Monday, September 28, 2009

The conference in Berlin

Well, I'm back from my trip to Berlin. My talk at the conference went pretty well. The PowerPoint presentation was good, but I didn't do so well answering a certain question... Basically, the problem is that my part in the research I was presenting is now over, and I've moved on to grad school at a different institution and I actually don't know too much about the specifics of the ecological applications of the project that my coauthors have planned for the future. So the question went something like,

"I was wondering if you plan to take into account blah blah blah fragmentation blah blah time blah blah blah blah spatial blah blah blah blah."

I didn't really fully understand the question--this wasn't my part in the project. So I answered,

"Well, I won't be looking into it, since I've moved on to other things [I had mentioned this fact already], but my coauthors may have plans to look into that." The audience laughed. I did not mean for that to be humorous. It dawned on me that my comment may have come off as a bit flippant. I was horrified. Anyway, I followed this up by explaining that I thought it was a good point and then gave some extra details that I thought might be relevant and make me sound somewhat intelligent. Then the professor under whom I had done the research (I was the first author, but she was the principal investigator), who was sitting in the room of course, caught the attention of the convenors who called on her so she could answer the question. It was good that the question was answered. It was less good that someone had to answer my question for me. And I still worry that people thought I was blowing off that guy with my comment.

Ah well. The conference was relatively enjoyable. I have to say that most of the talks didn't have much to do with the direction that I plan on taking my studies, but some were still interesting. I think the best thing about the conference itself was seeing the people that I had met a year and a half ago in southern France. That meeting had been of a small (~30 people) subgroup of the organization that was having the Berlin conference (~800 people), so I had gotten to know each of the thirty people at the meeting fairly well. I think that helped me, getting to know a small pool of people before being plunged into the big sea of the conference.

It was a good week, especially since the travel, lodging, and food was all paid for. And the jet lag wasn't nearly as bad as I expected. I mean, a 12-hour time difference isn't so zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. Ahem, sorry, where was I?

I skipped one of the five days to go on a bus tour of Berlin, and another one to see the zoo. I have some fun pictures to share, but I've also got a huge load of work that piled up while I was away, so it may be a number of days before I get around to posting. For now, I leave you with a kind of blurry picture of me giving my talk. Don't I look professional?

Friday, September 18, 2009

Off to Berlin!

Today I leave for my conference in Berlin. While I'm psyched about visiting a country I've never been to before, I am nervous about the long trip (24 hours from departure to arrival, with a 12-hour time difference--ugh!), the presentation I have to give, and my non-existent German language skills. I'm not sure how much time I'll be spending inside the boring conference building, but I'll do my best to get out and see some sites and take photos of my adventures.

Since I'll be away for the week, and I'll presumably be busy with business-y conference stuff, I won't be writing any posts. Catch you when my time(-zone) travels are over!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Fall 2009 TV Season

Some TV shows have had an early start to their fall seasons (e.g., Glee's new episode last week), but for the most part, shows are just about to kick off for the year. Here's a list of the shows I'll be watching and when they'll air just in case you're interested, too.

Wednesday, Sept. 9

8/7c - So You Think You Can Dance (FOX)
Dancers of all disciplines from across the country must salsa, waltz, disco, hip hop, contemporary dance, tango, jazz, etc. their way through the competition to win the title of America's Favorite Dancer.
Kind of like American Idol for dance, SYTYCD is a competition where unknown talented dancers (and um, not-so-talented dancers) audition, the 20 best (10 girls, 10 guys) are selected to compete on the show, and America votes on their favorite dancers, eliminating one guy and one girl each week until one dancer wins in the finale. The dancers perform in couples (1 guy/1 girl except on special occasions towards the finale), selecting one or two styles of dance to tackle for the week. For the first five weeks, dancers are voted on as couples, and the judges have the final say in who goes home, selecting one guy and one girl from the three couples with the least votes. Once it's been narrowed down to the top 10 dancers, though, dancers are voted on individually and it's all up to America's votes. Dancers perform solos in their own style of dance if they are in the bottom three couples, and also every week once they get to the top 10, but most of the competition forces the dancers to move outside of their comfort zones--ballet dancers do hip hop, break dancers do smooth waltz, etc. How the dancers adapt is always surprising and impressive. The choreographers, who are tasked with not only choreographing but also teaching the dancers their style of dance, are amazing. I love this show for exposing such a large audience to such different styles of dance, making true art in many cases. ANYWAY, SYTYCD has had five successful summer seasons (one just ended a month ago), and now FOX is bumping it up to "real season" status. As long as they keep the good dances coming, I'll keep watching. Actually, I generally skip the audition episodes and wait until the real competition (with the top 20) starts. That won't happen until Tuesday, October 27.

9/8c - Glee (FOX)
Misfit students in the high school glee club try to find success (and glee) in the face of their "cool kid" oppressors (i.e., cheerleaders and jocks).
I talked about this show last week. The new episode last week was even funnier than the pilot (in my opinion)! It's a really smart, hilarious new show, and the music is delightful.

Thursday, Sept. 17 (FOX)

9/8c - Fringe (FOX)
FBI agent Olivia Dunham investigates crimes and disasters relating to the fringe sciences, along with Walter Bishop, a scientist specializing in fringe sciences, and his son Peter.
This show started off a little shaky last year, but by mid-season it was going strong with exciting mysteries and a thrilling blend of suspense and ickiness. The metaphysics behind the storyline revealed at the end of the season is intriguing. FOX is moving it up to the big time--9PM on Thursdays is the prime time slot, shared by juggernauts CSI and Grey's Anatomy. It holds the title of "last season's strongest freshman in the 18-49 demo", but here's hoping it'll catch on even more and hold its own.

Monday, Sept. 21

8/7c - How I Met Your Mother (CBS)
Ted tells his two kids the long, meandering story of how he met their mother. Many hijinks involving him and his four best friends ensue.
In my opinion, this is the best sitcom on TV right now. Hilarious, clever, and sweet. I still haven't seen most of the early seasons, but I didn't have too much trouble diving right into it at the beginning of last season. And we're getting closer to meeting the mother than we've ever been before. It's going to be legendary.

8/7c - Heroes (NBC)
Normal people, who have discovered they possess mutant superpowers, try to go about their normal lives but mostly find themselves fighting to resist (or assist) assorted bad guys and organizations hatching nefarious plots that only the Heroes can stop.
Like many, I loved the first season of this show, but in the two years since then, I've been disappointed. They keep saying they've learned from their mistakes and will make it good again, but they keep not delivering. I'll at least give it another shot. If it continues to be sucky, though... my schedule is pretty full.

9:30/8:30c - The Big Bang Theory (CBS)
Nerds Leonard and Sheldon, along with friends Howard and Koothrapali, and their new "normal girl" neighbor Penny find that they can learn from each other. Hilarity ensues.
This show is definitely funnier for the nerds and geeks among us who can understand all the jokes. There are some jokes that even go over my head--it's that nerdy/geeky. But the quirky characters (who with the exception of Penny are triple-crown nerds, geeks, and dorks) are different and adorable, the writing is good, and the story is being taken interesting places (I loved last season's episode where the four nerds tried to muster the courage to talk to Summer Glau on the train). I'm looking forward to its return.

10/9c - Castle (ABC)
Popular murder mystery author Richard Castle tags along with NYPD homicide detective Kate Beckett for research and inspiration, much to her annoyance, but beyond explanation manages to be helpful in many situations.
This was a new show last spring, and I had to tune in because the main character Castle is played by dear Nathan Fillion. He's great, the female lead Stana Katic is also great. The show isn't brilliant or anything, but it is light and enjoyable.

Wednesday, Sept. 23

10/9c - Eastwick (ABC)
Three New England women discover that they have supernatural witchy powers.
I've heard very little about this show, and it might suck, but I will probably tune in to give it a shot. I like witches.

Thursday, Sept. 24

8/7c - FlashForward (ABC)
All at once, every human being in the world blacks out for 2 minutes and 17 seconds and has a flashforward vision of what they will be doing at 10pm on April 29, 2010. Having people black out for over two minutes causes some considerable chaos to recover from, but there remain questions of why the blackouts and flashforwards occurred and what each person's vision portends.
This is the show ABC is hoping Lost fans will pick up while waiting for Lost's final season in 2010 and then stick with in following years. I had wondered at first whether they could continue the show after the first season (it seems that after April 29, 2010 it will lose some of its mystery), but apparently they've mapped out five seasons of FlashForward should they prove necessary. The cast includes Joseph Fiennes (Shakespeare in Love), Sonya Walger (Penny from Lost), John Cho (Harold & Kumar, Star Trek), and Dominic Monaghan (Lost, Lord of the Rings). This one looks promising.

Friday, Sept. 25

9/8c - Dollhouse (FOX)
Armed with technology that allows them to program a person's mind, an organization known as the Dollhouse rents out its "actives" who have been specially programmed to be suitable for their clients' tasks. There are weekly missions to complete according to the current clients, but there are also greater mysteries about the Dollhouse to uncover.
It took several weeks to hit its stride, but Dollhouse is good enough for me to tune back in. Everyone was surprised when it got renewed, since it didn't have the ratings--one can only assume that FOX was still regretting the way it ended Firefly (like Dollhouse, a Joss Whedon show) and wanted to avoid repeating that mistake (though Dollhouse wasn't as worthy of saving as Firefly). Guest stars this season include Summer Glau, Alexis Denisof (both Whedon alums), and Jamie Bamber. Can't wait.

Tuesday, Nov. 3

8/7c - V (ABC)
Aliens arrive on Earth claiming to come in peace, but some people know better and work to expose the aliens' evil plans.
A remake of an 1980s NBC miniseries, this looks like it might be a cool new sci-fi show. Its cast includes Elizabeth Mitchell (Juliet on Lost) as an FBI agent in the resistance movement and Morena Baccarin (Inara from Firefly) as the alien leader. Sounds good to me. Unfortunately, we'll have to wait a long time for this one.

So what is that? 12 hours of TV a week? (SYTYCD is a time hog with 3 hours a week once it reaches its 2-hour performance, 1-hour results episodes routine). I'll be busy this season...

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Upcoming superheroes, Ellen for Idol, other random stuff

Let's see what tidbits of entertainment news I have this time...

With Iron Man 2 finished (please let it be as awesome as the first!), Robert Downey Jr. and Jon Favreau are considering making Cowboys & Aliens, based on a graphic novel in which warring cowboys and Indians (excuse a debatably un-PC term--it just doesn't sound right to use any other word in that phrase) in the Old West are set upon by aliens when the aliens' spaceship crashes (Variety blog). The script is being rewritten by Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci (both co-writers of the recent Star Trek), and Damon Lindeloff (of Lost). The high concept is kind of cool, and the people involved have certainly caught my attention.

Warner Bros. has recruited Guy Ritchie to direct Lobo, a live-action movie based on the DC Comics interstellar bounty hunter (Variety blog). I'm not that familiar with the character, but I'm always keeping an eye out for comic adaptations. Sounds interesting.

Speaking of DC Comics and movies, Warner Bros. has recently taken control of the comic book publisher, creating "DC Entertainment" (Variety). The major restructuring was done in the hopes to turn out more projects--movies, comics, TV shows, games, merchandise--with more characters more efficiently. I don't really have an opinion on this matter--mainly what I care about is if they keep giving us more good movies.

Ellen DeGeneres will be Paula Abdul's replacement as judge on American Idol this coming season (Variety). Why? IMDb had a poll on the decision, and I was very disappointed to find it did not have among its many choices anything resembling my opinion on the matter. I adore Ellen. I timed my lunch break most days back at my previous job so I could walk home and watch her talk show. But one of the things about her that always slightly annoyed me was her love of the reality shows. I do not like most reality shows (So You Think You Can Dance is a notable exception). I do not like American Idol. What is Ellen doing on American Idol? What good can come of this?

Rainn Wilson, Ellen Page, and Liv Tyler are signed on to star in "Super", a superhero comedy written and to-be-directed by James Gunn (Variety). From what I can tell, it sounds like it might be a spoof of the superhero genre, rather than a simple comedy with superheroes. We'll see.

A sequel to last summer's Hancock is in the works (Variety). I didn't end up seeing that movie, though my understanding is that it wasn't very good. Oh, why must they make sequels to sucky movies?

Christoph Waltz, who recently caused a lot of buzz with his role in Inglourious Basterds, has signed on as the villain in the Green Hornet movie (Variety). He replaces Nick Cage in the role of Chudnofsky. I haven't seen him in Basterds, but if his performance is a great as everyone says, then hopefully he'll serve the Green Hornet well.

And last (and least?), Universal has recruited Peter Berg (director of Hancock) to direct the Battleship movie that it's doing in partnership with Hasbro (Variety), part of a multi-picture deal with the toy company that I have been casually tracking for no particularly good reason on this blog. The film is a live-action project involving a five-ship naval fleet. I wonder how many of them will sink. The movie is scheduled for a July 2011 release. More depressingly, the Hasbro-Universal Stretch Armstrong movie is scheduled for release in April 2011. Why must they do these things?

Well, that's all for now!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

The Housemate: Part VI - Over the pitcher's mound

The Housemate saga reaches a climax, of sorts. This will make more sense if you've read my previous installments, Parts I, II, III, IV, and V--and (again, strangely enough) if you've seen Firefly (I said to get on that).

I've been debating how much to share; some personal details feel like they belong on this blog, others do not. But since I've been making such a big thing of this whole crush on the Housemate issue, I figure it would be bad blogging form not to follow through a bit. So sparing you from too many details that might bore you anyway, here goes (*deep breath*)...

Last night, I slept with the Housemate.

Now don't go getting too excited; my virtue (pudicitia?) is still intact. It was just sleeping, fully clothed. Well, not just sleeping. It was really quite a big deal for me, seeing as before the concert two weeks ago I'd never had so much as a guy lay his hands on me.

We were sitting on the couch watching Firefly episode "Objects in Space", all cozy on up next to each other with his arms wrapped around me, kind of playing with each other's hands. Obnoxiously cutesy, I know. As the show was ending, he was lightly stroking my outer thigh (admittedly my fault, as I'd directed him there). Then--and it still mystifies me how quickly this happened--we were suddenly on second base (according to the xkcd definitions; apologies for the juvenile metaphor). I thought the rules said you were supposed to go to first base, well, first. Not to say that I minded, and it didn't happen quite so quickly that I couldn't have stopped him. Now, I don't know where exactly he thought it would all go (well, he's a guy, so I could guess), but at some point my brain kicked in saying Remember this is happening to you, dear--you have to do something about it! Jolted by that revelation, I quickly reigned him in by confessing my inexperience, and we backtracked to first base and didn't go much further, though we did spend the night sleeping next to each other.

So finally, at 24, I am officially off the "never been kissed" list. It's kind of strange, really. I haven't decided how I feel about it still, losing such a status that I had somehow come to consider a part of my identity. I had it all under control, but now I've lost my footing, I'm helplessly floating adrift in the unknown.

Well, here I am.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

The Housemate: Part V - Complicated

The Housemate saga continues from Parts I, II, III, and IV. This post makes more sense if you've seen Firefly. If you haven't, then get on that.

Dear Housemate:

You're not perfect.

You have bad teeth. You're not particularly funny or witty. We're both in oceanography (you might think I'd see that as a good thing, but I don't). Our hobbies are not very similar. You love surfing more than I ever will, though I'm doing my best to learn. You're game when I make you watch geeky things (Firefly, Dr. Horrible, The Guild, Into the Woods), and you seem to think they're all great (because they are), but I don't expect to be able to change your interests entirely. And I know this is unfair and totally snobby of me, but frankly I've been asked out by really, really smart guys in college, and I just don't think you're as smart as I'd like you to be, in the ways that I'd like you to be--I'm not sure how much you could challenge me.

Plus there's a lot we still don't know about each other. We've been spending a lot of time together in the past month, but it's still only one month. You don't know my religious beliefs, my political tendencies, the classes I took in college, why I always wear my gold necklace, or the fact that you were the first guy who ever put his hands on my waist and had it mean something. And what don't I know about you?

After all, what are the chances that when moving to a new city, the one person we fall for happens to be the person we live with? Is this just a crush of convenience? Maybe I'm wrong, but these just don't seem to be the ideal conditions for a relationship.

Your Housemate

P.S. I still think you're the perfect housemate, though.

I've been falling for the Housemate over the past few weeks, but old habits die hard. I didn't make it to age 24 having never had a date, a boyfriend, or a kiss without an intense aversion to complications and a serious ability to over-think things. Take Broken Heart #2: I was seriously crushing on him, and he on me, he asked me out, I turned him down to avoid complications in our group of friends, then I started justifying turning him down by thinking of all the things wrong with him, and within three days the crush had completely dissolved. Nice and neat (on my end, at least). And now I'm toying with the idea of doing the same thing to the poor Housemate.

Last night the Housemate and I sat together on the couch and watched the Firefly episode "Heart of Gold". Inara and Mal have clearly both fallen each other, but they both hate complications, and a romance between them would be incredibly complicated: shipboard romances are a bad idea in general, and Inara is a Companion, after all. At the end of the episode, just when you think they'll finally confess their love to one another, Inara tells Mal that she's leaving the ship. Sticky situation averted. Cupid weeps.

It's unsettling how much that plot line resonates with my life right now. I wouldn't move out of the house, but I could firmly pull away from whatever it is we've been heading towards ever since that concert. Maybe it would be for the better. And I've got my stupid list of justifications.

But the thought of him with someone else... If that were to happen... I think you'd find me curled up on the floor sobbing in the next room.

Continued with Part VI.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Glee Is Back!

The long-awaited return of Fox's new series "Glee" is finally here!

After premiering the pilot episode following the season finale of American Idol last spring, FOX has been hyping Glee all summer. A LOT. Rarely has a new TV show received such a huge promotional push. The pilot has been available on Hulu all summer, Fox has been airing ubiquitous commercials, they aired the pilot again last week with real-time Twitters from some cast and creative crew... It's been kind of a big deal. FOX thinks they have something golden.

But it seems to be paying off. Glee is the most buzzed about new show this season, the cast's Journey cover "Don't Stop Believing" from the pilot episode shot to the #1 spot on iTunes (I, uh, helped with that), and Glee fans have already been given their own nickname: "Gleeks". The critics all seem to be on their side, heaping praise on the smart, funny hour-long musical comedy show. The world of TV is humming with anticipation for its triumphant return.

Glee is poised to be the new big hit. But the test is whether the buzz translates into viewers this week and in the coming weeks. I'm hopeful.

Watch Glee tonight on FOX at 9/8c. And if you miss it, just wait until the same time Friday when they'll air it again. I said they were pushing this show hard.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

The Housemate: Part IV - It was perfect

This follows The Housemate: Parts I, II, and III. Sorry if my blog has devolved into a sappy teenage chick flick recently, but that's my life right now.

It was perfect.

We'd just watched Act 2 of Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog (I'm educating him slowly) and the Firefly episode "Trash." We were just getting cozy on the couch, scooched up next to each other. It was still only 9:30; he suggested we watch something else. We flip through my modest collection of movies and select Garden State; he hasn't seen it. I love that movie. Funny, cute, sweet. Also happens to be my most romantic movie that's not a chick flick.

It doesn't take long before his arm is resting on the back of the couch behind me. I lean back so his arm is now half on the couch back, half on my shoulders. Throughout the movie, I'm leaning into him bit by bit, he's folding his arm in closer bit by bit. Excruciatingly slow the both of us, like continental drift. We make it to the final scene in the movie--the scene at the airport. It's a scene of poignant sadness, love, hope, and bewilderment. I'm mainly wondering what's going to happen when the movie ends. Sitting on the couch alone in the dark house, the beautiful lights of the city night skyline in front of us. My skin is tingling. Sam and Andrew are sitting on the stairs at Newark International, discussing periods and ellipses...

And then our other two housemates--the Ukrainian couple--come home. They burst into the kitchen laughing and talking, turning on the lights. The mood is broken. We reluctantly break apart, and we watch the last two minutes of the movie sitting apart, with Ukrainian chatter in the background. It was like a scene out of a movie or TV show: so close but interrupted.

It was perfect.

I'll never know what would have happened if the Ukrainian housemates hadn't come home right then. Chances are that nothing would have happened. The sad truth of the matter is that this is farther than I've ever gotten before. It seems so elementary, but I'm kind of at a loss.

So what do we do? The question asked and unanswered at the end of Garden State. What do we do?

Find further developments in The Housemate: Part V.

Saturday, September 5, 2009


The most popular snorkel spot on O'ahu is Hanauma Bay, a Nature Preserve near the southeastern tip of the island. The bay gets its approximately 3/4 circle shape from its history as a volcanic crater, and it boasts an extensive reef with easy access. I'd gone there a couple times before, but I don't think it was any time within the past 10 years. The first time I went was almost 20 years ago (I'm so old!), back when they still let people feed the fish. On this first trip to Hanauma, I remember that with just one step into the ocean, there would be tons of fish swirling around my ankles. That's not the case anymore, likely because people can't feed the fish. And it's just as well; the other thing I remember from my first visit to Hanauma was getting bitten by a largish fish (it made me bleed and we had to go to a lifeguard for a band-aid), probably because my little fingertips dangling in the water looked a lot like the pellets that people were feeding to the fish.

Anyway, this morning the Housemate and I went to Hanauma Bay. These days, they make you watch a video about not touching the reef or harassing any of the animals before letting you walk down to the bay. I was pleased to receive free admission to the park, now that I'm kama'aina.

Here's a photo overlooking the bay. The panoramic stitch isn't perfect, but it's not bad.

We spent most of our morning at Hanauma snorkeling. The great thing was that the Housemate has a waterproof camera. I've never done any underwater photography before, but I got a couple cool shots of the fish and honu. We were actually trading the camera back and forth, so for the most part I'm not sure which of us took which photos. But here are some of the underwater photos from our snorkeling adventure. Enjoy!


No clue what kind of fish this is, but it's got some cool spots.

uhu (parrotfish)

Looks kind of goby-ish, but I'm no ichthyologist. Nice camouflage.

Looks like a tang, I think.

Graceful honu

Me, hangin' with the fishies

Friday, September 4, 2009

I'm goofy

Goofy footed, that is.

Today I made my first attempt at surfing. The Housemate, who for the years he lived in Indonesia seems to have spent most of his time out catching perfect waves, took me to Waikiki to learn to surf. Waikiki, with its sandy bottom and easy waves, is a good place to learn to surf, especially because you can easily find surfboard rental places which, seeing as I did not have my own board, was a must. The board they gave me was huge--12 feet long and too wide for me to hold tucked under my arm. But I could get my arm around it towards the tapered front, and I managed to drag it to the water.

We had determined beforehand that I was goofy footed. Not sure what about my feet is goofy--they seem perfectly natural to me--but fine, goofy foot it is. I velcroed the strap around my left ankle, and pushed off into the water. The initial paddle out wasn't bad at all. Later on my arms started getting really tired, not so much from the fact that I was doing the crawl stroke, but from the fact I was doing the crawl stroke around the considerable width of the surfboard, which made me hold my arms out at a strange angle. The wide board also made it awkward once we got out to the waves and I had to sit straddling it. A lady is not supposed to sit with her legs so wide open. Anyway, the benefit of the extreme width of the board was that it was remarkably stable, which was really essential for a beginner like me.

The conditions out on the water were far from ideal. The swell was dying way down, and the water was frustratingly calm. As a beginner, I was very timid about catching waves, so I probably let twice as many good waves go by as I managed to catch. Still, that means that the whole time I was out there, we only had maybe 15 good waves go by. The other issue was that it's Waikiki and there's a surfboard rental place right on the beach, so it was really crowded. In some ways, it made me feel much better to have all these other beginning surfers around me falling off their boards, but it also meant that it was tough to find a wave with enough room for me. And with other beginners like me all over the waves, people weren't particularly good at avoiding each other.

Complaints aside, how did the actual surfing go?

After paddling out on the board and then turning the big old thing around--kind of like maneuvering the QE2--the Housemate and I waited for a reasonable wave to come along. I knew I was goofy footed, the Housemate had demonstrated the pop-up once to me (and unbeknownst to him I had been practicing it a bit in front of YouTube videos in my office that morning), but I didn't know anything else: Where do you stand on the board? I guess wherever you don't tip over. How do you know when to stand? I asked him this last one, and he just said "When you feel the power of the wave behind you." Um, great.

Suddenly a wave was coming along, and the Housemate was saying, "Go, paddle, paddle, paddle!" and giving my board a shove in the right direction.

"What? This one? Right here? Now?" as I start moving. As I keep paddling, waiting for the wave to catch me, I'm nervously mumbling angry words directed at the Housemate (mainly "frakker, frakker, frakker..."). And then I feel it. The power of the wave behind me. It has me. Without thinking, I place my hands on the board and pop up.

And suddenly, I'm standing. On the board. The wave pushing me along. Still standing. How the frak am I still standing? I don't know how long I was standing that first time--time may have slowed down in the euphoria of the moment--but I would say it was a good three seconds. Enough time to think Holy crap, how the frak am I still standing? But before long I started to feel myself tipping. I'm still kicking myself for not trying to stay on a second longer, but at the time I decided that rather than fall off the board, I'd prefer to jump off on my own terms. So I bailed, and plunged into the ocean, the strap around my ankle giving a little tug as the board pulled out of the wave.

I hauled myself up onto the board again, elated, and paddled back out to where the Housemate was sitting. He seemed just as psyched as I was. "Your first try! You're a natural!" I have to say, I was pretty pleased with myself. Unfortunately, as I said before, after that there were not many good waves. The other waves I caught almost all had either me crashing into people or other people crashing into me; I did manage to stand on each wave I caught that didn't involve any collisions, but that only happened about four times. We decided that I need to get my own board so we can go somewhere else with better waves and without so many people.

We stayed out until sunset. There were really no waves to speak of by the end, but the water was warm, the weather exceedingly pleasant, and bobbing up and down on the boards was soothing. As the sun dipped below the horizon, we saw a green flash.

Not a bad introduction to surfing. Not bad at all.

Sorry there are no photos. Maybe next time...

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Do You Wanna Date My Avatar?

I almost always have some song or other stuck in my head, but what's today's song? "Do You Wanna Date My Avatar?"--The Guild music video, lyrics by Felicia Day, music by Jed Whedon. Felicia Day really is my hero. This video is hilarious.

Hang with me in my MMO
So many places we can go
You'll never see my actual face
Our love, our love will be in virtual space
I'm craving to emote with you
So many animations I can do
Be anything you want me to be
Come on, come on share a potion with me


There's something inherently comical about music videos in the first place, so the medium lends itself well to comedic bits like this. And with clever lyrics, a catchy tune, all the goofy cast members, and Felicia's sweet voice, it hits the spot perfectly. I adore The Guild, and this music video is just icing on the cake.

Hotter than reality by far.

So true, unfortunately.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Diamond Head

Five miles south of the lush rainforest I hiked through to Manoa Falls lies the dry, brown crater of Diamond Head. No pools to swim in there. The hike up Diamond Head is very popular, full of tourists unless you leave early in the morning, though you can also find locals who make a jog up the volcano a part of their daily workout. It's an easy hike--0.8 miles of trail to the top, I believe, and smooth enough that I did it in my flip-flops without trouble (my sneakers had been ruined on the Manoa Falls hike the previous weekend). The beginning of the hike is very hot and sunny during the day (another reason to leave early in the morning), but it's not long before you find yourself going up shady stairs and through some tunnels, and then you break out to cool wind and lovely views.

The hike was a little less exciting for me than the Manoa Falls hike because I'd done it many times before. I even already have one photo from the Diamond Head hike on an old blog post. But I did take a few pictures that may be worth sharing.

Remember that I can see Diamond Head from my house (visible all the way to the left of the view out the window)? That means I must be able to see my house from the top of Diamond Head! We had binoculars up at the top so we were able to see the house; maybe we should have taken a photo through the binoculars, because my camera zoom and resolution aren't quite good enough to make it all out. But I guarantee that my house is somewhere within that circle.

Here's one view over the crater, with the ocean (and bright morning sun) in the background.

A lighthouse, clear water, waves breaking over coral reefs, and the big ol' ocean stretching to the horizon.

Another view over the crater, looking towards the mountain ridge. For reference, Manoa is the valley between the last two ridges visible on the left; the Manoa Falls hike is in the back of that valley.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Big Marvel purchase, Jack the Giant Killer, and various projects in the works

Some recent entertainment news that caught my eye...

Let's start out with yesterday's big news: Disney has made a deal to acquire Marvel for $4 billion (Variety). The deal gives Disney access to Marvel's many popular characters, including Spider-Man, the X-Men, the Hulk, Iron Man, Fantastic Four, and Captain America. Disney has classically had trouble attracting boys to its audiences, so having Marvel's inventory should help with that. Marvel gains extra marketing muscle particularly overseas, where they have been trying to expand their brand power. The deal will not affect Marvel's film deals that are already in place, but it's still a huge deal, affecting films without current franchises as well as comic books, TV shows, video games, theme parks, action figures, and other merchandise. I'm not in any way a true comic book fan--I just like many of the movies and TV shows based on comics--but there's still a purist in me that just hopes this doesn't mean Marvel will become "Disney-fied". It's unlikely we have anything to be worried about, though.

I mentioned last time that production of Spider-Man: The Musical (aka Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark) was delayed due to money troubles, and there were reports that star Evan Rachel Wood (cast as Mary Jane) was planning on leaving. I don't have any more news regarding the production schedule of the musical or if they've resolved their monetary issues, but I can at least say that Wood has not, in fact, abandoned the project (IMDb).

In yet further Marvel-related news, it looks like Fantastic Four, which had two recent movies come out in 2005 and 2007, will be treated to a reboot (Variety blog). The script will be written by Michael Green, who just co-wrote the Green Lantern script (playing both sides, is he?). The movie franchise is controlled by 20th Century Fox, so it was not a part of the Disney deal.

The planned BioShock movie may have found a new director after Gore Verbinski stepped down from the role. Juan Carlos Fresnadillo (28 Weeks Later) is in talks to direct the live-action feature for Universal (Variety blog). I don't know the game, but I'm always interested in the development of movie adaptations of video games. Always keeping an eye out for the first one that might actually be good.

Kevin Tancharoen, who directed the upcoming remake of Fame, will direct a new fantasy sci-fi movie called Arcana, with Brett Ratner (Rush Hour 1, 2, and 3; X-Men 3) producing (IMDb). Tancharoen describes the movie as having a Blade Runner feel, shot like 300. Hmm. Could be interesting, could be bad. We'll see if anything comes of it.

Twilight director Catherine Hardwicke will be directing a gothic retelling of Little Red Riding Hood (Variety, IMDb). Sounds like another teen fantasy; the plot will center around a teenage love triangle.

Michael Bay has signed up to develop another teen sci-fi franchise. His production company bought the rights to James Frey's novel I Am Number Four, about nine aliens who escape to Earth before their planet is destroyed, one of whom takes the form of a high schooler (IMDb).

I reported a couple months ago that Atari was developing a new MMO based on Dungeons & Dragons franchise Neverwinter Nights. While those plans have still not been announced officially, they are getting Atari into trouble. Dungeons and Dragons Online developer Turbine is suing Atari for breach of contract and fraud, accusing them of purposely pulling back support of D&D Online, which Atari distributes in Europe but apparently has not done to Turbine's satisfaction (Variety blog). It's not clear to me how this will affect the planned MMO.

Warner Bros. has signed Bryan Singer (The Usual Suspects, X-Men 1 and 2) on to produce (with the possibility of directing) a remake of Excalibur (Variety blog). That's all well and good; I like Bryan Singer and I like Arthurian legend. But what really caught my eye when I read this little article was the second paragraph:
Deal comes as Singer gets serious about making the New Line-Legendary co-production “Jack the Giant Killer” his next directing effort, according to sources.
Jack the Giant Killer? My Jack the Giant Killer? It's a bit like when I saw a photo from Comic-Con last year of Dakota Fanning promoting Push and scrambled to confirm that it was really the movie script I had read two summers before that. Well, the summer that I read the Push script (that is, the summer of 2006), the other movie script I read was Jack the Giant Killer, an epic fantasy by Darren Lemke, based on the tale of Jack and the Beanstalk. So when I read that article about Bryan Singer, the immediate question was Is this the Jack the Giant Killer that I read? The answer is basically yes. All I've been able to find other than that off-handed comment in the Variety blog is this Variety article from January, which mentions that the script has been treated to a rewrite by Mark Bomback. It seems things have changed in the past eight months, with Legendary coming on as co-producer with New Line, and D.J. Caruso leaving the project and being replaced by Bryan Singer. Well, the Jack the Giant Killer script I read was pretty awesome, and hopefully the rewrite only made it better. I'm really excited about it, especially if Bryan Singer is developing it. Maybe I'll give that its own post some time in the future.