Tuesday various

  • Zadie Smith’s rules for writers:

    When an adult, try to read your own work as a stranger would read it, or even better, as an enemy would. [via]

  • “All these worlds are yours except Europa…and possibly Titan.” [via]
  • The Sad, Beautiful Fact That We’re All Going To Miss Almost Everything:

    It’s sad, but it’s also … great, really. Imagine if you’d seen everything good, or if you knew about everything good. Imagine if you really got to all the recordings and books and movies you’re “supposed to see.” Imagine you got through everybody’s list, until everything you hadn’t read didn’t really need reading. That would imply that all the cultural value the world has managed to produce since a glob of primordial ooze first picked up a violin is so tiny and insignificant that a single human being can gobble all of it in one lifetime. That would make us failures, I think. [via]

  • So long and thanks for all the fish: Underwater Translator May Finally Let Us Talk to Dolphins. [via]
  • And finally, My Little 11th Doctor [via]:

Tuesday various

  • I’ll bet Chelsea Clinton didn’t have wedding invites this adorably geeky. [via]
  • Oh my god! The triceratops may never have existed! That’s so–oh, wait, it might have been the younger form of another dinosaur that looks almost identical except for some cranial features? And, if it is the case that they’re one and the same, palaeontologists will just rename them both triceratops? Wow, what seemed like a stunning revelation is curiously a non-story by paragraph’s end.
  • Syfy Announces Development Slate of 7 New Scripted Projects. Only eighteen of them are Battlestar Galactica or Stargate spinoffs. [via] [Related: Cracked on the Syfy Channel.]
  • I think what I find most interesting and amusing about this whole recent Neil Gaiman/Todd McFarlane thing is that the judge’s decision is ultimately an argument over comics continuity.
  • And finally, as someone who, as part of his day job, spends a great deal of time hunting down potential authors and reviewers at universities, can I just say how right xkcd is?

Wednesday various

  • I know Terry Gilliam’s been having trouble getting films made, but has it come to this: he’s directing webcasts?

    But I kid. It looks like an interesting if unusual idea for a concert series, pairing directors and bands, and I might just check next Thursday’s webcast out if I have a chance.

  • E-books article drinking game. [via]
  • It’s actually been months since I’ve played Plants vs. Zombies, but I thought this was interesting: Michael Jackson Estate Forces ‘Plants vs. Zombies’ Update. Yeah, I can see how an undead Jackson might not sit so well with them. [via]
  • Speaking of zombies, Night of the Living Wonks [via]

    Looking at the state of international relations theory, one quickly realizes the absence of consensus about the best way to think about global politics. There are multiple paradigms that attempt to explain international relations, and each has a different take on how political actors can be expected to respond to the living dead.

  • And finally, baby moose in a sprinkler. Honestly, too cute for words. [via]

Wednesday various

  • Patton Oswalt on the joy of failure:

    I never want to get to a point where I feel like I’m done. Or like I got it. You always want to have that, “Oh shit, this wall just collapsed, and there’s a whole room behind it to explore.”

    I posted a quote from the interview just the other day, but I think the whole thing’s worth checking out, even if you’re not immediately familiar with Oswalt’s comedy or acting. I also like what he says about the internet:

    We haven’t seen it yet, but there’s going to be a generation that comes up where the new trend will be complete anonymity. It’ll be cool to have never posted anything online, never commented, never opened a webpage or a MySpace, never Twittered. I think everyone in the future is going to be allowed to be obscure for 15 minutes. You’ll have 15 minutes where no one is watching you, and then you’ll be shoved back onto your reality show. I think Andy Warhol got it wrong.

    I’ve read mixed reviews of Oswalt’s new movie, Big Fan, but I’ve heard a couple of really intelligent interviews with him and director Robert D. Siegel, so I’m eager to check it out.

  • Fox rebooting Fantastic Four. This seems to be the new thinking in Hollywood: if your last attempt was a financial or critical failure — and the 2007 Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer movie was arguably a little of both — don’t even wait, just re-boot the whole thing. Studios used to wait a respectable few years, time enough to slink away and let the shame and stink of failure dissipate, but that’s happening less and less. Eight years separate the abject failure of Joel Schumacher’s Batman & Robin and Christopher Nolan’s reboot of the franchise with Batman Begins, for instance, while only five years separate Ang Lee’s Hulk and Edward Norton’s (not so incredible) version. The gap is narrowing — and with the recently proposed Battlestar Galatica re-reboot and this Fantastic Four news, the gap seems to be disappearing altogether. As Gerry Canavan jokes, “In the future franchises will be rebooted before the first film even comes out.”

    Still, I guess one way of looking at this is that Hollywood is now committed to remaking movie franchises over and over again, no matter how many times it takes, until, finally, they don’t suck.

    Although, as the AV Club points out, this may just be fallout from the recent Disney acquisition of Marvel:

    Before Marvel settled down with Disney, it had tumultuous affairs with several other studios. With Sony, for instance, it had a baby called the Spider-Man series. And Marvel’s time with Fox produced several offspring, including film series based around the X-Men, Daredevil, and the Fantastic Four. By the terms of that arrangement, Fox has the rights to make movies around those characters (plus Fantastic Four hanger-on the Silver Surfer) in perpetuity so long as it doesn’t stop making them.

    This too-soon reboot, then, might not go anywhere or even be expected to go anywhere. It may just be a ploy to hold on to some rights that would otherwise revert to the Mouse.

  • Speaking of the Disney/Marvel merger, while I think it’s too soon to know for sure what (if anything) this will mean for the future of Marvel, I tend to agree with Mark Evanier’s take:

    This isn’t about publishing. Disney didn’t say, “Gee, it would be great to own a comic book company!” They could have started fifty comic book companies for four billion clams. This is about characters and properties which can be exploited in many forms. The publishing of comic books may or may not always be one of them…..[T]he future of Spider-Man has very little to do with the Spider-Man comic book. That hasn’t mattered for a long time.

    And while I tried my own hand at some Marvel/Disney mashups two days ago, I think I prefer these more artistic ones. [via]

  • I worry that some future journalism students will see this story and wonder, “what’s the big deal with paying your sources?” [via]
  • And finally, some terrific photographs of the same spots in New York City, composited into a single shot based on similarity. It’s a neat trick. [via]