Archive for September, 2006

Why Pajiba is the best film-review site out there

Because of statements like this one:

A few days ago, a reader took umbrage with my (ironic) characterization of the men of Jackass and suggested that I seemed “like one of those kids who always got picked last in gym class.” To the author of that insightful comment, I say this: Do you think you’re the first plebeian douchebag to suggest that a movie critic was picked last in PE? Do you even think you’re the first to suggest as much to me? Where did you pick up that insult — some two-bit refrigerator-repair school where everyone recycles 1950s putdowns? Are you kidding me? If you’re going to hurl insults, at least have a little panache, a touch of invective. And really, who the hell cares where I was picked in gym class, and what does it have to do with Jackass? For the record, I was picked in the middle of the pack, between the jocks and the special-ed kids, who at least had a genetic excuse for their mild retardation. But I’m happy for you, sir, that you were the type of guy who got picked first in ninth-grade volleyball. Do you put that on your résumé now? Is that how you got your job in the stockroom at Circuit City? Is your gym-placement tattooed on your arm, somewhere underneath your short-sleeved dress shirt, so you don’t forget it? Were you also the star pupil of your shop class, because that might get you a job in woodworking, which is at least unionized, you insipid prat. So far as I can tell, the selection process in junior-high gym class is not particularly determinative of one’s success in life and, besides, it seems wholly beside the point when we’re talking about a film in which one of the leads has a dildo launched into his anus.

How to build retractable Wolverine claws

wolverine claws
I don’t imagine that building Wolverine look-alike claws is all that hard, in fact many costumes have cheap plastic ones. But this guy managed to build real-looking claws that actually retract:

Nate used Photoshop to enlarge an image of Wolverine’s claws from the X-Men movie that he had downloaded. This allowed him to print out the image until it fit exactly onto the 1″ x 1/8″ Aluminum Flat Bar that he had purchased for creating the claws. Once the basic shape was on paper, Nate traced around it onto a piece of wood that he had cut to 1″ x 13″, which was the calculated maximum length of the claws. This length was determined to be the longest length that could fit on the back of Nate’s forearm. Once the wood had been traced, Nate gathered up his aluminum and headed to his Grandfather’s barn, where he cut the wood out on a band saw, sanded it on a vertical standing belt sander, and used it to trace out the aluminum claws. The aluminum claws were then cut out VERY CAREFULLY on the band saw and sanded lightly on the belt sander. The next step was to put each claw under the wire brush wheel to give them a “brushed aluminum” finish, which Nate determined would look closest to “adamantium”, which Wolverine’s claws are actually made out of.

Now he should go try to rob a bank or something as Wolverine. That’d be awesome.

Wonderful story published at Strange Horizons

Heather Lindsley’s short story Mayfly is one of those stories that stems from a concept–that women can be born and live their entire lives in the span of a week–and then branches off into the many sociological implications of such a life. The character literally has the life-span of a mayfly, only in this case, the memories of her ancestors are implanted in her brain before she’s ever born. This allows Lindsley to skip past the question of how a character can have so much self-inflection after only being alive for a week.

This condition only exists within her family tree, so the reader watches how the world reacts to someone of her kind, how she and her ancestors are forced to kind of blend in, and because they grow and mature so quickly, nobody really notices that something isn’t right. In order for their lineage to go on, each woman must find a mate to impregnate her after only a few days of life–usually on the third or fourth day.

Like most stories of this kind, the backdrop allows for a deep characterization that is quickly realized. The character must struggle against the notion that her life is so short and must find some sense of worth within the span of a week. There’s a scene where she briefly considers picking up and reading a Tolstoy novel to add a cultural inheritance to future generations, but at the same time realizes that the book is too long to justify reading it. Instead, she goes to see Hitchcock marathons and visits art museums. All so future generations can call themselves cultured.

The presiding theme here is selflessness. On the one hand, she realizes that her life is so short and that she wants to do the most with it, but on the other hand she knows her time is very limitted and she has to prepare for future generations. This creates an internal conflict that works well with Lindsley’s writing style.

This really is a wonderful story. I highly recommend it.

Related posts: The solution to the Harlan Ellison problem, Interview with Chandrahas Choudhury from The Middle Stage, A really good short story I read today

It’s time to Waterboard GOP Rep. Mark Foley

Are you just as depressed as I am about the torture bill being passed? Well hopefully this great piece of satire will cheer you up: Waterboard GOP Rep. Mark Foley

The Co-Chair of the US House Missing and Exploited Children Caucus cannot be someone even under the appearance of possibly being a potential child sex offender (soliciting a minor is a crime). No one is saying Foley is a child sex offender, but his email exchange has raised understandable concerns in some minds. It’s time to get to the bottom of this, for the sake of our children. It’s time to waterboard GOP Rep. Mark Foley…

In America, children and family are paramount. Nothing is more important to the Republican agenda than family values. It’s time to defend those family values and protect our children from potential sexual predators.

It’s time to waterboard Mark Foley.

And if he has nothing to hide, no harm no foul. After all, it’s not like it’s torture.

via jlassen

Related posts: Writing entire books attacking people who wrote books about other people, A rabbit’s sexual appetite could cure world hunger

The case of the mystery gadget

question mark
There appears to be a phantom device that’s being used by car thieves in Malaysia. The unknown technology is able to detect which cars have laptops hidden in them, making their thievery much more efficient. Many people take the time to carefully hide anything expensive from sight, but this won’t keep you safe:

Malaysia’s New Straits Times reports that tech-savvy thieves in the district of Petaling Jaya have been using a “special gadget” in order to identify which parked cars have laptops hidden inside of them, with 255 laptops stolen from cars there so far this year.

The police, who have not been able to get their hands on one of these mysterious devices, are stumped and are recommending that people carry their laptops with them rather than leave them in their cars.

The fact that nobody knows how this device works or what it looks like it adds some spice to the whole mystery.

Related posts: Comic Book Urban Legends, New technology being developed to sniff out bombs: Dogs will soon be seeking unemployment benefits, Putting a magnet against a wine bottle changes the quality of the wine

Lawmakers want to take porn away from sex offenders

Remember the often-repeated phrase by social conservatives that porn ruins lives? You know the one, where a husband and father becomes so obsessed with porn that he completely neglects his family in his addiction, an addiction that sends him spiralling into his own demise? Well, now they’re making the next (il)logical step: They want to ban sex offenders from having porn:

A pro-family organization in Cincinnati wants to stop sexual predators by making it illegal for convicted sex offenders to possess hardcore pornography.

Phil Burress, president of Citizens for Community Values (CCV), said his group has proposed legislation that would make it against the law for a sex offender to possess obscene materials.

“They cannot possess it (or) buy it in any way, shape or form,” Burress told Family News in Focus. “If they’re caught with it and if they’re on probation, then they will go back to jail.”

When sex offenders get hold of pornography, he said, it inevitably leads to trouble.

Next we have the CCV listing something as “obvious” when it’s anything but:

“The connection between the use of pornography and sex crimes, especially where it involves children, is obvious,” he said, “though the other side always wants us to prove the correlation.”

Oh, yes. Correlation. Why would they want that? It’s only, you know, the way of proving something “obvious.” If we were to go by logical common-sense, then banning porn will only increase the sexual frustration of sexual offenders, the exact opposite of their intended effect.

Related posts: A History of Amateur Porn, Can’t get Paris Hilton to pose nude for you? Get the next best thing: A porn look-alike

A really long sentence

Matt Cheney has composed a really long sentence for his Strange Horizons column. I’ve seen this done before, and usually it just works as a lame gimmick. But in this case, he takes this really long sentence to talk about sentences and the history of making them really long and how this affected literature. It’s pretty interesting:

when every scribe of any ambition at all went about constructing one architectural wonder of a sentence after another, because what is the point of writing if you cannot achieve with it things that cannot be achieved by speech, and this attitude led to a proliferation of ornate sentences designed to contain entire arguments between the first word and the final period, which often waited so far down at the other end of things that once the reader got to it, everything from the beginning had become a hazy memory, a vague recollection of the original idea, and so the ordinary reader, rather than the reader with perfect recall, was forced, if she or he wanted to understand the entire sentence, to return to the beginning and start reading all over again, hoping this time to bring more of the ideas into focus, or even to discover if the grammar held any ideas at all, because (at least from a cynical point of view) it was just as likely that the sentence was a bloated collection of words that said little,

Related posts: The art of saying “I’m sorry.”, Interview with Hurree Babu from Kitabkhana


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