Tuesday, December 29, 2015

A theory.

So, I actually saw Star Wars last week. And it was awesome. Seriously. I loathed the first two prequels and skipped the third because I figured that I'd wasted enough time on Star Wars shite.  Fast forward 15ish years and I would have skipped the Force Awakens, too, if it weren't for the fact that J.J. Abrams was directing and the book club reviews were pretty positive. One thing that bothered me (and this is kind of sort of a spoiler) was that Force seemed more powerful in this movie, and it wasn't clear to me why. I think this article has a fairly compelling explanation. And it does so by way of referencing Tolkien. What's not to like?

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

In which Masket is called a nerd by NPR

At long last, here is my interview on the NPR Politics Podcast about the politics of "Star Wars." This represents the peak of my academic career. As Emilio Sandoz said, "I was born for this!" No, wait, I don't like where that analogy leads.

Anyway, I come in at around the 4-minute mark.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

You will see this number everywhere, now.

Following up on last night's conversation, here is the Kung Fu Monkey blog post which establishes the concept of The Crazification Factor for the first time.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

The video Seth Masket was born to watch....

The Message

I'd like to recommend a new science fiction podcast called "The Message." It's a story about a modern cryptography team trying to decode an extraterrestrial message received on Earth in 1945. The whole thing is pretty short -- just eight episodes, each under 20 minutes. I'll admit that the dialogue is contrived, and the plot will seem familiar. But it's pretty entertaining, and the story takes some good twists. Mostly, it's a nice use of the podcast format to tell a sci fi story.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Well, this certainly explains alot.  Thanks for effing that one up, Pete.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Is there a BBC slush fund for situations like this?  We need to donate.

Who runs our finances anyway?  When was the last time there was an audit?  Are we unionized?  Where exactly do our dues go?  Am I the only one paying dues?  Questions to be answered tonight!

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Hey, did you guys know there's a blog?!

Inevitable as sunrise: trailer remakes

"the human rights situation for robots is horrifying"

More on Andrew's theory.  I kinda think this is more Lucas's blind spot than Lucas's subtle commentary, maybe because it was a blind spot for me too. But now that I think about it, it's everywhere. (Speaking of Harry Potter: sure, the house elves have a bad lot. But what about the paintings? Seems pretty clear they can think and feel. But they get stuck with n one place having to be password keepers / door wardens and the like.)

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

The Star Wars Posting Onslaught Continues

A little background is in order here:  This is a clip from Star Wars Battlefront, which had a trial beta a few days ago.  I spent a few evenings trying this, and yes, it does look this good.  (Worth cranking up the resolution on YouTube, if you can.)

One of the things you can do in the game is briefly turn into  Luke Skywalker, circa Return of the Jedi for some reason.  This clip is from the perspective of a Stormtrooper player taking on Luke.  Hilarity ensues.

Episode VII: Hope for the Best, Prepare for the Worst

Albert Burnenko wrote an outstanding critique of the entire Star Wars saga, noting that the series has at best a 33% success rate so far so maybe we shouldn't set our expectations too high. My favorite part is his comparison of the Vader of Episode V with the Vader of Episode VI. To wit:
After wearing Luke out with furious lightsaber skills from one end of Cloud City to the other; after bashing him to a pulp with flying space toasters; after blasting Luke out of a window and chasing him out to the end of a lonely windblown plank far from everyone who has ever known or cared about him, he lops the little pissant’s entire hand right the fuck off and then, then, only then, figures the time is right to go, Oh and also, I fucked your mom.
With that in mind, let’s return to the scene from Return of the Jedi, in which a completely unafraid Luke Skywalker kicks skin-crawling televangelist game—I feel the conflict within you! Let go of your hate! Don’t you have somethin’ you wanna say to Jesus? Somethin’ you wanna ask Him for?—at the giant evil cyborg who chopped his hand off the last time they were in each others’ presence. Who is this soggy piece of shit wearing Darth fucking Vader’s clothes? Who is this whiny, slumping sad-sack, mewling about how he must obey his master?
I urge you to read the whole thing.

Friday, October 9, 2015

The Politics of Star Wars

As I mentioned to some of you, my political science group blog, The Mischiefs of Faction, got picked up by Vox.com last month. A few of us decided to start working on a few posts about the politics of "Star Wars." I thought you might enjoy.

Here's my first post on the lack of parties in the Galactic Senate.
Here's my colleague Jon Ladd's post on the inherent dangers of the Jedi.

There will be more in the lead up to the release of Episode VII, I promise.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

The Hill Treatment

So much opportunity here. Surely someone can think of a particularly good trailer or movie scene that needs just a little more Yakety Sax.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Apparently space is very big. Who knew?

The blog is back!!  For starters, check out this video of someone making a scale model of the solar system.  In the model, the earth is the size of marble, and the entire model is 7 miles across.  Enjoy!

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Accidental BBC meeting

Did everyone in our book club go out to see the building come down? I ran into Seth there, and I know Everett was on the other side. Anyway, on the off chance someone missed it, here's our video. 

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Friday, July 31, 2015

Yakety Max!

Just watch this video, right now. The best possible way you could spend one minute. Especially if you saw Mad Max: Fury Road, but worthwhile even if you didn't.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Ted Cruz, Fanboy

Guys, if you haven't seen it, be sure to check out Ted Cruz's recent NY Times interview, in which he chimes in on some key sci-fi issues, including Picard vs. Kirk. In the print version, Cruz mentions that The Watchmen's Rorschach is one of his favorite superheroes, which has prompted a lot of debate. Here's my response piece, in which I describe the logic of cobbling together a political coalition of nativists and Republican nerds.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Is this thing on?

To sorta make up for the pathetic lack of action hereabouts, I'm going to post a semi-curated selection of fine links for your internet time-wastery.

1. "They can't all be Batman": a fun interview with the author of The League of Regrettable Superheroes: Half-Baked Heroes from Comic Book History. Which I may have just bought.

2. Excellent Ant-Man publicity stunt. (And, go see it.)

3. The other day I started wondering about a universe in which Tony Stark shows up to help out his long-lost relation Ned. Turns out, someone else already has, in a reasonably brief and amusing way. Needs images, though. I'd totally see the movie.

4. The excellent Law and the Multiverse brings a solid discussion of the tax consequences of zombiehood.

5. Finally, on the serious side, doing family car trips has given me irrationally strong views on license-plate design. (Ohio really, really sucks.)  Who Will Stop America's Plague of Hideous License Plates? says everything I could ever want to say and more.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Kung Fury

Guys, seriously, watch this and enjoy the best 30 minutes of your week. Maybe your life.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Friday, May 15, 2015

Brin on transparency

The 1996 article I mentioned. (Later, a book, and a website that has some reaction to more recent developments.) Some prescience in there:

"The devices will get tinier, more mobile, and more clever. In software form, they will cruise the data highways. The rich, the powerful, police agencies, and a technologically skilled élite will always be able to find out whatever they want to know about you and me."

Brin's excellent novels include Startide Rising, Earth, and The Practice Effect. At least, that's what I remember.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Douglas Adams on Technology

"I've come up with a set of rules that describe our reactions to technologies:

  1. Anything that is in the world when you’re born is normal and ordinary and is just a natural part of the way the world works.
  2. Anything that's invented between when you’re fifteen and thirty-five is new and exciting and revolutionary and you can probably get a career in it.
  3. Anything invented after you're thirty-five is against the natural order of things."

― Douglas Adams, The Salmon of Doubt


Wednesday, May 13, 2015

On fiction, games, and fictional games.

For those of you of the game-loving mindset, you may find this article interesting. It has pretty charts and many pictures. Also, words.

More importantly, I stumbled across that first article in this blog post about something or other related to games and fiction and fictional games, but mostly stood out to me because it was written by the wife of Leonard Richardson, author of Constellation Games, which means that this post is sooper-dooper relevant to book club.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Elon Bailey.

"Now, I don't mean to say this meeting was completely mandatory, but we didn't see you there. Why? Don't you love this company?"

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Friday, March 27, 2015

Dear President Obama, Welcome to the BBC.

Obama would fit right in, as you can see from this clip of Obama interviewing David Simon about the Wire.  (Yes, Obama is interviewing Simon, not the other way around.)

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Also too, on the topic of adolescent wish fulfillment...

Ready Player One, the movie.

Wars of the Star

A timely interview with Alan Dean Foster for those of you at game night last night.

And for the statisticians among us, a Bayesian analysis of Han Solo's flight through the asteroid field in The Empire Strikes Back!.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Prep for Movie Night

As you consider viewing "Battlefield Earth" in the next few weeks (read: staring into the abyss) you may be interested in the new Scientology documentary on HBO.  Here is a review that breaks it down for you.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Forget Scientology, lets debate the Crossguard Lightsaber!

450 pages of the history of Scientology too much for you?  At least watch this prior to the meeting, so we can really sink our teeth into the issues of the day.  Also, I apparently don't post anything that doesn't have a lightsaber in it...

If my father calls, please remind him I am a mature adult with a job.

Friday, March 6, 2015

There, there, Mike. It's all OK.

Apparently, our esteemed Mr. Boydston was not the only person who was deeply aggrieved by the outcome of Batman Vs. Darth Vader.  The ending has now been reshot.  It is much more satisfying.  All is now right with the world.  (Watch about the last 2 minutes if you want to see the new ending.)

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Gaiman on Douglas Adams

There's a nice piece in the Guardian about a speech Neil Gaiman gave about Douglas Adams. He talks about Adams' love of books and there's a nice anecdote about PG Wodehouse and mattresses. So there. 

Also, here's a video of some ferrets . . . and Dar.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

80's Fantasy Rankings

Get ready to re-live a little slice of adolescence, gents.  Feel free to disagree, too.  I take umbrage at Highlander at 16, and Excalibur at 12.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Genre map

Some weird choices on here, but fun anyway: http://popchartlab.com/products/a-plotting-of-fiction-genres. So far we’ve covered Apocalyptic (The Road), Biopunk (The Windup Girl), and Historical Romance (Wolf Hall). Correct one bad judgment call on the chart (listing Gaiman’s Anansi Boys instead of American Gods) and we’d also have Mythic Fantasy. In the next few months, One Hundred Years of Solitude (our April choice) will add Magic Realism, and Neuromancer (August) will cover Cyberpunk. 

That still leaves Bizarro Fic, among other sub-subgenres we’ve somehow managed to ignore. Ass Goblins of Auschwitz, anyone?  

Monday, February 2, 2015

A fix for our broken (some say) book-nomination process?

What should I read next?

Kinda fun, if often weird in its selections. I gave it a try with a few of our better-reviewed (by us) choices and got these results:

A Visit from the Goon Squad gives Steve Martin - An Object of Beauty

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay gives Jonathan Lethem - The Fortress of Solitude

A Game of Thrones gives Greg Keyes - The Charnel Prince

Master and Commander gives Patrick O'Brien - Post Captain (Rather a safe choice, as it's the sequel to M&C. But I approve.)

A Few Seconds of Panic gives David Foster Wallace - This Is Water

Perdido Street Station gives Michael Swanwick - The Iron Dragon's Daughter

The Sparrow gives Robert J Sawyer - Flash Forward [Okay, it didn't. That's result 2. The first result was Fitzgerald John D , Mayer Mercer - The Great Brain at the Academy. That's good, but just nuts.]

Hunting Eichmann gives Robert Mayer - The Dreams of Ada

Persepolis gives Alison Bechdel - Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic

American Gods and Sandman both give Warren Ellis et al. - Transmetropolitan : The New Scum

The Night Circus gives Yangsze Choo - The Ghost Bride

The Orphan Master's Son gives George Saunders - Tenth of December: Stories

And Wolf Hall, our current book, leads to A M Homes - May We Be Forgiven.

Note that in each case the recommendation list is much longer; I just grabbed the top result. Except for The Sparrow.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Trailer: Star Wars meets Marvel meets DC

This is awesome. It's as if someone were really trying to film Patton Oswalt's beautiful vision. I almost agree with io9 (discussing a slightly different version): "once you see Superman flying alongside the Millennium Falcon you will want it to be real more than you've ever wanted anything."

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Skill vs. Luck?

538 has been running a series of articles on board games, and it's pretty interesting reading.

You can read about great games.

You can read about terrible games.

And, if you're looking for something to do with your kids, they've got an article about obscure games for kids.