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Pretty darn good, all things considered.

Got to be a bartender for a Mad Science! themed party. Casey was there, but Andy had to go home to take care of his cat. (Bob was there, too. (It's funny if you read Casey and Andy)). I had a BLAST, but had to call it quits at 2 am, because I had to teach Hebrew school this morning.

So far, other than staffing Massage Den, I've been to Dealer's Row twice, been to a party, and had some meals. And seen, like, eleventy-jillion of my friends. And seen half a panel.
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Just got an email over the shul email list. It's a holiday party. It's a Latke-Pasta bash. To celebrate Hanukkah. And Ramen-dan. Yeah, it's a Jewish/Pastafarian celebration.

The end of the email is a little ASCII Flying Spaghetti Monster.

       _  _(o)_(o)_  _          Flying Spaghetti Monster
   ._.' `:_  ) (  _:' `._.              Wishes You
          / (      )\ `-.            A Very Pasta New Year
      ,-`  _)    (_,                   
</pre?
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So, on Saturday, we took our friend Akiva Fox out to lunch, partially to say thank you to him for getting us the tickets, to the Marlowe plays, partially because Mom gave us money to take Akiva out to lunch, and mainly because we wanted to see him.

He's the literary associate for the Shakespeare Theater Company of Washington DC, which is a fantastic job for someone who's only in his twenties. I mean, the pay -- it's a theater job AND an academic job, so you can imagine just how wealthy he is, but it's a job which is winning him the respect of large chunks of both the academic and theater communities, because He's Just That Good. The whole Marlowe symposium that Lis went to -- and, in fact, the whole idea of opening the new theater building of the Shakespeare Theater Company with Marlowe productions -- that's HIS idea and his baby.

So, anyway, Lis and Akiva and I are at lunch, and Lis and Akiva are talking about how they wish someone would just do the legwork and figure out who ELSE was 21 years old and at Corpus Christi College in 1585. See if you can't get a complete list of how many candidates there are, see if you can't find any information about them. See who else might be the subject of the picture that people like to present as the portrait of Marlowe.

I looked at them, and said, "You realize, of course, that the two of you are both as qualified to do this as anyone else on the planet. And, pretty much the other people on the planet who are qualified to do it -- at least one of you is on a first-name basis with all the other people who could."
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So,. the other day, [livejournal.com profile] temima and I saw the Beowulf movie, in IMAX 3-D.

I'm sure most of you have seen Hal Duncan's review of the movie, and, the thing is, while I cannot find a single thing to disagree with him about, I somehow feel that I enjoyed the movie more than he did.

See, here's the thing: in the movie, everything that, in the poem, somebody else also saw, Beowulf does, more-or-less. Oh, there are changes: Wiglaf, far from being a young warrior in his first battle when he faces the dragon, is Beowulf's oldest friend and comrade-in-arms -- the very first time we see Beowulf, he and Wiglaf are talking. And the battle against the dragon is entirely different. When fighting Grendel, Beowulf manages to wrap a big ol' chain around the monster's arm, and get it around a post, giving him the leverage he needs to rip off the arm, but he DOES rip off the arm and it IS a superhuman feat of strength.

But, the things which nobody but Beowulf sees? Those may be entirely different . . .

Beowulf is always in the company of other warriors, except once -- when he goes in to fight Grendel's mother. So, who's to say that his account is accurate? And that whole bit of the movie is the bit which most people seem to hate most, but which, to me, works the best.

The movie uses the source material of Beowulf to tell a different story than the poem. The movie creates a story from which the poem could have possibly been created -- but it's not the same story. The idea is that the poem is the story that Beowulf is letting people believe -- but it's not, entirely, the true story.

And I find that kind of subversion a lot of fun.
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Lis and I were talking a while back that you could make the Gunpowder Plot into a pretty decent season of a historical version of 24. To fit into the format, you'd have to do some time-compression, fitting events that actually took place over several days into one day, and probably even sticking a couple of even earlier events into the time-line (although I'd start the season with the tunnel under the Houses of Parlament already finished, and having them finish loading the barrels of gunpowder in the first episode.

Also, I don't know what you'd name the main character.

However, "Bauer" is a German surname which seems to mean "peasant farmer" of a particular status. An English surname with approximately the same meaning is "Bond."

Just sayin'.
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At the Yom Kippur break-fast, [livejournal.com profile] ron_newman told us that there's an XKCD meetup tomorrow in North Cambridge. 2:38 PM, at a park in North Cambridge.

See, it's because of the xkcd comic here. It's possible that the correct time is 1438 UST instead of 1438 local time, but most people are going to try to be there at 2:38.

Lis and I are going to try to make it, but if 1300 people from all around t he world show up to squeeze into a tiny little neighborhood park, it's unlikely that we'll actually see anyone SPECIFIC we're looking for.
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Forgot to blog this earlier.

So, yesterday afternoon, the phone rings; I answer it.

"Hello, Uncle Ian."

"Hello, Drew. How are you doing?"

"Uncle Ian, can you do me a favor?"

"Depends what it is. Go ahead and ask."

"Can you answer a question?"

"Sure -- what is it?"

"Why do dragons have gold?"

"I give up -- why do dragons have gold?"

"I don't know. That's why I called."

"OH! I'm sorry. I thought you were asking a riddle. Dragons have gold to sleep on. It's very comfortable for dragons."

"Thank you, Uncle Ian. I love you."

"I love you too, Drew."

His mother, my foster-sister got on the phone then, and explained that Drew and she had been talking, and he'd said that, if HE were a knight, he'd go around and kill dragons and take their gold, and then he started wondering why dragons had gold in the FIRST place. She didn't know; it's not like they ever BUY anything, and so they decided to think of who they knew who WOULD know the answer. After all, they have THIS friend for gardening questions, and they call Leila for marine biology related questions, so they figured that I was the go-to guy for dragon-related stuff.

I'm very grateful to [livejournal.com profile] papersky for writing the book that explained this fact about dragons, so I could enlighten my nephew, who was entirely satisfied by this answer and felt it made perfect sense and explained much.

Drew is now reading on a second or third grade level, and has started reading some of his father's manga. The age-appropriate ones -- the other ones aren't anywhere the kids can get to them.
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Fairies can travel at Mach 49.

Data and assumptions:

In Act II, Scene 1 of Midsummer Night's Dream, when sent on a mission by Oberon, Puck says that he will "put a girdle round about the earth
In forty minutes."

Now, as a girdle goes around the widest point of a person, we can assume that Puck is saying that he can do an equatorial circumnavigation of the Earth in 40 minutes. The equatorial circumference of the earth is pretty darned close to 24900 miles, or 40075 km. (The polar circumference is 40036, by the way. They attempted to define the kilometer as 1/10000 the distance from the equator to the pole, but some error crept in, and they didn't hit it quite. Still, as an off-the-cuff number to remember, "40000 km circumference" is a fine approximation.)

24900 in 40 min is 37350 mph, which is just about Mach 49. Therefore, fairies can travel at Mach 49 sustained for forty minutes.
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James Nicoll has just been presented with the First Annual Award for Existing at Farthing Party. It's a white ceramic bowl which, under black light, shows the hobo sign for "soft touch/nice person." (For the two of you who don't speak hobo, it's a sort of stick figure of a cat.)
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Obviously, there are going to be spoilers here. So here's a cut-tag.
Read more... )
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I can't remember if I mentioned this before, but, if I want to express to a friend the idea that the argument that they are making is going to be too hard for someone else to follow, because the examples and analogies which they are using are obscure, and therefore, to understand the argument, you need to have a whole lot of cultural context in common, and you just can't assume that people HAVE that level of cultural context in common, I just say that all in one word: "Darmok."

I find this vaguely ironic.
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Look, I suppose that if you are an XKCD reader (RSS feed at [livejournal.com profile] xkcd_rss), there's a chance that you'd understand this, too.

But, see, as I was walking home from the store, I started wondering: if you spin Magneto around reasonably fast, does he turn into Static from Static Shock?

(Because, see, Static has control over electricity, and Magneto has control over magnetism, and magnetic fields and electrical fields are the same thing transformed through rotation. . . oh, forget it, it wasn't important anyway.)
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So, [livejournal.com profile] papersky is developing an award to present to [livejournal.com profile] james_nicoll, at her upcoming book-release-party-cum-con, Farthingcon. For various reasons, ranging from "James Nicoll is a cool guy and deserves and award" to "to annoy the annoying Wikipedia editors." Which, naturally, are both good reasons to give James Nicoll an award.

So, Lis and I were talking. . .

IAN: Do you suppose Jo Walton has actually designed the James Nicoll award yet?
LIS: We could mention that we know someone ([livejournal.com profile] sunspiral) who designed and built Hugo bases. What do you think an award for James Nicoll should look like?
IAN: I think it should have pointy bits all over it.
LIS: And a big lens!
IAN: Maybe a lighter stuck in there somewhere.
LIS: And catnip.

Seriously, though, we were thinking that Nerf might be a better route to go. Do we know anyone who does casting of foam rubber?
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So, as all of you who play WoW know, different races dance differently. But have you ever wondered from where Blizzard actually GOT the specific dance moves?

Obviously, this fellow did. And did some research.

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Lis and I saw a preview screening of the movie based on the Neil Gaiman novel based on the Neil Gaiman/Charles Vess comic book Stardust.

Less-than-good stuff in the movie:
The pop song they wrote and played over the closing credits.

Greater-than-good stuff in the movie:
Everything else.
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I mean, let's face it -- both of them are, well, mediocre story-crafters. And the universes they create don't REALLY hold together all that well -- their world-building is, y'know, okay. Their characters are fairly two-dimensional.

But, damn, there's something there. Something about what they create just sticks with you.

What is it?!

I can point to the weaknesses in Star Wars, and in Harry Potter. But that doesn't matter. There's SOMETHING in those that works.

Are there other fictional universes that just, y'know, get you that way? Even if the people who created them are fairly mediocre in their craft?

And what IS it? Can it be learned? I mean, all of you who write for a living -- you've probably asked yourself this question occasionally, too. . .

Is it the same thing for Star Wars and for Harry Potter?
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Doesn't "Jack Chick" sound like the name of a gritty noir two-fisted detective hero?

And doesn't "Doctor Bronner" sound like the name of someone who might be a bad guy he was trying to put away?

It couldn't be a fanfic -- it would have to be a comic. But it would work.

"Yeah, Doc -- your syncretism might fool some of those mooks out there -- but you know as well as I do that it's a one-way ticket to hell. I know what you're up to -- and I'm going to take you down."
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In a discussion on [livejournal.com profile] james_nicoll's lj about Jeeves and Wooster, it was pretty well determined that, in the world of Jeeves and Wooster, neither World War must have happened. They were written post-WWI, and some of them, even post-WWII, but the world is pure Edwardian.

So I was a bit surprised when I was re-reading the 1921 "Jeeves in the Springtime":

"The method which I advocate is what, I believe, the advertisers call Direct Suggestion, sir, consisting as it does of driving an idea home by constant repetition. You may have had some experience of the system?"
"You mean they keep on telling you that some soap or other is the best, and after a bit you come under the influence and charge round the corner and buy a cake?"
"Exactly, sir. The same method was the basis of all the most valuable propaganda during the world war. . . ."


And later, during the same story, as Mr. Little was discussing his cook:

"She has been with me many years, and in all that time I have not known her guilty of a single lapse from the highest standard. Except once, in the winter of 1917, when a purist might have condemned a certain mayonnaise of hers as lacking in creaminess. But one must make allowances. There had been several air-raids about that time, and no doubt the poor woman was shaken. . . . "


So, instead, it seems that World War I, at least, did happen. It just didn't affect anyone.

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