity stats went up again last quarter. (work done vs workers doing it)

#182 ::: Lisa Spangenberg ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2005, 01:29 PM:

Serge, you're right on the money re: roux.

From the Blessed American Heritage Dictionary:

French (beurre) roux, browned (butter), from Old French rous, reddish brown, from Latin russus, red. See reudh- in Appendix I.

And they said Old Irish and I.E. studies was a waste of time . . .

#183 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2005, 02:32 PM:

Thanks, Lisa. I took 2 years of Latin way back when, in high-school. I wasn't that good at it. Still, it was exciting to discover that words don't spring out of nowhere. And to discover why an inhabitant of Mars is called a Martian instead of a Marsian. And to discover that, logically, an inhabitant of Venus should not be called a Venusian but a word associated with 'social' diseases.

(I understand the Heinlein tried using the correct word, but that they just wouldn't let him.)

#184 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2005, 02:44 PM:

Serge, Mr. Ford,

There's a whole page worth of books about the 442nd listed at Go for Broke.org.

They're legendary, but some of us out here in Hawai'i do get a little tired of ceremonies celebrating them showing up on our TV news about twice a month. This state is insular, but there were a few other outfits that helped to win WW2 as well.

I remember a 7th grade history textbook in Virginia which implied that the early Virginia Presidents were the only important ones; all those New Englanders were ancillary.

#185 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2005, 03:03 PM:

Thanks for the link, linkmeister.

I once came across an article on the 442nd. Not about the battles though. There was this prisonner in a concentration camp who recounts his having fallen unconscious and, when he opened his eyes again, there was a Japanese standing above him but in an American uniform. The man thought he had finally died.

#186 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2005, 03:14 PM:

According to the historical section of the Go For Broke site, the artillery part of the regiment liberated a camp.

"Holocaust historians conclude that the Nisei liberated Kaufering IV Hurlach. This camp housed about 3,000 prisoners."

#187 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2005, 03:17 PM:

Serge:

A roux is one of those basic techniques that will jump your cooking a long way ahead; it's the foundation of most French (or French-derived, as Cajun) sauce making.

Melt X tablespoons of butter in a sauce pan, and heat it until the desired stage, then add X to 1.5 X tablespoons of flour, blend them with a whisk into a thick paste and continue heating briefly until the flour is cooked slightly, then start gradually adding the liquid for the sauce (preferably warmed.) The paste will suddenly coagulate, turn into a lumpy play-doh like consistency, then as you add more liquid and keep whisking it in, turn into a lumpy sludge. If you patiently keep adding liquid and whisking, suddenly the lumps all begin to vanish, and within a minute or two more you have a velvety thick and smooth sauce base - either a white sauce with milk/cream, or a brown sauce with stock. Most French sauces are created by adding additional ingredients to one of these two.

For a white roux you only heat the butter long enough to melt it, for a usual roux (blonde) you cook the butter long enough to brown it very slightly, and by continuing to cook the butter before adding the flour you can make it any color stage up to black. I'd guess "brick" is a colorful name for the medium brown.

BTW, for those whose dietary restrictions forbid any dairy, you can use the same technique with flavorful oils (olive, walnut, even sesame.) The result's definitely not the same, but worth experimenting with.

#188 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2005, 03:36 PM:

Paula HM, Donovan's Reef is my favorite John Wayne movie. I have a (clearly) edited version I taped from TV a long time ago, but I had Netflix put it on my list a while back.

Clifton, after I wasn't able to stand up and cook, I worked out how to make a roux/sauce in the microwave.

Start with a large pyrex measure and put the butter in and melt it (about a minute). Put equal amount of flour in, stir, and zap about another minute.

Add all the liquid to the pyrex and zap for two minutes. Stir. Zap for one minute. Stir. Continue. When it's to the point that it looks just too watery for the sauce, take it out of the microwave and let it sit.

#189 ::: Clark E Myers ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2005, 03:43 PM:

Haven't noticed her around lately but the fan who sometimes posts as The Trinker (gemologist type) has been a real 442 fanatic and might have specific suggestions for those who know her.
The Trinker gets a drink from Mike and steps up to the line.

"I know I've talked about the 442, and the JACL a few times here in the past. Today is July 4, Independence Day in the U.S., and it seemed appropriate for me to thank the 442 again. I find that I'm a bit too choked up to be eloquent about their valor, and to properly express just what their sacrifice means to me, so I'm just going to let their record speak for them, and I've listed some references at the bottom for those who might be interested.

"So, here's to the 'Purple Heart Battalion', the 442nd/100th Regimental Combat Team. Mahalo and arigato, boys. Thanks for living up to your motto, 'Go Fo' Broke!'."

She lofts her glass into the fireplace, and as the shards bounce, for a moment they seem to reflect a hexagonal shield bearing a hand
holding a torch...

* * *
7 Major campaigns in Europe
8 Presidential Unit Citations:
5 of these were earned during a one month period during the fighting for Bruyeres and the "Lost Battalion."
9,486 Casualties (Purple Hearts)
18,143 Individual decorations, including:
1 Congressional Medal of Honor
52 Distinguished Service Crosses
1 Distinguished Service Medal
560 Silver Stars, with 28 Oak Leaf Clusters in lieu of second award
22 Legion of Merit Medals
4,000 Bronze Stars, 1,200 Oak Leaf Clusters representing second Bronze Stars
15 Soldier's Medals
12 French Croix de Guerre, with 2 Palms representing second award
2 Italian Crosses for Military Merit
2 Italian Medals for Military Valor
36 Army Commendations
87 Division Commendations,
1 Meritorious Service Plaques for the Medical Detachment and Service
Company

http://www.webcom.com/akato/resources.html
http://www.webcom.com/akato/442kia.html
http://www.scu.edu/SCU/Programs/Diversity/442nd.html
http://www2.hawaii.edu/~soeda/442.html
http://www.thehistorynet.com/WorldWarII/articles/07965_text.htm

_Honor by Fire: Japanese Americans at War in Europe and the Pacific_
by Lyn Crost
--------------------------------

The medal count has increased some since that post with awards earned but previously denied or downgraded. I haven't checked her links.

Notice Heinlein had an homage in The Cat Who Walked Through Walls and for a while Japanese-Americans were guaranteed a warning instead of a traffic ticket in parts of Texas - the 442 saved a federalized Texas Guard unit see lost supra.

#190 ::: cd ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2005, 04:42 PM:

Another bleak WWII movie: Tuntematon sotilas, a.k.a. Unknown Soldier, based on Väinö Linna's book of the same title. Set in a theatre of the war that's seldom heard about outside the Nordic countries (and criminally little is heard about it here, either), the Finnish Continuation War.

#191 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2005, 05:08 PM:

Yep, that medal count has indeed gone up:

Although the various units of the Japanese American WWII soldiers were among the most decorated and credited with shortening the war by two years, at the end of WWII, only one Japanese American, Sadao Munemori, was acknowledged for his service and sacrifice to his country through the Medal of Honor award.

It took fifty years for the United States to recognize that other Nisei soldiers were just as deserving of the Medal of Honor. On June 21, 2000, President Clinton awarded the Medal of Honor to 22 Asian Americans, 20 of whom were Japanese American WWII veterans. Although 13 of the 20 Japanese American Medal of Honor awards were given posthumously, it demonstrated that the United States acknowledged the important contribution of the Japanese American WWII soldiers to American history.

Most of those MOH awards were upgrades from the DSC.


From a different section of the Go For Broke site.

#192 ::: Benja Fallenstein ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2005, 11:36 PM:

"What I Always Wanted to Know About Copyright Law But Was Afraid to Ask"

This is about international differences in copyright law, which will probably make it a geeky fringe topic even here, but I figured, where better to ask?

So, in my non-professional, IANAL way, I think I understand the following difference in principle between continental and Anglo-American copyright law:

Principle 1 (Anglo-American). Copyright is a transferable thing. When you create a work of art, you obtain the copyright for it; you can then sell this copyright to others or license it for use under certain conditions.

Principle 2 (Continental, i.e. French/German). When you create a work of art, you obtain the untransferable "creator's right" (droit d'auteur, Urheberrecht) on it, which you cannot sell, since you're the author and not somebody else. You can only license the use of your work. (Fortunately, smart lawyers have figured out that you can write licenses that give the licensee the full power over the work and the licensor, practically, none.)

However, I have also made the following observations:

Data point 1. Copyright notices on the first page of Anglo-American books look like this: "Copyright (c) 2003 by Naomi Kritzer."

Data point 2. Copyright notices on the first page of German books, on the other hand, look like this: "(c) 2001 by Verlagsgruppe Lübbe GmbH & Co. KG, Bergisch Gladbach" (even if your high school German is rusty, you may notice that this is no natural person's name).

What gives?

#193 ::: Skwid ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2005, 12:36 AM:

A...um...surreal music video with ample doses of math and other geekery. Is this nerdcore? I think it might be...

http://keithschofield.com/pi/std.html

#194 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2005, 01:36 AM:

With apologies to anyone who already saw this on Pyramid (hi, Stefan):

Stock Footage Theatre:

Following the much-praised guest appearance by film of Sir Laurence Oliver in Sky Captain, it has been decided, that under the First Principle of Liability Law* many more pieces of stock footage will be rented from Blockbuster and copied into new movies. First up: Castle of Dr. Freud, with several performances by Bela Lugosi as various mad scientists in the starring role. Tom Cruise, in what he describes as his "dream role" as philosopher and pasteurized-process literary product L. Ron Hubbard, armed only with his trusty E-Meter (now capable of time travel) and a very large gun, will invade the mad psychoanalyst's laboratory in an attempt to "save the future."

*The Dead Don't Sue. Current title for the TV series originally announced as "Zombie at Law."

#195 ::: Adrian Bedford ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2005, 06:09 AM:

Article about George Bush's Enemies List

I just found this item at Capitol Hill Blue, discussing allegations from "unnamed White House staffers" regarding a 10,000-strong enemies list Karl Rove has been building since Bush was governor of Texas. It's an interesting piece. What I'm left wondering is: is it true?

I remember Nixon and his enemies list (and Paul Newman once bragging that he was on it); Bush's is apparently far more elaborate, detailed and includes, as well as other politicos and their ilk, ordinary citizens, including noted left-wing bloggers (eg, Daily Kos). I suppose I shouldn't be surprised/dismayed by this news, all things considered, but I kind of am. And I really wish I knew whether it's true.

#196 ::: Jules ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2005, 12:18 PM:

Benja: I know nothing about continental style copyright law, and had always just assumed it was similar to the UK version. But that said, and assuming your principle 2 is correct, an easier way around transferring copyright than writing such a contract would be to register a company before writing the work you wish to be able to transfer, then write the work in the company's name rather than your own. This way the work would belong to the company and you could transfer it by selling the company.

Of course, this might not be correct in any sense of the word, but it's an interesting speculation that may explain what you've noticed.

#197 ::: Jules ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2005, 12:23 PM:

It's also worth noting that UK law also has an untransferrable right, that is the "moral right to be identified as the author", which exists in addition to copyright. I don't know a lot about this, but I guess that it exists to prevent plagiarism in some fashion.

#198 ::: Benja Fallenstein ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2005, 05:59 PM:

Thanks, Jules. Yes, (according to my limited understanding) the Urheberrecht/droit d'auteur of works for hire goes to the employing company. But I'm not talking of media tie-in novels here; I've never seen a German book that didn't list the publisher as the copyright holder (except translated works, of course, though they're always listed as copyright owner of the translation there), and this definitely includes works that weren't written for hire. So if you submit into a German publisher's slushpile, be prepared to give up your (c) -- though through which mechanism this works is still unclear to me.

(My "fortunately" was slightly ironic, you see -- I'm talking about the industry standard contracts folks apparently sign if they want to get published :-))

Perhaps Urheberrecht and the Berne treaty's (c) are different in German law?

Anybody else have any ideas? (Still curious.)

#199 ::: Dan Hoey ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2005, 06:26 PM:

Sara Rosenbaum wrote: Tinfoil Hats: the definitive study.

Any idea why they used LRH to model the helmets? Are the tinfoil hats' resistance (or lack thereof) to electromagnetic waves supposed to be correlated to resistance to engrams or thetans or some other sort of dianetic brainworm?

#200 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2005, 06:30 PM:

Dang!

1995 Pentagon report describes the eeeeevil Sadaam using "white phosphorous chemical weapons" against rebellious Kurds:

http://thinkprogress.org/2005/11/21/phosphorus-chemical/

Hypocritical f**kheads.

When the Pentagon starts dumping cobalt bombs on cities, they'll call them "persistent short-wavelength emitter wide-area cover denial munitions," and the armchair hawks will rally to their defense, tut-tutting about liberals trying to deny our fighting men from employing useful tools in the war on terror.

#201 ::: miriam beetle ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2005, 09:52 PM:

ok, this is a hideously long shot, but here goes:

i saw mad magazine mentioned upthread. i'm doing a comic-book essay for my bfa project, & there is one reference from 'nineties mad that i would desperately like to have. it's from a spoof of the show northern exposure, so it would have been in an issue between 1990 & 1995.

so as i recall (parahrasing), the joel character says "... because i'm a stereotypical jew: intellectual, weak, (etc.)."
the other character responds "try telling that to the israeli army!"

if anyone knows where i can find this please let me know?

#202 ::: Jonathan Shaw ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2005, 10:22 PM:

miriam: I just googled "northern exposure" and "mad magazine" and found a frame from Stan Hart's NE parody in the January 1992 edition. How you get hold of the whole thing I have no idea.

#203 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2005, 10:38 PM:

For what it's worth, the Totally Mad CD-ROM set has every issue from the beginning up through 1998. It's also about $110 (cheap) which may be more than you want to pay for one parody. You might try your local library; some archive magazines longer than others (and some even carry Mad). I wouldn't expect that material to be available online (at least, not legitimately).

#204 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2005, 11:03 PM:

Okay, I was wrong; there's a panel available online.

Excuse me now, I have to go stuff some TNT in the White Spy's Mountain Dew.

#205 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2005, 01:00 AM:

Skwid wrote:
A...um...surreal music video with ample doses of math and other geekery. Is this nerdcore? I think it might be...

It feels much more like Free to be you and me, which I falls under something like hippiecore[0] rather than nerdcore.

[0] hippocore being something else entirely, and bound to lead us back to D&S eventually.

#206 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2005, 06:29 AM:

Mike writes that ...The Dead Don't Sue..."

I presume that Sky Captain's use of Laurence Olivier meant they had to pay a few bucks to his heirs so there's not likely to be a lawsuit. But I get your point. A few years ago, when someone took Fred Astaire dancing with a broom (or was it with a coat rack?) and turned it into an ad of him dancing with some vacuum cleaner, there were a few complaints of tackiness. No argument there.

At least Sky wasn't hawking a domestic appliance - unless one considers giant robots just that. It was an interesting experiment to actually do what they did. (Too bad that, while I was watching it, the slight blurriness made me feel like I needed a new pair of glasses.) Meanwhile, I am curious about Superman returns and its having the late Marlon Brando and the equally late Glenn Ford reprising their roles for the 1978 movie.

By the way, did you catch Medium's 3-D episode last night? It began with Rod Serling explaining to us when we were to use the glasses included with the TV Guide.

#207 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2005, 06:41 AM:

Over the weekend, I discovered that, when I know I'm going to spend hours cleaning up my home office's closet ("I had forgotten I still have that t-shirt."), one way to help alleviate the boredom is to play my CD of Bernard Hermann's fantasy film scores (The 3 Worlds of Gulliver, Mysterious Island, The 7th Voyage of Sinbad and Jason and the Argonauts) again and again and again. Unfortunately, one of the scores already had a scratch, which meant having to get my head out of the closet to skip beyong that segment, thus breaking the spell. Or something.

I wanted to get a new copy of that CD for Xmas, but Sue found that it's out of print, although I could buy it for about $70. A bit pricey. Is there anybody on this site who has a scratch-free copy that'd be more affordable? I could exchange it with my DVD set of I, Claudius...

#208 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2005, 06:43 AM:

That serial does sound interesting, Tamnonlinear, but I don't recognize it. Sorry.

#209 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2005, 06:47 AM:

Ennemy lists? Sue's baby sister is married to a man whose parents were from Austria. They apparently were on Hitler's list. Not only were they Catholic Jews, but they also were lefties, and they worked on the stage.

#210 ::: Paul Clarke ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2005, 07:02 AM:

Thomas Friedman, whose prose has been the object of some admiring comments here ("can make your brain seize up and throw a tooth" - TNH) has won the FT/Goldman Sachs Business Book of the Year Award for The World is Flat.

#211 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2005, 07:34 AM:

(found today on World O'Crap)

SIOUX FALLS, S.D., Nov. 21 (UPI) -- A South Dakota teenager has been charged with indecent exposure for allegedly having sex with a mannequin.

A security guard found Michael James Plentyhorse, 18, sans pants on the floor in the Washington High School Alumni Room in Sioux Falls, S.D., with a half-naked female mannequin, the Sioux Falls Argus Leader reported.

"There was inappropriate activity between him and the mannequin," a police spokesman told the newspaper. "That's the only way I know how to put it."

The spokesman said security staff had reported the same mannequin found undressed on several occasions.

#212 ::: Jules ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2005, 08:00 AM:

Serge: there's a kind of resin you can get that you can apply to CDs which repairs some scratches. Have you tried using this?

My other suggestion is to try making a copy of it using a computer with a CD-Recordable drive. Sometimes they can get past a skipping section by attempting to read it a few hundred times...

#213 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2005, 08:03 AM:

Thanks for the tips, Jules. I tried that resin a few years ago, but I don't remember having had much success. Maybe I should try again, especially as this is one of my favorite CDs.

#214 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2005, 10:21 AM:

How long between bird flu jumping species and a US-led invasion of Nephelokokkygia to eliminate WMDs?

#215 ::: Juli Thompson ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2005, 10:22 AM:

I have a technical question:

For the last couple of days, every time I log onto Making Light, all the posts show up as read. I mean that the list of recent post and all the names in ongoing threads are in the lighter blue color. This is slightly annoying, since I use the colors to tell where I stopped reading last time.

Although I have been able to figure things out and keep going (I'm not totally dysfunctional!), it isn't the normal way things work. Is anyone else seeing this, or is just further proof that all computers hate me, personally?

#216 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2005, 01:11 PM:

Wayyyy back when, in the classic "Slushkiller" topic, I recall several people expressing a desire to have a personal look at a slush pile.

This is now possible. Baen Books is starting an online magazine. They were originally going to call it Baen's Astounding Stories, but people who still owned the rights to the title objected. So now it's going to be called, umm, Jim Baen's Universe.

On the baen.com website, in the "Baen's Bar" area, they've had an open area for submissions of fiction in the world of the 1632 series. Some of these ended up being published in the GRANTVILLE GAZETTE anthology.

So they're trying the same thing with the online magazine. If you want to see a slush pile, go to baen.com, go into the "Baen's Bar" area (registration required), and look for the "Baen's Universe" topics.

You can also post your own comments on the stories there. I've looked at a couple, posted at length about one. (I'm not sure if this makes me a critic-at-large, or just a rambunctious audience member at Literary Karaoke Night.)

#217 ::: bryan ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2005, 03:18 PM:

jesus, that baen site is awful - as a site design and functionality-wise I mean.

#218 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2005, 05:39 PM:

This week's WashPost Style Invitational is perfect for this bunch:

This week's contest: Write a steamy passage of a novel that's ostensibly by some well-known person who isn't a novelist. Maximum length 75 words; significantly shorter entries are also welcome.

#219 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2005, 05:49 PM:

"jesus, that baen site is awful - as a site design and functionality-wise I mean."

[off the cuff snarkery]
With Hard SF, it's the ideas that count.
[/off the cuff snarkery]

#220 ::: Betsey Langan ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2005, 06:32 PM:

Adrienne - I'd second the recommendation for the Bujold. I'd also second the mention of "Valor's Choice" by Tanya Huff. According to Tanya, the climactic battle in the book is based on the battle of Rorke's Drift. I don't know the ethnicity of the human characters, but since the Marine force in the book is mixed-species, it's certainly not all white males. The viewpoint character is a sergeant (human, female).

#221 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2005, 02:34 AM:

Speaking of books, I just finished Philip Roth's "The Plot Against America." Unlike Tolkien, who admonished readers that LOTR was not an allegory for WW 2, I think Roth had one in mind when he wrote "Plot," but it was our current political situation he was thinking of.

#222 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2005, 09:03 AM:

For members of the infernokrusher Movement, here's the perfect Christmas gift. (I already know what mine is - the complete DVD set of Gerry Anderson's Fireball XL-5.

#223 ::: DaveL ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2005, 10:40 AM:

Tamnonlinear (if you are still listening), that story sounds like Fritz Leiber's "The Creature From Cleveland Depths" which was originally published in Galaxy in December 1962.

In it, your "Blackberry-like" ticklers (as they are called in the story) eventually evolve into an artificially intelligent space-going species.

The only problem is that it wasn't a serial; it was fairly long though, as I remember. It was reprinted under the title "The Lone Wolf."

#224 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2005, 10:47 AM:

"The Creature From Cleveland Depths"...

I love that title.

#225 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2005, 11:46 AM:

I love the 'Alternate Typographical History'!

#226 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2005, 02:17 PM:

Neologisms needed by sharp young computer scientist!

"I have an urgent need for one or more new words for a mathematics paper I'm currently writing. We are trying to create a taxonomy of existing approaches to hardware analysis, but no actual accepted terminology currently exists. Tradition has it that new terms should probably derive from Greek and/or Latin, hence the plea for help from people-who-know-about-such-stuff."

http://www.livejournal.com/users/compilerbitch/104180.html

#227 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2005, 04:15 PM:

Farming In Space: Space food of the future
Trip to Mars will require astronauts to grow their own food

During the six- to eight-month trip to Mars, space travelers will grow lettuce, spinach, carrots, tomatoes, green onions, radishes, bell peppers, strawberries, herbs and cabbage aboard their spacecraft.

And when they arrive at the Red Planet for a stay of about a year and a half, they will cultivate potatoes, soybeans, wheat, rice, peanuts and beans in soil-less hydroponic chambers, according to NASA's food scientists.

Those are going to be really large chambers. Wheat and rice need a lot of room to produce the quantities they're talking about. (They mention using the wheat for pasta, among other things.)

#228 ::: Andrew Willett ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2005, 04:54 PM:

xeger:
[0] hippocore being something else entirely, and bound to lead us back to D&S eventually.

Please note that for safety reasons one should only learn about it on a properly accredited hippocampus.

#229 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2005, 04:54 PM:

Ahhhh, Thanksgiving gorge-cramming arrives a day early:

When I went home to walk the dog @ 11:30, I packed up an late lunch / early dinner meal of leftover pizza and a big green salad and kim chi dressing.

I was almost done eating that when a Leftover Meeting Food alert went out. More pizza! I almost took a slice but passed, figuring others should get a first shot at it seeing as I had just finished two slices.

Got back to my desk to find ANOTHER Leftover Meeting Food alert in the Inbox. THAI food! Curry tofu and pad thai and a platter of spring rolls.

Why yes, thank you, I will have some of each!

Plus, a grapefruit and carrot bits I forgot to eat yesterday.

I love to go a-gorging
Amid great gobs of food
And as I eat my abdomen
Continues to protrude!

Caloreee! Calorah!
Caloreee! Calorah-ha-ha-ha-hah-hah!
Caloreee! Calorah!
My body is obese!

Have a good Thanksgiving, and drive safe!

#230 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2005, 11:10 PM:

"Cheer up" doesn't cheer \me/ up; Massachusetts, the state I chose to live and that was the only one not to go for that rotter Nixon in 1972, isn't even in the \group/ of states that most despise Bush. How have we fallen? (exit, sobbing theatrically)

#231 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2005, 12:04 AM:

CHip: California isn't in that group either (we don't much care for Arnold, but they didn't ask about him). I thought we'd be bluer than that (but given that most of the interior leans to the conservative side--).

#232 ::: Lucy Kemnitzer ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2005, 02:31 AM:

P J, remember that the three most horrible of Arnold's propositions that just went down in that wasteful special election designed to disempower Arnold's enemies -- all passed in the hinterland counties.

But I think that's a misleading statistic: I think it reflects that there's a greater proportion of people who don't vote in those counties, for several reasons, and when you have fewer people voting, for whatever reasons, those who are left voting are frequently more skewed to the privileged and identifying-with-privileged end.

And, anyhow, there's people in California who'd answer a poll about Buch and those folks positively just to piss off their cousins who live in Berkeley and that.

#233 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2005, 08:45 AM:

_Our_Endangered_Values_, by Jimmy Carter. ISBN-13: 978-0-7432-8457-8

A clear demonstration of why he's *my* favorite modern president. 200
pages, barely mentions Bush's name, never gets vicious or even uncivil, and *still* he manages to rake the current administration over the
proverbial coals. Not to mention putting big holes in their pretensions to "Christian authority".

I have no connection to the book or author, aside from being well-pleased with both of them.

#234 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2005, 09:39 AM:

Lucy: The hinterland counties are more conservative; Wallace did fairly well in them in 1968 (I remember one of his party headquarters on El Dorado county was painted bright red, all over). Driving along highway 99, as I did just before Arnold's last fiasco, you see signs for 'getting the US out of the UN' and for anti-abortion groups. I saw some that were against one of the props (don't muzzle our law enforcement, or words to that effect), so they didn't like some of those ideas any more than the rest of us. (I liked looking at the maps showing voting results by county. Some of them were more surprising than others.)

#235 ::: Lin Daniel ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2005, 10:48 AM:

On a porch somewhere on the Net,
Old friends come 'round, new friends are met.
Let's raise a glass of cheer
To all those gathered here,
And give thanks for blessings we get.

Ogden Nash I ain't, but it works.

Happy Thanksgiving!
And for those who don't, aren't, can't: Happy Whatevers!

#236 ::: Jonathan Shaw ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2005, 04:36 PM:

I apologise if I've missed someone else mentioning this. There's an interesting article about anti-anti-utopianism in 60s and 70s SF here.

#237 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2005, 11:34 PM:

just a thought.

the Military is currently running some commercials about young people joining up (its not really certain if it's service-specific). All the Young People I've seen in our run of commercials are young persons of color. I THINK may have seen one with a white boy but I'm not certain.

And there is no mention of any kind of action whatsover, none. I find it extremely untruthful.

what a message....

#238 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2005, 11:33 AM:

Croggle:
Brown to start emergency planning consulting business
Director Michael Brown, heavily criticized for his agency's slow response to Hurricane Katrina, is starting a disaster preparedness consulting firm to help clients avoid the sort of errors that cost him his job.

I'm having trouble imagining (a) what kind of help they'll get, and (b) why he thinks anyone would come to him for advice, after Katrina.

#239 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2005, 12:35 PM:

He'll get some business in the interest of the party machinery refusing to admit error, and he'll get some business because the ultimate outcome -- the poor people far away, access to lots of federal money -- suits some people, and they can always plausibly blame him again. "We hired him to ensure that the errors would not be repeated", sort of thing.

#240 ::: Lin Daniel ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2005, 01:10 PM:

I'm still watching for the Halliburton connection - maybe his largest client?

#241 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2005, 01:12 PM:

He will make lots of money because of his connections to the powers-that-be. That's what he has to sell and that's what the folks who come to him will be buying. You would think some of them might at least be embarrassed to do business with him -- but no. Not at all. He may be an incompetent nincompoop but as long as he still gets his phone calls returned by the right people, he'll have no trouble earning a living.

I suppose the silver lining is that you and I (the taxpayers) will no longer be paying his salary -- directly.

#242 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2005, 10:28 PM:

Argh, argh, argh!

I've put the absolutely necessary part for my serger somewhere well considered, safe, secure and absolutely impossible to find. I can't be the only person that has a mental process of "If I was going to put an object somewhere sensible, how would I have done that" when trying to find a lost object.

#243 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2005, 01:13 AM:

xeger, finding lost/misplaced objects is a three-step process:

1) look where it should be

2) look where it might be

3) look everywhere

Repeat as necessary.

This in turn led me to coin the Two-Hour Rule: Every lost thing takes two hours, on average, to find.

Some things get found almost immediately. Others you can spend days or weeks turning every square inch of the house upside down, repeatedly, before finally finding the object. (Usually in plain sight.) But on average, yep, finding something takes about two hours.

And that bit about finally finding that lost damned thing in plain sight, on countless occasions, leads me to think that not only are there multiple universes, but that we are adrift in the quantum foam, each and every one of us and every individual object.

That paperclip/ballpoint-pen/cup-of-coffee that you set down just one friggin' goddam moment ago and can't find now? It's just drifted off to an alternate universe for a bit. It (or something almost identical) will drift back in again in a while, probably.

(Not always. The classic example is odd socks in the wash. They don't just drift away, they seem to actively run away from this universe, and never come back.)

#244 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2005, 01:22 AM:

Bruce pondered:

The classic example is odd socks in the wash. They don't just drift away, they seem to actively run away from this universe, and never come back.

Judging by the number of socks I can't account for[0], my guess is that socks are actually migratory beasts and rather than running away, are going walkabout.

I'd have to agree about the 2 hours though - I did manage to find the blasted thing in about 2 hours - and in (as posited) a well considered, safe and secure location. I've now refiled it, in a different well considered, safe and secure location...

[0] Which is doubly peculiar when you consider that I don't share laundry facilities.

#245 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2005, 01:33 AM:

"socks are actually migratory beasts"

That gave me an image of socks flying (in herds? flocks?) south, like Monarch butterflies.

Somewhere over the pampas of Argentina there's an annual sock sighting.

#246 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2005, 02:07 AM:

It has sometimes* been claimed that the famous event of Pamplona, in which bulls run after people and the people voluntarily go along with the idea, was originally intended to frighten away the vast flocks of migratory socks that once darkened the skies. These socks were considered a bad omen, especially the Argyles. Ask any Pamplonan where the calcetins perdidas are hiding today, and you will be told, simply, "Bull." Similar legends surround the kami-tabi of Japan and America's fabled Passenger Peds.

-- Whilby's Journal of Fringe Anthropology

*Well, once for certain.

#247 ::: Bruce Adelsohn ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2005, 04:18 AM:

It is my (unfortunately frequent) experience that the two hour rule for finding lost things applies only when there's no deadline for finding the item. When there is one (especially one after which severe and usually irrevocable consequences are incurred), it takes as many as five minutes after the deadline to find whatever is now useless.

For lost socks, I prefer to believe in the Sock Exchange, as posited by Marc Brown on his kids' show Arthur. Dogs speculating using socks as currency is something that makes the universe Right on bad days. And I certainly believe in the Exchange's Chairman Greenspaniel :-)

#248 ::: Christopher ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2005, 04:20 AM:

Hi,

A while ago on these comment boards someone recommended a book with some practical advice about creative writing. I didn't write down the title at the time and now I can't find it in the archives. I think it may have been recommended by John Ford, but can't be certain. Any guesses? Thanks in advance for any help.

#249 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2005, 08:56 AM:

I thought that all lost socks wound up in Wong's Lost & Found Emporium.

#250 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2005, 10:36 AM:

Serge wrote:

I thought that all lost socks wound up in Wong's Lost & Found Emporium.

You've got a point there - everybody knows that two wights make a Wong!

#251 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2005, 11:27 AM:

xeger, you probably are hearing groans over your pun, but you might find comfort in the immortal words of TV show Andromeda's Seamus Zelazny Harper:

"Puns are the lowest form of humor - unless you think of it first."

#252 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2005, 01:20 PM:

Socks go to The Country of Lost Socks, of course. It's ruled by the Patchwork Girl, once of Oz.

#253 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2005, 02:37 PM:

That Panexa particle, well, I was doing fine until it mentioned "symptoms that look like scurvy, but louder".

#254 ::: Jules ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2005, 04:11 PM:

I think Bruce was on the right track with parallel universes, he's just missed an obvious fact: like socks (i.e. pairs) repel, while opposites (e.g., one with a red stripe and one with a blue stripe) attract.

Therefore, if you place a pair of socks in an unobservable location for long enough, and there are not equal or greater numbers of pairs of a similar variety in neighbourining universes, then one of the pair will be pushed out of this universe into another.

And, of course, parallel universe socks get pushed into this one to balance the books. Which is the only way of explaining how come I have blue socks. I certainly never bought them, and I don't think anyone gave them to me.

#255 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2005, 04:14 PM:

Jules, what happens when socks from here switch places with socks from Star Trek's Evil Universe? (I am SO tempted to make bad jokes about Mister Sock...)

#256 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2005, 04:26 PM:

Have you ever seen some movie so many times that you know it by heart and yet you watch that movie once more and you still find something new?

For some reason, the Spike TV Channel is celebrating Turkey Day's weekend with James Bond movies. Not long ago today I caught You Only Live Twice, the Connery one with Donald Pleasance as Blofeld. The scene: the bad guys have launched a rocket from a Japanese volcano and it's on its way to abducting a Gemini capsule, an act that'll cause WW3; Bond has been caught before he could stop Blofeld, but not so soon that his ninja buddies from the Japanese Secret Services couldn't get in; much shooting and exploding ensues, but Blofeld, with his kitty Mr. Tinkle in his arm, can't help gloating a bit in Bond's face. That's when I finally noticed that the kitty was completely freaking out, digging his claws into the arm of Blofeld who's trying to keep it from jumping off.

#257 ::: Lenora Rose ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2005, 04:29 PM:

Jules: My fiance is another person who periodically finds himself in possession of socks that never belonged to him, or any of his roommmates (Including me). Just so people know - they do go somewhere. I posit that there are a number of people scattered through the universe who attract stray socks. It's okay if it's a low-grade and human case, like Jules or Colin, but it's extremely disressing to that poor amoebic alien who keeps finding wooly things stuck to {him?}.

#258 ::: Jonathan Shaw ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2005, 04:30 PM:

I used to think such speculations about missing socks were funny, but as I near the end of my sixth decade I realise this really is one of teh great unsolved mysteries of my life. Seriously, do you think this phenomenon is proof at last that there really are other universes?

#259 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2005, 04:31 PM:

I've never lost socks. I don't acquire other people's spares, either.

#260 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2005, 04:45 PM:

Serge commented:

xeger, you probably are hearing groans over your pun, but you might find comfort in the immortal words of TV show Andromeda's Seamus Zelazny Harper:

"Puns are the lowest form of humor - unless you think of it first."

I'm just glad that you didn't make any jokes about my undying humour[0].

It's obviously punishment for mentioning socks and lost things in the same sentance - this round through the wash I seem to be down (at least) 4 socks, leaving nothing that can be construed as a pair.

[0] Especially since it could be easily argued to be undead humour, not undying humour.

#261 ::: bryan ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2005, 04:51 PM:

well I have noticed socks in the process of being lost. it is not a mysterious process.

#262 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2005, 06:25 PM:

"And those socks on your floor that you think your kids dropped / are socks that got going, got tired, and stopped." -- Garrison Keillor

#263 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2005, 06:59 PM:

bryan observed: "...socks in the process of being lost:

Please describe. Is it similar to the Cheshire Cat, leaving only its elastic behind?

#264 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2005, 07:12 PM:

When you measure a sock's quantum state, does that change its spin cycle?

#265 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2005, 08:01 PM:

A dumb, non-spoiler question from the new "Harry Potter" film: when the girl's school came marching out I started laughing because their uniforms looked to me like pre-cabin attendant garb--the shade of light blue is to my eye at least a dead-ringer for that used in PanAm uniforms of the 1960's. The hats don't match, however, and I can't find any pictures of the older Air France uniforms to check out the hats they used. Were the folks doing the costume design making a joke, or was I confused?

#266 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2005, 08:51 PM:

I have another Goblet of Fire question.

In the second trial, there's an announcement, on the diving platform, to the effect that one of the contestants had been disqualified.

Yet, this contestant is shown in action.

Did I miss something?

#267 ::: LeeAnn ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2005, 09:54 PM:

Stefan, I assume you are speaking of Fleur de la Coeur. While she is swimming, she abruptly disappears. In the book, she is attacked by grindylows, the same creatures that attack Harry in the film. It is poorly explained in the film - Dumbledore only briefly mentions the grindylows.

#268 ::: j h woodyatt ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2005, 10:03 PM:

As Standpipe Bridgeplate writes...

Give a man a pun, and he'll hate you for a day. Teach a man to pun, and you'll hate him for the rest of his life.
(Via my friend ronebofh.)

#269 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2005, 10:08 PM:

Bruce/Stefan/LeeAnn... Is it common for a 7-year-old to read the Harry Potter books? I know that neither of my nephew's parents have stupidity in their genes so he's not exactly average. Also, never having read the Potter books, I can't tell how difficult for kids of that age to get thru. What's interesting is that Eli is very much into this-is-real-and-this-is-not so I was surprised that he'd go for fantasy.

I've been thinking of showing him Peter Jackson's adaptation of Lord of the Rings, but it'd probably be too scary, especially the Nazgul scenes. Heck, I saw The Day the Earth Stood Still by myself on TV when I was that age and it definitely scared the bleep out of me.

#270 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2005, 10:19 PM:

Did I miss something?

Yes:

--Everybody at Hogwarts meets at the lake despite it being a big secret that diving is involved in the second trial.

--Dumbledore and crew are supposed to be the good guys, despite the fact that, supervillain-style, they test the competitors by making them save their loved ones from certain death.

--Despite portentous warnings about "facing yourself", the enemy in the maze turns out to be grabby roots.

--The evil enchantment that provides the denouement could just as easily have been placed on Harry's bookbag, making the entire competition moot.

#271 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2005, 10:36 PM:

j h, is there a t-shirt of that wise saying by Standpipe Bridgeplate?

#272 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2005, 10:44 PM:

Serge: Depends on the seven year old. I wouldn't start a kid off with visuals such as in LOTR: words are nicely distancing as opposed to seeing orcs being vomited from the earth when he goes to bed that night and for several nights running. Have you considered, say, Freddie the Pig, the Moomins, or The Princess Bride before Harry Potter?

I keep remembering Martin Gardner's line: "I would not recommend Alice to anyone under the age of sixteen who has not taken a college-level course in abnormal psychology." While Harry's adventures don't give me that reaction it might be a good thing to talk it over with the nephew's parents...

#273 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2005, 10:52 PM:

Serge, if your nephew is capable of reading and comprehending them, he'll be okay. I was probably at that stage at that age (a few months older I asked my dad to get me a 'real book, without pictures in it' for a vacation trip and he checked out a Jules Verne omnibus. And so down the SF rabbit hole I went.... to his eternal despair).

I had a bit of a problem with the latest movie in that, even though I know the story, Valdemort's re-incarnation was graphic enough to leave me weeping for Harry's life (I'm a visual thinker.... and yes, you can ALL think I'm a wuss...). I think my favorite just-turned-7-year-old Connor would be able to take the movie in stride. but then he's lusted after every new installment of the movie since we took him to the first one at three years old! He's got a wonderful mind and Jim, Margene and I are going to work to warp him very well and subtly into a fan.

#274 ::: LeeAnn ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2005, 10:54 PM:

Serge... I doubt it is common for a 7yr old to read the Potter books, but a very bright child with ample patience might be able to get through them. I was a very early reader, and moved on to teen-level material at 7yrs or so, but I now know that my understanding of the material was superficial at best. There is enough in the Potter books to entertain the 7yr old who can read them, and if he reads them again several years later, they will seem like new books! I agree that the LOTR movies might scare the Garanimals right off him. By the way, it's awesome that he enjoys reading at all!

#275 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2005, 11:05 PM:

Leeann, I Agree.And I also agree that they'll read it several years later and go, OH, I so totally MISSED that.

#276 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2005, 11:06 PM:

Thank you all for the recommendations for how to corrupt a young mind... er, I mean, how to get my nephew to read. I understand that he's not a lightning-fast reader, but he IS reading. And I think he'll be up to speed very soon. I recently read his letter to my wife, aka his auntie Suzie, and it was so well constructed, with so few misspellings that we were sure his mom had helped, but he did it all on his own.

I wonder if Neil Gaiman would be suitable. No, not the Gaiman of American Gods, but the one from Coraline, which I haven't read yet.

Maybe some Heinlein juveniles?

#277 ::: j h woodyatt ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2005, 11:09 PM:

serge writes: is there a t-shirt of that wise saying by Standpipe Bridgeplate?

Not as far as I know, but you're not the only one who wants one.

#278 ::: Margaret Organ-Kean ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2005, 11:29 PM:

Coming in late, but I hope I'll be forgiven.

My husband and I believe that if you could discover a way to follow cats to the secret dimension where they hide from the vacuum cleaner, you would find all the missing socks there.

The difficulty is in figuring out how to follow the cat.

#279 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2005, 11:41 PM:

I don't think the earlier Harry Potter books would be a problem for a bright 7 year old.

The later ones, in addition to being HUGE, are progressively more mature.

As for other authors' stuff:

Daniel Pinkwater

#280 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2005, 11:42 PM:

LeeAnn notes:

"Stefan, I assume you are speaking of Fleur de la Coeur."

No, it looked like they were talking about Krum.

#281 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2005, 12:04 AM:

Paula Helm Murray wrote:

I keep remembering Martin Gardner's line: "I would not recommend Alice to anyone under the age of sixteen who has not taken a college-level course in abnormal psychology." While Harry's adventures don't give me that reaction it might be a good thing to talk it over with the nephew's parents...

Somehow I'm translating that into "Anyone under the age of sixteen who has read Alice will become a college-level course in abnormal psychology".

I was a precocious reader and fast reader - and my mother still winces about the lady at a junk shop who gave me a book "If you promise to read it all, dear" (I'd already read half the book sitting in the shop, and she felt it was dreadfully like fraud).

#282 ::: Lisa Goldstein ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2005, 01:18 AM:

I wonder if Neil Gaiman would be suitable. No, not the Gaiman of American Gods, but the one from Coraline, which I haven't read yet.

Coraline terrified me, and I'm an adult (or so people tell me). If I was a child I'd probably still be quivering under the blankets. Though there seem to be kids who do just fine reading it -- kids these days might not scare as easily as I did, or maybe I'm just a wuss.

#283 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2005, 09:07 AM:

Lisa, in Coraline, don't the main character's parents turning into something very creepy? I haven't read the book, but I seem to remember something about that from reviews in Locus. Hmm... Parents that turn against you... I'm sure my nephew's parents would love me for exposing their oldest son to something like that. Not.

#284 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2005, 09:12 AM:

Didn't Ellen Kushner write a Jewish version of Hoffman's Nutcracker? I don't know if it'd be suitable for a 7yr-old kid. (I doubt his parents would approve of my showing him the Mark Morris Group's version of the story.)

#285 ::: Kate Nepveu ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2005, 10:01 AM:

Serge asked: "Lisa, in Coraline, don't the main character's parents turning into something very creepy?"

No, the title character discovers a passage to a house just like hers where the _Other_ Mother (and Father) reside.

I thought it was quite good and fairly creepy.

#286 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2005, 10:06 AM:

Well, Kate, I guess I'd better skip Coraline until Eli is older.

#287 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2005, 10:35 AM:

I wouldn't hesitate to give my nephews Coraline when they're able to read. (The older one is 4. I don't know what's taking him so long.) Gaiman has said that only grownups are creeped out, that kids aren't bothered by it at all.

#288 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2005, 11:27 AM:

I don't know, TexAnne... I can remember some Bugs Bunny cartoons of my youth that really creeped me out - for example, the one with Peter Lorre and his furry sneaker-shod creation.

#289 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2005, 01:03 PM:

Serge: Ooh, I loved those! I forgot the critter's name...Buttercup? Dandelion? Maybe the kid would be less bothered if a beloved grownup were watching/reading and visibly having fun. I'm certainly going to read to the kids in my life as long as they'll let me...

#290 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2005, 01:13 PM:

His (its?) name came up in another thread a few weeks ago, but I draw a blank.

#291 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2005, 02:22 PM:

Serge/TexAnne, The innn-teresting monster with the innn-teresting hairdo was either Rudolph or Gossamer, depending on which cartoon you found him in. And the old-school cartoon with neon sign reading "Evil Scientist / Boo!" is one of my absolute favorites. It's title was "Water, Water Every Hare" IIRC.

#292 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2005, 02:43 PM:

Thanks, Larry. I had asked about that some time ago but couldn't remember in which thread.

By the way, a few weeks ago, Turner Classic Movies showed all the WB cartoons in which Peter Lorre appeared. Besides the ones where he played a mad scientist (what a concept), there's one where he played a fish: it was an adaptation of Dr. Seuss's story of the elephant conned into taking care of a flighty bird's egg; as a boat takes him and the tree he's nesting on across the ocean to America, the Lorre fish is so shocked by the sight that it pulls out a gun and blows its brains out.

They just don't make cartoons like that anymore.

#293 ::: Brooks Moses ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2005, 03:45 PM:

[*]

(No, that's not a link without comment. The "[*]" is the comment.)

#294 ::: Nancy C ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2005, 04:09 PM:

Margaret Organ-Kean: obviously, you need to follow Schroedinger's Cat into the vacuum.

My grandmother taught me that there is an entrance from every dryer into a trans-dimensional location (my words) called the Sock Maw. And that is where the missing socks go.

#295 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2005, 05:59 PM:

I know exactly where each cat goes when they hear the vacuum. I seem to have a better sense of my stuff than most people.

Serge, how about Diana Wynne Jones books?

#296 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2005, 07:26 PM:

Diana Wynne Jones, Marilee? Didn't she write the book that Howl's Moving Castle was based on? If so, is there any specific title you'd recommend? Same question to Stefan Jones about Daniel Pinkwater...

I think I'll bring a few of my DVDs when I visit my in-laws during the Holidays... LoTR, The Outer Limits... Those plus Invaders from Mars should ensure that my nephew will never forget the coming Xmas...

#297 ::: Lenora Rose ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2005, 11:15 PM:

Diana Wynne Jones titles good for younger readers:

Wild Robert
Archer's Goon
The Ogre Downstairs (some of the family values are dated)

The Chrestomanci Chronicles (Aside from a vague suggestion to read Charmed Life first, they can go in any order):
Charmed Life
Witch Week
The Magicians of Caprona
The Lives of Christopher Chant
Mixed Magics (Short story collection)
Conrad's Fate

You could probably even get away with Howl's Moving Castle and Castle in the Sky, but the romance element in both is a bit strong.

Other suggestions:
Susan Cooper's The Dark is Rising series and The Boggart books

Books I know I personally read around 7-9 years:
The Hobbit
The Crhonicles of Narnia
The Prydain Chronicles, starting with the Book of Three (Lloyd Alexander)
A Wrinkle in Time (Madeleine L'Engle)
Watership Down (Richard Adams)

#298 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2005, 12:14 AM:

Pinkwater has written (and illustrated, by himself or with his wife Jill) titles ranging from picture books to young adult novels (including Young Adult Novel, about high school dadists) and a few grown-up books.

Hmm. Seven years old? He could try Lizard Music. Perhaps Alan Mendelsohn: A Boy from Mars. Maybe the Snarkout Boys books.

#299 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2005, 12:17 AM:

also good DWJ for younger readers: Eight Days of Luke. (They won't get who Luke turns out to be, but that leaves something for re-reading.)

Serge: Kushner wrote a Nutcrackerish story to a klezmer band's re-scoring of pieces of the Tchaikovsky ballet; the result was "The Golden Dreydl". Aside from having a girl start an adventure from a December holiday party, it's not much like the ballet, in which the second act is just a collection of set pieces; Kushner wrote a complete story. (I don't know the Hoffman original at all so can't compare it.)

Lisa: Coraline terrified me, and I'm an adult (or so people tell me). If I was a child I'd probably still be quivering under the blankets. Though there seem to be kids who do just fine reading it -- kids these days might not scare as easily as I did, or maybe I'm just a wuss.

As noted above, Gaiman has found that very few children react badly to "Coraline"; the one it-made-me-shiver question he got at the last interview I saw (NYC, 9/03) got a return "how old are you?". I haven't asked kids myself, but I can see its creepiness being just a little subtle for most kids; or maybe the loss-of-independence thread means less when you aren't independent.

#300 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2005, 01:06 AM:

I recall hearing a recording of Kushner's "The Golden Dreydl" on "Sound and Spirit," presumably sometime around Hanukkah/Christmas.

Update: Yup. It was performed last year. You can hear it online or buy a CD of the show.

#301 ::: Leah Miller ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2005, 02:46 AM:

Serge, and anyone else thinking about SF for young kids.

I would recommend Narnia before Potter (the first three at least). Potter is good, but I think that nine or ten is the ideal starting age. Potter loses something for people who don't "get" parts of it, but Narnia may even be more magical the earlier you start.

A lot of people neglect OZ nowadays. The Oz books are short, sweet, and delightfully easy to read. They have a lot of really great images and characters, and the books aren't as potentially cloying or frightening as some find the movie.

If you want to stray slightly away from straight fantasy and into the vaguely fantastical seven is a GREAT time for Roald Dahl and John Bellairs. I really can't recommend Dahl highly enough, and there's a pretty good challenge gradient in his works. Willy wonka is a good place to start, but there is also the much easier Esio Trot or James and the Giant Peach. Half the books have been made into fairly decent movies, which doesn't hurt either.

Bellairs writes some fairly creepy mystic/psychological horror which manages to be thrilling without being terrifying and literate rather than schlocky.

And finally, I'd like to weigh in on Coraline. I believe that Neil wrote something on his blog to this effect: kids don't realize how much Danger Coraline is in, so they read it as an adventure. Adults process everything differently and are utterly horrifyied.

This has held true in my limited experience, except for the fact that I read it as an adventure and failed to be terrified. I was much more frightened by The Thief of Always. And don't even mention Caroline B Cooney's "The Fog." That book almost killed me.

#302 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2005, 06:21 AM:

Back home after a good relaxed time away from TV, radio, & computers; back on the net again and catching up -- including the nasty shock about 10 days ago, which brought back memories of more than one death close to me -- but we've just got a message here about a new web access policy at work, so I don't know how much I'll be able to read and contribute in the future.

Hope all the usians had a good Thanksgiving, and best wishes to all for the various celebrations coming along in the next several weeks in case I don't get back.

Maybe the midwinter rites (for the northern half) are a good time to consider that humans have come through some very dark, difficult times before.

Just so ... there isn't a simple word for the feelings ... that we're being dragged back to them when there's so much more that needs to be done to improve from where we are, than have to spend all that time & suffering & resources in the future to get back here. I cannot feel content staying inside the whale.

#303 ::: Paul Clarke ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2005, 06:49 AM:

Diana Wynne Jones titles good for younger readers

I'd also recommend Power of Three, and second the recommendation for the wonderful Archer's Goon.

#304 ::: Bruce Adelsohn ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2005, 06:56 AM:

This being an open thread, and it being That Season, here's the best Christmas lights video I've seen in many a year. (Caveats: loud music (Wizards of Winter by Trans-Siberian Orchestra), requires Windows Media Player)

#305 ::: LeeAnn ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2005, 09:06 AM:

Leah Miller suggested the Oz series - I strongly second that. I loved the Oz series as a child, despite the fact that the movie terrified me. Damn flying monkeys. Lenora Rose's suggestion of A Wrinkle in Time is excellent as well. I'm getting some great ideas here for my daughter. She's only three, but I'm trying to develop a library for her over the next couple of years. I have a feeling that fantasy will be her thing - her favorite movies are Star Wars (the early ones) and the Dark Crystal. She's kinda odd - we couldn't be more proud!

#306 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2005, 09:28 AM:

Thanks for the recommendations, everybody. I've printed your recommendations and will tell my sister-in-law on Xmas.

Yeah, LeeAnn, I can see how the flying monkeys would have been scary to a child. But if your daughter can handle Dark Crystal, she probably wouldn't mind them. (By the way, I understand that actress Margaret Hamilton didn't let her kids watch the movie until they were old enough, apparently because she didn't want them to think she really was a Wicked Witch.)

#307 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2005, 09:38 AM:

Someone mentionned Lewis Carroll earlier. What a coincidence, the gym I go to set up flat screens a few days ago where they play music videos, some going back to the Seventies. This morning, there was one full of Lewis Carroll imagery, and it ends with Alice lying on the ground, paralyzed, because she's been turned into a life-size Alice-shaped cake and the Mad Hatter starts cutting pieces out of her midriff and giving them to his guests. Turns out it was a Tom Petty thing.

By the way, did anybody ever see 1986's Dreamchild? It's about Lewis Carroll, played by the peerless Ian Holm, and his relationship with the real Alice. I never saw the movie, except for one scene, where it's quite obvious what his feelings for her really are. It's equally obvious he hates his own feelings. And the adults can see what's going on, and even Alice senses that something is wrong. I don't know how accurate or speculative that was, but it looked like a good movie. And it did have Ian Holm.

#308 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2005, 11:57 AM:

Teresa: I like Narcolepsy. It reminds me of some of the pieces one of my aunts did (the one that comes most immediately to mind is a serigraph titled Shock).

#310 ::: Harry Connolly ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2005, 01:09 PM:

Ooops!

I forgot to mention that the Dalek porn link is Not Safe For Work.

#311 ::: Skwid ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2005, 02:44 PM:

I can't believe none of you knew that certain socks reach a critical heat and velocity in the dryer, becoming permeable to normal matter and flung into a self-maintaining orbit within the Earth's stratosphere.

This protective layer of fabric is commonly referred to as the Hozone.

Xeger, I'd say that the video is an homage (with leanings towards satire) to FTBY&M, but that the song (especially with its hip-hop interlude) is certainly nerdcore.

Finally, I'd like to call dibs on Topher Grace in the Making Light casting call...not that I expected much of a bid war.

#312 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2005, 02:48 PM:

Topher Grace to play you, Skwid? Some time ago, I had suggested that Sean Connery should play my part, the way he looked in League of Extraordinary Gentlemen but thinner. Unfortunately, I think I was delusional at the time. It'd be more accurate to use Jonathan Pryce or Brent Spiner.

#313 ::: Julia Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2005, 03:32 PM:

Estate [of Terry Nation] director Tim Hancock said: “The reason the Daleks are still the most sinister thing in the universe is because they do not make things like porn.

“They weren’t ever intended to be sexual creatures. It’s simple, Daleks do not do porn.”

Oh dear. I can hear the Who smutfic writers firing up their keyboards *right* *now*.

#314 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2005, 03:55 PM:

Well, those suction cups do suggest . . . possibilities.

[Dalek voice]
E-JAC-U-LATE!
[/Dalek voice]

Sorry. Had to be done.

Those of you who haven't seen the new Who . . . see the new Who. Whonderful.

#315 ::: Skwid ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2005, 04:01 PM:

Topher's a pretty good match, yeah, although I'm not sure how he'd look with the beard...

And I find it impossible to imagine Dalek plungers not having a vibrate function...mind you, I never found that impossible before, but it's indelible now.

#316 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2005, 04:10 PM:

I shudder at the idea of Topher Grace being in the next Spiderman movie along with Tobey Maguire. Will Reality implode under the strain of such concentrated geekiness?

As for beards, I've seen what Jonathan Pryce looks like with one. There was Something Wicked This Way Comes... And The Devil's Disciples...

#317 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2005, 04:49 PM:

Maybe I'll make a fruitcake this year. That recipe looks really tasty. (And if I can find my recipe binder, I believe I have one for fruitcake cookies that might compete well, if you can get a lot of pecans.)

#318 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2005, 04:55 PM:

PJ, the Fourth Wise Man brought Jesus some fruitcake and you'll notice he was never heard from again, according to Gary Larson's Far Side.

#319 ::: Lenora Rose ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2005, 05:03 PM:

I can't believe I forgot Roald Dahl. The Witches is my old favourite. (the movie vs. is one of the weakest Dahl adaptations.)

Stefan: Those of you who haven't seen the new Who . . . see the new Who. Whonderful.
Um, don't you mean "Fantastic?"

#320 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2005, 05:09 PM:

Some fruitcakes are better than others. This one looks really good. And it's a Good Idea to not use candied citron; I've heard the flavor described as soapy. Using dried fruits is probably closer to what fruitcake should be like. (FWIW, fruitcake was something we did eat in my family, usually sprinkled with orange juice rather than harder liquids; there was a slide in my parents' collection showing the dining table end-to-end in one-pound fruitcakes for a Christmas sale.)

#321 ::: Melissa Mead ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2005, 05:15 PM:

Fantastic indeed! I had my doubts, but they vanished quickly.

#322 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2005, 05:48 PM:

Horrible guilty pleasure:

Cheap discount-store fruitcake -- the kind sold in slabs wrapped in plastic -- bought even cheaper after Christmas. Sliced thin, toasted, eaten with a mug of coffee.

#323 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2005, 06:06 PM:

In the first of John Hemry's JAG-in-space novels, the ship's crew celebrate the Holidays by putting a fruitcake in the torpedo tube and then launching it above the ecliptic.

Is this based on some strange Navy tradition?

#324 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2005, 06:34 PM:

Serge, Archer's Goon would be at the top of my list for that age. Witch's Business says 8 & up, but I think it'd be fine for someone a bit younger.

#325 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2005, 07:50 PM:

Is this based on some strange Navy tradition?

The Naval tradition is mostly based on "How long have you been at sea, sailor?" The longer you've been out, the stranger things get.

The other Naval tradition is "It seemed like a good idea at the time."

If you're underway on Christmas Eve, firing a fruitcake out of a torpedo tube sounds like a perfectly reasonable thing to do.

Y'all know about the NATOPS Manual (aka The Big Blue Sleeping Pill), right? It's a compilation of all the things you shouldn't do with Naval aircraft (as in Don't Land a P-3 Orion Upside-Down On An Aircraft Carrier). The usual way things get into the NATOPS Manual is by having someone try it.

NATOPS, because it's meant for f*cking Airedales, starts off by defining the words "caution," "warning," "may," "must," "shall," and "will." It gets even more wonderful and amazing after that. You can have many happy fun hours reading that book, let me tell you.

Or NAVORD 1014, (Ordnance Safety Precautions: Their Origin And Necessity) a document that every gunnery officer is required to read and sign off on annually. It's full of great pictures of turrets after other turrets on the same ship took them under fire, holes blasted in coral reefs where ammunition ships had been anchored until just a few minutes before, and much else that is strange and wonderful.

It works out to Sailors Do The Darndest Things.

#326 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2005, 08:25 PM:

"Young man, why did you agree to pilot the USS Iowa into the Central Park Reservoir?"

"Sir, I thought it was a metaphor, sir."

[With apologies to Neil.}

#327 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2005, 08:56 PM:

Stephan - Eschew the fluorescent fruit and try Alton Brown's Fruitcake Recipe instead. I've had great results with it, and it keeps quite nicely. In fact, if I want some for Christmas, I'd better make it as soon as I get home from the east coast.

And yes, I do spritz it with more booze from time to time. After all, what good's fruitcake that doesn't outgas alcohol vapors?

#328 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2005, 09:20 PM:

John M. Ford's comments remind me that any statement starting with "What sort of an idiot ..." or "What on earth were you thinking ... " or "It seemed like a good idea at the time ... " or "I can't believe that anybody would ... " pretty much obviates the need for any further explanation.

#329 ::: Lisa Goldstein ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2005, 10:26 PM:

Leah -- What scared me wasn't the fact that Coraline was in danger -- it was the whole Other Mother thing. Brrr. But I think the explanation is that kids are much hardier today.

James -- When Gardner Dozois was in the army he wrote safety articles -- the way he put it is that whenever someone did something very stupid he had to write an article about how you really shouldn't do that. So that, for example, when someone pissed on the third rail in the subway, he had to write an article explaining how you really shouldn't piss on the third rail in the subway.

#330 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2005, 10:59 PM:

If anyone could write a pointed, thorough, explicit, and effective-as-a-.50 cal.-through-Baccarat-crystal article on Why It is Inadvisable to Piss on the Third Rail, it would be Gardner. But I suppose he had to conform to house style.

#331 ::: Christopher Davis ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2005, 12:58 AM:

The Naval Safety Center's Photo of the Week is both amusing and instructive in the "what sort of an idiot would..." kind of way.

Their tollbooth picture is also reminiscent of the recent Seattle monorail incident.

#332 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2005, 01:55 AM:

I could tell that was a decent fruitcake recipe when it said 1) "Citron? We don't need no stinking citron!", and 2) to use Myer's dark rum as the alcohol.

#333 ::: Stephen Sample ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2005, 03:00 AM:

A college friend's mother made plum pudding with candied ginger substituted for the citron. Mmmm.

It should work for fruitcake as well.

#334 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2005, 03:17 AM:

Pilot Officer Prune, RAF. You can probably find your own refewrences in Google. Amongst the phrases he popularised: "Any landing you can walk away from is a good one."

#335 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2005, 04:50 AM:

Military health and safety warnings always have a slightly manic and surreal quality. The best I've heard is a muffled warning shortly before my annual NBC qualification test: "Right lads, into the gas chamber, and mind you don't trip on the step."
Umberto Eco had a collection of increasingly bizarre ones, culminating in "Ensure that the guillotine blade is cleaned and disinfected between uses!"

#336 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2005, 06:29 AM:

Wow. So that's how the military's Book (the one that people are supposed to do things by) got written...

#337 ::: Bryan ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2005, 08:41 AM:

"may," "must," "shall," and "will." are also generally defined in technical standards. these definitions have been shown to be highly necessary.

#338 ::: James ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2005, 08:51 AM:

Isn't it a little late in the year to be discussing fruitcake recipes? I was brought up to consider fruitcake as requiring two or three months of aging and feeding before consumption.

For that matter, it's a week and a half since Stir-Up Sunday, for making pudding.

There's still time to make mincemeat, though...

#339 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2005, 10:03 AM:

James: do go on!

#340 ::: Lin Daniel ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2005, 10:16 AM:

My mother-in-law made fruitcake about this time of year -- for next year. They got a rum dousing every so often, and were luscious and moist (and packed a punch) by the following Thanksgiving, when she mailed them out. She doesn't any more, as her health isn't up to it.

And the Fruitcake-as-Hockey-Puck award goes to Mama's sister-in-law, for when given one of these moist, luscious, intoxicating fruitcakes, said it was soggy and gave it away.

#341 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2005, 10:41 AM:

But, Lin, just imagine what joy it brought to the lost souls of the Cana Rescue Mission when it appeared on their table.

This holiday season on The Food Network: The Cake of the Spirit: Yet Another Christmas Miracle TV-Movie. Sponsored by Bacardi.

#342 ::: cd ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2005, 10:49 AM:

James D Macdonald wrote:

NATOPS, because it's meant for f*cking Airedales, starts off by defining the words "caution," "warning," "may," "must," "shall," and "will." It gets even more wonderful and amazing after that. You can have many happy fun hours reading that book, let me tell you.
Well, the RFCs also usually start off by definish "may", "should", and "must". Being precise about what one means and establishing a common context is important.
But what I was really wondering about is whether the NATOPS and NAVORD are available online - a lot of other US military regs and texts are, after all.

#343 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2005, 10:50 AM:

The Cake of the Spirit: Yet Another Christmas Miracle TV-Movie

Starring Anne Heche, Jeff Daniels, Shirley Knight - and Dean Cain if you need a cheesy bad guy.

#344 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2005, 10:52 AM:

JMF: If anyone could write a pointed, thorough, explicit, and effective-as-a-.50 cal.-through-Baccarat-crystal article on Why It is Inadvisable to Piss on the Third Rail, it would be Gardner.

Didn't the Mythbusters demonstrate early on that you'd really need to be unlucky for this particular act to do you in. Something about a stream of liquid really being a series of discrete droplets...

#345 ::: James ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2005, 10:53 AM:

The ingredients lists for fruitcake, plum pudding, and mincemeat are very similar. All of them have a broadly similar cooking methodology (long cooking at low temperatures), although pudding is steamed, and fruitcake and mincemeat are dry-baked. The steaming of the pudding, plus the suet which seals in the flour particles, gives pudding its distinctive texture. All benefit from aging, although mincemeat (since it is used as a component and has no farinaceous matrix which has to soften) can be used earlier than the other two.

"Classic" Christmas fruitcake has no leaveners in it (unlike the Alton Brown version) and relies on the aging, and the moisture from the feeding, to make it edible; it is also cooked at about 275 degrees for over four hours, in contrast again to the Alton Brown version.

#346 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2005, 10:59 AM:

Yes, Larry... The MythBusters did test the risks of doing Number One against the third rail and busted that myth. I think a later show revisited the subject matter with a more continuous stream and this time it did give their dummy a bit of a jolt.

#347 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2005, 11:40 AM:

Earlier in the thread, I had asked about Ellen Kushner having come up with a Jewish version of the Nutcracker. I just realized that I never thanked CHip and Linkmeister for responding.

So, The Golden Dreydl isn't a kid's book, but an actual musical piece. CHip said that this version is "...not much like the ballet, in which the second act is just a collection of set pieces...". I never read the original Hoffman story, but I understand that the Mark Morris Group's version went back to the original, which has Drosselmeyer going all over the earth trying to find a way to break the Prince's curse.

I'm pretty sure though that the Hoffman tale didn't have Drosselmeyer dancing with the Prince.

#348 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2005, 12:02 PM:

Possible Miniature Solar System Discovered

November 30,2005 | LOS ANGELES -- Astronomers have discovered what they believe is the birth of the smallest known solar system. Peering through ground- and space-based telescopes, scientists observed a brown dwarf -- or failed star -- less than one hundredth the mass of the sun surrounded by what appears to be a disk of dust and gas.

The brown dwarf -- located 500 light years away in the constellation Chamaeleon -- appears to be undergoing a planet-forming process that could one day yield a solar system, said Kevin Luhman of Pennsylvania State University, who led the discovery.

It's long been believed that our own solar system came into existence when a huge cloud of gas and dust collapsed to form the sun and planets about 4.5 billion years ago.

The new finding is the smallest brown dwarf to be discovered with planet-forming properties. If the disk forms planets, the resulting solar system will be about 100 times smaller than our own, scientists said.

Brown dwarfs, which are bigger than a planet but much smaller than a star, are thought to be balls of gas that failed to collect enough mass to start shining.

The discovery was made using NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope and Hubble Space Telescope as well as ground observatories. Results will be published in the Dec. 10 issue of the Astrophysical Journal Letters.

#349 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2005, 01:19 PM:

"Possible Miniature Solar System Discovered"

Unsurprisingly, Starbucks outlets have already been established on each of the major protoplanets.

#350 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2005, 01:26 PM:

Speaking of Starbucks... When I flew to Seattle for the NASFiC, I first did some driving around the state. One thing that warmed the heart of this coffee addict is that each and every little town has at least one tiny booth-sized coffee shop. Is that because of Starbucks, or was Starbucks started up there because Washingtonians reallyreallyreally like coffee?

#351 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2005, 01:35 PM:

Those coffee stands -- also common in Oregon -- were around before Starbucks. At least, they were around before Starbucks "broke out."

Thinkity thinkity . . . I pass two espresso trailers on the way home from work. One is in the parking lot of a Plaid Pantry (think 7-11). Another is in the parking lot of a Big Box strip mall. A third, recently closed, was in the corner of a Shell station.

I'm kind of surprised that they haven't caught on elsewhere. Upstate NY could really use joints like that.

#352 ::: Jonathan Shaw ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2005, 02:38 PM:

Teresa: Thank you so much for closing down the comments on that other post. Checking for new additions had become a major time-waster for me.

#353 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2005, 02:40 PM:

What surprises me about those tiny coffee vendors, Stefan, is that they're not all over California either.

#354 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2005, 06:38 PM:

By the way, there's a guy outside with two truckloads of vowels. You want them sent to some of those old Communist-bloc countries as usual?

#355 ::: Christopher Davis ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2005, 10:43 PM:

Stefan: Staffed by H. floresiensis I presume?

Serge: I lived in western Washington for many years. I saw espresso carts just outside the front door of the supermarket. I saw espresso-huts in former Fotomat "buildings". You name it, they serve coffee.

If you had that many gray days, you'd drink a lot of coffee too. That's why California doesn't have 'em.

#356 ::: Lin Daniel ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2005, 10:46 PM:

If you had that many gray days, you'd drink a lot of coffee too. That's why California doesn't have 'em.

We've got a few. After all, we need to stay awake doing a rousing 15mph on our freeways each morning and evening.

#357 ::: Bob Oldendorf ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2005, 11:55 PM:

Stefan Jones: Upstate NY could really use joints like that.

It's true for certain localized values of "upstate NY": there's drive-through coffee hut on US 20, coming into Albany from the east. However, that's the only one I know of, even around this small section of "upstate".

Serge, Larry: there's a version of the "third rail" story that's told about broadcast towers. I've had radio guys assure me that once, somewhere, a tower rigger was killed in that manner.


#358 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2005, 01:31 AM:

The county medical center downtown contains at least three branches of the same local coffee outfit, plus a convenience store that sells coffee (prior tenant in a building they expanded into). I go through a couple of their 1-free-with-10 cards a year, and I don't even work there. These are fixed locations with seating nearby, not carts.

Now, the complex does cover three and a half city blocks, but this doesn't count machine coffee* and the drip machines that every nurse's station and clinical admin area has.

There may at times be a run on O negative, but not Colombian.

*Coffee Machine Music was a controversial Lou Reed album, that, as Lester Bangs said, "dripped caffeine and smelled of burning."

#359 ::: Lucy Kemnitzer ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2005, 01:47 AM:

Christopher: what part of California? Monterey/Pacific Grove is so foggy that the denizens weep for joy when they see the sun, once they've figured out it's not a nuclear attack. When I lived in San Francisco
I got all the sun I needed in the Mission District where I lived, but I went to school and had a boyfriend in the Sunset, and that was legendary fog -- you had to go right up to the houses and peer around for details to find your way around. And Aptos, down the road from me, loses visitors every so often -- they can't see the road and they wander off into the forest, never to be seen again (and redwood trees make fog with their very own chemistry, to keep the temperature around them in a comfortable range)

#360 ::: Chad Orzel ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2005, 11:38 AM:

I posted this to my own blog, but it deserves mention here, too:

The Cavalcade of Bad Nativities

The site also includes angel- and Jesus-themed kitsch galleries.

#361 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2005, 12:38 PM:

Lucy: And the Valley gets those wonderful tule fogs. (For those unfamiliar with this fog, the visibility can go to very-nearly-literal zero in a few yards. Or it might be solid from car-hood-height down to the ground. This can go on for a week or more; the CHP runs convoys on the freeways, to keep accidents (and speeds) down.)

#362 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2005, 12:47 PM:

And on the coast, south of San Francisco, there's the town of Pacifica, which has the very aptly named Fog Festival.

#363 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2005, 12:47 PM:

PJ Evans - I read your comment as "Tule Frogs" and was somehow picturing a kind of miniature frog with antlers, kind of like Tule Elk, only amphibian.

#364 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2005, 12:59 PM:

Larry: Little antlered frogs causing traffic jams by flattening tires -- ROFL! (I wish I had thought of it!)

#365 ::: Tracie Brown ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2005, 01:40 PM:

Inedible fruitcake in the Irish-American musical tradition:

Miss Fogarty's Christmas Cake

The edible fruitcakes I remember from my youth involved several boxes of Graham crackers, crushed, mixed with fruit and nuts and held together with fruit juice and liquor. This mixture was forced into a mold and *not baked*, but was aged and repeatedly doused as with traditional baked fruitcakes. Never had to worry about cooking the things all the way through.

You can do the same thing with crumbed spice cake (slightly stale) instead of Graham crackers. The spice cake version works better for making fruitcake subtleties (edible sculptures). The first one I ever made was a faux dragon tail(inspired by Farmer Giles of Ham), decorated with scales of green candied cherries with citron bits on the underside, candied orange slice halves along the spine and a tail-bone of marzipan. Much safer than serving real dragon tail -- it's really hard trying to outrun a pissed off dragon missing the tip of his tail. Eventually I worked my way up to a 2-foot tall St. Cecilia with marzipan features, hair, clothing and organ (*pipe organ*, you reprobates!), and an edible stained glass halo. Then I quit while I was ahead.

#366 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2005, 02:41 PM:

Jeff Masters has posted a good summary of the 2005 Atlantic hurricane season (to date, at least, though it's officially over) on his weblog:
http://www.wunderground.com/blog/JeffMasters/archive.html?tstamp=200512
I can't find a link to the specific entry, but that's anchored to this month, at least. At the moment, it's the top entry.

A distressing number of records were set.

#367 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2005, 05:19 PM:

I was out and about today (stop the presses!) and on a side excursion into an international market, I found durian-flavored snack wafers. It was a pretty big package, and I hesitated to buy them, but I'll be back in that area on Wednesday. Hm.

#368 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2005, 05:35 PM:

Kip--

Don't do it!

Geri Sullivan brought some durian cookies to a party at Wiscon once. It took me 20 minutes and the lily of the valley that someone walked in carrying to get the smell out of my nostrils sufficiently to even consider eating anything else.

#369 ::: Sandy ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2005, 06:15 PM:

*Coffee Machine Music was a controversial Lou Reed album, that, as Lester Bangs said, "dripped caffeine and smelled of burning."

Actually, I heard Coffee Machine Music recently.

Helen and I found this place by NYU, Caffe Taci, which has "Opera Nights".* It's a weird and delightful idea- opera singers in a 100-seat place with a piano accompianiment. [I'm leaving THAT typo.] Anyway, last time I was there, in the middle of a particularly lovely aria, four people attempted to shush the espresso machine.

* I thought this may have been an actual instance of something that was "Only in New York", but apparently not.

#370 ::: Christopher Davis ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2005, 08:19 PM:

I've seen mostly sunny days on my visits to Monterey, but California definitely has some amazing microclimates. Santa Cruz struck me as being a misplaced chunk of the Pacific Northwest....

#371 ::: Lucy Kemnitzer ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2005, 09:24 PM:

Christopher: They have snow at sea level in the Pacific Northwest. That's heretical.

Kip: a student brought durian chicletty things to class. They were entirely bland. I nthink I've also had durian candies that were sort of like hard gumdrops. They were all right too.

#372 ::: claire ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2005, 10:16 PM:

I know I am slightly mad about making fruitcake at this late date.

But if I make the fruitcake this weekend I might have something lovely by Twelfth Night. It won't be perfect but I am feeling like honoring my folks this year...

--claire

#373 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2005, 11:50 PM:

Christopher: Santa Cruz struck me as being a misplaced chunk of the Pacific Northwest....

When?? I've been through in June and November, and it was clear both times.

I suspect any coastal area can get strange short-term microclimates; here in Boston, my last two exams were warmer when I went in at 9am than when I got out at 12 -- and there was the day the starting line of the marathon (~20 miles inland) was around 90 and the finish line (~2 miles) was ~60. Usually the city is 5-10 degrees warmer and/or wetter than the area around it.

#374 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2005, 01:10 AM:

CHip - The microclimate of Santa Cruz is cooler and damper than that of the Bay Area. This phenomenon is really noticable when it's really hot in the South Bay, say high 90's, and a quick jaunt over CA-9 or 17 deposits you into the middle of a mild 70-degree day. With hippies.

Santa Cruz is one of my favorite places - too bad it's so expensive to live there.

#375 ::: Lucy Kemnitzer ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2005, 10:40 AM:

I can't believe I've got an international forum arguing about the microclimate of Santa Cruz. Here tis:

we are at all times more clement than the inland --warmer in winter, cooler in summer. "Normal summer pattern" is cool fog or haze morning and evening, a strong breeze off the Bay in the afternoon, and a bright sunny three hours or so in the middle. Haze mre often than fog, here lately.

Unlike some places, we usually get a couple of summer rains episodes, which surprises everybody every time. People are also surprised by the fact that it then doesn't rain till the end of October or November and it then doesn't rain again for about a month, and then they're surprised that it just about doesn't stop raining until March and the rainy season isn't fully over until May (they expect it to end in March).

The really remarkable weather is Pacific Grove, where a sunny day is an unsubstantiated rumor.

We had our first power-outing storm yesterday. PG and E trucks all over the back roads I usually take home, so I had to take interesting detours through darkened Watsonville. I exaggerate, naturally, but how else am I going to get justificatory drama out of such a boring weather post?

#376 ::: Lin Daniel ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2005, 04:20 PM:

Jack Cafferty, of CNN fame, just let his listening publich know that the federal Office of Government Ethics has sat empty for two years.

From the website, www.usoge.gov:
The Office of Government Ethics exercises leadership in the executive branch to prevent conflicts of interest on the part of Government employees, and to resolve those conflicts of interest that do occur. In partnership with executive branch agencies and departments, OGE fosters high ethical standards for employees and strengthens the public's confidence that the Government's business is conducted with impartiality and integrity.

---
At least that element of hypocrisy is eliminated.

#377 ::: Laura Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2005, 05:05 PM:

"Shooting the lock off a door" was very informative.

But his "Best way to clean a shotgun" is also worth looking at, IMO.

#378 ::: Julia Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2005, 08:07 PM:

Okaaaaaay...

I've just had a look at the "People who enjoyed this eBook also enjoyed:" for one of my books that was released through Fictionwise last month. And amongst other things I found "Pink Slip Party", "Republican Party Reptile: The Confessions, Adventures, Essays, and Other Outrages of P. J. O'Rourke" and "The Upanishads", which isn't really quite what I was expecting given that my book is basically original slash sf. The two sf books make rather more sense, but someone out there obviously has eclectic tastes. In fact, I wonder if it's someone in here, given that particular mix of interests...

#379 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2005, 10:08 PM:

Opera in cafes: There was a place in Orlando, Florida, lo these many years ago, where the waiting staff sang arias. They were students from a local conservatory, I believe. Some really nice voices among them.

#380 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2005, 11:58 PM:

Larry, Lucy: it sounds like calling Santa Cruz Northwest-like is an exaggeration; I'm not surprised to hear that it gets milder temperature swings, considering that weather comes to it over several thousand miles of temperate ocean. I suppose Pacific Grove, being on a cape, has too much coast -- although the one time I saw it (~3 Nov 98) was also in clear weather. I suppose we had traveler's luck; 17-Mile Drive was gorgeous that day, while the weather the next few days in SF didn't cooperate -- I keep hoping to repeat seeing the city \and/ the sunset from the Marin cliffs (mid-November 1980) and haven't yet.

#381 ::: Lucy Kemnitzer ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2005, 03:38 AM:

I feel like I'm being kind of a one-note person this week, but I'll get over it. The thing that most of the California coast has that most coasts don't is two moderating currents, both a cold and a warm one, and the wondrous thing is that the cold one moves farther out to sea during the winter, which means that the coastal waters are warmer in winter than in summer (ask any surfer). This has consequences beyond the usual insulating qualities of the ocean.

#382 ::: Will Entrekin ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2005, 12:48 PM:

Way off topic. Just about as far as these jet engines blew these cars off course. But I saw this and thought of you guys, and this site:

http://www.flurl.com/uploaded/Fordje_blazen_10257.html

Lines I especially loved:
"The engines will start to rip up the runway."
"Big engine... lightweight hippy car. This should be fun."

#383 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2005, 01:42 PM:

Will - Thanks! Amazing clip.

#384 ::: Clifton sees spam ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2014, 01:11 PM:

In a weird mix of Chinese and some Scandinavian language? Plus there's a spam from 2013 which evidently got missed by the overworked gnomes.

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