Tuesday, March 29, 2011

"Top 10 cartoon theme songs from the 80's"

Holy mind blank!

During the 1980s I went from the advent of teenagerdom to my virile early 20s, just the demographic for such mindless entertainment. But you know what? I've never heard of any of these shows!

Man, they made a lot of crap back then!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Sweating in space

Did you ever think weightlessness (microgravity) would be cool? That it would be just like regular life but without all that bother of lugging around several scores of bodyflesh pounds with your feet?

Well, it may be cool, but it's not just like regular life, and we're not simply talking about nausea and muscle atrophy. We're talking about changes to fundamental aspects of human existence like how water boils, how fires burn, and how we sweat.

You guessed it -- all that is different in space, and Space.com rounds up six of these differences for you. Fair warning, though, if you ever want to go to space: One of these differences is actually quite dangerous.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

What I listened to today ...

... that I hadn't listened to in a very long time.

I was first exposed to Joaquin Rodrigo's Concierto de Aranjuez by my parents. They had an album of it when I was very young, and I used to listen to it quite a bit, even before I really got into classical music. It's lovely, and it's beautiful. And I don't think I will ever tire of it. Though the recording I currently have isn't the best, it'll do. At least until I can find another performance that is as good as my parents' old album.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Pull tab evening

Remember this?

If I remember correctly, it was in the mid-1980s when they started to phase out pull tabs on aluminum beer and soda cans. So this thing had been hanging around by that pond for about 25 years before I found it just sitting nicely on the dirt next to a tuft of grass last week.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

What I just finished reading

I love this book, too, just as much as Foundation, the first book in the trilogy. Like its predecessor, Foundation and Empire is a very well-written novel with realistic dialogue and intense descriptions of characters and their reactions to the events surrounding them. Take the following passage, for example. In it, General Bel Riose, the last great military figure of the fading galactic Empire, has just captured Lathan Devers, a trader from the Foundation. Riose is accompanied by Ducem Barr, an old, failed revolutionary, and the general is telling Devers about his plans to attack and defeat the Foundation and its associated worlds.
And Barr spoke for the first time, mildly, "You are so confident then that the Foundation will win?"

The trader turned. He flushed faintly and an old scar on one temple showed whitely, "Hm-m-m, the silent partner. How'd you squeeze that out of what I said, doc?"

Riose nodded very slightly at Barr, and the Siwennian continued in a low voice, "Because the notion would bother you if you thought your world might lose this war, and suffer the bitter reapings of defeat, I know. My world once did, and still does."

Lathan Devers fumbled his beard, looked from one of his opponents to the other, then laughed shortly. "Does he always talk like that, boss? Listen," he grew serious, "what's defeat? I've seen wars and I've seen defeats. What if the winner does take over? Who's bothered? Me? Guys like me?" He shook his head in derision.

"Get this," the trader spoke forcefully and earnestly, "there are five or six fat slobs who usually run an average planet. They get the rabbit punch, but I'm not losing peace of mind over them. See. The people? The ordinary run of the guys? Sure, some get killed, and the rest pay extra taxes for a while. But it settles itself out; it runs itself down. And then it's the old situation again with a different five or six."

Ducem Barr's nostrils flared, and the tendons of his old right hand jerked; but he said nothing.

Lathan Devers' eyes were on him. They missed nothing. He said, "Look. I spend my life in space for my five-and-dime gadgets and my beer-and-pretzel kickback from the Combines. There's fat fellows back there," his thumb jerked over his shoulder and back, "that sit home and collect my year's income every minute----out of the skimmings from me and more like me. Suppose you run the Foundation. You'll still need us. You'll need us more than ever the Combines do----because you'd not know your way around, and we could bring in the hard cash. We'd make a better deal with the Empire. Yes, we would; and I'm a man of business. If it adds up to a plus mark, I'm for it."

And he stared at the two with sardonic belligerence.
That passage is from the first part of the book, which relates Bel Riose's efforts to defeat the Foundation and solidify his own influence in what remains of the Empire. The second part of the book takes place one hundred years later and covers the rise of the immensely powerful and freakishly successful conqueror known as The Mule. Though the two stories are essentially independent of each other, both are well told, and together they make a good read.

In my post on Foundation I mentioned that when I get into a novel I like to cast the roles using real actors. I did the same here. For the role of Bel Riose I cast Ewan McGregor, and I pictured him as his Obi Wan Kenobi character in The Attack of the Clones, except with a smarter military uniform and better dialogue. For Lathan Devers, I cast Robert Downey, Jr.

In the second part of the book I had more fun with the roles. Following Alan's suggestion in the comments of the other post I cast ----




---- Emo Phillips as The Mule. His character worked great in the Magnifico disguise, and it even seemed to fit with The Mule after he revealed his true identity.

For the character of Bayta Darell I pictured Teresa Strasser, for her husband Toran I cast Seth Rogen, and for the mad psychologist Ebling Mis I had in mind a disheveled Brent Spiner (that was easy!). But I had a hard time picturing somebody for the part of Captain Han Pritcher, a Foundation loyalist who is forcibly turned to The Mule's cause but is surprisingly fine with it when he realizes why he has switched sides. At first I thought about Jason Carter, but that didn't feel right. Then I considered Kyle McLachlan, but he didn't fit the dialogue. And then I decided to challenge myself: I settled on Hayden Christensen.

I know. Boring, wooden Hayden Christensen who sucked as Anakin Skywalker is bound to be a failure as the driven and dedicated intelligence agent, Han Pritcher, right? Wrong! It seemed to work. Picturing him a bit older and freed of the crappy dialogue written by George Lucas seemed to work, and he fit fine in the role of Pritcher.

But, I could go on, and it's getting late. I will wrap up by saying I fully intend to read the next book in the series, Second Foundation, soon. I hope I have the spare time to do it.

Review of Foundation here.
Review of Second Foundation here.

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Ten random Wikipedia pages

I haven't done this in a while, so let's take the time once again to let Wikipedia determine what it will teach us today.

1. Cuban Amazon
The Cuban Amazon, Amazona leucocephala, also known as Cuban Parrot or the Rose-throated Parrot, is a medium-sized mainly green parrot found in woodlands and dry forests of Cuba, the Bahamas and Cayman Islands in the Caribbean.

2. Indeungsan
Indeungsan is a mountain of South Korea. It has an altitude of 666 metres. [It wouldn't be so evil if it were in English units. ----ed.]

3. Bruno Bischofberger
Bruno Bischofberger (born 1940) is an art dealer and gallerist from Zurich, Switzerland, and a major figure in the international art market for several decades.

4. Charles Evans Hughes House
Charles Evans Hughes House is a historic home located at 2223 R Street, NW in the Sheridan-Kalorama neighborhood of Washington, D.C..

5. Mare Nostrum (film)
Mare Nostrum (1926) is a silent film set during World War I.

6. John Toland (author)
John Willard Toland (June 29, 1912 in La Crosse, Wisconsin - January 4, 2004 in Danbury, Connecticut[1]) was an American author and historian.

7. Striagrotis
Striagrotis is a genus of moths of the Noctuidae family.

8. Interference: Book One
Interference: Book One (subtitled Shock Tactic) is an original novel written by Lawrence Miles and based on the long-running British science fiction television series Doctor Who.

9. Lane Lambert
Lane Douglas Lambert (born November 18, 1964 in Melfort, Saskatchewan) is a retired Canadian professional ice hockey forward drafted 25th overall in the 2nd round of the 1983 NHL Entry Draft.

10. Lycaena helle
The Violet Copper (Lycaena helle) is a butterfly of the Lycaenidae family.

Hm. A moth and a butterfly. And a hockey player who played for the Red Wings. And a bird, which of course has wings. What can Wikipedia be trying to tell me?

I'm just glad this didn't come up in the rotation.