- How close to a train track can you set up a vegetable market?
- Despite everything, I believe that people are really stupid. Well, there are worse gifts. Like a Hanukkah card printed on a page out of Mein Kampf, perhaps. [via]
- Sci-Fi IKEA Manuals [via]
- “Oh, stewardess! I speak jive!” Now you can too. [via]
- And finally, “The Accidental Sea” [via]:
- I like Todd VanDerWerff ‘s write-up of Dancing With the Stars a lot more than I think I would ever like the show itself.
- Popular Mechanics looks at shipping scientifically: “One disheartening result was that our package received more abuse when marked ‘Fragile’ or ‘This Side Up.'” [via]
- The Harry Potter series from Hermione’s point of view [via]
- John Scalzi’s accurate but misleading descriptions of famous science fiction films. Mild spoiler warnings all around.
- And finally, John Cleese on the creative process [via]:
- Okay, this Great Expectations cake might be in slightly bad taste, but it’s still a clever idea. [via]
- Student finds tracking device on his car; FBI demands it back. More here. [via]
- Horrible band causes horrible traffic jam to promote horrible song.
- Clark Kent vs. Facebook [via]
- And finally, some sci-fi LOLcats.
- James Cameron doesn’t like Piranha 3-D:
I tend almost never to throw other films under the bus, but that is exactly an example of what we should not be doing in 3-D. Because it just cheapens the medium and reminds you of the bad 3-D horror films from the 70s and 80s, like Friday the 13th 3-D. When movies got to the bottom of the barrel of their creativity and at the last gasp of their financial lifespan, they did a 3-D version to get the last few drops of blood out of the turnip..
Something tells me he’s going to hate Jackass 3-D.
Frankly, though, it’s films like that — cheap horror movies with visceral, jump-out-at-you scares — to which I think 3-D is actually most ideally suited. Cameron may be throwing his full weight behind it as a tool on the artistic palette, but even in Avatar I thought the 3-D was a lot less impressive than advertised. It has its uses, but even at its best, I don’t think it rises above a gimmick. (For which you trade a not-insignificant amount of brightness and comfort.) So a film like Piranha, which embraces it fully as gimmick, may actually be exactly what the technology is meant to do.
- Eye chart for geeks.
- And interesting look at Yiddish in America:
The survival of Yiddish in America is an on-the-one-hand, on-the-other-hand story. Yiddish, once the language of the Jews of Eastern Europe, is undoubtedly moribund, with its last full-throated speakers, Holocaust survivors, now well into their 80s and 90s. (A smattering of their children speak it through sheer willpower whenever they can buttonhole a comprehending ear, but some, like this writer, grew up nagging parents to speak English and regrettably saw their first language wither.)
On the other hand, the language is booming among Hasidim, for whom it is a lingua franca, mushrooming so prolifically that by some estimates the ultra-Orthodox will form a majority of American Jews by century’s end. [via]
- Have you been reading Kaleidotrope contributor Jason Heller’s weekly Frequency Rotation posts at Tor.com? You really should be.
- And finally, based on this clip, I would totally buy Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Alexander Hamilton rap album. [via]
- Textbooks Up Their Game. The Wall Street Journal looks at the evolving world of the textbook market and the role that e-book volumes will play in it.
The iPad does seem better suited to the textbook market than most other e-readers, if only for its versatility. But I can’t see app-ready editions of textbooks having much widespread appeal (beyond the student who already owns an iPad) or impact, unless the price of Apple’s reader and/or the books comes down significantly. Students are unlikely to pay $69.99 (much less $84.99) for a book they can’t re-sell and that, once the iPad stops working or needs to be replaced, is gone too.
- Daleks voted the greatest sci-fi monsters of all time. It’s a weird list. The original poll was for “Monsters, Supernatural Beings & Fantasy Creatures,” which means picks like Aslan makes more sense — although a CGI lion with the voice of Liam Neeson is a little monstrous, too — but Pilot from Farscape?
- Real or not, I think I can live without J.D. Salinger’s toilet.
- Deconstructing the Twikie. Surprisingly, this hasn’t been done by Cockeyed.com. [via]
- And finally, I’ve really been enjoying Zach Handlen’s Star Trek: The Next Generation recaps:
It can be difficult to convincingly show love in fiction, because the experience of falling for someone is both highly personal and curiously universal; the details and shared moments are what give the feeling texture, but the rush and elation of it are things that we all share. So you’ve got to find some way to make the small moments appear distinct and honest so that the big moments feel earned.