- There are huge spoilers in this Breaking Bad article (In Hell, “We Shall Be Free”), but it’s some of the best writing about the show, and particularly the character of Walter White, that I’ve read going into this current, final season. And, really, if you’re not watching Breaking Bad…? [via]
- Living grass portraits created by photosynthesis.
- The Sound and the Fury — now in color! [via]
- All Work and No Play Make the Baining the “Dullest Culture on Earth”. I can just imagine Rush Limbaugh claiming there’s some kind of conspiracy because they’re called the Baining. [via]
- And finally, a really cool rendition of the Doctor Who theme song:
I’ve lost track of the days, although not enough to be unaware that I’m quickly running out of vacation, just four short days left in this end-of-the-year run before heading back to work. I spent this day doing some of the same as yesterday, working on the Kaleidotrope website. It’s not a major overhaul, at least in terms of design, but it’s taken more than just a few tweaks to go from being a print to an online zine. I’m sure it’ll be a whole new learning process even after I launch.
When I wasn’t doing that, I watched “An Unearthly Child,” the first batch of episodes ever of Doctor Who, from 1963. I received a DVD set of William Hartnell’s first episodes as a Christmas present, and while I’d seen some of the Dalek episodes that followed these, I’d never seen the very beginning. It’s…well, maybe it’s easiest just to say it was a rather different show back then from what it is now.
This evening, I picked my parents up at the eye doctor, since they both had appointments, and their eyes were too dilated afterward to drive safely. We went out to eat at a new Latin place that had been written up in the New York Times (and for which we had a coupon), which turned out to be quite good. Even if service was a little confused. Friendly and attentive, but confused. And even if getting into the bathroom was a ridiculously complicated production number: first through a very heavy beaded curtain, into a dark room where you had to stumble around to find the light switch, only to discover to discover the toilet was behind you. Limited space, but a little ridiculous.
Anyway, the food was quite good.
And then we came home and I watched All About Eve, which was really terrific. Bette Davis, in particular, gives a deservedly iconic performance, but the whole film’s great fun.
And meanwhile, it’s gotten remarkably cold and windy the past couple of days. One might almost be tempted to start believing in winter again.
- An Outtake from Word Freak: The Enigmatic Nigel Richards. Possibly the world’s greatest Scrabble player…though he doesn’t take much enjoyment from the game. [via]
- Israeli Man Changes Name to Mark Zuckerberg to goad the company into suing him. I have no love for Facebook, but his company seems like a pretty clear violation of Facebook’s terms of service, and the man himself seems like an ass.
- Jon Scalzi on the “flying snowman”:
This is not to say that, when encountering fantasy work, one has to abandon all criticism. But if you’re going to complain about one specific element as being unrealistic, you should consider the work in its totality and ask whether in the context of the work, this specific thing is inconsistent with the worldbuilding.
- Zach Handlen on the TV adaptation of Bag of Bones:
A good genre story is designed in such a way as to distract you from its inner machinations. Intellectually, you can go back and say, yes, this was a scene of rising action, this was a character development moment, this was a piece of information that will become crucial later on, this was was a resolution of an earlier mystery. Everyone quotes Chekhov’s comment on a gun in act one going off in act two, and at heart, that’s all stories really are: First you load the pistol, then you aim it, then someone pulls the trigger. It’s a method of delivery for a series of stimuli designed to provoke audience response, and the better the book, movie, or TV show, the less time you spend thinking about the mechanics of the process, and the more time you spend luxuriating in the response.
I have to admit, I kind of want to see it now.
- I noted this on Twitter, but it bears repeating: if you’re offended just by the idea that some Americans are not Christian…then you are a bigot.
- Terry Gilliam continues to dream the impossible dream.
- As much as I think I’d love any movie where Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy do nothing but talk to one another, I kind of hope they don’t make another Before Sunrise movie. The two, Before Sunrise and Before Sunset work so well together, and I feel like revisiting the characters would be going to the well one too many times. (They also appear in Waking Life together.) Still, I’m willing to be proven wrong.
- A gorgeous photo of the Milky Way from the top of the world [via]
- Speech Synthesizer Could ‘Resurrect’ Dead Singers. I think that sound you’re hearing is the echo along the Uncanny Valley. [via]
- And finally, some wonderful bedtime stories from Doctor Who cast members:
- Tintin’s Lovecraftian Adventures
- Along the same lines: What If…Herge Created the X-Men?
- And also, what if Charles Schulz illustrated H.P. Lovecraft? [via]
- Today in infographics: The Rules of Magic, Doctor Who Timeline, and Good Versus Evil in the Superhero Comic Color Palette [via and via]
- The truly odd story of New York’s Hartwick College and their “Methuselah” trust from a one-time benefactor:
Because thanks to an eccentric New York lawyer in the 1930s, this college in a corner of the Catskills inherited a thousand-year trust that would not mature until the year 2936: a gift whose accumulated compound interest, the New York Times reported in 1961, “could ultimately shatter the nation’s financial structure.” The mossy stone walls and ivy-covered brickwork of Hartwick College were a ticking time-bomb of compounding interest—a very, very slowly ticking time bomb.
One suspects they’d have rather gotten a new squash court. [via]
- Sorry, folks on my Christmas list: Mailing Chicken Pox Lollipops Is Illegal, Reckless. Maybe just a card? [via]
- A Tree Grows in Queens (Right Through An Auto Body Shop!) [via]
- “Sure. Alternate realities. You could have, like, a world without shrimp. Or with, you know, nothing but shrimp…” – Anya
First top predator was giant shrimp with amazing eyes. (“You have amazing eyes! Please don’t eat me, giant killer shrimp!”)
- The Higgs boson: Why scientists hate that you call it the ‘God particle’ [via]
- And finally, Bobby McFerin demonstrates the power of the pentatonic scale [via]:
- We live in a country where pizza is a vegetable. I’m just saying. [via]
- Harry Potter director developing all-new Doctor Who movie. Not at all a sure thing, but still, when do we stop remaking things? Maybe when the last remake is still on-going?
- Genevieve Valentine on Immortals, which she describes as “a batch of snickerdoodles with thumbtacks inside.”
The labyrinth and Minotaur are well turned out, and their showdown takes place in a temple mausoleum, where an archway of stairs frames a goddess’s head that’s inset with candles to make it glow from within. It’s the sort of thing where you think, “Man, that’s good looking! I wish this stupid scene would stop so we could just look at it.”
- I really don’t know what to think about actress suing IMDB for revealing her age. They both seem to have a perfectly valid point.
- Massive plagiarism might help your book sales [via]
- Billy Crystal will be hosting the Oscars this year, giving me another reason not to watch. Which is not a dig at Crystal, necessarily, who I generally like…you know, back when he made movies people watched. But it’s such a safe, boring choice. The Academy really missed a golden opportunity to let the Muppets host the Oscars
- Tilt-shift Van Gogh
- Polite Dissent on Forgotten Drugs of the Silver-Age:
The more I think about it, for all intents and purposes, Jor-El was a mad scientist. He espoused scientific theories well outside the accepted norm and performed numerous unauthorized scientific experiments of questionable ethics.
- Mysterious D.C. rampage leaves smashed cars in its wake. Seriously, it looks like the Hulk went through there. [via]
- And finally, the Center for Fiction interviews Margaret Atwood:
I think it’s a human need to name – to tell this from that. On the most basic level, we need to distinguish – as crows do – the dangerous creature from the harmless one, and – as all animals do – the delicious and healthful food object from the rotting, poisonous one. In literary criticism it’s very helpful to know that the Harlequin Romance you sneak into when you think no one is looking is not the same, and is not intended to be the same, as Moby Dick. But stories and fictions have always interbred and hybridized and sent tendrils out into strange spaces.