- Inquiring about a Jewish friend's holidays, I discover @NPR answers the key question for us goyim. http://t.co/hVFaFlnITb (TLDR: Chanukkah) 05:41:31, 2013-12-22
- Tweets from 2013-12-15 to 2013-12-21 http://t.co/E4sSDW1AjD 09:57:34, 2013-12-22
- In which I explain America's Obsession with Zombies http://t.co/2HeoDwbzlk 10:26:46, 2013-12-23
- This is genius for all the bozos who think the way a woman dresses should determine how she's treated. http://t.co/bsMZ6LhqHC 05:35:46, 2013-12-24
- Celebrate! http://t.co/zYpb8yWfwu 10:48:40, 2013-12-24
- New threads 1: #DrWho #TenthDoctor http://t.co/QCuTCjEWOX 08:53:04, 2013-12-25
- New Threads 2: #Columbo @columbophile Columbo http://t.co/mIQsWm8yoB 08:54:21, 2013-12-25
- Peace and Joy http://t.co/SiVMS8MWVZ 10:10:20, 2013-12-25
Here’s hoping you have a lovely holiday season, stay warm, and drink plenty of A&P’s delicious coffee, just like the big guy here.
But seriously, the best from the whole team at Digital Sextant to our dear readers.
A very nice piece on Chicago Talks by Shanice Harris explores zombies a bit, using everyone’s favorite zombie expert, yours truly. Check it out!
…Dr. Brendan Riley is an English professor at Columbia College Chicago and teaches a class entitled Zombies in Popular Media, which has been in existence since 2007. According to the course description on Columbia’s website, it is “a course exploring the history, cultural significance and horrifying circumstances of zombies as they appear in film, television, books, etc”.
The idea of no self control seems to be what drives fans of the epidemic.
“Zombies, as a horror figure, are particularly interesting and exciting because at our core one of the things that is very scary is the idea of not being in control of ourselves anymore,” said Riley. “And I think Zombies represent that menace: the fear that we would lose control of ourselves to either animal instinct or being without sense and without knowing what’s going on.”
Riley asserts that there is a difference between the fascinations of zombies versus the fascination with the zombie apocalypse.
“The zombie apocalypse is frightening, not only because of the fear of the zombies, but also the fear of the breakdown of the social order…the need to survive and the need to protect yourself is a particularly frightening ordeal.” … (Read the rest)
- Tweets from 2013-12-08 to 2013-12-14 http://t.co/tjbIK6kdJW 09:57:48, 2013-12-15
- Just emailed my Stroke and Turn training cards. Sometime within a few days I should be a certified Swim Official. Yay! 03:31:13, 2013-12-16
- What better way to spend a Monday morning than chaperoning 2nd graders on a trip to The Nutcracker ballet? 07:02:10, 2013-12-16
- "@mountain_goats: why yes, Fear Network, I ~do~ want to watch "The Last Lovecraft: Relic of Cthulhu,"" a surprisingly good bad movie! 18:33:14, 2013-12-16
- This looks like a shot from IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE http://t.co/Q5czXVCxdf 10:10:50, 2013-12-18
- You know what's more frustrating than wading through endless phone trees? Doing it on behalf of someone else. #PressOrSayOne 15:51:11, 2013-12-19
- Woke up to find a box full of Holmes & Old Ones on my porch. Wish I didn't have all this grading to do. @neilhimself http://t.co/nMV5RWK5F9 05:23:36, 2013-12-20
- RT @orzelc: MT @Swansontea Congress seems unconcerned over the fact that it's now the Chinese faking moon landings, while we appear unable … 05:41:01, 2013-12-20
- 5 Creepy Christmas songs http://t.co/1ORcYiY1ZX 09:58:30, 2013-12-20
- Excited to be in Minneapolis for the last holidazzle parade ever. 15:49:05, 2013-12-21
Feminist Frequency explores a few Christmas songs:[youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GpDnr2s9yxQ]
I have to say, I agree about most of Sarkeesian’s analysis of the songs, particularly “All I want for Christmas is You” and “It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas.” I have to say that upon reflection, her points about the other songs are strong too, but they make me sad because of my nostalgia for those songs:
- Santa Baby — I love Eartha Kitt’s voice in this song and I love its use in Mixed Nuts. I think the song can be seen with a cynical bent looking at a woman talking to her “sugar daddy,” but that doesn’t make it any better. I have to admit that it’s pretty bad, and will probably be unable to listen to it the same way as I could before. “Santa Benz,” by voicedude (from Santastic) is a good mashup that might still be listenable.
- “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus.” Sarkeesian gets this one wrong. The child is NOT seeing an affair, it only believes it’s seeing an affair. The Santa in the song is absolutely supposed to be its dad. It’s supposed to be a little creepy but ultimately funny because the child doesn’t understand the situation. She also missed her opportunity to comment on the Kip Addotta classic “I Saw Daddy Kissing Santa Claus” in which the child believes his father is having a gay affair with the elf from the North Pole, only to discover that it’s Daddy and Mommy doing a little role-playing.
- “Baby, It’s Cold Outside.” Sigh. Sarkeesian is right about this song. I am very fond of this one, but the clincher for me was her discussion of the way the man responds when the woman says “The Answer is No,” which is to ignore her wishes. That said, I like the gender-reversed version sung by She and Him on their Christmas album. I suspect every time I hear this song in future, I will now think of it as the Date Rape song.
One other thing she gets wrong? The creepiest Christmas song. It’s this specific cover of “Jingle Bells,” which I think of as “Jingle Bells as performed by the Siberian Prisoner Camp Chorus.”[youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CNnaRovVlPI]
Doesn’t this look like the lighting from Potterville in the alternate future of It’s a Wonderful Life?
- @SaarShai Played 2 wicked fun games of #TheAgents w/ @pbooth81 last night.The best is forcing your opponent to use a command that helps you. 08:55:51, 2013-12-08
- Tweets from 2013-12-01 to 2013-12-07 http://t.co/TY0D55uZ7J 09:58:26, 2013-12-08
- Whoa — best spam blog comment in a while. First sentence reads: "I consider strongly that bang and study solon most this problem." #Spam 04:35:31, 2013-12-09
- Parallel universes, a murderous family, a battle for all of good and evil, and SCIENCE: October / November comics… http://t.co/gsHOISUfjz 10:39:14, 2013-12-09
- Just had a very pleasant time talking with @pbooth81 class on Monsters about zombies. 17:30:51, 2013-12-09
- RT @RickyCarmona: On the next #WhamBamPow we're watching OLYMPUS HAS FALLEN. It's streaming on Netflix. Would you go holler at that please? 17:32:13, 2013-12-09
- The train just went by an old factory where the massive building was completely dark except for one set of five lit windows. #CreepyCity 17:40:29, 2013-12-09
- RT @Dene71: Interested in contributing to a new book all about TV's greatest detective, #Columbo? Details here: http://t.co/S5AffExkUA Plea… 09:39:58, 2013-12-10
- RT @sparklebliss: Please RT widely and consider participating: Call for Participants in Documentary Project on Women in Gaming Culture http… 09:40:25, 2013-12-10
- RT @paulandstorm: #BallStarter is <$1,500 from unlocking the PaulandStormonomicon! Dare we to dream of the Brothers Chaps collab at $100k. … 09:40:45, 2013-12-10
- "I think Crabtown would look lovely in the autumn…" (Another furniture construction project) http://t.co/ftmpjlkpFv 10:19:25, 2013-12-10
- RT @YouYear2013: First year students: want to share stories about your semester? Come hang out with us today on Michigan at noon! #youyear … 13:37:10, 2013-12-10
- Yesterday, I rounded a corner in downtown #Chicago and The Hawk cut into me like a razor, I thought of #LouRawls. https://t.co/BOxdmmGlDw 03:35:26, 2013-12-11
- Behold: the creepiest Santa you will see today http://t.co/3gvaSQbWI2 10:11:36, 2013-12-11
- RT @iheartthecubs23: Am I excited for #PsychTheMusical this Sunday? You know that's right… @Psych_USA @DuleHill @JamesRoday http://t.co/F… 12:55:13, 2013-12-12
- Just started THE ZOMBIES OF LAKE WOEBEGOTTEN and am finding it better than the cheap joke pseudonym #HarrisonGeillor would suggest. 15:52:34, 2013-12-12
- What really sunk the titanic? Zombies. (I review DECK Z) #DeckZ #zombies http://t.co/ABq79WCG9t 04:29:08, 2013-12-13
- Happy Birthday, Avery http://t.co/EA2XVUuiA7 10:19:41, 2013-12-13
- RT @SciencePorn: Cannibalism http://t.co/ok75Nlt3Ai 03:31:56, 2013-12-14
- RT @Shannon_MCRmy: Wait for iiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiit… #PsychTheMusical ..you know that's right. @Psych_USA one more day! C'mon son! 03:35:00, 2013-12-14
- Holiday lights @brookfield_zoo tonight. Already having a great time! 14:59:51, 2013-12-14
- We tell Finn the pranks in Home Alone aren't real and he shouldn't even think about doing them. "Well yeah, we don't even have any tar." 18:43:29, 2013-12-14
Eight years ago today, Avery was born and our lives were never the same. Happy birthday, sweetheart.
This is a good chance to thank all the people who have helped Jenny and I with the wonderful but tiring task of raising little ones. To our family and friends, thank you so much for all you do for Avery, and for us. We love you.
Deck Z: The Titanic by Chris Pauls and Matt Solomon
As you can tell from the cover and the title, Pauls and Solomon ask “What would happen if there had been zombies on the Titanic?” Then they answer that question. The novel is a straight-forward, well-written adventure tale without much depth, but quite enjoyable anyhow. A few thoughts:
- Pauls and Solomon construct a reasonably good premise that gets the zombies onto the ship and resolves well enough. It seems a little on the nose to use Germans, since Nazi zombies are a pretty standard trope, but the age of chemical and biological warfare was upon us, so the timeline for a noxious disease and espionage works well.
- I don’t know a lot about the history of E. J. Smith, but it looks like the military experience the authors give him is not part of his actual life. It’s too bad they couldn’t either a) find someone with real military experience to hang the story on or b) concoct a military experience that more closely matches his real life.
- The zombies in the story are pretty well described, with lots of gooey gore and a standard mix of slow-zombie traits. The novel doesn’t clearly explain how/whether those killed by zombies reanimate, or if it’s only those infected with the disease who do. The use of disease as a vector worked well and made the story flow smoothly.
- The authors do a pretty good job of describing the ship in detail. As a bit of a Titaniac myself, I was worried that my knowledge of the ship’s particulars would get in the way of the tale, but the authors did a great job with this aspect. They work many keystone touches of the Titanic story into the tale, including the flooded mailroom, the telegraph operators, and many others. They hang most of the blame for the incident squarely on J. Bruce Ismay’s shoulders.
- My one complaint about this would be that the bow and the stern seemed to be confused at one point, and that the reconstructions I’ve seen about the ship breaking in half (including James Cameron’s movie) make the way that part is described in the book a little hard to believe.
A note on ethics: I’m a bit conflicted about this idea — the adding of zombies into real-world events. It’s worth asking whether there’s any harm in this kind of fictional historical silliness.
All in all, Deck Z tells a pretty conventional zombie story that clearly springs from its premise. The quick narrative and tight writing work well, and the tale fits most of the signposts one would expect in a story about the most famous ship disaster in recent history. While the zombie tale itself isn’t that innovative, it’s definitely worth a read if you, like me, are in the intersection on a venn diagram of Titanic enthusiasts and Zombie enthusiasts.
I don’t know about you, but I think this Santa is massively creepy. Look at the man on the far right — he thinks so too. “Don’t go over there, little girl! Are you nuts?!”
For the first time in six years, we decided to put up the Christmas Village, one of my favorite decorations of the holiday season, but something I’ve had to keep squirreled away while the children were too young to be trusted around it. But when we started contemplating putting up the village a couple weeks ago, we realized we didn’t have a good place to put it. So we decided on the dining room wall next to our china hutch, but now we faced another problem — what to put it on?
So last weekend, with Finn’s help (mostly checking in on me and then doing his own thing nearby), I built a table to put the village on. Here’s the play by play:
I started with two 2 x 4 x .75 boards for the table and border, and two 1 x 2 x 8 for the legs. I ripped both boards so they were 18″ wide, then cut the second one at 16″, so I could make a table surface that was 64″ wide and 18″ deep. Then I ripped the remaining 6″ planks down the middle so I had 8 feet to use as 3″ border around the bottom.
I joined the two table-top pieces using four welding plates, then used corner brackets to attach the border. The screws that came with the brackets were a little too long, so Finn and I took a second trip to the hardware store for a box of 5/8″ size 8 screws. Then I added corner brackets along the sides of the border for stability. The seam isn’t perfect, but since this table will be used with a tablecloth, good enough.
Next come the legs. Using hinges, I fastened the legs to the table-top. This way, when we’re not using the table, the legs can just swing into the table body for easy storage. I drilled holes through the border and the leg, so when the leg is in standing position, a bolt goes through and held in place with a nut on the inside. This keeps the legs from folding up while the table is standing.
Then I put the table in place. I discovered that though I had intended to leave about 1″ on either end for wiggle room, I actually built something with only about 1/4″ clearance on either side. YIKES. If it had been any longer, I might have had to move the china hutch an inch over, which would have been a nightmare. But it fit like a glove.
And so our village is out again. And we discovered that we have NO room for expansion. Looks like I’ll build another table for next year to put along the wall to the left of the current table. Mwa ha ha.
See also: Project Book Shelf
Science: Ruining Everything Since 1543 by Zach Weinersmith
Weinersmith’s Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal comic continues to be a highlight of the webcomic world, so when he KS’d this collection of cartoons about science, I leaped on it right away. The book collects a variety of comics, from single-panel jokes to strips to four or six-page minicomics. All are linked through thematic use of science and scientists. It’s been a long time since I read a collection of “funnies,” but this one works out well. I particularly like the “life of a scientist” section that was added to the end of the book as one of the KS stretch goals.
Cura Te Ipsum Year One by Neal Bailey and Dexter Wee
When Charlie Everett tried to kill himself, he was stopped at the last minute by … himself. He quickly discovers that he, Charlie Everett, can travel between universes, and that a war is raging across the multiverse between, well, the good Charlies Everett and the evil ones. It’s a cool concept that works out very well — when your characters can reach into any universe, they find all kinds of versions of themselves, and each either kills himself or gets recruited (or sometimes killed too). It’s a weird story, but very compelling. You can find the continuing comic online at curateipsum.com.
The Saga of the Bloody Benders by Rick Geary
Geary has a precise penciling style that serves his true crime subject very well. He draws expressive faces and tells terrifying tales. This particular volume in his ongoing series details the story of the “Bloody Benders,” a family of murderous homesteaders in Kansas who murdered travelers and stole their goods. Despite being suspected of wrongdoing, the Benders escaped justice for most of their lives. The straightforward style of his art makes the mundane circumstances in which these horrible deeds were performed all that much more chilling. (In my pre-blogging days, I also read Geary’s The Beast of Chicago and The Borden Tragedy.) See also: Cottonwood, a novel about mid-1800s Kansas that includes the Benders as a side-story.
Santa Vs. Dracula by Ed Power and Melissa Dejesus
When Dracula realizes that Santa can go into any house whenever he wants, he launches an all-out war on Father Christmas and all his holiday allies. What follows is a witty, goofy, knock-down, drag-out brawl. It’s Frosty vs. Frankenstein’s monster! It’s Igor vs. Mrs. Claus! It’s elves vs. emo vamp kids! While the story arc is pretty shallow, the comic does exactly what you’d expect. There are lots of funny quips and clever ideas (such as Santa’s security force being called the “Silent Knights”). Power and Dejesus even set up the comic for a sequel. Well worth a read.
I just realized three of these four comics came to me by way of Kickstarter. Only Rick Geary’s comic was published by an established press.
- Did you know Tommy Tutone did a Christmas version of 867-5309? It's amazingly corny and wonderful.
http://t.co/lDrYl8Uog9 06:21:10, 2013-12-01
- Tweets from 2013-11-24 to 2013-11-30 http://t.co/KgiodiPGzy 09:57:48, 2013-12-01
- MT "@cccooollliiinnn: We don't really see what the big deal is about new baby smell." Belated congrats! We called that smell 'Eau de SpitUp' 07:24:46, 2013-12-02
- Tommy Tutone's "867-5309 Christmas" is on my play list this month, and I laugh every time he scat-sings "Ho ho" before each verse. 08:18:46, 2013-12-02
- Getting ready to discuss @jedediahberry's THE MANUAL OF DETECTION w/ detective fiction students, I realize how apt it is, post NSA scandal. 08:28:33, 2013-12-02
- Ice, Magic, and Studly dudes: #Frozen and #Thor2 double review (nod to #WhamBamPow) http://t.co/5lB1cDVYdE 10:29:51, 2013-12-02
- MT "@mmm_jackiez: an empty 22×28 frame just dying for a new print. Suggestions?" Check out the awesome posters at http://t.co/L4UwmfyTKj 10:39:23, 2013-12-02
- "@jedediahberry: P.S. Thanks very much for teaching the book." My pleasure! It's a great finale to a semester about detectives. 10:46:19, 2013-12-02
- Yeehaw! A kickstarter kinda day. Both #SantavsDracula and #TheAgents showed up today. 16:04:30, 2013-12-02
- Teaching Avery to play chess. http://t.co/iYHEex5bEK 18:33:50, 2013-12-02
- Update on projects I backed on kickstarter and their timeliness. http://t.co/QF5AyCvtUG 10:32:00, 2013-12-03
- @xkcd "While chances are the water in your soda has never been in another soda, almost all of it has been drunk by at least 1 dinosaur." 14:34:19, 2013-12-03
- Best way to start the holiday season? #Zombies and #Christmas. Just finished I SAW ZOMBIES EATING SANTA CLAUS. #delightful by @s_g_browne 16:32:22, 2013-12-03
- "Respect is not earned by the use of your fists. It's earned by waiting, patiently, for the next batch of crab legs." http://t.co/5JEkSHf7WO 18:40:38, 2013-12-03
- @bryansafi @gibblertron #tspod Was gonna mail you a box of dog poop for xmas, but you nixed that, so tweeting instead. Love your bawdy show! 07:03:04, 2013-12-04
- Thanksgiving was a little bit less wonderful w/o a #WhamBamPow ep. Punching a turkey isn't as sastisfying. @cameronesposito @RickyCarmona 07:16:28, 2013-12-04
- Dammit! Saw an awesome pink and black semi that said "This is how I roll" on it. But was too slow with my camera. 07:40:37, 2013-12-04
- Why's the CTA going so slow!? I have a pink & black semi to catch up to & take a picture of. Oh, I also have a class to teach. #priorities 07:45:22, 2013-12-04
- One of the kids in Finn's class wrote "I like Turkey because sometimes it's burnt." Kid's mom wrote in comments "We didn't burn our turkey." 08:02:14, 2013-12-04
- Protip: Entering your userid in the password space won't usually let you log in. Even if you do it twice. #ThatKindaDay 09:43:27, 2013-12-04
- Child hangs a Christmas stocking, and makes you want to cry http://t.co/k8vjCZCua5 10:10:12, 2013-12-04
- Why I didn't I like #SCANDAL last night? Was it Huck's viciousness or Cyrus' heartache? Nope: not enough #DavidRosen. @JoshMalina. 06:18:41, 2013-12-06
- "@scalzi: NEW YORK CITY: I am about to enter you. PREPARE YOURSELF." That sounds really creepy. Just sayin. 06:20:04, 2013-12-06
- RT @davemistich: "Where there's a coffee, there's a way."
-My maternal grandmother (I think) 06:25:07, 2013-12-06
- Covers, Parodies, the Beastie Boys and the Christmas Rockers http://t.co/oCC9D0SEpP 10:52:39, 2013-12-06
- Listening to guy on train who left work early to go to teacher-parent conference but sounds like his job makes it hard. Good for you, man. 13:05:22, 2013-12-06
- pbbbt. 15:08:09, 2013-12-06
- Met Darth Vader at @defiantcomics during the holiday walk. He said "I sense the holiday spirit is strong in you." 18:34:47, 2013-12-06
- Candy Cane classic. Here we go. 06:14:42, 2013-12-07
- Amazon Associates are back http://t.co/8eHrTGgHoO 10:36:43, 2013-12-07
I got this email Thursday:
We’re pleased to announce that the Amazon Associates program is again open to residents of the State of Illinois. We’re now able to re-open the program because the Illinois State Supreme Court recently struck down legislation that had forced Amazon to close the program to residents of Illinois. Amazon strongly supports federal legislation like the Marketplace Fairness Act that’s now pending before Congress, which is the only constitutional way to resolve interstate sales tax collection issues.
So the long and short of it is that the affiliates program is back on. This doesn’t really mean anything for you, dear reader, unless you’re inclined to buy a book or movie after I review it here, in which case following the link from my blog means I get a little something from Amazon maybe eventually.
No pressure or anything, but I wanted to let you know why I’m linking to Amazon again.