Category Archives: Entertainment


Normally I’d tweet something this short, but I wanted a chance to give a SPOILER WARNING for season 1 of Dexter.  More after the “more” thing.

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Posted by on October 23, 2009 in Entertainment


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i can haz fox news?

I understand that journalists need to write catchy headlines in order to trick the public into reading their stories.  Take today’s leading headline, for instance:  “Obama’s first 100: Now comes the hard part” seems to promise some kind of poignant analysis of what’s to come, when really it’s just a rehash of all the Obama news we’ve seen this year coupled with commentary on why Obama’s acknowledging his 100th day at all.

Furthermore, I understand that news outlets often use headlines to misrepresent the content of an article just to get you to click. For example,  “What I learned about my husband in bed” is not the soft-core CNN porn you’re hoping for.

I’m pretty flexible with my news and I enjoy reading a variety of news sites each day.  But given that flexibility, I do not understand why Fox News has resorted to using lol-speak in it’s titles.


(The image in it’s original context is below)


Photographs via Fox News on the Interwebz.

Update: The Fox photo is permalinked here (for now).  Also, the story in question, which doesn’t have the photo, is here.


Posted by on April 29, 2009 in Current Events, Entertainment


Getting Involved in Politics

A quantum of creativity and fun in an extremely busy time of life can keep me going through stress.  So, I’d like to introduce a personal project that I’ve been using as a way to keep balanced between ‘work’ and ‘other’.  It’s a website that catalogs Barack Obama’s Presidential neck ties and other neck wear.  Enjoy.

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Posted by on February 13, 2009 in Current Events, Entertainment


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Pearl Harborer

Last year at Zandperl’s Halloween party we were playing “The Coachride to the Devil’s Castle” (aka Die Kutschfahrt zur Teufelsburg), and we spontaneously came up with the following definition of “Pearl Harborer”:

Pearl Harborer

In the Card Game “Die Kutschfahrt zur Teufelsburg” (“The Coachride to the Devil’s Castle”), a Pearl Harborer is someone who is surreptitiously hiding the “Schwarze Perle” (a.k.a. “Black Pearl”) card.

Brian’s going to declare victory this turn, unless he’s a pearl harborer…

I submitted this definition to Urban Dictionary.

It was rejected.  Superficially, that’s not a big surprise, nor do I care.


What surprised me, initially, was that it took so long for them to get back to me.  I submitted the entry on October 27, 2008, and received my “entry not published” email three days ago.

Peer review is known to take ages, but still I could not imagine why the rejection would be so slow (compared to Wikipedia rejections, which can happen within minutes).  But the real surprise here is that Urban Dictionary has standards at all. The rejection letter came with a link to Urban Dictionary’s publishing guidelines (you may need to sign up to see the link):

As an editor, you decide what gets published. Use these guidelines while you make your decisions.

1. Publish celebrity names but reject friends’ names.
2. Publish racial and sexual slurs but reject racist and sexist entries. 
3. Publish opinions.
4. Publish place names.
5. Publish non-slang words. Ignore misspellings and swearing.
6. Publish jokes.
7. Reject sexual violence.
8. Reject nonsense. Be consistent on duplicates.
9. Reject ads for web sites.
10. Publish if it looks plausible.

So anybody can sign up to be an editor, and some consensus of arbitary/random editors decides which entries get accepted and which get rejected.  According to these guidelines, my entry should have been published.  However, whichever editors saw it disagreed, probably because they didn’t “get” the definition, so now it’s lost to the world forever.

The sad part is that this isn’t so far off from academic peer review.  Sometimes you discover or create knowledge that you know is right, and you try to put it out there but the people reading it don’t think it should be seen, and they reject it, often with little or no explanation why.  If it’s this hard to publish in the haphazard, anything goes environment of Urban Dictionary, imagine how hard it must be to publish in a journal, where entries theoretically have consequences.


Posted by on January 27, 2009 in Alchemy, Entertainment


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If Knowldge Were Power

gutlogoLast weekend was the 2009 MIT Mystery Hunt, and it was a grand old time as usual.  I don’t have anything extremely insightful to write about it for a general audience, so I’m going to go list format for highlights:

  • We wrote a national anthem (bootleg version).
  • We built a spaceship/robot.
  • I was reminded again how bad I am at solving puzzles*.
  • I *saw* a lot of cool puzzles that I didn’t get to participate in because I was too busy on something else.
  • I had a lot of trouble sleeping Friday night…  I think it’s because I gave up coffee in mid-December and one D+D medium was enough to keep me going until 4AM.
  • There was a puzzle that required having an XBOX live membership looking up XBOX Live achievement data.
  • The hunt was HUGE — well over 100 puzzles…  Can anyone confirm how many there were?
  • Our team (Grand Unified Theory of Love) is composed of a lot of cool people that I wish I saw much more often.
  • I have a tendency to have very little forgiveness for people not doing what they’re asked with respect to team organization.
  • Tony’s coverage.
  • Zandperl’s coverage.
  • Jeremy’s Intro and Wrap-Up.

* Does anyone have any suggestions for how to fix this?

I was very happy overall, and glad to bring Paul and Sniperbunny along with me.

Turning to the week, I realize that for a long time I’ve been saying “I’ll get to that as soon as the hunt’s over” for a lot of important to-dos on my list…  More importantly I haven’t really started cracking at my recent resolution, which is an indicator that I haven’t personally accepted the gravity of my research deficit.

Update: Weirleader reminds me that I wrote a couple posts about the Mystery Hunt last year.  Apparently my lackluster puzzle solving ability hasn’t changed much in the past year.


Posted by on January 20, 2009 in Entertainment


Scifi Book Meme

A scifi meme, via geekylibrarian.

According to the Science Fiction Book Club, these are the 50 most significant SF & Fantasy Books of the last 50 Years, 1953-2002. Bold the ones you’ve read, strike the ones you hated, italicize the ones you couldn’t get through, asterisks for the ones you loved (more asterisks, more love), exclamation points for the ones you own.

  1. The Lord of the Rings, J.R.R. Tolkien!
  2. The Foundation Trilogy, Isaac Asimov
  3. Dune, Frank Herbert
  4. Stranger in a Strange Land, Robert A. Heinlein
  5. A Wizard of Earthsea, Ursula K. Le Guin
  6. Neuromancer, William Gibson
  7. Childhood’s End, Arthur C. Clarke
  8. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, Philip K. Dick
  9. The Mists of Avalon, Marion Zimmer Bradley
  10. Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury
  11. The Book of the New Sun, Gene Wolfe
  12. A Canticle for Leibowitz, Walter M. Miller, Jr.
  13. The Caves of Steel, Isaac Asimov
  14. Children of the Atom, Wilmar Shiras
  15. Cities in Flight, James Blish
  16. The Colour of Magic, Terry Pratchett
  17. Dangerous Visions, edited by Harlan Ellison
  18. Deathbird Stories, Harlan Ellison
  19. The Demolished Man, Alfred Bester
  20. Dhalgren, Samuel R. Delany
  21. Dragonflight, Anne McCaffrey
  22. Ender’s Game, Orson Scott Card**
  23. The First Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever, Stephen R. Donaldson
  24. The Forever War, Joe Haldeman
  25. Gateway, Frederik Pohl
  26. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, J.K. Rowling
  27. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams
  28. I Am Legend, Richard Matheson
  29. Interview with the Vampire, Anne Rice
  30. The Left Hand of Darkness, Ursula K. Le Guin
  31. Little, Big, John Crowley
  32. Lord of Light, Roger Zelazny
  33. The Man in the High Castle, Philip K. Dick
  34. Mission of Gravity, Hal Clement
  35. More Than Human, Theodore Sturgeon
  36. The Rediscovery of Man, Cordwainer Smith
  37. On the Beach, Nevil Shute
  38. Rendezvous with Rama, Arthur C. Clarke
  39. Ringworld, Larry Niven
  40. Rogue Moon, Algis Budrys
  41. The Silmarillion, J.R.R. Tolkien
  42. Slaughterhouse-5, Kurt Vonnegut
  43. Snow Crash, Neal Stephenson!***
  44. Stand on Zanzibar, John Brunner
  45. The Stars My Destination, Alfred Bester
  46. Starship Troopers, Robert A. Heinlein
  47. Stormbringer, Michael Moorcock/li>
  48. The Sword of Shannara, Terry Brooks****
  49. Timescape, Gregory Benford
  50. To Your Scattered Bodies Go, Philip Jose Farmer

Yeah…  I wish I had read a lot more of these.  I tried the lord of the rings but didn’t make it too far.  I may try #49 on recommendation from my advisor.


Posted by on December 18, 2008 in Entertainment


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Knock it Off

“That’s so gay” has been around for a while, and I feel like recently it’s reached an equilibrium point where people know it’s messed up to say it, but they say it anyways with a smirk as if saying something while knowing that it’s offensive makes it all better.  Kinda out of nowhere, Hillary Duff calls this behavior out:

What do you think of this ad?  Is it a message that will get through?  Or is it saying something that’s already known, and therefore won’t make a difference?  This reminds me of Illdoctrine’s “No Homo”.

via Feministing.

UPDATE3 down, 47 to go.

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Posted by on October 10, 2008 in Current Events, Entertainment


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Playing D&D and Respecting Patriots are not Mutually Exclusive

The McCain campaign put out a nonsense ad hominem attack against those who questioned part of his recollection of certain events during the Vietnam War. From the post:

It may be typical of the pro-Obama Dungeons & Dragons crowd to disparage a fellow countryman’s memory of war from the comfort of mom’s basement, but most Americans have the humility and gratitude to respect and learn from the memories of men who suffered on behalf of others.

What’s interesting to me here is that this type of attack seems unique to the right, against the left. Or maybe it’s that the attack is sort of anachronistic? I’m not quite sure. In any case, I can’t imagine such a comment coming out in response to the Swift Boat Vets group that smeared John Kerry’s version of the Vietnam war. Sure, they were ridiculed and denounced, but somehow I doubt anyone called them out for playing RPGs. As one commenter on the BoingBoing article that covered this story points out, “this feels almost like a jock running for class president in high school.”

Thanks to Sniperbunny for pointing me to this follow up story at BoingBoing.


Posted by on August 20, 2008 in Entertainment


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Grassroots Superlatives

Donna the Buffalo

Donna the Buffalo

I had an awesome time at the 2008 Grassroots Music Festival this weekend, and it would be sort of confusing to describe everything I saw and did in a post, so instead I’ll just ez-out and throw up a list of superlatives:

  • Coolest Dance: “G” doing the robot during the Hackensaw Boys show in the Dance Tent
  • Best False Advertising: “Gator” burritos at the booth from New Orleans
  • Most Oblivious Participant: Me, when some guy scouted me out by feeling up my back and I didn’t notice
  • Most Out of Place but Still Really Cool Act: MC Lars
  • Most Unlikely Underdog Victory: Sniperbunny, when she lost, and then recovered, her cell phone in a crowd of 10K+ hippies
  • Best Frozen Treat (18+ only): Chocolate-Dipped Frozen Bananas
  • Most Intriguing Band Name: IY (pronounced “eye-why”)
  • Most Appropriate Cover: “Psycho Killer”, covered by IY, and as made famous by The Talking Hands
  • Worst Urinal Aim: The Guy using the urinal next to mine
  • Best Moment: All 4 days. So glad I got to go.
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Posted by on July 21, 2008 in Entertainment


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Chat Transcript Control

You know when you’re chatting with someone on IM, and you are in the middle of typing a message, and the other person types something that somehow makes what you are in the process of typing invalid or irrelevant? For example, they say what you were going to say before you say it?

When this happens, do you ever send your message anyways, in effect pretending that you didn’t see their message before you sent yours?

Does anyone know if there is a name for this behavior?  Maybe something like selective conversaton reorganization?

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Posted by on July 11, 2008 in Entertainment


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Bathroom Pet Peeves

  1. People who talk to you while you’re going.
  2. Lack of ventilation.
  3. No paper towels.
  4. People who “forget” to flush.
  5. The automatic toilets that flush while you’re still using them.
  6. People who don’t wash their hands.
  7. Stalls without doors.
  8. Urinals where the urine splashes on you no matter how careful you are.
  9. People who pee on the toilet paper.
  10. People who talk on their cell phones in the stall.
  11. People who rub one out in the stall.
  12. Being 9 years old and having women ask me if I was a boy or a girl because my mother insisted that I come into public restrooms with her for my safety.

Any others?

Thanks to Paul for help with this list during a boring seminar.

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Posted by on July 7, 2008 in Entertainment


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Please End Smallville

Clark, Kara’s a lot of things…  Reckless, headstrong, possibly psychotic.  But she’s wrong about you.

-Chloe Sullivan, Smallville Season 7 Finale

It’s lines like this that make it 100% baffling that Smallville is headed for it’s eighth season.  “Superman in high school” has become “Superman is unemployed four years out of high school, whines a lot about how things would be better if he had never come to Earth, and spends way too much time running to Metropolis.”  The season finale raises a lot of questions about destiny and whether Kal El is here to save Earth or to destroy it, and it was actually a decent episode overall.  When they do these story lines, you know, the ones related to the actual premise of the show, I don’t mind watching Smallville.  I especially like episodes where they try to tie in Justice League or other D.C. themes.  What makes me dry heave a little here is that I can now plan on watching at least fifteen episodes about “meteor freaks” that basically rehash and recycle episodes from every previous season.



Posted by on May 17, 2008 in Entertainment


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Green Day Might Be a Bad Idea

Informal Poll: Does the song you’re listening to while driving affect the speed and/or aggression with which you drive?

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Posted by on May 5, 2008 in Entertainment


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Harold and Kumar Poem

I’m not going to review Harold and Kumar, but I will say that it made me feel… conflicted. My favorite part was the poem that Kumar recited near the end, which is apparently a real poem by David Feinberg:

I’m sure that I will always be
A lonely number like root three

The three is all that’s good and right,
Why must my three keep out of sight
Beneath the vicious square root sign,
I wish instead I were a nine

For nine could thwart this evil trick,
with just some quick arithmetic

I know I’ll never see the sun, as 1.7321
Such is my reality, a sad irrationality

When hark! What is this I see,
Another square root of a three

As quietly co-waltzing by,
Together now we multiply
To form a number we prefer,
Rejoicing as an integer

We break free from our mortal bonds
With the wave of magic wands

Our square root signs become unglued
Your love for me has been renewed

-David Feinberg

This is how I wish I applied my creativity more often. The lives of scientists are sad irrationalities.


Posted by on May 3, 2008 in Entertainment


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Introducing Benedict’s!

The Intro to Culinary Arts course I’m in has a final lab practical, where me and a group of three other “chefs” have to prepare a six course meal for the teaching staff. As part of that exam, we’re expected to provide a dinner menu “like what you would get in a restaurant.”

Somehow my menu planning got out of control, and I decided to not only name our restaurant when making the menu, but also to do up a Benedict’s website, complete with company history and restaurant recipes. This is all really ridiculous, because it’s quite likely that the teaching staff won’t even see the URL on the menu.

It’s pretty good so far, but I’d really welcome suggestions. In particular:

  • What do you think of the menu descriptions? I’d love to hear some over-the-top humorous suggestions, particularly if they fall into our theme.
  • Is the theme clear?
  • We need a logo. Any ideas?
  • Any suggestions for news posts I could put on the “home” page?
  • The Recipes are still in progress.
  • Any other ideas are welcome!

My practical is this Wednesday at 5:00 PM.


Posted by on April 28, 2008 in Entertainment


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