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December 31, 2006

Open thread 78
Posted by Patrick at 11:42 PM *

So the year doesn’t end with “Aargh!”

And we’ll sing hallelujah
At the turning of the year
And we’ll work all day in the old fashioned way
‘Til the shining star appears.
A better 2007 to you all.
Comments on Open thread 78:
#1 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: December 31, 2006, 11:46 PM:

(A man is like a three-stringed fiddle, I'm reliably informed.)

#2 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: December 31, 2006, 11:49 PM:

Happy New Year!

"Aaargh!" would be a fitting end for this year, and pretty much every year starting with 2001. So here's to the New Year, may it be much less aargh-worthy!

#3 ::: JulieB ::: (view all by) ::: December 31, 2006, 11:59 PM:

My year is ending with a big freelance job.

Money is good.

And a very Happy New Year to everyone!

#4 ::: Nenya ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2007, 12:01 AM:

Felicitations at the start of 2007 to all of you as well. ML definitely helps with the dark bits.

#5 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2007, 12:06 AM:

We're ending with a convalescing Margene (and it's looking good...). Other various problems seem to be working out too, so I'm okay with it. Best wishes to all on a happy and prosperous new year.

#6 ::: Harriet ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2007, 12:16 AM:

Happy New Year! May 2007 be brighter for all of us!

#7 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2007, 12:17 AM:

That's great, Paula. Happy new year!

#8 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2007, 12:17 AM:

Hey, Harriet. Watching it on New York 1?

#9 ::: will shetterly ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2007, 12:43 AM:

Happy New Year, New York!

#10 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2007, 12:55 AM:

Out here in the Pacific we get the Times Square celebration tape delayed. This has always struck me as really silly on the part of our local TV stations.

Fortunately I happened to have ESPN on at midnight ET and they showed the ball drop.

Happy New Year, everyone.

#11 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2007, 12:58 AM:

To add to the list of things that no longer work: Teresa's "Particles" sidebar, on the front page of Making Light, is supposed to show the most recent 12 entries from the "Particles" linkblog.

Suddenly, it was only showing two of them. She managed to increase it to five by changing all the dates to January 1, 2007.

But there's no reason for this to happen. It didn't happen in previous year changes. We haven't altered the way it's set up. And this definitely doesn't have anything to do with disk quotas.

I'm so tired of this.

#12 ::: Harriet ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2007, 01:00 AM:

Teresa - No, I forgot to drag the TV out of its corner and plug it in in a timely way -- and a friend phoned me at 11:30 and we talked our way into the New Year. But I was able to peek at some live scenes from Times Square on my computer, courtesy of CNN :-)

And I had my little bottle of Champagne, and the accompaniment of noisemakers in the streets outside.

#13 ::: paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2007, 01:19 AM:

And an alarming number of our neighbors have fireworks. Yikes.

#14 ::: Dan Blum ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2007, 01:28 AM:
To add to the list of things that no longer work: Teresa's "Particles" sidebar, on the front page of Making Light, is supposed to show the most recent 12 entries from the "Particles" linkblog.

Suddenly, it was only showing two of them. She managed to increase it to five by changing all the dates to January 1, 2007.


I see a problem in the source. The entry that should be third ("Holy moly") has its second href malformed - it has a single quote at the beginning of the URL and a double quote at the end. A later entry has a single quote in it which causes things to display properly from then on.

Also, Happy New Year.

#15 ::: adamsj ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2007, 01:33 AM:

It's not simply how many of our neighbors have fireworks, nor how many fireworks those neighbors have, or even how loud the fireworks they have are, so much as it is how late they shoot fireworks off.

#16 ::: adamsj ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2007, 01:33 AM:

Oh, yeah--Happy New Year. Yay.

#17 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2007, 01:34 AM:

"This is the way the year ends...not with a bang, but an 'Aargh'"?

Happy New Congress...um, New Year everyone!

#18 ::: philS ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2007, 01:45 AM:

And we’ll sing hallelujah
At the turning of the year

Singing in this fashion would appear to force the year to end with an 'aargh', or at least an 'ah' which sounds too close for comfort. A Happy New Year to all, regardless.

#19 ::: Owlmirror ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2007, 01:45 AM:

What's amusing is that I thought that the resulting broken particle title was deliberate: "Holy I Hate Histology" does vaguely make sense, as absurd humour.

#20 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2007, 01:47 AM:

#14: I just now figured that out. Thanks, though.

I don't know why the tech aspects of maintaining this road show get harder all the time, but they do. I think we've suffered basic damage to our confidence that Movable Type is any good at all, so we find it harder to summon up the confidence needed for that kind of systematic check of all the tiny details. Alternately, maybe we're just dipshits.

#21 ::: Owlmirror ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2007, 01:52 AM:

...And now it's fixed, which makes my comment look like absurd humour.

Oh, well.

Happy new beer!

#22 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2007, 02:00 AM:

Patrick --

There's a program called "tidy", found at http://tidy.sourceforge.net/, which -- unlike people -- does an excellent job of finding things like single-quotes-for-double.

I'm bad enough at catching small syntax errors that I try to use a validating editor when writing html by hand; I have absolutely no idea what to recommend for a Mac, though.

#23 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2007, 02:02 AM:

(The fact is that I appear to be really, honestly, losing my eyesight at a rate faster than my age should by itself account for. (I turn 48 on the 2nd.) I need to see someone about this. It's getting upsetting.)

#24 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2007, 02:05 AM:

Graydon #23: What is this "Mac" in your strange Earth talk? I'm entering this comment on my Thinkpad T43 running Ubuntu 6.10, plus David Turner's patches for Cairo and XFT, which provide font anti-aliasing easily as good as OS X's and totally superior to anything out of Redmond. So there.

#25 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2007, 02:08 AM:

Man, I started this open thread in order to get away from an instance of my computers-don't-work whinging, and then I hijacked it right back into it. Forget this. How do you plan to spend New Year's Day?

#26 ::: Dena Shunra ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2007, 02:22 AM:

2007 should be a better year, yes, at least on the personal, at-home level. We saw out 2006 with the single most beautiful movie I have ever had the pleasure to see: Rivers and Tides, a documentary about Andy Goldsworthy's artistic collaboration with nature.

Its preoocupation with death and change and the cycles of nature was somehow fitting for this year; its overflowing beauty made it fitting to carry from one year into the next.

Happy 2007, y'all.

#27 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2007, 02:22 AM:

I am, when I get a chance to excape the myriad family medical problems that have plagued the last couple of months, going to make ingeniously perverted CGI porn.

2007 didn't start well, and it's only 07:22 Zulu.

#28 ::: D. ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2007, 02:23 AM:

Happy New Year! (Well, technically, forty minutes from now, but I've had my spiked eggnog and I'm turning in.)

Google's current logo is cute, by the way. (it probably goes away tomorrow.)

#29 ::: Dawno ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2007, 02:45 AM:

Thank you all for a great year's worth of Making Light posts and comments.

Since this is an open thread, I would also like to give special thanks to Serge for driving all the way to my local Starbucks to meet - it was wonderful seeing you again.

#30 ::: Doug Burbidge ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2007, 03:40 AM:
But there's no reason for this to happen.

It is increasingly common for the phrase "Why is it doing that?" to be heard during the last few minutes of audio from an aircraft black box recorder. Our systems are more and more frequently so complex that even intelligent experts are commonly mystified.

And sometimes it shades over into "How is it doing that?" The other day I had a PC power-cycling itself: four seconds on, four seconds off, ad infinitum, until I pull the plug. I didn't even know a PC could do that. The stop-gap fix was equally bizarre: move the graphics card to the other slot.

If you're not familiar with it, Risks is worth a look. It's a summary of things that go wrong in our modern world; often interesting, occasionally intriguing.

Dismiss the "dipshit" theory; the cognitive error you made while debugging is common, and merely evidence of imperfection, with which we all must find a way to live.

#31 ::: Madeleine Robins ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2007, 05:45 AM:

Happy 2007 to you both, from out here in the Wild West.

#32 ::: Wendy Bradley ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2007, 06:06 AM:

Patrick, in answer to #25, I shall be spending New Year's day - or at least this evening - at this production of Much Ado by the RSC. It won't have Keanu in leather trousers, like the movie, but still...

Which reminds me it's now twelve years since I went to Winnipeg in the New Year to see Keanu play Hamlet. I stood at the stage door, wrapped in every piece of clothing I'd packed, to get his autograph, and then couldn't manage coherent speech. So instead of giving him my utterly brilliant note on the blocking of the first scene, I managed to reply to his question and spell my own name.

#33 ::: jane ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2007, 06:30 AM:

Well, I came out of the ghastly 2006 in much the same way I came in, taking care of a beloved family member.

Only this time it was my eldest granddaughter with the flu, throwing up in the parking lot (and not the inside of my car by seconds) of the Chinese resturant where we had just had lunch. Missed her sister's ballet performance, and Holly Black's New Year's party. But at least 2006 is finally over and buried. And not a moment too soon.

Jane

#34 ::: Bill B ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2007, 06:53 AM:

Between reheating leftovers, changing diapers, and fixing computers, it'll be a fun-filled New Year's Day here-- especially trying to install Solaris on a couple 'rescued' pieces of hardware.

#35 ::: John Houghton ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2007, 06:59 AM:

Rabbit, Rabbit!

#36 ::: Steve Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2007, 07:00 AM:

Graydon wrote:

>There's a program called "tidy", found at http://tidy.sourceforge.net/

Thank you - that sounds like something I need to check out.

Doug Burbidge wrote:

> If you're not familiar with it, Risks is worth a look

Long ago, when trilobites ruled the earth, newsgroups and ftp were what the net was all about, and gopher, let alone the www didn't exist, a friend told me about this network called "the internet", in order to explain what a "newsgroup" was, in order to tell me how cool comp.risk was. More than 20 years later I *still* think it's just about the best thing on the net.

I hope everyone had a New Year which involved minimal exposure to "Hits of the 80s" compilations.

#37 ::: individualfrog ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2007, 07:31 AM:

Akemashita omedetou gozaimasu!

I went to do hatsumode today, which is where you go to pray at the shrine for a lucky year in Japan. I went to Atago Jinja, which has a lot of fun stuff. For example, there are two sets of stairs, the easy stairs and the hard stairs; if you climb the hard stairs (pictured in that link, but you can't really tell how steep they are), you will be able to achieve success. According to legend, a samurai climbed the steps on horseback! And there is a lucky rock to rub, etc. There's also a pretty pond with lots of koi, and you can see Tokyo Tower...a nice shrine.

Unfortunately after I had done all my climbing, rubbing, and praying, I bought an omikuji, which is a paper telling your fortune for the year, and I got the second worst!

#38 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2007, 08:19 AM:

Patrick, #25: get up disgracefully late, abstain from work, phone elderly parents, then go have a large meal with some friends.

(Having twisted my ankle the other day I didn't feel like venturing out for Hogmanay in 70mph wind and horizontal rain, so I'm relatively un-hung-over. Have to do something about that tonight; it's why we also get January 2nd off in Scotland. A sober New Year's Day is wrong.)

#39 ::: adamsj ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2007, 08:39 AM:

We'll hang out at home, then go to the in-laws' for black-eyed peas. Oh, the thrill of it all.

Last night, however, we went out for pizza!

The web page doesn't do the joint justice--no shots of the model train, for instance, nor does it note that the late owner was a Rodenberry. One of them Rodenberrys? I doubt it.

#40 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2007, 08:43 AM:

Alternately, maybe we're just dipshits.

Long experience and a vast store of accumulated evidence demand that any person of science reject this hypothesis as fantastically unlikely. If anyone attempts to teach this in schools, I will oppose them...oh, wait, we're not talking about Intelligent Design, are we? Just something equally absurd.

#41 ::: Dave Hemming ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2007, 08:53 AM:

Happy new year!

While happily playing with the "Extreme Resolution" Sidelight, I happened across a partial torso and head just lying in a Boston street. Passersby seem remarkably casual.

Bottom left corner - I assume its an artifact of things changing between taking the pictures for each tile.

#42 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2007, 09:00 AM:

I envy you folks who got to see the Andy Goldsworthy film, but I found something that's almost as cool in the large second-hand section of a local bookstore: a UK art book called Living Sculpture by Paul Cooper. It features mostly current artists who are working in leaf, branch, turf, tree, mixed media and crop (as the chapters are divided), producing everything from modern topiary to living-wood basket-weaving to immense land art, plus labyrinths, etc. The UK publisher is Mitchell Beazley and the original cost was a hefty 30 pounds, but I got it for a relative pittance that was more than covered by trade-in books. (Some other customer who's really into dragons is going to have a field day!)

My husband has to work today, so we went to bed early, but I certainly heard the local fireworks display starting at midnight (they hold it less than a mile from us). Today I'm going to set the pile of galleys aside for a while and read the other book I picked up on Saturday, Mind of the Raven by Bernd Heinrich -- just the right thing to tell me more about our local birds, after my curiosity was fully roused by seeing almost 20 of them circling, doing acrobatics, and occasionally perching uphill of us last week (biggest group I've seen here).

Best wishes to all, for a much better year than the one just past!

#43 ::: Adrian ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2007, 09:32 AM:

Last night, I stayed home, doing my bit for the MBTA's concerted effort to persuade people to save fuel and reduce traffic congestion. That's not what it is? They keep saying they have budget problems because not enough people are riding the bus, or the subway, or the commuter rail, for them to cover their costs. (Their costs were very much higher than anticipated for the last 5 years. I wonder how much of those were security related costs?) So they increase fares and reduce service. The higher fares aren't so bad...even now, when I'm out of work and fretting about income, I expect to make enough to cover fairly high commuter rail fares in the forseeable future.

Reducing service bothers me a great deal. Last year, a lot of places were only marginally accessible to public transit. If my doctor recommended a specialist there, I might be able to get there on public transit (or I might not), but I would have to schedule the appointment carefully and expect a very long walk through pedestrian-hostile territory. They weren't places a person could commute to work every day without a car. I'm concerned that reducing service is making places that used to have functional transit into places with only marginal transit.

Last night, I was invited to a party in a home where I've been to a handful of parties. In the past, I either walked from the bus stop (quite a long walk), or called and asked for a ride. I feel a lot less awkward about begging rides from the bus stop, which inconveniences someone for about 10 minutes for the round trip, including putting their shoes on, than about trying to figure out who is coming to the party from my direction, before the party, and getting them to give me a ride. After the party, it doesn't feel too overwhelmingly difficult to find a ride back, either home or to whatever subway stop is convenient to the driver. But when the last bus is 2 hours before the party begins, it's discouraging.

#44 ::: LauraJMixon ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2007, 09:32 AM:

Happy New Year, P&T! May 2007 be filled with pleasant surprises.

Patrick, my eyesight underwent a sudden deterioration in my mid-40's -- I believe it can be a bit like "punctuated equilibrium." That may be all it is. But yes, seems like a good idea get it checked.

#45 ::: Jo Walton ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2007, 09:45 AM:

Happy New Year!

We celebrated with a feast last night. It was great. Unfortunately, it looks as if I'm going to be spending the rest of 2007 washing dishes.

#46 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2007, 09:55 AM:

Happy New Year to everyone! I will be hanging out at home with the husband, kids and dogs, and later going to a New Year's Day party at the home of our community theater's set crew chief (very low-key, good company, good food).

Patrick, if you find out anything unexpected about your eyesight, will you please share? The same thing has been happening to my husband (age 47) and his ophthalmologist hasn't found anything out of the ordinary.

Faren, if you enjoy that Heinrich book, you should also check out his Ravens in Winter; great description of biological research as it is actually done. Two major themes: the chief workforce is grad students, who run on beer and pizza; and scientists spend a lot of time going "What the HELL is going on???"

#47 ::: Laina ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2007, 09:57 AM:

Happy New Year!

Paula, if you think too many of your neighbors had fireworks, try New Year's Eve in Germany where they sell them in the grocery stores the week between Christmas and New Year's. Last night it seemed like there were fireworks going up from almost every house in the neighborhood. I just kept reminding myself that these houses have tile roofs and are generally made of stone or concrete. I know that fireworks precations developed for the Mid-West US in July don't really apply to Germany in winter, but still.....

Wishing everyone a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year.

#48 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2007, 10:17 AM:

I celebrated New Year's Eve in my traditional way: I drank a glass of wine and went to bed early. Woke up at midnight when the neighbors did the fireworks thing. Said "Happy New Year" to the cats and the dog. Went back to sleep.

Today I will go to church, take the dog to the park, and then head off to a party at the home of some dear friends. 2006 was a bumpy ride.I will pray this morning for peace, good health, and blessings on friends and family. Happy New Year, all!

#49 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2007, 10:28 AM:

Andy Goldsworthy's Rivers and Tides is every bit as wonderful as Dena says it is. It's also easily available on DVD, including from Netflix.

#50 ::: Adrian ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2007, 10:42 AM:

Patrick, you should definately see someone about those eyes. It's really hard to assess how much vision loss your "age should account for," when it's happening to you for the first time.

Somebody in my lab group once came to me in considerable anxiety. He had been finding it increasingly difficut to read small print -- everything close looked blurry. He asked someone else in the lab, another man in his early forties, and it turned out his eyesight had also been getting blurrier and blurrier over the last year...so they were both terrified they were slowly poisoning themselves with some trace chemical exposure that would eventually cause blindness. It was just the change of vision that happens with age, but they hadn't expected it, or hadn't expected it so soon (but I'm not OLD!) and the eye doctor provided them both with reassurance and prescriptions for reading glasses.

Vicki was just recommending a NYC eye doctor on my LJ, when I was whining about a related subject the other day. She likes hers very much, if you're looking for one.

#51 ::: Martin Wisse ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2007, 10:50 AM:

Happy New Year you people and may it be a better year than the one just ended.

Patrick, #25:

On New Years Day you get up late, watch the New Years Concerto from Wien (motto: All Strauss, all the time), then the skijumping from Garmen-Partenkitchen and veg out.

It's been a perfect day so far, only marred by the loss of one of those #$%^& tiny screws holding my glasses together during the night, which means I'm now wearing my backup pair, which is about roughly the size of two glass dinnerplates riveted together with bicycle frames...

#52 ::: Adrian ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2007, 10:53 AM:

I don't know if Patrick is looking for an eye doctor, or already has a good one. Vicki sometimes suggests I give up on the Boston area and just get my eyes checked in New York, by
Gerard Schiller, M.D. or Debra Guthrie, M.D.
30 East 40 Street, suite 506
212-685-1232

They have the new no-eye-puff glaucoma testing gear, and Vicki speaks highly of them, though I have not been to see them myself. I'm giving this major metropolitan area, full of doctors and hospitals, with thousands of eye professionals, one more chance.

#53 ::: G. Jules ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2007, 11:04 AM:

I was surprised this year -- my neighbors didn't do the fireworks-at-midnight thing. Of course, there were so many fireworks and firecrackers between 6 and 8 pm it sounded like the city was under hostile fire... but nothing at midnight but airhorns. Strange.

#54 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2007, 11:08 AM:

Patrick, #25: Sleep late (check!), spend time with family and friends - and hopefully spend some time with my long neglected but neat programming project. I can't be the only person thinking that 2007 is the year of BBQ though...

#55 ::: JC ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2007, 11:22 AM:

Happy New Year! May 2007 be filled with joy and happiness, P&T.

As for me, I'm spending New Year's Day making chicken stock. I've accumulated enough bones. I'm going to be home all day anyways, finishing final drafts. My goal for 2007 is to submit more stories than I did in 2006. (Given that I submitted a whopping 3 in 2006, this can't be that hard...)

#56 ::: Michael Weholt ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2007, 11:27 AM:

#45-Jo Walton : Unfortunately, it looks as if I'm going to be spending the rest of 2007 washing dishes.

What, the deadbeats who chowed all your wonderful food can't help? Or even do the dishes for you? Where I come from you either cook or you wash. But then I grew up a Puritan.

As for me, I'm playing with my new computer today. Brand new MacBook with a Windows 2000 virtual machine tucked inside it (which is where I'm writing to you from, right now).

This thing is so beautiful I can hardly stand it. There has to be some sort of sin involved here.

#57 ::: dave ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2007, 11:35 AM:
As for me, I'm playing with my new computer today. Brand new MacBook with a Windows 2000 virtual machine tucked inside it (which is where I'm writing to you from, right now).

This thing is so beautiful I can hardly stand it. There has to be some sort of sin involved here.

The feeling of guilt will hit you when Steve Jobs unveils something even cooler at MacWorld San Francisco in eight days and 25 minutes.

#58 ::: Sajia Kabir ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2007, 11:42 AM:

The Powerpoint Sidelight had me thinking: Do Nasa employees have t-shirts saying, "Actually, I am a rocket scientist?"

#59 ::: last train to clarksville ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2007, 11:46 AM:

not that i know any of you and not that i am a regular poster (possibly 3 under a totally different name than this) and not that i want to bring anybody down (love this blog) but...

my new years eve?
total emotional meltdown with partner on way to party following dinner where we always go to eat on new years eve.
end of relationship.
a dozen years up in smoke.
brushfire.
small spark escalates within seconds to full-blown engulfment of mountain.
this has happened too many times.
we're both tired of it.
oh i'm to blame too. no doubt.
and the kicker?
not only is this a romantic relationship, it's also a highly productive creative partnership i.e. the partner's thoughts complete mine in ways not possible otherwise.

what silly mortals we be.

#60 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2007, 11:49 AM:

Happy New Year to all!!

Here, we watched the Peach Drop. It did not, however, go splat. Nor was there a boy named James in it...

The year begins with warmth and lots of light,
the year went out with dark and heavy rain.
We say these things in order to explain
just how the change comes, in order to do right
by all that's past and all will be bright
in conception, though we still will strain
to overcome the normal wear and pain.
Each sunny day's a sign that the long fight
has some real purpose, though we cannot tell
where we are going yet we forward march
towards the objective, to what we hope to get
for all our efforts; we'll pass through hell
itself to reach our goal, pass through the arch
in triumph. Above all, we will not forget.

#61 ::: amysue ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2007, 11:52 AM:

Happy 2007 and thank you for hosting such a wonderful blog.

We've no special plans for the day. There will be lounging about, reading, knitting and at some point I will cook a brisket. The kids will spend the last day of their vacation in an orgy of computer/hand held gaming device and tv use. It's possible we will drag ourselves out of the house and over to visit friends but mostly we're slothy.

#62 ::: Dan Blum ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2007, 12:06 PM:
They have the new no-eye-puff glaucoma testing gear, and Vicki speaks highly of them, though I have not been to see them myself. I'm giving this major metropolitan area, full of doctors and hospitals, with thousands of eye professionals, one more chance.
I like Burlington Eye Associates for regular eye care, myself (I'm not seeing them now only because they referred me to a cornea specialist). However, they may not be convenient to you.
#63 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2007, 12:30 PM:

How do you plan to spend New Year's Day?

Back from Our Bay Area trip last night. I just finished shoveling away the snow that was blocking our front yard. It confirmed my feeling that, after my youth in Quebec City, the only white Christmas I like is the movie one, with Danny Kaye. On the bright side, I understand that the bad weather here grounded Don Rumsfeld so it's not all bad.

Among our other plans... The Skiffy Channel is having its traditional Twilight Zone marathon. And, tonight, we're watching MST3K's The Day the Earth Froze.

#64 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2007, 12:38 PM:

Patrick in #24 --

Oh, well then; you've already got tidy, or at least it's already been packaged for your distro.

You've also got quanta, out of the KDE web development tools; it's a validating HTML (and javascript and php) development tool, with excellent documentation (they include the W3C HTML docs, very handy) and automated upload/download of projects. Might make wrassling with Making Light less stressful.

(There are at least three other things that will do this, if you count emacs; quanta is the one which I happen to have used.)

Patrick #25 --

Built what's going to be (when it gets a RAID card) the fileserver yesterday, and did laundry; today is dishes, phoning people, and stuffing the next couple of months of work into a tool called TaskJuggler. (I knew there had to be a decent open source project management tool; I have finally found out what it is.)

2006 wasn't, personally, all that bad; changed employer in place, went cramped quarters to rattle-around-in quarters, and my social life has managed to improve.

I'm still listening to the locally traditional list of sad songs, just because.

Happy New Year, one and all!

#65 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2007, 12:43 PM:

Sajia @ 58... I don't know about NASA's people, but I've talked to a Sandia Lab scientist who goes to the same gym I do, and he does have a t-shirt that says "Actually, I am a rocket scientist"

#66 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2007, 12:50 PM:

Laina @#47, Germany sounds like Hawai'i (only in the "fireworks overkill on NYE" dept.). Despite laws by our gutless legislature limiting the use of the things to a four-hour window on the night, we have to tranquilize the dog starting about noon. And aerial fireworks, although illegal, are a big part of the night's events. One landed on my (tarpaper) roof, which caused quite a bit of concern for a few minutes.

Not a single mention in the first 60-odd comments about the Rose Parade or the countless football games?

#67 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2007, 12:51 PM:

Sajia Kabir @58: Do Nasa employees have t-shirts saying, "Actually, I am a rocket scientist?"

I was told (by someone who knew him) one of the engineers who worked on the Mars rovers had a bumper sticker reading: "My OTHER car is on Mars".

#68 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2007, 01:16 PM:

Linkmeister @ 66

The parade just ended. The American Honda float is seriously impressive: firebreathing dragons! (Micaela doesn't beat Stephanie in the chitchat and color department. Thank you, KTLA!) Several Oklahoma centennial observances, both bands and floats. One float had the governor and his wife, but no Nazguls... and a guy with a real rocketpack, who flew several hundred feet down Colorado, and as Lucas's car came by, got to shake hands with him. Imperial stormtroopers, various Jedi and Sith, Vader (and the shot I saw had someone behind him holding up and 'Impeach' banner), queens of Naboo.

#69 ::: Dawno ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2007, 01:25 PM:

There were llamas in the Tournament of Roses parade this year.

#70 ::: beth meacham ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2007, 01:36 PM:

Happy New Year!

My day will be quietly at home, basking in the glory of my completed Project, cleaning up after myself, and riding in the afternoon. Posole is cooking for dinner.

#71 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2007, 02:11 PM:

PJ, thank you. We turned it on just in time to see Punahou (a local private school) march, and then saw some attractive horses with burled coats.

#72 ::: Mary Aileen Buss ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2007, 02:11 PM:

I missed the Rose Parade dammit! I meant to watch this year because my mother's alma mater (University of Redlands) had a float honoring their 100th anniversary. Oh, well.

--Mary Aileen

#73 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2007, 02:38 PM:

From the article Dawno @ 69 linked: llamas had not been allowed in the parade because horses fear them and react as if the llamas were predators.

Another point for llamas. Horses fear them! Llamas rock, whereas I've never trusted horses. They're shifty.

#74 ::: mary ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2007, 02:56 PM:

Hello Making Light people, happy new year. My son is downstairs playing World of Warcraft, my mother is dozing in front of the fireplace. I'm in the kitchen and the dog is lying at my feet; his being at my side, given the choices, heartens me considerably. This has been a difficult holiday season--my father passed away 8 months ago and my mother's a fish out of water. It's very trying. She never wanted me in her kitchen and I don't want her in mine, etc.; you reap what you sow. But nevermind all that--anyway, happy new year. *sigh*

#75 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2007, 03:04 PM:

I just went and read the Tufte particle (The lethality of PowerPoint). To my mind, it represents a case of a poorly structured presentation flow, exacerbated by using the wrong choice of tool.

If you're driving a decision like this, it seems wrong to me to use slideware as a basis for decision making. Far better to use slideware to set out an agenda and drive agreement on how decisions will get made, and then use discussion and good old documents and data sets to provide evidence.

Tufte has a well known bias against PowerPoint. He's also a brilliant man who is probably the foremost expert in visualization of data in the world. I respect and admire his work. That doesn't mean that he doesn't have his own personal hobby horses that he'll ride whenever the opportunity presents itself.

Blaming PowerPoint for bad decision making by NASA is rather like blaming the US Mint when someone sticks a penny into a fuse box and burns the house down. Selecting the wrong tool is the responsibility of the tool wielder, not the tool maker.

Disclosure time. I am speaking as an individual, and the thoughts I am expressing are my own and in no way represent the opinions or policies of my employer. (I work for Microsoft and am responsible for the marketing launch of the new versions of Office, Windows and Exchange to mid-size businesses in the US.)

#76 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2007, 03:11 PM:

Larry Brennan @73: According to Robert Graves in Claudius the God, Claudius used camels in one of his battles in Britain because of the fear and confusion they inspired in the enemy horses.

#77 ::: Mary Kay ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2007, 03:18 PM:

#58 ::: Sajia Kabir:

I don't know about NASA engineers, but my husband has multiple t-shirts and a button saying that. However, as of last Friday he really isn't one anymore.

Everytime he wore the button to a meeting or conference, everyone else wanted one.

MKK

#78 ::: Martyn Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2007, 03:30 PM:

Our local midnight fireworks roused me from my sickbed - or it may have been the gale - where I was suffering the flu Cathie tells me I can't have. She's a nurse, she knows these things.

I'm feeling a lot more optimistic now. Here's hoping we all get what we need in 2007.

#79 ::: David Dyer-Bennet ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2007, 03:34 PM:

Tufte has a well known bias against PowerPoint.

Well, perhaps he does. Or perhaps he has a well-considered expert opinion that PowerPoint is a bad tool. It's easy to accuse somebody of "bias" or "prejudice" whenever they have an opinion about anything.

#80 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2007, 03:39 PM:

Rob Rusick @76,
The US Army briefly experimented with camels.

"You've heard of how horses bolted at the sight of the first automobiles. That wasn't anything compared to the fright those ugly, loping camels threw into mules. The mules would lay back their ears and run for their lives and then the prospectors would cuss and reach for their guns and shoot at the camels. A lot of camels got killed that way."

#81 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2007, 03:55 PM:

David @79 - Personally, I think the real issue is people choosing the wrong tool, rather than the tool being a bad one. I've never heard of Tufte making a non-critical comment about PP. Used appropriately, PP can be a very effective tool, especially for guiding discussions, presenting findings and making a case for a particular position.

FWIW, the specific example citied shows what I often see in newspaper articles as well. Headline says "America Loves Iraq War" and you don't see any real analysis or counter-argument until the last paragraph, which totally undermines the headline. To my mind, this was more of a case of the author of the deck being afraid to put a difficult opinion in the title or to be neutral and drive a real discussion.

(See disclaimer @ 75)

#82 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2007, 03:58 PM:

It's also worth observing that what Tufte is criticizing isn't PowerPoint, it's the way PowerPoint is widely used in organizations. We use Powerpoint all the time at Tor--to quickly assemble tidy slideshows that illustrate impromptu spoken presentations. We don't use it to make actual arguments, or to leave people with the impression that something's been established when in fact nothing has.

The comments to Tufte's piece are also illuminating. We can assume that there exists, among scientific and technical people, a widespread unhappiness with the way Powerpoint is used to substitute for actual analysis and argument. Or we can assume that all of those comments were written by other people who also happen to have "a well-known bias against" a product that is in fact without any drawbacks worth discussing. Which of these seems more likely?

#83 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2007, 04:06 PM:

The last PP 'presentation' I saw was via e-mail, a set of slides (one with title, the rest photos) of the recent pipeline explosion in Wyoming. My boss forwarded it with the comment that 'this is why we're doing what we're doing'.

Mary Eileen, the Redlands float had a very large bulldog on the front half and a building (from the University, I assume) on the back (the live dog was next to the floral version, sitting on his handler's feet).

#84 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2007, 04:08 PM:

Larry and I crossposted; my "it's also worth observing" was meant to signal agreement with DDB.

Of course PowerPoint isn't inherently evil; Tufte isn't suggesting that it is. He's suggesting that, as used by many organizations, it tends to lead to bad ends. Lead-based paint isn't inherently evil, either, but as a society we've decided that it's not sensible to let it be used inside homes, because inevitably a certain number of children will eat the lead-based paint chips and poison themselves. You can call it "using the wrong tool" and charge building-code reformers with having a "well-known bias" against lead paint, but the fact is, when we discuss tools, we're never discussing their Platonic nature as they float in deep space; we're always talking about them as they get used by real people. Tufte is saying that Powerpoint has a strong tendency to get misused, with effects that are sometimes very bad indeed. Brushing off his very well-made arguments with charges of "bias" is mere namecalling. Suggesting that "the real issue is people choosing the wrong tool" sounds great, but you know, that's what Tufte was saying in the first place.

#85 ::: Julia Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2007, 04:31 PM:

Happy New Year to one and all, and may it be better than last year.

Presbyopia can set in younger than you think. To my great resentment, last year I had to go out and get my first pair of reading glasses, a month shy of my 40th birthday. I don't need them very often, but there's no denying now that sometimes I *do* need them. To my even greater resentment, my husband, who is a Patrickish sort of age, does not yet need them.

#86 ::: emgrasso ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2007, 04:31 PM:

Patrick #24 re: syntax checking html on a linux box. This is fairly easy using KDE tools if your site is actually xhtml (which your site is. I just performed the steps below

1. Load the optional XML widgets in the KATE browser.
2. Open the site you are worried about in the Konqueror web-browser.
3. Right click in the site and select "Open With... KATE
4.Wait while the page downloads and opens in Kate
5. Select XML/Validate XML on the top Kate menu bar
6. Click XML Checker Output in the bottom status bar, and drag the separator line up so you can see.

The output from performing these steps on this very page where I am inputting this is:

# line column message
1 26 44 validity error: No declaration for attribute REL of elem...link REL="SHORTCUT ICON" HREF="favicon.ico"

(I left out the pointies on the link quoted in the message to avoid recursion)

Sometimes it takes a little digging to figure out the cause of what it is complaining about: missing end-tags cause miss-matches for other end-tags, for example, but the messages generally help me decide where to look.

#87 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2007, 04:43 PM:

I watched the "Twilight Zone" marathon yesterday and today.

What are you guys mentioned about in the book? I'm not getting a google account just for that.

#88 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2007, 04:44 PM:

I noticed my myopic-astigmatic eyes had gone over the hill a few months short of 40, when I started having to hold things farther away to see them properly. (For really small stuff, I now have to take glasses off to see clearly. The focal range is, um, short and not conveniently located.)

#89 ::: mary ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2007, 05:27 PM:

I just got a prescription for a third pair of glasses, which seems kind of crazy and I can't imagine myself carrying three pairs around with me. I already have prescription sunglasses and clear glasses. Both pairs are blended bifocals, with the upper part of the lens for distance and the lower part for reading. The prescription I just obtained is also for blended bifocals, with the lower part of the lens for reading and the upper part for viewing something 22 inches in front of me--the distance between my nose and the computer monitor on my desk in my office.

#90 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2007, 06:00 PM:

Insanely weird piece of small-world fannish trivia, number 36356753: PowerPoint was based on work by Whitfield Diffie.

Truly, the scriptwriter for the universe has a warped sense of humour.

#91 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2007, 06:22 PM:

Whenever I see the ball drop over Times Square I want to make a pun about distance over time squared but I can't figure out how to frame it right.

#92 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2007, 06:22 PM:

Whenever I see the ball drop over Times Square I want to make a pun about distance over time squared but I can't figure out how to frame it right.

#93 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2007, 06:27 PM:

Marilee @ 87... Do you know if they showed TZ's episode "the last hunt"? That's the one about the old hillbilly who dies along with his dog and then he comes across a place that looks like the entrance to Heaven, but luckily for him his dog stops him.

#94 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2007, 06:28 PM:

Marilee @ 87... Do you know if they showed TZ's episode "the last hunt"? That's the one about the old hillbilly who dies along with his dog and then he comes across a place that looks like the entrance to Heaven, but luckily for him his dog stops him.

#95 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2007, 06:29 PM:

So does the server have hiccups, or is it a coincidence that the previous two comments are doubled?

(this is a test0

#96 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2007, 06:31 PM:

OK, it's not hiccups.

And I can't proofread.

Good night, all. Happy New Year.

(Welcome home, Serge.)

#97 ::: "Charles Dodgson" ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2007, 06:34 PM:

More real-world rocket scientists:

I've never seen Thom Moran wearing an "As a matter of fact, I am a rocket scientist" button, but his (erstwhile?) day job (running high-altitude atmospheric probes for MIT Lincoln Lab, IIRC) is all over his band's publicity. Which also figures in, sometimes, to their oddball lyrics (the songs have been described as "spare, melodic love songs for androids")...

#98 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2007, 06:34 PM:

#27 ::: Dave Bell threatened:
I am, when I get a chance to excape the myriad family medical problems that have plagued the last couple of months, going to make ingeniously perverted CGI porn.

One of the things on my todo list is Acme::Yak::Shaving ...

#99 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2007, 06:37 PM:

#90 ::: Charlie Stross enlightened:
Insanely weird piece of small-world fannish trivia, number 36356753: PowerPoint was based on work by Whitfield Diffie.

Truly, the scriptwriter for the universe has a warped sense of humour.

Heh. Warped indeed - although the best setup for something really daft being done does seem to be a bunch of otherwise smart people sitting around and saying "Gee - wouldn't it be dumb if they did _that_" [IPv6 over XML anybody?]

#100 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2007, 06:42 PM:

Thanks, abi. As for the duplicate post, there were indeed no hiccups. Just yours truly not realizing he had already hit 'submit'.

#101 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2007, 06:45 PM:

For me, it's the New Year Test cricket from the Sydney Cricket Ground (if it ever stops raining) and the possibility of a 5-0 series whitewash, the most comprehensive rout of the Old Enemy in eighty years.

Oh, and three brick-like fantasy novels to read and review. None from Tor, so I can say that without feeling guilty.

#102 ::: JC ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2007, 06:58 PM:

#90: Worse than finding out that Diffie is responsible for PowerPoint is: "[Diffie] is one of the few computer scientists to receive erotically charged fan mail." Now I'm wondering if Diffie-Hellman slash exists out there on the intarweeb.

It would give a whole new meaning to the term "key exchange."

#103 ::: Mary Aileen Buss ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2007, 08:07 PM:

Thanks, PJ (#83). I believe that building was intended to be the chapel. My mother had a drawing of the float, but it didn't mention the live bulldog.

--Mary Aileen

#104 ::: Anne Sheller ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2007, 08:55 PM:

I had to get my first pair of reading glasses at 37. They were weak, and needed only for fine print or fine embroidery. Now, at 53, a medium strength pair is on my nose except when I am sleeping, driving, or showering.

#105 ::: Aconite ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2007, 09:09 PM:

Best wishes that 2007 be far, far better than 2006.

Teresa, Patrick, thanks for having us. It's a good place, this is.

#106 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2007, 09:22 PM:

#1 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden wrote:
(A man is like a three-stringed fiddle, I'm reliably informed.)

That reminds me of a friend who was quite startled when my response to "Why are you looking so annoyed" was "I broke my G string".

#107 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2007, 09:23 PM:

Not only did I already know about the Whitfield Diffie/Powerpoint connection, I know Whitfield Diffie. He's an old friend of Avedon Carol's, and once when she was visiting us in New York, he wound up coming over, tagging along with us to a fan gathering at a bar in Park Slope, and crashing overnight on our couch. Nice guy, plenty interesting to talk to.

#108 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2007, 09:52 PM:

Been lying low the past few days on the off chance that something I said would give 2006 an idea of another way to thwack me. Even with that caution Saturday, foggy and frozen, turned into a marathon work day for my offspring. They went to discharge their feudal obligations to my sister by helping vaccinate and wean the Angus calves and ended up stomping around in mud the temperature and consistency of gelato while the cattle ran through fences and jumped over gates. Opinion is divided between neighbor kids, loose dogs, or possibly the random bear that wanders into our neck of suburbia every once in a while making the cattle restless.

Since then, the words have been food and beads: a trip to TJ's Sunday morning for goodies, then a trip to the Great Mothership of Beads, Shipwreck, to pick up some more mixed faceted beads to finish a few dozen small projects. Ham and johnnycake for New Years dinner, French toast for brunch, handmade pizza for dinner.

Was supposed to go bird watching with The Only Nephew today, but the weather turned all January on us: 41F, small fine rain, and winds gusting to 15mph. So I worked on two projects and on sorting the beads by color.

#109 ::: Jon H ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2007, 10:07 PM:

Re: the NoKa chocolat story:

Some clever chocolatier ought to use the same French chocolate NoKa uses to make some goodies (ice cream? dipped cookies?), and advertise them as being made with NoKa chocolate.

And charge half of NoKa's price, thus undercutting NoKa's sales.

#110 ::: Jon H ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2007, 10:09 PM:

Anyone here live around Cambridge, MA and going to the antiwar march this month in DC?

Interested in carpooling?

#111 ::: paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2007, 10:32 PM:

JESR, Insanely jealous that you can "go" to Shipwreck beads. Our bead stores flourished, then all went away except for a scant few that, because of their 'specialness' have outrageous prices, I can do better waiting and ordering from Ornamental Resources or Fire Mountain when I have to because of price. Then again, Big Lots (of all places) occasionally emits a bag of 'dice' glass beads at $1.68 (dozen) and I snatch them up, turn 'em into earrings or include them in a bracelet and sell for way more.

#112 ::: Michael Weholt ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2007, 10:44 PM:

#94:Serge: ...the old hillbilly who dies along with his dog and then he comes across a place that looks like the entrance to Heaven, but luckily for him his dog stops him.

Which only confirms something I have always believed: only a dog can tell you how to really get to heaven.

#113 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2007, 11:21 PM:

OMFG

Madison Square Garden is holding some sort of Professional Bull Riding contest. It was advertised on TV here.

Just Yikes. I consider that beyond extreme spot (and I've know a couple of bull riders when I was younger).

#114 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2007, 11:51 PM:

Patrick @ #23:
"(The fact is that I appear to be really, honestly, losing my eyesight at a rate faster than my age should by itself account for. (I turn 48 on the 2nd.) I need to see someone about this. It's getting upsetting.)"

At 48, you're reaching the age where, even if you've paid for an extended warranty (by exercising, eating right, getting enough sleep, avoiding stress, maintaining a phlegmatic temperament, etc.), your body starts showing signs of wear and tear.

The eyesight weakens, the teeth become a regular concern, bruises and scratches take longer to heal, and you start using the word "regularity" to refer to your bowels instead of your sex life.

And this is just the minor stuff, the normal stuff, the routine stuff that comes with aging, not any major life-and-lifestyle-threatening medical problems.

This is all annoying. Very, very annoying. Especially since, while you can take steps to slow the process down, you can't stop it.

(The thought strikes me that the original ROCKY movie works as a good metaphor for Life and Death. Rocky Balboa is the "Everyman" who finds himself rushing towards an appointment with "Death" in the form of Apollo Creed, and who finds his inner peace in the realization that his "win" won't be by defeating Death, but by going the distance, by lasting the entire fifteen rounds.)

(Of course, if you go with that reading, the subsequent ROCKY movies get tossed into the fantasy category: ROCKY II is where Rocky actually does defeat Death/Apollo. Rocky III is Rocky vs. the Devil/Clubber Lang. And ROCKY IV, with the barely-human Russian fighter, is Rocky vs., ummm, Galactus, maybe?)

Myself, I'm trying, at age 54, to make myself look as good as 65-year old John Turner did.

(Jeez, what a depressing little comment. Am I a great guy to invite to parties or what? It may have something to do with just having read Julie Phillips' biography of James Tiptree Jr./Alice Sheldon.)

#115 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2007, 02:12 AM:

Paula Helm Murray @111 (which, coincidentally, is the I-5 exit for Shipwreck): I've been buying from Shipwreck since they were a dinky store in Mud Bay; now they're dangerously near, and I've fallen into the habit of buying bags of mixed beads, which are really inexpensive compared to unbroken strings. It's a sort of oppressive place, though, like a really well-lit jewelry store crossed with Home Depot. One is constantly aware they number their inventory in millions.

I was looking at beads at Big Lots yesterday (there's one next to the nearest Trader Joe's) hoping that I could find some big blue faceted beads to finish a memory-wire bracelet as a delayed Christmas present. All they had were small beads, and mostly plastic, at that. But they did have Christmas bags 80% off their original price.

#116 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2007, 02:14 AM:

Happy 2007! Or, as I like to call it, the 7th year of the future, or, alternately, Y2K7.

I went to a party and was dancing my damn fool butt off to the Pet Shop Boys (and no, I'm not really that gay most of the time) until I developed a severe case of champagne hiccups. Unpleasant.

#117 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2007, 05:13 AM:

NYE, Katie and I went to a free concert by the SF Chamber Orchestra -- and very nearly didn't get in! Despite arriving half an hour early. (We were told some people had arrived an hour early. Sheesh.) But we did get in, sitting in the very top row of the balcony, and the concert was very nice. Then we went back to my place where I baked brownies and we watched this years Doctor Who Christmas special.

New Year's Day was spent, as usual, at Debbie Notkin's house party (which is why I baked the brownies) where I got to see and talk to many cool people, including meeting Anna Feruglio Dal Dan FTF for the first time.

#118 ::: miriam beetle ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2007, 05:13 AM:

i woke up, went with my boyfriend to a new years brunch with his family, them we went to his parents house & slept on couches for the next six hours. we slept about four hours last night, but that nap was ridiculous. i don't know if we'll get to sleep tonight at all.

then i got up, worked on my big honking writing/drawing project i have to finish by the end of the month or else, & drank two cups of coffee from my boyfriend's mum's new machine, & watched half an episode too much of csi:miami.

eventually, my boyfriend got up, as his parents got home from their dinner party. then my boyfriend's mum made extraordinarily good potato & corn tempura, & sauteed three-kinds-of-mushroom. oh man. & we watched a few good men cause it was on. i hadn't known it was an aaron sorkin movie, but boy is it ever an aaron sorkin movie.

then, after i finished all my page breakdowns, i dragged my 230-pound boyfriend on his back through two rooms before he was persuaded not to go back to napping but to get up & drive us home. i could do it, but i won't be able to lift my arms tomorrow (today, but, like i say, it'll be awhile before bed yet).

then i got home & got right on making light. don't know what i'll do now. go on with my layouts, or play with google image search (i can't imagine being a cartoonist before google image search, especially if one simply needs to draw michelangelo's moses as envisioned by r. crumb).

you asked....

#119 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2007, 05:44 AM:

Michael Weholt @ 112... only a dog can tell you how to really get to heaven

Indeed and, as that animated movie from the early Nineties reminded us, all dogs go to Heaven. As for cats...

#120 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2007, 06:06 AM:

Patrick @ 23... I appear to be really, honestly, losing my eyesight at a rate faster than my age should by itself account for.

I was worrying about that too until last summer, when, after my exam, I got my new glasses. My vision was even worse with those than with my old pair that I had to go back. The doc had indeed made a mistake. How much of a mistake? The equivalent of one quarter of one out of ten. Apparently my peepers are sensitive to very slight changes. Maybe it's the same for you.

#121 ::: Jo Walton ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2007, 08:17 AM:

I dreamed last night that Mike Ford was dead. Then I woke up, and after the initial shock of relief, remembered.

#122 ::: Jo Walton ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2007, 08:29 AM:

Oh, and Happy Birthday, Patrick! Many happy returns of the day.

We used some of your rum to make brandy butter... actually, I suppose that makes it rum butter, technically.

#123 ::: Aconite ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2007, 08:34 AM:

Best wishes, and many happy returns, Patrick.

#124 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2007, 09:20 AM:

#121: I dreamed last night Mike Ford was dead.

That sounds like the start of a revised version of "Joe Hill".

"Don't mourn. Iterate."

#125 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2007, 09:22 AM:

I spent most of yesterday playing World of Warcraft, which was noteworthy only insofar as I was able to do it from my living room couch rather than the desktop machine in the bedroom. Laptops are good; laptops that will talk to wireless routers are better. It means that Liam and I can be in the same room while indulging in our respective favorite timesinks--his requires a cable-enabled TV and mine needs an Internet connection, which until now were on different floors.

#126 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2007, 09:37 AM:

I saw Night at the Museum over the weekend. Everybody, especially my nephews, thought it was hilarious. I found it amusing, at least in the last act, especially the scene where they throw in a Brokeback Mountain joke involving a cowboy and a Roman general.

The best part though was the coming attraction for the next Fantastic Four movie. It sounds like it might be better than the original movie. Which isn't that difficult, I know. Anyway, Johnny Storm's chasing after the Silver Surfer made for some spectacular stuff.

#127 ::: debcha ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2007, 09:57 AM:

Happy birthday, Patrick, and many happy returns!

I had a fabulous start to 2007 - slept in, spent much of the day on the couch with a book (and one or both cats), and then went to a very civilized dinner party.

#128 ::: adamsj ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2007, 10:01 AM:

Serge,

I was surprised by how much I enjoyed the Fantastic Four movie.

Perhaps I had low expectations, or perhaps it was my wife's thoughtfully asking every few minutes, "Now, is that how it was in the comic book?" which is one of my favorite questions to try to answer.

I enjoyed it, whatever my reasons, and I even liked it.

My impression is that most of the underwear movies lately have sucked, both by movie and by comic fan standards. I wouldn't know--this is the first I've seen in years--but I thought this one was fine.

#129 ::: Michael Walsh ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2007, 10:11 AM:

re: "Holy Moly"... reveals that I don't read everything we publish (just as well, my brain would turn to guacamole in a noonday Tucson sun).

In the Johns Hopkins UP book: "Single Stage to Orbit Politics, Space Technology, and the Quest for Reusable Rocketry" there are a few references to Tim Kyger, which really shouldn't be that much of a surprise.

#130 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2007, 10:24 AM:

adamsj... My big problem with the original FF movie is that they gave themselves plenty of opportunities for dramatic events and yet they dropped the ball. An example? Where to begin? There's this mysterious cloud in space that's coming straight at Earth. Do the main characters do something to deflect the cloud, no matter what the danger, thus saving the Earth at their own expense? Nope. The darn cloud just transforms them into the FF then goes away, its plot purpose fulfilled. Do we then have Ben Grimm risk his own life to bring the shuttle and everybody safely down? No. Instead, we have him suddenly wake up in a clinic, and we're 'treated' to a lame joke by Johnny Storm.

Things seem to happen in a vacuum in this movie. I mean, they happen because, well, they happened in the comics. Ben Grimm is mad at Reed Richards for his own monstrous appearance, which made sense in the comics because Reed had cut corners on their fateful flight. Not so in the movie. We have New Yorkers cheer on the FF as heroes after that major car crash even though the whole mess happened because of Ben.

From some comments I read elsewhere, Michael Chikliss, who is a fan of that comic-book, wasn't happy with the original movie, and enjoyed the sequel much more. I can't wait for Galactus to show up near the end.

#131 ::: Harriet (01/04) also wishes Patrick (01/02) a happy birthday ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2007, 10:24 AM:

Although it's been said
Many times, many ways --
Happy Birthday To You!

(to paraphrase the words of one Robert Wells)

#132 ::: fidelio agrees with Harriet ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2007, 10:35 AM:

Happy birthday indeed, and get those eyes checked. Because complaining about the cost of the new glasses beats complaining about the broken leg you got when you fell down a flight of steps you didn't see.

#133 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2007, 10:46 AM:

In #58 Sajia Kabir wrote:

The Powerpoint Sidelight had me thinking: Do Nasa employees have t-shirts saying, "Actually, I am a rocket scientist?"

To which Mary Kay Kare replied in #77:

I don't know about NASA engineers, but my husband has multiple t-shirts and a button saying that. However, as of last Friday he really isn't one anymore.

"Death does not release you."

(Happy birthday, PNH!)

#134 ::: Nancy C ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2007, 11:06 AM:

Happy Birthday Patrick!

#135 ::: JC ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2007, 11:10 AM:

Happy Birthday, Patrick! I hope you and Teresa do something wonderful to celebrate.

(As for my New Year's Day, I made the chicken stock and got some writing done. Plus, I saw the first episode of The Sarah Jane Adventures. I have episodes 12 and 13 of Torchwood ready to watch tonight.)

#136 ::: Xopher wishes PNH a Most Excellent Birthday with Many Happy Returns, With or Without Deposits ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2007, 11:17 AM:

!yadhtriB yppaH

Oh, wait. Strike that. Reverse it.

Wow, you're only a few months older than me. I feel totally inadequate.

Anyway, Johnny Storm's chasing after the Silver Surfer made for some spectacular stuff.

Boy Meets Strange Stoned Interstellar Being, Boy loses SSIB, Boy gets SSIB? Human Torch/Silver Surfer slash...it has possibilities!

#137 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2007, 11:33 AM:

Xopher... Why must you take everything that is good and wholesome and make it sound so dirty? Next, I suppose you'll bring up Galactus/Watcher slash.

#138 ::: Laina ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2007, 11:35 AM:

Happy Birthday, Patrick!

I woke up at 7:30 New Year's Morning, ate breakfast, and fell asleep in the recliner for most of the morning. Read and picked up a few things the rest of the day.

No work today because of the National Day of Mourning for President Ford. I'm watching the funeral right now.

#139 ::: Madeleine Robins ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2007, 11:35 AM:

Happy Birthday, Patrick. May it be full of good work, good food, and much celebration.

#140 ::: Jon Sobel ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2007, 11:42 AM:

Happy birthday, Patrick!
Right behind you (if not ahead) in the poor vision department - and I'm only 43. Reminds me of the New Yorker cartoon with two men walking away from the viewer, both have huge butts, and the younger says to the older, "Thanks for almost everything, Dad!"

#141 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2007, 12:07 PM:

Xopher... Or Galactus and the High Evolutionary...

#142 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2007, 12:12 PM:

Happy Birthday Patrick, and many returns. Of the birthday, not the presents.

And do get those eyes checked out. It's amazing what they can do these days, but be sure to avoid the guy in the bazaar with the tankful of orbs who proclaims, "I just do eyes!"

#143 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2007, 12:15 PM:

Actually, we're celebrating my birthday by being sick as dogs. Both of us have what we suspect to be a bacterial sinus infection, and we're going in together to see our doctor first thing tomorrow morning. But thank you all for the kind thoughts!

#144 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2007, 12:16 PM:

"If only you knew what I've seen through your eyes..."

#145 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2007, 12:27 PM:

Serge: actually, the slash I've always wanted to write is Magneto/Iceman. Magnetism is stronger when it's cold, isn't it? Hmmm...

#146 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2007, 01:17 PM:

My mother? Let me tell you about my mother....

#147 ::: Aconite ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2007, 01:22 PM:

Serge: Next, I suppose you'll bring up Galactus/Watcher slash.

Well, we know that Giles did some things in his youth that he regr--oh. Never mind.

#148 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2007, 01:22 PM:

sorry to hear about the sinus infection. They totally suck.

#149 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2007, 01:30 PM:

I think I was 45 when I got my first pair of bifocals. It was an awful shock to be informed that I needed them, but that was overcome within moments of picking up a book and not having to extend my arms full-length to read it.

Happy Birthday and cleared-up sinuses, Patrick.

#150 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2007, 01:53 PM:

Happy birthday Patrick!

#151 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2007, 02:05 PM:

Happy birthday!

(I was tempted to send a PowerPoint presentation to sing "Happy Birthday To You", but got worried that I'd have to pay a performing rights royalty on the song ...)

#152 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2007, 02:54 PM:

I just painted "Happy Birthday" on the side of a round in my recoiless rifle strapped to my Vespa. At 3 pm, I plan on driving it up a hill and firing it over the ocean. Keep your eyes peeled for it.

#153 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2007, 03:31 PM:

For sale: One used, slightly charred Vespa. Still runs. Downhill.

Also for sale: Empty fire exstinguisher, needs recharging. But confirmed operational.

Good price.

Need bail money.

#154 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2007, 04:50 PM:

Paula Helm Murray #113: Out, damned spot!

#155 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2007, 05:09 PM:

Spent NYE cooking the nice dinner while watching bits of Marx Brothers on the living room computer, consuming dinner with a *very* nice vin blanc, watching old vacation slides, and then finishing off the year in bed, sharing a bottle of fairly nice champers, some shortbreads and chocolates, while channel-surfing the usual Times Square etc. suspects and watching some Twilight Zone. Then we discovered one of the local channels was showing the San Antonio Riverwalk Holiday Parade, in which the floats are all tourist boats. This all looked like a dive straight back to the Fifties, and was just perfect after vast quantities of French stuff.

We Tivoed the Rose Parade, as broadcast by HGTV since we like the way they go into the technical aspects of float decoration, and watched it last night. Yesterday spent taking down the tree and rearranging the living room furniture. For what may be badly-needed good luck, I cooked a sort of Hoppin' John with black-eyed peas, rice, and Canadian bacon among other things.

State decreed a day of mourning today, so spouse is off. If the funeral was broadcast, none of the Fry's large-screens was tuned to the festivities.

#156 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2007, 05:12 PM:

Mary Aileen #103:

According to HGTV, it was indeed the chapel. I loved the bulldog; the muffler was an inspired touch.

#157 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2007, 05:13 PM:

Serge #119: as that animated movie from the early Nineties reminded us, all dogs go to Heaven. As for cats...

As for cats, they're already *in* heaven right here and now. Great state of affairs.

#158 ::: Magenta Griffith ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2007, 06:42 PM:

Jo @121, with apologies.

I dreamed I saw Mike Ford last night,
Alive as you and me.
Says I "But Mike, I heard you died."
"It was a joke," said he,
"It was a joke," said he.

And standing there as big as life
And smiling like he would.
Said Mike "True wit cannot be killed
As long as it is good.
As long as it is good."

From San Francisco to New York,
At parties, cons, and such
Where fans are laughing with their beers,
Mike Ford will be in touch,
Mike Ford will be in touch.

So Doctor Mike will yet live on,
The poems will still be scribed,
New games will run like railroad trains
And drinks will be imbibed,
And drinks will be imbibed.

I dreamed I saw Mike Ford last night,
alive as you and me.
Said I "But Mike, I heard you died"
"It was a joke," said he,
"It was a joke," said he.

#159 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2007, 06:51 PM:

Happy Birthday, Patrick! Sorry about the sinus pain; I've always found that the best thing for those is the most robust Hot and Sour soup you can find.

#160 ::: kate ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2007, 07:14 PM:

Random and useless datapoint-- I did see info about that poll on CNN. I didn't listen to all of the story, though (I was in Dunkin' Donuts), so I don't know if they mentioned the "lots and lots of troops don't want the surge" part of the poll.

Also, happy birthday.

#161 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2007, 07:35 PM:

#158 Magenta: If only.

#130 Serge: "the original Fantastic Four movie" -- I think we have two different movies in mind. To me, that's the Roger Corman one, where Dr. Doom "vogues" when he talks.

#161 Me: Does anybody here know a technical reason (or any other) why I shouldn't download the Olbermann Widget? I like Olbermann, so we can omit any reasons that have to do with not liking Olbermann.

#162 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2007, 07:47 PM:

Well, I have now seen Snakes on a Plane and have figured out why, despite a year's worth of outstanding internet anticipation, it sank like a stone.

The movie sucked.

#163 ::: Howard Peirce ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2007, 08:08 PM:

Indeed and, as that animated movie from the early Nineties reminded us, all dogs go to Heaven. As for cats...

"Stare at this wall long enough, and I am there. Cleave this squirrel, and there you will find Me. The kingdom of Heaven is laid upon the face of the earth, and dogs do not see it."

From the Gnostic Gospel of Bast, one of the Animapocrypha.

#164 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2007, 08:30 PM:

I've got a very naïve question about things that are beyond my mortal ken, but probably not beyond most of your collective kens:

Does anyone know if the links to our own websites that we provide with our comments contribute to Google's complicated algorithms? As in, does Google count every post I make as a link to my blog that increases its page rank? Also, is that why there's such a thing as comment spam?

Just something I'm wondering about, both as a new blogger and as one who is irked by spam. And as a human person, and before God and everyone.

#165 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2007, 09:45 PM:

I expect the addresses get harvested by spammers. I don't know what Google does with them.

#166 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2007, 09:47 PM:

Patrick -- HPHC (my HMO) used to look for a drop meriting bifocals at 40, and I have regretted not insisting on being checked several years earlier ever since I finally got my first pair; you should get checked ASAP. Some people get lucky and never need serious glasses despite abusing their eyes, but they're the minority. One possible bright spot: my prescription has been practically stable in the ~10 years since I got my first progressives. (NB: if your prescription comes up more than ~1.00 difference between distance and close vision, ask them to also test at whatever distance from a CRT you find comfortable; arbitrary intermediate monofocals are better than nothing, but not nearly as good as the correct prescription if you're spending lots of time in front of a screen.)

The one time I counted there were 70 people in the house where I spent New Year's Eve, and several had been and gone; the only dense crowd was the 20 players and onlookers of "Apples to Apples" in the 2nd-floor hall. Pace Charlie, a sober New Year's Night suited me quite well; it's hard to cook 5-10 gallons of sauce and 6 pounds of spaghetti (even with much help) when you're not stone sober. We heard very few firecrackers, but we drove home past a house that has appeared in news all over the country because of its gross excess of lights (and the fact that they stay on until well after midnight).

MKK#77: that's a pity -- I was looking forward to hearing the results of the 2nd level of propulsion experiment, using a watermelon-powered main with zucchini strap-ons. (I think Mike actually gaped for a second when J explained that one....)

#167 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2007, 09:47 PM:

Tell us about the movie, Red Mike.

#168 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2007, 09:55 PM:

"Does anyone know if the links to our own websites that we provide with our comments contribute to Google's complicated algorithms? As in, does Google count every post I make as a link to my blog that increases its page rank?"

The answer is no. Links from Making Light's comment section, whether embedded in the body of comments or in a commenter's headers, don't contribute to any site's Google PageRank, because our Movable Type setup is configured to automatically add a rel="nofollow" statement to any live link. This is one of the basic things you do to make your commenting system less attractive to spam.

#169 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2007, 10:00 PM:

CHip: I've been wearing progressives for years. In fact, I just got a new pair, based on a new prescription, a few months ago. Thus my concern.

I already know I have presbyopia. (As I observed when I was diagnosed, my eyes refuse rule by bishops.) What I'm experiencing is an alarming increase in how quickly my eyes get tired, and how hard it is to maintain focus at whatever focal length I choose.

#170 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2007, 10:17 PM:

Patrick, are they sure that the lenses-as-built and the prescription are the same? Because opticians have been known to make mistakes. (My mother got one pair where each lens had the prescription for the other eye. Individually correct, but the sum was not good.)

#171 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2007, 10:39 PM:

Serge, #93&94, yes, it was on Sunday.

JESR, #108, The HR person at Shipwreck, Carol, is a friend of mine. Say Hi the next time you go.

Paula, #111, consider ordering from Out on a Whim. Fire Mountain Gem cheats artists.

The local (DC) NBC station gave the results of the military poll.

#172 ::: Dr Paisley ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2007, 11:22 PM:

In re the "Army Times" survey, it was mentioned tonight in a discussion of the "surge" on "Countdown with Keith Olbermann." M. Olbermann also presented another of his brilliant, blistering "Special Comments" on Iraq. It will be on again starting at midnight EST.

#173 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2007, 01:21 AM:

Wow, quick answer from both Nielsen Haydens. Thanks!

#174 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2007, 05:38 AM:

#158: the other possibility goes to the tune of "The Ballad of Rodger Young"...

#175 ::: Julia Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2007, 06:53 AM:

Patrick, get the short/long-sighted part of your prescription checked, if you haven't already done so. It can drift in some people, and I've had to have my contact lens prescription changed twice in the last 18 months for this reason -- the presbyopia certainly wasn't helping, but my basic myopia prescription had changed enough to make focusing tiring and uncomfortable. Your description sounds similar to what I was experiencing.

#176 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2007, 08:48 AM:

JDM, #162: Well, I have now seen Snakes on a Plane and have figured out why, despite a year's worth of outstanding internet anticipation, it sank like a stone. The movie sucked.

Unlike "The Apocalypse Door", which I finally got my hands on, bolted down at one sitting, and which definitely didn't suck.

#177 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2007, 09:16 AM:

Patrick, it turns out you share a birthday with Locus Reviews Editor/anthologist Jonathan Strahan, whose blog posting about being 40-something is similarly morose. Now all of us 50-somethings (and older) can join in a chorus of "Cheer up, young whippersnappers!" [to the tune of mumble er, "Young Lovers"]

#178 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2007, 09:52 AM:

Kip W @ 161: "the original Fantastic Four movie" -- I think we have two different movies in mind. To me, that's the Roger Corman one, where Dr. Doom "vogues" when he talks.

Ah yes, there was that unreleased version. It was, to say the least, terrible, but its heart was in the right place.

#179 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2007, 09:57 AM:

Marilee @ 171... Drat. When we came back from our trip to the Bay Area, the first thing I did was turn on the TV because a cold and silent house just is no fun during the Holidays. Anyway the TZ marathon was on, in the middle of episode "little girl lost", which tells us that, if you hear your kid sobbing and can't find her, the first thing you must do is call your scientist neighbor.

#180 ::: Skwid ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2007, 10:15 AM:

Serge @178, Just to be clear, we're talking about this thing, right? The movie that held easily the title of "worst non-porn movie I've ever seen" right up until Ultraviolet came along last year to give it competition? The movie so bad that I hallucinated a Latvian dance number in the middle of it, and when I realized later it wasn't actually in the film my estimation of it went down?

I don't think that movie's heart was anywhere near where it was supposed to be, anymore than the rest of its figurative anatomy was properly placed.

#181 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2007, 10:22 AM:

You mean, a Latverian dance, Skwid, but yes we are both talking about 1994's Fantastic Four. Was it really the worst non-porn movie ever made? No way. That title goes to 1986's Ishtar.

#182 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2007, 11:18 AM:

Ishtar? Hah! I laugh at your Ishtar! Now Spawn of the Slithis ... that movie was bad.

Or are we only talking about big-budget wide-release movies?

#183 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2007, 11:45 AM:

Spawn of the Slithis , James? I must say I've never heard of that one. Considering imDB's synopsis ("A nuclear leak creates a mutant Slithis sea monster, which terrorizes the variety of pets, winos, and hippies who hang around Venice, California."), it's probably just as well.

Anyway, there's no big-budget limitation although having a big budget gives a movie even less of an excuse for its being atrocious. Another top contender for the title of Really Bad Movie would be the sequel to Highlander.

#184 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2007, 12:02 PM:

My local paper used to include a weekly TV schedule pullout, and one of the things I liked to do was read the movie blurbs in the back. I have long since forgotten the name of the film, but the synopsis is burned into my brain: "A fading comic's career is revived when a third arm sprouts from his back."

I'll see your Ishtar and raise you a third-arm movie. ;)

#185 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2007, 12:16 PM:

#184: Carrie, it gives me great pleasure to present The Dark Backward (Adam Rifkin, 2000).

"Marty Malt (Judd Nelson) is the worst stand-up comic in the entire world. He is equally terrible at his day job, a garbage collector. It seems that Marty is not destined for stardom ... until one day something strange happens that changes his life forever. His accordion-playing co-worker, Gus (Bill Paxton), notices a lump growing out of Marty's back while they are doing the rounds. This odd growth is diagnosed by the disturbingly incompetent Doctor Scurvey (James Caan) as a third arm."

According to this it is the director's best work...

#186 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2007, 12:27 PM:

Carrie S, your challenge cannot go unmet.

How about The Thing with Two Heads ("They transplanted a white bigot's head on a soul brother's body!")? I understand that it is not the best movie that Ray Milland was in.

#187 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2007, 12:52 PM:

Satan's Cheerleaders? The title really says it all. Evil sheriff calling to his dogs: "Lucifer! Diablo! Get them!"

#188 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2007, 12:53 PM:

Ajay, dude, please tell me you had to google for that using keywords from the synopsis and didn't just know it.

Serge, I have never seen The Thing with Two Heads, so I fear I have to concede. Somehow I don't think that even that one with the 7th planet and automated testicle remover (Ice Pirates?) can compare...

#189 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2007, 12:55 PM:

Gawd... Ice Pirates... Why did you have to remind me of that one, Carrie S?

#190 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2007, 12:56 PM:

And wait, I just noticed the 2000 production date on The Dark Backwards. Either Ajay's source got the date wrong, there are two movies that used the plot, or I'm once again not in the universe I started in, because I read that synopsis no later than high school, which is to say no later than 1994.

#191 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2007, 01:25 PM:

Serge #181: I'd go for either Plan Nine from Outer Space or Manos, the Hands of Fate as the worst non-porn film ever.

#192 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2007, 01:25 PM:

Thanks Marilee, I have never actually ordered anything from Fire Mountain yet, just get their catalogs. the place I order most from is Ornamental Resources, they're out Colorado and I like their findings a lot. Beads I got, tons, metal parts (GOOD metal parts) are harder to come by.

#193 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2007, 01:30 PM:

Sorry, Fragano, but I maintain that Ishtar is the worst. I remember seeing it in Montreal, and when the lights came on, everybody just sat there, silent.

#194 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2007, 01:35 PM:

In college we had the Bad Film Festival. You paid four dollars at the door and got a buck back for each one you sat through.

Plan Nine from Outer Space
Attack of the Killer Tomatoes
Invasion of the Bee Girls
They Saved Hitler's Brain

#195 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2007, 01:37 PM:

No, Serge, seriously, Manos is so bad MST3K couldn't save it. It beats Ishtar by a country mile.

#196 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2007, 02:07 PM:

True, Carrie S, but Ishtar was done by professional movie people, with actors who do this for a living, and they had lots of money to play with. I don't think any of that applied to Manos.

How about this? They both are very crappy movies.

#197 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2007, 02:09 PM:

Serge #193: Worse than Plan Nine which was also made by professional movie people?

#198 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2007, 02:11 PM:

PJ, #170, I saw the optometrist about two weeks ago, got my new glasses Friday and wore them home. No problem until I got to the computer and there was no angle where I could see the computer clearly with the right lens. I did some more experimenting and I couldn't read, or see clearly with the right lens (I must have been looking with my left eye on the way home). I have an appt at 10:10 tomorrow (ack) to recheck them. I'm pretty sure something happened when the lens was made.

Serge, #179, I saw that one, too, for the first time. I didn't realize the guy was the neighbor. I figured he was a scientist the father knew.

Paula, #192, then try Rio Grande. They were designed for the trade, but now sell to hobbyists and small businesses. If you want things like clasps, rings, etc., I get those from Monsterslayer.

#199 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2007, 02:17 PM:

I wouldn't call Ed Wood a pro, Fragano. As for the TZ episode "little girl lost", maybe the scientist was a friend of the father, not a neighbor, but that doesn't change the silliness factor. (Next time I misplace my socks, maybe I'll ask Bill Higgins if he could help.)

Here's one BAD movie that was made by pros that deserves to die a painful death... The Devil's Rain.

#200 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2007, 02:20 PM:

(Oops. The TZ comment should have been addressed to you, Marilee.)

#201 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2007, 02:22 PM:

Is the Spawn of the Slithis the legendary Thing That Only Eats Hippies?

I think the all-time worst big-budget name-cast movie is Pleasantville, but I guess people actually like that one for some reason.

#202 ::: Renee ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2007, 02:23 PM:

*peeks in*

If it's a bad movie theme, and non-Hollywood is allowed, then I nominate Prehistoric Bimbos From Armageddon City.

Even if it doesn't count (it's obviously amateur, possibly a high-school project) then I still think it should win for the title alone.

#203 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2007, 02:32 PM:

Serge #199: OK. But I think Ishtar is also beaten by this film.

#204 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2007, 02:33 PM:

Holiday Luggage fun:

On check-in in Portland, my Giant Rolling Bag of Christmas Gifts turns out to be 6 lbs. overweight. I remove carefully wrapped parcel of fudge from it; bag is now 45 lbs and gets checked in penalty free.

The TSA folks don't bat an eye at the hand-carried fudge.

On a layover at Seattle airport, cheerful cheer-spreaders representing the in-terminal shopping center give me a totebag to carry the parcel of fudge. Cheers, cheer-spreaders! My hand thanks you.

In Newark, giant bag of gifts never materializes. Alaska Airlines luggage office is baffled.

On the 26th, I get a call from Delta Airlines luggage office in Atlanta. I positively identify my giant bag. It gets delivered on the 28th at 4:30 am, by a guy who made a wrong turn and ended up driving in the boonies south of the Catskills for 1 1/2 hours.

Everything is intact, including a gold watch and a hard drive hidden in various crevices.

Whew.

#205 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2007, 03:17 PM:

Stefan, that settles it. We all need private wormholes.

#206 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2007, 03:49 PM:

wrt #s 192, 198 etc.: if you can make their minimum total, Halstead Bead is pretty good for a variety of metals. If you work with brass, Guyot Brothers also looks pretty good but I've never ordered from them.

I generally get glass beads from York Beads and semiprecious from Znetshows, VitaBeads, or South Pacific; also, don't forget eBay, which can have some surprisingly good deals if you have specific beadage in mind-- I'm still trying to figure out where some of their sellers are getting their cubic zirconia beads, since their prices are staggeringly lower than I've seen just about anywhere else.

#207 ::: Skwid ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2007, 04:08 PM:

Serge, you were correct regarding the spelling of Latveria, but your dismissal of the classic Ice Pirates and your invention of some sort of mythical sequel to Highlander clearly place you as posting from some alternate dimension. No one would make a sequel to Highlander...what a dumb idea.

Renee @ 202, I'll see your Bimbos From Armageddon City and raise you Hell Comes to Frogtown.

#208 ::: Sarah S ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2007, 04:20 PM:

How about The Hand and Basket Case, the latter of which spawned not one, but two sequels?!

#209 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2007, 04:24 PM:

#201: I loved Pleasantville. That's when I developed my crush on Toby Maguire.

#210 ::: Alex Cohen ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2007, 04:44 PM:

I can't say how bad it was, because I didn't see it, but then again, only three people did:

Zyzzyx Road grossed $30. Yes, $30.

#211 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2007, 05:27 PM:

New Year's Eve: I raked fourteen bags of leaves off my lawn. It is still covered with leaves, but I am out of leaf bags. This was followed by a Girls' Night watching Johnny Depp prance through Curse of the Black Pearl and cutting out lavender fabric. I have had exactly two dates for New Year's in my life and both were utterly disastrous, so this is what passes for a socially successful celebration nowadays. All my ballgowns are slowly turning black and lavender as I enter a permanent state of mourning.

New Year's Day was dedicated to sewing 1910s evening gowns and then a rigorous dance practice which left me with aches in really peculiar places.

Resolutions:
1. lose another 40 pounds
2. give up on men
3. clean house

Only #3 is recycled from last year.

#212 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2007, 05:29 PM:

Political giggle of the day:

Joe Lieberman seems to have neglected to join his own party. Ooops. Connecticut for Lieberman taken over by Lieberman opponent.

This should be entertaining.

#213 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2007, 05:31 PM:

I got my lily bulbs planted for New Year's. The grapevines got pruned for Christmas (find a day when they're reasonably dormant and start cutting). I'm hoping this year to get more grapes - last year's crop was a pound of Zinfandels. Now to get the species tulips and species crocuses planted.

#214 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2007, 05:54 PM:

skwid # 207... Well, Ice Pirates did have Anjelica Huston in it so it couldn't be all bad. As for your saying that no one would make a sequel to Highlander... Well, imDB says there was not one but TWO sequels. Or was it three, not including the TV series? It's hard to keep track when one hops all over the Multiverse.

#215 ::: Aconite ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2007, 06:01 PM:

Night of the Lepus Very silly.

Killer Klowns from Outer Space Much, much worse than you can imagine if you haven't seen it.

#216 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2007, 06:03 PM:

Susan @ 212... Now, now... You're not gloating, are you?

#217 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2007, 06:04 PM:

A very BAD movie... Tim Burton's Planet of the Apes.

#218 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2007, 06:07 PM:

Serge @ #216

I'm not gloating - I'm thinking of joining.

#219 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2007, 06:11 PM:

Carrie: I'm afraid it was googling rather than a monumental knowledge of terrible films that led me to "The Dark Backward". And, checking IMDB, I see that it came out in 1991 - the 2000 probably refers to the VHS or DVD release.
I'm actually quite tempted to try and find a DVD of it now... oh lord, help me.

#220 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2007, 06:16 PM:

Aconite @ #215: I've seen that clown movie. I adored it in the way one adores bad movies.

I'm not sure if it's bad or good or, um, what but I am also very fond of The 5000 Fingers of Dr. T, which is a live-action Dr. Seuss movie that actually looks like it was drawn by Dr. Seuss. Most of it is a child's nightmare come to life, but how can anyone resist the flaming lavender-clad Dr. T?

I want my leg-of-mutton sleeves, and in addition to those
I want my cutie chamois booties with the leopard-skin bows.
I want my pink-brocaded bodice with the fluffy fuzzy ruffs
And my gorgeous bright blue bloomers with the monkey-feather
cuffs.

Is it...atomic??

(The two movies are associated in my mind because I saw them both for the first time during the same evening.)

#221 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2007, 06:29 PM:

Susan @ 218... Perfect. Then, when you decide to run for the Senate, we'll contribute. But there is your sordid past as an SF/F costumer, all traces of which must be erased.

#222 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2007, 06:32 PM:

Serge, if it were me, I'd say publish and be damned. Unless ... were the costumes ... naughty?

#223 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2007, 06:34 PM:

Speaking of Dr. Seuss, Susan... Did you ever see that old Warner Bros animated short about the elephant who's conned into taking care of an unhatched egg by its frivolous mother, and he does, in spite of everything that happens to him? It shows up every once in a while on Turner Classic Movies. (It even has a cameo by Peter Lorre - as a fish who, upon seeing the elephant on a ship, promptly blows his own head off.)

#224 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2007, 06:35 PM:

Serge & joann -

My sordid past pretty much permanently bars me from any office for which my opponent can afford oppo research.

#225 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2007, 06:36 PM:

I have no idea, joann... But I think Susan was involved in some Flash Gordon group presentation and you can imagine what mainstream voters would think of that.

#226 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2007, 06:37 PM:

Serge: I seem to have missed that one.

#227 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2007, 06:38 PM:

So what, Susan? We'd fund YOUR oppo research. Besides, some people on this site are quite good at digging things up on the internet.

#228 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2007, 06:49 PM:

The first half or so of "Dr. T," which concentrates on the trevails of the fatherless boy hero, is slow and a little shmaltzy.

It goes into high gear and goes way, way over the top when Bart (?) and his plumber friend get taken to Dr. T's dungeon by a singing elevator operator. Or maybe it's when the Terwilliker academy grads sing their fight song. Certainly, by the time Dr. T gets around to singing his "Dress Me!" song, which I'm trying real hard not to think of.

AAAAHHHHH!

Spody-do duds!

#229 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2007, 06:52 PM:

Hmm. It looks as if Serge is heading up the Susan for President campaign.

I, for one, want to know what stand the candidate takes on:

weasels
fruitcake
sodomy
dinosaurs

...not necessarily in that order.

#230 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2007, 06:52 PM:

Susan @ 226... That old Warner Bros cartoon was based on "Horton the Elephant". Here's a link:

http://www.toonopedia.com/horton.htm

#231 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2007, 06:53 PM:

Stefan:

I was quoting the Dress Me song ("Do-mi-do Duds") above. Careful not to think about the chiffon mother hubbard lined with Hudson Bay rat, now.

I can quote the executioner's elevator song ("Dungeon Song") too. But I won't.

'cause I'm going do-mi-do-ing in my do-mi-do duds...

#232 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2007, 07:09 PM:

Fragano @ 229... It looks as if Serge is heading up the Susan for President campaign.

Riiiight... After all, in my high-school days, I was on the student council twice. Sure, that's because nobody else wanted to do it so they asked me to.

#233 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2007, 07:25 PM:

(cont'd from 232)

Another thing, Fragano. The only time I was involved in a 'grownup' campaign was when Howard Dean ran for President. And we all know how well that went.

#234 ::: MD² ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2007, 07:34 PM:

Greg London (#146): My mother? Let me tell you about my mother...

Cue Marvin Gaye sample on smoked beats, with badly (yet greatly) stolen David Sylvian lyrics...

As for worst film of all times, I do not know, but worst film I've been imposed seeing: Fist of the North Star. The film's so bad I was left a writhing mass of nervous spasms well after it was other.

I hear Samurai Cop deserves a price also, but I won't go anywhere near it.

#235 ::: Neil Willcox ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2007, 07:34 PM:

For a long time I thought that Raw Deal was just another Arnie film*, not withstanding Arnie's excellent advice: "You should not drink and bake".

Then I watched it when sober, and realised that it was terrible. Not quite as bad as some mentioned so far, but nearly.


On bad titles: I once started (and never finished) drawing a cartoon called "Time Travelling Bunnies from Planet Filth" - a friend well versed in bad movies told me the sequel must be "Renegade Vampire Bimbos from Planet Filth", which has occasionally been used as a pub quiz team name.

* We were very drunk when we watched it; for example:

Me: Why did he blow up that oil refinery again?
Jim: To get enough crude oil to slick back his hair to go undercover.
Me: Right.

#236 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2007, 07:46 PM:

I see your Samurai Cop and raise you Sgt. Kabukiman, NYPD.

Sgt. Kabukiman is a mild-mannered NYC cop who, when he eats sushi, becomes a master of kabuki theatre, able to defeat the bad guys with his oriental acting talent.

#237 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2007, 07:53 PM:

Marilee @171 et seq: Small world indeed. Thanks, by the way, for the plentiful new bead sources; strangely enough, I have needs that can't be fulfilled by Shipwreck, mostly because I'm looking for small quantities of semiprecious stones to repair a broken necklace.

Julie L @ 206: thanks also for your sources.

Paula Helm Murray, you are so right about the difficulty of finding decent clasps in small quantity; I'm having an outbreak of three-string necklace making, and coming up with a clasp for the one I made my sister for Christmas drove me to Michael's (shudder) as I was sans transportation and in dire need after I figured out she wouldn't be able to open the lobster-claw I'd planned on using.

General topic: the worst movie I've ever watched is the original Children Shouldn't Play with Dead Things. The last half of Dr. T is one of the best things ever, which is just as well,since the first half gives me the same creeping dread that most 1950s live-action kids movies did, and indeed, most of TZ.

We watched the TZ marathon here; it was substantially less crazy-making than my husband's preferred amusement, which was The Three Stooges in Spanish with French subtitles.

#238 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2007, 07:58 PM:

Skwid #207:

You saw Hell Comes to Frogtown too? With my favorites, Rowdy Roddy Piper and Sandahl Bergman?

Gee, I thought I was the only one.

#239 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2007, 08:02 PM:

I saw Hell Comes to Frogtown too, and got a big laugh when I figured out which meaning of 'coming' the title referred to.

#240 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2007, 08:06 PM:

The hero was Sam Hell (go, Rowdy Roddy! Arch-enemy of Hulk Hogan!). And it was called Frogtown because it was populated by ... giant frogs. Who wanted nothing more than to ... y'know ... with human females. Boy, they don't make movies like that any more.

#241 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2007, 08:11 PM:

I love Sgt Kabukiman, NYPD!

#242 ::: MD² ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2007, 08:24 PM:

James D. Macdonald #236:

I see your Samurai Cop and raise you Sgt. Kabukiman, NYPD.

Hey, you're cheating, this is a Troma movie for [insert here the closest thing you have to a god (now, why does it now sound perverted ?)]'s sake !

I raise Lady Oscar, but that's as far as I'm willing to go.

(By the look of it, my friend the bad movies collector is going to love the finds on that thread if he doesn't know them already.
Thank you. Brrrrrrrr.)

#243 ::: debcha ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2007, 08:31 PM:

Open thread randomness: It had to happen. A news station got 'Obama' and 'Osama' mixed up. I am a little surprised that it was on CNN, though, rather than on Faux News.

#244 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2007, 09:03 PM:

MD2 @ 242... Does your friend, the bad-movie collector, know about the book Better Living Thru Bad Movies? It was reprinted from the 'critiques' posted on http://world-o-crap.com/blog/. These days, they're reviewing 1943's Batman serial on their site.

#245 ::: Dr Paisley ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2007, 09:12 PM:

I got yer worst picture right here: "The Black Hole"

"That ship was on the same mission we are–to discover habitable life in the galaxy!"

Slim Pickens and Roddy MacDowell doing "Brokeback Robot."

Dishonorable mention: "Damnation Alley"

"Las Vegas is overrun with giant killer cockroaches!"

So was the theater we saw it in.

#246 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2007, 09:20 PM:

I nominate Cujo. Favorite comment uttered by the audience I saw it with in the Big Apple: "Come ON, woman... You're not that stupid."

#247 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2007, 09:27 PM:

I think the worst movie I paid money for was that Highlander Sequel (was there more than one? The latest then) and the worst I ever watched on DVD was Zardoz. That orange diaper was enough to make me forget why I liked him so much in the first Highlander. But it was just as well that Zardoz was so heinous, as it was responsible for one of my most memorable New Year's Eves ever several years ago - lying on the frosty lawn in Wisconsin watching a meteor shower.

Also severely disliked by me, if no one else, was 21 Grams, which I felt was an irredeemably depressing load of pretentious horseshit. I just saw two in the theatre this last week that left me grossly disappointed and somewhat offended, but then saw Pan's Labyrinth and all was right with the world.

#248 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2007, 09:42 PM:

Some people in this thread seem to be mistaking deliberate camp for actual badness. I mean, Killer Klowns is a Kamp Klassik! It's mindbogglingly stupid, but all the stupidest bits are making fun of stupid horror-movie tropes.

I love Killer Klowns. Maybe you could tell.

Attack of the Killer Tomatos is another in that vein, though to my mind much less funny. I have to admit, though, that when the guy dresses in the tomato costume to go spy on the tomatos...and it works...that's a great moment, even before he gives himself away by asking for ketchup.

And, important rule: all movies made from Stephen King horror novels are bad. Exception: Kubrick's version of The Shining. All others are tah-rash. (The Green Mile and Stand By Me are not horror novels; the latter is a short story, in fact.)

#249 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2007, 10:11 PM:

No one's mentioned the movie version of "Nightfall"?

As someone mentioned above, some bad movies are made with tongue far into cheek. KILLER TOMATOES is one; may I suggest SHAKES THE CLOWN as another?

I also have a deplorable love for Scott Phillips' short film, SCIENCE BASTARD. (With SF/fantasy writer Bob Vardeman, and his son Chris, acting in it.) You gotta love a superhero story with a villain named Skunk-Ape.

#250 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2007, 10:31 PM:

Xopher... all movies made from Stephen King horror novels are bad.

One major exception is 1983's The Dead Zone.

#251 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2007, 10:36 PM:

joann@205: but wormholes are dangerous, and you can't get anything back out of them without a Heechee can-opener. I'd rather have the spell Sean O'Lochlain used on his bag of tools in Too Many Magicians; all I'd need to do is be on the plane before the last minute so the spell knows which direction the luggage should hitchhike in.

#252 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2007, 11:33 PM:

Susan:

I'm not sure if it's bad or good or, um, what but I am also very fond of The 5000 Fingers of Dr. T, which is a live-action Dr. Seuss movie that actually looks like it was drawn by Dr. Seuss.

When I took film classes from him, Stanley Kramer was very bitter about that film, and would not show it to us. The script was by Seuss, and when Kramer couldn't direct it he spent a lot of time to find a director who could handle the job. When it was finished they delivered it to Columbia, where Cohn walked out of the screening room and said "That bastard has finally made a film I can't release." Cohn's solution? Kramer's contract said Columbia couldn't touch a frame unless a Kramer film made less than X amount over two weeks. Cohn released it out without any advertising anywhere of any kind, and when nobody bought tickets because they didn't know it was playing Cohn cut out between 30 minutes and an hour of material. From what little Kramer would say it was mainly from what's now the last half, with a little linking material involving the father at the front of the film. He pretty much burned to get It's A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World and The 5000 Fingers of Dr. T restored to their full lengths.

#253 ::: Lloyd Burchill ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2007, 11:40 PM:

Looks like no one here's beheld Overdrawn at the Memory Bank and lived to tell the tale. John Varley's delightful novelette got adapted -- mutilated, really -- into something that will destroy your will to live. It starts by giving away the novelette's main suspense point. Then Raul Julia provides cringetastically unfunny voiceovers for budget-slimming wildlife stock footage. Add an incoherent plot and plenty of parking-garage "lunar" interiors, and pretty soon the meteoric decline of intelligence plunges straight to Hell. Truly, it's astonishing; essentially Atlanta Nights in visual form.

#254 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2007, 11:41 PM:

Oh, come on! Stephen King movies are always good! Didn't you see The Langoliers? (JOKING.)

My favorite Troma title is Vegas in Space, which is absolutely brilliant for several reasons. I have not, however, seen it.

#255 ::: Claude Muncey ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2007, 11:43 PM:

Considering bad movies . . .

I considered therapy after seeing Gwendoline. Alcohol worked instead. Lots of alcohol.

TCM had a sentimental favorite on New Year's Day - a crisp print of Red Planet Mars. They don't make 'em like that anymore, I'm glad to say.

#256 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2007, 12:14 AM:

There's bad, there's bad-funny, and then there's just boring and lame.

I don't know the title, but there's this hunting-for-Bigfoot film I once started watching in my "See Anything Remotely SF&F Oriented" adolescence.

It began, as I recall, with a college professor sneering at a student who didn't take Bigfoot rumors seriously. Because ancient philosophers believed in griffins and phoenixes and who are we to question the likes of Aristotle?

What happens after that, I can't say. I fell asleep.

Dull, slow, bad sound quality . . . just a tedious mess.

#257 ::: Margaret Organ-Kean ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2007, 12:20 AM:

#207 & following

Not only is there Hell Comes to Frogtown, there's also the sequel, Frogtown II, the next sequel Toad Warrior, and (as of 2002) the last sequel, Max Hell Comes to Frogtown.

I've seen the first two (rainy afternoon, art deadline) insofar as I see movies on TV (I sorta listen and turn around if anything sounds particularly interesting). I seem to recall turning around a lot during the Frogtown movies - simply couldn't believe what I was hearing.

But worse than those - so bad I objected (afterwards) to watching it for free - A Nymphoid Barbarian in Dinosaur Hell. Actually it was so bad I almost thought I'd dreamed it, or maybe hallucinated it, as I was watching TV late at night since the flu was keeping me awake.

Worst movie I ever paid for? Death Becomes Her. Van Helsing is a close runner up.

#258 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2007, 12:49 AM:

Who will ever forget Sorority Babes in the Slimeball Bowl-a-rama? Or Night of the Blood Apes? Or Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers?

Seriously, now, The Black Hole goes down in history for two reasons: one is private -- that was the first Red Mike Review I ever wrote. Second, it was the first movie that used computer animation. (It predated TRON.)

Heh -- I know in which Friday the Thirteenth movie Jason got his hockey mask. (And that was the only good part about that particular movie.)

#259 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2007, 05:00 AM:

Sgt. Kabukiman is a mild-mannered NYC cop who, when he eats sushi, becomes a master of kabuki theatre, able to defeat the bad guys with his oriental acting talent.

Until he faces his arch-enemy, San Francisco crimelord Doctor Noh.

#260 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2007, 05:45 AM:

Calude Muncey @ 255... I saw Gwendoline too. Gack.

#261 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2007, 05:49 AM:

As for Red Planet Mars, Claude, I think I'll stick with The Angry Red Planet, which, instead of communists, has the bat/rat/spider creature. And Gerald Mohr with his shirt unbutonned.

#262 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2007, 07:38 AM:

Serge #250: We'll have to agree to disagree on that one. I did like the book, and I thought they completely corrupted the whole point of the ending by dumbing it down to the point where the theme was completely ruined. I also thing TDZ is marginal as a horror novel; it's a slightly horror-tinged thriller.

#263 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2007, 08:30 AM:

Claude Muncey:

I considered therapy after seeing Gwendoline. Alcohol worked instead. Lots of alcohol.

Do you mean the French production of The Perils of Gwendoline in the Land of the Yik Yak? From what I've heard you would have been better off with the legendary bondage comic it's based on, John Willie's The Adventures of Sweet Gwendolyn. Sort of The Perils of Pauline with ropes and leather hoods.

(How do I know about the comic? A friend wanted it and I found a [pardon the phrase] bound edition for her in pre-ADDDALL/ABE/Internet days. You think I didn't page through it before I wrapped it up for Christmas?)

#264 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2007, 08:34 AM:

"The Dark Backward"...came out in 1991 - the 2000 probably refers to the VHS or DVD release.

Thank heavens. Brian Wilson's bad enough, I hate it when I switch universes.

I'm actually quite tempted to try and find a DVD of it now... oh lord, help me.

No, Ajay! Be strong!

#265 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2007, 08:35 AM:

The Dead Zone really is an SF story, Xopher. Anyway, I approached the whole thing differently from the way you did. I saw the movie first and, when I finally read the book, I found myself agreeing with the changes that the scriptwriters had made. In fact, King himself liked the changes. Anyway, the movie had Christopher Walken in top form, before he became a parody of himself, and I loved his character's reading of Poe's The Raven. Finally, this is one of the few movies whose ending left me with a big lump of sadness in my throat.

#266 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2007, 08:43 AM:

Worst movie I ever paid for: Waterworld

Worst movie I ever saw all the way through: Manos, Hands of Fate (MST3K version)

Worst movie I ever tried to watch all the way through and failed: Plan Nine from Outer Space

Worst movie I ever actually enjoyed: um....actually...Overdrawn at the Memory Bank (crawls away and hides)

#267 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2007, 08:52 AM:

Wellllll, Lila... I liked Waterworld, AND The Postman.

#268 ::: jennie ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2007, 08:53 AM:

Susan, aren't you going to try a flaming red ball gown soon? I think you need one, really you do. Not that there's anything wrong with black and lavender, really, but I think red would do very well by you.

Being a pop-culture ignoramus, I have nothing to contribute to the discussion of bad movies, so I shall mention a political development that pleases me greatly: In Ontario a child can now legally have three parents.

Having spent some time with my 14-month-old godson this holiday season, I'm certain that this is a good and useful thing.

#269 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2007, 09:21 AM:

jennie - at some point, probably. I have an offer from my grandmother of some gorgeous moire faille in a really icky pinkish-brown color. I have abused a test swatch by running it through the washer and dryer and it survived, so maybe it would survive being dyed scarlet. In the meantime, I have lots of lavender and black fabric and a melancholy affect.

I am currently engaged in an animated discussion about maxixe tempi (84bpm? 96? 112? the music and the dance seem to want different things) and having a peculiar urge to take up cha-cha on Monday. (Mostly because of a cha-cha version of "Oh, Holy Night" or whatever fall-on-your-knees-hear-the-angel-voices is called. I mostly know it from the excerpt in "Mr. Tanner." It seems important to cha-cha to it, don't you think?)

#270 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2007, 09:23 AM:

6:45 AM: Lying awake in bed, watching a flock of bats fly across the full moon centered perfectly in my bedroom window.

(Is flock the correct group-term for bats?)

#271 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2007, 09:29 AM:

Susan... I thought your bat problem had been resolved just before LAcon.

#272 ::: John Houghton ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2007, 09:35 AM:

Susan (270):
A quick google for "bat collective noun" yields "cloud, colony" from multiple sources. So you saw a cloud of bats transit the moon, and I've learned a new collective noun.

My, perhaps unanswerable, question is how did the wonderful idea of special collective nouns for various species come about?

#273 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2007, 09:35 AM:

#270: definitely time to start thinking about flaming red ball gowns, then. ("...und leaf behind some of ze happiness you brink")

An otherwise normal friend of mine got married on New Year's Eve. In a mediaeval chapel lit only by candles, wearing a red dress with a black lace top. The first hymn woke up a bat in the rafters, which spent the rest of the service zooming around the place trying to get out. (The lesson, incidentally, was Job xxix.) Just shows there's a little bit of Goth in everyone.

#274 ::: Dave Weingart ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2007, 09:37 AM:

Susan,

What does An Exaltation of Larks have to say on the subject of groups of bats? ;)

#275 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2007, 09:51 AM:

Serge - these bats weren't a problem, being safely outdoors, but I am bemused that I have slept in this bed, in this room, with that window, with no curtain except stacks of books, for seven years now and have never before seen the full moon perfectly centered in it.

#276 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2007, 09:53 AM:

I have a question for Susan and other costumers, and to people who attend F/SF con masquerades...

Have you ever seen anybody wearing costumes inspired by Girl Genius? It has so many possibilities that I was surprised not to see it at LAcon's masquerade, or at Boston's in 2004.

#277 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2007, 10:04 AM:

Serge: not being familiar with Girl Genius, I've no idea.

A few of us once (=a decade or more ago) had a plan to do "Do Mi Do Duds" as a group-costume, though. We thought we'd need at least three bodies to get all those items of clothing in. The final verse ("dress me up in liverwurst and Camembert cheese...dress me up in pretzels, dress me up in Bock Beer suds") would have featured a showgirl costume rather like the ones in "Springtime for Hitler" in the B'way version of The Producers. Unfortunately, we never got around to doing this group, though I suppose it's never too late.

#278 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2007, 10:08 AM:

I guess I'm a bit of a movie snob. It takes quite a bit to entice me to go see a movie in the first place, so if there is any badness to it, I probably avoid it up front. Basically, I don't have TIME to see bad movies.

The most notable exception to this was "Mars Attacks" which suckered me in with a dozen A-list actors (Jack Nicolson, Glenn Close, Annette Bening, Pierce Brosnan, Danny DeVito, Martin Short, Sarah Jessica Parker, Michael J Fox, Tom Jones, Natalie Portman, Lisa Marie, Jack Black, Christina Applegate) AND Tim Burton directing.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0116996/fullcredits

It was the only movie I'd paid to see at a theater that I was considering walking out on. The only reason I didn't was because I kept thinking, if I walk now, everyone will tell me it got better, or made sense, or had some payoff, at the end.

It didn't.

People who liked it try to explain that it was a spoof and/or homage to the silly science fiction movies of the 50's. But a spoof of stupid movies gives you a stupid movie.

Anyway, Tim Burton and I have stopped talking ever since I saw that movie.

Not that we were talking before, but....

#279 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2007, 10:19 AM:

Your Seuss-inspired costumes sound neat, Susan.

You're not familiar with Girl Genius? If you click here, you'll be taken to a CafePress calendar based on that comic-book. If someone drafted me into a masquerade presentation, I'd probably wind up dressed as the jaegermonster seen on the page for the month of March.

#280 ::: Skwid ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2007, 10:25 AM:

Serge, nerdycellist, perhaps I was unclear. There is no sequel to Highlander, and there is nothing you can do or say that will lead me to acknowledge otherwise.

In the "worst movie I've ever paid money for" category, I submit Ghost Dad.

#281 ::: Laurence ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2007, 10:28 AM:

Oh. Dr. T is not the same person as Mr. T. Although I'm inclined to think that he should have been.

#282 ::: Laurence ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2007, 10:30 AM:

Second post: Serge, you have seen the costume pictures on the Girl Genius site, haven't you?

#283 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2007, 10:32 AM:

There is no sequel to Highlander, and there is nothing you can do or say that will lead me to acknowledge otherwise

Not even a visit from Cardinal Fang, skwid?

#284 ::: Alex Cohen ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2007, 10:40 AM:

I own Overdrawn at the Memory Bank on VHS. I'm not sure why.

#285 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2007, 11:07 AM:

Debcha #243 (on CNN confusing Osama and Obama)

I'm not sure if it was CNN or some site aggregated on GoogleNews, but whoever it was thought a pilgrimage was made to Mt. Arafat a couple of days earlier.

#286 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2007, 11:12 AM:

joann @ 285:

The pilgrimage story is correct - the mountain's name is (and has been for a very long time) Mt Arafat.

#287 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2007, 11:25 AM:

PJ Evans #286:

Shame on me for not having done my homework and actually reading the article. Different hills--I was thinking large mountain in Turkey.

What is the appropriate position for abasement?

#288 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2007, 11:39 AM:

What is the appropriate position for abasement?

A basement.

("What most moves women when we them address?" "A dress." etc, etc.)

#289 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2007, 11:42 AM:

speaking of typos, I have a theory that in times of crisis we get more misprints in tv closed captions.

last night I was watching TV in a bar and they were talking about airdropping bails of hey to stranded cattle and what to do in an american see.

#290 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2007, 11:48 AM:

"American See" - a 2008 Hollywood remake (cf. the Stallone 'Get Carter') of "The Bishop".

#291 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2007, 12:08 PM:

Hm. I like Ice Pirates, and not just because Garb worked on it.

The movie had the best robots I'd seen in years -- instead of being cute, gay, wisecracking servants, they were semi-functional used cars. I like the part where one of the heroes has to talk a robot through a fight scene, telling it every move to make. It wins, and afterwards, it's shaking and smoking a little, so the hero (showing great prudence) pushes it off a balcony. The other robots watching the scene straighten up a little (which was the only moment in the movie where robots showed any awareness, unless you count the canned spiel from the pimpbot).

Now, The Black Hole wasn't a good movie. It had cute robots. But I have to give it this: it was an attempt by Disney to grow up a little. There are one or two good images, and a good death scene that works. And, of course, it has Dave Mattingly's matte paintings.

I can't think what the worst movie I've ever seen might be. It's like the difference between 40 below zero and 41 below zero. Yeah, there's a difference, but I can't feel it. One of the worst supposedly good movies I can think of is Altman's wretched hash of The Long Goodbye, which re-imagines Marlowe as a self-pitying loser in a puddle of piss. One might as well envision him as a happy-go-lucky young hunchback who sings and dances with his gargoyle pals.

#292 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2007, 12:13 PM:

Kip W... Agreed on The Black Hole. I do give them credit for coming up with a story that was not a StarWars ripoff. Unfortunately, the Force was too strong and they felt obligated to include the stupid robots ('stupid' doesn't include Max, in spite of his salad-tossing appendages that mess up Tony Perkins's innards).

#293 ::: Neil Willcox ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2007, 12:29 PM:

Eegah is another bad film. Something very strange is going on among the leads; as far as we could work out:

It's Written and Directed by Arch Hall Senior; he also plays the Heroine's Dad.

The (Teenage) Hero is played Arch Hall Jr. who shows very little of the talent one would expect that he would have to have shown to get cast without accusations of nepotism.

The Heroine is played by Marilyn Manning; the internet, which has been known to be wrong, suggests that Arch hall Sr. and Ms Manning were romantically linked at the time.

Eegah, a giant californian caveman, is played by Richard Kiel, best known for playing Jaws in two James Bond films.

So in the film:

AH(s) is father of MM who is dating AH(j)

and in real life:

MM is dating AH(s) who is the father of AH(j)

As you might imagine, this makes scenes with AH(s) and MM very peculiar.

#294 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2007, 12:41 PM:

Max, in spite of his salad-tossing appendages that mess up Tony Perkins's innards

Tony Perkins got his salad tossed by a ROBOT? In a DISNEY movie?!?!?

#295 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2007, 01:03 PM:

Yes, Xopher. Then Vincent used his own tiny appendage to drill a hole inside of Max. In a Disney movie.

#296 ::: Skwid ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2007, 01:44 PM:

Serge @ 283, Well, I didn't expect a comfy chair...

#297 ::: Tania ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2007, 02:34 PM:

Since this is the open thread...

Now that most of us have finished our holiday baking (I have Russian Orthodox friends, so I'm not off the hook for a few more days), here's something to think about - elevated levels of cinnamon and vanilla are detected in Puget Sound.

#298 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2007, 03:18 PM:

Kip W #291: One of the worst supposedly good movies I can think of is Altman's wretched hash of The Long Goodbye

Whoa whoa whoa whoa whoa whoa whoa whoa whoa. Whoa. Whoa. One of my all time favorite movies, ever. Damn, that movie's good.

#299 ::: Aconite ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2007, 03:20 PM:

Xopher@248: I understand camp. I also know that Killer Klowns gave me the heebie jeebies for weeks afterwards, for many reasons.

#300 ::: Scott Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2007, 04:17 PM:

Aconite wrote -
Xopher@248: I understand camp. I also know that Killer Klowns gave me the heebie jeebies for weeks afterwards, for many reasons.

Klowns are Kreepy.

#301 ::: MD² ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2007, 04:52 PM:

Serge (244): Thanks a lot ! I'll be sure to pass the info (and probably the book) on as soon as I feel I can stomach the results it won't miss to have. ^_^"

Strange thing is, I must have been five or six when I saw The Black Hole and, while I don't remember anything about it except for the ship, I still feel it was a rather nice experience.
I guess I should leave it that way

#302 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2007, 04:58 PM:

You're welcome, MD2.

#303 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2007, 05:30 PM:

Ajay at 273 reminds me of a question I should ask here:

Oh Fluorosphere, the shiny, the compleat expositors of fine gatherings (even to the cooking, from the mammoth and weasel to the Buddha and fruitcake), knowers of the five perfect rhymes for orange, you who are in blogs my daily floursphere, [mudra of query to the enlightening]

Where are the secrets for making a traditional wedding* without the standard sacrifice ($30,000 average in 2005 for the US)?
Or
What knowledge of negotiations and parties and gatherings that comes from fandom could be applied to holding a wedding?

My dear friend and sister is recently engaged, and so I've dived into educating myself on the wedding process.

So far I can only conclude that this trillion-dollar industry exists due to a puppet-master like creature... a Toxoplasmosis wedii that makes the couple unafraid of 150% markups on all goods and services.

But, however explanatory this theory is, I can't tell it to my sister- that won't be helpful. Being helpful is what I need to be about, here. Helpfully able to gently** bring forth alternatives and ideas.

any ideas*** on remaining sane and helpful?

-----
* Traditional typical late 20th century north american ceremony + reception. [assume humorous and respectful description that differentiates 'traditional typical' from Ren-faire / FSM / barsoom weddings]

**Gently, because currently my reaction so far to my wedding industry research is "What? Insane!Gaaa!" For example, I've had a dinner at the *best restaurant in the United States* for less than the per-person price some think reasonable for catered wedding dinners. What? Insane! Gaaa!

*** Or book ideas, if there's a good one. I know there are plenty of wedding planning books. That worries me. If any of them truly worked, wouldn't there be fewer of them? (It's like all the "how to survive your child's terrible twos" books- they work because if you read them all, when you're done the child is 3.)

#304 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2007, 05:34 PM:

Tania @297:

I've been thinking about that one for a very long time- starting a few years ago when it was found that it was impossible to use caffiene to trace food-chain linkages because the chemical was so pervasive in the Sound. The same study noted measuarable quanities of the kinds of hormones found in birth-control pills.

I know why (sewage treatment plants discharge treated waste water without running it through a stage where plants can absorb nutriants and biological agents) but I don't know why anyone thinks it's anything but scary.

// Red Planet Mars was also mentioned, above: I was surprised by the imdb page, as the writer of that hash of Civic Religion and SF cliche was also responisble for Gaslight and the original The Mummy.

#305 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2007, 05:55 PM:

Kathryn at #303 -- Yes, you can do a wedding for much less than the industry would have you believe.

First, are the couple planning on a church wedding? Being members of the congregation can get you a break on the church fees.

Are they looking for something more secular or eclectic? Arboretums and conservatories make lovely settings and can be inexpensive.

If they're trying to save money, a late morning or early afternoon wedding will be less expensive. Brunch buffets (or afternoon teas) are cheaper than sit-down dinners.

If you're going with a hotel for the setting, get the budget figure the couple are willing to spend, then talk to the hotel -- the key question being "What are you willing to do for $XXXX?"

Wedding Cakes -- if there is a local school of cake decorating they often will give you a break on the price if you have the students make one for you...

Give me specific questions (email if you like) and I'll try to help.

(I help run a small convention, and I'd love a second career as a wedding planner...)

#306 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2007, 06:07 PM:

JESR @304, Tania @297

That combination of hormones and flavorings is going to be modern humanity's downfall.

All those steroids will make creatures grow gigantic. Then we're going to discover that components in cinnamon and vanilla make up the anger pheromone for squid and octopus (similar to how the ester amyl acetate [banana oil / juicy-fruit flavor] is the primary alarm scent for bees). Those roid-raged beasts will take down the shipping industry, including oil tankers.

But seriously, I remember reading journal articles about medication-contamination in waterways 20 years ago. Yet it's only been the past couple of years that there've been ad campaigns asking people not to flush medicines away.

#307 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2007, 06:24 PM:

Ooooh, shiny:

"The fastest way to break up know-it-all preconceptions is to get outside of the stuffy confines of your own head and engage with the grain of the material. Travel will do that in a hurry: meeting other people, other cultures.

And building stuff will do that, too. A two-by-four doesn't care how glib you are."

-- Bruce Sterling

#308 ::: jennie ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2007, 06:30 PM:

Kathryn from Sunnyvale:

I strongly recommend buying a copy of I Do But I Don't by Kamy Wickoff, and reading it. Then give it to your sister. It's not a wedding book. It's a book about how weddings make women crazy, examined through the lens of the author's own wedding craziness, and it's excellent.

It doesn't really answer your question, but I'm recommending it anyway, because it was a very good read, and Wickoff really managed to get into the strained way in which we negotiate the mythos of the wedding and the bride and whatever feminist ideals we have, and how they don't really match and it drives people crazy. You may find it a welcome change from the wedding-industrial rhetoric.

Practical suggestions: Even if you don't want an SCA or Con-style wedding, consider how Things Get Done at SCA events or cons. A dear friend of mine had a more-or-less traditional NorAm wedding (she and the groom were married in her church, with a champagne-and-sparkling-cider and cake reception in the church common room and a nice, small dinner reception at a local restaurant; no dancing because nobody in the wedding party really likes dancing that much), but ran her wedding in a manner similar to the way she ran her first SCA event. She drew on the talents, skills, and willingness to help of her friends and family. Her mom made her dress. The groom's step-mom made the cake (and it was fantastic and beautiful). A friend provided music. Another friend arranged the flowers. The dinner was arranged as a private party, rather than as a wedding, and the size of the room at the restaurant capped the number of people who could come to dinner, so that it was an intimate gathering of people to support the bride and groom.

It may not be the kind of wedding your sister wants, but it was lovely, and entirely appropriate, and I think it cost the bride, groom, and their respective families comparatively little.

Don't go to wedding shows. They're awful, and they'll only stress everyone out, and make everyone's wedding-related malaises much worse.

#309 ::: Sharon M ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2007, 06:57 PM:

kathryn @ #303

A friend who got married in Dallas a couple of years ago reported success with two techniques: asking for a discount (surprisingly successful) and offering to pimp the vendors (moderately successful).

I know the bakery and the florist gave them discounts in exchange for brochure or business cards placed by the wedding cake/floral arrangements, and I think they got a deal on the catering that way, too.

Good luck with the wedding planning.

#310 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2007, 06:57 PM:

JESR, #237, did you bring the three strands together, like in a cone or something? You can use any clasp then, although I don't recommend barrel clasps or magnetic clasps. They both tend to come apart easily and the magnets tend to stick to unexpected things. You can buy single clasps at Star's Clasps. Star's is my local bead shop and she starts with beautiful somewhat-expensive clasps, so even one may be more than you want.

#311 ::: Lexica ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2007, 07:19 PM:

Kathryn @ 303: When we were planning our wedding, one of the books I found very useful was How to Have the Wedding You Want (Not the One Everybody Else Wants You to Have). I think it's what helped me realize I was getting sucked into the madness the day I found myself standing in front of a Union Square shoe store thinking, "Yeah, dyable satin shoes — gotta get some of those, because that's What You Do." Aiee!

Also, Bridal Bargains: Secrets to Throwing a Fantastic Wedding on a Realistic Budget is a great resource. I don't know if I would have thought of shopping for a dress at a bridal consignment store if I hadn't read it. Considering how much bridal dresses go for these days, consignment is the way to go. (Brief moment of retro-squee over the dress: handmade, ivory-colored silk satin, with hand-applied beading and a detachable train — $200. I paid more to get it altered than I did to buy it.)

Check local colleges and universities to see if they rent function space for weddings. If someone in the wedding is a student or an alum at the school, you may be able to get a steep discount. We used the chapel at Mills College, and with the alumna discount it came to something like 1/3 the cost of comparable spaces.

#312 ::: Iain Coleman ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2007, 07:20 PM:

Regarding weddings:

There are two things you can do to keep the budget under control. First, be ruthless about fripperies. Only pay for things you really, really want. If that includes personalised wedding stationery, floral arrangements at each place setting, and little wedding favours for every guest, then fair enough: but if you don't really want these things, don't bother with them. Nobody else will care, or even notice, that you haven't bothered with these sorts of small, yet terribly expensive details.

Second, be ruthless about the guest list. Your catering costs are directly proportional to the number of guests, and many other costs, from venue hire to any transportation you need to provide, will increase with the guest numbers. It's very easy to let the guest list swell uncontrollably when you invite everyone who really ought to be there, regardless of whether or not you like them or have seen them in the past decade, oh, and you have to invite Aunt Jemima, but if she's coming then you absolutely must invite the Rawlinsons, and if you invite them then Mr and Mrs Cordwangler and their kids will have to come as well or you'll never hear the end of it...

Sod that for a game of soldiers. Restrict the guest list to immediate family and close friends - you know, the people who you really want to have at your wedding - and you'll not just cut down the guest list substantialy, you'll also do a lot to contain the costs.

Basically, remember that this is your day, and do what you want to do, not what you feel you ought to do.

#313 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2007, 07:34 PM:

Jennie @308,

Thanks! looks like a perfect book suggestion. And it does exactly answer my question, given that my question includes 'what are answers to questions I don't yet know to ask?'

On tips from Con and SCA style weddings: my initial fear is that they're too practical and pragmatic* to be guidelines for Traditional Weddings. But that's a fear I can overcome- I need to be practical and pragmatic in researching this.

I should say I helped with a low-budget yet 'magic with all the trimmings' traditional wedding, and for that family and friends were the core of success. However, in that wedding, reality- a very, very ill relative- kept everyone focused. There wasn't time to read all the foot-thick wedding magazines or engrave the doilies.

Not so this wedding. There's plenty of time for Tox. wedii to take over, for the magazines to arrive by the ton.

---
* Planning for the non-trad weddings I've been to (Con, Renfaire, Wizard-geek...) has generally appeared extremely realistic- rooted to reality. One can't rent pirate jackets at the Tux shop ($300), so the FSM wedding** uses $2 hats from the party store. Vera Wang doesn't make SCA-couture dresses ($9000), so the bride made it. Velvet robes as guest-attire can't be bought at Macys ($200), so friends sew velvet robes for non-renfaire guests.

** the reception was FSM. The ceremony was Jewish/Quaker.

#314 ::: rams ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2007, 07:53 PM:

Kathryn@#313

Doing the flowers yourself saves a bundle, and while I was reluctant, "The Knot Book of Wedding Flowers" from the library combined with a local mega-grocery with a big walk-in cooler saved us hundreds of dollars. The good news? Wired, taped stems are out! The book shows imaginative examples, then says "four stems of this, eight stems of that, give it a quarter turn", and, held together by a ponytail-holder covered with wide organdy ribbon, pulled out of the vase of water and given a quick swipe as the procession formed proved elegant. Took me two weeks to recover from the nervous prostration, but the flowers were fine.

#315 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2007, 08:08 PM:

Sally and I were married in my mother's back yard, with only immediate family present. I had a new shirt for the occasion. She wore a long dress she made herself. We had a bunch of friends to a restaurant in the evening, and we told them then.

On movies: Can anyone recall an example of a much-praised critical success that they couldn't, absolutely couldn't, stand, and couldn't understand what other people saw in it? I had that experience with "The Piano", a piece that made nonsense tedious. I walked out on it at the three-quarter mark. I'm told that the ending made as little sense as the rest of it, but as to that I cannot say.

#316 ::: jennie ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2007, 08:09 PM:

I would say that I Do But I Don't might be one of the best remedies for Tox Wed that I've found.

It's amazing how even with the best, most resolute of anti-Wedding-Industrial intentions, the Wedding-industrial complex gets its hooks into people, and suddenly they're shelling out a bunch of money for things they'd have sworn up and down weren't important prior to deciding on a wedding.

By tips from SCA, I really meant the harnessing of volunteers who are invested in the wedding. One of the lovely things at the wedding of the friend I mentioned was that all the family members—her mom, dad, and sister, the groom's mom and step-dad, the groom's dad and step-mom, sundry aunties and uncles and grannies and step-whatnots—as well as her friends felt like they had a stake in this wedding. Everyone'd taken responsibility for something, and the magic happened. Because she was broke, and ruthless about her budget (not a Bridezilla, though), everything that happened was something that she or the groom really wanted to happen—nothing happened just because it would be the "done" thing. She had the white dress of her dreams, the hair, the makeup, the choir, the music, the cake, the bubbly stuff, the nice dinner.

So, practical advice:

Set a limit on the magazines. They're not really necessary. Set a hard budget. Not having any money to work with can be a wonderful antiidote/dose of reality. Ask yourself/the bride if things really need to be done the Wedding Industrial way or if there's a way of doing things just as well that doesn't cost Wedding Industrial prices (do you need those weird, fancy, engraved invitations? Will something a friend designs printed on supernice paper with all the relevant information do just as well?)

Don't be afraid to ask friends and family for help with things, but make it very very clear that they can say no with no hard feelings. Generally, when you're asking for help, it's best to ask for something specific, but sometimes asking someone to do one of two or three necessary things works better "We could really use someone to prepare the rehearsal dinner—just some lasagne and salad, and maybe a dessert? Or you know what else would be a real help? We're having a flower-arranging get-together the night before the wedding, and I know you've got a great eye." sorta thing.

The Big Modern Magic Wedding isn't that different from planning an Event, according to friends who have done both (don't look at me! I eloped! i've been severel times a bridesmaid, though, with varying degrees of stress and a closet full of dresses to show for it.), at least it's not that different as long as you recognize the same constraints you'd recognise in planning an event. It's just the trimmings (and the social baggage) that differ.

#317 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2007, 08:52 PM:

Kathryn @ 303:

1. have it at someone's home

2. wear an ancestor's wedding dress/veil

3. have reception goodies prepared by a cadre of friends/relatives rather than by a professional caterer (if you have SCA friends, they probably know how to feed a crowd quite nicely)

Most of all: the more commercial/expensive/"that's how it's done" something is, the less likely you are to remember it 20 years down the road. Believe me (26 years and counting). Go for things that are MEANINGFUL TO THE TWO OF YOU; not things like strawberries in December (not a random example).

#318 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2007, 08:53 PM:

#268: Are 3 legal parents really news? RAH said (in SiaSL) that California law supported it; I had the impression from somewhere that he wasn't extrapolating.

#269: Officially, "Cantique de Noel". Don't ask me why; the only other "Cantique" I know is "de Jean Racine", a much looser-form ABA piece that some of you may remember from the credits for Babe (heard over the radio at Xmas on the farm).

#319 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2007, 09:01 PM:

Can anyone recall an example of a much-praised critical success that they couldn't, absolutely couldn't, stand, and couldn't understand what other people saw in it?

Oh god yes. I already said Pleasantville. Every single one of the formulaic "biopics" that people seem to fall for--A Beautiful Mind, Ray, Walk the Line, etc. Brokeback Mountain made me violently bored. Gladiator won a Best Picture Oscar, for the love of god.

Older movies like that I'm having more trouble thinking of, though I know there are some. It's not exactly the same, but I don't understand for the life of me why people think The Philadelphia Story is funny. It's depressing as all hell. I still think it's good, though.

#320 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2007, 09:19 PM:

Marilee @310, I'm a low-hardware jewelrymaker, in general; the triple strand ones are just gang-strung into a short run of single beads, to whit: http://i8.photobucket.com/albums/a41/Julia_here/Yellownecklace.jpg

Since that one was made for me to wear, it has a silk tie; my sister's Christmas present ended up with toggles on a short run of hand-built chain.

#321 ::: Patrick Connors ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2007, 09:25 PM:

#303: We survived and it's all paid for except the cruise.

First: We avoided just about -anything- for sale that had the word "Wedding" on it. We actually purchased the rings, a book of ceremonies to crib from, and a tiered wedding cake stand. Other than that, we stayed out of the clutches of the Wedding Industry.

Second: We had the wedding and reception in our back yard, and had trustworthy people around to clean up and run the house for us whilst we escaped to Mexico. This limited the festivities to a select group of people. For music, well, we're filkers, so of course there was some of that, but we lucked onto a local medieval band playing in Bookman's, so we had exquisite music for the ceremony for not a lot of money.

Last but not least: Our mantra: It's our wedding, we're paying for it, so there!

#322 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2007, 10:53 PM:

My brother's older daughter had her wedding in a garden at the local university (my brother is an alumnus and does his research there), with reception/dinner following for part of the guests. Handmade-by-family invitation (a work of art in itself). Seasonal (autumn) flowers, one arrangement at each table. Food catered by restaurant where other daughter was working (appetizers between ceremony and dinner, and the dinner itself).

#323 ::: JennR ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2007, 11:07 PM:

Many years ago (less than 20, but more than 15), I did a complete Am-Trad church wedding, including a 9 day honeymoon, for under $4K. Have a dressmaker make the dress. Keep the wedding party small, and/or let the bridesmaids pick their own dresses. If the men have suits, they can wear them. If not, they should probably get suits -- even fen have occasions where a suit is appropriate. Lunch or afternoon light buffet receptions are less expensive than sit down dinners (the church ladies provided the labor -- we gave them a budget and let them loose on the food). A friend of a friend made the cake, I made my dress (based on a designer original), the flowers were (good quality) faux, the pew bows were donated by a family friend whose daughter had just gotten married. Music was provided by the church organist and a CD mix we put together ourselves. We ordered wedding invitations (this was back when home printers were, well, home printers), but printed the programs at work on the laser printer. Pictures were done by a family friend who is a professional photographer, but not for free -- we would have felt uncomfortable if he'd done it for free, but we got the 'family' discount. [Pics are expensive, even if you do it yourself, or have friends do it. Just shooting and proofing a wedding with a digital camera and photo printer (assuming you already have both of those) easily runs $100. (We've done two of those in the last 14 months as wedding gifts for under-employed family members.)] We almost didn't have altar flowers, but it gave my worry-wart M-i-L-to-be something to panic about the morning of the wedding :-) .

#324 ::: Tania ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2007, 12:40 AM:

Kathryn @ #303:
Most everything here is spot on (as usual). Having been a bride, a groomsmaid* twice, and a marriage commissioner once**, here's what I can add.

If she wants flowers, have her talk to the florist about options. We said "this is what we like, this is what we can afford" and the florists were very understanding. Consequently, they are still my florist of choice, 13 years later. Of course, I focused more on colors than the actual plant. I'm not a horticulture/botany hobbiest.

For invitations (I'm a database manager, beware), get your list of invitees, or people who should receive announcements. Put them into your db, create a mail merge for the envelopes and print the addresses in an attractive READABLE font. Love stamps are cute, but if you have a large family (I do), it is much more reasonable to take the stack of envelopes to the local PO and have them metered, and pay the man. Remember that your/her time is worth something.

If you don't have a regular place of worship where these events would traditionally occur, see what service/community organizations your family members belong to. My father was/is an active Mason/Shriner and a member of the local Grange. My wedding and reception were at the Grange Hall ($100 rental fee), and the food was handled by one of the Masonic auxiliary groups (Eastern Star, I think). We had appetizers and finger food, and forced people to mingle.

Having been to way more weddings than I can count, mostly vanilla traditional, I cared more about the service and vows than the other trappings. People should be coming to the ceremony to celebrate the marriage, not pass judgment on the centerpieces, or lack thereof.

What are the accepted norms for the people involved - formal or informal? What would make them most comfortable and happiest - Uncle Norm in a tux making a toast with champagne, or Uncle Norm in a Hawaiian shirt making a toast with a foofy umbrella laden cocktail? Small children at home with babysitters, or underfoot and on the rampage?

Two final thoughts:
1) The wedding and reception only need to please the people getting married, everyone else can piss off.

2) Traditions can be created. Be creative, do something meaningful.

Good luck!

* Well, you couldn't exactly call me the Best Man, and I wasn't comfortable with Best Woman, so we went with Groomsmaid.

** The bride*** was Quaker, the groom was Catholic, wrote their own vows and got married at the groom's family homestead with areligious me officiating.

*** Which leads to confused looks when I am introduced by the bride as "the woman who married me."

#325 ::: Jen Roth ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2007, 12:40 AM:

Seeing that the wedding-planning book I found most useful was published in 1994 has just brought home to me how long I've been married. The book was The Essential Guide to Lesbian and Gay Weddings (the link is to an edition updated in 1999, which I haven't seen). We're an opposite-sex couple, but it was still a good book to have. It helps keep you rooted in what you want to get out of your wedding, rather than getting mired in the wedding industry's ideas of what you simply must do.

And $30,000? Seriously?

#326 ::: oliviacw ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2007, 01:06 AM:

Book recommendation: Weddings For Grownups. Lots of creative ideas for doing things your way, not the wedding industry way.

For my wedding, I went to a regular florist for personal flowers (bouquets and corsages), but bought discounted Christmas decorations from craft stores for centerpieces (and 12 dozen bunches of roses from Costco).

#327 ::: oliviacw ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2007, 01:07 AM:

Hmm, the link got eaten. Weddings for Grownups.

#328 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2007, 02:27 AM:

Re: Efficiency consultants sidelight - anyone who hires a firm called "Unipart" deserves what they get. And if anyone ever asked if a banana on my desk was "active or inactive" they'd likely find out exactly how active a banana can be.

#329 ::: Mitch Wagner ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2007, 02:40 AM:

I've done some exploring of Internet video recently, and come up with three worth watching regularly, and one I really like -- The Show With ZeFrank.

ZeFrank is this weird dude with five-o'clock-shadow and an unblinking stare who sits real close to the camera and talks in monologue. The show is filled with inside jokes and free association. He's occasionally hilarious. Here's three of my favorite episodes. They're only a few minutes each. Go forth and watch:

Ze has airline troubles. I thought of this one frequently during my recent misadventures with Julie. "At least things aren't as bad as they were for Ze," I thought.

Ze goes to Austria.

Ze gets a message from the League of Awesomeness.

#330 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2007, 03:02 AM:

On weddings- all, much thanks on the perspective and good ideas. I'm much less worried.

Jen @325,
$30,000; £15000, those are quoted commonly. I haven't seen a peer reviewed number, but with the $2000 dresses, the $75-$150 per person dinners, the $1500 photo packages... yeah, $30k, easily.

As Jennie @316 said:
It's amazing how even with the best, most resolute of anti-Wedding-Industrial intentions, the Wedding-industrial complex gets its hooks into people. And while I think I'm immune to the pressure, it isn't my wedding*. The bride-to-be...well, it's her day, but it's all of our sanity.

Sharon @309.
pimping the vendors- ohhhh, nice idea. The bride-to-be has a brother-out-law with a pagerank of 8 or 9**: that could be worth some trading.

Iain: nobody else will care, or even notice, that you haven't bothered with these sorts of small, yet terribly expensive details.
well said.

* I understand that many girls go through a 'plan your own wedding' phase. Comes after the Barbie but before the horse phase. Dunno what it means, but I didn't have any of those. I did start going through a 'plan your own library' phase- came after the 'raise frogs' and before the 'build a michaelson interferometer' phase.

** high google-juice = the ability (for good or evil) to make a phrase a first-10-results.

#331 ::: Margaret Organ-Kean ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2007, 04:17 AM:

#330

Wedding invitations:

If you want to be really, really correct, they're handwritten, not engraved, nor printed on a laser printer. You can order blanks from somewhere like Paperzone (they're on the web).

This serves a couple of purposes. It gives the bride something to do other than fret about things or come up with silly ideas. It improves the bride's handwriting. It really helps keep down the number of guests - how many invitations do you want to handwrite?

Needless to say, not paying for engraving & not inviting as many guests = saving money.

Venue:

If it's reasonable, don't hold the wedding in a large city. Things are more expensive there, usually. At least that was my experience.

Clothes:

If you have enough time, shop sales. We saved between 75 and 50 percent on my gown - and it was gorgeous, and I'm not easy to fit.

Incidentals:

Talk to people who've gotten married recently in your area - that's how we found the best cake maker in the valley - and she was not attached to a bakery or restaurant. She was also significantly cheaper than a bakery or restaruant.

My mom raised little pots of flowers (white impatiens, as I recall) for the table centerpieces for both my wedding and my brother's wedding.

I sewed my own garter, and wore white ballet slippers under my wedding gown. A wedding is not the time to wear uncomfy shoes.

I'd avoid those magazines like the black plague, incidentally. Most of them were just ad compendiums. The only one I found interesting or useful was the Martha Stewart one. If you get that one, remember - Martha has a staff!

#332 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2007, 04:57 AM:

Kathryn @306:
All those steroids will make creatures grow gigantic. Then we're going to discover that components in cinnamon and vanilla make up the anger pheromone for squid and octopus (similar to how the ester amyl acetate [banana oil / juicy-fruit flavor] is the primary alarm scent for bees). Those roid-raged beasts will take down the shipping industry, including oil tankers.

No, they will dive ever deeper, and awaken the Ancient Ones. Then our troubles begin.

Stefan @307:
Thus do I bind books. It keeps me humble. It also teaches me to love the leather and paper for their own sake, and let them do their own thing.

#333 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2007, 05:02 AM:

Weddings:

I second (twenty-fifth?) the comment about getting family members to help with the wedding. My father printed the invitations (basement printing press), my mother made the dress, a family friend did the flowers.

The other thing that happened is that, after a catastrophic fight (my mother threw the half-completed wedding dress at me and told me to finish the effing* thing myself partway through), a friend dragged us to his house and made us watch "Father of the Bride" (the original version, with Spenser Tracy). That unwound us enormously.

We had no photographer at the reception. Instead, we put disposable cameras on the tables and let people do it themselves. The results were more memorable, if less composed.
_______
* Well, not effing...more explicit than that.

#334 ::: miriam beetle ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2007, 05:43 AM:

i'm enjoying all this wedding stuff. i'm godwilling getting married this summer.... but i'm not allowed to start planning my wedding until my visa (or lack of visa) comes from immigration canada. arg.

anyhow, i have a whole bundle of secret plans to make my wedding cheaper & more meaningful. my boyfriend's parents are in town & have a big beatiful deck & backyard. i'm hoping to have the wedding there (the only problems i can see with that is lack of kosher kitchens, & the fact that i hope to avoid inviting all of mike's folks' friends).

a friend referred me to the dressmaker she used, who is in seattle, & whose designs are beautiful & unique & run to about $200-300. i have a friend whom i think can make my wedding cake (in my kitchen, to keep it kosher).

what i'm still not sure about is the food (it can't be potluck style, cause of the aforementioned kosher business), the music, or whether anyone cares about stuff like flowers (i don't).

this serves a couple of purposes. It gives the bride something to do other than fret about things or come up with silly ideas. It improves the bride's handwriting. It really helps keep down the number of guests - how many invitations do you want to handwrite?

i have a secret plan for this, too. i'd like to design & hand-screenprint the invitations. i have a table setup for my t-shirt production, & i've done a few postcards & things for screenprint classes, but i never have done a large volume of prints on paper.

#335 ::: Jakob ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2007, 05:44 AM:

Weddings:

Ours was this summer, and was done for a fraction of the supposed £16k average. My number one tip would be to get friends and family involved helping out. Both being shortly out of university and burdened with school debt, there was no way we could afford the average sum, and we weren't going to make our parents pay.

We had a church wedding, followed by a afternoon tea in the church hall. As I was a member of the congregation and emergency organist, we weren't charged for church or hall hire, and the church organist provided some of the music. One of Sarah's theatre friends sang Gershwin during the service, and my professional musician cousin played cello during the signing of the register. Another of her director friends was put in charge of decorating the church hall. We asked our guests to bring food suitable for afternoon tea (at their discretion), and my former housemates down the road turned into a baking and sandwich assembly line. Sarah's parents paid for her dress, which was probably the single most expensive item. My dad's congregation (he's an Anglican vicar in France - long story) provided a number of cases of excellent champagne, and one of my friends I used to tend bar with ran that side for us.

But my favourite was came from one of my uni friends' dad, who was (amongst many other things) a freelance motoring journalist. 'Oh,' he said 'I happen to have the Bentley Continental GT on test that weekend. If someone happened to want to arrive somewhere in town at a certain time, I could use it as a city handling test...' I was bricking it waiting for my beloved's arrival so I never actually saw the car, but I am assured that it was the most beautiful vehicle she has ever been in.

A final thought: I can't speak for the bride, but I was so nervous before and overwhelmed by emotion afterwards that I didn't really notice many of the details. What struck me was that most of the people there had helped out in some way and were really enjoying themselves, and I felt loved and supported by all that. People still come and tell my how much they enjoyed it, so I guess it worked for everyone.

--Jakob

#336 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2007, 09:43 AM:

#291: "One might as well envision him as a happy-go-lucky young hunchback who sings and dances with his gargoyle pals. Like the Monster sings and dances in Young Frankenstein?

And maybe we could tie this in with the wedding discussion, to get his Bride involved -- and runoff from the wedding banquet could draw up Ancient Ones with a sweet tooth (fang) from the Sound...?

[Don't mind me, I'm just being silly on a drippy gray morning.]

#337 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2007, 10:21 AM:

Hard-nosed good sense, planning, and negotiating is always good for things like weddings. Otherwise you spend $30,000 and have some pictures, a certificate, and several women with expensive dresses that will only be used once.

Sit-down dinners are always more expensive than simpler receptions. They are not, in fact, a mandatory part of a wedding.

Open bars are not a good idea, no matter how much some of the guests love them.

Disc jockeys who spend the wedding reception organizing the guests into "fun" are also expensive, and are not necessary unless no one present knows how to act at a party. Dance-mix CDs prepared and played by ordinary people are just as good, or even better.

Activities (especially those involving the DJs, above) designed to get the guests to give the bride and groom cash (after they have, presumably, already bought a gift) are generally tacky, and are only tolerable when the couple and their families have limited resources and are having trouble covering even a small-budget wedding.

One reason wedding stuff (especially including clothes, flowers, food, and sites) costs so much is that brides and their mothers are traditionally major mega-PITAs to deal with. You're paying in part for the nuisance factor.

You also are dealing with the fact that lots of people have never handled any major entertaining before in their lives, and are at a complete loss to figure out how to Do It Right. They are threefore prey to ingenious merchants and hotelliers who are ready to sell them whatever they can for whatever they can get. Encourage everyone involved to keep their eyes on the prize and remain calm and civil.

Finally, as my niece observed "The exact variety of roses at the wedding seemed very important at the time--I'm not sure I can remember now what they were." What matters in the long run was whether people were having a good time. The guests should not be forgotten in the process of getting the couple hitched, and the family members should not have the day sullied by the start of half-a-dozen grudge matches.
Anyone who tries to tell your sister that this is the most important day of her life and it should be PERFECT!!!!!! needs to be taken outside and spoken to. It's an extremely important day in both their lives, and both members of the bridal couple should be able to look back with joy. Perfect is not automatically the ally.

#338 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2007, 10:44 AM:

Taking a left turn off weddings into personal event obsession:

I plan and execute a lot of tightly-budgeted events (though not weddings), but I'm having a severe attack of nerves today for some reason about one I'm holding tomorrow. There's the usual no one will come vs. we won't have enough food worry, but the reality check says that all the people I expect will arrive, and that we will have a huge excess of food. There's the My Dress Is Not Finished bit, but that's fixable this evening, I think, give or take several hooks and eyes and safety pins. And in a pinch I have a backup dress. And there's no financial worry, since it's privately backed. Really, the worst that can happen is I throw a mediocre party, which is possibly mildly damaging to my reputation but otherwise not the end of the world. But I'm still jittering around frantically today.

Trying to analyze my worries:

1. It's a posh party. I don't usually do posh parties. I have some worries about the mingling of the posh and the non-posh people, despite careful selection of the non-posh for both intra- and intergroup compatibility. Successful mixing of social crowds is usually a skill of mine, but I don't either know or control the selection of the posh crowd, so there's a random factor I don't usually permit here, and the non-posh crowd is right on the lower edge of the number range for successful event, which takes out some of my room for error.

2. It's in New York City, so I am depending on other people for site-prep stuff that I usually o/b/s/e/s/s/i/v/e/l/y m/i/c/r/o/m/a/n/a/g/e supervise personally. I also have to worry about getting punch bowls & cups and similar party props into the city without driving them in myself.

3. I do not have 100% confidence in the site-prep person, who is rather younger than her actual years and possessed of more money than sense, though presumably her senior family members (parents and grandmother) will not let it all go completely pear-shaped.

There's no point whatsoever to posting all this here, it's just symptomatic of my general state of tizzy.

#339 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2007, 10:47 AM:

Another tip on keeping numbers small: my parents, both children of war and ration books, had a total of eight guests at their wedding, all of them either brothers, sisters, parents, the best man or the Mrs. Best Man. Then, after the honeymoon, they threw a few wedding parties for their friends.
It is a hell of a lot cheaper and easier having a small wedding and two or three good parties than it is having one enormous wedding. Also, if everyone knows that the wedding is for immediate family only, no one's offended at not getting invited.
They regard the trend for megaweddings with suspicion and distaste (mingled with gratitude for not having had any daughters...)

#340 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2007, 12:47 PM:

Susan #338: presumably her senior family members (parents and grandmother) will not let it all go completely pear-shaped.

If it does, you can always play Satie.

#341 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2007, 12:48 PM:

Ajay #339:

Concur on throwing parties after. We were married by the JP in the park next to the courthouse, no formal invites or decorations; the only other people who had to be there were the best man and the maid of honor, but others did show. I wore my interview suit; the groom bought a navy blazer. Photos were candid shots taken by friends. We picked up bouquets on the way down to the park, foregathered on our front porch afterward and had cookies and champagne. The core wedding party repaired to a brunch place afterward, and then we all went and voted, it being spring election day. (The JP had ended the ceremony with "I now pronounce you ... Y'all make sure and go vote, now!") Spouse and I went to fanciest restaurant in town for dinner, and then threw a large party, involving potluck, a couple of weeks later. The potluck included various forms of fondue including shrimp, which pulled in every cat in the neighborhood. Very successful party, still remembered fondly to this day.

The best man and maid of honor got married a few weeks later, also in the park, and we threw an informal wedding reception at our house; I made what seemed like several hundred tea sandwiches, and served vast quantities of not-expensive champagne.

But these were younger, more innocent times.

#342 ::: Lexica ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2007, 01:09 PM:

My family is rife with classical musicians, so the music for our ceremony was played by my aunt, uncle, and grandmother. Aunt & Uncle have played many, many weddings over the years, and Uncle's advice was to build musical interludes into the ceremony. We alternated the readings (a different friend doing each reading) with short musical pieces.

He was right — it helped slow things down so we were able to really be present with what was happening, instead of feeling like it had been a matter of walk-into-chapel-say-"I-do"-walk-out-of-chapel.

Having more than one reception worked well for us, too. We had the ceremony and first reception in Oakland, with my micro-family and his immediately family in attendance, then his mother held a reception for us in New York two weeks later, which all of his extended mega-family came to.

#343 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2007, 01:49 PM:

Another tip, if you've kids about who will need entertaining: Piñata.

The wedding after ours in the chain of copying and learning from one another had one, and it's continued through family and friend weddings for 13 years now.

(We introduced the tabletop cameras. The previous wedding found the site we used for the reception. It goes back into history.)

#344 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2007, 01:54 PM:

An extra rule, for persons considering outdoor venues: don't do a dress with a train if you're having an outdoor wedding. Period. If the scheduling is such that you get the dress before the location, choose location accordingly.

#345 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2007, 01:57 PM:

Inquiring minds--or this one, anyway--want to know more than they do about Australian port (which is "Australian wine-producers make and market something they call port"). For example, how do they compare to Portuguese port, and whose port is good and whose should be avoided like grim and cankered Death?
I have a basic grasp of the differences between tawny/ruby/crusted/vintage as far as the Portuguese wines are concerned, if that's any help in explaining things.

#346 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2007, 02:13 PM:

Dresses with trains are also bad if you're planning vigorous dancing at the reception. When I was a Best Woman back in August at a conservadox Jewish wedding, I spent part of the reception sewing the bride's train firmly to the back of the dress - the snaps and button meant to hold it up for dancing were utterly inadequate to the task, and the first time someone stepped on her hem in a wild circle-grapevine-dance they ripped right off.

If you want both a train and dancing, get a detachable train and detach it before the reception. Even if you're expert at managing it (and most women nowadays have no idea how to manage a train), no one around you will be accustomed to watching for it and it will get stepped on repeatedly.

#347 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2007, 02:30 PM:

#346 -- Corollary to the train problem, long bridal veils. If you must have one of these, please have a specific wedding party member detailed to mind it (i.e., a page or junior bridesmaid to carry it if necessary -- to keep it from wrapping round the end of a pew or a pillar).

These are also a no-no at outdoor weddings, unless the bride really wants to do an impression of Juliet's nurse. (Cue Mercutio: "A sail...")

#348 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2007, 03:29 PM:

I've heard a couple of wedding stories from a friend in Georgia, who now has both daughters married.

Ladies, rest assured that, should your daughter be so foolish as to consider marrying me, I would settle for a conveniently-placed ladder and two airline tickets to Las Vegas.

#349 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2007, 04:49 PM:

abi @ 343: on the subject of piñatas--

I accidentally started a tradition at my taekwondo school by bringing a piñata to a school party for the kids. They didn't hit it with sticks--they lined up and took turns kicking it (no blindfolds) until it broke. Unlike the traditional method, this method causes gradual leakage instead of one catastrophic break.

Now the kids insist there has to be a piñata at EVERY party. I have become adept at finding piñatas with no pointy bits (so as not to injure bare feet) and contents that won't hurt if they fly across the room and hit you in the head. One of the most popular stuffings is, no lie, individually wrapped teabags (peppermint, orange spice, etc.). The kids grab them up as eagerly as they do the candy and small toys.

And at our last party, I got dubbed the Dojang Den Mother.

#350 ::: Chris Quinones ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2007, 05:27 PM:

That dinosaur comic you have in Particles is ripping off (or riffing on) both The Electric Company and 1776. I never thought I'd put them in the same sentence, but there you go.

Utopian Turtletop is analyzing Beatles bootlegs, which might be of interest.

#351 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2007, 05:57 PM:

Goodness... I compare what others have gone thru for their wedding ceremonies to what my wife and I did (having a few friends over, serving some wine, cheese and fruits, and watching Forbidden Planet), I feel so... so... inadequate.

#352 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2007, 06:02 PM:

Tonight, on Turner Classic Movies... Two Pam Grier movies... 1973's Coffy ("A nurse sets out for vengeance when her younger sister becomes an addict."), followed by 1974's Foxy Brown ("When a government agent is shot down, his sexy girlfriend goes gunning for revenge.")

#353 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2007, 06:14 PM:

I ran across more on Noka in the media. Seattlest had an entry today which in turn pointed out a bit of low-quality PR sock-puppetry defending Noka.

#354 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2007, 08:16 PM:

Oh man, Foxy Brown...heh, I feel like any time anyone mentions a movie here it's either one of my very favorites or one of my very least favorites. Foxy Brown is definitely in the "very favorites" category.

"She's my sister...and she's a whole lotta woman."

Coffy, on the other hand, was like the trial run. Pretty much the same story, same star, not nearly as good, one year before.

#355 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2007, 09:15 PM:

fidelio@345: to add to your investigation, there's at least one good Australian white port (one of the very few bottles a friend thought was worth bringing back). I will ask if he still remembers the name.

#356 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2007, 11:03 PM:

So, you come home from work and dinner with a friend to find the storm doors to your cellar standing wide open. The storm doors which are the only low-level entrance to your house that isn't wired for the alarm system. The storm doors that have no business at all standing open. The storm doors that lead into the basement from which you can get to any floor of the house through all the interior doors which you tend to leave unlocked because it's a hassle to carry keys all the time in the house.

You:
1) wait for the police
2) enter the house yourself
3) 1 and then 2 after it's been over an hour and no police

I'm sure this day can get worse somehow.

#357 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2007, 12:23 AM:

I'd probably

A) Get the steel spade out of the trunk of my car
followed by
B) Start beating my way through the basement and up into the house.

But that's just the mood I'm in right now...

I have been meaning to get a gun permit and a trench broom.

#358 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2007, 12:28 AM:

Hmm. I'd probably get the crowbar out of the car, call the police, and head into the house...

#359 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2007, 12:39 AM:

Those of you pointing out that the wedding is the bride's and groom's day -- try telling that to the bride's mother. Some of them are certain that the whole point of the occasion is to congratulate them on raising a daughter who will actually marry a man instead of just living with him.

#360 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2007, 12:47 AM:

A recent horrible movie that had name players: "Freddie Got Fingered" (2001, with Tom Green, Drew Barrymore, Rip Torn, and Anthony Michael Hall). And they knew it was bad while they were making it: towards the end a character marches by carrying a sign that says "Wll ths fcking mv vr nd?" The only good thing about it was we got free passes to see "Shrek."

#361 ::: oliviacw ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2007, 03:14 AM:

ah, pinatas. The last party I went to with a pinata was a 40th birthday party, and the hostess (the best friend of the birthday celebrant) had filled the pinata with small "airline" bottles of various spirits and liquors. If anyone wishes to repeat this for other mature audiences, be aware that the clear plastic bottles (vodka, bourbon, etc) survive whacking and dropping at a much higher rate than the opaque bottles with liquors and cremes (Kahlua, Bailey's, etc.)

#362 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2007, 05:43 AM:

Susan @ 356... Sorry to read about that. Was anything stolen? Or broken just for the Hell of it?

#363 ::: JC ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2007, 10:33 AM:

The palaeography tutorial (linked in the particles) is much more fun than it has any right to be. However, I've only tried the easiest document.

#364 ::: jennie ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2007, 12:18 PM:

Those of you pointing out that the wedding is the bride's and groom's day -- try telling that to the bride's mother.

I know several brides and grooms who have done so, explicitly and repeatedly, starting from the announcement of the engagement.

I've also seen couples, and brides in particular, bend themselves into pretzels trying to please everyone, and mothers, in particular, making it clear that of course the bride and groom should have their special day, as long as their special day is the day that she, the mother, thinks they should have, and use every sort of manipulative button-pushing trick she's learned to convince her offspring that of course she knows best, of course she is the reasonable one, and of course she has only the couple's best interest in mind.

The firm line can work, if the bride and groom really believe that the wedding is their day, and are willing to tell the MOB that she may either attend with good grace or not attend; if she chooses not to attend, they will be disappointed, but it will be her choice.

Something I've observed is that wedding planning can really shine a spotlight on the way a couple and their families are going to comport themselves throughout the marriage. Interfering MOBs often seem to make very present mothers in law.

I also think that the more we buy into these stereotypes, the more we perpetuate them, setting up patterns of expectation for our interactions, which patterns can exert a very strong pull on everyone involved, and don't really serve anyone very well at all.

#365 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2007, 01:23 PM:

#359, Those of you pointing out that the wedding is the bride's and groom's day -- try telling that to the bride's mother.

Oh, GOD.

Between my mother and my husband's best friend, my midweek chapel wedding with immediate family and very few friends, service provided by my husband's Episcopal priest father, ended up as a Saturday morning wedding in the main church at the Episcopal Church of the Olympia Power Elite, with everyone I know staring at my back (one of my particular phobias).

We did do it on the cheap, which was just as well as neither of us were employed on the date of the wedding.

(And Susan, please let us know you're OK as soon as you can?)

#366 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2007, 01:35 PM:

Susan - The police took over an hour to show up?!? Unless you live in the boonies (way, way, way in the boonies) call the local media and tell them that the police de-prioritized a break-and-enter where the perpetrator(s) may still have been in the house.

As a teenager, I chased crooks out of my house by repeatedly ringing the doorbell. (There was a back door for them to run out of.) I then went to a neighbor and called the police.

Do what you need to take care of yourself, and don't deny your feelings. Having your home broken into can be surprisingly difficult to deal with.

#367 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2007, 06:46 PM:

I drove by the community center of a large development near mine and there was a sign on the driveway about a marriage there. That's probably cheaper for homeowners than others.

LWE very cogently lit into this author who keeps spamming about his t/r/a/s/h/ book everywhere.

#368 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2007, 11:05 PM:

Has anyone here ever won a "non cash" prize in a sweepstakes?

Something substantial for which they had to pay taxes?

My sister and her husband just won -- courtesy Coors beer -- a fancy home entertainment system.

They're ecstatic, and are currently mostly concerned about where they'll mount the 50" plasma . . . but I'm wondering what kind of financial headache they'll be facing.

Any idea what they're in for? Do both the state and IRS get a cut? Are they liable for medicare and SS taxes?

#369 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2007, 11:36 PM:

Stefan, just income ... at least for the feds. YMMV, but I think many states would also consider it income. They should ask a tax guy, though.

#370 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2007, 11:55 PM:

Stefan, they should report the value of the item on the "other income" line of the 1040. (It was line 21 in 2005.) I would guess that the sweepstakes folks will give them a letter stating the value, but if not, they should ask for one. And yes, the state, whichever one it is, will almost certainly consider it income as well.

I am a tax guy.

If they don't normally have a professional taking care of their taxes, they might consider finding one for the year in which this happened. You say they "just" won it -- did they receive the prize in 2006 or 2007? If 2007, they have some time to figure out how to deal with it.

A 50" plasma screen. OMG.

#371 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2007, 12:16 AM:

Thanks all. They apparently won it in 2007, which I suppose is a good thing for planning purposes.

Will the IRS expect them to make quarterly payments?

The agency which handles delivery and publicity wants it installed in time for the Superbowl, which I guess makes sense. I don't know if the family will have to pose watching the telly with bottles of beer in hand...

#372 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2007, 12:44 AM:

Stefan - The IRS requires quarterly payments of estimated tax, but they won't necessarily detect the absence thereof. BUT, it's often easier to make them when they're due. It's all a matter of what the value of the prize is relative to your sister's family income.

Oregon (if they live in that lovely state) has a reputation for being fairly enthusiastic about tax collection, so I'm sure that state taxes will need to be figured in.

Again, a tax professional could be very helpful. They really should find one.

One thing I'd wonder about is whether the cost reported by the company (who probably gets to claim it as a business expense) or an independent fair market value prevails for tax purposes.

#373 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2007, 01:08 AM:

My sister and brother-in-law live in NYState.

Very interesting stuff to consider. Sounds like having a professional preparer lend a hand is the way to go. Maybe they can invite him or her to watch some games . . .

When you think about the tax consequences, winning a non-cash prize is like having to buy something at a discount = (100 - your tax rate)%.

#374 ::: Eleanor ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2007, 10:23 AM:

Hello. I have a question I'm itching to know the answer to but can't find it on Google, and somebody here is bound to know. In which book (I think it's a book) does a character misunderstand "consciousness raising" as "consciousness raisins"?

#375 ::: Individ-ewe-al ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2007, 11:16 AM:

This talk of wedding planning prompts me to mention an idea I've come up with. I don't intend to get married, but the more I think about it, the more I'd like to have a wedding anyway. Hence, I have invented the unwedding.

I want to get all the people I'm fond of, including family, together for a big party. I want to give at least several months' notice, and make it significant enough that people will rearrange lives to be able to attend. Making it somewhat formal would help with that, and besides, part of the motivation is that I don't want to miss out on wearing a once in a lifetime dress and generally being a princess for the day.

I don't know if I should have some kind of ceremonial aspect; I'm thinking about a celebration of all the love in the world apart from heterosexual monogamous happily-ever-after two kids and a mortgage. I don't have anything against married couples, mind you; married couples also have friends and family and people they cherish who are not their partner, so hopefully would not feel excluded from this plan.

Among my circle, I've had mixed reactions. A minority think it's a good idea, while most people think I should just have the party, but not try to connect it to the wedding I'm not going to have (a slightly annoying subset think I can't tell whether I'm going to want to get married at some point in my life). So now I'm tossing it out to a wider group: does the world need unweddings? Should I try to start a trend?

#376 ::: Eleanor ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2007, 11:23 AM:

The oddest wedding I ever went to was an Islamic ceremony organised at extremely short notice. My friends had been engaged for months and had set a date for their civil wedding the following year, but hadn't decided when the religious half was going to be. I think they literally said to each other one day, "Let's do it tomorrow." The ceremony was performed by a friend of theirs (not an imam), took place in his flat, and the guests were less than a dozen friends of whom all were Muslims except me. We sat on prayer mats in the living room, I took most of the photos, and afterwards we went to an Indian restaurant for lunch. And that was it, except that they could then move in together. For a life-changing event it all seemed to be over far too quickly.

#377 ::: Eleanor ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2007, 11:40 AM:

#375: I don't know, Individ-ewe-al. Why should people treat you like a princess for a day if you're not marking any specific occasion? The point about unbirthdays in Alice was that you could have them almost every day. But your unbirthday or unwedding is also almost everybody else's, so what makes you special? I think you'd need unusually co-operative guests for it to work.

Why not pick another special occasion in your life, like getting your first book published, or college graduation, or maybe buying your own home, and throw the once-in-a-lifetime party to celebrate that? Or if you don't plan on doing those things either or have already done them, pick a special birthday. Or (more sneakily) organise the megabash for somebody else and make sure everybody appreciates the effort you've made - it will end up being your party too.

#378 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2007, 11:53 AM:

I've been going thru my tapes of the 2nd season of Doctor Who. Due to some mislabeling of the cassettes (*), I wound up watching the season finale before many other episodes yesterday. SPOILER!!! So Billie Piper did leave the show. Does anybody know why?

(*) meaning, I didn't label them at all and foolishly relied on the order in which they were stacked

#379 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2007, 11:58 AM:

Our 21st wedding anniversary is coming up soon and I very subtly told Sue what I'd like as a present for the occasion. A couple of days ago, TCM was showing a Seventies movie with Walter Pidgeon, James Coburn and Michael Sarrazin. The latter got me thinking so I left the room to do some checking on sites that sell DVDs and found out that, yes, Frankenstein: The True Story is finally available. It was either that of Patrick McGoohan as Father Syn in Scarecrow, but the latter hasn't been released yet.

#380 ::: Varia ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2007, 01:15 PM:

Sorry for the basic question here...my google skills are sucking today and I can't get to the library to look this up. What is the name of the character who introduces Stephen Maturin to the Goliath heron? Anybody remember offhand?

thanks in advance -

#381 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2007, 03:23 PM:

Yow-- startlingly intricate millefiori glass spheres. Sadly, the artist doesn't seem to've updated her site since 2004.

I am deeply nonplussed by the glass chocolates linked from her site (Noka, take note?), and even more croggled by another link of micromosaics.

#382 ::: Howard Peirce ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2007, 03:38 PM:

Serge, how long has it been since you've seen Frankenstein: The True Story? I ask because I picked up the DVD when it came out, and hadn't seen it since it first aired (I think I was about 11 or 12 at the time). I had fond memories of it, and of my Dad walking into the family room, rolling his eyes, and walking back out again.

That said, having watched it recently, I wouldn't necessarily put it on my "recommend to friends" list. It has that 70s "star-studded" vibe of great actors alternately overacting (Agnes Moorehead) and sleepwalking (James Mason) through their parts, and the story -- well, of all the travesties visited on Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, it's the travestiest. Now, that can be a whole lot of fun for 80 or 90 minutes, but at a running time of around three hours, it's a bit much to take.

Of course, if you're a Frankenstein completist, you've got to have it.

For a more enjoyable slice of cheese, I'd recommend Roger Corman's Frankenstein Unbound (1990), based on a story by Brian Aldiss. And it's got Raul Julia as Victor Frankenstein and John Hurt as a time-traveling mad scientist from the 21st century with a talking electric car.

Oh, heck, it's your 21st anniversary -- ask for both.

#383 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2007, 04:27 PM:

Howard... I saw Corman's Frankeinstein Unbound. I can only say that I hope that the Brian Aldiss novel it's based on was better.

It has indeed been a long time since I last saw Frankenstein - The True Story. That was late in 1988, while recovering from my vasectomy (*). And I have this feeling I'd agree with everything you said, except that it's the travestiest version of the story - because I had no problem going along with the conceit that these are the events that Shelley's novel was based upon. It had sadness and beauty in it. And I got to see Jane Seymour, aka Dr.Quinn, medecine woman, playing the Bride and getting her head popped off her shoulders by the Creature.

(*) I know, I know, there is such a thing as giving too much information

#384 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2007, 04:50 PM:

I'm surprised no one has already pointed out that Charles Stross was waxing erudite on NPR's Weekend Edition this morning:

"Writers Find New Fiction Source in Economic Genre"

#385 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2007, 04:51 PM:

Someone mentioned Dr Who...

I have never, ever seen any Dr Who, and would love to watch it, only it exists on DVD in such gigantic but fragmented and very, very confusing form that I have no idea where to start. Any suggestions? (Preferably for things available on netflix, but I can be flexible, I guess...)

#386 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2007, 05:24 PM:

Ethan:

You can't go wrong just watching the modern incarnation. They assume that most of the viewers don't remember the earlier show, and they don't base plots on bits of trivia from thirty years ago, so you won't feel like you're in over your head.

#387 ::: Howard Peirce ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2007, 05:57 PM:

Serge: I'm beginning to think that you and I have very similar movie collections, and very different opinions about the same set of films. De gustibus and all that. Still, it's nice to mention a fine old film and not receive blank, uncomprehending stares.

FWIW, on the Corman commentary track, he brags that the whole time-travel angle was his idea, and not in Aldiss's original story. Seeing as how that's basically the entire plot, I don't know what Aldiss's story might be about, other than involving the Shelleys as characters.

Ethan: I think most American Dr. Who fans first got hooked on the Tom Baker episodes. I can remember seeing one of the early series repackaged as a TV matinee, and being very disappointed. Then I saw Tom Baker fight the Daleks late one night on PBS, and it became a part of my life, until that guy in the porkpie hat became Dr. Who, and I lost interest again.

BTW, thread crossing: Tom Baker has a small role in Frankenstein: The Untold Story. He's quite good, and worth staying awake for when he finally shows up.

#388 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2007, 06:13 PM:

Ah yes, Howard. Baker was in Frankeinstein - The True Story, where he played the captain of the ship that takes Frankenstein and the Creature to the North Pole.

As for our liking the same movies for different reasons... That's quite possible. Earlier, when people were coming up with the titles of bad movies in this thread, I thought of pointing something out on the subject of cheesy movies, then that sub-thread petered out so I decided to drop it. You gave me the excuse to say that I very much enjoy those old SF movies, even when they are extremely cheesy things like The Angry Red Planet or Twelve to the Moon. Why? There is one thing that they do that today's CGI-perfect movies don't do: in spite of their lacunae, they convey the sense of going into the Unknown. To me, anyway.

#389 ::: Howard Peirce ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2007, 06:44 PM:

Serge, I bit my lip and stayed out of the bad movie subthread. I always lose my temper when people start bad-mouthing low-budget movies. I just have a very hard time seeing a threadbare, incompetent indie film as a bad movie. A movie like Manos: The Hands of Fate is like the chronically unemployed drunk nursing a cheap beer at the end of the bar at 11:00 AM. He's got no illusions, and he isn't hurting anyone but himself. Manos is the guy you feel sorry for, but you try not to be nice to him, because then he's going to start following you around because he's so lonely, and you don't need that grief.

Truly bad movies are those multimillion blockbusters that have been previewed and focus-grouped to death, serving up empty platitudes and base emotional manipulation, garnering huge profits and critical acclaim. Forrest Gump is a bad movie. Jurrasic Park is a bad movie. Dances with Wolves is a very, very, very bad movie.

Plan 9 from Outer Space, on the other hand, is a very earnest, sweet, well-meaning movie.

#390 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2007, 07:03 PM:

Truly bad movies are those multimillion blockbusters that have been previewed and focus-grouped to death

Good point, Howard. That's why some of my nominees were Ishtar and Tim Burton's Planet of the Apes. And, if I remember correctly, that sub-thread had started because Skwid asserted that 1994's Fantastic Four was one of the worst non-porn movies while I thought that, terrible as it was, its heart was in the right place. (My favorite line was Reed coming to where Sue and Johnny were staying and him asking their mother: "Can Sue and Johnny come on my spaceship?") I never got the sense that that movie had been made for the sake of making money, but because the person in charge wanted to do it. Unfortunately, his movie-making skills and his budget were not up to the task.

#391 ::: Neil Willcox ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2007, 07:09 PM:

#375: One of my friends who is pretty sure they will never get married has floated an unwedding-type idea a couple of times as a vague possibility. In general there's been a slightly negative response*; when he linked it to a x0 or x5 birthday party with a wedding/unwedding theme, the response becomes slightly positive. So basically I'm agreeing with Eleanor @377, but if you really want the unwedding thing, I'd suggest calling it a Birthday/Life Event Party to anyone who thinks it's weird.

Me (unmarried, no intention either to or not), if I ever had an unwedding, wouldn't do something formal and wedding-y, but that's me and I'm male.

I like the idea of a non-pair-bonding love celebration though, and will probably steal it for next time I throw a party for more than one reason.

* Partly because he has 2 parents and 2 step-parents, none of whom get on anymore, and putting them all in the same room would be like a very unfunny sitcom; not unsuprisingly, this is one of the reasons he doesn't want to get married.

#392 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2007, 07:46 PM:

Individ-ewe-al, #375, I think an unwedding is sort of weird. I did throw a big party the first birthday after the first renal failure -- lots of people came and had fun. I just called it a Spring Party, not a Birthday Party or a Not Dead Yet party.

#393 ::: Iain Coleman ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2007, 09:00 PM:

I've been going thru my tapes of the 2nd season of Doctor Who. Due to some mislabeling of the cassettes (*), I wound up watching the season finale before many other episodes yesterday. SPOILER!!! So Billie Piper did leave the show. Does anybody know why?

I've no particular inside knowledge, but it's not hard to make an educated guess. Before Doctor Who, Piper was known to the public as a washed-up ex-pop-starlet, although a few people had started to notice the good performances she had delivered in a couple of one-off TV dramas. After Doctor Who, she is one of the hottest stars in the UK, starred in two high-profile costume dramas over Christmas, and has a starring role in the theatre coming up in the near future. Basically, DW gave her career a massive boost, and it was the right time for her to move on to other things and broaden her CV while she is still a hot property. If she'd stayed on much longer, she would have risked being regarded as just "the Doctor Who girl": as it is, I think she's likely to move on to a substantial career in TV drama. In short, I reckon she left because in career terms the time was right.

#394 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2007, 09:05 PM:

Larry@372: The IRS requires quarterly payments of estimated tax, but they won't necessarily detect the absence thereof.

Well, owing a large sum at the end of the year is rather obvious. Whether it gets you in trouble depends on what the rules are and whether the IRS profiles catch you -- but it's not exactly easy to hide.

I don't know how non-monetary income works, but each year our tax accountant prepares a sheet comparing taxes due with taxes paid and in one year having us pay some modest penalty, calculated as interest, because we paid taxes as the money came in rather than uniformly. The form assumes uniform income; if you're a personal business and get an unplanned-for uptick in the last quarter you're just screwed. (IIRC, salary bonuses usually aren't a factor because they get run through the same deduction mill as income; the form looks only at quarterly payments.) Sudden income at the beginning of the year, I was advised, actually wins because of the above assumption; you can spread the additional payments over 4 quarters and it will look ok.

I don't know the exact conditions for filling out the form at all -- that's why we pay someone to do this -- so all of the above should be considered anecdotal; but saying the IRS won't even notice strikes me as implausible.

#395 ::: Eleanor ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2007, 09:28 PM:

Ethan @ 385: I agree with Stefan that the 2005 season is a good place to start, plus it ought to be easy to get hold of. But it's rather different in flavour from older Who, if only because TV has evolved and the budgets got bigger.

If you want to watch the older stuff, the 1970s stories (Jon Pertwee and Tom Baker) are probably your best bet. I have seen more Pertwee than Baker (due to BBC2 repeating them in the 1990s). His first story was Spearhead From Space in 1970: the first Doctor Who in colour, introducing a new companion as well as a new Doctor. So that might also be a good place to start, with comparatively little backstory to get to grips with.

Save the 80s Doctors (Peter Davison, Colin Baker, Sylvester McCoy) until you know more, and don't watch the American TV movie until you know enough to hurl abuse at it for the way it messed around with the concept. (Paul McGann's Doctor was pretty good, though.)

#396 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2007, 09:29 PM:

And here we have a graphic obituary of the inventor of that friend of starving students everywhere, instant ramen.

#397 ::: debcha ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2007, 09:43 PM:

Ethan (#385): While I absolutely second Stefan's comment about just jumping into the new series of Doctor Who (only 9 days 'til season 2 hits Netflix - huzzah!), if you want to get your feet wet in the old series, I'd recommend the six-ep Key to Time arc, which are all available on Netflix. It's got Tom Baker, K9, and an episode written by Douglas Adams. The six episodes in the series are, in order, The Ribos Operation, The Pirate Planet, The Stones of Blood, The Androids of Tara, The Power of Kroll, and The Armageddon Factor.

#398 ::: MD² ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2007, 09:57 PM:

"Freddie Got Fingered" (360): Is it wrong of me that, upon reading this, I immediately imagined it was a slashy porn version of "Freddy vs Jason" ?

Truly bad movies are those multimillion blockbusters that have been previewed and focus-grouped to death.

They're one BIG type of bad, obviously.

We have the substantive "nanar" in french, both depreciative and affectionate, for the low budget, "very earnest", movies.
A movie can be bad. It can be a "nanar". And it can be both (you can be low budget, bad, and very earnest about it).

I was hoping an english equivalent of the word would eventualy pop up in the thread and even had my hopes up for a moment when spotting "campiness". Too bad.

#399 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2007, 10:29 PM:

Ethan, 385: I agree with debcha (397). And once you've seen it all, certain bits of Buffy will make more sense.

#400 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2007, 11:05 PM:

I was always told that a wedding ceremony - however celebrated - was a rite de passage, a public statement of change of status, recognised generally by the society. One could mount a case for a divorce ceremony, with similar justification. But a non-wedding ceremony? A public statement that status hasn't changed, and isn't going to change? That's a rite de non-passage, n'est pas? Or some such?

#401 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2007, 11:11 PM:

CHip @ 394 - I am not an accountant, BUT I have had my income bounce around a lot over the past several years so I have some experience with being under-withheld and making lopsided quarterlies. Basically, you're responsible for making quarterly estimated tax payments based on when the income comes in. There's a form for this - I know because I needed to use it a couple of times to reduce or eliminate penalties. Also, underwithholding is generally only an issue if you underpaid, and if you paid less in withholding and estimated taxes than your prior year's tax liability. Up until a couple of years ago, the threshold for penalties was 90% of prior year's tax liability, but they changed it so that more people would have to pay up.

Prizes might be treated differently. Hence the reason that Stefan's sister needs a tax accountant for advice.

#402 ::: Individ-ewe-al ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2007, 05:10 AM:

Hmm, maybe the negative opinions are right, maybe I need at least some sort of achievement to celebrate. I'm kind of hoping that my friends would be willing to celebrate me for myself and the fact that I'm putting on a big party for them. I'm not intending to invite my third cousin's ex-husband's step-children; part of the point of an unwedding is that there wouldn't be any obligation guests, just people I'm genuinely close to.

About the rite-of-passage thing, absolutely. That's a big part of my motivation to do it. There seems to be a sense that an unmarried person is not truly adult, and I really want to challenge that. Getting married is great, but it shouldn't be the only definition of fulfilled, socially valued personhood. (Yeah, I had a bat mitzvah, but in modern society nobody takes seriously the idea that a 13-year-old is adult. And even a coming-of-age party at 21 isn't really marking the same kind of transition that a wedding does.)

#403 ::: Sugar ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2007, 07:23 AM:

I'm fascinated by the Improbable Research particle, but I can't help thinking that the authors must have been listening to the Velvet Underground a little too much lately.

PNH at #1: But is his sister called Rebecca?

#404 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2007, 09:11 AM:

Julie L. (#381): Thanks for that millefiori link! I passed it on to a friend who likes beading and (sadly) doesn't read "Making Light".

#405 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2007, 09:11 AM:

A web design question...

My wife's site is set up in such a way that, if someone wants to write to her, all they have to do is click on the hot link coded in. Unfortunately, most of the email she now gets thru that address involves offers to make her own penis bigger and so we've been thinking of shutting that address down and setting up a new one. But not as a hot link because we'd then quickly be back to square one and to offers of barnyard excitement that doesn't deal with solely human partners.

Instead, I've been thinking of doing what Tom Tomorow's own site does. Thus he displays...

tomtomorrow–at symbol–ix–dot symbol–netcom–dot symbol–com

Is that the best and simplest approach?

#406 ::: Sarah S ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2007, 10:15 AM:

Women! Know Your Limits!

link

#407 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2007, 11:52 AM:

Serge @405: That sounds like a reasonable approach. On my webpage, I've got a graphic spelling out my email address. It uses a link set up as "mailto:nonsense@nowhere.com?SUBJECT=Re: your resume and portfolio...". It says on the page:

If you want to contact me,
click on the image below:

It will bring up your default mail program, with a nonsense address;
fill in the correct address from the image.

#408 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2007, 12:35 PM:

Thanks, Rob.

#409 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2007, 03:37 PM:

Thanks, people. It looks like the consensus leads me to take Debcha & Texanne's advice (397 & 399)--Key to Time it is, to start at least. How annoying is it, though, that it's just one episode to a disc?

Also, Texanne: And once you've seen it all, certain bits of Buffy will make more sense.

Oh, nuh-uh...really?!? I didn't know! I'm excited!

I've also added the first season of the new show to my queueueueue.

Oh, and Sarah S #406--That. Is. Hilarious.

#410 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2007, 03:45 PM:

Am I the only one who, upon seeing the word 'millefiori', hears an Irish band singing "Millefior-, fiori-ay! Millefior-, fiori-ay! Millefior-, fiori-ay, workin' on the railway!"?

Thought so. Mepf. I want my Cylert.

#411 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2007, 03:49 PM:

Has anyone here heard from Susan, who came home to a break-and-enter? Not seeing any comments from her after that one is somewhat alarming.

#412 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2007, 03:52 PM:

I haven't heard from Susan either, Larry, but, if something bad had happened, she wouldn't have been able to log in and tell us about the break-in.

You out there, Susan?

#413 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2007, 04:15 PM:

Unless she has a handheld device.

#414 ::: adamsj ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2007, 04:21 PM:

Oh, and Susan--how does one go about finding somewhere in a small city (say, Little Rock, Arkansas) where people tango? I started reading a book about tango and now I want to watch.

#415 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2007, 04:26 PM:

Improbable Research particle on Postal Delivery

Bricks...

Fish...

Does Harlan Ellison know?

#416 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2007, 04:39 PM:

Note that Susan had previously stated she was in charge of an Event out of town the next day. I can see a combination of that and various legal hassles that could keep her busy enough not to post for a bit.

#417 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2007, 04:50 PM:

joann... Do you think Susan might be an International Woman of Mystery?

#418 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2007, 05:03 PM:

#410 ::: Xopher wrote:
Am I the only one who, upon seeing the word 'millefiori', hears an Irish band singing "Millefior-, fiori-ay! Millefior-, fiori-ay! Millefior-, fiori-ay, workin' on the railway!"?

Thought so. Mepf. I want my Cylert.

I don't know what I want, since I keep on wondering what you'll do with all those Cylons...

#419 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2007, 05:44 PM:

I've met Susan. She's definitely an international woman of mystery, even if she's not an International Woman of Mystery™. Her historical-dance-expert disguise did not fool me. She definitely had the air of someone who's Up To Something™.

She's an utterly charming human being, IMHO.

xeger, I think you've figured out why the FDA banned Cylert!

#420 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2007, 05:52 PM:

I met Susan too, Xopher. I couldn't figure out how she'd managed to slip a personal message to me inside LAcon's newsletter, but it all makes sense now.

#421 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2007, 05:55 PM:

(Xopher, how long do you think it'll take before Susan tells us to cut it out, with all those nice things we say about her?)

#422 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2007, 05:56 PM:

Serge...let's find out!

She was looking fabulous when I met her, and complaining of a cold. If she looks that good with a cold, watch out, you people who are into women (I admired her esthetically, not being one of you)!

#423 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2007, 06:00 PM:

You know, Xopher, I think those glasses of hers are just a disguise. If Susan is not an IWoM, she might be the Last Daughter of Krypton.

#424 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2007, 06:15 PM:

Only if the cold was also feigned. But I suppose an IWoM or the LDoK can do anything.

#425 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2007, 06:21 PM:

(Hmmmm... It's quiet, Xopher, too quiet.)

#426 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2007, 06:24 PM:

It could be that Susan's really a cylon...

#427 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2007, 06:30 PM:

Susan couldn't be a toaster, xeger... Could she?

#428 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2007, 07:08 PM:

I don't think she could. Cylons don't get colds.

Of course...without my Cylert, I can't identify Cylons as easily. If the woods are suddenly filled with beautiful dance instructors, it's Katy Bar the Door.

And Serge...don't use racial epithets. It's beneath you. (As you can see, I'm a Heloite rather than a Tighist.)

#429 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2007, 08:21 PM:

You're right, Xopher. As for your being a Heloite rather than a Tighist, I can only quote Capitaine Renaud and say that I am shocked, shocked!

#430 ::: debcha ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2007, 08:51 PM:

Ethan (#409): Each named story (eg 'The Pirate Planet') actually consists of several episodes. A quick check of IMDb for Doctor Who, Season 16 confirms that each of them is four episodes long except the last, which is six. Each ep is about 25 min long. Wheels within wheels.

Enjoy!

#431 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2007, 09:04 PM:

Tighists often accuse Heloites of being crypto-Baltarians, but this is unjust. Heloites sometimes privately refer to Tighists as Daleks, for obvious reasons.

#432 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2007, 09:56 PM:

Doctor Whooo oo
HEY
Doctor Who

#433 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2007, 10:01 PM:

My favorite Doug Adams Dr Who is "City of Death".

#434 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2007, 10:12 PM:

#432 was a version of "Rock and Roll" by Gary Glitter that got some airtime way back when.

In case the melody wasn't coming through the text...

#435 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2007, 10:33 PM:

Re: Eejanaika - here's the official site, which has a higher res video.

Better go easy on the Okonomiyaki before riding that one!

#436 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2007, 10:40 PM:

Plus an interesting bit about the cultural context of Eejanaika, other than "really flippy roller coaster". And some pictures from flickr, because flickr sees all.

#437 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2007, 03:26 AM:

Oh, good, multiple episodes. That's a relief and a half.

#438 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2007, 05:12 AM:

In case anyone read that No Béarla sidelight all the way to the jokey Guide to Gaelic at the end, be warned that Sea does not mean "Yes" and Ní hea does not mean "No". There are no words for yes and no in Irish, which is why Dr. Maturin often answers a direct question such as "Do you remember Breadfruit Bligh?" with "I do not" rather than simply saying "No".

#439 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2007, 06:00 AM:

My sonic screwdriver arrived in the mail today. After a bit of confusion about which way to put the batteries in, I got it working. (Er, it's a toy, made to look like the prop; it has a little UV flashlight, and a pen at the other end with invisible fluorescent ink so you can write secret messages. It also makes a sound effect similar to the one on the show.)

I made Katie laugh with it tonight -- my apartment has a screen door, and I pointed the screwdriver at it for a few seconds prior to opening, pretending that I was using it to unlock the door.

The UV light will make my lab rubies fluoresce, but not the stripe on money or the g-rune on my Jon Singer bowl. Interesting. I guess the latter need shorter wavelengths. (You really don't want short wavelengths on something you're giving little kids to play with.)

#440 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2007, 06:05 AM:

I admired her esthetically, not being one of you

I suppose if you'd felt unconsciously attracted to her, you would have been admiring her anaesthetically.

#441 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2007, 06:07 AM:

ALTERNATIVE PUN

I admired her esthetically, not being one of you

You admired her what? Well, I've never heard it called that before.

#442 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2007, 09:36 AM:

Now, ajay, if your posts don't get Susan to respond, nothing will.

#443 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2007, 09:38 AM:

Where did you get that sonic screwdriver, David?

#444 ::: Neil Willcox ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2007, 10:06 AM:

Careful with sonic screwdrivers! If you aren't you get situations with his-and-hers; a slippery slope which inevitably results in tragedy. (The screwdrivers came from a gadget shop in Bluewater (UK). The photos are actually in reverse chronologicl order. Note that the Tardis was much bigger o the inside than the outside).

#445 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2007, 10:18 AM:

Still, Neill, I'd like to have one, provided it doesn't cost an arm and a leg. (Or any other part of my anatomy.) It'd go well with my hall costume of a Victorian Time Traveller. What's the address and/or web site of that place?

#446 ::: Neil Willcox ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2007, 10:20 AM:

Before I got distracted by sonic screwdrivers, I just wanted to say that a very silly post of mine seems to have been copied by can you save your marriage. I'm almost certain all their content has been automatically harvested. Usually I would just be amused (as it's not going to impress anyone that they know anything about marriages*) but the photos on it are hosted by a friend. Is there anything I can do about this, or is it just a risk of posting things on the internet?

* And I've just spotted a typo

#447 ::: Neil Willcox ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2007, 10:36 AM:

Serge, can't find the place they actually came from (it was some time ago), but Amazon.co.uk seem to have them in stock.

For some reason the BBC shop only seems to have the sonic screwdriver torch.

#448 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2007, 10:58 AM:

Thanks, Neill.

#449 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2007, 11:51 AM:

Niall #438: Thank you. I was going to say that, but wasn't confident enough of my Irish to be sure. Sea, I believe, means "it is," and ní hea means "it isn't" (please correct me if I'm wrong).

The tendency not to say 'yes' or 'no' persists in English in people of Irish descent, I find. I rarely say either unless I'm being emphatic and very plain on purpose (as when the judge asked me "would that experience influence you in any way" right before I was picked for a jury). Also, more Irish-Americans use the word 'slew' (meaning a lot, from Irish slua, host). We used it all the time in the home I grew up in; some of my classmates at school had no idea what I meant! It's in common use in the NYC area, but wasn't in Michigan, where I grew up.

Funny how things evolve over time though. Irish may yet wind up with a word that means 'yes' exclusively.

Latin also had no words for 'yes' or 'no', but late speakers acquired the custom of saying huic (this) or hoc (that) to mean yes. As French developed, different regions of (what is now) France preferred one or the other; the two forms developed into oil and oc respectively, and those words became shorthands for the two forms of French generally: Langue d'Oil and Langue d'Oc. Modern French developed from Langue d'Oil, and that's the origin of the word oui.

#450 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2007, 11:59 AM:

Xopher @ 449

Oh, that's where a whole slew of things come from!

(I've got no Irish to speak of - not recently, at least - but I know that Welsh barely does 'yes' and 'no' as words, and the preference is still for 'it is' or 'it is not'.)

#451 ::: Aconite ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2007, 12:00 PM:

Neil Willcox@446: C.E. Petit offers this.

#452 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2007, 12:17 PM:

Xopher #449: Sea does indeed mean "It is", so it's the positive answer to common questions of the form "Is it ...?" e.g. "Is it yourself that's in it, at all, at all?".

#453 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2007, 12:20 PM:

For those interested, today's column by Jon Carroll is about how cats really are Republicans.

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/chronicle/archive/2007/01/09/DDGRJN7H211.DTL

#454 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2007, 12:21 PM:

#452: To which the grammatically acceptable answer is of course "It is meself, sure and begob it is."

#455 ::: jennie ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2007, 12:34 PM:

I haven't heard from Susan, but my gentleman-friend was with her after the break-in, and he said the house checked out okay. She was certainly at the event in NYC the next day, because so was the Gentleman.

Apparently the event went quite well, and many people had a lovely time. I wasn't there, so can't report.

I haven't heard from her since the event, I don't think, and the Gentleman hasn't mentioned seeing her. I owe Susan an e-mail, though (the blurb looks good to me!), so the ball's in my court, communication-wise.

#456 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2007, 12:37 PM:

Glad to hear all is well with Senator Susan, jennie.

#457 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2007, 12:54 PM:

Serge @#453, I suppose that Sylvia's cats are Republicans, too. Any cat I've ever shared a house with displayed more monarchist tendencies, as I recall.

#458 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2007, 01:03 PM:

And if cats are Republicans, linkmeister, are dogs (*) Democrats, or commies?

(*) all of whom go to Heaven.

#459 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2007, 02:38 PM:

I'm alive. The break-and-enter turned out just to be a break-and-stop, possibly defeated by my stylish misuse of a proto-bargello scrap of Christmas-themed fabric. Power Twin's gentleman friend was present and most knightly in attitude and action (albeit armed only with a broomstick) throughout. I will try to write a longer explanation later if anyone's interested.

My party was excellent (and my dress was finished for values of finished that include substituting discreet basting for actual fastenings) and was followed by a long afternoon of successful teaching in NYC followed by exhausted collapse. I did a low-key maxixe with jennie's gentleman friend, whom I need to teach more maxixe to this coming Sunday, since he's of the perfect height to lead me but is somewhat short on interesting things to lead me into, maxixewise. Monday started out with having a hole punched in my forehead and a Frankenstein-like Large Black Stitch applied to it. My dance partner examined it carefully and sympathetically asked if they had located my brain.

Power Twin, we rocked through four figures (1-3-4-6) of L'Alliance. You shoulda been there both days.

Serge and Xopher, I am pleased to have successfully deceived you both as to my true appearance and nature, but stop now.

My cats are Chavez-like socialists. They have nationalized my favorite armchair.

Arkansas seems remarkably bereft of tango; I have no leads to offer except to look out for a touring show.

I will be at Arisia, minus my Large Black Stitch, I hope.

#460 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2007, 02:44 PM:

Susan #459: Glad you're OK. OF COURSE we're interested! How did fabric defeat the would-be burgulars?

#461 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2007, 03:10 PM:

Serge and Xopher, I am pleased to have successfully deceived you both as to my true appearance and nature, but stop now.

Damn.

(What's a burgular, Xopher?)

#462 ::: Neil Willcox ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2007, 03:17 PM:

Thanks Aconite.

If they were real human beings who were interested, I wouldn't mind (or not much). As they're an automated search program collating things with certain keywords they probably won't pay attention to me sending them a notice asking them to remove it. Not that that will stop me.

In future I'll try and only post things that are of no possible use to anyone.

#463 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2007, 03:20 PM:

Neil @ 462

Weaselly fruitcake? Dinosaurs and ... never mind.

#464 ::: adamsj ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2007, 03:33 PM:

Serge, I think burgular is what they call a Bulgarian in the movies these days.

#465 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2007, 03:41 PM:

adamsj... Ah, that's what it is. If we're going to make Eastern European jokes... Did you ever notice that the first X-men movie established that Magneto was from Poland? That then makes him a magnetic Pole.

#466 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2007, 03:46 PM:

Susan... About true appearances... I must make a confession. The person you met at LAcon who identified himself as 'Serge' really is a bum I hired off the street to pretend to be me. I really am... Hugh Jackman.

Damn. Getting delusional again.

#467 ::: jennie ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2007, 04:17 PM:

Susan, do please teach the Gentleman more maxixe!

No! Wait! If you and he dance it together, who's gonna maxixe with me?

Ah well. I can share.

#468 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2007, 04:40 PM:

Serge #465: I wouldn't touch that one with an eleven-foot Romanian.

#469 ::: Karl T. ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2007, 04:45 PM:

Or a bouncing Czech.

#470 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2007, 04:48 PM:

An endecapedal Romanian, Fragano? As for Karl T's Bouncing Czech... That sounds like one of Kurt Busiek's sillier-named characters in AstroCity. (He did have a character called the Bouncing Beatnik.)

#471 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2007, 04:49 PM:

Serge, a burgular is a Bad Guy who comes into your howiss, usually by burebeakibing sobumthibing, aband stebeals yobour stubuff.

It's also the word for 'burglar' in Uh-Oh-Scawy-Thingsese, a language spoken by couples in private when pretending to be scared as an excuse for snuggling up close.

Why are you all looking at me like that?

#472 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2007, 04:53 PM:

Why are you all looking at me like that?

We do because your post's spelling sounds like you're practicing for the next PublishAmerica sting.

#473 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2007, 04:54 PM:

A burgular ownly steyeals yowur syuffuf ipf hee nyeeds thehe monyey becauze heeze Hungary.

#474 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2007, 04:58 PM:

Boohiss, abi.

#475 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2007, 05:00 PM:

Things I learned just now:

1. There are a whole slew of people who don't know what "a whole slew" is.
2. The reason for the phrasing "I have not" amongst Irish-Newyorkians.

It's a good core to the day.

#476 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2007, 05:01 PM:

*bows*

#477 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2007, 05:01 PM:

I thought "burgular" is the incorrect pronunciation of "burglear".

#479 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2007, 05:27 PM:

Serge #470: As Harry Turtledove wrote, an eleven-foot Romanian is for things you wouldn't touch with a ten-foot Pole.

#480 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2007, 05:31 PM:

Fragano... Consider yourself as boohissed as abi was. (Yes, I'm envious I didn't think of it.)

#481 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2007, 05:32 PM:

Fragano #479

I always use a 20-foot Czech. (Dollars would be nicer, but you can't have everything.)

#482 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2007, 05:41 PM:

In re words that might be of Celtic origin, or might not:

I've googled "honyock", with many spellings, and although the definitions I've seen are congruent with my father's use of the word- a low class and boisterous child or young man- none of what I've found has a reasonable origin for it.

Any ideas where to look?

#484 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2007, 05:54 PM:

I am reminded of the builder in Jamaica who offered to install 'burgular bars'.

#485 ::: Howard Peirce ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2007, 05:58 PM:

JESR (482): Did you find this page from Wordorigins.org's Big List?

There's no 100% certain etymology for honyock, but that's the case for a lot of words. Dave Wilton's one of the most scrupulous etymologists on the net. I doubt if you find anything more conclusive than this.

#486 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2007, 06:05 PM:

JESR #482: The OED calls 'honyock' a variant of 'Hunyak'. The etymology of the latter is that it's formed on the analogy of 'Polack' as a term for persons of Hungarian origin.

#487 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2007, 06:18 PM:

Burgular: of or relating to a small burger. (from Lat. burgulus, dim. of burgus, -i). Citations: "Dude, I definitely feel like something burgular" - Q. Horatius Flaccus and Kumar go to White Castle, 2757 AUC.

#488 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2007, 07:51 PM:

Susan, I had two strange moles removed recently and the punched one healed much quicker (and looks better) than the one that was "scraped," for values of "scraped" that leaves a third-inch hole at the middle.

#489 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2007, 07:58 PM:

AFAIK Mandarin Chinese also has no straightforward word for "yes". I continue to be hopelessly muddled by the many ways to say "yes" in Japanese, even though the entire set probably has English equivalents such as "well, okay...", "yup!", "yeah, yeah", and so on.

#490 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2007, 08:05 PM:

Howard, I think I did come across that reference, but it was one which I may have dismissed out of hand because of the emphasis on African American usage for the term. Dad's vocabulary was liberally sprinkled with Chinook Jargon, Scotch flavored English, German, and Finnish words, but this neighborhood was sparsley populated and lily-white for most of his life. The only other person I know who uses the word as frequently as he did is Hungarian/Boheimian, and from Cosmopolis, the immigrant sawmill worker part of Aberdeen.

As used around these parts, among those who were over 18 in 1941, it has a precise usage: the young men (or, very rarely, boyish girls) are not only rowdy and idle but prone to mindless and pointless destruction, the sort of people who'd inadvertantly slash their own tires when vandalizing the cars outside a wedding reception.

#491 ::: debcha ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2007, 08:07 PM:

Further to Fragano looking up 'honyock' (and 'hunyak') in the OED - if it isn't clear from the context in which your father uses, JESR, you may want to note that it is described as 'only in disparaging use.'

Greg (#434): #432 was a version of "Rock and Roll" by Gary Glitter that got some airtime way back when.

Doctorin' the Tardis, by KLF (as the Timelords).

I told one of my professors once that I thought I knew more about alternative and independent music since 1980 than I did about anything else. She said, "Surely you know more about your PhD work?"

She's wrong.

#492 ::: debcha ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2007, 08:09 PM:

Sorry, JESR - our postings crossed. It looks like 'only in disparaging use' is precisely correct.

#493 ::: JC ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2007, 08:24 PM:

#489:Mandarin Chinese also has no straightforward word for "yes".

This is technically true but misleading. Chinese does not have a generic word which maps onto the English word "yes," but the way one answers yes/no questions is quite straightforward. You repeat the question's verb for "yes" and you negate the question's verb for "no."

So if someone asked you "Do you have the sacred pickle of pastiche Wagnerian opera?" Your response would be either "have" or "not have."

#494 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2007, 09:56 PM:

Doctorin' the Tardis, by KLF (as the Timelords).

Wow. That was a fricken flashback. I had no clue KLF (3AM Eternal) did that version.

Gonna go seach youtube for some of my 80's music now...

#495 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2007, 10:17 PM:

ajay #487: Used in modern times primarily to refer to the burgularis region of the brain, a structure like a thick disk in the anterior hypothalamus. Papers include Hatton, GI, "Nucleus Burgularis: is it an osmoreceptor in the brain?" Abstract:

The nucleus burgularis, in the anterior hypothalamus, is a group of magnocellular elements arranged in a ring around a capillary bed. The cells are predominantly monopolar, tightly packed, and are flattened at the outer border of the ring. The entire nucleus is surrounded or encapsulated by myelinated fibers. Electrical stimulation of this nucleus produced a short-latency, long-lasting and substantial antidiuresis in ethanol anesthetized rats. Water deprivation induced changes in numbers of nucleoli and cell size increases in these cells. The multiplication of nucleoli in this nucleus during water deprivation was more profound than that previously observed in the supraoptic nucleus. Decreases in multiple nucleoli accompanied voluntary rehydration. Seven criteria for status as an osmoreceptor are listed and the nucleus burgularis was found to meet 6 of these criteria, the seventh being the demonstration of receptor potentials which has not yet been attempted.
(OK, I can't make up stuff that good. The real citation.)

#496 ::: Howard Peirce ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2007, 10:28 PM:

JESR: Yeah, I think Dave Wilton's article was mainly for debunking the many spurious etymologies for "honky" floating around, and "honyock" just came along for the ride as a related term.

For what it's worth, as a young child in Milwaukee, I never heard the word "honyock" used as a generic term for young delinquents. It was always used as an ethnic slur against Americans with roots in southeastern Europe. To me, it carries the same connotations as "polack" or "bohunk."

I'd be careful about using the word "honyock" casually, if you don't know who you're talking to.

#497 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2007, 11:02 PM:

Howard, being a Bohunk of sorts myself (my maternal grandfather was born seven months after his parents left Prague for New Orleans), I'm hardly likely to use it casually, especially with strangers. It's a strange regional distinction that the other perjoratives for Slavic people maintained their specificity in the Northwest, honyock was only and always used as a descriptor for obnoxious, noisy, and destructive boys as far as it was used here. I haven't heard it used by anyone of my generation or younger, though, until I found it coming from my own lips when my neighbor cousin's two sons came running across the field last summer, throwing golf balls at the cattle. Which was when I started to wonder about where it came from.

The OED, although the gold standard for written language, isn't always of help in tracing the evolution of spoken rudeness.

#498 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2007, 11:11 PM:

I just got back from a very nice vacation, and while weeding my email inbox down a bit I discovered this insanely wonderful tidbit of a definition from the A Word A Day mailing list. I quote:

malkin (MO-kin, MAL-kin) noun
1. An untidy woman; a slattern.
2. A scarecrow or a grotesque effigy.
3. A mop made of a bundle or rags fastened to a stick.

A little quick browsing of dictionaries confirms that this is indeed a proper definition (and adds dialect meanings of 'cat' or 'hare'). Application to right-wing nutballs is left to the reader.

#499 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2007, 11:16 PM:

The OED is missing a few British words too, and not necessarily disparaging ones. (I was trying to track down a definition for 'currick', a word I've seen on Victorian-era Ordnance Survey maps.)

#500 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2007, 11:46 PM:

PJ, google comes through.

Curricks are small enclosures made from stones. They were used by shepherds as lookout points.

It makes sense. another definition is a "chambered cairn."

#501 ::: Tania ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2007, 12:10 AM:

Bohunk. Hmmpf. I've only ever heard it used by my aunts, both of solid of Scandahoovian extraction, using it to describe young men that could be described as tasty pieces of eye-candy. I always figured it was a variant of 'hunk.'

It never occurred to me that bohunk was a pejorative term. It certainly gives me a better than usual discussion topic the next time I call.

Serge - What's your opinion on Canuck?

#502 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2007, 01:17 AM:

Not useful for honyock, but I am amused by:

Hony-moon,
applyed to those marryed persons that love well at first, and decline in affection afterwards; it is hony now, but it will change as the Moon.

and

Melilla,
my hony, my sweetynge, a worde of wanton dalyers.

#503 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2007, 01:24 AM:

Clifton @ #498:

Malkin, Maukin, or Scovel
to make clean an oven (the Italians call it Scovola di forno, id est the broom or besome of the oven) the Lat. is Peniculus, or Penicillus, dim. a pene. id est a tail; because they were in times past, made of the tails of beasts, as now they are of old clouts. Min.

#504 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2007, 01:27 AM:

Power Twin,
No! Wait! If you and he dance it together, who's gonna maxixe with me?

Both of us! (And I'll still be better than the Gentleman because I'm more obsessed with practicing it.)

#505 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2007, 01:35 AM:

debcha @ 49 - Doctorin' the Tardis - a.k.a. Pimp my Police Box?

#506 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2007, 01:45 AM:

491, not 49.

#507 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2007, 01:46 AM:

For those who have clear eastern or western horizons, look for Comet McNaught just before sunrise or just after sunset. That it's bright enought to see in twilight means it's quite shiny: there's some chance it'll be spectacular after it goes by the sun*.

The viewing is best the further north you are: I'm in California, and all my attempts so far have been for naught, but others have been more successful- see the San Francisco pics.**

*or maybe it'll fizzle. Either way, see it now while you can, or see it now before everyone else does too.

**the Farallons are hard enough to see, as they're 30 miles offshore and usually hidden by the marine layer of fog... Farallons plus comet: takes some waiting.

#508 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2007, 02:58 AM:

Greg: As The Timelords, they put out two versions of the Doctor Who track, "Doctorin' the Tardis" and the one with Gary Glitter, retitled "Gary in the Tardis". Both are on a CD called History of the Jams a.k.a The Timelords, which covers a bunch of the KLF's early stuff. You may be able to find it used.

#509 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2007, 03:00 AM:

Susan @459,

Fabric? Break and stop? Please do write up more.

(or is this one of those "for the rest of the story, please paypal to..." situations where a bribe is needed? While I can't do paypal, I can offer something shiny at worldcon 2008*, for the rest of the story today.)

* assuming I've forgotten everything I learned this year ("throwing that bid party was hard, hard work") by 2008 ("Hey, throwing that party was nothing but fun fuzzy bunnies. Why not do it again?")

#510 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2007, 03:14 AM:

Greg @432: Doctor Whooo oo [..]

I thought you were talking about this song.

#511 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2007, 06:24 AM:

Tania @ 501... Serge - What's your opinion on Canuck?

I don't mind it. But then again you might want to ask people who live in anglophone parts of Canada because I think that's who the term 'Canuck' usually applies to. As for Quebec's francophones, they're sometimes called frogs, for obvious reasons that don't really make sense because, really, frog legs are (supposedly) a delicacy with the francophones of France. 'French pea soup' has been used to refer to he segment of Canada's population from which I was spawned.

#512 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2007, 06:42 AM:

Tania.. Another source of ethnic amusement for me is when American comics come up with characters from other nationalities. The first one that springs up in my mind is Marvel's Batroc zee Leaper, a minor two-bit French supervillain whose schtick is that he can bounce around like, yes, a frog.

#513 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2007, 07:26 AM:

joann #481: How does one get such a thing through the mails?

#514 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2007, 08:07 AM:

Susan @ 504... If jennie and you are Power Twins, does that mean you hang around with the SuperFriends?

#515 ::: Neil Willcox ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2007, 08:11 AM:

P J Evans @ 463

I think I'm actually going to post on how bananas haven't had sex for 10,000 years*, despite the evidence to the contrary elsewhere on the internet. Since 50% of my DNA is the same as that of a banana, I'm obviously going to have to investigate the (lack of) sex lives of my proud cousins, the bananas.

* Domesticated bananas that is. Wild bananas are probably having sex right now.

#516 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2007, 08:27 AM:

Tonight on MythBusters...

"...In this action-packed episode of Mythbusters, Adam and Jamie turn dirigible detectives to try and solve one of aeronautics biggest puzzles, while Kari, Tory and Grant come face-to-face - and have to flee - from some of Nature's natural-born killers..."

Heck, just watching them build a miniature Hindenburg and then have it go down in flames as Adam exclaims "Oh, the humanity!" will make it worth my while.

#517 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2007, 09:10 AM:

I'd say from this that Klaus Wulfenbach is finding out big-time what happens when you kill one of Agatha Heterodyne's friend.

#518 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2007, 09:51 AM:

I'm a fourth-generation Californian, and I know what "a whole slew" means (though I wasn't sure how to spell it).

As for the politics of cats, as I've noted before, my 20-pound Norwegian Forest Cat is an Emperor! (For photo, see this site, second pic down. It's from several years ago, when he may have weighed a mere 16 lbs.)

#519 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2007, 09:57 AM:

Not sure what the politics of my cat Jefferson are. I do know he is with the meowww-I'm-dying-feed-me party, but I'm not sure what their platform is about.

#520 ::: debcha ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2007, 10:22 AM:

Orbital do a great cover of the Doctor Who theme; they did it live for many years before eventually putting a version on their album The Altogether. I read an interview once in which they commented that it was so hard to play with 90s technology that they were astonished that it could have been created in the 60s.

#521 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2007, 10:45 AM:

Gonna go seach youtube for some of my 80's music now...

Ooof, I was up till 2 am (eternal?) last night watching videos. I didn't discover "real" music until I went to college. The 80's for me was a world of farm country and country music on AM radio, with two distant FM stations that played top 40 stuff.

My taste for the decade appears to run towards the one hit wonders, and the very oddball songs.

Doctorin the Tardis being one example. Others that I rediscovered last night include "One night in bangkok", "You spin me around", "I wanna be a cowboy", "Rock me Amadaus", "Safety Dance", "Putting on teh Ritz".

Good grief, I'm a one-hit-wonder junkie or something.

#522 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2007, 10:48 AM:

Paula @ 500:

Thank you ever so much. It was a map of a sheep-raising area (north of the Wall, actually).

#523 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2007, 11:29 AM:

Greg @ #521:
Others that I rediscovered last night include "One night in bangkok", "You spin me around", "I wanna be a cowboy", "Rock me Amadaus", "Safety Dance", "Putting on teh Ritz".

We used "Safety Dance" and "Bangkok" (the instrumental preceding "One Night in Bangkok") as music in my high school marching band (which competed along with playing at halftime and such.) I'm still extremely fond of the Chess soundtrack. If I ever directed a show, that would be high on my list - I had difficulties with both the London and B'way versions, but I think it has great potential.

#524 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2007, 11:49 AM:

I probably shouldn't be surprised to discover that there is a Mormon Transhumanist Association, yet I am.

#525 ::: Malthus ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2007, 01:26 PM:

And of course, the most common usage of "malkin" is the one the OED said was dialect -- Greymalkin, anyone?

#526 ::: Skwid ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2007, 01:31 PM:

debcha, I was just about to post a link to the Orbital song. It's one of my favorites, although the KLF/Glitter version is the one that tends to haunt me every time I hear the theme.

Speaking of, that's the first time I've seen a video on YouTube that basically just captures a visualizer rather than an actual video...I'm sure there are lots of them, it's just the first time I've seen it.

#527 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2007, 01:31 PM:

Fragano #513:

I don't. Cargo pants.

#528 ::: Tania ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2007, 01:40 PM:

Serge - Just be careful if you start beating up on Alpha Flight. I have a soft spot for Alpha Flight. My sympathies for the French and French-Canadian portrayals. Don't get me started on how Alaska is portrayed . . .

Western Canadians never seem to have an issue with Canuck (maybe the hockey team has something to do with that?), but easterners seem to be a little touchy.

I am a subject of a feline oligarchy, with the dominance shifting back and forth between the kitties on a continuing basis.

PS - Dave Marusek is on the Nebula long list!

#529 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2007, 01:48 PM:

Heck, Tania, I remember Alpha Flight from their early X-men appearance when AF generated a snowstorm to force the X-bunch to land in Canada and then proceeded to toss their plane around because they wanted the short guy with the claws back. I'm not sure what they've been up to recently.

#530 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2007, 01:51 PM:

Tech question.. My wife has a laptop that runs on Windows XP. She uses WordPerfect. We may have to get Word loaded onto the machine. Will Word prevent WordPerfect from running smoothly? Not that I am attributing any nefarious intentions to Bill Gates...

#531 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2007, 01:53 PM:

Serge, I don't know from WordPerfect, but I use StarOffice and Word on the same machine without them interfering with each other.

#532 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2007, 01:55 PM:


The first one that springs up in my mind is Marvel's Batroc zee Leaper, a minor two-bit French supervillain whose schtick is that he can bounce around like, yes, a frog.

Don't forget Jean de Baton-Baton, from Section Eight in Hitman.

#533 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2007, 02:02 PM:

Thanks, P J...

#534 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2007, 02:10 PM:

Sandy B... Hmm... I must say I'm not familiar with Jean de Baton-Baton. Meanwhile, the latest issue of Fantastic Four has Ben Grimm again leave the FF, but this time all the way to Paris, where he is promptly approached by a group of French superheroes with a most urgent matter, but not so urgent that they can't first take him out for a very good dinner. Ben then gets into an argument with one of the team's members, a ghost who usually haunts the Louvres, and the argument ends with Ben called the ghost a socialist layabout.

#535 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2007, 02:10 PM:

On 80s videos -

Two that I can't find on YouTube and would like to see again are Chris De Burgh's "Ecstasy of Flight" and the song that goes "'Nando...you look MARVELOUS!"

Anyone have better Tube-Fu than I?

#536 ::: Tania ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2007, 02:29 PM:

Susan - the song has got to be Billy Crystal's "You look Marvelous". However, the evil firewall at work doesn't let me go looking for things like that... Sigh. More things to check out when I get home this evening.

#537 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2007, 02:47 PM:

joann #527: But then you never get to say 'the Czech is in the mail'.

#538 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2007, 02:51 PM:

Fragano, maybe that Czech crimefighter wears chainmail.

#539 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2007, 03:02 PM:

joann #527: But then you never get to say 'the Czech is in the mail'.

#540 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2007, 03:04 PM:

Serge #538: Boohiss to you!

#541 ::: John Hawkes-Reed ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2007, 03:07 PM:

Debcha @ 520:

There were a set of remarkable people working at the BBC Radiophonic Workshop. Cut-ups, tape loops, found sound - all the techniques of music concrete used to bookend the News for Farmers on Radio Stoke. It's worth googling for Delia Derbyshire, for instance. Very much an unsung heroine of electronic music. Or indeed poking about for the BBC4 documentaries on the Radiophonic Workshop. A splendid, if ultimately depressing story.

#542 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2007, 03:12 PM:

Not my best, Fragano. I'll now slink away in shame.

#543 ::: oliviacw ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2007, 04:08 PM:

Re Billy Crystal - youtube does yield up a 1985 Diet Pepsi commercial by Billy Crystal in the persona of "Fernando". And there's a snippet of the song posted on this NPR Intersections story about Billy Crystal.

#544 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2007, 04:11 PM:

All the "Czech" puns are making me think of really, really bad European gay porn. If there's a pun on the word "Czech," somebody named a porno after it.

As for the one-hit wonders of the 1980's, surely the best is I Eat Cannibals: the best of the Antmusic knockoffs short of Bow Wow Wow album tracks, and Bow Wow Wow were the Ants themselves. Also, I'd never seen the video until I just found it to post here, and now that I have...how much do I want, no, need to learn that dance?

#545 ::: jennie ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2007, 04:25 PM:

Serge at a previous place of employment we used both MS Word and WordPerfect on our computers, and they coexisted quite peacefully.

#546 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2007, 04:31 PM:

Oooh! The mail just came, and coincedentally (or IS IT?) I received both my Doctor Who from Netflix AND my Star Trek from eBay, neither of which would I have if not for you folks.

It's days like this that put the "f" at the beginning of "unemployment."

#547 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2007, 04:50 PM:

Thanks, jennie. Do they co-exist the way the Romulans and the Klingons do? (And are you and Susan really the Power Twins?)

#548 ::: Sharon M ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2007, 05:09 PM:

80's videos: there's a big list at 1500 videos. Looks like they're linking to youtube videos, the index has some broken links, and advertising on the site may be nsfw.

It doesn't have everything, but it's a good jumping off point. (For definitions of "good" that include listening to Private Life, then checking youtube for Dead Man's Party, and ending up watching Oingo Boingo on the Gong Show.)

#549 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2007, 05:14 PM:

Ethan #544:

Like, frex, "Czechmate?"

#546: No czechs?

#550 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2007, 05:20 PM:

joann #549: yes, and Czech Inn, and The Czech is in the Male, and on and on.

#551 ::: jennie ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2007, 05:43 PM:

Serge, it's been a while since I worked there, but the coexistance was pretty undramatic, and generally stress free. I think the computers at that job were running Win2000, but, like I said, it's been a while.

You might not know it to look at it, but Susan really is my polka-mazurka PowerTwin. Or I am hers. Or something. Why do you ask?

#552 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2007, 05:44 PM:

Bounced Czechs, Double Czech...Making a list, Czeching it twice (I think and hope that I made that one up...)

#553 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2007, 05:46 PM:

Sorry to be posting so much, but I only just got joann's "No czechs"...yes, sadly, these days I am receiving no czechs and writing out a whole lot of them.

#554 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2007, 05:53 PM:

jennie @ 551? Why do I ask? Having had my mind twisted by comic-books from a very tender age, when I read that some people refer to themselves as the Power Twins, I find myself wondering if you ladies are trying to pull a Purloined Letter on us by displaying in plain sight the real but seemingly unbelievable explanation for Susan's absence. (Ow! Ow! Yes, Susan, you did tell me to stop yesterday. But curiosity drives this cat, to you-know-what.)

#555 ::: Tania ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2007, 06:29 PM:

ethan @ #553
I've been holding back wanting to reference your mention of cannibals at #544 into a "the Czech is in the male" comment. Having seen similar incidents devolve into commentary such as "Yes, he really did Polish it off, must have been Hungary," I shudder to think of what we might be exposed to. Anticipatory shuddering.

#556 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2007, 06:38 PM:

One benefit of dark, rainy, Oregon evenings:

i) Took dog for a walk.

ii) Put dog in car; drove to supermarket.

iii) Discovered, at check-out, that the $45 I had in my pocket . . . wasn't. Used a credit card.

iv) Searched all pockets. Checked car seat.

v) Drove home, wondering where along the 1.5 mile dog walk route I might have dropped the money.

vi) Pulling into my parking spot . . . spotted the roll of money, on the ground by where the rear driver's side door would be. It had dropped out when I pulled my keys out to let the dog in.

Thank you, dark dismal rainy Oregon evenings, for keeping people inside instead of wandering about spotting other people's money.

#557 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2007, 06:47 PM:

Don't forget "caching a czech" to save them from cold-war era secret police.

#558 ::: Tania ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2007, 07:21 PM:

What about amnesiacs - blank czechs?

#559 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2007, 07:46 PM:

Chekhov a tickbox?

(Hey, a twofer)

#560 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2007, 07:55 PM:

Pole dancer

#561 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2007, 08:08 PM:

Well, I'll be bulgared.

#562 ::: Nancy C ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2007, 08:09 PM:

Some of these puns are Turkeys.

#563 ::: Nancy C ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2007, 08:11 PM:

Maybe we're Russian to fast to make them.

#564 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2007, 08:14 PM:

Ukraine run, but Ukrain't hide.

#565 ::: Nancy C ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2007, 08:17 PM:

Norway! a Ukraine pun!

#566 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2007, 08:24 PM:

O!dessa got to be a new low among puns...

#567 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2007, 08:35 PM:

For the love of God, Ukrain't? Er...lemme think. Might have to Estonia for that one.

#568 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2007, 08:50 PM:

We'll have to get the Moldova those.

#569 ::: Claude Muncey ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2007, 08:58 PM:

Why can't we Finnish with these puns?

#570 ::: Claude Muncey ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2007, 08:58 PM:

Why can't we Finnish with these puns?

#571 ::: Claude Muncey ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2007, 09:00 PM:

I intended to post that only once, but Iran into a technical problem.

#572 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2007, 09:16 PM:

clicked on "Screw DTP; this is a cheap desktop fabricator."

(jaw drop)

wow. $2,500 for a plastic fab? wow. wow. wow. wow. wow. wow. wow. wow. wow.

#573 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2007, 09:27 PM:

I've just watched W's Iraq speech. It seems to add up to more of the same. Or, perhaps, 'make the pie higher', with a dash of Vietnamisation.

#574 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2007, 09:31 PM:

There was a certain point in the speech (when he brought up 9-11, to be precise) where I just started hurling "fuck you"s at the television and kind of couldn't hear the rest.

#575 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2007, 09:42 PM:

He's such a piece of shit. May flies eat him.

#576 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2007, 09:44 PM:

Italy'a making these puns ain't easy.

#577 ::: Aconite ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2007, 10:03 PM:

Greg London: Good grief, I'm a one-hit-wonder junkie or something.
I am reliably informed that there is at least one Internet satellite radio station that plays nothing but one-hit wonders, and several that play nothing but 80s music.

Also that a subscription to satellite radio, with a few hundred commercial-free channels, runs about $9/month.

(Dial-up sux.)

#578 ::: Claude Muncey ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2007, 11:30 PM:

Ah, but puns are worth it. If we really want to we Congo on like this all night.

#579 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2007, 12:26 AM:

Claude, Kenya? Really?

#580 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2007, 12:34 AM:

"Putting on teh Ritz" = one-hit wonder? (Greg @ #521)

Is this different to "Puttin' on the Ritz", by Irving Berlin? He's not someone who'd generally be called a one-hit wonder.
Or is my fagged-out mind not detecting humour here? Am juggling a buncha worrying stuff, and fatigue tends to make me literal.

#581 ::: Tania ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2007, 12:40 AM:

Oh dear. I can just imagine PNH and/or TNH now "Knock it off, or Albania from ML."

Oman, can I Belize it.

#582 ::: Tania ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2007, 12:50 AM:

Epacris @ #580 - he was referring to Taco's cover of Mr. Berlin's song. Taco = One Hit Wonder. Irving Berlin = Genius.

#583 ::: Claude Muncey ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2007, 12:52 AM:

Tania, you would have to bring Yemen to this. Well, it has been fun. Abyssinia!

#584 ::: Tania ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2007, 01:23 AM:

Claude please Kuwait, don't go yet. Uruguay that seems to be able to Taiwan on. Don't be a Qatar!

#585 ::: Tania ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2007, 01:42 AM:

Ok, ok. India event that this is tiresome, I'm going to stop.
I've been looking for Susan's video requests and had no luck yet. I guess she'll have to find a better Canadate for the search. Now I'll stop, really.

#586 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2007, 04:20 AM:

Hats off to Tania and Claude.

#587 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2007, 05:07 AM:

Remember Togo outside tonight (Thursday) just after sunset to look at the comet. If Kuwait, Uganda see it. You're Ghana feel like Cameroon if you miss "the brightest comet in years*." if you don't want that, Denmark it down. Don't Tuvalu astronomy?

To Sweden the deal, here's how to find it. You have to start looking right after sunset- the comet sets by 15-30 minutes later (depends on location).

It gets much better the further north you are, but I felt all warm and fuzzy finally seeing it in California. (More pics in the Spaceweather gallery include comet and the Statue of Liberty.)

If you're in Australia (and other southern locations), you may be in for some wonderfulness starting after the 12th. If so, it'll be obvious.

*it might not seem so bright because it's visible hanging in the sunset. That's bright.

#588 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2007, 05:23 AM:

The home fabricator is interesting.

People say how much effect that pornography has on new technologies: printing, photograpny, home video, the internet.

The applications of being able to make 3D models out of silicone, or chocolate and icing, are best left as an exercise for the imagination of the reader.

#589 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2007, 05:52 AM:

To take things back to Doctor Who for a minute (sheesh, I go away for a day and people start up pun cascades):

The Orbital videos were decent, but I like this one better: it takes the Orbital version of the theme and puts a bunch of clips from the show over it. I found that more interesting to watch than abstract graphics.

This page is a history of the various theme tunes used, with particular attention to the original Radiophonic Workshop one, that I found quite interesting. It was written a few years ago, so doesn't cover the modern Murray Gold version.

I got the sonic screwdriver at a company called "Who North America" that imports Doctor Who tchotchkes in bulk. When I tried to order the screwdriver toy from amazon.co.uk, I couldn't get it -- something about legal restrictions on shipping. But Who North America was happy to sell it to me, and at a lower price too. I wish I'd known about them earlier, in fact, since they also have the Murray Gold soundtrack album for cheaper than I paid. Their site is whona.com; here's a link directly to the page with the sonic screwdriver toy.

#590 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2007, 09:02 AM:

I think Iran into more puns than I can handle upthread, but I won't go Russian off (sorry!) before passing along another link to a great comet photo. Here in Prescott, we're surrounded by mountains and there are storms expected, so I doubt if I'll get to see the celestial object in person.

#591 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2007, 09:03 AM:

Thanks for the link, David. I see that they even sell Captain Jack figures, but I'm sure that this is of no interest to Xopher.

#592 ::: debcha ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2007, 09:27 AM:

Skwid (#526): Speaking of, that's the first time I've seen a video on YouTube that basically just captures a visualizer rather than an actual video

Me too, but it kind of makes sense that YouTube would end up being a one-stop repository for music as well as video. That was definitely the first place I went to look for the song.

John Hawkes-Reed (#541): There were a set of remarkable people working at the BBC Radiophonic Workshop. ... It's worth googling for Delia Derbyshire, for instance.

Thanks for the pointer - there's some pretty interesting stories behind her and the theme.

#593 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2007, 10:29 AM:

Did the Boy Emperor use the 'P' word during his speech last night? You know, 'P' as in 'plan'. When he says that he has a plan, I usually get nervous because that reminds me of the original Battlestar Galactica and John Colicos's Baltar gloating about his latest plan to vanquish our heroes, a plan that is usually so stupid that its success is premised on the heores being idiots, which they are, but not as much as Baltar thinks.

#594 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2007, 10:31 AM:

Xopher @ 449: thanks for the etymology on "slew". I use it all the time, as did lots of people where I grew up (central Georgia--the U.S. state, not the former Soviet Republic). Of course, there are a slew of people there with Irish ancestry.

Any idea where "slew-footed" or "slewfoot" comes from? (meaning with one or both feet awry)?

Serge #470: there's a character in The Compleat Enchanter whose friends refer to him as "The Rubber Czech".

#595 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2007, 10:39 AM:

Lila... And what did the Rubber Czech do? I dread the answer. I did read the book, but that was over 30 years ago.

#596 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2007, 12:47 PM:

#580: oop. As Tania mentioned, I was refering to the version by "Taco".

#597 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2007, 02:30 PM:

The Rubber Czech is clearly a safer sex PSA at the beginning of a bad European gay porno.

#598 ::: Christopher B. Wright ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2007, 02:39 PM:

Wasn't the Rubber Czech the cop who kept acting like he was Irish because he figured convincing other cops he was Irish was better for his law enforcement career?

Man I loved those stories. Are they still in print?

#599 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2007, 02:47 PM:

I see that they even sell Captain Jack figures, but I'm sure that this is of no interest to Xopher.

Um, what?

Didn't "The Surrey with the Fringe on Top" make someone or other a one-hit wonder? (It's a song with a Paraguays in it.)

Lila, I'm Ghana have to admit I have no idea.

#600 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2007, 02:48 PM:

ethan, with the poor guy having to repeat the message phonetically, because he doesn't actually speak a word of English, right? And then the actual movie is totally bareback?

No, I haven't seen that one. Why do you ask?

#601 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2007, 03:05 PM:

Faren @590,

Great photo link. Too bad about the mountains, but then, you have mountains. (and if you need sour grapes, in Arizona the comet's visibility is more heartwarming than thrilling.)

I love comets- random reminders of what 100,000 miles an hour and 80,000 miles long means.

NYC- sunset is at 4:50.

#602 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2007, 03:08 PM:

Christopher B Wright #498: No, the pretend-Irish cop was actually Polish. The Rubber Czech, Votsy, was the comic relief (if turning into a werewolf, inter alia, counts as comic relief).

#604 ::: Christopher B. Wright ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2007, 03:19 PM:

#602 -- oh yeah, you're right. Votsy was one of the other academics I think.

I loved those books...

#605 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2007, 03:36 PM:

Xopher @ 599... Um, what?

Oh, I was just being silly. In the recent past, I think you made some comments that seemed to imply you don't find him exactly repulsive. As for what the web page has for sale, I rather like the idea of the dalek-shaped soap & gel dispenser.

#606 ::: Tania ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2007, 03:40 PM:

Well, I'm at a Laos for what to say. I would like to genuflect before Kathryn @#587 - We've been meaning to run out and see the comet for a few days, but sunset is either at 3:21 (Actual), 4:36(Civil), or 5:43 (Nautical) today. I'm going to keep trying!

#607 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2007, 03:48 PM:

*sigh* Yet another cloudy day at the time the comet should be visible. I guess I'm stuck with looking at photos of it.

#608 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2007, 03:49 PM:

Tania @606,

Where do you live?

Between the finder-guide (also enter your location for heavens-above.com and/or see links at spaceweather) you should be able to see it, *if* you have mostly flat horizon at sunset today or tomorrow (tomorrow you'll really need the horizon).

What I'm reading suggests that even for the far north, you'll still only have up to 30-40 minutes after actual sunset to see it. But as you can see from the spaceweather pics, it's great.

#609 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2007, 04:18 PM:

Just heard that Robert Anton Wilson died this morning.

I don't know anyone who I'd need to share this information with more than P and T.

Ave atque vale. Never met you, disagreed with you a lot, wish you well.

#610 ::: adamsj ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2007, 04:53 PM:

Waaay back in the late seventies, Wilson said,in a small circulation zine in which we both wrote, that something I said was stupid. You know what? He was right.

#611 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2007, 05:33 PM:

re #593:

I fear the Shrub's planning ability is right up there with John Crichton and Angel, in that all of them have much in common with Bluto Blutarsky.

#612 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2007, 05:36 PM:

JESR... Better than Han Solo's rescue planning?

#613 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2007, 06:35 PM:

Serge, right up there on the old Phyrric Victory scale. Only without the aspect of having his own literal ass on the line, which, of course, Han, Bluto and their heirs in matters of strategy all did.

#614 ::: Tania ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2007, 06:38 PM:

Kathryn -

I'm in Fairbanks, AK. We've had our comet finding instructions and know where we should be looking. The problem is remembering to run outside during work to go look at the comet! The last really good comet viewing in Fairbanks (that I recall) was Hale-Bopp back in 1997. For some reason the comets and meteors seem to come around in either summertime (too light out) or wintertime (overcast/snowing), therefore we don't get to see them. Yes, I'm joking. Slightly.

In the winter, when it's clear out, the heavens are beautiful. The only problem is that if the weather is clear, the temps are probably colder than -30F. Tuesday was beautiful and clear. The high for that day was -40 F, so one doesn't like to hang around outside for long. Today is slighty overcast (but a balmy 0 F). I've got about an hour to sunset, and my calendar set to remind us to go look, so here's crossing my fingers...

I truly enjoy all the astronomy tidbits you share. Thanks!

#615 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2007, 06:46 PM:

Xopher #600: Never having seen any porn in my life, and being entirely heterosexual, I have no idea what you're talking about. Especially--what did you say? Barebacking? When did horses come into this? I have no idea what you could have been talking about, but it sounds dirty.

#616 ::: MD² ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2007, 07:35 PM:

About the Doctor Who theme, may I recommend this site ?

It has ome nice remixes of it (I recommand the ones by Mutagene. I'm a big fan of the man).

Can you believe I actually discovered Doctor Who via Orbital ?

#617 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2007, 08:11 PM:

JESR @ 613... I think the phoney-warrior act is one of the things that made my father-in-law, who served in the Navy, become disgusted with the Boy Emperor. Heck, he even outright told me he wasn't sure he was a Republican after all.

#618 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2007, 08:26 PM:

Am I the only person who, upon misreading a certain Particle as "Citrus Powers," had a vision of Teresa holding aloft the Lemon of Righteous Wrath and smiting her enemies with the Buddha's Hand of Glory?

...yeah, I thought so.

#619 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2007, 08:40 PM:

...Teresa holding aloft the Lemon of Righteous Wrath and smiting her enemies with the Buddha's Hand of Glory...

You've made my day, TexAnne. Next time I go to a con, before I approach Teresa, I'll make sure there's no lemon around.

#620 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2007, 08:58 PM:

TexAnne #618: On seeing your post I immediately thought of the House of Orange.

#621 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2007, 10:10 PM:

So I just had my first encounter with Doctor Who: I watched through the Ribos Operation (Key to Time) episodes (and then had a creepy experience with a hallucinated ghost when walking to the mailbox to send it back to netflix, but that's unrelated)...and I gotta say, it wasn't what I was expecting. I was ready (and willing!) for the unintentional budget- and datedness-related goofiness. I was somehow unaware, though, that it would be really intentionally goofy. No idea there was comedy there.

It was...weird. And good. And confusing as all hell.

#622 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2007, 10:17 PM:

On second thought, TexAnne, I now have this image of Teresa as Kali with a lemon in each of her six hands.

#623 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2007, 10:25 PM:

...and Kali is also the Protector of the Hearth, which Making Light is.

#624 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2007, 10:27 PM:

And the magic word that turns Teresa, Mild-Mannered Editor, into THE CITRUSIAN AVENGER: "Kiyookadaidai!"

#625 ::: Chryss ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2007, 10:39 PM:

Met Robert Anton Wilson once. He came and spoke at Antioch College (Antioch was mentioned more than once in the Illuminatus trilogy, so we're especially fond of it). He got off to a slow start but then really hit his groove when he started reminiscing about Yellow Springs "back in the day." Good times.

He autographed a couple of my books, and I got the chance to tell him that his essay "Ten Good Reasons to Get Out of Bed in the Morning" meant the world to me...told him this as he was surrounded by supercool Antioch students all in "ontological terrorist" gear (don't ask me, I don't know what that means either).

He took the time to lean in and say, "Thank you. Thank you very much. I'm very glad."

That was nice. He will be missed.

Back to lemon puns...

#626 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2007, 12:16 AM:

JESR... I just read on Salon.com that neither party's members in Congress have shown much enthusiasm for Bush's plan. There apparently is one exception. Would you believe me if I said that this person is, yes, Joe Lieberman?

#627 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2007, 01:03 AM:

I wonder if Lieberman is sucking Bush's cock literally, or only figuratively?

Whoa, was that my out-loud voice?

#628 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2007, 01:07 AM:

Must be, Xopher. What else could it be?

#629 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2007, 01:19 AM:

#622 ::: Serge added:
On second thought, TexAnne, I now have this image of Teresa as Kali with a lemon in each of her six hands.

... so when Teresa hands you lemons, make lemonaide?

#630 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2007, 01:33 AM:

kalimonade, xeger?

#631 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2007, 01:38 AM:

Xopher @ 627... Sometimes, I am reminded that the West Coast and the East Coast are different from the rest of the country.

#632 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2007, 08:12 AM:

(About 631, Xopher... I got my wires crossed when I posted that. It was really a response to the comment you posted in the 'Bob' thread in response to what Paula said about a homosexual co-worker. Hey, it was late, and I was trying to telecommute for the greater glory of my manager. Multitasking is a dangerous thing.)

#633 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2007, 08:20 AM:

Paula Helm Murray... How is Margene doing?

#634 ::: Neil Willcox ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2007, 09:41 AM:

Would the theme tune for the Citrusian Avenger be Clementine?

#635 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2007, 10:22 AM:

Neil: Precisely.

Citric acid, citric acid,
Citric acid mixed with brine,
Make you not wroth Miss Teresa,
Or she'll mock you 'til you whine.

#636 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2007, 02:15 PM:

Headline found today in the San Francisco Chronicle...

GOP and Dem senators enraged after Rice calls troop boost for Iraq an augmentation

Are they sending Pamela Anderson to Iraq?

#637 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2007, 02:34 PM:

Serge @ #636,
Well, I'd almost say Pamela Anderson's an improvement over Michelle Malkin, who's supposedly there right now, hunting for freshly-painted school buildings.

#638 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2007, 02:37 PM:

Linkmeister... I had this this vision of a movie starring Pam, maybe a sequel to Barb Wire.

#639 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2007, 03:10 PM:

Serge @612, I know that my husband's late lamented Uncle Bud, Lt. Col USA ret (Medical Corps) had transfered his presidential loyalties to Gina Davis before he died. I wonder if the shrub gets the significance of that sort of loss?

#640 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2007, 03:16 PM:

JESR... Did Uncle Bud simply think that President Geena Davis was more attractive than her Republican opponent, Donald Sutherland? On the other hand, the latter counted Natasha Hentsridge as one of his minions. (Every time she showed up, I kept expecting her to sprout tentacles.)

#641 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2007, 03:18 PM:

Serge @626: Not surprised about Leiberman.

What is getting up my grill is the co-option of Henry Jackson's memory by Leiberman, and by neocons in general; he backed a lot of things I disagreed with, but he was also pro-labor, pro-choice, and an early adopter of environmental ideas. He went hiking with William O. Douglas,and they both came back; I can't see that happening with Leiberman.

#642 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2007, 03:24 PM:

JESR (and Susan, if she's checking in)... How in Hell did Liebermann manage to bamboozle Democrats for so long that he ran as veep on the 2004 ticket? There were no clues until recently?

#643 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2007, 03:35 PM:

GOP and Dem senators enraged after Rice calls troop boost for Iraq an augmentation

Augmentation? So it's lip service: a collagen injection. It's entirely cosmetic, it has no lasting effect, it lets you put off major decisions for 2 years.

#644 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2007, 03:44 PM:

Groan, Kathryn.

#645 ::: Alex Cohen ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2007, 03:51 PM:

I think of it as a boob job.

#646 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2007, 03:53 PM:

Serge, it's all good with Margene, I'll email with more details once I get home from work.

And we here in KC went from 60 degrees yesterday to 18 today, fortunately the freezing rain was very light and shifted to snow /sleet some time this morning (I went out to shop at lunch and had a devil of a time scraping the windshield). So roads aren't that bad as long as one takes ones time. Love livin' in the midwest.

#647 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2007, 03:58 PM:

Love livin' in the midwest.

I can see that, Paula. Meanwhile, in the southwest, for the last two weeks, every time my dogs requested to be allowed to answer Nature's Call at night, I found myself freezing my you-know-what off. Now snow is finally melting, even in the middle of the night.

Glad to hear about Margene.

#648 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2007, 04:26 PM:

Oh, wow, since the last time I was here there's been mentions of Pamela Anderson and Natasha Henstridge?!? Incredible!

Of course, V.I.P. was just a trial run for the true genius of SheSpies, but in its own time it was peerless.

I'm serious, both of those shows are incredible. I have a deep, deep love for Natasha Henstridge in particular.

#649 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2007, 06:01 PM:

ethan, #615, "barebacking" is anal sex without condoms. I've seen it once recently referring to any sex without condoms, so the use may be broadening.

#650 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2007, 06:19 PM:

PNH & TNH - This article on spousal family name selection made me think of you. New York is on the short list of states that allow male spouses to change their names when getting married. The ACLU is now engaged, at least in CA.

#651 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2007, 06:24 PM:

xeger @ 629: ... so when Teresa hands you lemons, make lemonaide?

Nope, homemade lemon-infused cordials.

#652 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2007, 09:10 PM:

Re the Mississippi Control Structure sidelight - I'm presuming anyone interested in it has read John McPhee's essay in The Control of Nature. Very good one.

#653 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2007, 09:29 PM:

Marilee #649: This quote from ethan: All the "Czech" puns are making me think of really, really bad European gay porn. If there's a pun on the word "Czech," somebody named a porno after it. -- makes me think his comment at #615 is ironic.

ethan, please confirm or deny. I've been assuming you were named after Ethan of Athos, and that you were anything but "completely heterosexual." And you know wayyy too much about European pr0n to be a pr0n virgin.

#654 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2007, 09:42 PM:

On Comets--
McNaught was visible in daylight tonight. Sure, it was just before sunset, but I saw a comet in the not-nighttime. (does the comet dance) In the old days, this'd be a portent of war. Let's see. Comet, daytime, crossing Mercury, multiply by Venus, carry the 3, we attack Iran Monday.#

On lemon trees--

I'd like to note that when we sea-level* Californians complain about record cold temperatures consisting of staying a few degrees below freezing for multiple hours overnight, we understand and acknowledge that for a great many other locations these temperatures would make for a balmy January.

"Cold" is like "Drought." Just as "20 days without rain" means "bad drought" in some parts of the world, even thought "150 days without rain" means "summer" here, "freezing temperatures all night," even though it's not 40 below, is cold. Here.

Cold enough to damage 20 year old trees,** which I've just done my best to prevent. Xmas-lighting and Frost-clothing lemon trees isn't fun. They have big thorns. Lemon doesn't make blood smell any better.

* at higher altitudes we get enough snow to have blizzards and hold winter olympics and have roads that are closed from October through May.

**If the cold keeps up, California could lose a good part of its citrus crop.

# If the white house is using astrologers for war planning, that'd explain things better than anything else.

#655 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2007, 09:57 PM:

Oops, another case of irony not really working on the information superhighway. Sorry for the confusion--I know what barebacking is, I'm a homosecksyooal, and considering that my current roommate writes this blog I'm probably the among the least virginal, porn-wise, of anybody here.

#656 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2007, 10:04 PM:

By the way, I maybe should have added a "not safe for work" on that link, but it's probably clear from context, right?

#657 ::: Anne Sheller ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2007, 11:09 PM:

I guess it's time to mention Kali's Pizza again. It is an establishment in Oak Hill, Ohio. I have never dared to stop there. I don't want to know what toppings are offered. Presumably it would not be polite to count the waitress's arms.

#658 ::: Scott Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2007, 11:29 PM:

Idaho governor says he will support public hunt to kill off all but 100 of Idaho's re-introduced Gray Wolves.

You know, I was really hoping that we had finally started to grow beyond the "Wolves are teh EV1l!!" memeplex that ranching (and cold Russian winters, if you believe certain paintings...) fosters, but apparently it's alive and well in the wonderfully enlightened state of Idaho....

Too bad - I used to have at least a modicum of respect for CL Otter, when he was a congresscritter and at least giving lip service to the idea that the Patriot Act was a Bad Thing.

Defenders of Wildlife has a pre-built fill-in and push Post letter you can send, if you're interested.

#659 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2007, 09:50 AM:

(Paula Helm Murray... I displayed the wrong address on my blog. Forget its dash, go for the underscore.)

#660 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2007, 10:34 AM:

Technical question...

Every time my wife goes to James Wolcott's site (*) from her computer, it starts loading then it shuts her Internet Explorer session completely. I don't know if there's some IE setting that needs to be changed. Or maybe it's something in her Norton Internet Security.

Any ideas?

(*) http://www.vanityfair.com/politics/blogs/wolcott

#661 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2007, 06:32 PM:

Sorry, ethan, I missed it.

#662 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2007, 07:34 PM:

Dat's OK, Marilee...I always forget that I can't really talk on the internet like I do in real life, even after all these years.

#663 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2007, 08:51 AM:

Xopher@627: must be figuratively; otherwise somebody would have found a stained suit and we'd be gearing up for impeachment. (No, I don't believe they could keep the suit secret; there are so many people in(to) the Republicans (or vice versa) for themselves rather than the country that the news would get out.)

Serge@644: I've always figured Lieberman's 2000 nomination was Gore's handlers following part two of the standard rule for winning: run to the outside in the primaries, and to the center in the general election. And bamboozling regular voters before then wasn't necessary; all he had to do was flash his ... campaign contribution stash ... at any potential primary rival. Howard Dean and the Internet gave an example for beating the second of those stunts, but it wasn't enough to beat the first once Joey made clear he was for sale. Joey may also have shifted with the years; he may not have always voted as if Israel was right in the way a Dickson hero is right.

Those who don't follow Massachusetts news may not have heard that the above sort of treachery doesn't always work long-term. Finneran, the "Democratic" state rep who got himself elected House speaker by sucking up to the Republicans, quit a while ago under pressure; the pressure has now become a conviction, costing him his state pension, his >$400K job, and probably his bar license. Having screwed his party and most of the voters, his arrogance was so great he lied on the stand about his influence over a redistricting plan that hurt minorities so badly (and "incidentally" improved his district for him) that it was struck down in court. Maybe Joey will get careless about dancing to AIPAC's tune?

#664 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2007, 08:58 AM:

CHip... Maybe Joey will get careless about dancing to AIPAC's tune?

One can dream.

#665 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2007, 11:54 AM:

Speaking of Massachusetts news, why do we hear so little about how Mitt Romney bought Clear Channel? Seems important to me...

#666 ::: Zack Weinberg ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2007, 04:32 AM:

Completely off topic question: Where's a good place to get fresh produce in NYC? Some friends of mine recently moved to Queens from the West Coast and are having trouble finding good vegetables.

#667 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2007, 10:31 AM:

Gee, this thread has now reached (and is passing) the Number of the Beast -- time for a new one?

#668 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2007, 10:48 AM:

Zack, for same-day use (i.e. you buy it and go home and cook with it right away, rather than storing it in the refrigerator for later use), I'm told Chinatown is the best place. Low, low prices because the produce is at peak (that is, it won't be as nice tomorrow, but it's still fine today).

#669 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2007, 11:49 AM:

I found the following on superherohype.com:

...SCI FI has greenlit production on "Flash Gordon," based on the popular comic strip franchise, it was announced today at the Television Critic's Association tour. Production on the 22 one-hour episodes begins in Canada in early 2007. The series, produced by Reunion Pictures, is slated to debut on SCI FI in July of '07, with a broadcast syndication window to follow. (...) Under an agreement with property owner King Features Syndicate, the new series is being produced by RHI's Robert Halmi, Sr. and Robert Halmi, Jr., who previously produced SCI FI's popular miniseries event "Legend of Earthsea."...

Why am I suddenly feeling queasy?

#670 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2007, 01:30 PM:

Serge @669: Maybe this will work out better. While working on The Shining, Stanley Kubrick opined that it was impossible to make a good movie out of a good book, but you could make a good movie out of a bad book*.

Perhaps the Earthsea books were too good to make a good TV miniseries.


* This opinion endeared him to Steven King (not!), who had been disappointed in the film treatment of The Shining, and later directed his own TV miniseries version.

#671 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2007, 01:59 PM:

I'm not sure I agree with Kubrick (not that he'd care what my opinion on the subject is). The Earthsea books aren't my favorite fantasy stories, but they were not boring. I think the problem with the adaptation is that the people behind it were rather pedestrian. And the main actors, while good as second bananas in Smallville and/or the X-men movies just didn't have what it takes to carry a movie. I think.

#672 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2007, 02:26 PM:

Rob Rusick #670:

This raises the question of whether Barry Lyndon was either

(a) a bad book; or

(b) a bad movie.

#673 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2007, 02:31 PM:

Please, Fragano, don't remind us of Barry Lyndon. I'd rather remember the Kubrick who directed Spartacus, Dr. Strangelove and Paths of Glory...

#674 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2007, 02:33 PM:

Serge #673: I rather liked Barry Lyndon, and I love Dr Strangelove.

#675 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2007, 02:37 PM:

To be fair, Fragano, I saw Barry Lyndon only once and that was a very long time ago, when it first came out.

#676 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2007, 03:16 PM:

I saw it back in the 80s, some years after it came out. It was three hours well-spent.

#677 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2007, 04:29 PM:

What more could a person ask from a movie, Fragano?

#678 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2007, 05:33 PM:

I don't know if I necessarily agree with Kubrick (though of course I have to wonder if he did, either), but I see where he was coming from. I definitely like it when the person making the movie disagrees with the book, like Tarkovsky's humanist reading of Stanislaw Lem (Solaris). It gives the whole work a tension that tends towards the very creative.

#679 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2007, 05:46 PM:

Recommendation:

Alfonso Cuarón's CITY OF MEN, loosely (?) based on P.D. James' "mainstream SF" novel.

Cuaron is one of the new set of Mexican directors who produce stunningly lush, gritty films. This one, for which he co-wrote the screenplay, is no exception.

Short form: It's 2027, 18 years after the last live human birth. There are scientists trying to figure out why every pregnancy ends in a miscarriage . . . meanwhile, unmoored by the necessity of raising the next generation, everyone else is going nuts. There are religious cultists everywhere, paranoia and xenophobia are rampant, terrorists rave and bomb.

An office drone is contacted by his ex-wife and asked to pull some strings and get a transit pass for an illegal immigrant . . . who happens to be pregnant, For Real.

S**t happens.

An utterly unforgettable, beautifully produced, well acted movie whose brutally frank depiction of violence and the ugly desperation of humans driven to the brink make it REALLY hard to take.

A good chunk of the film takes place in a British seaside resort that has been turned into a refugee camp; a squalid, violent, run-down dumping ground. It has to be one of the most beautifully, horribly realized movie settings ever created.

#680 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2007, 05:50 PM:

Nothing really, Serge.

#681 ::: Zack Weinberg ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2007, 06:10 PM:

#668: I'll pass the Chinatown recommendation along, but really I was hoping for specific grocery stores with addresses and names. I hate to tell people "yeah, go to X part of town and wander around all day and you might find something"...

#682 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2007, 06:59 PM:

Stefan (679), I think you mean Children of Men.

#683 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2007, 07:21 PM:

#682: Yes.

Must have been memory slopover from "City of Lost Children".

#684 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2007, 07:40 PM:

I haven't seen a Kubrick movie I didn't like (I'm one of the few people who thought Eyes Wide Shut was good).

Kubrik's Shining is a masterpiece.

King's (miniseries) is a POS.

#685 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2007, 10:35 PM:

Xopher @ 684... Kubrik's Shining is a masterpiece.

Better than the book? Anyway. Do you have a favorite Kubrick movie, Xopher?

#686 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2007, 12:32 AM:

Xopher, you and my roommate (the porn blogger) should hang out--he liked Eyes Wide Shut, too. Myself, I haven't seen it.

Stefan Jones #679: I second that recommendation. I just saw Children of Men today and good God.

By the way, should I be worried that all my life I've known how to spell everything, instinctively and automatically, but all of a sudden recently I have to check things like how many c's there are in recommend?

#687 ::: Sajia Kabir ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2007, 12:42 AM:

I've seen only one Kubrick film, Dr Strangelove, which I loved. It had me wondering about the alleged misogyny of his later work, especially Clockwork Orange, because I've always found Strangelove to be a feminist film ahead of its time: the British major played by Peter Sellers is femme and sensitive - and resourceful enough to almost save the world; whereas his antagonist is a macho blowhard whose obsession with 'manly fluids' has become a byword for militaristic male supremacism (indeed, there are hints that he has been tortured in WWII).
What I'm trying to get at is, if Kubrick could be so progressive in this movie, why his later decline in terms of gender parity?

#688 ::: Peter Erwin ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2007, 05:08 AM:

ethan said (#678):
I definitely like it when the person making the movie disagrees with the book, like Tarkovsky's humanist reading of Stanislaw Lem (Solaris). It gives the whole work a tension that tends towards the very creative.

Interesting point. I suspect this is what was partly going on in The Devil Wears Prada, since the filmmakers apparently made the film more interesting than the book by playing up the callowness of the heroine and turning the villain from a cardboard-cutout Evil Bitch into a (somewhat) sympathetic Evil Bitch, who's clearly more intelligent than the heroine.

On the other hand, I'm not sure I could agree with you about Tarkovsky's Solaris, mainly because I don't think I've ever been so excruciatingly bored by a movie.

#689 ::: Neil Willcox ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2007, 05:45 AM:

I've occasionally thought that Kubrick's career may have been backwards; he starts with the promising but underwhelming Eyes Wide Shut, builds his skills with Full Metal Jacket, The Shining and Barry Lyndon, then builds on this with A Clockwork Orange, 2001 and Dr Strangelove, followed by his masterworks Lolita and Spartacus. I occasionally try to fit AI into this scheme. If I've got them in the wrong order, that just goes to show what a silly idea this is.

#690 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2007, 08:04 AM:

Sajia... I don't know if it was misogyny that started cropping up in Kubrick's later movies, but I do wonder why there isn't a single woman with any meaningful role in 2001. Let's see. There is the scene of Heywood Floyd talking to his very young daughter on the phone, there's the recorded birthday message to one of the Discovery ship astronauts from both his parents. And the flight attendants on the Moon shuttles. Only the Soviets seem to have any women actually involved in space exploration.

#691 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2007, 08:13 AM:

(cont'd from 690)... I mean, by 1968, the idea of women in space shouldn't have been that bizarre and far out. Star Trek had been doing it for 2 years before the movie came out. And The Outer Limits was at it even earlier in the Sixties.

#692 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2007, 08:16 AM:

(cont'd again from 690)... As for women scientists, 1966's The Time Tunnel had Lee Merriwether's character, who was smart and a cool cucumber most of the times.

Well, you get the idea.

#693 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2007, 08:36 AM:

Serge: yes, better than the book. IMHO (and remember I think King is a trashy writer anyway). Favorite Kubrick film? I haven't actually seen all of them (and A Clockwork Orange contains some scenes that gave me nightmares just hearing about them, so I'll probably never watch that one), but 2001 has a special place in my heart. It was the first movie I'd seen where they didn't explain everything; this left me with a permanent liking for that, and a permanent distaste for exactly the kind of (to me over-)explanation that makes a film marketable. *sigh*

ethan 686: You should watch it. The plot is nothing much, ignore it. Watch how all the characters in it react to Cruise's character. What do they all have in common? Hint: it's something gay men have an intrinsic advantage in seeing, and it's particularly noticeable with the bit parts; the encounter with the kids on the street is what made me notice it. It's kind of a Symbolist thing.

#694 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2007, 09:10 AM:

Xopher @ 693... King is a trashy writer anyway

Does that include The Dead Zone?

#695 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2007, 10:28 AM:

Kubrick's _The Shining_ sucks -- no topiary coming to life, which was one of my favorite things in the book.

In addition to leaving out some of the best bits, Kubrick cast Jack Nicholson as the protagonist's father, and then let him chew waaaay too much scenery. (The story isn't supposed to be about Jack, it's supposed to be about the son.)

I've never seen the mini-series, so I can't comment on that.

#696 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2007, 10:45 AM:

Never seen the Shining mini-series either, Lori. Nicholson was my big problem with the movie version. (OK, so he is my big problem in almost all the movies he's in that I've seen.) One of the book's strongest elements was the father's descent into madness. With Nicholson, you know the father is bonkers from the word go. King may be a trashy writer, but I agree with him that Charlie Sheen would have been better casting. (But what do I know about movie-making besides having participated in some friends's weekend improvisation that we came to call Night of the Living Bale?)

#697 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2007, 11:19 AM:

I do wonder why there isn't a single woman with any meaningful role in 2001. Let's see. There is the scene of Heywood Floyd talking to his very young daughter on the phone, there's the recorded birthday message to one of the Discovery ship astronauts from both his parents. And the flight attendants on the Moon shuttles. Only the Soviets seem to have any women actually involved in space exploration

Well, remember that there are really only three meaningful (human) characters in 2001: Heywood Floyd, Bowman and Poole. Could any of those have been made female?

Floyd, yes - I don't think any of his scenes would have changed if he'd been Hannah Floyd instead.

But not the other two, and here's why:
Bowman and Poole have spent over a year alone together on Discovery, with only three corpsicles for company. If either Bowman or Poole had been female, the audience would have immediately started wondering "Well? Have they? Are they?" And the tension that produced would have detracted from the plot. "Are they married? To each other? What do their spouses think about this?"

True, he could have made them both female - but a ship crewed entirely by women would have seemed a bit unusual in 1968, for a film set in the relatively near future. (Realistically so; women are still a minority of astronauts). Whereas an small all-male crew would seem familiar enough, thanks to Apollo.

#698 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2007, 11:26 AM:

True, ajay, but what about the trip from the Moonbase to the monolith site? There were plenty of chances to show women, even as lesser characters who actually speak, or just as background people, just to show that they exist on the non-Soviet side. Come to think of it, that future didn't have many non-white people either.

#699 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2007, 11:57 AM:

And he was right about that, wasn't he?

#700 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2007, 12:04 PM:

Again, you're right, ajay, but the racial makeup in space would look different if our Reality had turned out the way it did in the movie. Anyway, I'm not saying boohiss to it. I'm simply pointing where it goofed. Heck, Star Wars was justifiably criticized for being rather white and male. That was in 1977, only 9 years after 2001. Luckily, in between those two movies, we got Kate Reid as a scientist in The Andromeda Strain.

#701 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2007, 12:06 PM:

(cont'd from 700) ...And, no, that comment about Kate Reid was not sarcastic. Her character was a great one. To me, anyway.

#702 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2007, 12:28 PM:

Peter Irwin (688): Yeah, Solaris is an acquired taste...not that I bet you want to spend a lot of time on it, but it's easier to stomach if you start with other Tarkovsky movies (start with My Name is Ivan, maybe, and then move to Andrey Rublyov) so you can get a feel for the style but still have some occasional...events?...in the movies at the beginning, and watch as he slowly phased out any kind of action. I'm a big fan, can you tell?

And on the discussion of women in 2001: Not having any significant female characters is not necessarily a bad thing. After all, look how bad the men in that movie screwed everything up. And in a movie about militarism and space exploration and bureaucracy, an essentially all-male cast seems to be making a point.

The alleged misogyny of A Clockwork Orange is pretty debatable, too, I think. My impression is that that accusation mostly comes from people who think it's anti-woman to portray rape in any way, which I would disagree with.

And who was it that mentioned the women on board the Enterprise on TOS? Well, I'm still working out the details, but I have a new theory since I've been watching my new TOS DVDs. My theory's called "Gene Roddenberry hated women."

#703 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2007, 12:30 PM:

Oh, and Xopher #693: I'm intrigued now. Well, wouldja lookee what just jumped to the top of the netflix queueueueueueu!

#704 ::: Sajia Kabir ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2007, 01:31 PM:

Ethan at # 702: I think it depends on whether when portraying the rape you're eroticizing it - I haven't seen Clockwork Orange, but I heard it made the rape scene into a song-and-dance no., which I can see a lot of people objecting to. Then again, maybe the pleasure one finds in such scenes is the pleasure in another's suffering that's already part of one's personality. In other words, if you're not already inclined that way, Clockwork Orange won't push you in that direction. Certainly the story doesn't seem to promote the idea that women enjoy rape or that men should be alowed to get away with it.

#705 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2007, 03:33 PM:

Sajia Kabir 704: It is a song-and-dance number, but excrutiatingly not an erotic or pleasant one.

#706 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2007, 07:16 PM:

ethan, I always laugh at your version of queue because I tend to type aluminuminuminuminum.

#707 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2007, 08:25 PM:

...which is funny, Marilee, because I know there's a joke in Terry Pratchett somewhere about knowing how to start spelling a word but not knowing how to stop, and I can't remember if it's queueueueueueue or aluminuminuminum, but I'm pretty sure it's one or the other.

Aluminuminuminuminum is also a lot harder to type than queueueueueueue, so you're clearly more dedicated than I am.

#708 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2007, 11:53 PM:

I don't think Hannah Floyd would have been believable. Astronauts \maybe/ (modulo concerns already raised) -- although the film was supposed to take place 35 years ahead, not the 4-5(?) centuries of Star Trek, so it would have required faster societal changes. Also, IIRC the only women who lasted beyond the ST pilot were not on the command track; and they were crew in a hierarchy, not ~heroic astronauts -- we were supposed to see Poole and Bowman as close successors of Glenn (if not Shepard). But Floyd was a hard-nosed upper-level bureaucrat rather than an individual contributor; the audience at the time mostly didn't know about (e.g.) Grace Hopper.

#709 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2007, 02:17 AM:

Surely Terry Pratchett would have to type "aluminiuminiuminiuminium"?

#710 ::: Peter Erwin ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2007, 03:32 AM:

ethan (#707):
It's "banana" (or "banananana"), and it's Nanny Ogg who isn't sure how to stop spelling it.

Though in her recipe for "Bananana Soup Surprise" in Nanny Ogg's Cookbook, she's remarkably consistent about how she spells it.

#711 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2007, 04:36 AM:

#709 David Goldfarb: I guess that should've clued me in.

#710 Peter Erwin: That's it. I was thinking it was Carrot, for some reason, and I would've sworn it was queue or alumin(i)um, but you're right, of course.

#712 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2007, 05:38 AM:

Compared with Paul McCartney, who spells it "banananananana-nananana".

#713 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2007, 07:58 AM:

Peter Erwin @ #710:

There you see the importance of a good editor.


ethan @ #711:

One of the other times Pratchett used the joke was near the beginning of Guards! Guards!, when Carrot's father is writing the letter of introduction and has to send a messenger to the local witch to ask how one stops spelling "recommendation".

#714 ::: Dave Kuzminski ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2007, 11:15 AM:

Don't recall seeing this mentioned before, but I noticed lately that a number of ads on web pages now disable the scroll wheel when the mouse goes over them so that you have to actually move the mouse to get off of the ad which by then has activated an animated feature or expanded to a larger size.

Argh, I hate it when advertisers aren't satisfied with presenting actual content to inspire consumers to purchase their goods and resort to such tactics to hijack the consumer's time. You'd think they'd realize by now that aggravated consumers are less likely to view their product favorably, much less purchase it.

#715 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2007, 01:52 PM:

Dave @714: I hate it when advertisers aren't satisfied with presenting actual content to inspire consumers to purchase their goods and resort to such tactics to hijack the consumer's time. You'd think they'd realize by now that aggravated consumers are less likely to view their product favorably, much less purchase it.

A few months ago there had been an ad at the Pharyngula site for a History channel feature, so obnoxious that PZ Myers felt compelled to apologize for it (an animation of a tornado which left its adspace on the right margin, and moved into the center of the page). In the comment threads, someone mentioned an ad-blocking Firefox extension (Adblock), which I immediately sought out and installed.

So obnoxious ad behavior inspired me to install counter-measures so I would not be subjected to their ads.

#716 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2007, 08:17 PM:

The WashPost is serializing a reporter's novel online, saying it's "a biblical mystery reminiscent of "The Da Vinci Code.""

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