Wednesday, February 27, 2008


So, imagine my surprise yesterday when the lil man from the Post Awful drives up with a big package, which I just assume is something that Peggy ordered until I look at the label. "Think Geek?" I think to myself. "Where do I know that name from?"

And then I see that it's addressed c/o me to "Jack Bals" at "the fhb blog" and I start laughing.

"Yeah, crewman. Just go back behind that rock there while Bones, Spock and I go in the other direction, okay?"


"He's dead, Jim."



Thursday, February 21, 2008

For the Inner Geek

In the Star Trek universe, the Red Shirt is the phase-cannon fodder obliterated on screen to alert the audience to the danger of the situation. It's Roddenberry proclaiming, "We could have just killed one of the characters you cared about!" The Red Shirt is a sci-fi idiom for the anonymous, the expendable, the smoking boots behind a boulder. We've printed that word, "Expendable," in a Trekish font on a red 50% polyester/50% cotton jersey ringer with black rib-knit collar and cuffs.

Just don't stand next to us when you wear that thing.

via ThinkGeek: from $12.99. I think this one will be on the "Buy" list once I start think about wearing "Ts" again.

Staying Cool

A great idea from Kevin Kelley over at Cool Tools:

When it came to music, I was an old fogie. I had a shelf full of Bob Dylan, Allman Brothers, Brian Eno, and more Bob Dylan. You know, old guy's music. I actually liked a lot of the new popular music I overheard, I was just not up on it. Didn't know what was what. Recently I've found two tools to keep me current with great contemporary music that wasn't just top 40. My iPod is now full of some pretty hip music, which I thoroughly enjoy.

Here's what works for me. At my birthday or Christmas, I request as my only present that my kids, nieces and nephews burn me a disc of their favorite music in the last year, or so. It is an easy gift for them to make, and a great learning experience for me. The few tracks I can't stand, I just delete. The stuff I love I seek out on iTunes to purchase more of. From this I get the fashionable tunes.

This trick actually works even better with kids not your own. When I am traveling overseas I ask students who befriend me to burn me a CD of their favorite local tunes, and boy does this beckon forth some great unknown stuff. I landed some lovely Polish rock this way. I've learned to not be bashful asking because everyone loves to share their favorites. The main thing is to not ask your friends; they think too much like you. Instead you want the "other-ness" from fans in other lands and other generations. In my experience this method works better than following random play lists on iTunes, or random recommendations on Amazon. The winnowing process to burn to a CD is more selective, and perhaps because it is being made for a specific person -- me -- it is, well, more personalized.
Matt, Dan, Mimi, et al; you now know what I want the next time you want to give your ol' fogey relative something for his birthday or Christmas.

WATCHMEN Movie in Jeopardy?

The curse apparently continues:

20th Century Fox is seeking an injunction to stop production of "Watchmen" until its rights dispute with Warner Bros. is cleared up, the movie's March 2009 release date may be in jeopardy...
via Brainiac

Star Trek Meets Jefferson Airplane

For all the cat walking on the piano; let's blow up a mail box; chocolate rain crap on YouTube, you get the occasional moment of brilliance, like this. "Feed your head" indeed.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Are You Connected to Mountaintop Removal?

Mountaintop removal is a radical form of coal mining where entire mountains are literally blown up. This new web tool at allows you to see how your power company is connected to coal mined through mountaintop removal.

Zip code 03054: Merrimack, NH

You are connected to mountaintop removal. Your electricity provider, Public Service Co of NH, buys coal from companies engaged in mountaintop removal

The story of Kirk, West Virginia, is one of many that are connected to the power plants on your grid, which are marked on the map below.

The mountaintop removal mines shown in red are connected to the nearest coal power plant on your grid: Merrimack, operated by Public Service Co of NH.

Click on the mine symbols to get a closer look, or click here for a detailed explanation.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Poetry Hour with Your Host, The Hulk

Even here -- even in peaceful forest -- they will not leave Hulk alone!
Wherever Hulk goes, enemies follow him -- try to hurt him!
Why? Hulk does not know! All Hulk does know is --
When enemies attack, Hulk fights back -- and smashes -- HUH?
Is not enemy -- is tree! Hulk is attacked by -- tree??
Wha --? Now other trees attack Hulk -- and rocks -- flying rocks!
Hulk is confused -- doesn't understand!
Hulk LIKED trees. Hulk LIKED rocks.
Hulk thought they were his friends -- Hulk's ONLY friends --
But if peaceful forest attacks Hulk, too -- then Hulk has no friends --
and Hulk will crush anything that gets in Hulk's way!
Do you hear Hulk, rocks?
Do you hear Hulk, trees?
Leave Hulk ALONE -- or Hulk will make you REGRET it! - Len Wein DEFENDERS issue, #12, February 1973.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

WGA Strike News

I still have the lil' " AMPTP walk out" banner at the top of the blog, but I'm hopeful I'll be taking it down soon. It some ways it's a false flag because, as you know if you've been following the news, the AMPTP and WGA negotiators have been in "informal" discussions since the past weekend, and rumors are rife that they're close to agreement on a new contract.

But rumors are just rumors, as Mark Evanier notes, and we'll have to wait and see. According to Mark, "The Writers Guild is convening an 'informational meeting' for Saturday evening at the Shrine Auditorium," which he opins is a message to the Evil Empite to the effect, "Hey, we're bringing the whole membership in...and on a Saturday evening, no less. It would be in your best interest for us to have a deal by then which we can enthusiastically recommend to the membership."

One can hope. I haven't felt the withdrawal pain as keenly as I had imagined, thanks to the intermittent but always welcome Medium, the start of new seasons of Torchwood and Dr. Who on BBC America, and the surprisingly good Sarah Connor Chronicles which is currently running on 24's Fox slot. I kind of miss 24, but last season was sooooo bad that giving it a year's rest might be the best thing for our long-term relationship. And I kind of miss Heroes, but not as much as I thought I would. Heroes seems to be like the nut dish of TV. You'll sample it until the bowl is empty when it's around, but you don't think about it when it's not there.

It's a good thing I'm not on the WGA negotiating team. I wouldn't come off strike until the AMPTP promised to put the full season of Day Break on DVD. I'm still pissed about that.

Patti Smith @ the Smithsonian Archives of American Art

"I felt I should be able to do something at the Smithsonian, being a Smith." - Patti Smith

Smith was at the Nan Tucker McEvoy Auditorium at the Smithsonian's Archive's of American Art this past weekend, in promotion of a new book the Archives are publishing, With Love, a collection of letters between artists and their loved ones.

The letters, which ranged from funny to quirky to heartbreaking, discussed love by way of art, or art by way of love. The letters she read were all notable, but it was her asides and introductions that really made the evening. Like the way she described the artist Joan Mitchell, before reading her letter to lover Michael Goldberg. "Certain broads just know how to smoke a cigarette. I know we're not supposed to admire it." That particular letter was read with such personal, casual colloquialism that it sounded as if Smith herself had written it. "I'm drinkin' the beer you left me on the winah' sill. And I'm kissin you. I do this all the time." As you might expect, she discussed letters as a lost art — their beauty being in their "paper, the handwriting, the little drawings." The handwriting that conveys the sorrow or energy of the authors. She said, "I know they can be burned... but they can't be deleted."
Sounds like the perfect Valentine Day's gift for your literary sweetie.

Amanda Mattos' full article is well worth the read. As I said in my comments over at the DCist site, reading it made me wish I had been there.

Monday, February 04, 2008

The World of the Class of 2011

From Beloit College's annual "Mindset List":

Each August for the past decade, as faculty prepare for the academic year, Beloit College in Wisconsin has released the Beloit College Mindset List. Its 70 items provide a look at the cultural touchstones that have shaped the lives of today’s first-year students, most of them born in 1989.
Some random samplings for the Class of 2011...

They've grown up with bottled water.

They've never "rolled down" a car window.

They never saw Johnny Carson live on television.

The World Wide Web has been here since they were born.

Flickr Users to M-soft: Eff Off!

You can't say that Microsoft doesn't inspire passion. Unfortunately, it's usually the wrong sort of passion.

via the "Microsoft: Keep your evil, grubby hands off of our Flickr" photo pool.