Mad Times

“To be sane in a mad time is bad for the brain, worse for the heart.” – Wendell Berry

February 5th, 2013 at 11:56 pm

Science Fiction and Fantasy Short Film Festival 2013

I found full or nearly full versions of seven of the 21 films at this year’s fest. And trailers for all the rest.

All the films were good at some level. Of the ones with full versions below, my favorites were:

Click on for lots of embedded videos

June 28th, 2012 at 5:02 pm

ebooks on KCLS

So KCLS recently asked their Facebook friends to share how easy it is for people to “download FREE eBooks to their favorite gadget”.

“Easy” is not the word I’d use. Here’s an example. Say you wanted to get the ebook of George R. R. Martin’s insanely popular book A Game of Thrones.

Click on for lots of details about the process

April 13th, 2012 at 10:31 pm

Hammering Man

Hammering Man

I made this animated gif in a new iOS app called Jittergram. This was the first one I tried to post directly to twitter from the app. The tweet went up, but the link it used to the jittergram site doesn’t include the image, alas. Fortunately I also mailed it to myself.

I tried to post it to my tumblr (since that’s where animated gifs belong), but since it’s over a megabyte (just) they resized it when I posted it and broke the animation in the process. Sigh. Technology.

February 13th, 2012 at 9:15 pm

Science Fiction and Fantasy Short Film Fest 2012

Hard to believe we’ve been going to these for seven years now.

You can see a list of all of this year’s films on the EMP SFFSFF page

Looking at the thumbnails on that page you might think like I did that there was less animated fare this year. This isn’t actually the case. What was different, though, was the number of films with mixed live action and cgi.

I went hunting to see how many of the entries I could find for viewing online. Here they are:

Click on for lots of embedded videos

January 2nd, 2010 at 3:12 pm

2009 media review

Well, the blog has gone dormant here as I’m sure you’ve noticed if you’re still paying enough attention (hopefully via RSS!) to notice this post going up. Here’s a retrospective of our year in movies.

What about books? Well, I’ve still been keeping track of my reading, but I’ve been doing it over at goodreads.com. You can see what I’m reading and what I have read over here.

Okay, so movies. There are only 55 here. At that rate it will take us about 18 years to watch everything in our netflix queue assuming we stop adding stuff now. We need to ramp up. Anyway, here’s what we watched and what we thought. In the Notes field, T means we saw it in the theater, B means only Becky watched it, J means only I did, and other letters mean we watched it with other people with those initials. Our star system goes from * for “don’t bother” to **** for “don’t miss” with plus signs indicating half-stars.

Rating Title Notes
**** Hairspray
**** Milk
**** Rachel Getting Married T
***+ Chungking Express
***+ Star Trek T R
***+ Star Trek T (imax)
***+ Summer Hours T w/ L&A
***+ Up T 3D
*** Avatar T K&E
*** Away We Go
*** Burn After Reading
*** Confessions of a Dangerous Mind
*** Dedication
*** Frost/Nixon
*** Ghost Town
*** Girl in the Cafe, The
*** In Bruges
*** Iris
*** It Happened One Night B
*** It's a Wonderful Life
*** Julie & Julia
*** Jump Tomorrow
*** Kitchen Stories
*** Lost In Austen
*** Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle
*** Reader, The
*** Rocket Science
*** Secret Life of Bees, The
*** Sunshine Cleaning
*** Synechdoche, NY
*** WALL-E
**+ 10mph J
**+ Appaloosa
**+ Brothers Bloom, The
**+ Choke
**+ Christmas In Connecticut B
**+ Domino J
**+ Duplicity
**+ Hellboy II: The Golden Army
**+ Humboldt County
**+ Interview
**+ Latter Days
**+ Nick and Nora's Infinite Playlist
**+ Notorious Bettie Page, The
**+ Paper Heart
**+ Quantum of Solace
**+ Vicky Christina Barcelona
**+ Wanted
**+ Winged Migration
**+ Zack and Miri Make a Porno
** 50 First Dates
** Big Bad Swim, The J
** Coraline
** Proposal, The
** Talladega Nights
*+ Fantastic Four 2: Rise of the Silver Surfer J
*+ Mamma Mia B

Edited to add a few things we forgot to enter

We also watched a bunch of TV on DVD, most notably, the whole run of Gilmore Girls, a couple seasons of The Wire, True Blood, Castle. Becky watched Dexter and Weeds and Desperate Housewives and Mad Men, I watched Criminal Minds and Wire in the Blood and started Farscape. And we’re working our way through Buffy again.

November 26th, 2009 at 6:50 pm

Mashed sweet potato brûlée

Based on Mark Bittman’s recipe in How to Cook Everything, this was a big hit in this year’s thanksgiving feast.

1-1/2 to 2 pounds sweet potatoes
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 dash nutmeg
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp finely ground pepper
4 Tbs butter
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
3/4 cup brown sugar

Cook the sweet potatoes however you like. I prick them with a knife and bake them in a 400F oven for an hour or so. Scoop the potatoes out of their skins into a bowl and mash them up. Add the spices and butter. Quantities are all to taste. I didn’t measure them. Mash some more. Spread the mash in a gratin pan. Whatever that is. I used a casserole dish. You want them to have a fair amount of surface area, so whatever you’ve got that will result in an inch or two of potatoes when they’re spread out. Sprinkle the nuts across the surface of the potatoes and bake back in that 400F oven until it’s hot and thinking about being golden. Don’t obsess. 15-20 minutes should do it. Finally, sprinkle enough brown sugar to lightly cover the whole dish, then put that about 4 inches under your broiler until it bubbles up and melts. If a few patches singe, that’s okay. Keep an eye on it, it doesn’t take more than a minute to get there. Take it out of the oven, let it cool off a little, and serve it up to accolades.

October 25th, 2009 at 2:58 pm

Lost gloves for sale

I got a nice email from a fellow in the UK recently pointing me at his groovy new web store where they’re selling random pairs of found gloves to benefit the non-profit Green Thing. Both the store and the non-profit are pretty neat. Check them out!

August 7th, 2009 at 11:14 pm

the Cyclist’s Manifesto by Robert Hurst

Hurst writes about bikes as they fit into mostly US history, and mostly as they pertain to transportation. I don’t really have a head for history, but Hurst brings out those little ironic or amazing details that make history fun and memorable.

The “Manifesto” part of the title comes in when he debunks practically every article of faith on both sides of the car vs. bike debates. And I love him for it. He disses bike lanes and vehicular cyclists. Points out that cycling is a little more life-threatening than driving (per passenger mile) and ridicules the US helmet cult. The myths fall right and left. “The more cyclists there are the safer it gets,” a recent clarion cry of us advocates, looks a lot less plausible after Hurst gets done with it.

You might get mad at someone so aggressively goring your sacred cows (if you’ll pardon the mixed metaphor), but he also writes with such humility and humor that I, at least, found him more charming than annoying. I had to chuckle out loud every few pages, and I don’t find that very often with books about transportation policy.

Finally, his recipe for fixing what’s wrong with transportation is almost absurdly simple: “Drive less.” But rather than just prescribe the diet, he makes a strong case for why you probably want to drive less anyway.

I read this from my local library, but I’ll be buying a copy to refer back to and to share with my friends.

August 3rd, 2009 at 5:53 pm

Bike adventures

I mean the title on this post rather more literally than usual. My bike went on an adventure without me when my friend and local bike culture luminary Kent Peterson borrowed it back in July to mark part of the course for the Seattle Century.

Read his account here. And if you have problems with the embedded slide show like I do, you can see Kent’s pictures here.

July 13th, 2009 at 2:48 am

Visible Light by C.J. Cherryh

I started digging through the boxes of paperbacks that have been sadly relegated to the back of our closet for a couple of years since there’s no space in the bookshelves. I’ve been sorting them into “keep”, “to read”, and “pass on” piles and this is the first one I’ve read all the way through from the “to read” pile.

Visible Light is a collection of fantasy and science fiction short stories by Ms. Cherryh. They are surrounded by bits of a framing tale that has the author accompanying a reader on a routine commercial space flight whose long periods of boredom allow the two to discuss the stories in a sort of Platonic dialogue.

In “Cassandra”, afflicted by visions of destruction who thinks herself crazy finds to her dismay that she is not.

“The Threads of Time” explores what happens when time travel causes history to unravel.

“Companions” shows a mission to a planet rich in vegetation, but lacking any sort of motile or intelligent life. An unknown and mysterious plague takes the lives of all but one of the crew and he carries on with only the ship’s AI for company. Unless they were wrong about the lack of intelligent life.

“A Thief in Corianth” is a fairly standard swashbuckling fantasy only the thief is a woman, but one who operates mostly within the limitations of women in the standard pseudo-middle ages fantasy setting.

“The Last Tower” is a short short about the end of a war.

“The Brothers” is a Campbellian hero’s journey with some satisfying twists and appropriately tricksy fae.

The stories shared in my mind a distant and melancholy tone, but all of them have rich metaphorical grounds that echo off real life in interesting ways.

output here