Vulcan’s Peak

Archive for the 'in the news' category

Rapidly aging nerd news

August 31, 2008 5:30 pm

That’s the news doing the rapid aging, not the nerds, in case you were wondering.

Harry Potter is also aging, though — the first book came out in the States ten years ago this September.  To wring a few more rubles out of the franchise celebrate, Scholastic is issuing an anniversary edition with a new cover.

UK bookstore Waterstones has been putting together a book of stories so short, they can fit on a large index card.  Most entries, apparently were gathered through a competition, but they also invited entries from well-known authors — including J.K. Rowling, Neil Gaiman, Tom Stoppard, and Margaret Atwood.  The JKR card was a snippet of a story about James and Sirius.  As the original has now been sold (proceeds to charity) for massive amounts of money, you can read the text here.

Warner Bros. continues to be over-protective of HP.  Seriously, guys.

Another story with castles (but no wizards):  California man from the Netherlands builds his own.

More prosaic news: planning, books, and other links

August 24, 2008 3:52 pm

I just discovered the previous post while going through a handful of never-finished drafts.  It dates from a few months ago (thus the subway reference), but decided to put it up for those of you who enjoy navel-gazing.

This post is the one with the actual news.  The job search is actually yielding a few leads, for one.  I don’t want to say too much yet, but I had an interview on Thursday (at very short notice) that went all right, and I have one with other people on Monday, and I’ve got high hopes for that one, too.  So more on those next week, I hope.

The other ongoing project lumbers forward as well.  After some deliberation, I ordered a wedding dress last Tuesday, so that should wander into town in mid-October.  It is, of course, gorgeous, in an understated way.  :)  So now we’re making lists and plotting maps:  possible restaurants for the reception that would be close to the botanical garden where we’re having the wedding, possible hotels that would be close to the reception.  Things we might want to register for and stores at which we’d want to register for them.  What color dress to tell my long-suffering college roommate that she ought to buy.  Supposedly, I should have strong feelings about colors like sea foam or pale peach, but all I’m coming up with is “How about some nice blue or green or purple?”  (Sorry, hon…)

At any rate, things are moving forward.  Some friends gave me a guide to wedding planning published by the folks at, which has been helpful because it has checklists and timelines and all sorts of details.  But I’ve also gotten a lot of sanity from a book called The Anti-Bride’s Guide, which has the refreshing attitude that perhaps you don’t care to wear a massive fairy-princess dress and do the chicken dance at the local country club.  Which means that I would be scandalously outcast among the characters of Somebody Is Going to Die if Lilly Beth Doesn’t Catch That Bouquet, a hilarious collection of anecdotes about  weddings in a particular part of the South — a birthday gift from the aforementioned long-suffering college roommate.

Speaking of books, this morning I finished The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time (long titles seem to be the theme of the week) and enjoyed it immensely.  As Pug can tell you, when I started it, I made some faces and gave him some weird looks — the narrator is on the unconventional side, and cover blurbs that raved about the book did so by comparing it to books and authors I don’t care for.  But I’m happy to say that I kept reading, and in the end, I think the reviewer’s comparisons were misleading at best.  I haven’t read The Sound and the Fury specifically, but I think she merely meant that this book is written in a stream of consciousness style similar to what Faulkner used.  And I think she’s off the mark in invoking The Catcher in the Rye.  Yes, both books are first person accounts of teenage boys who feel isolated from society, but where Holden Caufield feels isolated because he’s a cynical, self-absorbed little prig, this narrator, Christopher, feel isolated because he’s… autistic, perhaps, or something like that — we’re never told, and I’m no expert.  But he’s brilliant, earnest, and observant; and life as he sees it is simultaneously fascinating and awkward.  In the end, it’s a book about discovery and self-empowerment.  What do the reviewers know, anyway?

Also recommended, in a lowbrow humor sort of way:  LOLBush at the Olympics.  LOLcat English sometimes makes me twitch, but it seems appropriate here.  Gotta love the Brits.

And if anyone needs a Serenity fix, I came across this a few days ago:  a brief interlude, comic-style, called “The Other Half.”

Four (maybe five) unrelated topics

August 4, 2008 4:17 pm

Some can almost be called news!  All things I’ve found interesting in the past week.

— Impressive, disturbing, and a dark sort of tribute to American capitalism:  we present the Wal-Mart virus.

— By this point, I think most of you have seen Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog.  (And if not, it’s still available on iTunes; DVD to come out sometime soon.)  Shockingly, Pug and I thought it was fantastic, and still go about humming about freeze rays and Bad Horse.  Goodness knows it got a ton of media coverage, but I offer a couple of my favorites:  The Dr. Horrible oral history, because it amuses me, and the NPR piece, because I’m impressed that they picked it up.

— The fourth book in the Twilight series, which has been enjoying popularity among those inclined towards YA vampire-romances, came out this weekend to Potter-like midnight release parties.  I know that at least a couple of you have read the books and enjoyed them — and that at least a couple of you have read the books and offered your critiques on them.  I haven’t read any of them, but I thought this Salon article offered what seems to me like some particularly insightful commentary on them.  (And while we’re at Salon, the same writer had some worthwhile notes on Harry Potter 7.  Naturally, it’s an article from a year ago, but I just finished re-reading Deathly Hallows, so I enjoyed that one as well.  I think she’s pretty fair about Rowling’s strengths and weaknesses.)

— And Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn (remember A Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich ?) passed away this weekend.

Later: Woah!  They’re making a Gatchaman movie?  Carmen, did we know about this?  I don’t really expect this to be what you would call… good, but Cartoon Network ran a dubbed version called G-Force that my brothers and I enjoyed when I was nine or ten, so it might get a few nostalgia points.

Well, now that’s six unrelated topics.  Or five.  Oh well; the title sounds better as it is.

“A More Perfect Union” …and other links

March 21, 2008 7:44 pm

I’ve finally gotten a chance to take a good look at Obama’s speech about race that has been in the news since Tuesday. I’m very impressed.

Watch it here: the Tube of You.
Or read it here: the NY Times.

Or hear the puppets from Avenue Q deliver the same message (well, roughly, with added cheese!). I did get to go see Avenue Q on Tuesday — the house was packed, and it was huge fun. Knowing the soundtrack meant that I knew about 75% of the show, but it’s still funny and watching the puppets is a lot of fun. See? (YouTube again.)

Moving back to the campaign for a moment, I’ve been amused by these for the last few weeks: The original Obama version and the parody, a McCain version.

As long as we’re wandering around, let’s add the 10 Most Historically Inaccurate Movies. Ending with…2001??? Heh. Am also amused that Mel Gibson makes up almost a third of the list. Though of course some of these are really good movies (but I’ll never understand the appeal of 2001. Sorry, Sir Arthur. Be at peace).

To end on a totally random note, here are two photos that aren’t mine:
Everyone is Irish. No, really. Everyone. (I was not at this parade, but this is hilarious.)
And I just love the angle on this one. You can picture me here…all the time.


March 7, 2008 9:28 pm

Young rider gives MBTA board an earful.

The young man described here was also featured in an article in the Metro this morning (one of the free newspapers distributed around the city, designed to be easily read on your commute into work). The copy I saw was in the hands of a couple of teenage boys — oversized hoodies, spikey hair — maybe fifteen years old. “That guy goes to our school,” one boy told the other, clearly proud. The second boy seemed to be a foreign exchange student and the first boy proceeded to try to explain other news items to him. “Right now, there are these things called primaries going on,” he’d stumble. “And we have these two parties called the Republicans and the Democrats. And we pretty much know who the Republican guy is going to be, but for the Democrats it’s still between two people, but I don’t really care because I’m a Libertarian, which is something else. And then there’s the Nader guy, but he’s crazy, there’s people who say so…” (My paraphrasing may do him some disservice.)

Presently, the train pulled into Park Street (where apparently those wooden struts are holding up the walls that are rotting away, yikes) and I changed for the Green Line. The train was moving before I realized that my young friends had done the same.

“See, there are these people called superdelegates,” the first boy says. He’s trying to be thorough, but he’s rapidly running out of steam.

Props to him for trying. I doubt I could have done better at fifteen.

Yes, yes I will.

March 4, 2008 12:29 am

Partly, it’s hilarious; partly, it’s perceptive; partly, I’m impressed. Some of us know how hard it is to spoof this song. They’ve got a couple of clunky lines, but they’ve also got a lot of good ones — and to top it off, they do it a capella.

One of the dropping flies

February 2, 2008 10:17 am

This is somewhat hilarious.


“The date on the calendar will say 1/29, but for Rudy Giuliani, Tuesday is a day that — like 9/11 — will undoubtedly define him for years to come.”

…groan. But wait for it:

“It’s a detachment that underscores a recurring but clearly documentable problem for Giuliani: The more voters see of him, the less they want to vote for him.

When his campaign spent $3 million on radio and TV ads in New Hampshire, his poll numbers went down, not up. The same thing happened when Giuliani, forever dressed in a dark suit and wing tips, descended into the pastel world of Republican Florida.”

Love it.

Dems at FU

January 29, 2008 6:13 pm

My friend EB posted this and I feel the need to share:

I’m sure it was all a matter of scheduling…

Heehee. Must have been all kinds of interesting in the land of conservative students and liberal faculty.

Why Huckabee is a scary, scary candidate

January 15, 2008 9:42 pm

Well, one reason.

Because “some contemporary view of how we treat each other” is clearly a bad thing when the contemporary view actually offers tolerance and acceptance of different lifestyles.

And to demonstrate the fluidity of contemporary views, he offers us Religion? Which stands as a king in the hall of the most divisive, most often re-interpreted concepts in human history.

Huckabee, keep your narrow-minded mits off the Constitution.


January 10, 2008 12:05 am

Things I thought about doing this evening, but didn’t:
-Doing laundry.
-Cooking something new for dinner to provide a break from the leftovers from last weekend. (Don’t get me wrong, I adore leftovers and plan for them. But variety ain’t a bad thing either…)
-Finishing The Grand Tour by Patricia C. Wrede and Caroline Stevermer. Sequel to a book subtitled The Enchanted Chocolate Pot, so you see where the attraction is. At least in part — Wrede is singlehandedly responsible for some of my best-loved (and most often lent out) books in middle and high school (like these and this and this one and its sequel and even this one, which I borrowed from Elf and later found a used bookstore copy).
-Finishing two letters (Only managed one.)

Events I’ve planned to blog about in the last month, but didn’t:
-The writer’s strike.
-The rally in Harvard Square for the writers’ strike, which I didn’t take time off work to go to, but my roommate did and got to meet Joss Whedon. Actually, I did too, briefly, because he was signing stuff at a little sci-fi bookstore after the rally and was still there when I got off work. It was pretty awesome.
The Golden Compass and the brouhaha that the Christian right managed to create around it. I highly recommend the book, by the way, very highly. The movie is a pleasant enough way to spend a couple of hours but is not an acceptable substitute.
-Mitt Romney’s speech about why his religion shouldn’t matter to his presidential campaign. I didn’t see the speech, I just read about it and meant to read a transcript, but haven’t. If he continues to look like a contender, I’ll get around to it eventually. He worries me, and I can’t put my finger on why, except to be flip and say that he looks like the evil Mayor from season 3 of Buffy. (Source. Not my cleverness; though I think the whole list is hilarious.)
Alex and the Ironic Gentleman by Adrienne Kress. A fun and funny YA adventure — and its author was one of three who were fantastically nice about letting me ask them questions for a paper I was writing on author blogs. Definitely another recommended read.

Enjoyable things that happened while I was home for Christmas:
-Two lovely Christmas dinners in one day.
-Going ice skating.
-Laughing at my brothers’ oddly decorated gingerbread cookies (One that stands out is a bell that B. frosted in white and spelled out “E.A. Poe” on the top in little chocolate sprinkles. (“Hear the sledges with the bells, silver bells, silver bells, what a world of merriment their melody foretells…” Yes, the poem gets darker; it is Poe.))
-Getting to hang out with Liz before her move and see Elf in the new digs.
-Teasing Mom for calling it a “white Christmas” when it hailed on Christmas morning.
-Beating my brothers at ping pong. Sometimes.
-Getting to show off my beautiful ring…did I mention that we got engaged?