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May 20, 2006

Open thread ’65
Posted by Patrick at 12:02 AM *

This happened once before.

Comments on Open thread ’65:
#1 ::: Dave Weingart ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2006, 12:33 AM:

What goes around, comes around?

#2 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2006, 12:34 AM:

Same as it ever was.

#3 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2006, 12:36 AM:

Or "Let's do the time warp... again"? (By the way, I wonder how Charles Gray wound up in The Rocky Horror Picture Show.)

#4 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2006, 12:36 AM:

Oh, come on. See the light.

#5 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2006, 12:38 AM:

More clues, please...

#6 ::: julia ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2006, 12:38 AM:

Once upon a time there was nothing. Then it exploded.

#7 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2006, 12:43 AM:

I don't know, julia. I thouight the idea of the Big Bang to be followed by a Big Crunch then by a Big Bang was pretty much kaput. Too bad because that shoots down Moorcock's short story of 1970, Last Vigil.)

#9 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2006, 12:58 AM:

Oh, dear, what can they do??

#10 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2006, 01:00 AM:

And I'm feeling blue.

#11 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2006, 01:02 AM:

#include "cheesy organ solo"

#12 ::: Russell Letson ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2006, 01:09 AM:

I nearly died.

#13 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2006, 01:13 AM:

What kind of schlamiel throws away a canvas work jacket like this?

http://home.comcast.net/~stefan_jones/tan_jacket_lo.jpg

#14 ::: Madeleine Robins ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2006, 01:22 AM:

Cause you walked hand in hand with another man in my place.

#15 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2006, 01:27 AM:

"We have all been here before, we have all been here before...."

#16 ::: julia ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2006, 01:45 AM:

how long will it take til she sees the mistake she has made?

#17 ::: Rich McAllister ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2006, 02:05 AM:

"Have you seen the flags of freedom? What color are they now?"

#18 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2006, 02:48 AM:

"When I came to your door
"No reply."

Posted before I looked at Patrick's Wikipedia link, I swear it!

#19 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2006, 02:52 AM:

And we gazed upon the chimes of freedom flashing

#20 ::: Darkhawk ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2006, 02:59 AM:

No reply.

(This is sort of meta and existential, isn't it?)

#21 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2006, 03:01 AM:

The average length of a CD these days is 70 minutes or so; did you notice the length of the entire album over there at Wikipedia? 26 minutes, 10 seconds. Man, Inna-Gadda-da-Vida lasted that long, didn't it?

#22 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2006, 03:04 AM:

Stefan - Looks like you're posing for a self-pic that's fully compliant with the code of myspace.

#23 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2006, 03:05 AM:

Linkmeister: IIrc, the length of Inna-Gadda-da-Vida was proportional to the amount and type of chemical stimulus ingested by the person listening. If you were not stoned, it went on forever, or until you left the room. If you were stoned, it went on forever...

#24 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2006, 03:15 AM:

Lizzie, you're probably right. It sure wasn't danceable for its full length without chemical help. Chicago's Beginnings, on the other hand...

(My fraternity's live band budget was pretty small; maybe two per semester. The rest of the time it was albums. There was always enough for a keg and punch, though.)

#25 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2006, 03:46 AM:

Welcome, one and all, to the far-flung future of....1965!!

#26 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2006, 04:09 AM:

In Horkstow Grange there lived an old miser
You all do know him as I have heard say

#27 ::: Lois Aleta Fundis ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2006, 05:10 AM:

I seem to be late to the party, but I recognized the quote right away.

Maybe I should follow with "I don't want to spoil the party so I'll go." But before I go, two nuggets:

(a) This week was the 40th -- yes, fortieth -- anniversary of the release of Pet Sounds.

And (b) I expect we shall all get our kicks from the next Open Thread.

#28 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2006, 08:39 AM:

The Big Bounce theory is making a comeback. See http://www.science.psu.edu/alert/Ashtekar5-2006.htm

#29 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2006, 08:43 AM:

Cause I know where you've been
And I saw you walk in
Your window.

(Every time I hear it, I hear that.)

Tangent: I picked up an LP by Gordon Jenkins years ago at Wax Trax in Denver for a dollar. I took a chance on it because of "A Little Touch of Schmilsson In The Night" for which Jenkins did the arrangements and wrote one of the best songs, "This Is All I Ask." Every now and then, Ned Brooks used to remark that he couldn't get hold of the record himself, and I'd resolve to make him a copy. This year I did it. I burned it to mp3, and since Ned claims not to savvy mp3s, I made an audio CD out of it, including cover art and liner notes. I did this twice, having lost the first one I made while it was sitting around.

So yesterday I was following links from the WFMU blog to the Virtual Sex Museum to see Harold Lloyd's nude photography, and in one of the inside shots, there it was -- the album cover for Seven Dreams, the album in question. Which, incidentally, includes voice work by Thurl Ravenscroft, aka "Tony the Tiger" (who did the songs for the Grinch), and Dickie Beals, who for years did kid voices for MGM cartoons.

So I thought that was kind of keen, anyway. (Can't find a real link to Seven Dreams, but the Wikipedia article on Jenkins mentions that he also did the arrangement for Nat King Cole's gorgeous rendition of "When I Fall In Love.")

#30 ::: Michael Weholt ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2006, 09:15 AM:

I have an incredibly stupid, inane, useless, dull, pedestrian, uninteresting question...

Why is there a "forward-quote" or whatever you call it in "Open thread ‘65"? Is that a typing error, or does that have a meaning I'm not familiar with?

Signed,
Confused

#31 ::: Michael Weholt ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2006, 09:16 AM:

Oh, wait. Never mind. I just got it. Duh.

#33 ::: Michael Weholt ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2006, 09:56 AM:

adamsj: Freddie's dead

And from that:

A family friend ... paid tribute to the star, who was famed for his manic dance routine, which he called "the Freddie".

Have these people no sense of history? The Freddie was not "manic". Dumb, maybe. Stupid, perhaps. But manic? No, not by any reasonable definition of the word. Think: Big Bird taking a stab at actually flying.

#34 ::: Bruce Adelsohn ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2006, 10:41 AM:

Staying within the vein of rock and/or roll, I've been astonished in the past several days by the amount of music video (not all of it professional, not all of it good, with some overlap in all directions) at YouTube (prompted by this listing of 80s music videos posted there. The listing is far from complete -- search on an artist's name at YouTube to find more -- and some of what's there are real gems. (For example, I finally got to see Peter Gabriel in the infamous flower costume during Supper's Ready.) (Okay. So I was really prompted to go over there when I saw an embedded Mike Jittlov video I'd never seen in a blog post, and then found even more of his work at the site. But I digress.) (One last digression. You can save YouTube videos via this site. They'll be .flv files, and there's a link at that site to a .flv player you can download. I'm not advocating that anyone steal copyrighted material, however.)

#35 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2006, 10:49 AM:

It was a "forward-quote" because I made a mistake. It should be a proper apostrophe, and now it is.

#36 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2006, 10:54 AM:

Patrick, Michael didn't get that you were referring to the year.

#37 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2006, 11:01 AM:

Gods on Earth! "The Ciphere of Leonardo" is fantastic! Everyone go look at it right now!

#38 ::: Michael Weholt ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2006, 11:11 AM:

If I may just further parse this transaction to within an inch of its miserable tiny life, you are right, Xopher, but I took Patrick's comment as an indication that he understood my confusion (subsequently self-resolved), but that he had, while looking into the matter, discovered that he had erred on the side of non-apostrophe, something that I wouldn't have noticed, but being a professional, he would and did notice, and so he fixed it, and then proceeded to point out the correction for the benefit of others who might have noticed his mistake and appreciate the correction. As I understand it, copy editors are crawling all over this place.

Next: head of pin, angels on.

#39 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2006, 11:19 AM:

[further discussion of a tiny punctuation mark deleted here]

Poor horsie.

#40 ::: Erik V. Olson ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2006, 11:52 AM:

Beatles? Got nothing.

Explosions? That I can help with. We've discussed Sodium and Posstasium. Braniac meets their angrier big brothers.

(The explanation on Francium is bogus, though -- the real problem with Francium is the fact that maybe 500g of Francium exists in the entire earth at any one given time. Having said that, I wouldn't drop 2g into a tub without a very long pole. Note how our "experimenter" uses a longish pole -- then wisely drops it, because carrying stuff slows you down when you're running.)

#41 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2006, 11:53 AM:

Considering my age back in '65, there wasn't much to that year except the Beatles! So I immediately thought of them, but didn't catch the quote till later. (Yes, I know plenty of other things happened, but as a teen I was paying most of my attention to music, Mods and movies.)

#42 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2006, 12:53 PM:

Stefan:

Someone who commmitted a crime in it and wasn't sure they got all the bloodstains out?

#43 ::: tavella ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2006, 02:02 PM:

The Brainiac video is highly entertaining. Though I did get the potassium/water demo in person, not on video. But then I went to school in the days before they stripped all the really fun chemicals out of school storage rooms.

#44 ::: HP ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2006, 02:54 PM:

Kip W: I would gladly commit the murder of your choice for mp3s of Thurl Ravenscroft singing Gordon Jenkin's music. I don't think my alley has ever had anything more right up it.

Or perhaps we could arrange a trade? I've got some mp3s of Thurl singing pirate songs, tons of Paul Frees, or a rare high-brow performance by Daws Butler as Toby Dammit in Poe's Never Bet the Devil Your Head. Or make a request, and I'll see if I have it.

Email in username if you're interested.

#45 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2006, 03:39 PM:

Since this is an open thread... How is the movie version of The Da Vinci Code? The critical consensus isn't exactly encouraging. In spite of the movie having Tom Hanks sporting a mullet.

#46 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2006, 03:50 PM:

Serge: I am so not going to see that movie. But I will be curious (yellow) to know what my friends say about it.

#47 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2006, 03:58 PM:

Well, do let me know what your friends say, Lizzie L. Its rating on Rotten Tomatoes is rather low. Of course The Core had a very bad rating too and I enjoyed it immensely, bad science and all. True, it did have a character with the same name as yours truly. Quite a rare occurence. I think the last time was for Bronson Pinchot's hairdresser character in Beverly Hills Cop.

#48 ::: bonniers ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2006, 04:29 PM:

I can't get no...

#49 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2006, 04:42 PM:

"Someone who commmitted a crime in it and wasn't sure they got all the bloodstains out?"

I checked for bullet holes, blood stains, drug paraphenalia and the like. Washed it with color-safe bleach, checked the pockets once more, and tried it on. If it didn't fit, I would have donated it to Goodwill. As it is, it is a good winter dog-walk coat. Lots of pockets . . .

#50 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2006, 04:59 PM:

"a good winter dog-walk coat. Lots of pockets"

You put the dog(s) in your pockets?

#51 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2006, 05:04 PM:

Since it's an Open Thread:

"Barry Bonds tied Babe Ruth for second place on the career home run list Saturday with his 714th homer, a solo shot into the right-field seats leading off the second inning."

Brad Halsey of the Athletics was the unfortunate victim.

#52 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2006, 05:06 PM:

Hmmm, I could probably fit four or five chihuahuas in there . . .

Seriously, lots of jacket pockets come in handy when you're wearing a pocketless sweat suit underneath, which I do on my morning walks.

#53 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2006, 05:11 PM:

My local PBS station had a ball cap with two zippered pockets as a premium recently; pockets are indeed a good thing.

#54 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2006, 05:12 PM:

The Braniac video was amusing. On Mr. Ford's recommendation in an earlier thread, I set my DVR to harvest some episodes on G4 and all I can say is that it's amusing, but light on actual explanations. Except for the stuff getting blowed up part, I tend to fast forward through it.

I'll stick to Mythbusters, where they at least explain what they're up to.

#55 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2006, 05:16 PM:

Linkmeister: My local PBS station had a ball cap with two zippered pockets as a premium recently

Envisioning a ball cap with flappy pockets hanging down like earflaps, or sticking out like Princess Leia's hairdo.

#56 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2006, 05:22 PM:

Grins. Nah, not in Hawai'i. Think watch pockets.

#57 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2006, 05:31 PM:

True, it did have a character with the same name as yours truly. Quite a rare occurence.

But at least your place in electronic music is secure...

#58 ::: Michelle K ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2006, 05:47 PM:

pockets are indeed a good thing

Pockets are a very good thing. But it's ridiculously hard to find women's jackets with decent pockets. They're either these tiny little things that are hardly large enough to hold a wallet, no less a paperback book, or else there aren't enough of them.

My husband doesn't understand why I hoard jackets--it's because I have such a hard time finding decent ones.

#59 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2006, 05:54 PM:

A Serge Modular, Tim? I like that. Once I shut a database that users were still working with and one of them said jokingly they needed a Serge protector.

#60 ::: Glenn Harrison ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2006, 06:33 PM:

Hi, all. Short-time lurker, first-time commenter.
Pockets are indeed a good thing, but I've noticed that, in the last decade or so, it's become increasingly difficult to put a book in your back pocket - the only books that seem to fit are media tie-ins (mostly Star Trek, Doctor Who, or Buffy novels - Star Wars ones seem to be too thick). Pretty much anything is either too thick (I can't even force a Peter F. Hamilton into the thigh pocket of my cargo pants!) or too large (say, John Scalzi's "Old Man's War" - perfect thickness, but too wide).

Is that depressing, or just a sign of the times?
Oh well, at least I can roll up an Interzone; that fits quite nicely!

#61 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2006, 06:45 PM:

My first attempt to write about my found jacket was actually about my found jackets. It was bounced because of "Questionable Content." Apparently due to the name "black jacket."

So, here is the other jacket I found by a dumpster. A sturdy black duck windbreaker, again, in perfect condition.

(Hmm, it looks like the content filter just doesn't like links my web space.)

Now I need to be on the lookout for a Hawaiian shirt with lots of pockets for summertime walking . . .

#62 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2006, 06:52 PM:

Stefan, I'll keep my eye out for one for you. Most aloha shirts have a single breast pocket, but you never know.

#63 ::: Glenn Harrison ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2006, 06:54 PM:

(Not that I read media tie-in novels, but I have to handle a lot of them at work. I feel so unclean...)

#64 ::: HP ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2006, 07:07 PM:

Serge, on the subject of hearing one's name in a work of fiction: I've been getting into SF and Horror radio dramas quite a bit lately, and a few months ago I was listening to Mystery in the Air while I was doing some chores, and was stunned to hear the eminently imitable Peter Lorre say, "Yesss, the Reverend Howard Pierce is dead -- murdered -- and I keeeeelled him!"

First name, last name, and I get to be a fictional murdered minister. Peter Lorre killed me! Needless to say, it is my favorite piece of audio in the whole wide world.

#65 ::: HP ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2006, 07:20 PM:

By the way, assuming I'm not the only one addicted to X Minus One and Quiet, Please, I'd just like to point out to genre audio fans that the indefatigable ZombieAstronaut has survived Hurricane Katrina, hosting problems, and an automobile accident to return to the web, now via LiveJournal, here.

Zombie Astronaut was the guy who got me beyond striving to hear the occasional episode of Lights Out on my local NPR station and on to serious collecting. He's managed to recreate the look and feel of his orignal site using the LiveJournal tools, complete with his terrific commentary.

#66 ::: Vian ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2006, 07:32 PM:

I think I'll test the limits to the Openness of this thread.

A propos of nothing in particular, look who won the Eurovision Song Contest

I'm a little disappointed, but only because I was going for the

...... Spoiler of a sort follows .........

(telling you who didn't win in a field of 32 is still a spoiler, right?)


...... stop reading now if you're saving your eyes for the telecast ..........

Lithuanians, who seem to have shown real fighting spirit.

#67 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2006, 08:22 PM:

Vian, that winning performance is ... something else again. Buffy meets LOTR meets Spinal Tap. Woo.

Here's the band's own video of that song.

#68 ::: mary ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2006, 08:24 PM:

Open thread! Insert random tidbit...

Today I was visiting my 93-year-old next-door neighbor, while a man and his two sons were doing some yardwork for her. She said they were from her church (she's Mormon) and volunteered their time--it didn't cost her anything. When they were finished, the man walked over and she introduced us. Of no interest at all here, except that she called him "Brother Nielsen", heh, so I thought of our hostess.

That's it. That's all I got. Sorry.

#69 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2006, 09:06 PM:

Today's imposition on everybody's patience:

Well we had heroes then, and were too young for girls
But a helmet let you breathe the night on alien worlds
We were set to raise ship, and our blasters were hot
While Tom Corbett fought a Mercurian plot
Tom Corbett’s in heaven and I'm in limbo now

The book said that You Will Go To The Moon
I hope the bus is coming soon, ‘cause it’s my Earth’s long afternoon
We spent our youth dreaming of a ticket to ride
And found that the pork was all done on that side
Tom Corbett's in heaven and I'm in limbo now

Hard times, hard future times
Living in orbit on nickels and dimes
Can't close my eyes on the Moon and the stars
For a soap-bubble promise of a mission to Mars

Old dreams, they don’t die easy
Most folks don’t care, I say, was you there
The builders pack up and get their contracts elsewhere
Our jets are half spaceships, but what are they for
To shoot down the Russians from the last pretend war
Tom Corbett’s in heaven and I'm in limbo now

Budgets get cut, and orbits decay
Looks so much better on film anyway
While people believe it was all for some rocks
Spirit is limping, Opportunity knocks

Well I can see me now, I'm striking out for Venus
I wander the Belt in an evergreen Now
Footprints in Moondust and gold on my brow
And there's Cadet Corbett, he gives me a wave
And a new day is dawning and the planet is saved
Tom Corbett’s in heaven and I'm in limbo now

#70 ::: Jon H ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2006, 10:08 PM:

Everyone check out this picture of the Eurovision contest winners...

Imagine GWAR winning a beauty contest...

#71 ::: Dr Paisley ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2006, 10:08 PM:

John, that's just beautiful. I could hear RT in my head as I read it.

#72 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2006, 10:11 PM:

Mr. Ford, I'm verklempt here now. but Very Good Job on Tom Corbett. Thanks.

#73 ::: candle ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2006, 10:27 PM:

"The Ciphere of Leonardo" is fantastic!

Very nice. But... Saunierye? Saunieyre? Sauyniere? Y does the Y keep moving backwards in his name?

Is it for authenticity's sake or is there scope for some unofficial cryptography of our own?

Meanwhile, I second Geoffrey Chaucer's recommendation of the Mountain Goats, although not so much "Cubs in Five". They are playing in Portland the day after I leave Oregon for good. Damn them.

#74 ::: Dave Weingart ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2006, 10:46 PM:

I was watching a stream of Eurovision.

Mutant Klingons! I still think Norway should have one.

#75 ::: Stephen Frug ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2006, 10:54 PM:

I know it's passed by, but one more comment on the Beatles quote that began this thread:

I got the quote right away... but not the "65" relevance, because I have the Beatles on CD, which follows the UK not the US album releases, and "Beatles '65" wasn't an album at all. "No Reply" was on "Beatles for Sale" -- released in 1964.

I guess it's a generation thing.

#76 ::: cap ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2006, 11:06 PM:

Xopher: Barbaro?

I, watching the replays on tv, was absolutely devastated. I cannot imagine how his people feel.

#77 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2006, 11:28 PM:

I just got home, checked in to ML, and found the news about Barbero. I am so sad. He is a great horse -- I hope they can save him. I no longer have a TV so I will not watch the replay, but I don't need to. :-(

#78 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2006, 11:32 PM:

I grant you (in re the Particle called "Google Trends: the real hierarchy of values") that immigration ranks well behind sex, food, money, and terrorism in the lists of things people search for on Google.

And yet!

Immigration ranks well ahead of frottage, crepes, aluminum siding, and bin Laden as matters of public concern. (On at least two occassions over the past couple of years, crepes have ranked ahead of bin Laden.)

#79 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2006, 11:34 PM:

HP... If one is going to be bumped off, I'd say that having Peter Lorre do the bumping off is a great way to go.

#80 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2006, 11:46 PM:

We are not worthy of Mike Ford. Retreats, making signs of admiration and not-worthiness. OMG. WTF. BBQ.

#81 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2006, 11:48 PM:

(Also LBJ, IRT, youth of America on LSD.)

#82 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2006, 11:49 PM:

Tom Corbett's in heaven. Damn, that's gorgeous.

#83 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2006, 11:56 PM:

"I got the quote right away... but not the '65' relevance, because I have the Beatles on CD, which follows the UK not the US album releases, and 'Beatles '65' wasn't an album at all."

Ahem, you silly person.

#84 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2006, 12:06 AM:

"Beatles '65" was certainly an album that year. I have it, along with about 4 inches of other pieces of vinyl (several of which have 'Beatles' on the jacket). Not a complete set.

#85 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2006, 12:33 AM:

cap: no, that hadn't happened and/or I hadn't heard. The horsie I was referring to was strictly metaphorical.

HP, you should make it your outgoing message on your voicemail.

#86 ::: Jeffrey Smith ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2006, 12:35 AM:

I can name that song in zero notes.

As soon as I logged onto the front page and saw the apostrophe in the title, I said, hmm, Beatles open threads two in a row.

#87 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2006, 12:41 AM:

Is anyone here old enough to have seen Tom Corbett? Or Rocky Jones? Or the Video Ranger?

I have some 1950ish Flash Gordon adventures on dollar-store DVD; they were filmed (in West Berlin!) and so survived better than the the domestic live shows.

Apparently, there's a vigorous fan base, and they have conventions:

http://www.solarguard.com/2006sgreunion/index.html

#88 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2006, 12:53 AM:

From the LA Times obit: At his request, Thomas was buried Tuesday in his "Tom Corbett, Space Cadet" costume.

#89 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2006, 01:07 AM:

Stefan: No, I'm not quite that old, though I had some Tom Corbett books when I was . . . young enough not to yet know who Robert Heinlein was. (I found out pretty soon thereafter.) The stuff warps you (and sometimes makes you a weftist), just like Ole Doc Wertham said.

A number of years ago, Minneapolis had a station that ran nothing but "classic" TV, and they had some of the German-made Flash Gordons. I recall an odd episode where they go back in time to postwar Berlin . . . and have scenes in, well, postwar Berlin.

And when the Skiffy Channel was brand new, and still hunting around for programming, they had a late-Friday block of vintage SF video, including "Tales of Tomorrow" and "X Minus 1" (which had also been a radio show). Now, of course, they offer serious and important films like Cheap CGI Mutant Lizardy-Buggish-Penguinoid Thingies Eat Actors You Wouldn't Care About If You Knew Their Names, Featuring Rutger Hauer For Five Minutes In His Standard Black Trenchcoat.

#90 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2006, 01:15 AM:

". . . and have scenes in, well, postwar Berlin."

Saw it! The episode is on one of my Dollar Tree DVD sets.

There was a brief shot of the heroic trio driving past a thoroughly smashed Reichstag in a jeep.

I have a postcard from Bruce Sterling showing the building all tidied up with a glowing dome on top; quite a contrast!

For the most part, the TV Flash Gordons were dull, dull, dull.

#91 ::: Jeffrey Smith ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2006, 01:32 AM:

Oh, Mike, you youngster!

Of the old tv shows Stefan mentioned, I only saw Rocky Jones. It was shown here very early Saturday morning (6 or 7 am), but I would wake up and go downstairs and put the tv on very quietly, because I was the only one awake.

I had the Tom Corbett books, too, because they were published by Grosset & Dunlap like the Tom Swift Jr. and Hardy Boys ones, and that made it easy for my family to buy them for me. (And Rick Blaine, Science Inventor. And somebody-or-other a multi-sports star. And who knows how many more I've forgotten?) I read Heinlein out of the library, but they weren't the same kinds of books so there were never any of those on birthdays and Christmas. (I got the G&D series until I requested Edgar Rice Burroughs paperbacks instead; I had to provide a list of those that I needed every year.)

I really only remember one Tom Corbett book, a sports book -- the game was a sort of soccer or something in zero-g with a pool of mercury inside the ball that unbalanced it and made it very hard to direct.

#92 ::: Sebastien Bailard ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2006, 01:47 AM:

Erik V. Olson,

I'll match your 2 grams of cesium, and raise you one
tender biting old man
.

(via http://www.metafilter.com/mefi/51711)

#93 ::: Vian ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2006, 01:48 AM:

TNH: Something else, indeed.

Before coffee, my brain cell was suggesting posting it to the my-city's-more-multicultural-than-X thread (see why I don't post before coffee?), as an example of what happens When Multicultural Policies Go Horribly, Horribly Wrong. I mean, ya let the dern rubberforeheaded aliens in, and suddenly, look what happens to a beloved cultural institution.

It'll be Killer Robots From Venus next, you mark my words.

#94 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2006, 01:51 AM:

"Rick Blaine, Science Inventor. And somebody-or-other a multi-sports star."

That would actually be Rick Brant, authored by John Blaine. He lived on Spindrift Island with his adopted brother Scotty. His father was a scientist for a government agency, as I recall. Here's a website: Rick Brant.com.

The multi-sports star was undoubtedly Chip Hilton, written by Claire Bee (an inductee into the Basketball Hall of Fame...he was an outstanding roundball coach). Chip was a latter-day Jack Armstrong.

#95 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2006, 01:56 AM:

Here's something gloomy to go along with John's poem.

A spaceship-on-wheels that once made shopping center appearances to promote Rocky Jones, Space Ranger, now falling apart in a junk yard:

http://www.solarguard.com/silvercuprk02.htm

#96 ::: Lenny Bailes ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2006, 02:08 AM:

Is anyone here old enough to have seen Tom Corbett? Or Rocky Jones? Or the Video Ranger?

Raises hand. The Video Ranger (Don Hastings) was a neighbor of my aunt in Glen Cove, NY. He used to come over to shoot pool in her basement bar.

I saved my box tops and sent in for most of this stuff and brought one of these in, one day for First Grade show and tell.

As I wrote Craig Miller, the other day, this was one of the first 45s in my record collection -- at age 8 or 9.

Um, to infinity and beyond!

#97 ::: Jeffrey Smith ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2006, 02:14 AM:

"Rick Blaine, Science Inventor."

That would actually be Rick Brant, authored by John Blaine.

Thanks, Link. I'm astonished I got that close!

#98 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2006, 02:50 AM:

Jeff, I went searching for those books once via Google, trying to remember the author's name. That's why it stuck in my head. I owned the first 20 or so; they were published in color hardbound editions (I don't know what that style is called; no doubt the professionals here do). The Hilton books had regular book jackets; I think I owned 5-6 of those.

#99 ::: hamletta ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2006, 03:19 AM:

True, it did have a character with the same name as yours truly. Quite a rare occurence. I think the last time was for Bronson Pinchot's hairdresser character in Beverly Hills Cop.

Well, there was Edina Monsoon's son in Absolutely Fabulous, but you never saw him. He was always in some remote location doing some kind of research, like collecting lava samples in the Arctic. So her daughter would always get lines like, "...and yes, I faxed the volcano."

#100 ::: Adrian Bedford ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2006, 03:24 AM:

My parents, when I was about 10 or 12 (so the mid-70s) one day presented me with three hardcover Tom Corbett novels. I'd never heard of the TV show, etc, but I devoured those three books countless times. And like Mike Ford, I found my way to Heinlein very shortly after that when a friend of my dad gave me this humongous box chock full of classic sf novels, including a then-complete set of Heinlein, Burroughs, lots of Asimov, some Clarke, and many many more. Instant library. It took me a long time to come up for air.

I, too, was saddened to hear that Mr Thomas passed away. Was looking forward to meeting him in LA this year.

#101 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2006, 04:13 AM:

Lordi are definitely the standouts of Eurovision. Win or not, they were so different from the mass of processed music product that everyone else seemed to be supplying.

And ephebephilia seems to be alive and well, as least as an illusion, in the pop music business.

Next time we have to have fake schoolgirls in a British entry, can we at least try for the St Trinians Hockey Team Cheerleader Squad Pz.Abt?

#102 ::: Glenn Harrison ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2006, 05:11 AM:

I caught a clip of the Eurovision winners last night, but thought it was a trailer for next week's Doctor Who.

#103 ::: Lois Aleta Fundis ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2006, 05:32 AM:

Captain Video was the program, and the main character. IIRC, it was on the old Dumont network, the same one that gave us The Honeymooners. The Video Ranger was a younger guy, the Captain's assistant/sidekick. Don Hastings, who played him, last I heard was still on one of the afternoon soap operas. (I forget which.) My mom had a bit of a crush on him from the Captain Video days, and followed his career a bit even though it wasn't one of her regular soaps.

Rocky Jones, now, is the one I have the most fond memories of: my cousin, my next-younger sister, and I loved that show so much that we used to *play* Rocky Jones when we were little. (Ages about 4, 2, and 3, give or take a year. I'm the one in the middle age-wise.) We would use a laundry basket or two as our "spaceship" and the drawer handles on the dining-room buffet as our "control panel".

#104 ::: Dave Langford ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2006, 06:42 AM:

First name, last name, and I get to be a fictional murdered minister. Peter Lorre killed me! Needless to say, it is my favorite piece of audio in the whole wide world.

Simon R. Green has a habit of killing me off in his Deathstalker novels. But they are not, nevertheless, my favourite pieces of fiction in the whole wide world.

#105 ::: Glenn Harrison ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2006, 07:21 AM:

It seems like good contemporary sf writing is full of references and in-jokes. I've just noticed a building called Langford Towers in Peter F. Hamilton's "Judas Unchained" (and it's no coincidence I spotted that one!), and Alastair Reynolds made me laugh out loud by having a major faction descended from Slashdot users in "Century Rain".

#106 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2006, 07:58 AM:

Inside jokes in SF have a long history, sufficiently so that naming characters after particular people has a label: Tuckerization, after Wilson (Bob) Tucker. Well before the term was coined, various Weird Tales writers killed each other off in gruesome fictional ways.

Uh, well, yes, of course, but if I explained them all, what would be the point? And Chris Claremont's done it to me twice, in an issue of Excalibur and a Star Trek graphic novel. [Note to self: return favor soonest. Unstable molecular sushi?]

#107 ::: adamsj ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2006, 08:14 AM:

Sure, Beatles '65 was an album--an album with cheesy phony stereo. When I first saw the publicity for that box set Patrick linked to, I thought to myself, "Man! Beatles completists are even stupider than Deadheads!"

#108 ::: adamsj ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2006, 08:19 AM:

If I ever decide to ruin my life by writing a science-fiction novel, it's likely to be the true story of Double Star from Dak Broadbent's point of view, and I'm hoping to explain the Doc Scortia/Doc Capek anomaly in five hundred words or less.

#109 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2006, 08:55 AM:

LS/MFT! (Lucky Stiffs -- Mike Ford Time)

I only saw Rocky Jones on MST3K, which wouldn't count. I think Teresa was on the team (the Brave Underdogs, changed on us to Defiant Losers, and eventually Egyptian Air Force) when I was in a trivia bowl at Penulticon. Gordon Garb asked the question, "Who was the hero of the 50s TV show, 'Jet Jackson, Space Cadet'?" and I looked around briefly, slammed down the soda can which was my ring-in, then felt horrible qualms of having been tricked when Gordon turned to me with an evil smile and said "yes-s-s?"

In tiny type, I said "Jet J-Jackson? Space Cadet?"

There was a dreadful silence before Garb smiled and said "Correct!" My autonomic processes quietly restarted. We had gained a point!

(In fact, we won. That's why I'm pretty sure Teresa was on the team.)

#110 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2006, 09:17 AM:

I saw a claim, elsenet, that US TV were going to do their own Eurovision Song Contest, and I though, "That's going to be a short programme." But then it occurred to me that they could have an entry from each State.

Well, as long as Utah doesn't enter the Mormon Tabernacle Choir every year...

But are there any other cheap jokes about possible musical styles in such a sompetition?

#111 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2006, 10:06 AM:

SF and inside jokes... I seem to remember a Diane Duane Trek novel circa 1984 which had a female character named Keravus. I understand that this is the Latin for 'Cherry'. Yes, as in C.J.Cherryh...

Were there any such inside jokes in Mike's The Final Reflection?

#112 ::: Dan Blum ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2006, 11:07 AM:
SF and inside jokes... I seem to remember a Diane Duane Trek novel circa 1984 which had a female character named Keravus. I understand that this is the Latin for 'Cherry'. Yes, as in C.J.Cherryh...
Janice Kerasus is a character in several of Duane's Star Trek books - she's in Linguistics. Whether she's C. J. Cherryh in disguise I can't say.
#113 ::: Glenn Harrison ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2006, 11:11 AM:

I seem to remember that even Doctor Who is referenced in Duane's Trek novels... my admittedly foggy memory dredges up something about a hologram of the TARDIS on the rec deck in "My Enemy, My Ally".
It's been a long time since I read that... I think my copy might still be up in the attic, along with "The Final Reflection". Maybe it's a good time to revisit them, I haven't opened a Trek novel in some years!

#114 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2006, 11:12 AM:

"Sure, Beatles '65 was an album--an album with cheesy phony stereo. When I first saw the publicity for that box set Patrick linked to, I thought to myself, 'Man! Beatles completists are even stupider than Deadheads!'"

Well, completism often has its goofy side, but what are you gonna do? However, it's dead wrong to claim that the Capitol versions of the Beatles' early catalog--recently re-released on CD as a pair of boxed sets--are entirely composed of "fake stereo." Just looking at Beatles '65, included in the first boxed set, the only "duophonic" mixes in the stereo section are "She's a Woman" and "I Feel Fine." The rest are true stereo just like their British releases. In fact Capitol only made what they called "duophonic" mixes when EMI didn't give them stereo mixes; which is to say, for many of the songs which were released as singles, since at the time, the convention in the UK was for LPs to be released in stereo and 45-rpm singles to be mono. What's really different is the overall sonic mix; catering to what it perceived to be American taste, Capitol tended to pour on lots more reverb than Parlophone/EMI, and those reverb-laden versions are the sound of the early Beatles for some of us of a certain age. (I've heard that, in some cases, Capitol even went so far as to add even more reverb to copies shipped to the East Coast. I don't know if that's true. Paging Danny Caccavo, white Beatles phone please.)

What's also different is that, leaving aside a couple of well-documented goofs, these Capitol boxed sets represent a far better job of getting the early Beatles' sound onto CD than the canonical EMI CDs do. As Bruce Spizer points out in this brief and highly informative article about the recent Capitol re-releases, the EMI CDs--the ones you see in every record store in the world, based on the British vinyl releases--were mastered for CD many years ago when the problems of accurately porting recordings to the new compact-disk platform were nowhere near as well-understood as they are today.

These albums have not been upgraded although mastering techniques and technology have improved significantly in the two decades that have passed. While some people believe that the British vinyl albums of the sixties sound better than the Capitol albums, even so-called purists would be hard pressed to argue that the British CDs from 1987 sound better than the discs in the Capitol box sets. That fact of the matter is that they sound flat and lifeless when compared to the Capitol discs. Until the standard Beatles catalog is remastered and released on CD, the Capitol discs are the best way to listen to the Beatles recordings from 1964 and 1965.
According to Apple Corps supremo Neil Aspinall, they're right now engaged in remastering the whole back catalog. This is hugely overdue. Meanwhile, Spizer is right; leaving aside the few "duophonic" tracks, by and large the Capitol mixes sound great, with a liveliness and punch far greater than the twenty-year-old EMI CDs.

As for whether it's "stupid" to care about stuff like this, surely nobody in this conversation would actually care to argue that nobody should take a detailed interest in the history of great popular music, since that would be, in fact, kind of stupid.

#115 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2006, 11:29 AM:

You should hear Patrick and Danny Caccavo when they get going on this stuff. Patrick, who is looking over my shoulder as I type (hello dear, don't do that), says that compared to Danny Caccavo, he hardly knows anything.

#116 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2006, 11:43 AM:

Dan Blum... Kerasus, not Keravus. I should have know that, since the French word for 'cherry' is 'cerise'. Anyway, I think I had asked C.J.Cherryh about whether or not that was supposed to be her in that Duane movel, and her response was yes and also that she'd return fire by having a big sentient worm named after Duane. I don't remember that she ever followed on that threat.

#117 ::: adamsj ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2006, 11:46 AM:

Heck, Patrick, I don't think it's stupid to think about it and discuss it--doing it right now, ain't I?--but when I listen to the Beatles, I'd prefer to hear what they were trying to produce, not what someone else somewhere else thought someone else somewhere else wanted. I understand nostalgia, like patriotism, is the love of the reverb one heard in one's youth (if I ever catch the bastard who stole my reverb unit, send money for my bail), but my formative years were spent hunting mono Kinks LPs.

Didn't ever find but one, either, damn the luck.

#118 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2006, 12:19 PM:

"but when I listen to the Beatles, I'd prefer to hear what they were trying to produce"

Sure, but the fact is, the current state of the "canonical" CDs doesn't provide much more of an accurate reflection of The Artists' Original Intent than the re-released Capitol compilations do. In point of fact, until the (supposedly in progress) Great Remastering is released, if you really want to "hear what they were trying to produce," you'll do best to skip the existing EMI CDs and listen to old vinyl instead.

And even that won't get you all the way to "original intent." For another example, look at Sgt Pepper. According to Mark Lewisohn, it took 700 hours of recording time, and the group took an intense, hands-on approach to compiling the mono mix. Session logs for all of the songs conclude with the mono mix being finalized, often with hours of work, with all four group members present. The stereo mix was delegated to others, who spent a total of 10 hours on it. George Harrison stated repeatedly in later years that they regarded the mono mix as the work they intended. According to people I know who've heard it, it's noticeably different and sonically superior. (I've never heard it.) But it hasn't been for sale from EMI since the late 1960s, and it's never been available on CD. The "canonical" CD is the stereo mix, the one the band didn't care about enough to be present for.

The current state of the catalog is full of arbitrariness, bad choices, and unfixed accidents. The virtue of the Capitol boxed sets is (1) they sound better and (2) their arbitrarinesses and bad choices are better-documented.

#119 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2006, 12:20 PM:

Another inside joke... John Hemry's JAG-in-space novels, had among the ship's crew one Kowalsky. I asked him if this was a reference to who I thought it was, and he said yes and no. His prime motivation was that he wanted the crew to have at least one 'sky'-suffixed character because every Navy ship has to have at least one. THEN he decided to name him after the Seaview's Kowalsky. Luckily, Hemry's Kowalsky didn't have the tendency to have his skull be the target of blunt objects like the Seaview's did.

#120 ::: adamsj ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2006, 12:55 PM:

Now I'm feeling bad about being better set up to play an eight-track than an elpee, to say nothing of not having enough copies of corresponding vinyl releases to compare and play on a lazy Sunday afternoon in nineteen hundred and...oh, sorry.

#121 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2006, 01:55 PM:

Well, I'm now revisiting feelings of bitterness toward the miserable so-and-so(s) who swiped several of my early vinyl Beatles albums during multiple moves in the 60s and 70s. Rubber Soul, gone; Sgt. Peppers, gone; Magical Mystery Tour, Help!, A Hard Day's Night, gone. It's worse because I'm trying to rehab my Pioneer turntable, purchased in 1973, just to avail myself of my ~300-album collection.

#122 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2006, 02:23 PM:

Stefan Jones: [a] spaceship-on-wheels that once made shopping center appearances
to promote Rocky Jones, Space Ranger, now falling apart in a junk yard [..]

Thanks for the link!
The whole 'Solar Guard' site was interesting to browse
( you gave a link to a convention page in one of your other posts ).
Frankie Thomas is discussed on the home page,
with a link to a memorial page.

I found a model of one of those promotional spaceships
( that is, the 'truck and spaceship trailer' )
about 3/4 of the way down on this page.

SJ: Is anyone here old enough to have seen Tom Corbett?
Or Rocky Jones? Or the Video Ranger?

Not old enough to have seen any of these in their first runs.
But in the 80's, USA Network ran a two-hour block they called Night Flight,
which played episodes of 'Tom Corbett - Space Cadet', and 'Space Patrol'.

I had taped some of these ( on beta ), and reviewed them with friends.
At the time, we were uncertain whether 'Space Patrol' had ever been a real program,
or if it were a fiendishly clever pastiche of 1950's sci-fi.

There had been some interesting animation
and video features which they ran on Night Flight;
Ed Emshwiller's Sunstone animation was featured once.

Fireside Theater's J-Men Forever
( a sort of 'What Up Tiger Lily' constructed out of Republic serials )
was a regular favorite in that programming block.

John M. Ford: [..] when the Skiffy Channel was brand new,
and still hunting around for programming,
they had a late-Friday block of vintage SF video,
including "Tales of Tomorrow" and "X Minus 1" [..]

I had taped some of these, too ( on VHS ).

I think I still have this tape.

A helpful hint: if the humidity in your environment is not controlled,
your video tapes can get moldy.

Jeffrey Smith: I had the Tom Corbett books, too,
because they were published by Grosset & Dunlap
like the Tom Swift Jr. and Hardy Boys ones,
and that made it easy for my family to buy them for me.

I had a few of the Tom Corbett books, pretty much for the same reason;
even though it had been a couple of decades since the series ran on television.
Treasured because it was SF, before I was able to buy my own.

I recall Willy Ley was credited as a technical advisor,
and I had seen him also listed as a contributor
to one of the Time|Life science books ( Man and Space? ).


#123 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2006, 02:25 PM:

Patrick Nielsen Hayden: The current state of the catalog is full of arbitrariness,
bad choices, and unfixed accidents.

Is this something Michael Jackson bears some responsibility for?
Or did he improve the situation in anyway?

#124 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2006, 02:39 PM:

To diverge from the Beatles discussion a bit:

There is a fine fine fine snarky review of The Da Vinci Code movie at the N.Y. Times. Old hat to some here, I'm sure, but those who missed it may wish to read it at A 'Da Vinci Code' That Takes Longer to Watch Than Read

Initial snark salvo from first paragraph, "'The Da Vinci Code,' Ron Howard's adaptation of Dan Brown's best-selling primer on how not to write an English sentence, arrives trailing more than its share of theological and historical disputation."

#125 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2006, 02:54 PM:

Speaking of old SF shows on TV... Does anybody remember Men into Space? Calling it SF is a bit of a misnomer as it was attempting to show a realistic pre-NASA exploration of our solar system. The only time I can remember where the show gave me a science-fiction frisson was one episode where the ship's crew took a closer look at an asteroid, and they realized that some really old tech was embedded into it,

#126 ::: Kevin Riggle ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2006, 05:24 PM:

Another jumping-off point...

I dunno. As sad as the thought might be that the spaceship on wheels sits unwanted in a junkyard, something about the pictures -- the nose of the spaceship poking out next to the rusty truck, the decay of the futuristic dials inside -- appeals to whatever artist's-eye I posess. What does happen to old spacecraft when they can't fly any more, anyway? (In the Firefly episode "Ariel," Kaylee and Wash go to the Ariel City dumpyard to find a broken hospital vehicle, and there's at least one broken-down spaceship there. There are probably other such depictions in the history of SF, though they don't come immediately to mind.)

I wish that kind of decay was shown more in science fiction movies and television. For that matter, I wish any kind of gritty space opera in the tradition of Firefly was around today. Even the "sanitized for your protection" Star Trek-spinoffs seem to have fallen on hard times. I wonder why that is? Dystopia seems to still be popular -- witness The Matrix, X-Men, the forthcoming A Scanner Darkly... Real, commercial space-travel seems closer and closer to hand. It's not as though space travel or a science fictional setting inhibits the paranoia plots of shows like 24 and Alias that seem so popular lately. So why no space-ships in popular media fiction? Why are the modern science fictional heroes of popular culture all planet-siders?

(I've been writing a paper on Firefly for a class, and it's sent me into mourning all over again.)

And dammit, Mr. Ford, that's wonderful, and it needs to be set to music if it hasn't been already.

#127 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2006, 05:31 PM:

Serge:

Could you be thinking of the Disney space-documentary productions?

I got the "Tomorrowland" DVD set a few years back. In the moon-flyby episode, the crew drops flares as the zip past the "dark side." One flare briefly illuminates a ruin of some sort. There's no mention of it in the narration . . . just a brief visual blip.

I was pretty impressed by these Disney futurhoiddic productions. They did a good job explaining the science and used believable technology.

* * *

Ah, J-Men Forever! What a total blast. A few friends have second-generation copies.

Night Flight also showed humorously dubbed episodes of a live-action japanese kiddie show that was later adapted for American TV as the Power Rangers.

#128 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2006, 05:40 PM:

"I wish that kind of decay was shown more in science fiction movies and television."

There isn't enough already?

That kind of thing is so easy to go overboard with. You end up with starcraft equipped at the shipyard with flickering lights and hallway fog generators, and starports overrun with mohawked thugs, smugglers, and lady mercenaries . . . etcetera, etcetera.

There have been a few relatively "straight" SF TV shows ("War of the Worlds," the about a big research sub . . . something DSV?) that were made more edgy and young-male-demographic-friendly after a season or two.

"Firefly" was an interesting mix. Tidy high-tech worlds and gritty frontier worlds.

#129 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2006, 05:41 PM:

No, Stefan. I do remember those Disney documentaries and loved them in those pre-Apollo days, but what I saw was a weekly series. Its look, if I remember correctly something from 40 years ago, was very similar to Disney's ships and stuff. As for the title, I said earlier that it was Men into Space, but I'm not sure although I do think it was something very close to that. (And the title was truth in advertising because I don't remember that the series had a single woman make it into space.)

#130 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2006, 06:12 PM:

Stefan: "Men Into Space" was from ZIV, Ivan Tors's company, and came along right after their "Science Fiction Theater." I probably saw more than one of the Disney films at school, but the only one I remember is "Eyes in Outer Space," which starts as a remarkably dull history of orbital satellites, but then suddenly shifts gears to a great-looking skiffy yarn about a weather control agency using all sorts of cool tech to steer a hurricane away from the Eastern seaboard. (In a slightly surprising nod to the realities of the weather, this inadvertently creates a big damn central low that drenches Oklahoma.) This does involve satellites (including a crewed station that points cameras at the storm) but it's pretty clear that the Disney crew really just wanted to give the kids a present for having endured the fiendish Didactotron beams.

. . . it needs to be set to music if it hasn't been already.

The track you want is Richard Thompson's "Al Bowlly's in Heaven."

#131 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2006, 06:44 PM:

Thanks, Mike. I was outside since my earlier post about Men into Space, doing yardwork, and thinking that if there once was such a show, Mike would be the one who could confirm. I think footage from that show appeared every once in a while in the old Outer Limits, whenever it involved something set in space. (One that comes to mind is the one where evil flowers throw puffed rice at people, thus causing their death.)

#132 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2006, 07:23 PM:

About the Disney films, Mike... There was one about an expedition to Mars, with a whole fleet of saucer-shaped ships. The one image I remember is that at night, some crystal towers would naturally rise from the Martian soil, and collapse when the day came.

#133 ::: Karen Funk Blocher ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2006, 08:00 PM:

Thanks, Patrick, for the links about the Capital versions CD releases. I knew that was coming, and then forgot about it. My husband used to be a major Beatles researcher, but I'm afraid he stopped keeping up on the subject once Lewisohn and others got pretty much every recording nailed down as to date, personnnel, etc.

Beatles '65 is one of the records I used to put on the P.A. at a skating rink in Dewitt, NY, circa 1968. (Yes, they let the customers do this, even fifth graders.) Having listened to these songs on cheap stereos for so many years, I'm still sometimes amazed to listen on an iPod, and hear the subtleties of the recordings for almost the first time.

Are you familiar with OOPS (Out of Phase Stereo)? This was a little wiring trick mentioned in a Goldmine article in the early 1980s. The idea was to rewire a turntable in such a way that (IIRC) everything that was in both tracks canceled itself out, so that the elements that were buried in the mix could be heard. The main example in the article was Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da, in which John says "Arm! Leg!" when Desmond lets the children lend a hand. In the next verse, when Molly does the same, John says, "Foot!" These can actually be heard on decent headphones even without OOPS, but I doubt that anyone can hear John's "Home. H-O-M-E," wihout OOPS. I've often wondered, since the advent of CDs, whether OOPS can be done with modern home equipment.

#134 ::: Kevin Riggle ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2006, 08:40 PM:

"I wish that kind of decay was shown more in science fiction movies and television."

There isn't enough already?

That kind of thing is so easy to go overboard with. You end up with starcraft equipped at the shipyard with flickering lights and hallway fog generators, and starports overrun with mohawked thugs, smugglers, and lady mercenaries . . . etcetera, etcetera.

I don't know. That sounds kind of interesting. There have been very few William-Gibson-meets-Star-Trek TV shows made. Maybe none. The movies have done better at dystopia, but very few movies made in the mold of Blade Runner are space opera. (Besides, coming up with a SFnal reason for equipping starcraft with fog generators would be great fun... ;-) I'm totally the young-male demographic, so maybe I'll appreciate "straight SF TV shows" more in a decade or two. (Hmm... a TV show based off the world of Michael Swanwick's Vacuum Flowers... That could get interesting.)

I don't really want shows which depict decay to wallow in it -- decay for decay's sake. I'd like a healthy mix of utopia and dystopia. I just got tired of the utopia of the Star Trek spinoffs, and I didn't get enough of Firefly to make me long for the Prime Directive again.

And I think the show you're thinking of is Sealab DSV.

The track you want is Richard Thompson's "Al Bowlly's in Heaven."

Thanks!

#135 ::: Kevin Riggle ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2006, 08:42 PM:

Err, make that *SeaQuest* DSV. I knew I was going to get that confused.

#136 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2006, 09:08 PM:

(The saucers were radiators for an atomic reactor that ran the ship's ion drive.)

The life on Mars segment is incredibly trippy, and ends with a sequence that presages the "Stargate" sequence of "2001."

I strongly recommend the Tomorrowland set, both for nostalgia reasons and because most kids would enjoy it.

#137 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2006, 10:53 PM:

Stefan Jones: Ah, J-Men Forever! What a total blast.
A few friends have second-generation copies.

It's out on DVD.

I have a friend who's a big Firesign Theater fan,
who had been hunting for a copy of J-men Forever for a while.

He had told me he'd tracked down the guy
who had master recordings for most of the Firesign Theater recordings,
including J-men Forever.

At the time, issues with the music rights
were holding up a re-release.

Apparently those were resolved;
my friend has since bought the DVD described in the link.

#138 ::: candle ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2006, 12:31 AM:

From the NYT review which Clifton Royston linked to:

There are also glances further back into history, to Constantine's conversion...

Darn. Now I'm going to have to actually watch the thing, if only so my students don't think I'm hopelessly out of touch.

#139 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2006, 01:10 AM:

Karen Funk Blocher: You'd be looking for something called a vocal eliminator. It's marketed for doing karaoke without special karaoke mixes. It relies on the vocal tracks being mixed in the center, that is, the same in the left and right channels. Of course not all music is mixed that way. As I doscovered while trying it on a Yes album, progressive rock considers the voice to be just another instrument, so sometimes they had the bass guitar in the cenetr.

#140 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2006, 02:07 AM:

The bass guitar is, if anything, even more likely to be in the center than lead vocals. This is both for musical reasons (having the low end, which provides the body of the sound, be off-center makes things feel unbalanced) and, on vinyl records, for technical reasons (see paragraph 2).

To get rid of the vocals without affecting the bass, you would roll off the low-end from the inverted channel before summing it with the other channel. It's tricky to find the exact roll-off frequency, and of course the bass becomes quite muddy since its high frequencies are cancelled.

To answer the original question, I don't think it's very easy to rewire your CD player for this sort of operation, but it's simple to do in any sort of music production software (as is playing backwards--devil bunnies!).

#141 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2006, 02:12 AM:

For those born a little too late to become obsessive Fabologists: 1000 80s music videos (or, as I think of it, "Eighties Hades"). If you've been jonesing for Clan of Xymox, Klaus Nomi, or Trouble Funk, your longing is at an end.

#142 ::: Dave Langford ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2006, 03:59 AM:

There is a fine fine fine snarky review of The Da Vinci Code movie at the N.Y. Times.

I also like the one at The Guardian. 'Now a movie, starring Tom Hanks and Audrey "Amelie" Tautou, has faithfully brought the distinctive qualities of Brown's prose to the silver screen.'

#143 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2006, 07:03 AM:

You end up with starcraft equipped at the shipyard with flickering lights and hallway fog generators, and starports overrun with mohawked thugs, smugglers, and lady mercenaries . . . etcetera, etcetera.

coming up with a SFnal reason for equipping starcraft with fog generators would be great fun...

They're still running on cryogenic fuels. It's a wonderful sight, a cryogenic-fuelled rocket being tanked; fog rolling down the sides and ice breaking off as the sun hits it...

You should, of course, be careful not to put too much decay into a space opera, or things will be too decayed to keep the ships flying. Though things can still get pretty decayed - look at the Russian space programme.
(I didn't like 'Ariel' for that reason; there was an ambulance lying around in a junkyard, that was near-enough airworthy to be repaired in a day or two, and cheap enough that they could just walk off with it? No.)

But definitely lady mercenaries. Not just "women" mercenaries. Well-bred younger daughters of minor aristocrats, unwilling to hang around the homeworld waiting for their older sisters to inherit, and determined to make their own way in the world and use the skills they acquired at finishing school (so-called because you learn how to finish people. Curriculum includes Deportment & Drill, Command Elocution, Needlework, Knifework, Fencing, Foreign Languages, Dressage, Armoured Dressage, Art & Camouflage, Platoon Tactics, Dancing, Cookery and Markswomanship.)

#144 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2006, 07:36 AM:

You should, of course, be careful not to put too much decay into a space opera, or things will be too decayed to keep the ships flying.

There can be an excuse for anything. In van Vogt's rewrite of I, Claudius, the interstellar empire has decayed technologically, so while the big interstellar vessels, which were built with self-maintenance systems, keep running, the smaller high-tech stuff has long since failed, so the sword has come back (apparently the Imperial military is consuming all the saltpeter).

And -- I'm a little surprised that no one has mentioned this yet -- when that movie with the farmboy and the robots and George Smiley came out, a great many fans commented on the fact that the ordinary folks' hardware all looked battered and lived-with, which was considered something of a novelty. (The Empire, of course, had a vast corps of Polishing Droids to serve its ends. Either that, or their Admirals got their fleets blown up before the ashtrays got full.)

I have a feeling that quite a few composers of space opera thought of their Belt-prospector ships and intersystem tramp freighters as looking well-used (every oceangoing tramp freighter in the movies did, after all) but didn't spend too much time in description.

#145 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2006, 08:39 AM:

Glenn: There's a bit where Uhura and the hacker character (whose name I can't remember, but he seems like he's still in Starfleet because he's too useful to cashier) are translating old 2D video for hologrammatic viewing.

Rick Blaine, Science Inventor

Um, is this a part of the movie that I missed? Because I'm pretty sure it would have gone differently if the cafe had been equipped with laser guns. "You despise me, don't you?" "Well, except as a source of valuable spare parts."

#146 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2006, 08:58 AM:

ajay, your lady mercenaries sound a lot like something straight out of a story by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller. It'd be a fun movie, but it'd probably wind up being made for the Skiffy Channel, which means we'd get a Paris Hilton clone (maybe even literally a clone) as the lady mercenary. And, unfortunately, Dean Cain would play her second-in-command.

#147 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2006, 09:04 AM:

Mike... Most explanations for why a star-spanning civilization would still use swords ARE lame. But I do remember the first-ever collaboration between Chris Claremont & John Byrne, a 1976 one-shot called Star-Lord, where the grand finale involves a duel with swords that made sense: they were on the imperial world, and nobody but the Guard was allowed to carry any killing device that reached farther than arm's length.

#148 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2006, 09:27 AM:

Serge: Lee and Miller? Never read them... any good?

And Paris Hilton, or her clones, are definitely no ladies. Think Katherine Hepburn in "The African Queen", or a younger version of Florentia, Lady Sale on the retreat from Kabul.

They're out there to earn their dowries, you see; their parents can only afford to get one of the gels (the oldest, naturally) a proper Society marriage, and if the others want to marry a man of position, they're going to have to pay for it themselves.
They can't just strike out on their own, because you can't have status in Society without a title, and you can't have a title without land (you have to own Somewhere to be "von Somewhere"), and land can legally only be inherited by sons. So however successful our lady mercenaries become offworld, if they want to go home eventually and settle down in the manner which their parents will approve, they'll have to have the money for a proper wedding to some titled man. Hence - mercenary work.
Of course, that assumes that they actually want to go home...

There's a difference between 'well-used' and messy; I think there's a Niven story which makes the point that Belters are obsessively neat, because clutter tends to fly around the place in free-fall and bang into things under acceleration.
I always assumed that the Imperial ships were polished because that's just what naval vessels look like - can't let the crew just sit around with nothing to do, after all. You Stormtroopers! Holystone that hangar deck! And then blanco that TIE Fighter! No Polishing Droids needed...

#149 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2006, 09:44 AM:

Lee and Miller any good? Yup. Definitely, ajay. And it shows they love Jane Austen.

Katharine Hepburn? Hell, any day.

As for Star Wars, aka the movie with George Smiley in it... The big thing wasn't that things were decayed. It was a matter of people using old stuff. Perfectly functional, but it was dented and scratched. Of course, Lucas wasn't the first one to come up with that idea in movies or TV. There was Dark Star and Silent Running a few years before.

#150 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2006, 10:03 AM:

Mike... Most explanations for why a star-spanning civilization would still use swords ARE lame. But I do remember the first-ever collaboration between Chris Claremont & John Byrne, a 1976 one-shot called Star-Lord, where the grand finale involves a duel with swords that made sense: they were on the imperial world, and nobody but the Guard was allowed to carry any killing device that reached farther than arm's length.

I wonder if that was a deliberate borrow from the "Compact" in Marion Zimmer Bradley's Darkover novels, in which you had the same rule about arm's length, put in place after devastating experiments with psionic weapons of mass destruction.

#151 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2006, 10:06 AM:

Might be, Susan, might be... Claremont & Byrne ARE science-fiction readers.

#152 ::: Avery ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2006, 10:13 AM:

Once you see the Particles link you can't help but wonder, "What does terrorism compare faI started looking for things that were on par with terrorism. Cars is less than 100 to 1, so getting warmer. But cars are an information dense commodity, so researching cars on the net when shopping makes a certain amount of sense.

How about shoes? I couldn't see shoes doing nearly as well as cars, but it was still pretty humiliating for terrorism.

Then it hit me. Socks! Nobody is going to look for socks on the web, right? Well, maybe it's somebody’s fetish?

#153 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2006, 10:39 AM:

Speaking of old stuff, the now insanely alternate history in Escape From New York has both Borgnine's ancient taxi and a whole bunch of humongous Seventies vehicles (including Isaac Hayes' chandeliered pimpmobile). When my mom chanced upon the movie on TV, not having seen it before (and having missed the opening expository section), she was left wondering why there were so many old cars around. [Of course the so-called modern/futuristic tech in that 1981 film now seems ridiculous too, like a portable phone the size of a salami.]

Did anyone here see the latest Discover magazine's cover article on why humans will never be able to travel safely to other planets (too much radiation in space)? A major bummer, if there's no way around it.

#154 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2006, 11:13 AM:

Faren... There's nothing like trying to predict the future. Bladerunner was smart with its costume design by having clothes inspired by the past. But think of what's not in the movie. Cell phones? Nope. Cyberspace? Nope. And speaking of the latter, was there any reference to it in Max Headroom? News still come from old-style TV stations to old-style TV sets (except for the fact that "off" switches are illegal). Then again, by 1985, the internet was the domain of tech geeks, not an everyday device.

#155 ::: Sarah S ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2006, 11:50 AM:

Did someone mention space travel?


Kimchi is going to the moon!

#156 ::: Dan Layman-Kennedy ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2006, 01:23 PM:

Bruce Adelsohn, two days ago: I didn't click through - does the Genesis video on YouTube have the entire 20-odd minutes of "Supper's Ready," where Peter Gabriel comes out at the end in the cloak and the big geometric head, looking like a Grant Morrison alien overlord? Because, man, that fucking rocks.

Sigh. They don't make prog like they used to. Not since Fish left Marillion, anyway.

#157 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2006, 01:36 PM:

An etiquette question... Is it gauche or undesirable to approach an author at the end of a panel and ask if they'd autograph one book of theirs? This assumes of course that the author is not obviously in a hurry to go elsewhere.

#158 ::: Skwid ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2006, 02:06 PM:

Do our hosts and other residents know that this coming Sunday is Manhattenhenge?

This sounds utterly cool...I might have to plan a future visit to the Big Apple with this in mind.

#159 ::: Skwid ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2006, 02:18 PM:

Karen, should your track (as mentioned) have the vocals in the center channel, it is trivially easy to use the Open Source program Audacity to remove them. Audacity can do all sorts of other cool things, too. Worth a look-see.

#160 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2006, 02:31 PM:

Serge: Well, it happens all the time. It's not possible to speak for everyone, but I think most writers have no difficulty provided that a) they're not required elsewhere, b) the room isn't immediately needed by the next program item (in which case, moving to the hall is often sufficient), and c) things that are pretty obviously gaucheries -- hauling out fifteen books, a stuffed animal, and your significant other for signing, or comments like "You know, your last book sucked orc fnords" -- are avoided.

Simply asking, "Can you sign this now?" generally produces an honest answer.

A minor -- or maybe not-so-minor -- point: if the convention is holding a mass signing, that can be a very good time to get your books by the Less Dazzlingly Famous writers signed -- not just because they're likely to be there, but because such events are often depressingly lonely for the person who's got one or two books out but doesn't have a line reaching to the next county over.

#161 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2006, 02:31 PM:

Serge: by no means. I hope not, anyway...I've done it a lot!

#162 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2006, 02:49 PM:

Thanks, Mike. And Xopher. I asked because I remember a few months ago when the discussion turned to writers who go on panels and display even just one of their book. Quite a few people expressed a dislike of writers doing that. I myself failed to see the problem and I wanted to make sure this wasn't one of those situations where my social-skills subroutine should have kicked in but didn't.

#163 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2006, 03:06 PM:

Well, authors lining up their books at the front of the panel barri -- uh, table is a completely different issue. I can see reasons why people find the practice infra dig, but I also understand that someone who may not automatically be identified with a book, or even as an author -- or established authors who want to make the point that there's a new one out -- would do it. I think it's a matter of temperament, both on the writer's and the observers' part, than any hard and fast rule. I have seen occasions of people lining up half a dozen titles, but if people wish to express active displeasure with this, this is fandom, and numerous modes exist.

Maybe Seefwa should have campaign ribbons. No, wait, they do; you just have to explain to people what that funny lookin' thing on your lapel is.

#164 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2006, 04:01 PM:

If anyone here is amused by that sort of thing, I'm being flamed by a commenter ("Aeroman") over at Majikthise.

#165 ::: Glenn Harrison ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2006, 04:11 PM:

Does someone want to tell that guy that you don't tug on Superman's cape, you don't spit into the wind, you don't pull the mask off the ol' Lone Ranger, and you don't argue with a professional editor?

#166 ::: Alex Cohen ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2006, 05:27 PM:

Stories from BookExpo America:

Then there were the unknowns, like Steve Brown, who with his girlfriend Nina Louvier, drove 15 hours from Pensacola, Fla., toting 1,000 copies of his self-published book, "Jesus Drank, Judas Repented and God Divorced His Bride." In it Mr. Brown attempts to correct what he sees as long-held fallacies about the Bible. Example: He says Noah took 14 of each animal on the ark, not 2.
Mr. Brown, a real estate developer, said he had spent $3,000 to rent a booth, where he had installed two 6-by-9-foot models of his book built out of plumbing pipe and corrugated plastic sheeting. As a few people walked by, he pressed copies of the book into their hands. "I don't have a publisher, and I don't have the big bucks," he said cheerfully, "but it's O.K., it is going to work out."
#167 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2006, 05:44 PM:

Amend that last line to "you don't argue with renowned professional editor Teresa Nelson Sauničre"

(Something about correcting punctuation with a Chicago typewriter...)

#168 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2006, 06:11 PM:

Speaking of Max Headroom, every time I see Tony Snow, he makes me think of Max.

#169 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2006, 06:21 PM:

Wow, is that Aeroman ever an idiot.

#170 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2006, 07:01 PM:

For those born a little too late to become obsessive Fabologists: 1000 80s music videos (or, as I think of it, "Eighties Hades"). If you've been jonesing for Clan of Xymox, Klaus Nomi, or Trouble Funk, your longing is at an end.

Oh, gods, that's wonderful. I'm having a flashback to junior high school and the early days of MTV.

The surreal Holstein in "Sweet Dreams"

The comic strip world of "Take on Me"

The Morris dancers in "Safety Dance"

Michael Jackson in "Thriller" saying "I'm not like other guys." Um, yeah. But the zombie dance still holds up.

A video for "Relax" that I don't think I saw in junior high school. I'm rather sorry.

Sarah Brightman looking slightly less pop-eyed than she did on stage in the "Phantom of the Opera" video.

SFnal videos sadly missing:
Chris de Burgh's "Don't Pay the Ferryman"
Rick Springfield's "Bop til Your Drop" (stupid song, nifty video)
Van Halen's banned-by-MTV "Pretty Woman"

I took one brief look at Madonna's "Like a Virgin" before remembering that 1) I went to that concert, 2) dressed like that, and 3) someone took pictures.

I'm going to go conduct a ritual burning now.

#171 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2006, 07:26 PM:

Speaking of MTV, a profile of Hans Zimmer in yesterday's paper included the surreal tidbit that he wrote the song "Video Killed the Radio Star".

Yes, the same Hans Zimmer who's now mainly known for writing bombastic orchestral film scores, including the theme from "Backdraft" which may now be better known as the theme for "Iron Chef". Not that bombasticism is nec'ly a bad thing, though OTOH I'm not certain it's a real word.

#172 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2006, 07:44 PM:

Given the accepted origin of the word "bombast," perhaps we should use "Hohenheimlich" as an adjective. Although it does sound like it should mean "a desperation maneuver."

#173 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2006, 07:57 PM:

Hans Zimmer has nothing on Dimitri Tiomkin, as far as Bombast is concerned.

#174 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2006, 10:06 PM:

Marion Zimmer Bradley's Darkover novels, in which you had the same rule about arm's length, put in place after devastating experiments with psionic weapons of mass destruction.

Psionically generated, perhaps, but clingfire (napalm?) and bonewater dust (radioactive? neurochemical) were all too physical.

wrt Claremont being familiar with SF: he showed up at Boskone at least once, not long after publishing a non-tiein SF novel. I didn't recognize him (or spot his name badge) and made some cutting remarks about his Last Starfighter-style ending ("we can't do this" "we can't ever do this" "what the hell, let's do it"). Not my smoothest move....

#175 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2006, 10:11 PM:

John M. Ford: Why not 'Theophrastic' or 'Paracelsian'?

#176 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2006, 10:20 PM:

SFnal videos sadly missing:
Chris de Burgh's "Don't Pay the Ferryman"
Rick Springfield's "Bop til Your Drop" (stupid song, nifty video)
Van Halen's banned-by-MTV "Pretty Woman"

But they have Nemesis by Shriekback, which pays for all.

For sweet, sweet bombast, there's Vienna by Ultravox.

#177 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2006, 10:21 PM:

Fragano: Because those were the obvious choices.

#178 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2006, 10:22 PM:

CHip... I'd normally have taken a peek at Claremont's non-comicbook novel, but my wife got to it first and said it wasn't well written, among other things. I guess knowing SF doesn't necessarily make one good at it.

#179 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2006, 11:35 PM:

too bad he's all paper-mache and no goodies on the inside.

#180 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2006, 11:36 PM:

Rob Rusick:

Patrick Nielsen Hayden: The current state of the catalog is full of arbitrariness, bad choices, and unfixed accidents.

Is this something Michael Jackson bears some responsibility for?

Michael Jackson owns (or until recently owned) the publishing rights to a large number of Lennon-McCartney songs. This has as much to do with the state of the audio recordings as my apartment lease does.

#181 ::: Jeffrey Smith ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2006, 11:55 PM:

Speaking of MTV, a profile of Hans Zimmer in yesterday's paper included the surreal tidbit that he wrote the song "Video Killed the Radio Star".

Probably an overstatement. He was friends with Trevor Horn and played with both the bands (the Buggles and the Camera Club) that could lay claim to that song, but it's credited to Horn/Downes/Woolley. Songwriting credits are notoriously unreliable, but I don't know any reason to disbelieve this one. Horn & Geoffrey Downes were a team who listed all their songs as collaborations; if they were willing to add Bruce Woolley as a third name here but not Hans Zimmer as a fourth, I would say that Zimmer was there and contributing, but not in any substantial compositional way.

#182 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2006, 12:04 AM:

But they have Nemesis by Shriekback, which pays for all.

True. And a little digging around on YouTube produces all sorts of other 80s goodies. This could become a very bad habit.

#183 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2006, 12:10 AM:

someone took pictures. ... I'm going to go conduct a ritual burning now.

Aw, can't you show us first?

#184 ::: vian ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2006, 12:24 AM:

Not that bombasticism is nec'ly a bad thing, though OTOH I'm not certain it's a real word.

In the words of Little Britain, computer says 'no'

In fact, it seems rather poorly supplied with abstract noun forms. Perhaps we should start a petition? To whom does one write to get a desparately needed word added to the lexicon?

*wanders off" "Dear chaps at Oxford, Julie L has idea for spiffy new word .... "

#185 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2006, 12:50 AM:

And is the opposite of bombasticism known as bombascetism?

#186 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2006, 01:11 AM:

If anyone here is amused by that sort of thing, I'm being flamed by a commenter ("Aeroman") over at Majikthise.

Well, that was mildly entertaining...

#187 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2006, 01:53 AM:

To those lucky enough to live around the Bay Area... Does anybody know what's going on with cartoonist Phil Frank? The last time the San Francisco Chronicle published his Farley strip was on April 17. Their site says he's taking some time off, without any details. Is he sick?

#188 ::: Bruce Adelsohn ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2006, 02:03 AM:

Dan Layman-Kennedy: It's the whole thing. 23 minutes or so. Beautiful, and something I'd always regretted not being quite ready for (both in age and maturity, not to mention being brought up in a square household) in 1973.

Unfortunately, I didn't get a chance to save The Dot and the Line, which was linked in Metafilter, before it was removed. Damn.

#189 ::: Bob Oldendorf ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2006, 02:20 AM:

Tim Walters:

Oh, thank you.

#190 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2006, 09:07 AM:

"But they have Nemesis by Shriekback, which pays for all."

Wow, that was...entertainingly cheesy. In a wacky college-intellectual sort of way.

Oil and Gold is one of my favorite pop albums of the '80s, but I have to admit, until watching that I had no idea what the band actually looked like. For that matter, I'm still not sure I do.

(The Shriekback-Beatles connection is left for other students to point out.)

#191 ::: Dan Layman-Kennedy ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2006, 09:50 AM:

Bruce, I wouldn't feel too bad about not being ready for Genesis back in '73; apparently the rest of the band wasn't either. The footage from that Shepperton show has a lot of what looks like telling body language from the other musicians, especially Phil Collins looking bored and stoned and anxious to turn the act into a nondescript pop trio.

A friend of mine sums up that era as Peter Gabriel trying his hardest to be a magician while entirely surrounded by Muggles. ("Except for you, Steve. You're all right.")

Me, I was barely a dirty thought in 1973; whole swathes of my musical education are historical studies. There are worse fates.

#192 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2006, 09:57 AM:

John M. Ford: Perhaps, though 'Theophrastic' has a definite ring to it.

#193 ::: Skwid ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2006, 10:38 AM:

I've heard Nemesis so many times that I forget that it's not exactly a staple of most people's musical exposure. It is, however, a Church standard. Usually gets played around midnight, with around half the participants saluting much like in the video, and the rest of them flipping off the other half.

Once upon a time, there was a reliable third cadre, who could fill the second-tier of the dance floor with people doing the Macarena (lyrics) and the Electric Slide (chorus). Sadly, there just don't seem to be enough people willing to indulge in that level of self-mockery around the club anymore.

#194 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2006, 11:15 AM:

Serge: I've been wondering about Phil Frank's extended leave too. (Maybe he's just tired of "Farley", but Mrs. Melmac and the bears really should be on their way to Yosemite by now.) There is one sign of life, however: with writer Joe Troise, he's still doing the "Elderberries" cartoon about old folks. (I see it at this site -- click on "see more examples" for the latest panel. It ain't "Farley", but at least it indicates he's not in a self-induced coma.

#195 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2006, 11:19 AM:

CHip: Clingfire is probably white phosphorus (sp?). Nasty stuff...

Bonewater dust is definitely radioactive, very little info is given beyond the description of it's use and symptoms resulting therefrom.

IIRC, both substances are mined by matrix circles.

#196 ::: D. ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2006, 11:34 AM:

Serge: Farley is still appearing in the paper. Note on website indicates that Farley is taking some time off. Will check, while I do laundry, to see whether what's currently being printed is archival placeholder (like The Boondocks).

#197 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2006, 12:02 PM:

D... Let me know what you find about Phil Frank. Like Faren said, now is about the time that Mrs. Melmac should show up. When her RV-from-Hell is on its way to Yosemite Park, I know that summer has arrived, and that it has ended when an acorn of the Park lands in her martini. Without her to mark the seasons, I feel adrift.

#198 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2006, 12:02 PM:

I've heard Nemesis so many times that I forget that it's not exactly a staple of most people's musical exposure.

I was introduced to it by Animal X, who wanted to use "Nemesis" as a masquerade entry soundtrack.

Once upon a time, there was a reliable third cadre, who could fill the second-tier of the dance floor with people doing the Macarena (lyrics) and the Electric Slide (chorus). Sadly, there just don't seem to be enough people willing to indulge in that level of self-mockery around the club anymore.

You just had to put that thought in my head, didn't you? It fits right in with "Jeopardy theme = schottische", "Ghostbusters = scotch reel", and "Vogue = Contrapasso Nuovo" in the "Dance Historians Gone Wild!" section. Right next to "but of course one can waltz to Metallica!" and other fine jammix moments.

#199 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2006, 12:06 PM:

I checked two online sources [m-w.com and dictionary.com] and they seem to think that "bombast" does not originate from the esteemed alchemist. I'd like it to be true, though, and any help convincing me would be appreciated.

( I will admit that I only know the full name because a friend of mine wrote a game called "Theophrastus". )

#200 ::: Bruce Adelsohn ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2006, 12:42 PM:

Sandy B: I've checked several additional online sources (http://www.etymonline.com and http://www.bartleby.com) and both of them seem to agree that "bombast" derives from the Old French bombace, cotton padding, from Old French. Their further derivations differ, but both seem to imply it's from the idea of "stuffing" or "padding" extended to speech.

What a shame. I recall reading a bio of Paracelsus when I was in grade school, and it indicated that he was in fact the source for the word (which was the first time I'd heard it, and it gave me pause in how I spoke. I fear I've gotten over it in the years since :-(

#201 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2006, 01:00 PM:

'he's still doing the "Elderberries" cartoon about old folks.'

OH! I *thought* that was his work.

#202 ::: Jim Henry ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2006, 01:30 PM:

This is pretty spiffy: Kalusa, an ad-hoc constructed language collaboration project. Read some or all of the sentences in the corpus, rate them to say whether you think they're acceptable or not, add your own sentences possibly reinforcing existing grammatical/lexical trends or starting new ones...

#203 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2006, 02:30 PM:

It's been said that Gore couldn't possibly be Spock because of his sense of humor. Last night I watched my DVD of The Corbomite Manoeuver and there is this scene where the navigator, near panic, raises his voice. Later he apologizes to Spock, saying that, well, humans have this thing called adrenalin. Without missing a beat, Spocks replies:

"I suggest you might consider having it removed."

#204 ::: Mark DF ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2006, 02:34 PM:

I was born about the same time as the Beatles, so I didn't get to experience the rush of exhilaration they brought to music. I listen to them in a more "that's nice" kinda way. I can appreciate the obsession tho. Can't get through the day without at least one.

And speaking of born (he said in a baldly bad segue), my bio daughter did just that May 12! She will be raised by two very fine moms (instead of the wolves that would have taken her away from me to save her). OMG: Birth.

So, anyway, that's where I've been.

#205 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2006, 03:22 PM:

While cleaning up the home office yesterday I found an envelope with the words "Beetles disk" handwritten on it. I looked inside and discovered a CD with all of the "Hard Days Night" content, professionally labeled, although clearly amateurly burnt. I haven't a clue where I got it, and the handwriting offers no hint (the spelling indicates a lack of familiarity, shocking as that might seem). Fortuity, serendipity, who knows?

#206 ::: Skwid ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2006, 03:38 PM:

I realized just now, of course, that I reversed which dance was performed to which segment of Nemesis; the Electric Slide was for the lyrics and the Macarena for the chorus. Silly Mollusk.

You just had to put that thought in my head, didn't you? It fits right in with "Jeopardy theme = schottische", "Ghostbusters = scotch reel", and "Vogue = Contrapasso Nuovo" in the "Dance Historians Gone Wild!" section. Right next to "but of course one can waltz to Metallica!" and other fine jammix moments.

Listening to Metallica's "S&M" or Apocalyptica, I have no difficulty imagining such an activity.

#207 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2006, 04:40 PM:

Listening to Metallica's "S&M" or Apocalyptica, I have no difficulty imagining such an activity.

Try "Nothing Else Matters" - it makes a very nice waltz. My younger students tend to like it, but when I teach more, um, mature waltzers they tend to whine about how nontraditional it is.

The more I think about "Nemesis", the more I think "one-step" - the chorus is just crying out for a bit of double-speed grapevine. This is very, very bad.

#208 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2006, 04:59 PM:

Congratulations to you and to the happy mothers, Mark. I'm sure the wolves are relieved that humans are handling the child-rearing, as they know their limitations in explicating primate manipulative skills and language functions.

#209 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2006, 05:41 PM:

Patrick Nielsen Hayden: The current state of the catalog
is full of arbitrariness, bad choices, and unfixed accidents.

Rob Rusick: Is this something Michael Jackson bears some responsibility for?

Patrick Nielsen Hayden: Michael Jackson owns (or until recently owned)
the publishing rights to a large number of Lennon-McCartney songs.
This has as much to do with the state of the audio recordings
as my apartment lease does.

My mistake. I was under the impression that he owned the recordings.

#210 ::: Annalee Flower Horne ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2006, 06:16 PM:

This is totally out of left field, but I just feel the need to salute the hyphenlessness of your surname.

I wish more people had unhyphenated double surnames. Maybe that would spare me from having the "Flower Horne. You might need to check under Horne. No, it's not hyphenated. Yes, I know my driver's liscence says otherwise; the DMV's computer can't handle spaces. Actually, my parents are quite happily married..." conversation with every receptionist, registrar, and matre'd in the English-speaking world (the Spanish-speaking world has no trouble with the concept at all).

So cheers for not giving in and letting the universe hyphenate you.

#211 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2006, 07:37 PM:

Thanks for the Stock Photo Cliche link. I think they covered about 60% of what's out there with 10 little pictures.

#212 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2006, 07:45 PM:

Annalee... When my wife and I got married, we each kept our surnames. 'Krinard' and 'Mailloux' are pretty bad on their own, but had we gone the hyphenation route, Reality might have collapsed from the unpronouncability density.

#213 ::: Mark DF ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2006, 08:15 PM:

Thanks, fidelio. It's been a wonderfully strange experience. My hats off to all parents. I will feel even more lame now when I forget to water the plants.

On a completely different, since this is an Open Thread, I am having a word usage issue at work that is driving me insane. I write proposals. My boss, whom I fondly refer to as Mr. Happy, is constantly changing "on" to "upon" thus: "...we do x upon a daily basis" instead of "...we do x on a daily basis." (Yes, I too would prefer just "daily" but he's the boss). He actually does it in every instance. I can't come up with an easy to understand explanation as to why "upon" sounds stupid. He also does it with "in" and "into," but I can't think of any example right now. Any takers with "upon"?

#214 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2006, 09:19 PM:

Lori: exactly my point. I think of "psionic weapons" as anything from the Barnhouse Effect (major TK) to making the opponents hallucinate that their armor, weapons, etc. are eating them alive. You're probably right about phosphorous; IIRC it's a lot harder to get off onesself than napalm.

And as long as we're having Beatles moments, has anyone else seen the Fab Four (et al) as the rude mechanicals?

#215 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2006, 09:41 PM:

upon implies a physical placement, as does into.

Best I can do.

#216 ::: Dan Layman-Kennedy ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2006, 10:29 PM:

Annalee, experience leads me to believe that the sort of problem you describe has very little to do with the presence, or lack thereof, of hyphenation.

Of course, my being male probably complicates this to some extent. But I've had my surname truncated on the spot by enough cold callers, IT departments, business contacts and UPS guys that I'm always dangerously close to taking the next poor bastard by the lapels and saying something unkind about their powers of comprehension and/or observation.

#217 ::: Annalee Flower Horne ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2006, 10:29 PM:

Serge: If I ever have kids, they're totally screwed. I'll just roll a D6 for which of their parents' last names they get.

Mark: I have classmates that do this with "utilize." they never just plain "use" anything. I think it's just one of those "big words sound important" deals where some people fail to realize that less is more.

#218 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2006, 10:47 PM:

At least, Annalee, neither of your surnames would make peole choke trying to pronounce them. On the other hand... I had a buddy in Toronto named Martin Miller. Pretty straightforward, right? And yet some people turned it into Martin Milner. I blame Adam 12 for that.

#219 ::: Mark DF ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2006, 11:18 PM:

Linkmeister: I like that! I was having trouble because it's one of those that/which things...there are instances when either is concievably correct, but then instances when only one is. Good thought.

Annalee: GRrrrr, utilize. Mr. Happy LOVES "utilize." And "core competencies" because "skills" just are not that important and sophisticated . I was looking for some word variation not too long ago and used the phrase "suite of products." Now everything comes back with a "suite of x" in it. One of these days I'm going say very slowly to him, "Me writer. You salesman."

#220 ::: Mark DF ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2006, 11:23 PM:

On the double name issue, my last name is Del Franco. Not really double, but similar situation. Growing up in the New Haven CT area, it wasn't a problem since there's a high concentration of Italians, but since then it's been a constant sore point. I've been filed under "F" and had to explain its two words umpteen times. A common occurrence is DelFranco, at which point I get annoyed and ask for another word with a capital letter in the middle of it. Of course, it probably doesn't help matters that I use MDF as my initials.

#221 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2006, 12:39 AM:

On the double name issue, my last name is Del Franco. Not really double, but similar situation. Growing up in the New Haven CT area, it wasn't a problem since there's a high concentration of Italians, but since then it's been a constant sore point. I've been filed under "F" and had to explain its two words umpteen times. A common occurrence is DelFranco, at which point I get annoyed and ask for another word with a capital letter in the middle of it. Of course, it probably doesn't help matters that I use MDF as my initials.

Greetings from New Haven and commiserations on the name thing, though I have the opposite problem - my last name is de Guardiola, and I use G as my last initial. I pronounce it as follows:

"de Guardiola, that's small-de-space-capital-g, try under d, and if it isn't there try under g, and try it both with and without the space and if you can't find it that way try spelling it di and wouldn't it be easier to do this by my confirmation number?"

At my current job, various official records have it listed in at least three different ways, and it's wrong on my ID.

And being in New Haven, I am constantly explaining that it is NOT Italian.

#222 ::: paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2006, 01:13 AM:

I moved the Helm (my maiden name) into my name when I got married, I'd been Paula Helm since my birth and ALL my other siblings and cousins had three names (we're somewhat southern (northeastern OK) so they were things like Debbie Gayle, Donna Kaye, Whatever Jean.)

My parents could not think of a 'middle name' that went with Paula, so I went without.

The owner of a previous place I worked always called me "Paula Sue." which was okay until we had another Paula Murray (so help e goddess, Paula isn't even a common name) come work there. The first time the boss called me that in front of her, she came unhinged after he got out of earshot. I had to assure her that that was NOT my name, Pete had always called me that.

The kids I thought were the most screwed were (and they're fans, so y'all forgive me but this is MY take on it).... a couple of friends who's last names were Kopaska and Merkel, and decided to hyphenate both when the got married. Children could probably not spell their last names until at least 2nd grade....

#223 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2006, 01:15 AM:

saw the "Eeeek! Ideological conservatives betrayed by big business!" particle. read it.

Noticed the guy isn't questioning his conservative values. instead he's question whether Dubya is a conservative. apparently, the tax cuts Dubya gave him were too small. It will make it easier to attempt to sever the republican party ties to Dubya when the 2008 election comes around, I suppose.

Note to self, must create a meme that binds dubya to the republican party.

Sometimes I wonder if anyone has learned anything in the last six years or if we're all just kidding ourselves....


#224 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2006, 01:46 AM:

If I recall correctly - and Google says I do - Viguerie is a long-time GOP hatchet-man, back to the '70s or even the '60s. During the '80s, I recall he was one of the lovely people who brought you Ollie North and the Iran-Contra affair. This op-ed is not just whining - it represents somebody's strategy.

#225 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2006, 03:12 AM:

Viguerie is not only a GOP hatchet man, he's a very wealthy one. He was the first guy to show that doing direct mail for politicians could make the pols happy and the owner of the service richer than Scrooge McDuck. That's how Rove made his bucks (and maybe his bones, too); he learned from Viguerie.

Mark DF, I hope that works.

#226 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2006, 05:39 AM:

Hey! You took that t-shirt ad down. Damn.

#227 ::: Mark DF ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2006, 10:17 AM:

Susan:

I've used the exact same sentence! Years ago, I almost gave in to the whole frustration to go with Delfranco. But it just doesn't look like my name that way. Then I got annoyed again and insisted the world bend to my will.

You're not Italian? That still doesn't mean we aren't going to end up vaguely related. I knew a guy from my gym here in Boston a year before we realized his cousin is married to my cousin and his sister is friends with my nephew. Most of my relatives are actually in East Haven (after the upwardly mobile diaspora from New Haven).

#228 ::: Mary Aileen Buss ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2006, 10:22 AM:

Annalee, experience leads me to believe that the sort of problem you describe has very little to do with the presence, or lack thereof, of hyphenation.

For those of us who are aware of the existence of double last names and trying to get it right, hyphenation does help. (How would I know just by looking that Paula's last name is not 'Helm Murray', but that Annalee's last name is 'Flower Horne'?) For the terminally clueless, nothing helps.

A common occurrence is DelFranco, at which point I get annoyed and ask for another word with a capital letter in the middle of it.

DeKalb County, Georgia is spelled without the space (and pronounced without the 'l').

--Mary Aileen (I have my own double name problems :) )

#229 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2006, 10:36 AM:

Mary Aileen Buss: "DeKalb County, Georgia is spelled without the space (and pronounced without the 'l')."

Very true. I'm in it right now, sandwiched between Chamblee and Atlanta. The pronunciation of DeKalb was one of the first things I learned when I moved to Atlanta.

#230 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2006, 11:43 AM:

I've used the exact same sentence! Years ago, I almost gave in to the whole frustration to go with Delfranco. But it just doesn't look like my name that way. Then I got annoyed again and insisted the world bend to my will.

The world, at least in the U.S., often will not bend to my will on how to alphabetize it, but with determination I can usually get people to spell/space/cap it correctly. (My payroll department is still fighting me; fortunately my bank isn't fussy.)

When my Spanish-Cuban relatives came to this country, they adopted various forms - one of them dropped the "de" entirely - and usages, and some of them have tweaked their names a bit over the years (I think that "de" has reappeared recently), so it isn't even completely consistent within my family.

You're not Italian? That still doesn't mean we aren't going to end up vaguely related. I knew a guy from my gym here in Boston a year before we realized his cousin is married to my cousin and his sister is friends with my nephew. Most of my relatives are actually in East Haven (after the upwardly mobile diaspora from New Haven).

I'm not from New Haven, though I've been here almost 20 years. My only possible Italian ancestry is one Giovanni Pattiti (sp uncertain), who claimed to be an "Eye-talian" [sic] on an early census down in the south - Georgia or North Carolina, I think. It's not clear whether this was a genuine claim or just one of the long string of John Poteetes in my ancestry playing mind games with the evil guv'ment; we've never tried to trace that line back any further. But if ol' Giovanni was for real, I would be 1/2048 Italian. The rest of me is Spanish/Basque/English/Scottish/Cherokee. The last name comes from the Spanish part.

#231 ::: Annalee Flower Horne ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2006, 01:33 PM:

Mary Aileen: I recognize that not everyone's going to get it right on the first pass, and I don't mind people assuming it's hyphenated/my middle name/my first name (I attend a school full of hippies who really would name a child Flower) until I correct them (and God knows all bets are off the second computers get involved).

But when I fill out a form so that it reads "SURNAME: Flower Horne," I feel like that's fairly unambiguous. Apparantly not, though, if the payroll clerks, registrars, receptionists, and tellers I've encountered are any indication.

#232 ::: Patrick Connors ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2006, 01:47 PM:

Annalee Flower Horne: If I ever have kids, they're totally screwed. I'll just roll a D6 for which of their parents' last names they get.

D6? The mind boggles, slightly as the SFnal possibilities roll around my monkey brain. Talk about taking a village to rear a child.

#233 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2006, 02:27 PM:

...at which point I get annoyed and ask for another word with a capital letter in the middle of it.

MacMurry. MacArdle. McCool (originally mac Cumhail 'son of Cumal', but the modern one is sans space).

terHorst (one of Pres. Ford's press secs).

Also, there are lots of 'de's and 'del's and 'la's that spell it without the space.

I know a couple who just added another name onto both of theirs; so (not to use their real names) if she was Jane Doe and he was Richard Roe, she became Jane Doe Smith and he was Richard Roe Smith. Their kids were Billy Smith and Carrie Smith. (The real names are all much more interesting.)

Unfortunately, they then proceeded to adopt all sorts of other people into their "Smith" clan, but only the kids have the extra name as their ONLY last name.

I think this is way cool. You can connect any two adjacent generations, no matter how many times you repeat this process. (Hmm, story ideas...)

#234 ::: Mark DF ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2006, 03:08 PM:

Mary Aileen: Which was named for Baron Johann de Kalb.....(grin)

#235 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2006, 03:13 PM:

Speaking of mangled languages... There is a place called Gnawbone somewhere in the USA. No, it's not named that way because of Donner Pass emulators. It really comes from the French place called Narbonnes.

#236 ::: TChem ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2006, 03:14 PM:

This mixing-of-surnames discussion reminds me of something my husband and I discussed early in our relationship. We had a friend whose last name was a mashing together of his parent's last names (eg, Mr. Smith and Ms. Jones having a child with the surname of Smones).

We thought this was a great way of getting around hyphenations, dice-rolling, or lengthy explanations to DMV employees, until we thought it through and realized that, using this method, we'd be the Porker family. Oops.

#237 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2006, 04:57 PM:

Here's something that friend Elisabeth Vonarburg found in the Great White North's sector of the internet:

We are the Canadian Borg.
Resistance would be impolite.
Please wait to be assimilated.
Pour l'assimilation en Francais, veuillez appuyer 2. (*)

-----

(*) For assimilation in French, please press 2.

#238 ::: Mary Aileen Buss ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2006, 06:25 PM:

Mary Aileen: Which was named for Baron Johann de Kalb

I know. And his name would be alphabetized under 'K' with the 'l' pronounced. Is it any wonder people are confused? :)

--Mary Aileen

#239 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2006, 07:48 PM:

Finding Design Within Reach out of your grasp? Try Thwart Design. One of my favorites.

#240 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2006, 08:50 PM:

MarkDF: Which was named for Baron Johann de Kalb.....(grin)

Well, there's a street in Brooklyn named for the same guy and it's DEEkalb Ave. (spelled De Kalb, so the space is there, but there's an initial capital thrown in for fun).

#241 ::: Jonathan Shaw ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2006, 08:51 PM:

Xopher: I know a similar situation: a brother and sister, now in their late 20s, whose "family name" is Wild, which is not the name of either parent. Apparently they were born into an intentional community in England, and all the children born in that community were given the name "Wild". They occasionally have reunions.

#242 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2006, 09:10 PM:

From an item on Bill Higgins's blog, it sounds like the Future is here, William Gibson's idea of it anyway.

#243 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2006, 09:32 PM:

Serge: I note that the hack in question has rotating subtitles that include "Mediated Hording" (sic).

#244 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2006, 09:49 PM:

Mediated hording, Larry? Well, nobody ever said that computer people were good spellers.

#245 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2006, 10:03 PM:

Ah, but Serge, is the converse true? I could argue that finicky spellers make good programmers. (Then I'd have to back it up with my own fading RPG II skills, though, so maybe I'd better not argue that.)

#246 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2006, 10:11 PM:

The converse might be indeed be true, Linkmeister. Okay, ladies & gents who not long ago in a thread not far away were talking about thingies like the xilinx pfga, are you good spellers?

#247 ::: Bruce Adelsohn ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2006, 10:43 PM:

Linkmeister and Serge: I offer myself as a counterexample. I am a picky speller, and a good one (and annoyed by some of the usual suspects, particularly "definately"), but I can't code my way from a to b. Or rather, I could probably set up an infinite loop, if I tried hard. But writing the stuff just never came naturally (or unnaturally, not that I made any deals with supernal Powers - heck, I even avoided line 666 in BASIC :-)

#248 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2006, 11:03 PM:

Serge: I consider myself a good speller -- not competition-class but good. I've made a living as a programmer for 13+ years (and was dabbling in computers for the previous 25), but know my limitations; one of the privileges of being any good at herding CPUs is that you occasionally get a splashing-close seat to watch someone better.

#249 ::: Dan Layman-Kennedy ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2006, 11:58 PM:

I seem to be, for the most part, one of Nature's spellers; I get words wrong once in a while, but it's rare, and I can usually correct for it easily. (On paper or screen, that is. Ask me to spell a word aloud and I go into a mild panic; converting the symbols into their names, and saying them in order, is a level of abstraction too far. I know what the words are supposed to look like, but in a spelling bee I'd get my phonemes handed to me.)

Coding or programming? Not with a gun to my head. I just don't have the gift for keeping all the necessary logical sequences in my head at the same time. I suspect there's some connection here to my spelling-aloud difficulties, and my challenges in multitasking effectively.

I think the difference in disciplnes, for me, is that recognizing how things are supposed to look when they're spelled is a memory knack - probably the same thing that lets me keep unsightly amounts of lyrics and verse in my head to be called up at a moment's notice. The pattern recognition involved in writing code, OTOH, is a mode of thinking that's just alien to me; it's using a system that has unforgiving rules, and (unless I'm severely misunderstanding the way it works) you can't gloss it over with improvisation, bluff it with nothing but style, or fake looking good at it by getting the cosmetic details just right.

#250 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2006, 12:11 AM:

Linkmeister... It looks like good spellers don't necessarily have the skills to program computers. Of course there are some programmers who don't have the skills to program computers.

#251 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2006, 12:20 AM:

Well, to me, mediated hording calls up vision of the Mongols getting someone else to invade China for them.

In the context of the googlehack, I see a likeminded mob descending on an otherwise unwanted credenza at 23rd & Dolores.

#252 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2006, 12:38 AM:

And by the way, Where is my jetpack?

From the people who brought you The Communist Party.

#253 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2006, 01:06 AM:

Larry... We should be grateful that the jetpack and the aircar never happened. Think of the average idiot who's barely able to manoeuver a vehicle in two dimensions and imagine what they'd be capable (or incapable) of doing in THREE dimensions.

#254 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2006, 01:55 PM:

Ken Lay has been found guilty on all counts. He had to surrender his passport. The actual sentencing will happen on.. ta-da... Sept 11.

#255 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2006, 02:18 PM:

Lay and Skilling both. I wonder what the sentence is going to be. I suspect that most people who worked for Enron would like it to be 500 years each in a maximum security pen.

#256 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2006, 02:30 PM:

Skilling was convicted on only one count, if I remember correctly. And I read somewhere that Lay might get life. Too bad Alcatraz isn't operating any more. Considering that Kenny Boy's funny tricks created California's energy crisis, it'd be sweet revenge. I wonder about San Quentin. It's not that far from San Francisco.

#257 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2006, 02:39 PM:

From NPR: "Lay was convicted on all six counts against him in the trial with Skilling. Skilling was convicted on 19 of the 28 counts against him, including one count of insider trading, and acquitted on the remaining nine."

#258 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2006, 02:42 PM:

Oh, and Serge? "It looks like good spellers don't necessarily have the skills to program computers."

Well, that's why one does science, right? Propose a theory and test it. Of course, all data collected herein is anecdotal and thus not suitable for full-on canonization as SCIENCE, but there you go.

#259 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2006, 02:56 PM:

I noticed indeed, Linkmeister... Our hypothesis (since we hadn't reached the stage of the theory) was shot down almost as soon as it left the starting gate.

Another hypothesis... Can artistic types be good programmers?

#260 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2006, 03:05 PM:

So . . . what percentage of wealth lost from pensions might be recovered by putting Lay and Skilling's organs up for sale on eBay?

#261 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2006, 03:12 PM:

Unfortunately, Stefan, that kind of sentence would be too good for Lay. Unless we ship him to Cordwainer Smith's Planet Shayol.

#262 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2006, 03:13 PM:

"Can artistic types be good programmers?"

Easily, but only those of the representational schools. You wouldn't want a Pollock writing code (although some of mine might have been a close approximation).

#263 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2006, 03:23 PM:

Linkmeister : "Can artistic types be good programmers?"

Easily, but only those of the representational schools. You wouldn't want a Pollock writing code (although some of mine might have been a close approximation).

I think Pollock would do fine. There's evidence of pre-planning (a design phase) and he'd probably be good at networks (the last time I got up close and personal w/ a Pollock I was fascinated to note how the overall structure was positively weblike). He'd certainly not be afraid to get his hands dirty, and would probably be a Method Programmer (tip o' the hat to Marc Stiegler for that one).

I'm not sure one would want, say, the average Flemish painter doing programming, what with all the endless fiddling about and overpainting, not to mention putting in details that no one would ever notice.

#264 ::: Dan Layman-Kennedy ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2006, 03:33 PM:

Well, FWIW, my brother is by all accounts a brilliant programmer, but also a musician of the decidedly abstract, throwing-paint-at-the-canvas school.

#265 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2006, 03:43 PM:

Does everyone have their towel with them?

#266 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2006, 03:44 PM:

van Gogh as a programmer, maybe?

#267 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2006, 03:46 PM:

Maybe my question really should have been:

"Can good programmers write good fiction?"

'Good' includes the style of writing, the story's structure, that kind of stuff...

#268 ::: Michelle K ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2006, 04:31 PM:

Didjasee? Cloaking device!

Won't the Romulans be jealous!

#269 ::: pedantic peasant ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2006, 04:40 PM:

Mark DF:

On the subject of "on/upon":

Doubtless our hostess will correct us if I err, but I believe that as well as the physical placement issue, the use of "upon" implies a singular -- or at least specific (upon entering, upon finding, etc.) -- occurrence (as in the great "Once upon a time ...") So at the very least, "upon a daily basis" would not work.

#270 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2006, 04:43 PM:

"Can programmers write fiction?"

I'll let someone else decide if either one is "good".

#271 ::: Renee ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2006, 05:05 PM:

Pollock drip paintings can be given fractal numbers. Dunno if that carries over to programming, but it implies (to me) an understanding of form that transcends the purely representational.

#272 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2006, 05:22 PM:

Greg London... Thanks. Although, again an hypothesis of mine gets demolished right at the start. I guess my being unable to write good fiction to save my life has nothing to do with my programming skills. Probably lack of talent.

#273 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2006, 05:26 PM:

Third hypothesis... Can one write bad fiction to save one's life?

#274 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2006, 05:28 PM:

Renee : Pollock drip paintings can be given fractal numbers. Dunno if that carries over to programming, but it implies (to me) an understanding of form that transcends the purely representational.

Exactly. He was superbly aware of the deep dynamic structure of a painting, which began to surprise me less after watching a re-airing of Ken Burns' 1988 film on Thomas Hart Benton last week. Pollock studied w/ Benton, and although everyone in the film seemed to be convinced that Pollock didn't get anything from Benton (or that Benton didn't give anything to Pollock) it all made sense to me, in that Benton himself was really great on formal structure and was channeling all the Venetian Renaissance painters (my take on the matter, no one seemed to get that, either).

#275 ::: Renee ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2006, 05:40 PM:

Joann: I don't know anything about Benton, so I can't comment on what he may or may not have given Pollock, but I do firmly believe that you can't 'study with' someone without taking some part of them away with you--even if what you take is, "I ain't doin' it HIS way".

#276 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2006, 06:05 PM:

Renee -- And even the reaction includes some of what is being reacted against, if only in its admission to your worldview.

#277 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2006, 08:48 PM:

Regarding programmers and writing fiction.
I don't write fiction ( never noticed any talent for it ),
but I like to think of my programming as “having a narrative”.

Extensive comments.
Sometimes writing blocks of comments
about what's supposed to be happening
before I've written the code.

For me, somehow it helps alot
in keeping the program in focus
while I'm working on it.

And if definitely helps alot
when I come back to a program after months,
and try to remember WTF I was doing.

#278 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2006, 11:23 PM:

Serge: Can artistic types be good programmers?

Well, perhaps programmers could be considered artistic typists.

****

In re: Skilling and Lay, perhaps they should be subject to rolling blackouts, especially if they should ever need surgery. Those mofs's basically stole a huge chunk of CA's budget and are responsible for putting the Governator in office. No sympathy, and no parole. Throw away the key.

#279 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2006, 12:24 AM:

Actually, Larry, what they should do is to revert Alcatraz to its original function, but Lay & Skilling would be its only in-mates. Nobody else would ever get onto the island, but there'd be cameras everywhere so that people could watch those bastards try to kill each other. Of course tour boats would be allowed just close enough that people could say very rude things to them. And seagulls would be trained to crap specifically on them.

#280 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2006, 02:21 AM:

Rob Rusick, if I were still writing code I'd match you comment for comment. If I hadn't written those in around subroutines and modules I'd have been completely lost a month later, and as for anyone else following what was going on, ha. I had a pretty good mentor who taught me that.

#281 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2006, 06:37 AM:

Comments within a program are for sissies... Today's young people... When I was your age... Seriously, Rob, Linkmeister, I do put some comments in each of a program's subroutines, but quite brief, more along the lines of memory helpers. I am surprised that this hasn't come to haunt me. Oh, and people find that 'funny' when I say I try to write beautiful code, i.e.readable. It's like some programmers think they'll get dinged for every blank space they put in the code.

#282 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2006, 02:01 PM:

Back in 1980, you did. . .

but it's been a very long time since I had to fit a program into 4K.

#283 ::: protected static ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2006, 02:24 PM:

Linkmeister : "Can artistic types be good programmers?"

Ooh, I missed this discussion... Personally, I find that programming fills the same creative need met by writing or crafting (not to start a holy war over the definitions of art vs. craft or anything like that). When I'm unhappy with work or when there's a prolonged lull, my writing picks up, my sketchbook comes out, and I start puttering around in the workshop out in our garage. When work's humming along (or I've got other technical projects with which I can tinker), my longer writing takes a back seat, as do my artsy-craftsy impulses.

Once I explained this to my dad, he pretty much stopped asking when I was going to try and get into management... He likes to work with his hands as well, and suffered through 20+ years as a managerial/executive type at Raytheon.

#284 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2006, 02:38 PM:

I defy anyone to write RPG II elegantly, given the weird characteristics of its cycle. That was one of the reasons for my comment statements. I'm very glad I don't do that anymore.

#285 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2006, 06:54 PM:

Linkmeister: I defy anyone to write RPG II elegantly...

The mere mention of RPG makes my head hurt. What the heck was IBM thinking when they came up with that monstrosity of a language? The whole cycle idea was totally bats. Even more amazingly, they thought that it would empower business people to write their own programs!

I have one of those placticised folding RPG reference cards in a file drawer somewhere. Every time I run across it, I remember why I do marketing these days.

#286 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2006, 07:50 PM:

I offer this game so I'm not the only one wasting time.

#287 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2006, 08:24 PM:

Larry, I burned mine when I left that 9-year job.

You know what's worse? IBM is still pushing it as RPG III on its AS400 line.

#288 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2006, 09:28 PM:

Where I work, most of the developers (including me) are musicians of one sort or another, as one might expect.

The QA department definitely has us beat in fame level and CD production, though.

#289 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2006, 09:53 PM:

Linkmeister - I actually worked with RPG III on a System/36 and later on an AS/400. We had migrated from a Wang VS system, which was actually a very neat computer. Basically it was a S/360 that spoke ASCII. Imagine my shock when I opened the source code for a menu program and found the first statement was "BALR 13,0"!

#290 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2006, 11:00 PM:

I believe Ken MacLeod codes, and I know Charlie Stross codes - I gather at the "serious artistry" level.

#291 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2006, 12:54 AM:

Marilee - Aaargh. I just sunk an hour into that insidious game. Thanks for the reminder of why I don't play computer games anymore!

#292 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2006, 01:14 AM:

So, Clifton, Ken McLeod and Charlie Stross show that, yes, it is possible to excel in two different kinds of artistry, different enough that they are diametrically opposed. It's one of those things I knew, but it still always amazes me. Like Richard Feynman who was also quite good with his pencil, based on some nudes he did. Then again, he seems to have been one of those people who, if they put themselves to the task, will be good at it, no matter what the task. Heck, he was able to fix his washing machine even though he had never looked at the insides of one of those.

#293 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2006, 11:28 AM:

Anna Tambour is going in for her second bout of eye surgery on Monday (lens problems, which I think include cataracts). All who know her or her work might want to wish her well.

And Jeff VanderMeer's blog says his eyes are bothering him too (though he's still keeping up the exercise). Let's hope everyone comes out of their problems all right.

[Me? Just annoying summer allergies and too many books to read!]

#294 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2006, 11:38 AM:

Faren... Is it really a case of too many books to read? Or too many other things to do that cut into the reading time? Or all of the above?

#295 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2006, 02:48 PM:

There's a whole approach to programming referred to as 'literate programming' - an acquaintance uses the term 'persuasive programming' as being even more descriptive of the goal. The fundamental idea is that the comments should precisely describe what the code is doing and why, interwoven with the code and how the code is written in such a way that it is absolutely convincing that the code you are reading does the right thing.

Knuth and others have written code processing systems which facilitate this by allowing the code and text to be more seamlessly interwoven.

The GNU "libavl" library by Ben Pfaff is an excellent example of this approach: it is not merely a functioning set of tree creation and search routines, for 12 different variations on tree structures, but a tutorial in the algorithms (complete with exercises and answers) building from the simplest to the most complex, and including proper citations to mathematical papers, books, and journal articles on the subject. Well worth a look to educate yourself, particularly if you ever need to implement any search or list routines.

I don't take it to that level myself, but I do consider the comments an intrinsic part of the code, and have long adhered to that "persuasion" goal I described above. The practise mentioned above of writing detailed comments for each function before you write the code is also an excellent practice, provided you keep them in sync with the actual resulting code. For instance, in the protocol code I am writing for my current client, my comments cite the relevant RFCs by section ("chapter and verse") as well as the appropriate sections of their engineering requirements, before delving down into the specifics of what I'm implementing, so that the reasons for code being a certain way can be tracked back to the specific sources and causes. Having read a lot of their code in the last few months, I know that the code I've been writing is probably the most extensively commented and documented in this product.

This doesn't preclude a dash of humor. At the last code review I was asked why the comment on the field defining my abstract timer type read "What time is love?", so I footnoted it properly:

/* "What time is love?" - The KLF */

#296 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2006, 04:04 PM:

Headline in yesterday's paper here: "Copper, brass thefts getting more brazen"

#297 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2006, 05:12 PM:

Damn, Clifton, I missed that one. If it continues (the Board of Water Supply just had a bunch of copper stolen off one of its buildings out here; apparently $3/lb copper is a big temptation) I expect either the S-B or the Advertiser to say "Brassy thieves strike again."

#298 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2006, 08:58 PM:

I'm oddly pleased to hear of both bad newspaper puns and the odd bit of lawlessness in HI. Not that I condone theft - it's just that it's all too easy to think of Hawaii as being an island paradise, and therefore immune to the ills of the human condition.

#299 ::: Keir ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2006, 10:07 PM:

What is RPG?

It isn't a rocket propelled grenade, as far as I can see, and nor is it a role playing game, so, um, what is it?

#300 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2006, 10:40 PM:

Keir, RPG, a.k.a. Report Program Generator is a bizarre cyclic programming language created by IBM that has completely failed to die the death it so richly deserves.

#301 ::: Keir ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2006, 11:02 PM:

I see.

It looks awful. Really mind numbingly boring too.

#302 ::: candle ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2006, 01:37 AM:

Serge: xilinx fpga. I am not a programmer, so I'm not sure what it means that the spelling for a thing I don't remotely understand and will never see again should have stuck so firmly in my head. It's probably the fault of John M. Ford.

#303 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2006, 01:42 AM:

Regrettably, Larry, we have an equal share of the "ills of the human condition." We don't advertise them, but neither do we shy away from them (unless paid by the Hawai'i Convention and Visitors Bureau).

On the bright side, we were just informed that there are at least a dozen towns in California with higher gas prices than we have. We've led the country for so many months (despite no notice of that when network news does one of its "ooh, how awfully high" stories) that being outstripped in some places should depress us, but we're bearing up.

#304 ::: Lisa Spangenberg ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2006, 10:01 AM:

Most of the really good programmers I've known and worked with have been very good verbally, often multilingual in terms of human languages, or very good musicians, and sometimes, the programmers were gifted both ways.

#305 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2006, 12:25 PM:

Serge: It really is too many books. They're heaped high on a chair near my desk, and now they're covering half the living room sofa. I've read at least four novels that won't make it into my column because there's no room, and I'm already nearly done with the reading for my August reviews. I can't complain too much, because in past years some months had slim pickings, and these days I actually have more free time -- no more Bay Area concert-going, and I find very little to watch on TV aside from news, nature documentaries, baseball and tennis. (So very middle-aged of me.) So now you know!

Update on Anna Tambour: her second eye operation has been postponed while they wait to see if the first eye stabilizes, gets better, or needs more work. At least she's well enough to read and send e-mails.

#306 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2006, 01:49 PM:

Too many books, Faren? And too many good ones for the space available in your column? That is an enviable position.

Meanwhile, I read on Kaja Foglio's LiveJournal that a book is coming in June that I absolutely must have, Lester Dent's Zeppelin Tales. I particularly liked this description of one of the tales:

"Blackbeard's Spectre": Zeppelin pirates steal the passenger dirigible City of Oakland before its maiden flight to Japan!

By the way, didn't some book come out a couple of years ago with modern tales involving airships?

#307 ::: Sumana ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2006, 01:52 PM:

Brendan Adkins writes interesting stories that are 101 words long. You can read them all on the web; instead of adding a book to your unwieldy pile, you can add a bookmark to your unwieldy pile! One that I love ends:

"There is nothing outside the text!" Jacques insists. He means this literally; the three of them are in a spaceship made of origami newsprint.

It should be noted that this is basically the worst possible kind of spaceship.

Some of them are one-offs. Some characters keep turning up, like Jake.

He calls the project Anacrusis. I've found that a good pile of samples results if you do a search for "paper." Some of them I'm not smart enough to get. For example, I can't figure out what his The Good Girls or The Union series are about. Would welcome analysis.

#308 ::: MD˛ ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2006, 01:53 PM:

Just thought you people might be interested. ^_^

Sorry if already posted. Which will not surprise me. It's almost always already posted around those parts.

(My take is that future is much more present here than in most places, while past still is lingering. Strange times indeed.)

#309 ::: Alex Cohen ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2006, 02:18 PM:

By the way, didn't some book come out a couple of years ago with modern tales involving airships?

You're probably thinking of All-Star Zeppelin Adventure Stories, edited by David Moles and Jay Lake.

#310 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2006, 02:42 PM:

Yes, Alex, that's the one I was thinking of. I've never been onboard a zeppelin, not even a modern one, but I've always thought they looked neat. By the way, I came to realize how big some of those old-timers were years ago when we drove thru Oregon's Tillamook. It's known as the cheese town, but it also has an airship museum inside the hangar used by patrol zeppelins during the Second World War. Big doesn't even begin to describe the size of the place.

#311 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2006, 05:41 PM:

I don't know if anyone's pointed this out here before, but here's pandora.com. A site where you start with a song or band you like and it builds a custom radio station for you. As you guide it, it gets better at playing music you'll like.

If you're not careful, you'll find something you'll like.

Unless your a certain Australian curmudgeon, that is. ;-)

#312 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2006, 05:49 PM:

Big doesn't even begin to describe the size of the place.

Serge, one of my friends went to an airshow at Moffett Field. In Hangar One. The static displays were at one end, and the other had hot-air balloon rides. Inside. (I think you can put a Saturn 5 inside it, endways. 'Macon' was something like 800 feet long.)

#313 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2006, 05:54 PM:

All right, P J, all right... Yours is bigger than mine.

#314 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2006, 06:13 PM:

Only if you're looking at hangars. (Actually, blimp hangars are also impressive. There are a lot of those still around.)

I'd like to see Tillamook. Someday. With the mythical lottery winnings, maybe.

#315 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2006, 06:29 PM:

The Tillamook hangar was indeed impressive, P J, and the museum was interesting but not as the main goal of a trip. It did have a few displays of more modern balloons, some of which made it in a PBS documentary of the early Nineties. One thing I remember about the place is that being an airship patrolman during WW2 was a cushy job, in no small part because the guys were very well fed. They probably got to eat a lot of the yummy local cheese.

#316 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2006, 08:13 PM:

Over at Pharyngula, a
really neat website imager

Watching a site bloom like a flower is fun.

#317 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2006, 08:53 PM:

Thanks for the link to the imager, P J. I wonder what Making Light's structure would look like.

#318 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2006, 09:05 PM:

I ran it through. It looks like several dandelion heads with a lot of lacy leaves at the bottom. Or maybe parsley or dill, in bloom. It's saved. Relating it to the code is interesting; without the source, it's hard to figure it out.

#319 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2006, 10:15 PM:

Wher eis Making Light's diagram saved, P J?

#320 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2006, 11:35 AM:

It's local as a Paint Shop Pro file. After I get home (I e-mailed it to myself) I can turn it into something more general. (Build your own: copy the top-level address to the scratchpad and paste it into the applet. Takes several minutes to stop unfolding, but fun.)

#321 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2006, 11:36 AM:

Thanks, P J.

#322 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2006, 02:53 PM:

Via PZ Myers, a collection of pulp magazine covers featuring octopi (well, typically only one octopus, but anyway...).

#323 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2006, 05:47 PM:

That mention of the airship City of Oakland reminds me of a fun fact I just discovered, via a quite cool and interesting US and Australian book of landscape art I found used, New Worlds From Old: one painting, "Residence of Captain Thomas W. Badger, Brooklyn [California], is actually set in Oakland, "near what is today known as Lake Merritt". Gee, seems kind of appropriate that Locus mag is based in what once was known as Brooklyn! The 1871 painting also shows a steamship out on the Bay. No pirates, though.

I'm a sucker for landscape art, and it was particularly interesting to see all the Aussie scenes, as shown through 19th-century eyes.

#324 ::: Lenora Rose ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2006, 05:59 PM:

AKICIF:
This is an admittedly weird one: Is anyone here either from or liable to travel to Malta at any point in the relatively near future?

(I just came back therefrom, and there's one particular thing I missed out on.)

Contact me at the e-mail address lenorarose at nospamplease!shaw.ca

#325 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2006, 07:08 PM:

Faren's comment about Brooklyn reminds me of the movie version of On The Town. The whole gang is crammed inside Betty Garrett's taxi, being chased out of Manhattan by cops for wrecking that dinosaur skeleton. On the Brooklyn Bridge, with the cops on their tails, Betty exclaims she knows a place in Brooklyn where the cops will never be able to find them.

"What place?" they ask.
"Brooklyn!"

#326 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2006, 07:46 PM:

When I first moved to Seattle, I took a drive to the coast to satisfy my need to see the ocean. I saw some signs pointing towards Brooklyn, WA. As a native Brooklynite, I collect Brooklyns. So, I followed signs and there was no there there. Not even a "Welcome to Brooklyn" sign. The only thing in sight along the whole route were some farm buildings.

Definitely a place the cops might have a hard time finding someone.

#327 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2006, 09:32 PM:

Just caught an ad for the Skiffy Channel's next Saturday-Night cinema opus, something called Black Hole. Apparently a black hole shows up in Wisconsin and they try to get rid of it by dropping in some nukes. There goes the neighborhood.

#328 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2006, 12:52 AM:

Singularities and hard radiation: two great tastes that taste great together!

I assume we are assuming some waivers of the Current Received Laws of Physics which allow small black holes to exist for substantial periods of time - no Hawking radiation, etc. Given that assumption, it wouldn't seem like you'd want to make your singularity radioactive, unless you wanted to keep someone else from using it (cf. Banks.)

You might however want to put a nice electrostatic charge on it, so you could move it around (cf. Niven.) Then you could solve the garbage disposal problem and toxic waste disposal problem for all time!

#329 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2006, 01:26 AM:

According to imdb, the movie is not only about a manmade black hole trying to eat St. Louis, but there is a DUHN Duhn dunnnn ELECTRICITY-GOBBLING MONSTER THINGY INSIDE IT!!!!

Boy, it never rains but it pours, eh? So, like, not only is everybody having relativistic irritable bowel syndrome, but they can't even watch it on CNN, 'cause, like the monster has eaten all their electricity!

Next week on the Skiffy Channel: Inverse Matrix, in which some evil crazy mathematicians in a land where they wear funny hats create a really big matrix on a gigantic array of parallel Mac Minis, and then -- wait for it -- they invert it, using a highly mobile, standard-transmission, white-sidewall solution concept (identified in the film as a "Nash Rambler"), which causes, well, time to run backward and Twinkies to get fresher and, inevitably, film of an atomic explosion to be run in reverse. Stars a bunch of Eastern Europeans and Tony Shalhoub in a five-minute cameo as The Brilliant Mathematician Who Is Crazy as a Hyperboloidal Pizza and Unlucky in Love but Real Smart Anyway.

Order the DVD now.


#330 ::: oliviacw ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2006, 02:25 AM:

Serge mentioned Betty Garrett in the movie version of On the Town.

Unnecessary and unearned bragging: I went to the same high school as Betty Garrett (though not at the same time!). It's a small school, and we hold combined reunions every year. She was present, as this is the SEVENTIETH (yes, 70) year since she graduated from high school. She's still amazingly spry and recognizable, as well as being quite a nice person.

#331 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2006, 03:24 AM:

Surprisingly few people know that the area east of Lake Merritt was once an independent town named Brooklyn, before Oakland gobbled it up and digested it. There's still a Brooklyn Avenue there.

#332 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2006, 05:14 AM:

Er, Clifton, I don't think you can make a black hole radioactive (ignoring Hawking radiation) because the radiation wouldn't be able to escape. That's why they're, well, black.

But I am only a Biologist of Very Little Brain and Cosmological Singularities Puzzle me.

#333 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2006, 07:46 AM:

Really, oliviacw? Wow. It's always nice to know that someone is as pleasant in real life as one's character. Like I was thinking last time I saw On The Town (a tradition with us on 9/11), I found myself thinking that Garrett's character is the one I'd most want to date because she's so damned funny. And cute.

#334 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2006, 08:06 AM:

So, that movie Black Hole is set in St. Louis?

Maybe its title should have been Eat Me in St. Louis. Then again, maybe not, unless the Skiffy Channel wants the FCC to wonder why they're now showing X-rated movies.

#335 ::: HP ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2006, 09:48 AM:

Black Hole sounds like a ripoff of Arch Obeler's radio play Oxychloride X AKA The Hole (.mp3 download at link).

Obeler's 1943 play predates both the discovery of black holes and working A-bombs, so his story involves a runaway chemical reaction. But still, a giant hole in the midwest eats whole cities, which is pretty cool.

#336 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2006, 10:16 AM:

Larry Brennan: So, I followed signs and there was no there there. Of course the same has famously been said of Oakland.

#337 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2006, 10:47 AM:

--by someone who grew up in Oakland, and was saddened that the remembered landmarks of her childhood had all disappeared.

At least, that's how it was explained to me.

#338 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2006, 11:26 AM:

Just caught an ad for the Skiffy Channel's next Saturday-Night cinema opus, something called Black Hole. Apparently a black hole shows up in Wisconsin and they try to get rid of it by dropping in some nukes. There goes the neighborhood.

Gods, I hate the Skiffy Channel. I'd avoid them entirely, except that there's nowhere else to get my fix of Dr. Who (and later BSG).

#339 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2006, 11:32 AM:

Paul A... So that's what Gloria Steinem meant with her comment about Oakland? That's silly. I bet you that there were old people when she was a kid who, upon looking at the then-new landmarks she yearns for, shook their heads at all their old landmarks being torn down.

Meanwhile... I like the idea of zeppelin-using pirates having their lair in Oakland. Come to think of it, the hills near the Locus HQ would be perfect for their hideout. Hmmm... What does the Locus crew do when they're not busy putting an issue together?

#340 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2006, 11:34 AM:

Serge, I thought it was Gertrude Stein. But I think a lot of things that turn out not to be true.

#341 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2006, 11:49 AM:

Duly noted, Xopher. By the way, is something missing from your 2nd sentence?

#342 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2006, 12:17 PM:

Um...just read it several times. Not seeing anything missing.

1. I think things.
2. There are a lot of these things.
3. Sometimes these things turn out not to be true (that is, to be untrue).

Insert 2 attributively into 1: I think a lot of things.

Make 3 a 'that' clause on the result: I think a lot of things that turn out not to be true.

Did you misparse, or am I missing something? (I also think other things that do NOT turn out to lack truth, of course. But I was only talking about my wrong set.)

#343 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2006, 12:28 PM:

No, Xopher. It's me. I had my second cup of coffee and it all came clear. Besides, while I've been living in a solely anglophone environment for over 20 years, sometimes I still trip.

#344 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2006, 12:31 PM:

OK. You had me worried there. I will point out, though, that your English is wayyyyy better than my French.

#345 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2006, 12:35 PM:

Just verified that it was Gertrude Stein who said that about Oakland.

#346 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2006, 12:53 PM:

Speaking of the French language, Xopher... Have you ever seen an American SF novel in paperback next to its French translation? There is a noticeable difference in thickness. English definitely is a more condensed language than most Latin languages.

#347 ::: MLR ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2006, 01:26 PM:

Andrew Wheeler posts about a website that graphs other websites. As one poster at Wheeler's site said, the results are very organic looking. Making Light's graph brought to mind blue dandelions and a tall spindly weed. (Clearly I'm feeling gardening guilt here...no reflection on Making Light.) The website is fun to play with. Take a look.

#348 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2006, 02:22 PM:

Serge, yes, I've noticed that. Also signs on the subway in English and Spanish. ("Do not lean on the doors"—six syllables. "No se apoye contra la puerta"—nine syllables ('se-a' is one, not two, as I discovered when I did my Pimsleur course).)

I suspect it's partly due to English's huge vocabulary, which is the largest of any modern language and second only to Ancient Greek in all of history. More words means using fewer of them for any given instance. (A trivial example: 'hematite' literally means 'bloodstone' but the two words refer to entirely different rocks. If you only have one of those words you'd have to use it for both stones, and disambiguate with an additional word or more.)

Also, though, certain grammatical properties of English make it more compact. My favorite is attributive nouns. Try saying this in French: "There's been a malfunction of the White House Press Briefing Room podium sound equipment." An English-to-French UN interpreter I met once called that sentence "a nightmare" (when I said it to her apropos of just such a discussion) because you have to wait for the very last word before you can start the long chain of "de"s that you need to say it in French!

#349 ::: Mark DF ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2006, 03:09 PM:

Xopher: That's usually attributed to Stein as far as I know.

Okay, confession: I am addicted to bad Skiffy Channel movies. I love one word movies: Mosquito! Mansquito! Rats! Komodo! My poor partner goes to bed earlier, I get into bed and start watching something. The screams wake him up and he says something like "Are you really watching a giant cockroach movie?" and I say something like "No, silly, it's a giant irradiated cockroach from space movie."

Don't judge me.

#350 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2006, 03:33 PM:

Mark DF, my friend Babs says "everyone has their own brand of trash." There's something trashy that appeals to each of us. I was addicted to teenage vampire sex comedies (didn't know that was a genre, did you?) for a while there.

Judge not, lest ye be judged.

Btw, the word 'bad' is redundant in the first sentence of your confession.

#351 ::: Skwid ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2006, 03:56 PM:

Ooooh, that site-graphing thing is fun. My site looks sort of bird-like to me. I think it's rather attractive, really. What do y'all think?

#352 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2006, 04:01 PM:

disambiguate...

Now, Xopher, that's a word one doesn't often come across in any kind of conversation. I think I should start using it more often, like when users ("Do you believe in Users?") come up with program specs that are a bit short on clarity.

"Would you care to disambiguate?"

#353 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2006, 04:05 PM:

Mark DF... Is it a plus or a minus or a minus-that's-really-a-plus when a Skiffy Channel movie has Dean Cain in it?

#354 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2006, 04:12 PM:

Serge - I first heard it when a Linguistics prof of mine was explaining why some Michiganders say "ink pen," which to me is redundant.

In certain dialects spoken in MI (not including mine; my parents are from Chicago) /i/ and /e/ are not distinct in speaking. So 'pin' and 'pen' are pronounced the same; therefore the word 'ink' is added, so you'll know it's not a safety pin or a straight pin they're asking for!

#355 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2006, 04:13 PM:

I hate seeing Dean Cain in Skiffy Channel movies...because I like Dean Cain.

#356 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2006, 04:21 PM:

I'm still waiting for the ultimate Skiffy Channel movie... It has to have a giant cockroach duking it out with a giant spider. Throw in a giant snake. Maybe a few ladies with improbable breasts. And land-sharks. And Dean Cain.

Then we force Xopher to watch it and we broadcast the results on the internet.

#357 ::: Sarah S ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2006, 04:25 PM:

Xopher--

My pet linguist tells me that there's even something called the pin/pen line that stretches across the country, below which people pronounce it one way and about which they pronounce it the other.

There's a poem in that, if I could find it.

#358 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2006, 05:04 PM:

Mark DF: My favorites on Skiffy are the disaster flicks. Every once in a while they'll go on a spell of showing _Dante's Peak_ every other film. (Or at least it seems that way.)

The volcano movies give me hysterics, especially when the symptoms leading up to the eruption don't match the type of volcano shown...

In fairness to _Dante's Peak_, they did get SOME of it right.

I've also noticed that the tornado movies seem to pop up like clockwork when the season starts. Somehow, I don't think that's coincidence.

#359 ::: Mark DF ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2006, 05:08 PM:

Oh...Dean Cain is definitely a minus that's a plus. Although his character always seems to wear a windbreaker or polo shirt to show that he's just your average geophysicist/astronomer/biologist who just happens to be really buff and well coiffed.

He really should have been in Boa vs Python.

I went to see the X-men the other night and was very disappointed that the projector was screwed up during the preview for Snakes on a Plane.


Serge: You MUST tell me if that movie ever gets made.

#360 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2006, 05:13 PM:

I recently had a conversation with someone from North Dakota, who pronounces "cot" and "caught" the same way. Amazingly, she had never noticed that anyone pronounced them differently. Even when I demonstrated, she said that she couldn't hear much of a difference.

#361 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2006, 05:36 PM:

I'll let you know, Mark DF, if that movie ever gets made. Maybe I should write the script. Let's see.

The movie starts with scientists working on the creation of black holes within their superduper lab situated underground near a volcano. Their work is all too successful because it rips open a gate to a Reality of giant cockroaches and spiders. The ruthless fat white scientist-in-chief gets promptly eaten in the process. Of course while gun-toting head-of-security Dean Cain and the ethical beautiful (female) scientist fight off the giant creatures, they have to contend with the black hole's gravitational disturbances that cause the volcano to erupt....

I'm sure I could fit in a tornado, especially if the air pressure from the other Reality is quite different from ours.

I still need to get the land-sharks and the big snakes somewhere in there.

#362 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2006, 05:48 PM:

Serge: The big snakes live in the jungle around the volcano. The land sharks... Um, let me think about the land sharks for a while.

#363 ::: Mary Aileen Buss ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2006, 05:52 PM:

Larry Brennan: I grew up in Atlanta, and I never noticed a difference in pronunciation between 'cot' and 'caught', either.

--Mary Aileen

#364 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2006, 05:54 PM:

The radiation from the black hole causes the sharks in the ocean around the island to mutate into land sharks.

Also, the tornado could be a whirlpool as all the air and water gets sucked down into the black hole.

Scientific accuracy? But...it's SciFi Channel!

#365 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2006, 05:59 PM:

Gosh. I just tried that graphical website whatsit, and it makes my site look a whole lot more interesting than I expected.

#366 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2006, 06:02 PM:

Now that was odd. I used the same language as in my above comment but had the full link encoded into an href statement, and I got dinged for questionable comment. Changed it to a tinyurl and it took.

#367 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2006, 06:44 PM:

I think this graphical website tool showed more than just colored circles, it lets you click on the bits and see what they represent.

#368 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2006, 09:59 PM:

Xopher: "No se apoye contra la puerta"—nine syllables ('se-a' is one, not two, as I discovered when I did my Pimsleur course).)

Does your musical experience extend to Italian opera? I can trip quickly through G&S patter songs (and even Sondheim's), but the way Verdi agglutinates stumps me. Consider for instance "Gloria al Egitto, al Iside" (opening of the Aida finale that defines the grossest of grand opera). 11 syllables, right? (Maybe more; this is from memory, so either "al" might be "al' ".) No, 8; "to-al" is one, as is "ria-al" (and it's on a short note, too). And he even does this when there are 4-6 separate verbal lines (e.g. Otello act III finale); I'm surprised his librettist didn't kill him.

#369 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2006, 10:37 PM:

CHip, the same thing happens in Italian. It's a Germanic notion that each vowel makes a syllable; Latin has "light" and "heavy" syllables, and one of the things that can make a syllable "heavy" is that it has two morae, where each mora is defined by a vowel. (This is my 20-plus-year-old memory of Latin linguistics here, so someone can correct me if they know better.)

Languages descended from Latin, like Spanish and Italian, may have paired vowels in modified form, but when two vowels come together both are pronounced, but in one (two-"mora") syllable (the quotes are because I'm not sure the term is used for modern Romance languages).

So no, Verdi's librettist wouldn't have wanted to kill him. He was setting the language exactly as it's pronounced, which would have made it more accessible to other native speakers of said language, even if it makes it harder for speakers of English (with its "one vowel, one vote...um, syllable" rule) to learn.

#370 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2006, 09:16 AM:

Anybody interested in a Congressional Sale-a-bration?

#371 ::: David Bishop ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2006, 11:29 AM:

[Moved here since the breastfeeding thread has been closed]

Let me add my voice to those who agree with the basic premise (objecting to public breast feeding or images thereof is stoopid) but disagree with the assertion that those who don't breast feed are somehow "less". Our good friend and neighbor produces less than an ounce an hour, and simply can't breastfeed. Or should she slowly starve her baby to death? We also have friends that tried for three months to get their baby to latch, without success. And then tried again with the second kid. Maybe if they tried for four months, the kids would have finally figured it out. Does the fact that they gave up (and stopped having horrible late nights pacing back and forth sobbing with frustration) make them bad parents?

Sorry, there's two different attitude in this article that piss me off, but only one has affected those I love...

#372 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2006, 03:37 PM:

Xopher: In certain dialects spoken in MI (not including mine; my parents are from Chicago) /i/ and /e/ are not distinct in speaking. So 'pin' and 'pen' are pronounced the same; therefore the word 'ink' is added, so you'll know it's not a safety pin or a straight pin they're asking for!

Not limited to Michigan. I grew up in Texas and I learned that pin and pen were homophones (pronounced with the short "i" sound). I can make the funny nasal short "e" sound if I try (it involves wrinkling my nose), but even after almost a quarter-century in Yankeeland it still doesn't come naturally. It's one of the few bits of accent I haven't shed.

(We did not, however, call pens "ink pens". I guess we just assumed people could figure it out from context. That seems to be a midwestern usage.)

As a result of the same little linguistic difference, my accent (axint) in French (frinch) is just ludicrously awful.


#373 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2006, 03:41 PM:

Mark DF: I love one word movies: Mosquito! Mansquito!

I saw the giant mosquito marathon too, at a friend's house in the company of a teenager, which is the proper company for such things.

Unfortunately, I have forgotten the name of the movie in the shark-attack marathon in which they changed plastic sharks in mid-scene so that the shark could briefly get large enough to swallow eight people on a round raft in one gulp before switching back to normal size. Truly a classic of cheesy SFX.

#374 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2006, 03:57 PM:

Susan, I knew there were other areas of the country where the distinction between /i/ and /e/ is not made, but not how (or whether) it was disambiguated. I suspect this is the reason for C.J. Cherryh's use of the term 'ser' among her Union and Union-descended populations, for example. The fact that the feminine is 'sera' remains obscure, at least to me. And it's going to make turning Cyteen into a movie (or three) really difficult. Everyone will think they're calling all the women Sarah.

They should just go back to using 'sir' and 'ma'am' (um...I trust human readers know which of those is an apostrophe and which are single quotes (and I have a reason for using single quotes here rather than double, which reason is to me more important than potential demarcation confusion (which mostly affects computers anyway (as mentioned above)))).

What was I talking about?

Oh, yeah, accents. When I was learning Russian and German and (sung) French and a bit of Spanish, I found it helpful to pretend I was trying to actually do an impersonation of the accent model. Imitate not just what they say, but their voice and exact manner of speaking. I was the only one in my first-term Russian class to get the intonation patterns right, and all the other students laughed at me because it sounded to them like I was making fun of the teacher!

If you can mimic someone to mock them, you can do it to copy their accent. Try that and get back to me.

Wait. I'm on ML, not a support call. Which I have to get back to. Laters.

#375 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2006, 06:55 AM:

I remember the first time at work that a customer asked me for the loan of an "ink pin". I'd never come across that usage before and had a hard time figuring out what she was talking about. I occasionally worry that the customer thought I was making fun of her.

#376 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2006, 07:48 AM:

I notice that the auteur responsible for Mansquito also has his name on the upcoming SkifTube black hole movie -- the one where the singularity has a monster in it, because physics is dull.

Come to think of it, the eponymous arachnids in The Giant Spider Invasion came out of a black hole too, that just happened to be lying around in a field somewhere near the Dells. It was not, however, by the same guy, but by Bill Rebane, the Ed Wood of Wisconsin.

Of course, the history of really dense matter, and really dense movies about it, deserves a paper at some point, covering the various cryptozoa found within, the Underground Railway Model of the Universe (Change at Andromeda Galaxy Under), and, in the You Can't Make This Stuff Up chapter, the curious line in the first Trek film about the Voyager probe having tripped and fallen through "what they used to call a black hole." What they call it in the 23rd Century,* and why Captain "Son of the Guy Captain Kirk Let the Doomsday Snowcone Eat" Decker uses this irrelevant locution** remains unexplained.

*Possibly "frozen stars," since presumably the Russians are Our Friends Now. Or some Vulcan word that sounds intensely scientific but the Vulcans know means "ugly sucker."
**Given the urgency of the situation -- the Earth is about to get blowed up and all -- this is rather like telling the paramedics that your skin is falling off because of what they used to call phlogiston.

#377 ::: Harry Connolly ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2006, 08:32 AM:

I notice that the auteur responsible for Mansquito also has his name on the upcoming SkifTube black hole movie -- the one where the singularity has a monster in it, because physics is dull.

Which pretty much guarantees that, in that 90 minute movie, there will be about 20 minutes, unevenly distributed, of medium and wide shots of actors standing around futilely shooting guns at the monster.

I wish someone would explain to these guys that endless shots of Michael Rooker standing near a tree rat-a-tat-tat-tat-tat-tat-ing at some invulnerable offscreen monster does not constitute "action."

#378 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2006, 02:51 AM:

On "what they used to call a black hole":

In the Original Series episode "Tomorrow is Yesterday" - made before the term "black hole" became standard - features a close encounter with an astronomical body described as a "black star".

Whether this is what the writers of the movie had in mind, I don't know.

#379 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2006, 04:06 AM:

A "black star" was a term used for a neutron star (or, if you like, "what they used to call it"). James Blish used, and explained, the word in his adaptation of that episode. At the time Original Trek was on, black holes weren't in the public consciousness at all. We leave aside the fact that a starship that strikes an event horizon will be sending a subspace message to Admiral Fox and Commodore Bear to please not throw it in that briar patch.

It is unkind to think so, but I think the writers of that scene were sound asleep. The line, as noted, makes no sense; you don't use obsolete words unless you have some specific reason (like, there's a 20th-Century person who needs it explained -- but that person is supposed to be on the screen, not out in a hypothetical audience).

#380 ::: Bob Oldendorf ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2006, 11:02 AM:

Given the urgency of the situation -- the Earth is about to get blowed up and all -- this is rather like telling the paramedics that your skin is falling off because of what they used to call phlogiston.

I just wanted to savor that sentence again.

Thanks for that - it has deepened my enjoyment of cheesy SF.


#381 ::: Daniel ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2006, 01:09 PM:

This is just to inform you of a comical typo: I just instructed my browser to load up the page at www dot nielsenhatden dot com, and found it didn't exist! If hats needed a den, though, I'm sure the Nielsen hat den would be excellent.

End of newsflash.

#382 ::: Clark E Myers ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2006, 02:06 PM:

When I was learning Russian and German and (sung) French and a bit of Spanish, I found it helpful to pretend I was trying to actually do an impersonation of the accent model. Imitate not just what they say, but their voice and exact manner of speaking.

I tried to make it obvious to a mediocre lip reader with poor vision. Seemed to help. Maybe just to get past some stage of speaking in a prison whisper to avoid embarrassment.

#383 ::: ml ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2007, 02:01 PM:

fck

#384 ::: joann sees an inappropriateness at 383 ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2007, 02:12 PM:

needs disemvowelling, given lack of context

#385 ::: bryan ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2007, 02:35 PM:

cheesesquwick

#386 ::: PJ Evans see more something ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2007, 02:38 PM:

Possibly an infestation of rugrats?

#387 ::: Serge sees Star Trek's Evil Universe counterpart of ML poking thru ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2007, 03:26 PM:

I mean, isn't the name 'Mala' etymologically related to 'evil'?

#388 ::: kouredios ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2007, 03:43 PM:

Yup. Plus: apple.

#389 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2007, 05:04 PM:

apples, actually - malum (apple) is neuter singular

#390 ::: mjfgates ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2007, 05:55 PM:

I, for one, welcome our new evil fruit overlords.

Now I've done it. The image of the Apples, Lords of the Desert Sands, galloping out of nowhere on their mighty steeds-- bananas, natch-- in their rough furs and leathers, burning, looting and pillaging!... oh bother. My brain is going to be stuck on this for a WEEK.

#391 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2007, 05:56 PM:

So, apples are really bad for you? Not to mention related to melons....

#392 ::: kouredios ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2007, 06:30 PM:

They proved pretty bad for Adam and Eve...

#393 ::: kouredios ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2007, 06:36 PM:

Oh, and abi, you're right, of course. I was just remarking on another etymological relation, not making a direct translation.

#394 ::: Bruce Cohen, SpeakerToManagers ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2007, 07:30 PM:

kouredios @ 392

No, that pomegranates.*

You ever eat one? Messy and frustrating. Good, though.

#395 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2007, 07:59 PM:

abi 389: so malum in se means "an apple in itself"? Or maybe "an apple, as such"?

#396 ::: bryan ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2007, 08:35 PM:

I believe that what you have here is a fustification of ragruts. nasty ones too.

#397 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2007, 09:20 PM:

Bruce @ 394

They peel better under water (use a large bowl or a kettle). The seeds sink, the trash floats. Let them soak a bit beforehand and the skins will be softer. (Also, it keeps the juice from squirting all over!)

#398 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2007, 09:22 PM:

Doesn't #69 belong in one of Mike's threads?

#399 ::: kouredios ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2007, 09:31 PM:

Bruce @ 394. Yum, pomegranate. And, what kind of Kore would I be if I hadn't? :D

#400 ::: John Houghton ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2007, 09:58 PM:

Rugrats peel better underwater. I'll keep that in mind. You say the vowels float away?

#401 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2007, 10:53 PM:

kouredios 399: Pomegrantes don't have kores. That's apples...

#402 ::: bryan ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2007, 03:23 AM:

them apples is rotten to the kore, stick with palmgrenades.

#403 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2007, 06:56 AM:

I'd write a sonnet here, but Demeter would be wrong.

#404 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2007, 09:04 AM:

You can't be Ceres.

#405 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2007, 09:08 AM:

I feel no need for Apollo-gy.

#406 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2007, 09:40 AM:

Now, be Rhea-l.

#407 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2007, 10:40 AM:

P J Evans @ 397

Thanks for the tip. Now if only the best family produce store* in the state hadn't had to close down because the son who took over when the father retired abandoned good produce for expensive lattes, and the daughter wasn't able to pull up before running into the ground.

* Comella's for any old Portland hands. Great place, wonderful people. Used to got there regularly when the kids where little. Old Man Comella always had some sort of fruit samples for the kids, and some strange sort of vegetable we'd never seen before. That's where I learned about horned melon, as sculptural as it is good to eat. * sinks into nostalgia, mumbling the names of fruit *

#408 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2007, 10:44 AM:

Very a-Muse-ing, and a fruitful revival of a dead thread.

#409 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2007, 10:54 AM:

This is getting Scylla. Hades gone any longer, I'd have asked for a timeout.

#410 ::: Howard Peirce ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2007, 11:07 AM:

John (400): I usually stick them with a fork and hold them over an open flame until they burst. The skin comes right off. (bonus .mp3)

#411 ::: Will A ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2007, 11:16 AM:

A man takes his torn pants to the tailor.
"Euripides?" the tailor asks.
"Yeah. Eumenides for me?"

#412 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2007, 11:22 AM:

Got any apple Zeus?

#413 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2007, 01:22 PM:

Juno better than that.

#414 ::: Bruce Cohen, SpeakerToManagers ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2007, 01:49 PM:

I can't Hera what you're saying.

#415 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2007, 02:37 PM:

Then turn up the volume on your Tisiphone.*


*OK, requires a mispronunciation.**

**The Hecate does!

#416 ::: kouredios ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2007, 03:17 PM:

I bow to all the superior punsters. I am way out of practice.

Before the silliness started, I figured apple=> (techno)Core=> evil = full circle. But the circle has literally birthed a tangent. And so it goes.

#417 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2007, 03:24 PM:

"Miss, your purse phone is ringing."

#418 ::: Tania ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2007, 03:35 PM:

::clutches her Achaean head in agony over the puns::

#419 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2007, 03:44 PM:

No Muse is good news.

#420 ::: Bruce Cohen, SpeakerToManagers ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2007, 03:57 PM:

I can't go on with this, Minerva's shot.

#421 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2007, 03:58 PM:

Stop that! I'm Sirius!

#422 ::: Tania ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2007, 04:01 PM:

Hey, I'm just Olympian along here.

#423 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2007, 04:02 PM:

The end is near. Atlas!

#424 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2007, 04:08 PM:

OK, you guys are really Pythian me off.

#425 ::: Tania ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2007, 04:16 PM:

Yeah? Well I'm tired of your Minoan and groaning!

#426 ::: Tania ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2007, 04:26 PM:

Sorry, Xopher. I was acting like a Cretan in that last post. Somedays, I've got my head up my Aeneas.

#427 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2007, 04:26 PM:

My Rheaview of this punchain will be a Pan—a Hestial notice. Truly an Apolloing display. I'd like to Eris the whole thing. My eyes are sore from reading it; in fact, they're Dionysos, as Gollum might say. But I don't want to aThalia too much; you're my friends, not that you'd Alecto me the greatest guy around...I mean, get a Clio (the new edition, with the Erato sheet)!

OK, I hear you saying "Xopher, Uranial, let us have our fun!" And my own puns have Dryad up for now...so I'll just pledge you my Undine love.

#428 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2007, 04:38 PM:

Will somebody Bacchus in our great enterprise?

#429 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2007, 04:58 PM:

Tonight, we sing "Your Chiton Heart"..

#430 ::: Tania ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2007, 05:53 PM:

If one goes Neaera or Pharos, Xopher never has a Meleager comment. I'm going to Castor about and hope I don't Pollux up the next batch of puns.

#431 ::: Bruce Cohen, SpeakerToManagers ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2007, 06:40 PM:

Something's a myth here, and it's making my Tethys ache. I hope this thread isn't going to Dione me. Maybe we need to work on the Themes.

#432 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2007, 10:58 AM:

Would Ariadne appreciate this new twist of the Thread, or would she just Pan it? (It clearly belongs to the Great God Pun.)

#433 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2007, 01:49 PM:

My god, the puns!

Odysseus just awful.

#434 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2007, 10:27 PM:

Thank goodness none of these gods is Iris, or we'd be down in the book of Guinnesses.

#435 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2007, 07:09 AM:

Isis not getting any better around here.

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