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Archive for the ‘Entertainment’ Category

I accumulate a lot of links. Work links, sure, but on my way to the data mines I often come across  fun, interesting, obscure or downright delightful corners of the web. They inform me when I need a bit of learning with lunch, cheer me up when the news is too newsy, and otherwise remind me that the internet, like the world, is not 100% terrible.

What sort of links? I’m so glad you asked:)

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Look Up! An Introduction to Identifying Raptors in Flight

  • Helpful, although I’ll probably continue to just say “hawk!” every time I see something predatory with wings. My bird enthusiast father’s reply is always (honestly, can he really be right all the time?*) “turkey vulture.” Just once I wish he’d say “dragon.”

* The answer is yes.

20 of the Best History Podcasts to Help Us Actually Learn From the Past

  • History is cool.

Honest Government Ad | Carbon Capture & Storage – YouTube

  • Is there swearing? There is. It’s warranted.

Introducing the Icelandverse – YouTube

  • Look out, Zuckerberg, Iceland is coming for you.

Bohemian Catsody – A Rhapsody Parody Song for Every Cat Queen and King! – YouTube

  • Since you’re already on YouTube. And like cat videos.

This man won a Guinness World Record for his tree that bears 10 types of fruit

  • “Hussam Saraf says his record-breaking tree with 10 different types of fruit is a metaphor for how he sees the world. … ‘[It’s] mother nature that’s united us all together. Doesn’t really matter how different we are in colour or culture or tradition. We are one, and we can respect each other as one.’” If that’s not nice then I don’t know what is.

rroll.to

  • Each time a user clicks on your generated link, there is a 50% chance that they will be rickrolled.

The True Story of the Blue People of Kentucky

  • Genetics, man.

Photos of the world above and below the sea by David Doubilet

  • Nature, man. These images are amazing.

Periodic Table of the Elements, in Pictures and Words

  • How many of these have you used today?

How to Identify that Light in the Sky

  • Brought to you by NASA and The League of Lost Causes, which is just about the most awesome name ever.

Scientists Create 3,000 TB Simulation of the Universe You Can Download

  • I don’t have the space for this, but maybe you do?

And since I’m a baker, here’s one last link:

All You Could Ever Want to Know About a Pumpkin Slingshot

  • I dunno, I want to know A Lot.

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Photo by Robert Katzki on Unsplash

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What am I reading with lunch? How about a graphic novel about a woman, space, and a spunky little robot? App and interactivity are optional (but could be fun).

NASA – First Woman (read onlinedownload PDF)

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NASA

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It’s September 8th, and the 55th anniversary of the first airing of Star Trek: The Original Series. Now, I was always a Star Wars fan first and foremost* but Mr Man persuaded me to revisit and reassess, and I’m glad he did. The more geeky space fun, the better, as far as I’m concerned.

Want to know more, or commune with fellow Trekkies basking in the glory that is the Trekiverse? Click through for links to the annual Star Trek Day celebration:

Star Trek Day 2021: Celebrate 55 years of Trek with live panels and more tonight | Space

In closing…

(You know what I’m going to say, which also says something about the remarkable reach of this show into the global consciousness.)

Live long, and prosper.

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Photo by Stefan Cosma on Unsplash

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* The show had ended by the time I was ready for such things, and without a television even reruns were off the table. Hard to obsess over a series that you can’t watch!

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In my roles as a writer and as a person, I read a lot. Some books I purchase, but many I access through my local library. How great is that?*

So I just spent a non-zero amount of time writing a little AppleScript to automagically run a search in any of the four area library systems that share e-book resources. 

Was it necessary? No. I could click through my library portal and into each separate library system for every book I want to check, one stodgy button at a time. Ho hum.

Does this script save time and my wrists and open up new worlds of possibilities?

Yes.

Was it fun to make?

Also yes:)

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I know, it’s a store, not a library. But she’s having so much fun! Photo by Ying Ge on Unsplash

* I love books, and I’m lucky enough to live in a society that supports public libraries. In fact, I made a modest donation to my local library the other day, and hope it helps bring just a little more literacy and knowledge and enjoyment to my city.

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Does everything have to be perfect in order for a story to work? Nope. 

Here’s the script and breakdown for Star Wars:

Star Wars: A New Hope Script — Screenplay Analysis and PDF Download

par·sec| ˈpärsek | (abbreviation pc) noun

a unit of distance used in astronomy, equal to about 3.26 light years (3.086 × 1013 kilometers). One parsec corresponds to the distance at which the mean radius of the earth’s orbit subtends an angle of one second of arc.

A parsec is a measurement of distance, not time. Twelve of those do not a winning Kessel Run make, but, as millions of fans (and yes, dollars) attest, no one cares. The story works.

These are the things I think about when I’m stuck on a plot point, or deep in historical or technical weeds.

Just keep going.

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Photo by Sam Balye on Unsplash

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Here’s a heaping helping of free fiction, with a side of motivation. John Scalzi’s first novel is posted free to read on his site. It’s the web version, with each chapter its own link and charmingly antiquated page design, but the novel is fun.

Agent to the Stars

After a long day of work sometimes you just want to dust yourself off, meet an alien at the corner bar, and laugh a little. At least I do:)

Scalzi refers to this as his practice novel, but it’s well written and entertaining. (If you’d rather get the full version, the book was eventually published via traditional means, so visit your favorite retailer.) It’s also a great example of what can be done if you just knuckle up to the keyboard and see what comes out.

Which I will absolutely do. Tomorrow.

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Photo by Thom Milkovic on Unsplash

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Busy day today, and none of the three ideas I had for this post came together. Instead, have some fiction, this time read to you by Levar Burton. (You know, the Jeopardy host, and oh yes, Roots and Star Trek and Reading Rainbow and a few other things as well;)

His podcast is Levar Burton Reads, and he picks some of the best speculative short* fiction out there. So when you have a few minutes, sit back, listen, and relax.

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Photo by Scott Webb on Unsplash

* Shortish, anyway. Reading aloud always takes a bit of time, so a typical episode is about an hour.

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Oh, this is fun. If you have a little map, environment and/or geography geek streak, check out this interactive:

River Runner by Sam Learner

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“Do unto those downstream as you would have those upstream do unto you.”

― Wendell Berry

When a raindrop falls, where does it go? If it falls on my hometown, it flows 390km to the Atlantic Ocean.

If it falls on the Denver Broncos’ Mile High 50-yard line, just east of the Continental Divide, the path to the Gulf of Mexico is 3862km!

Click a starting point and the site will calculate a route and then do a visual fly-over. I wish it covered places outside the US but it’s still a fun and impressive window into data from the always excellent USGS.*

* Ah, the USGS, font of so much maptitude! Wait, is that a volcano webcam? Stop browsing, woman, you have work to do! But remind me to tell you my volcano story someday:)

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river running through a forested glade
Photo by Dave Hoefler on Unsplash

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When it comes to writing, I try to study the substance behind the story, the skeleton that supports the larger whole. Novels have time to throw curve balls, and short stories can just upend everything because they don’t always give you all the information up front, but television and movies? I find that they tend to be much more predictable.

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One thing I’ve noticed is that the more closely I study the structure of fiction, the easier it is to predict the course of any particular show. 

This is useful because it helps me better study and understand story structure. It’s also less helpful because it leads to me muttering things like “Yep, you’re definitely going to die,” and “Oh yeah, he did it,” or “Well, if you didn’t want to die a horrible death, you shouldn’t have had that heartfelt moment with the main character. Did your mother teach you nothing?!” 

This is also why I love shows like Resident Alien and Sherlock and Wynonna Earp and Killjoys. Great characters and humor, plus creative, often unpredictable storylines and dynamics. And they’re just fun.

Dear Industry of Entertainment, please do not underestimate the power of fun.

Especially after the year we’ve just had.

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This brings me to my apology: Dear Mr Man, I am sorry for the ongoing commentary (ok, heckling, let’s just call it what it is) during shows. Please understand that it is a natural extension of my ongoing writerly education. 

Also, we bought that high-capacity PVR for a reason. We can always rewind:)

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Photo by Charles Deluvio on Unsplash

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I used to love waking up to Saturday morning cartoons at my grandparents’ (no TV at our house, I may have mentioned), but now that I’m an adult I’ve moved beyond such childish things. Right?

This morning Mr. Man turned on the TV and quickly found a station playing Spy, Paul, Battleship and True Lies. Cheers all around!

So, maybe not much has changed:)* 

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Photo by Doug Maloney on Unsplash

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* Well, except for the fact that now I have a PVR the size of Texas and can record them all!

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