Archives

Literature, Books, TV

But did you pay the IRON PRICE?

If you've read far enough in George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire you've probably met Theon Greyjoy's people, the iron islanders. The iron isolanders feature more prominently in A Feast for Crows and A Dance With Dragons, if I remember correctly. Theon's...

J.D. Salinger’s “Ocean Full of Bowling Balls” has been leaked

Four years ago (!) I wrote a post about hard to find, unpublished short stories by J.D. Salinger, including his short story "The Ocean Full of Bowling Balls." Since then I've taught a few English Lit courses that have had several of Salinger's short stories and...

Joe Hill’s NOS4A2: Creativity, Inscape, and Horror

Joe Hill has a new book out, and it’s filled with references to his father, Stephen King, to David Mitchell, and to Gerard Manley Hopkins (and to others, I’m sure). Although the references to Mitchell are somehow the most surprising to me, it’s the references to...

Mad Men and Desire

I've been re-binging through AMC's Mad Men. I caught up, having missed the last season and a half, and then decided to hell with it--I'll just start over. Watching it now, I think the interplay between desire and condemnation in Mad Men is really where a lot of the...

John Grisham’s Calico Joe

I finished up reading John Grisham's Calico Joe last night. It was a very quick read. Was it good? Yeah, it was pretty good. But what struck me is that it was just so goddamn *readable*. I bought the book because I had a flat tire on Sunday, and I desperately needed...

First seasons of TV shows without *that* character

Ever begin a binge through a TV show that you haven't watched in a long time, only to realize, Hey, wait -- what? OH RIGHT. That guy wasn't on the first season! Weird. Well, I've noticed that a lot. And it is really weird. Just look at all these shows: The first...

“Story of Your Life” by Ted Chiang

I just read "Story of Your Life" by Ted Chiang. You can find it here: Stories of Your Life and Others. The Kindle version is $7.69. It's really good. It's reminded me (somewhat) of that Star Trek: The Next Generation Episode, "Darmok,"...

Total Recall (dir. Paul Verhoeven)

Boy, Total Recall (1990) is actually a lot weirder than I remember it. This is probably because, as a kid, I often caught bits and pieces of it on TV, so I rarely (if ever) watched it straight through, and whatever I did watch was an edited-for-TV version. The mixture...

The Grey (dir. Joe Carnahan)

The Grey (2012) is far better than I would have thought. The quote on the DVD box -- "Terrifically exciting! Hold on tight! It's a true call of the wild!" -- really doesn't do justice to the film. You know how when you finally get around to seeing the original Rocky...

Stargate SG-1: It’s a sitcom

I've been binging through Stargate SG-1 recently, and my theory is that the show is secretly a sitcom. The sci-fi ideas in the show are not that innovative; some of the plot lines are quite bad; the effects are definitely not anything to write home about; the villains...

Some audiobooks and other audio stuff

Simon Prebble's reading of Susanna Clarke's Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell is quite good. I've been listening to it on my runs and while I'm doing mindless tasks like making dinner or cleaning. The Literary Theory course by Paul Fry from Yale (on iTunesU) is also...

Drive (dir. Nicolas Winding Refn)

I liked this movie. (Maybe from now on I'll just post "hey, here's a thing I liked." Huzzah for low-content posts.) This was my favourite exchange: The Driver (Ryan Gosling) and Benicio (Kaden Leos) are watching cartoons while Irene (Carey Mulligan) gets ready. The...

Cats and the phatic function of language

In Linguistics and Poetics, Roman Jakobson describes six functions of language. The phatic function of language is language whose function is essentially contact, language for the sake of language, regardless of signification. Anyone who owns a cat understands the...

Hey, so David Mitchell is really ****ing good

Yeah, that's all, really. I read The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet awhile back, and it was excellent. And then everyone I talked to about it said, "Have you read Cloud Atlas?? Read Cloud Atlas next! Do it! Read Cloud Atlas!" (By "everyone" I mean four people. But...

Point of View, Subjectivity, and Otherness in A Song of Ice and Fire

(Note that at the time of writing this post, only four books have been released in what is expected to be a seven-book series. Also note that there are some spoilers towards the end of this post, which I've indicated with a rather prominent warning.) One of the unique...

The Passage by Justin Cronin

I am not a fan of the vampire craze in today's media, because I think that vampires are being horribly misused. Being bitten by a vampire should be a very bad thing, not simply the means by which one gets a fun superpower. If you want to write about vampires, you can...

Bright Star (dir. Jane Campion)

"A poem needs understanding through the senses. The point of diving in the lake is not immediately to swim to the shore, but to be in the lake, to luxuriate in the sensation of water. You do no work the lake out. It is an experience beyond thought. Poetry soothens and...

Sir Walter Scott’s Ivanhoe and Real-Life Trial by Combat

I'm studying Ivanhoe right now, and I came across some interesting articles about the book and its connection to a real-life trial by combat... in 1817. So I thought I would blog about the details, because though I think it is really interesting it will probably never...

Writing habits pt. 1: Anthony Trollope

I started a post comparing the writing habits of Anthony Trollope, Charles Dickens, and Ernest Hemingway, but I found that for each writer the most interesting theme about their writing was unique to them. Trollope is a machine. Dickens is concerned primarily with his...

Advantages of ebooks (in an ideal world)

So I got to wondering what would happen if ebook publishers somehow had a bunch of money to make ebooks really awesome (instead of kind of lame, poorly formatted, and with limiting DRMs). What would some of the advantages of ebooks be in an ideal world? Email your...

Unpublished, hard-to-find short stories by J.D. Salinger

Back in high school, one of my English teachers gave us "Teddy" by J.D. Salinger to read and then talk about in class, and at the end of the term he put Salinger's "A Perfect Day for Bananafish" on the final exam. (And on a high school English lit final that's just...

Workflow or Productivity

Fix iStat Nano or iStat Pro Processes in Mountain Lion

Okay, I lied in my title. If you have iStat Nano, you have to switch to iStat Pro for this fix. Don't worry: it's freeware. Anyways, the point is, if you've used the iStat Nano or the iStat Pro Dashboard Widget to check on your Mac's system processes in the past, and...

On reading speed and retention

You know how in sci fi, a character gets some alien implant that dramatically increases their reading speed, and then they can blitz through a book about some subject they've never encountered before, and can instantly sum up the book's argument and remember every...

The Pomodoro Technique

I've recently found the Pomodoro technique pretty useful for increasing my studying/reading productivity, with regards to my studying for my comps. Basically, you work for 25 minutes, take a 5 minute break, then repeat the cycle. After four of these, you take a longer...

Herp Derp Youtube Comments

"Herp Derp" is a good extension. Here's a visual which I shamelessly stole from the Herp Derp website: The extension is useful, obviously, because YouTube comments are just all-around terrible, but more importantly, it prevents spoilers, like if you want...

Writing and Studying, Writing to Study

Jay Dolmage’s (relatively) recent blog post about Learning by Writing seemed to me quite on the mark, especially with regards to some of ways in which I’ve been toying around with my own study habits. I’m studying for my reading exams right now, and I’ve been finding...

Don’t change your printer’s toner when it tells you to

Two months ago my printer (an HP-2170W Laser Printer) told me it refused to print anymore pages. It told me I was out of toner and I had to replace the cartridge. But it was lying to me - there was plenty of toner left. In fact, since that time, I have printed...

Recipes

Serious Chocolate Chip Cookies with Walnuts

This is a recipe for chocolate chip cookies, I guess, but it's a really fancy recipe and takes a lot of time to do. You have to brown a bunch of butter, and toast a bunch of walnuts, and refrigerate the dough, and blah blah blah. But it's all worth it, though, because...

Banana Bread with Streusel Topping

The recipe is an amalgamation of two recipes. The banana bread recipe comes from here at Recipe Zaar. It uses sour cream. I already had another banana bread recipe, but I wanted to try something new. I adapted the recipe a bit to include chocolate chips. And because...

Soft and Chewy Oreo Cookie Cookies

A long time ago I came across this Chocolate Chip Oreo Cookie Recipe at Two Peas and Their Pod. The recipe was good, but it was mostly a chocolate chip cookie with a few chunks of Oreos in each cookie (which, indeed, is a perfectly fine idea for a cookie). But I...

Old-Fashioned Oatmeal Cookies (thin and buttery)

It took me a surprisingly long time to find an oatmeal cookie recipe that I wanted to try (about 10 minutes, which is practically forever if we're talking about "Google time"). I just wanted plain, thin, and buttery oatmeal cookies. I finally adapted a Chewy Chocolate...

Simple Blondies

I mentioned in my Simple Brownies post that I was more of a blondie man than a brownie man. Thus, a blondie recipe. This blondie recipe is simple and pretty much impossible to screw up. I don't really try other blondie recipes (much), because this is all you need....

Simple Brownies

I am more of a blondie man than a brownie man, myself, but my girlfriend likes brownies. So here are some brownies. I got this brownie recipe from Cookie Madness. My criteria when searching for this recipe was that it had to use an 8x8 or 9x9 pan, it had to be...

Banana Bread with Walnuts and Chocolate Chips

I still haven't discovered anything worth putting on a good banana bread. Butter, peanut butter, Nutella--all of these fail to improve upon that which is perfect. Although I have found that Banana Bread is a good bread for French Toast, even if it is a quick bread...

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

Here's the original recipe from Recipe Zaar, which is apparently taken from the Toronto Star, and they apparently got it from... Barbara Bush. Say what you will about the 43rd president of the United States--his mom makes a pretty darn good oatmeal chocolate chip...

Chocolate Chip Cookies (using cream of tartar)

I got this Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe from a blog called A Pookie Pantry. It appears to be this AllRecipes version, but with the addition of cream of tartar to the cookies. I bought the cream of tartar for like three bucks then realized that I only needed about 1/4...

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Coconut Cookie Mix Cookies

The title of this post is the hardest thing about making these cookies. The recipe is easy because there is very little measuring. I basically played with the measurements of the ingredients, and added coconut and more chocolate chips. I increased the butter a bit...

Peanut Butter and Chocolate Chip Cookies

I like cookies soft, and most Peanut Butter Cookies do not fulfill this criteria. Too much peanut butter seems to mess up the consistency... yet the actual taste of peanut butter is so good. These cookies are my solution. The taste of peanut butter is not...

Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup Cheesecake

Fact: Peanut butter is the best thing that exists. When I was in Europe almost no one I talked to had tried peanut butter. The one person I talked to about peanut butter who had tried it thought it was really weird and not very good. For breakfast people would give me...

Giant Chocolate Chip Cookies

This cookie is great because it is chocolate chip and it is huge. I would compare it in size to a hockey puck. I got the recipe from here at vanilla sugar, but I took out the nuts, added an ounce of chocolate, and also ground some of the chocolate before adding it to...

Just Jokes

Five Scary Things

Here are the five "most scariest" things I can think of: Sam Neill with no eyeballs Sam Neill with eyeballs made of hellfire Sam Neill with his face all scratched up, and also he is saying ominous things a hole in space-time with Sam Neill in it Laurence Fishburne...

Holden Caulfield Offers Some Random Thoughts About Battlestar Galactica

All those Cylons, they’re just a bunch of phonies. What’s their “plan,” anyways, for God’s sake? They don’t have a plan. Every time the pilots walk in and out of the ready room they touch this black and white photo of a viper pilot on his goddamn knees or something....

My genius idea for a House reboot

My idea for a House reboot is actually just House, but every character (except the patient of the week) is literally House. It's never explained why the different copies of House exist, or why they have to take on different roles on the team or in the hospital, or why...

Some Unfinished Lists

SCARY THINGS 1. Sharks that shoot guns. 2. Guns that shoot sharks (!). 3. Sharks that fly and shoot lasers out of their eyes and steal drugs and carry smaller sharks and 4. BAD METAPHORS 1. A gun that cuts right to the truth. 2. A flower that smells like a different...

Ideas for Happy Stories

A mail man and a dog learn to set aside their differences, and together they raise $10,000 for charity. When a suicidal, divorced mathematician thinks life can't get any worse, he stumbles upon a time machine, goes back in time, and watches his parents fall in love....

If you go to an alternate universe…

...and meet the alternate version of your significant other, are you allowed to make a move? I think this is the kind of thing you should decide on with your spouse beforehand. You know, like in some kind of formal contract.

The laziest movie pitch

Alright, so picture this: a kid gets his face eaten and then there's a big investigation. And... uh, well that's it.

Confessions of a Sleazy English Professor

I've had tenure for awhile now, but I've only recently found the courage to teach my "Graphic Novels as Literature" course. And by "Graphic Novels as Literature," I mean a couple old issues of Amazing Spider-Man I found in my basement, where Spider-Man fights the...

Two Victorian gentlemen enjoy the effects of opium

GENTLEMAN 1: What! What! Eh... eh, oh, by God! By God! GENTLEMAN 2: Great Scott! My face is positively melting! (He begins clawing at his face.) GENTLEMAN 1: By... God! GENTLEMAN 2: (pointing) And so is yours! GENTLEMAN 1: By... God! (Outside, an over-dressed fop with...

An alien writes haikus about his trip to Earth

1. Saw an Earth movie today--what a twist! "Rosebud" was only his sled. 2. Man, don't fajitas taste so good? I think I will spare this weak planet. 3. Meet the President? To heck with that--I want to go to Disney World. 4. Don't mind me: I'm just testing my new...

Dear Mr. Director of Wildlife Canada, sir

Dear Mr. Director of Wildlife Canada, sir, I think you should know that the underground world of "Moose vs. Gravity" has really taken off, and if you are interested in this highly lucrative opportunity, all I need is a few more moose to replace the ones that have...

Real life Superman origin

As the doomed planet Krypton meets its end, Kal-el's parents make a quick decision: they place their beloved son into a small space pod and send him off into space. He floats off into the darkness--forever.

Some ideas

Little helmets and scuba gear so that bees can go underwater. A flashlight that turns on and off really fast, so that when you point it at something, that thing becomes the object of a disco. A game called "Dance Rules Revolution," in which long, boring rules for...

This is it

This is it. What is 'it'? All I can tell you is what it isn't. I can tell you that it won't be pretty. It won't be anything like some fancy Renaissance painting, or a three-year-old's drawing of a flower. It won't be like some super advanced alien starship design that...