Sunday, March 29, 2009

A Geek's Dilemma: To party or not to party

An in-depth analysis of the conflicting thoughts in a geeky brain forced to choose between gaming and social life. Lucy, I don't think you read my blog, but if you happen upon this post, please don't read it, it is embarrassing to me.

So I was faced with a dilemma last night that probably shouldn't have been as difficult as I made it. Two of my girl friends were going to be playing some songs in an open band at a dance party kind of event. I will refer to them "the tall friend" and "the short friend" (the short friend is not very short, but the tall friend is 6 feet). To give you some perspective, I'm pretty close with the short friend, since we've been housemates since last September, while the tall friend is someone I'm less close with--we enjoy our conversations when we run into each other at work, she gave me a ride to Philadelphia once, and I've been to her house a couple times. Anyway, they asked me to come with them to the party; at the point of the invitation, our only friends going were these two and the tall friend's boyfriend. Their reasons for me to come were reasonable and obvious: 1) It would be fun. 2) They wanted a friend to be in the audience to hear them "make fools of themselves" (their own words) playing in the band. 3) The short friend was worried about being the tall friend and the tall friend's boyfriend's "third wheel", a problem that my attendance would solve. So this was a no-brainer, right? I should go with them.

Not a no-brainer. At 4:30 pm yesterday, when I was being asked to come to the party, I was happily playing a computer game online with my brother. I didn't tell either of my friends this, since they wouldn't have understood the appeal of this activity and probably would have been offended that I considered this a reason to reject their invitation. But there were a number of reasons running through my geeky brain of why I should stay home and play my computer game. 1) The party might be fun, but it would not be as much fun as playing online with my brother. Sorry, that's just how I, and probably many other gaming geeks, feel. I don't always feel this way, but the game we were playing is new to my brother and me, so the excitement of just getting into the game and learning the ropes has not worn off. This fun-factor was really the primary reason for my inclination to stay home, and the rest followed as further rationalizations to support it: 2) My brother lives in a different time zone, so the best time for us to play is usually Saturday in the late afternoon and evening. Going to the party would be giving up this ideal time slot in our schedules. 3) If the two other girls were playing in the band, that would leave me alone to entertain the tall girl's boyfriend. That might be awkward, since I had only briefly met him once, and he's significantly (12 years) older than I am. 4) It was kind of a wet and dreary day yesterday, and I was feeling particularly lazy and didn't want to go out at all. 5) I didn't know what to wear. 6) I hadn't eaten dinner yet. 7) My foot still hurts a little from when I strained it the other day, so dancing may not be the best activity for it. I probably came up with other reasons at the time, but that gives you an idea of my mind's capacity for excuses when geeky activity is at stake.

At 4:30 yesterday afternoon, it was the short friend who was standing in my doorway telling me to come to the party. I stalled longer than was probably comfortable, hesitating to make a decision. At some point in my stalling conversation (where we discussed things like how long it was likely to go, where the party was going to be, etc.), she exclaimed, "Hesitation is lame!" I almost rejected her right there. What she didn't realize was that I wasn't hesitating to agree to come, I was hesitating to tell her I didn't want to come. The hesitation was for her benefit, in favor of her cause. But I resisted the urge to turn her down on the spot, instead allowing the non-geek rationalizations to seep in. 1) It seems that I was caught with a moral obligation to attend. Two friends were performing. They asked me to come. One was pleading to save her from being a third wheel. End of story. 2) I can play computer games with my brother any Saturday. This may be my only chance to hear these friends playing together in an open band. 3) Staying home from parties to play computer games is lame. It may be fun, but I am not so blind to social norms that I do not realize that normal people agree that going out is better.

Ultimately, I agreed to go to the party (as I should have all along). And I had fun. It was a little awkward with the tall friend's boyfriend, and I wasn't entirely pleased with my choice of outfit, but there were refreshments to munch on and my foot didn't hurt me. And my friends were happy and the dancing was fun. I don't know whether I had more or less fun than I would have on the computer, but I had a good time and was pleased with my decision. And this is the important geek lesson: Gaming may seem more fun than a party. You may have more total fun staying home and playing a game than you would going out to be an audience to a couple friends. But you will be happier overall if you vary your activities, act like a loyal friend, and maintain some version of a normal social life. That's just how this world works.

...Plus, maybe now I can guilt the short friend into watching the BSG pilot with me. I have the DVDs, and I'm always looking to spread the joy.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Farewell to Battlestar Galactica

Holy. Frak.

After waiting eight days for it to show up on Hulu, I have finally seen the series finale of Battlestar Galactica. I don't know what anyone else thought about it (now that I've seen it, I can finally go talk to people and read commentaries, etc.), but I loved it. Loved it. I've loved this show all along, and while I'm kind of on a series finale high right now, there's a sadness about it being over that's starting to creep in on the edges.

Now for an embarrassing peek into my mind: Sometime a year or two ago, in a situation that really wasn't life threatening at all but my mind was just running and being totally over dramatic, I remember thinking that if I were to die that day, my greatest regret would be that I would never see how Battlestar Galactica ends. Pretty sad, I know, but you know how random thoughts sometimes flit across your brain and then seconds later you go, Why on Earth did I think that? Anyway... Yeah, I guess I'm clear now. Do your worst. Nothing left to regret. Just kidding. Mostly. Gods, I can't believe I just said that.

Watching the finale, there were definitely some tears in my eyes. Sure at the end when it's wrapping up everyone's storylines, but also when all the stations were checking in before the big assault. Somehow seeing all those familiar faces full of resolve and ready to meet their end got me all choked up. And that wasn't the worst of it. I was really glad I was watching alone, because it would have been very unpleasant to watch it with me. During the battle sequence, I kept talking at the screen, much like sports fans do when watching a game, blurting out things like, "Hurry up!" and "Get out of there!!!" But mostly, all I could manage was a whimper. Yes, I was actually whimpering throughout the battle scenes. I could hardly bear to watch. As it turns out, the important person death count was not nearly as bad as it could have been, but of course, I didn't know that at the time.

I was satisfied with how they tied everything up. Given a little more time to think about it, I might come up with any number of things to be bitter about in terms of how they handled various storylines and characters, but for the moment I'm happy with it all. Particularly with Baltar and Caprica--and uh, Head Six and Head Baltar; I thought that ending scene with the blatant Ron Moore cameo was pretty crazy. In a good way. The only thing I thought was a bit of a stretch was what the fleet society chose to do at the end there, but I'm willing to go with it. Because the way the show worked out was all just so cool.

Sorry that this post isn't totally coherent or insightful or anything. I'm kind of beside myself right now. All jittery. I don't know what to think. I need to go eat lunch and regain my right mind. But for now, all I've got is

That was pretty frakkin' sweet.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

IDOLS-13, new Star Wars and Star Trek TV shows, etc.

Getting back into the regular swing of things after my series of posts about my Hawaii visit, it's time to catch up with some recent entertainment news that has caught my eye...

Matt Damon is lined up to star in The Investment Bureau, which has been described as a contemporary romance with sci-fi overtones (Variety). The script was written by Bourne Ultimatum co-writer George Nolfi, who will also direct. Damon will play a congressman who meets a beautiful ballet dancer but finds "strange circumstances" keeping the two apart. I am intrigued. I'm a Matt Damon fan--he tends to choose interesting projects, and he delivers consistently good performances--and Nolfi's The Bourne Ultimatum was great, so this movie could be pretty cool.

Considering that in past years the call-in numbers to vote for American Idol contestants have been 1-866-IDOLS-01 through 1-866-IDOLS-12, it seemed logical that for this year, in which there were thirteen finalists, they would simply add the number 1-866-IDOLS-13 for the 13th contestant. The number for the thirteenth contestant, however, was 1-866-IDOLS-36. Why? Apparently, 1-866-IDOLS-13 is a phone-sex hotline (IMDb). I didn't watch the show, but I hope Ryan Seacrest made the tricky thirteenth phone number very clear, or else a lot of teens would find their call answered by a woman's voice saying "Hey there, sexy guy. Welcome to an exciting new way to go live, one-on-one, with hot horny girls waiting right now to talk to you." Picture the scarred children. So wrong. But hilarious.

Scarlett Johansson is confirmed to have signed on to play villain Black Widow in Iron Man 2 (IMDb). Emily Blunt had been forced to step down from the role last month due to scheduling conflicts. Let's hope Johansson can do the role justice; her previous comic book movie experience was in The Spirit. Also, Mickey Rourke has officially agreed to play Whiplash in the sequel. He has already begun his research, touring Butryka prison in Moscow to start to get into the head of his Russian supervillain (IMDb).

George Lucas is looking for actors to star in his upcoming live action Star Wars TV series (IMDb). If he's casting... it sounds like he's really going to make this show happen. There have been so many Star Wars disappointments in recent years. Please, oh please, George Lucas, don't mess it up any more.

The Sci Fi Channel is changing its name to SyFy (IMDb). Apparently, this will make it seem hipper to the 18 to 34-year-old demographic. I can't say it's working for me. I'm just confused. So... what does SyFy stand for?

Pushing Daisies creator Bryan Fuller is hoping to use the (expected) success of the upcoming J.J. Abrams Star Trek prequel to start up a new Star Trek TV series (IMDb). The more recent Star Trek TV series were getting a bit tired, but Fuller envisions the new series more in the fun spirit of the original. He says it would take place in the same era as the J.J. Abrams movie but on a different ship with its own adventures. I've never been a true Star Trek fan, having watched TNG only sporadically when I was a kid, but I'm excited about the new movie and if Bryan Fuller is planning a new TV series (I absolutely adored Pushing Daisies--I'm still sore over its cancellation), my interest is definitely piqued.

Warner Bros. and a number of video game makers are backing a video-game-on-demand service called OnLive Game Service (Variety). OnLive, which is being shown off at this week's San Francisco Game Developers Conference and is expected to go live this winter, allows users with a broadband internet connection to play games instantly without downloading, giving the PC the convenience of a console system. This has the potential to seriously affect the gaming competition between consoles and PCs, and it should help the video game developers by reducing their reliance on the consoles. As a PC gamer, I'm excited at the prospect of PC gaming gaining influence, but I'll have to see what kind of games show up on the service before I get excited. I guess I'm a traditionalist; I like to do the full install once and take the game around with me, even if I'm not connected to the internet.

That's all for now!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Look out, here comes... Susan

At last. With the anticipated release of Monsters vs. Aliens on March 27th, DreamWorks Animation has beaten Pixar in the race to become the first of the two studios to release a computer animated feature film starring... a female. That's right: since Pixar's Toy Story in 1995 and DreamWorks' Antz in 1998, the two reigning producers of computer animated movies have yet to deliver a feature with a female main character. Hard to believe? Here are the lists:

CG feature films (and main character):

1. Toy Story (Woody)
2. A Bug's Life (Flik)
3. Toy Story 2 (Woody)
4. Monsters, Inc. (Sulley)
5. Finding Nemo (Marlin)
6. The Incredibles (Mr. Incredible)
7. Cars (Lightning McQueen)
8. Ratatoille (Remy)
9. Wall-E (Wall-E)
Next in line:
10. Up (Carl Fredricksen)

DreamWorks Animation
1. Antz (Z)
2. Shrek (Shrek)
3. Shrek 2 (Shrek)
4. Shark Tale (Oscar)
5. Madagascar (Alex)
6. Over the Hedge (RJ)
7. Flushed Away (Roddy)
8. Shrek the Third (Shrek)
9. Bee Movie (Barry)
10. Kung Fu Panda (Po)
11. Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa (Alex)
Next in line:
12. Monsters vs. Aliens (Susan, a.k.a. Ginormica)

It's not that these movies haven't had any respectable female characters; many of them have prominently featured strong, smart, and dynamic ladies. But they aren't leading ladies. There's no "Fiona", "Fiona 2", or "Fiona the Third" movie. It's Shrek's story, thus relegating Fiona to the role of an accessory--"Shrek's princess", atypical princess though she may be. And Fiona is not alone. The same is true in all of the two studios' computer animated features: a male leads, and females support. I suppose I might argue that the main character of Bee Movie was actually female. Though Barry B. Benson was referred to in the movie as a "he" and looked a bit and sounded a lot like Jerry Seinfeld, the fact that Barry was able to collect pollen and make honey and had a stinger means that in every honeybee-related way, Barry was clearly a female bee. But I doubt kids (and most normal people who haven't studied honeybees in biology) saw it that way. And that is the relevant point.

As the leaders in computer animated movies, Pixar and DreamWorks Animation are leaders in entertainment for young children. Kids are impressionable. That is part of the reason why parents fret so much about what their children are exposed to when they watch movies and TV. Parents worry about language and depictions of violence and sex, as well they should. But subtle things that may not be harmful on a case by case basis can add up to subliminal messages that shape the way children view the world. So what is the message being delivered here? Boys should be brave heroes. Girls should support them. This message and what it says about kids movies today is shameful. Where are the role models for today's little girls?

Now, I grew up with Disney's hand-drawn features from the 1990s, from The Little Mermaid (which actually debuted late 1989) and Beauty and the Beast to Mulan. While I wouldn't say that Ariel was an ideal role model for little girls, she was the lead role. Sure, she fell in love with a man she hadn't met and didn't defeat the villain herself, but she was an independent thinker who successfully followed her dreams. Belle also may not have been a physical match for her adversary, Gaston, but she was an intelligent, fair, and strong-willed protagonist. And Mulan is a heroine who certainly qualifies as a strong role model. Of course, the '90s had its share of questionable gender messages. I mean, what is the deal with The Lion King? Sure, Nala can do that fancy move and pin Simba in a one-on-one match, but a dozen lionesses had to submit helplessly to Scar and watch him destroy their home until the one true king came to save them. Really? This is what we're teaching little children? You can't do anything, girls, wait for the boys to come. If you want to argue that The Lion King was upholding some sort of ecological truth in lion pride structure, then I want to see Wanda Sykes replace Jerry Seinfeld as Barry B. Benson, pronto!

Lion King rant aside, there is a tradition of gender bias in kids' movies that Pixar and DreamWorks Animation have thus far exhibited prominently. Why, in a supposedly progressive society, would this be the case? The problem seems to be this: If the main character in a children's movie is a girl, the movie will generally be branded a "girl movie", and boys will be less likely to want to see it. A movie with a boy main character, on the other hand, is... just a movie, giving it a better chance at a wide audience. And this doesn't stop at children's movies. Practically any movie that has a female lead who is not an action hero is automatically labeled a chick flick (yes, I am making a lot of sweeping generalizations here, and all generalizations are false, of course, but stick with me here). Guy flicks are much harder to come by; they don't carry the same stigma that chick flicks do, and they tend not to skew as far toward their "target" gender as the chick flicks. It seems women are not as opposed to watching a guy buddy movie as men are to seeing a movie about a group of girl friends. Why would that be?

The best reason I can think of for men being unwilling to see female-centric movies is that they simply can't relate to them. Women are willing to see guy movies because they can relate to them. From childhood to adulthood, girls seem to be better at relating to boys than boys are at relating to girls. Is this an innate inability in boys, or has society developed in such a way that boys aren't taught to relate to girls in the same way girls are taught to relate to boys? I don't have an answer. I'm not a psychologist or sociologist; I don't know if anything I've said is flat-out wrong or already confirmed. I'm just a girl who likes movies and wants to see a few more women up on screen.

It's hard to say what the movie business can do about the gender bias in movies. The movie business is just that--a business--and as such they have to make money. If movies about male characters tend to make more money than movies about female characters because more people are willing to see them, then they have to make more movies about male characters (and then express extreme shock when a chick flick makes huge sums at the box office). But maybe it's a chicken-and-the-egg issue. Do they not make as many female-centered movies because guys won't like them, or do guys not like them because they don't make enough of them. Young boys do not become accustomed to seeing female heroines in movies, so they don't need to learn to relate to them, and they never come to see female heroines in the same light as they see male heroes. So throughout their lives, they show a strong preference towards male protagonists. Young girls, on the other hand, become accustomed from the very start to relating to male heroes, and thus they don't have such a strong preference for whether movie protagonists are male or female. If this is the case, it's not any weakness on the boys' part. Someone just needs to break the cycle.

I've never considered myself any kind of raging feminist, and I don't usually like to get into such touchy subjects. But it is clear that movies and the movie business, like many other businesses of course, lack gender equality in many ways (I'm not even going to touch the business demographics). If I had any say in Hollywood--which I don't, beyond the single ticket that I might buy for Monsters vs. Aliens if it gets good reviews--I would challenge it to confront these inequalities and fix whatever ones it can. Pixar, everything you touch turns to gold. DreamWorks, the kids eat up everything you serve them. Take more risks, and show a little faith in both girls in the movies and boys in the audience.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Response to Sebastian's discussion of monotheism

Religion is not a topic I've really discussed in my blog before. It's a hairy issue that I usually don't feel like bringing up but am generally willing to debate if the topic arises. This post is solely a reply to a post that Sebastian made in his blog that presents a respectful criticism of religion, particularly monotheism (read it here). I was going to respond simply in a comment on the post, but when I passed the 1000 words mark, I thought I'd keep it out of the otherwise concise comments and just make a response post here. It's really only a response and not an essay itself, though. I didn't format it in a logical way or provide full explanations of what I'm talking about, so you have to read his post to understand some of what I'm arguing.

Response to Sebastian's "One God to rule them all… and in the darkness bind them":

Oh boy. You couldn't pick a simple topic, could you? Let me start by saying that I'm agnostic, so the only thing I feel strongly about in regards to religion is that we don't know anything. When someone makes an argument either way, my tendency is to play devil's advocate... or, I guess, God's (or gods'... I won't be exclusive) advocate. So this response is supposed to be a scholarly criticism of your arguments, not an attack on your ideas. That said, I have not studied religion or history very extensively (I'm a scientist by trade), so in some cases I may question but not know enough to criticize your argument.

You said that our urge to attribute *everything* to some higher power makes us susceptible to religion in general, and monotheism in particular. Why monotheism in particular? I'd think that it would be easier to explain *everything* by having different gods to explain *everything*. For example, if there's a god of peace, why would that god allow wars to happen? Well, because there's an opposing goddess of war who sometimes dominates. A god of everything--including both war and peace--seems awfully fickle. Now, you can probably produce an argument to explain why monotheism explains *everything* better than polytheism does, but it is not so obvious that you should lightly make that claim without a defense.

So I'm guessing that you assume that lions don't believe in a higher power (though they do believe that the great kings of the past look down from the stars), and thus they don't feel the need to be humble. You ask if lions don't, why must humans? There are a lot of things that humans think about and feel that lions don't. The intelligence and emotions of various animals themselves spawn heated debates, and I don't want to get into it, but let's just say for the sake of this argument that empathy, true altruism, planning for the future, communicating history, and morality are uniquely human (I don't really believe all of that, but there are some that do). Why then is it so strange that humility would be another uniquely human trait? Perhaps pride is a virtue in lion... uh... prides (sorry, I had to do it), but humility I think serves a valuable function in the large cooperative societies that humans live in. I mean, how much do people hate a braggart? We have trouble working together when a member of our group is really full of themselves. No, we don't necessarily have to attribute things to God, but if that helps us be humble and thus get along together, then it's not all bad or unreasonable.

"It might be argued that religion has killed more people over the past 2000 years than it has saved."
1) You're picking on Christianity there (at least, it's the only major religion I know of that started around 2000 years ago). Why? Did religion not kill people before that?
2) "It might be argued" is pretty weak language. How might this be argued? Are there people who have made this argument with a comprehensive presentation of convincing numbers? Maybe there is. Maybe you should provide references. Without references, I'm doubtful. While there are a number of prominent wars and mass killings that can be blamed on religion, they might have been committed for other reasons if religion hadn't existed, plus it is hard to measure the many small instances where people have been saved because of religion (e.g., a poor person not starving thanks to donations from the church).

Here my lack of historical knowledge fails me, but was monotheism really necessary for trading? Did they really not trade during ancient Greek and Roman times? And did China have to take up Christianity before the West would trade with them? I don't remember this from history class. You imply that somehow it makes sense that people had an easier time trusting traders who believed in their vengeful, monotheistic god. But why couldn't people just all swear on some god of trade or commerce, like Waukeen--uh, I mean, Hermes?

Furthermore, was polytheism really just about explaining things? And was only monotheism about controlling people? There are many types of polytheism and monotheism, of course, so it's hard to make generalizations (all generalizations are false). Maybe there are some brands of polytheism that are just "god of trees makes the trees grow" etc., and some kinds of monotheism that are just about telling people how to act. But though my knowledge of religion is pretty weak, I think there are polytheistic religions that tell people how to live their lives. Maybe Hinduism and its link to the caste system? I don't really know enough to give a good example, but I'm sure one exists. So maybe Hinduism and Greek and Roman polytheism didn't have the definitive texts that Judaism, Christianity, and Islam have. But is it just a kind of coincidence that Judaism started out with a prominent text of comprehensive laws, and Christianity and Islam, which built upon Judaism, followed suit with their own texts? If the only three monotheistic religions we know enough about to bring into our discussion (that is, unless you're considering other unrelated monotheistic religions as well?) are related to each other, can we really attribute any trend to monotheism? Do you think there is something about polytheism that makes it less suited to controlling people than monotheism?

Basically, you're singling out monotheism here, but I'm not sure I've seen enough evidence to support you. Was polytheism really less dangerous than monotheism?

You talk about how humans wrote religious doctrines, trying to pass their ideas off as God's. I'm totally with you there. Drives me crazy when people trust "God's word" without question. That said, not everyone who believes in god or considers themselves to be religious blindly follows religious doctrine. You know this, obviously, but it's important to acknowledge the limited applicability of some of your statements.

A couple things not in your actual post, but in the comments that followed...

On prayer: Ambles already beat me to most of this, but... If a loved one dies, chocolate may not cut it. You might need to talk to someone about it. Therapists make tons of money for asking, "And why do you feel that way?" with the assumption that just talking about your worries and thinking about their sources can help. Maybe prayer is a kind of therapy, a way to talk and think about your problems or priorities. And God doesn't charge by the hour. There are different definitions of meditation, but assuming it means self-psychotherapy, then sure, this could also serve the same function. But sometimes, some people just need someone to talk to, whether it be a therapist, God, or... a girlfriend. And going along these lines, can you really fault someone who has just lost a loved one for hoping that there is some way that they might talk with that person again, or see them again in an afterlife?

If looking to a higher power is "programmed into us genetically," is it really irrational? If God programmed us, then sure it could be, but if we evolved it, maybe it served some function and isn't totally irrational. I guess a virus could have inserted the religion gene it into our ancient ancestors' DNA or something.

I'll just conclude my extensive comment with a question. When did we stop needing religion? I think you implied in your argument, and I tend to agree, that in past times, religion was a benefit to society. But today, you argue (I may agree but am kind of neutral on this--it's complicated) that we don't need religion. When did this change occur? And why? I guess in the past, people needed religion to teach them moral living. When did we develop morals for the sake of morals rather than for the sake of not angering the gods? Did we just wake up one day? Or were there always some people who didn't need religion to act morally (and the definition of "moral" is of course ambiguous and another entire debate), and some time in the last century or something we crossed some critical threshold (like, 75%) of people who fit this description, so we don't need religion anymore? Just a thought.

Sorry I've said so much. You make an interesting case, much of which I agree with, contrary to how it might appear. It's just a debate that I enjoy, unless it stops being scholarly and turns mean and winds up hurting people as it does in some venues, but I don't expect it to on your blog (or mine, for that matter). Now... discuss.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Conclusion of my Hawaii visit

Well, I'm back from Hawaii now. I had a great time, but it was an atypical Hawaiian vacation. It was really less like a Hawaii vacation and more like a visit to a potential grad school followed by a visit with my grandparents. Well, that's what it was.

Basically, I didn't get to the beach. At all. I did walk along the beach one night, but I was wearing rolled up jeans so didn't go in past my knees, and it was night, so I wasn't exactly in danger of being sunburned (though I may have been in danger of stepping on broken glass or being mugged--my mother has trained me well). What I did do in Hawaii was eat. A lot. Of the ten meals I shared with my grandparents, only one of them was NOT all-you-can-eat, and that meal was dim sum, and I have never had a light dim sum in my life. Between dim sum and Chinese buffet and Hawaiian buffet restaurants and the retirement home's dining room buffet, I came in contact with quite a lot of food. And my grandparents, always making sure that I got my money's worth, kept telling me to go back and get more food. My grandfather would even order things for me ("You want the Belgian waffles?" "No, Gung-Gung, I'm full." "Okay, I'll order you the Belgian waffles." "No--." "Excuse me, can you get her some Belgian waffles?" "How many?" "Two."). And I of course was not about to disappoint them. So in short, on my visit to Hawaii, I didn't get tan, I just got fat.

I did get to see some movies I'd been meaning to see, thanks to the library with free DVD rentals at the retirement home. Well, one movie I wanted to see but for the sake of my grandparents' sensibilities refrained from renting was Borat (I was somehow amused that their library had two copies of it). But in addition to No Country for Old Men and Gone Baby Gone which I mentioned in an earlier post, I got to see Vicky Cristina Barcelona and The Lives of Others. I loved both of them, and while neither were exactly fairy tales, they were considerably happier than the previous two. Javier Bardem is so much cuter without that awful haircut. And when he's not murdering people. I remember being a little bitter when The Lives of Others beat Pan's Labyrinth for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar, since I had seen Pan's and liked it a lot. But The Lives of Others was beautiful in many ways and I think it deserved to win (and Pan's got some other Oscars, anyway).

About an hour before I caught the taxi to the airport, I received an email saying that I could expect two different professors at the University of Hawaii to give me offers to work with them. Both have funding for a grad student (which is a must for me). So I will be choosing between three grad school options, after all. I really liked my visit at UH, and I feel fairly certain that I want to go there instead of work with the professor I've been working for here for the past two years. Even though I live on the mainland now and can drive to a big city in a couple hours and in several hours could get to any number of cities, I still feel more isolated out here in what sometimes feels like the middle of a wasteland. Hawaii is truly isolated, in the middle of the ocean, but there is a lot going on in Honolulu, and I feel its isolation makes it a special place. And of course, if my goal is to study the ocean, Hawaii isn't isolated--it's in the middle of everything! Still, I'll have to decide which professor to work with. There are many factors to take into account: the professor, the project, technicians and other students (there is a chance that one of these professors will also be mentoring landlocked-Germany girl... I'll try my best not to let that be a factor). It's hard to make this decision after just a two day visit; I only talked with one of the professors for half an hour. This is the next 6+ years of my life we're talking about. I'm a little overwhelmed at the moment. And of course my mom already wants to know what date I'll be moving out there. Ack!

Well, that about sums up my visit to Hawaii. It is likely that next time I go there, it won't be a "visit." Kind of crazy to think about. I'm excited. Almost as excited as my grandparents.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Living amongst old people in Hawaii, Part 2

As I've mentioned before, I stayed four days with my grandparents at their FAMOUS RETIREMENT HOME in Hawaii. I'd been there before, but never without the rest of my family and never overnight. So on this visit, I had more time to take in the atmosphere and more of a chance to get to interact with the residents than I had on my previous visits.

My grandparents love living in their retirement home. While they probably miss their old house (I know I do--they grew mangoes, lychee, starfruit, strawberry guavas, figs, bananas, and avocados!), they reached a stage where it was too much effort to care for the house and cook all their meals, and living in the retirement home gives them some peace of mind that health assistance is readily available should it be needed. But in addition to the obvious benefits of having meals cooked for them and a clinic downstairs, living in the retirement home is a little bit like being in a college dorm. Their friends live right down the hallway, they see them all the time, and they eat in the same dining hall. They can join a number of clubs; my grandparents do line dancing and ukulele (the first syllable is pronounced "oo" not "you"). They can check their email in the library and take out books or movies. They can sit out in the garden. They can attend free shows (though nothing's really "free" since they're paying to be there--just like in college). They have parties for special events (I went to their St. Patrick's Day party). It's college without the classes!

Except that graduation from the retirement home is death. It's not a nice way of putting it, but it's the sad truth. In a rare moment alone with my grandfather, as we sat on the bench outside waiting for the taxi to take me to the airport, he remarked, "It's kind of sad, because your friends keep dying." In the mail room, there are two bulletin boards right next to each other: "New Residents" and "In Memoriam." When I was there, the boards showed that a woman had just moved in and a man had just passed away on Friday. Seeing their two photos next to each other highlighted the cycle of retirement homes: one person dies, another person moves in to replace him. This new woman is signing in as a new member of a club where she will likely remain until her photo lands on the adjacent bulletin board.

It is a little overwhelming when I realize that some of these people are four times as old as I am. How much experience and knowledge they must have! How many memories! We young people may criticize them for having old-fashioned taste or what we deem out-of-date values, but it is difficult to deny their wisdom. They have a perspective that we won't have for what seems like an eternity to me. And yet they are stuck in weak bodies with poor hearing and eyesight. Young people roll their eyes and sigh at them when asked to repeat themselves for the fourth time. "Youth is wasted on the young." I always hated that saying; I didn't see any truth in it until now.

At the St. Patrick's Day party, I overheard one resident, who had moved in relatively recently, say to the other residents at his table, "I love living here so much, I want to live here until I die." An older resident replied, "Good, because you will." As a 23 year old, I cannot come to grips with being at a stage in life when such things can be said. What do you do, knowing that your greatest accomplishments in life have already happened? Talk about your children, your grandchildren, the past. Learn some new things (like how to play the ukulele). It's senior spring, you're in the home stretch. Enjoy it. Graduation's coming.

View from my grandparents' lanai. It was actually a beautiful full arc double rainbow at one point (you can see a trace of the double rainbow in this shot), but I couldn't fit it into one camera shot, so I couldn't do it justice.

Poi, why I can never be kama'aina

This anecdote is actually from my Hawaii visit a few years ago, but it bears telling here. I had just gotten off the plane and arrived at my great aunt and uncle's house in Honolulu and was sleepily lounging on the couch watching TV. I saw a commercial that went something like this:

A boyfriend and girlfriend are shopping in the mall. Or rather, the girlfriend is shopping, and the boyfriend is playing pack mule. The girl excitedly points to one shop--"Oh, let's go there!"--goes in, comes out with a bag, then points to another shop--"Oooh, let's go there!"--comes out with another bag, etc., etc. The boyfriend faithfully carries the bags, but he is clearly not interested in anything in the mall. Until suddenly he stops, and looks up as if he's just seen the Holy Grail. "Oooh, let's go there!" he exclaims. The camera shot reveals that he's standing in front of a McDonald's. Voiceover: Come to McDonald's for our new taro pie! And we see a shot of the boyfriend taking a satisfying bite into a McDonald's taro pie, which looks a lot like a McDonald's apple pie except that it has a sort of purple mashed potato-looking filling instead of cinnamon and apples.

Welcome to Hawai'i. I have to say, I expected the guy to go for some big, juicy, beefy burger with extra bacon and cheese. That was the punchline I anticipated. But we're in Hawai'i, now. It's all about the taro pie. Being a U.S. state, Hawai'i has most of the regular American fast food and chain restaurants, though these may show hints of Hawaiian influence. Hawai'i also boasts a great selection of Asian cuisines--Japanese, Chinese, Thai, Korean, and more. Slightly harder to find is genuine native Hawaiian food, but you can find it if you look. Less of a cuisine and more of a compilation of cuisines that typifies Hawaii food today is the plate lunch.

So if I had to choose a single food as the quintessential Hawaiian food, what would I choose? Shave ice? It's so much better than the mainland's snowcones that the comparison isn't even fair: a fine snow soaked with sweet syrups of your choice of dozens of tasty flavors (my favorites: lychee, li hing mui, mango). Or maybe spam I'd choose spam as the typical Hawaiian food. Everywhere else in the world, spam is a joke, or an annoying thing to find in your inbox. In Hawai'i, it's a treat. Worthy candidates, but I think the quintessential Hawaiian food would have to be poi.

Poi was the staple of the native Hawaiian diet. It's made by mashing taro root into a paste and mixing it with water to achieve the desired consistency. Which is apparently something like the consistency of Elmer's glue. Poi is actually very much like Elmer's glue, except that it is purple and doesn't taste as good. No, I do not like poi. And I'm not exactly a picky eater. At our lunch buffet today, I ate the purple seaweed, I ate the raw octopus. And I liked it. I dutifully took a cupful of poi, since my mother who loves poi always told us to eat a little so we could "learn to like it." My grandmother loved it--she ate three cups of poi today. My grandfater remarked, "The poi is good today, nice and sweet." False. If anything, it was slightly sour, a paste that is mostly tasteless except for a vaguely yucky flavor. How anyone could find it delightful is beyond me.

If you ever go to Hawai'i, you should try some poi. Some people like it, and it is an important and prominent Hawaiian food. But I can't stand it. I wonder if it's like cilantro, where some people simply don't have the gene to taste the good herby cilantro flavor. I tried hard today, but I don't think I'll ever learn to like poi. And that is why true Hawaii locals will probably never fully consider me kama'aina.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

In Hawaii with my grandparents

I am staying in my grandparents' apartment at their famous retirement home in Hawaii, where I have discovered to my delight several insecure wireless signals to poach, so it's time for another blog post.

On Friday, three UH professors picked up the nine of us prospective UH oceanography grad students in a 12-person van to take us to Coconut Island. They came bearing Leonard's malasadas, which I highly recommend if you ever find yourself in Honolulu (I particularly like the haupia filled ones). Coconut Island is just off Kaneohe, which is on the north side of Oahu (but not the "North Shore"). It used to be privately owned by the Pauley family and was quite the luxury vacation home--many U.S. presidents paid the island a visit. It is also the island shown in the opening credits of Gilligan's Island. Now it is owned by the state and is home to the Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology, which is part of UH. HIMB is closer to a coral reef than any other marine biological lab in the world. The island is beautiful (like the rest of Hawaii), and we had gorgeous weather.

View at Coconut Island

The rest of the day was a little more of the same as Thursday--touring of lab facilities and individual meetings with selected professors. We prospectives were set loose for dinner, and we went to this tiny little Japanese restaurant on Kapahulu called Irifune, which is probably the most decorated restaurant I've ever seen (I had trouble finding the bathroom even when I was standing right in front of the door). They have those glow-in-the-dark stars on the ceiling, and when they turned out the lights so we could sing "Happy Birthday" to one of the patrons, they told us we had to look up at the stars on the ceiling and say "Ooooh, ahhhhh." Quirky little place, and the food was pretty good.

After spending another day with the student I called a "turnoff" in my last post, I have concluded that she is in fact a very nice person who does not deserve my negative judgment. Even if she did remark to one of the German oceanography professors, "It's funny that so many Germans ended up here studying oceanography, since Germany is a landlocked country." Riiiight. And we wonder why people hate Americans. The other thing she said that bothered me was in a later conversation when we were discussing the recent school shooting in Germany and how, in light of the fact that the killer had been a fan of violent video games (Far Cry 2 was mentioned), some people were blaming these games for the shootings. I said that I was unconvinced that violent video games cause school shootings, and her argument in response was, "Well, [school shootings] didn't used to happen before there were video games." Oy. There are plenty of other things that have changed in society over the last couple decades that could be blamed for school shootings, and anyway, even if every school shooter were a gamer, correlation does not equal causation. With logic like hers, what kind of scientific researcher will she be? All right, so I guess I'm still a little wary of going to a school where this person would be my peer, but to be fair everyone has said dumb things before and I'm sure she is smart in other ways.

On Saturday morning, it was very rainy, which put a damper on our assorted plans to go hiking or swimming. I walked around Waikiki and bought some silly souvenirs for a few of my friends, then had my grandparents pick me up and drive me to their place. Since arriving, I have watched two movies from their retirement home's library--No Country for Old Men and Gone Baby Gone. Man, I need to watch something happy next. Today I am officially on old-people-time. My grandparents took me down for Sunday breakfast at 7:00 am. Such an ungodly hour. I'm sure that was at least one hour ahead of when my brother ate breakfast in California. I guess it'll help the jetlag when I go back east.

At noon, we're meeting some aunties, uncles, and cousins for dim sum at a restaurant called Happy Days. Happy days indeed.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

First day of my UH visit

Today I visited the University of Hawaii at Manoa campus. It, like most of Hawaii, is gorgeous. We were greeted by I think the dean of the School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology, whose name is Sandy Shor (pronounced "shore"). Seriously. It's one of those names you joke about but don't actually think anyone is really named. I hope he studies coastal ocean or maybe sediment erosion at ocean-land boundaries.

I really like the campus. The place I've been working is out in the country, a tiny speck of academia in a sea of rednecks. Well, it's not that bad, but walking around here, I realize how much I miss people. And the people in the department seem really nice and interesting. And of course it seems like a nice place to live.

The only real turnoff I encountered today was another one of the prospective students. Maybe I'll talk about it later; it's not nice to judge (though it can be fun), so I'll hold off for now. But for the most part, I loved my visit to the campus today. We went to a seminar where the professor talked about the P (phosphorus) cycle (and why it is appropriate to call it the "pee" cycle--look up how the element was discovered in the 17th century) and hypothesized about diatom orgies. Fun. We have a second campus visit tomorrow. Now I should go to bed. It's 5:40 AM East Coast time.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Going to Hawai'i for my UH grad school visit

Thoughts from my day spent traveling to Hawaii for my visit to UH as a prospective oceanography grad student

I'm at the airport for my flight to Hawaii. I have one layover, and it's weird because the first leg of my journey is only a 40 minute flight, and the second leg is 11 hours. It's going to be difficult adjusting to the 6-hour time difference, especially since I woke up early this morning to drive to the airport. I probably won't get to bed in Hawaii until 24 hours after I woke up. Napping on the plane will be a must.

I just bought a $4 candy bar. You know how they put those candy bars right next to the cash register so they can sucker you into just grabbing one at the last minute. Well, I usually resist, but this time it was a Godiva chocolate bar with caramel. I was buying a bottle of water (it must have been quite a boon for the airport terminal stores when they outlawed bringing your own bottle of water into the airport), and right next to the cash register was this luscious-looking candy bar--like a luxury Caramello. I was feeling sorry for myself about the long flight ahead of me, so I thought, I deserve a little treat. And then my water + chocolate came up to $6.02. Ouch. It's not a big candy bar. I figure that's 50 cents a bite. It had better be good (but now it's too early in the morning to eat candy).

My flight's delayed. We aren't going to get off the ground now until half an hour after we were supposed to land. I could have driven there by then. Blah.

Luckily my first flight's delay wasn't a problem for catching my second flight, since it too was delayed. First due to weather, then they found a technical problem. Fun stuff.

My flight had Twilight as one of the entertainment options. Not a great movie, kind of silly, but it's entertaining, and the story is kind of intriguing. I can see the appeal. Though I hope some things are better explained in the book. Like why do vampires sparkle in the sunlight? Does that have any cause or purpose? I don't really get it. My favorite scene was the one where Edward's family makes food for Bella. It was so sweet of them. I never thought a family of vampires could be so adorable.

My flight landed around 8:15 pm. One of the professors greeted me at baggage claim with an orchid lei. It's my eighth time in Hawaii, and the first time I've ever been greeted with a lei. Got to my hotel at 9:00 or so. Tried to find Lost on TV, but apparently their shows air an hour earlier, so it's already Life on Mars. Oh well. Watched it instead. Now it's past 10 (= 4:00 am East Coast time). I'm pretty tired. Jet lag. Good night.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Thoughts on the Watchmen movie

After long months of anticipation (I'm a relatively new fan, so I can't claim to have waited the many years that long-time fans can), apprehension over whether it would do the book justice, and worry over whether the movie would even be released at all, I made my way to the movie theater to watch Watchmen on Sunday. Thanks to its wide release (largest ever for an R-rated film), it was even playing at my small town's local theater, though I kind of wished it wasn't so I'd have an excuse to drive 40 minutes to a larger theater with a larger screen; as it was, my friend Lucy with whom I was going to see the movie was understandably not interested in driving that extra distance.

I really liked the movie. It has received very mixed reviews from critics, but I thought Zack Snyder et al. did a very good job with it. It was not the greatest comic book movie of all time, and it did not transform the genre, but it was an entertaining, satisfying adaptation that for the most part did justice to the complex characters and thought-provoking situations that were in the book. (Much of what I thought was great about the movie is also what I thought was great about the graphic novel). And I wasn't really expecting much more than that. I don't think Watchmen could have played the same role in film that it did for comic books. The two media are totally different, so what works wonders in one cannot be expected to revolutionize another. And their timings were also different--by decades. I wonder if the movie would have played differently if it had come out last year, i.e., before The Dark Knight came out last summer. Watchmen might have seemed more innovative to audiences; Dark Knight already gave us a taste of a dark and gritty movie about masked heroes (though not nearly so gruesome as Watchmen) with a healthy dose of moral ambiguity (though not quite as devastating as in Watchmen). After The Dark Knight, we simply may not have needed Watchmen as much as we might have last year. This is not to say that Watchmen doesn't go anywhere that The Dark Knight doesn't. It is far more brutal, the characters are I believe more complex (and there are more of them), and the stakes are much higher. But I'm also not saying that Watchmen would have been better had it not followed The Dark Knight; the movie as it is would have still had difficulties, like some of the viewers who had not read the book finding the plot to be convoluted and confusing.

So what did I like in the movie and what didn't I like? I really loved the opening credit sequence. It was beautifully done, showing key moments throughout the history of the masked hero; in most cases, these moments were captured in photos worthy of the front page of a newspaper. The montage was an efficient, effective way to show us that this was an alternate reality much like our own, except for the fact that masked vigilantes have become a part of the culture.My favorite clip was of Silhouette kissing the nurse at the end of WWII in the fashion of the famous photo of the kiss in Times Square. This was a great bit that wasn't in the book that helped to integrate the history of Watchmen into our own history.

One of the biggest changes made for the movie was there was no giant squid. They had made it clear in advance that the giant squid in the graphic novel would not make an appearance in the movie, likely so fans could prepare themselves to see a major change. I think it was a good choice; the squid would have worked less well in the movie than it worked in the comic book, and it helped to streamline the story in that they didn't have to bring in the genetic (and artistic) experimentation. Using the same science fiction established with Dr. Manhattan made the ending catastrophe... tidier. However, Veidt's genetically-engineered lynx Bubastis was left in the movie. Her sudden appearance after Veidt kills the scientists in Antarctica was a little jarring. "Whoa, where did that CGI cat come from?" I wonder if she was supposed to be introduced in a previous scene that didn't make the final cut. In any case, she was still out of place in the movie, because her existence was related to Veidt's genetic experiments that lead to the squid. Taking out the squid made her an unexplained anomaly. I guess Veidt needed someone to talk to and stroke as he sat in his chair watching all the TV screens. It would have been sad and lonely without Bubastis. And the fans might have missed her.

Another thing that worked better in the book than the movie but would probably have been missed by fans was the flamethrower. You know... Archie's flamethrower. It was silly in the comic book, but it was really, really silly in the movie. Especially since in the comic book, the frame with the flamethrower going off was done in lieu of showing any actual action. The movie was not afraid to embrace its R rating and show some action, making the flamethrower extraneous.

One of my favorite lines from the book is Jon's reply to Adrian when he asks if he did the right thing.
Adrian: I did the right thing, didn't I? It all worked out in the end.
Jon: "In the end?" Nothing ends, Adrian. Nothing ever ends.
As Adrian desperately tries to ask him what he means, Jon disappears. It is chilling. Adrian, for all his faults, truly has the best interests of human kind at heart, but he has just done something horrible and needs Jon's affirmation that it was the right thing to do. With Jon's emotionless and ominous response, Adrian and the reader both feel doubt and dread. Snyder et al. clearly liked this line a lot, decided they wanted it in the movie, but wanted it to have a more prominent position at the end of the movie. It is in fact the last line spoken by one of the major characters in the movie, just before the final scene at the New Frontiersman office. But the line is spoken by Laurie: "I know what Jon would say. Nothing ends. Nothing ever ends." The placement is nice, but the line loses its chilling kick when it is not delivered by Jon and not delivered to Adrian. I don't know how they could have gotten around that problem, but it was a slight disappointment.

Overall, I think the Watchmen movie is as good as I had hoped it would be. It had a great story and characters to begin with, of course. The long story was skillfully cut down to a reasonable movie length. The cast did a great job. Jackie Earle Haley was amazing, particularly in all the prison scenes. The action was brutal and stylized, and I thought it was pretty cool. I thought the slow-mo shots were used well, capturing the comic book feel. There were plenty of pleasingly-composed shots, just as the comic frames were well composed. The scenery and costumes were very good realizations of those in the comic book. I was very impressed with the job they did, and I came out of the movie feeling a bit giddy (well, and somewhat somber).

Watchmen had a hugely successful opening day on Friday, March 6, taking in $25 million. It was therefore a bit of a surprise when the movie failed to meet analysts' predictions (and failed to beat the opening weekend $70.9 million of Snyder's 300 two years ago) with a weekend total of $55.2 million. I bet it is pretty uncommon for a movie to make more on its opening Friday than on Saturday, though with a highly anticipated fanboy movie like this, I guess it makes sense; the fans want to be there on opening day. Without universal high praise from critics, I think it has been and will continue to be difficult for Watchmen to catch on with a wider audience; people who are not particular comic book fans may figure they already saw the good comic book movie last summer, and besides, this one is a gory R. Still, I would recommend this movie, provided that the viewer is not too squeamish (I have to say, even I wince at the sight of protruding broken bones or severed limbs). The action is exciting, the story is challenging, the characters are intriguing, and it's a good time overall. But I'd also say, Read the book.

Friday, March 6, 2009


So far... not a very good Friday. This morning I was insulted by a rude stranger, and while I shouldn't have let it bother me, I got very upset over it. Then this afternoon, I got my rejection letter from MIT. The latter I was prepared for, kind of expecting, and a part of me was even slightly hoping for it, since it makes my decision that much simpler. Screw you, Massholes, I'm going to Hawai'i! The former has left a bitter taste in my mouth. Not like coffee--more like lye.*

I need something to get my spirits up. I mean, it's Friday! After last Sunday's snowstorm, tomorrow is supposed to be 68 F and sunny. Next week it will be 50 and raining, but I'll be off to Hawaii. Another episode of Dollhouse is on tonight (though Eliza Dushku herself says that the show won't get really good until episode 6), and tomorrow I get to watch last week's Battlestar Galactica (the 8-day delay is excruciating--darn waiting for it to show up online legally!). Oh yeah, and

Watchmen premieres today! At long last. I guess there were lots of midnight showings, so many fans have already seen it. I will likely go to a Sunday matinee with my friend who finished reading the graphic novel just two weeks ago. While I cannot take credit for convincing her to read the book--she has a couple other friends who have been telling her to read it for a while--I was the one who thrust the book into her hands with a "Movie premieres March 6." The reviews have been decidedly mixed; some critics have said the movie adaptation is dumb, convoluted, and/or boring, while others have praised it for being rich and powerful. In any case, I will see it for myself. And even if it is not a great film, I will probably enjoy it.

* Disclaimer: I have never actually tasted lye (thank goodness). But I can imagine.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

A surfeit of Nick Fury, Star Wars: A Musical Journey, and more

And now for the entertainment news that caught my interest in the past week...

We all saw Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury at the end of Iron Man. We've heard that he will be reprising his role in future Marvel films. But who would have guessed just how many times we might see Jackson as Fury? Samuel L. Jackson has signed a contract with Marvel to play Nick Fury in as many as nine films (Variety, IMDb). The 9-picture deal includes roles in Iron Man 2, Captain America, Thor, The Avengers and any sequels, and a possible S.H.I.E.L.D. movie. It is uncertain whether all nine movies will be made, but the fans who giggled with glee when Nick Fury introduced himself can count on seeing plenty more of him.

Comics movies are being greenlit left and right. Warner Bros. has Dan Lin (producer of the upcoming Downey-Law Sherlock Holmes) set to produce a movie version of Suicide Squad, a DC series about incarcerated supervillains recruited by the government to carry out missions that are too dangerous for superheroes (Variety). Meanwhile, Megan Fox has signed on to star in and produce an adaptation of Michael Turner's comicbook Fathom (Variety). She will play heroine Aspen Matthews, a champion swimmer and marine biologist who discovers that she has water-based powers and is a member of an underwater race. I'm all for female-centric comicbook movies, though this one sounds like it will be largely centered around having Megan Fox in a swimsuit. It advertises itself, I guess.

Seeing as I've been faithfully reporting on the upcoming Spider-Man musical, I feel I should share the following story. Star Wars: A Musical Journey will be opening in London this April, and the production will then make its way to the U.S. ( This is a live Star Wars stage show, but the organizers insist it is not a regular, straight forward musical theater production. There will be a huge orchestra, big LED screens, and apparently no "R2-D2 rolling across the stage." Other than that, I can't quite figure out what it will be like. My interest is piqued, but I am also concerned. What's the deal here?

Leonardo DiCaprio has signed on to star in Christopher Nolan's sci-fi movie "Inception" (Variety). We still know little about the script, thought the studio has described it as a "contemporary sci-fi actioner set within the architecture of the mind." Sounds cool.

Zack Snyder, director of the Watchmen movie, is adamant that he would never direct a sequel or prequel to Watchmen. Star Billy Crudup (Dr. Manhattan), though, has said that it's up to the studios--it seems at least he and the other stars are contractually obligated to take part in any prequels/sequels that studio bosses want to make (IMDb). Why in heaven's name are they even talking about a Watchmen follow-up story? There's nothing to do! It's a complete stand-alone story, a closed book so to speak. Snyder has the right of it, saying that any sequel would go against what Watchmen stands for. Even if the movie, which opens this Friday, is a masterpiece and becomes a huge hit and makes tons of money, I would not want to see a spin-off. And I bet most comics fans would not want to see a spin-off, either. Let's hope the studio heads agree.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Snow Day!!!

I losse alántie linteve,
Caita bale or i nóre.
Ilye ná dín ar ninque.
Sulime utúlie rá.*

Yes, March has come in like a lion indeed. In the two winters I've been working here, we've had a few delayed openings and early closures at the lab, but today is my first ever full snow day here. Of course, I live just a five minute walk from the lab, so I have no good reason why I shouldn't be able to work today. But no one else is going to be there, so there's no way I'm going in. Snow day! Yay!!!

I went out and took a bunch of pictures this morning. Unfortunately, my digital camera's screen isn't working at the moment, so taking good pictures is a little difficult at the moment. Oh well. The snow has stopped, and while it isn't sunny it is much brighter than this morning, so maybe I'll go outside and take some more photos. Happy March!

A cardinal

Reeds and ice


Snowdrift, bushes, tree, river

* There's only one language for a geek like me to use when writing about nature.