Posted by: Mark | October 1, 2014

Monthy Resolution – 25 Job Applications

I had thought that one of my resolutions was to send out 100 job applications in a month. With only 51 in September, I fell short of that but, when I checked, I realized that the actual goal was 25. I guess that works out but I’m still without any offers.

For the other resolutions:

1. Writing: Goal–100,000 words for the year. Only have 49,508.

2. Publishing:  Goal–105 manuscripts submitted for the year. I only have 64.

3. Film and video: Goal–three projects for the year. I only have two but one looks to be in the works.

4. Blogging: Goal–250 posts for the year. This is #163.

5. Art: Goal–create five art works for the year. I’ve only made two with no new prospects.

6. Running: Goal–1,825 miles for the year. I fell short of the goal I set two weeks ago of hitting 1,700 by the end of the month but I’m up to 1,668.5.

7. Exercise: Goal–Either run 26.2 miles or do 50 push ups in one sitting. Finished this months ago.

8 . Weight: Goal–Maintain weight under 205 pounds. Over by a lot.

9. Religious: Goal–Read all of the Koran, six more books of the Bible, and three works of Lovecraft. Done with the Koran and three Lovecraft stories. Last night finished the Second Book of Corinthians, my 26th book of the year.

Posted by: Mark | September 29, 2014

Last Lizard IV

Looks like I jumped the gun when I used the word “last.”

I hate using the air conditioner after Labor Day but it hit 86 with the windows open and fans running. The heat must have awakened the lizards because I saw two today (or a really fast one).

I’ve seen more lizards this September than I have in all the summers I’ve lived here since 1998. It’s got to be more than just the heat. Maybe it’s a sign of the second coming of the dinosaurs.

Posted by: Mark | September 26, 2014

Common Fallacies

Here are a few quotes from Philip Ward and Julia Edwards’ The Book of Common Fallacies: Falsehoods, Misconceptions, Flawed Facts, and Half-Truth That Are Ruining Your Life (2012).
“Are you clear in your mind in regard to the following (some people would call them platitudes)?

That an idea or belief is not necessarily true or false because your parents, your friends, or you or your children have believed it.

That an idea or belief is not necessarily false because you would hate to believe it, or true because you would like to believe it.

That an idea or belief is not necessarily true or false because it is new, or because it is old.

That asserting a statement an infinity of times does not in itself make that statement true.

That the repeated denial of the existence of a thing does not dispose of its existence.”
Abel J. Jones, In Search of Truth (1943)

“It is doubtful whether it is humanly possible to write an entirely true autobiography. If a man deals frankly with his weaknesses, he may be merely an exhibitionist. Dr. Johnson once said that all condemnation of self was oblique praise: it was to show how much a man can spare. Of the other hand, most men are too modest to speak openly of their achievements.”
Abel J. Jones, In Search of Truth

“By the communication of general and popular Science, Vulgar Errors and Common Prejudices are constantly diminished.” Sir Humphry Davy (This could be a good motto for Snopes.com)
“Nemo solus satis sapit.” (Nobody is wise enough by himself)
Plautus, Miles Gloriosus

Posted by: Mark | September 24, 2014

Last Lizard III

When I first posted about seeing a lizard late in the year, I didn’t think it would become an ongoing series, but as I was walking to the bus, one scurried from the sidewalk to a bush.

At this rate lizards will be out watching the ball drop on New Year’s Eve.

Posted by: Mark | September 24, 2014

Encyclopedia of Science Fiction Movies

Here’s a long-winded review of C.J. Henderson’s Encyclopedia of Science Fiction Movies From 1897 to the Present  (present being 2001).

 

When I was in college, I was thumbing through an encyclopedia of science fiction writers which I believe was written by David Pringle. Many of the entries were thoughtful and well-written but others seemed deliberately perverse. The writer had a definite liberal bias, blasting various conservative writers, especially Keith Laumer. I put down the book in disgust but I half-wish I’d bought it as a counter-point to C.J. Henderson’s Encyclopedia of Science Fiction Movies.

After finishing the book from Abbott and Costello Go to Mars to Z.P.G., I’m still not what exactly Henderson’s standards were. He gushed over Aliens3 which even the writer hated and Aliens: Resurrection with a 53% rating at Rotten Tomatoes, but hated Aliens with a rating of 98%. I still can’t figure that out but his feelings for other films was less murky.

Henderson praised Judge Dredd (1995), dismissing criticism against it as “grumbling,” but slammed Jurassic Park, describing it as “sloppy work” and “breathtakingly stupid and fairly insulting” but only lists two plot holes among his insults. The first stemmed from the park’s use of amber from the Dominican Republic to replicate DNA from dinosaurs.

“No amber brought out of the Dominican Republic has ever been found that was more than 20 million years old.”

Henderson only lists one other mistake among his chain of vitriol: a scene set in San Jose, Costa Rica has an ocean view but San Jose is miles from the ocean.

In fairness, he did mention a bad scene, not a plot point–when the truck falls down the tree– and I agree with him completely on that one but the plot holes in Jurassic Park pale compared to Godzilla (1998) in which the monster swells and shrinks between every scene. Henderson called it “a tremendously well-done piece of work, completely respectful of its source material.” I’ve heard plenty of fans describe it that way but never without sarcasm.

Independence Day is praised despite its “download a computer virus to an alien computer” plot hole (it’s true that in a deleted scene, this was explained but Henderson made a point when discussing films based on books and short stories, that it was only fair to judge what was presented on screen).

On the flip side, They Live “depends for its success on the audience’s complete and unreasoning hatred of Republicans. The film’s premise is that the American right wing is completely made up of alien creatures bent on the destruction of humanity. Those not ready to blame the GOP for every single thing that has ever gone wrong in the history of man might want to skip this movie.”

Those who have actually watched They Live or even read a brief synopsis on IMDB might want to skip the rest of Henderson’s book. Okay, that’s a cheap shot but I don’t know how to respond to a review that spends more time on a misinterpretation of a film than on the film itself. Perhaps you’ve noticed a pattern that movies where a stripper transforms into a traditional wife and the U.S. president shoots down alien invaders in a jet fighter is judged as good, but a film that suggests that the upper class don’t deserve their spoils is trash

Henderson includes The China Syndrome as a science fiction movie. How does that work? Is Silkwood a science fiction movie? Grave of the Fireflies? Perhaps the reason will come to light by Henderson’s own words:

“Chillingly bogus sentiment floods this movie as Hollywood simplistically attacks the military, the nuclear industry, and every type of big business except themselves.”

I don’t recall The China Syndrome simplistically attacking the pet food or gum industry so Henderson might be making a bit of a sweeping statement there.

“It could be considered ironic to point out that decades later, the only major nuclear accident the world has ever seen occurred in the U.S.S.R., a country whose way of doing things has often been held to be far superior to the way things are done here by the liberal set.”

Yes, that could be considered ironic if anyone connected with the film even remotely opposed American nuclear power but favored the Soviet’s. Otherwise, not even Alanis Morissette would consider it ironic.

“Science fiction is supposed to have something to do with logic and rational debate, not the self-serving advancement of a political agenda.”

Oddly enough, this sentiment was missing in the review of Starship Troopers.

Further negative reviews went to Buckaroo Banzai, Escape from New York, Aliens, and Star Wars.

So what’s better than Star Wars. Star Trek V, of course, “perhaps the second best Trek film.” This would only be even theoretically possible if there was only one other Trek film in existence.

I’ll just add one more:

Coneheads is “one of the best science fiction comedies ever written. The jokes never end, the special effects are well executed and funny to boot, and the script is smooth and seamless.”

Michael Richards, one of the actors in the film, vowed that he would refund any moviegoer who spent money on Coneheads. Now that Henderson committed himself in print, Richards can save his last seven bucks.

Commenters on Amazon.com lit into Henderson far worse than I am. For most of his reviews, Henderson was on target, giving thumbs up to Dark City, The Crazy Ray (1923), Brain Candy, Brazil, City of Lost Children, Laputa (Castle in the Sky), Pi, The Hellstrom Chronicles, Young Frankenstein, both versions of Little Shop of Horrors, and Mystery Men.

The book is impressively comprehensive and the foreword from William Shatner is surprisingly insightful. Henderson’s biases make me unable to recommend the book for purchase but it is worth checking out from the library.

Posted by: Mark | September 22, 2014

Last Lizard II

Back on September 14 I thought I had seen the last lizard of 2014. Today I’ve seen three and the sun is still shining. The temperature dropped to the 40s last night so I doubt if there will be any more of them. I rarely saw lizards at all in the past so I wonder if they’ll be back next year or this summer was a fluke.

Posted by: Mark | September 22, 2014

Encyclopedia of Fantasy

Here’s a few definitions from John Clute and John Grant’s The Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997).

An alternate world “is an account of Earth as it might have become in consequence of some hypothetical alteration in history” (Brian Stableford). Alternate realities include alternate worlds but can also include worlds of magic and other significant changes.

Alternate world – What if the South won the Civil War?

Alternate reality – What if Old Gods conquered the world?

 

Horizon of Expectations – Hans Robert Jauss’s term to describe “the context within which a given generation of readers will understand a work. Within that context–that horizon–the particular generation may come to view certain kinds of material (e.g., faerie, the supernatural, and hell) as being clustered together into a genre, where previously such material may have borne no genre import and not have been perceptually associated. Any attempt to define fantasy must suggest a point in literary history at which readers (and writers) began to define previously scattered topics as being clustered together within a horizon of expectation.

 

Theodicy – Gottfried Leibnitz’s term for the belief that a god who permitted evil to exist could be just. Evil exists as a measure of good.

 

Winscots – secret societies of men or talking animals.

Posted by: Mark | September 21, 2014

Game Day

While normal people were watching football, we went to the Cold Springs Library for board games. We played Betrayal at House on the Hill, Castle Panic, Tsuro, and Sour Apples to Apples.

Betrayal at House on the Hill is probably the best but Castle Panic is pretty good. I was excited at the game Red Shirts but it turned out to be a bust. The demands there but maybe I could come up with something with better execution.

Posted by: Mark | September 21, 2014

No Green for Hulk

We went to the Cincinnati Comic Expo today. One of the biggest reasons I got interested in comics to begin with was through the old Incredible Hulk television show. I was happy that Lou Ferrigno was appearing at the Expo; however, pictures pictures with him began at $40. If I were Daddy Warbucks, it wouldn’t be an issue, but it looks like I’ll have to settle with watching re-runs.

Posted by: Mark | September 17, 2014

The Banshee

Here’s another Halloween postPatricia Lysaght’s The Banshee: The Irish Death Messenger (1986).

Alternative names for the banshee include:  an bheans, badhb, babha, and badhbh.

A Cillineach is a cemetery for unbaptized babies, from which wailing could be heard at night.

Dogs and horses are said to be able to see ghosts.

Consolation after a man didn’t get a chance to fire his gun at a Banshee:  “Better for you shoot your own mother than fire at the Banshee any-how.”

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