Posted by: Mark | November 21, 2014

Natasha R.I.P.

Back on October 2, I posted about an unexpected litter of hamsters. The little hamsters soon grew up and started fighting.

Initially we just had one cage for them but Natasha, the future mom, started fighting Boris, the male (but most likely not the dad). I put Boris in a separate cage shortly before the babies were born.

Two cages, six hamsters.

Mother Syrian hamsters often eat their babies but Natasha held back. Her babies weren’t very appreciative–they bit her every chance they got so I moved her to another cage.

Three cages, six hamsters.

One of the babies was a complete bully and bit his siblings so often that I moved him/her to yet another cage.

Four cages, six hamsters.

All went well until yesterday when I was cleaning the cages. Natasha was curled up dead. Hamsters can hibernate but she was definitely singing with the choir invisible.

Three cages, five hamsters.

I’m not sure if it was her age, the abuse she took from her children, or something else. It makes cage-cleaning day easier but I wish I’d been able to help her.

Posted by: Mark | November 19, 2014

More Movies

In most semesters for media analysis, students pick Harry Potter and Transformers. Many did again this time but a few were more inspiring:  Hotel Rwanda, A Clockwork Orange, The Shining, and American Horror Story. One student claimed she is writing about Best Worst Movie, the documentary about Troll 2. One can only dream.

Posted by: Mark | November 15, 2014

Dagger of the Mind

For the fifth or sixth time, I started watching “Dagger of the Mind” of the first season of the original Star Trek and initially didn’t recognize it. I don’t know why. It’s not a bad episode at all, bringing up questions of bio-ethics that still hold up today.

The show Farscape had a somewhat similar episode, “Nerve,” which introduced the character Scorpius. Scorpius was a much better character than the mad doctor of “Dagger of the Mind” and I don’t think I’ll ever forget Scorpy, but compared to many of the TOS episodes I’ve seen lately, “Dagger of the Mind” shouldn’t be so easily forgotten.

Posted by: Mark | November 14, 2014

Horror at Red Hook

I finally got around to reading H.P. Lovecraft’s “Horror at Red Hook.”

It’s supposed to be Lovecraft’s most racist story and proof that he was “more racist than general society of his time.”

In reality, it’s a story about devil-worship with many unnecessary adjectives. It doesn’t relate to Lovecraft’s other mythology but is only remembered because people have heard that it’s racist. I don’t think the activists complaining about it have actually read the story because there’s nothing in it that particularly stands out from Lovecraft’s other work (Poe and Herman Melville wrote far more racist stories directly dealing with race–”Red Hook” is far more concerned about immigration than race).

In an era where lynching was commonplace and the Klan was so powerful that Harry S Truman was obligated to join, it’s absurd to claim that Lovecraft was more racist than his contemporaries. He certainly was racist but, unless someone develops a racial measuring device, I can’t see how anyone could imagine that Lovecraft was outside the norm.


Posted by: Mark | November 12, 2014

Elephant in the Living Room

I showed the documentary The Elephant in the Living Room in class today. It looks at exotic pets in the U.S., especially Ohio.

Overall I would recommend the film. It presents a strong narrative, gives a great deal of information, and presents both sides of the issue (while obviously favoring one).

One problem I had with it was the background music. I wouldn’t have minded if there was no musical score at all but the music was a few levels too loud and distracting throughout. I’m sure soon we’ll be able to toggle off background music and change effects while watching a movie, but until that day comes, the music drowns out the dialogue on several occasions.

It did make me think about the term “exotic pet.” Some people would apply it to a hamster and others to a tiger or crocodile. It would be useful if we had a separate word that meant “unusual but not dangerous pet.” Nothing really springs to mind.

Posted by: Mark | November 11, 2014


Yesterday I was looking over my New Year’s Resolutions and realized that after I ran 26.2 miles in one outing back in February, I didn’t even attempt to do it again.

For whatever reason when I started running today on the elliptical machine, I went for it. Most joggers will laugh at slobs like me who use the elliptical machine but it got the job done. I went 6.2 miles in the standard 33 minutes, followed by another 6.2. I was a little slower on the next one with only six minutes and had to reset the time on the final run so that I finished with 7.8 miles at 44 minutes, 44 seconds.

If I’d actually ran, that would be superhuman/Kenyan. On an elliptical machine, all it meant was that I had a lot of free time. It did burn about 1,500 calories which balances out some of the Halloween candy.

Believe it or not, I’m still behind on my goal to hit 2,000 miles for the year by November 13. I’m hoping to hit it by Saturday if I’m not too sore tomorrow.


Posted by: Mark | November 10, 2014

More Jokes

Apparently a lot of students think that “boo who?” knock-knock joke is the tops. They also had a bunch of “Why is six afraid of seven?”

A couple of better ones:

My son was on Ebay this morning?
Children’s services was not impressed with me.

I think the Steelers are going to win the Super Bowl this year.


It made me laugh.

Posted by: Mark | November 10, 2014

Class Jokes

Today was the class on humor and jokes. Some students couldn’t think of anything and there were a disturbing number of knock-knock jokes (three “boo who?”) but a few were original (at least to me):

What do you get when you cross a penis and a potato?
A dictator.

Have you heard about Fred who has no arms?
Knock, knock.
Who’s there?
Not Fred.

Would you like to hear the last thing my grandfather said before he kicked the bucket? He said, “Wanna see how far I can kick this bucket?”


Nobody’s quitting their day classes.

Posted by: Mark | November 10, 2014

Simpsons, Now and Then

I missed the Family Guy crossover with the Simpsons, but tonight I caught the Simpsons/Futurama mashup.

Looking back at their first crossover with The Critic, both episodes were about equal, despite the babymen who throw tantrums that The Simpsons hasn’t died off yet.

In fairness, Futurama has much more potential than The Critic so tonight’s episode should have been better.Still it was fun to see Bender again although it would have been nice if there’d have been more.

Posted by: Mark | November 8, 2014


Another Saturday night watching Star Trek reruns. In my youth I thought I’d be solving mysteries and fighting dinosaurs about now.

Tonight’s episode was “Miri,” considered a classic by many fans. I think the main draw of “Miri” is that it was banned in the UK which grants it an illusion of porn.

Years ago I wrote a script for an educational video and learned that children and video are a rough mix. I like some ideas in “Miri” but, as a whole, I’d rather see a Gorn fight.

One of the points in the episode is that Miri’s world is an exact duplicate of Earth, even closer than the Roman planet in “Bread and Circuses” and the nuked Earth of “Omega Glory.” (How come the Enterprise never encounters an alternate version of Vulcan or the Klingon homeworld? And what would happen if a Klingon encountered one of the alternate Earths?)

The Enterprise can detect lifeforms while in orbit so the crew beams down without any sort of Hazmat suit. The movie Signs took a lot of grief for aliens allergic to water walking naked around Earth but that’s essentially what Kirk et al do here.

Once on the planet they contract a deadly disease. No problem, they have communicators to conact the ship’s computers. Naturally all their communicators get stolen.

Obviously, no one had cell phones back in the day but how likely would it be for seven people to leave their phones out while knowing that without them everybody will die?

And what the hell were they doing on the ship? They could detect life signs from space so Scotty knew where they were. McCoy made it clear that they were working on a cure to a deadly disease and needed the ship’s computer for research. Once McCoy stopped calling, wouldn’t Scotty just beam down a new phone to their co-ordinates? Were the communicators the equivalent of the latest iPhone and nobody aboard wanted to spare one?

I did like the purple scabs the disease caused. Cheap but effective, as TOS did best.

Otherwise it’s not an episode I’d care to watch again.

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