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Archive for the ‘Entertainment’ Category

I’m a little bit beat. I know it’s May the Fourth and therefore Star Wars Day, but I’m not quite up to a long-form essay on all that this world has meant for me.

Suffice it to say, I’m a fan.

If you’re in the mood for a quick recap of the main movies (or an introduction, I won’t judge!), here’s a quick summation by Star Wars actor Daisy Ridley, with a little help from Jimmy Fallon:

If you’d rather go back to the beginning and study the source, check out this piece on the first movie’s script:

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

We’re going to break down the essential aspects of the Star Wars script, and how George Lucas made a science-fiction classic.

Buckle up, we’re going into hyperdrive…

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Photo by Honza Kurka on Pexels.com

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So somehow I missed First Contact Day. You know, the day Vulcans pass by Earth just as Dr. Zefram Cochrane makes the first human warp flight in the Phoenix

As recorded in the historical document Star Trek: First Contact.

Right. Anyway, I missed it. The good news is that the real thing won’t take place until 2063. We still have time for benevolent alien species,* a future of livable space ships, the Federation, currency-free economy, and peace on Earth.

What do you say we get started:)

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Photo by Benjamin Suter on Pexels.com

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* Granted, there are a lot of ways this could go: String theorist Michio Kaku: ‘Reaching out to aliens is a terrible idea’.

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Saturday mornings always remind me of cartoons and classical music.

We didn’t have a television when I was growing up (or junk food like sugary cereals), which was great for reading and not quite so great for social integration. (This was before there was a smartphone in every pocket, terabytes of entertainment at every turn, and the splintering of society. But I digress.) 

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I did manage to absorb a decent amount of after-school programming and advertising jingles at friends’ houses, and Saturday morning cartoons when we visited our grandparents.

They had a cute little house in Chicago, with a TV room in the back. That’s where I slept when we visited, and I loved it because it meant I could wake up early and start the day with a deliciously sweet diet of cartoons. My brother would join me soon after, and we’d watch until the rest of the house was up. 

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Most Saturdays, though, we’d wake up at home. What those experiences had in common was classical music. Cartoons have used classical scores for decades. My father is a big fan, and likes to start the day with classical music, played loud. Especially on Saturdays. One of the first albums he bought us as kids was Peter and the Wolf.

To this day, I can’t hear that Prokofiev tune without smiling.

I wasn’t the only one indoctrinated by the classical/cartoon connection, of course. Many of you were right there with me. Click through for a fun thread that identifies a number of the more recognizable pieces.

Or perhaps you are looking for a 2+ hour collection of cartoon music? Then this is your lucky day!

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Since I’m thinking of my father and music, here’s a link I think he might enjoy:

I have no idea what most of these shows were (United States Steel Hour?), but I hope that he does, and that some of this music brings a smile to his face, too.

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Happy Saturday!

Photo by Any Lane on Pexels.com

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You may have noticed that I like funky little websites where people use their creativity to help us use ours. On that topic, I built a spaceship this morning.

This site takes your ship name and builds you a ship. 

shapeWright.

This is an experimental platform for mass customization and procrastination.

They also do other types of models but I wanted a spaceship. This should surprise absolutely no one who knows me.

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Here is my ship, the HMS Happy Day

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Is it weird that it looks like a time-traveling engineer hacked together an AT-AT and the walls of Gondor?

I didn’t think so either:)

Now I’m off to do something more concrete, but my day will be better for that quick mental break. Here’s hoping you can find a little fun in your day too!

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If you, like me, watched the Mars landing and thought, “So cool. But something is definitely up with that parachute,” you were not wrong!

Image via the Parachute Up-Look Camera A on Feb. 23, 2021 (Sol 2). NASA/JPL-Caltech

The striking red and white pattern was too distinctive to be meaningless. 

I initially speculated that the design was meant to help engineers better understand the forces at work as the lander fell through the atmosphere, but nope. With more thought I might have made some progress, but I put the question aside and focused on other things (like the first audio recording from the Red Planet).

Cue the Internet.

There’s a hidden message in the parachute of NASA’s Mars rover – The Verge

Depending on the shape and location of the red-and-white color patterns circling around the parachute’s center, the segments represent different numbers which can be translated through binary code.

— Internet sleuths solve secret message on Perseverance rover’s Mars parachute | Space

Check out the key below, showing the code in four concentric patterns. It reads: Dare Mighty Things. That’s the Perseverance team motto and is also on the wall at the Jet Propulsion Lab. JPL gets another shout-out in the outer ring, which lists the Lab’s lat/long coordinates on Earth. (That’s going to be awfully confusing for any aliens who find it on Mars:)

Image shared by Rick von Hagn on Twitter https://twitter.com/MrIosity/status/1364436321457082370

Well done!

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Speaking of extraterrestrials, now seems like a grand time to plug my favorite new Syfy show, Resident Alien.

An alien crash lands on Earth and must pass himself off as small-town human doctor Harry Vanderspeigle. Arriving with a secret mission to kill all humans, Harry starts off living a simple life…but things get a bit rocky when he’s roped into solving a local murder and realizes he needs to assimilate into his new world.

It stars the fabulous Wash, I mean Alan Tudyk, plus a cast of other terrific, talented and quirky actors, and is a thing of beauty. The premiere was frakking hilarious.

It’s on my mind because it plays on Wednesday nights, but if you missed it, full episodes are available online for the next year or so.

I’m chuckling just thinking about it.

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So yesterday we were looking for something to watch post-Valentine’s Day dinner, and it got me thinking about my favorite movies for the holidays.* I’m a pretty average person from a particular time and place (here, now) who is also a sci-fi /action movie lover with a high tolerance for pew pew. 

This is my current list:

  • Christmas: Die Hard (sorry, It’s a Wonderful Life, you know it’s true)
  • Valentine’s Day: Deadpool (I stand by this 110%!)
  • Easter: Life of Brian
  • Independence Day: This entry pretty much writes itself.
  • Labor Day: Office Space9 to 5The Proposal
  • Halloween: Ever since my father took us to see The Amityville Horror I am Not Ok with truly scary movies, so let’s go with The Sixth SensePractical Magic, and Addam’s Family
  • Thanksgiving: Hmm. Planes, Trains And Automobiles? Or Star Wars. Because Star Wars goes with everything!

Feel free to argue:)

And if you’re interested in learning more about writing screenplays (a fairly specialized incarnation of the craft), check out Go Into The Story for extensive blog posts, free screenplay download linksThe Black List, and (much, much) more.

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* This is not the same thing as actual “holiday movies,” as you’ll soon see.

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

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I am a (very) sporadic diary/record/idea keeper, and the things I write often take the form of notes scribbled on the backs of envelopes or random drafts scattered around my hard drive. This file popped up as I was searching for something else, and I had fun revisiting my first thoughts about Harry Potter. Let’s hear it for the power of magic imagination:)

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March 15, 2000

A few days ago I started reading the Harry Potter books. Started by a single mother in a café on the back of a napkin, these books are the biggest thing since the Lord of the Rings, and written for the same audience – children and their parents. While the author description emphasizes Rowling’s financial need, I would bet that she was also in need of a creative outlet. How often have I done something similar, just to spend time in a world of my own making?

Reading these books, I’m reminded of the value of such stories. Tales of good versus evil are what kids need to frame their worlds, but adults need very much to be reminded of the difference as well, perhaps more so. They make me remember reading at night with my family, breathlessly listening for the fate of hobbits in their battle against a seemingly invincible foe. This, despite the fact that we’d all read the series many times before. Or the way we watched Star Wars (the original, thank you) over and over again on a black and white screen, until the tape wore out. We knew the words by heart, but the story never failed to inspire.

Books for adults often present complex situations and ideas in worlds painted an uncertain grey. But for me, what Harry Potter and others like him give us may be more useful in the end – challenges, yes, but also humor, a sense of wonder and triumph, and in the end, the understanding that lines need to be drawn against evil, and that we can all work towards good.

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Photo by Olya Kobruseva on Pexels.com

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Maximum Dragon

Mr Man needed some distancing and max occupancy signs, so I had a little fun. Here are a few examples:

Moose, yes, dragon, yes, cat, heck yes, but two dinosaurs in one lab? What was I thinking?

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Goodbye to All That

Someone referred to 2020 as “the year with 13 months” and I thought that all too on point. Thankfully, the future is starting to look brighter. As a way to say (hopefully, finally) goodbye to our very own annus horribilus, I thought you might enjoy a little game to (literally, figuratively) put it all behind you.

Plus, it’s Saturday, and it’s nice to take time for a little fun if you can.

The 2020 Game is an online side-scroller, where you control a character using computer arrow keys, running and jumping through such fun 2020 events as Australian bush fires, the stock market crash, U.S. elections and of course, Covid-19.

And hopefully that’s the last I have to say about 2020. Goodbye, and good riddance!

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An interactive, customizable blackout poetry site? Yes, please!

Blackout Poetry Maker

Click the words you want to keep, then “black out.”

Have fun!

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