Thursday, December 27, 2007

Pin-up What?


Christmas was a wonderful time for CandyBuffet. Among other things, Santa brought me an all inclusive book about the history of "The Great American Pin-up", which reminded me of all of you commenters who have been frickin' begging me to add a discussion section to the "Pin-up of the Month".

So here you go, just in time for Christmas (well not really, but in time for the New Year). The new section links to the comment thread for this post, which is now the home for Pin-up discussions in the Candy Machine. You can also find the new link just under the Pin-up for the month.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Amazon Casts a Spell


Our little Christmas gift from Amazon.com is a posting of photos and synopsis of all the tales in their recent acquisition, “The Tales of Beedle the Bard”. First, I am not one to be swept up in a general, trendy furor. Second, I’m not even one to post twice in one week about the same subject (namely J. K. Rowling), but the photos of this volume are…stunning. Handwritten and hand-illustrated by the author, I felt it resembled some monkishly illuminated labor of love. Only seven copies of the book were made by Rowling, six given to friends and this last auctioned for charity. After purchasing the book for a mere 4 mil at London auction, Amazon wasted no time in posting photos and information for its web.

If you do not know the significance of this collection of Fairy tales from the Harry Potter World to the Harry Potter series, well I you obviously have either not finished the seven books (or perhaps not started them). I certainly won’t spoil you here (and regret to say I have nothing to help you with your disease). All I can say is, you’d better get a move on before Amazon sends the book on a tour of libraries and schools.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Candy Girl


For the holidays, my in-laws and I are obsessed with seeing the witty, smart-mouthed “Juno”, the small screen film about an unexpectedly pregnant high schooler and the humors and traumas of teen-age life written by the brilliantly funny Diablo Cody. The funny thing is, Cody, whose real name is Brook Busey-Hunt, was more than a little abashed when telling her parents about her first publishing success, “Candy Girl”. You see, Cody spent a year stripping in clubs and the script of Juno contains more than a little of her own past.

I find it a little odd that our own American culture is complicitly and silently obsessed about sex. A few years ago I saw “Sin City” in the theatre. I expected a darkly fantastic, noir adventure but felt cheated when treated to a graphically violent novella. On leaving, Peter gamely suggested that there should be two R ratings for movies. “RV” for violence and “RS” for sex, because “Full frontal nudity? I can see that all day. Seeing a guy castrated five times? When does that get fun? “

I, for one, am looking forward to one of the first pop-culture treatments of teen pregnancy without the usual of tirade of shame, guilt and humiliation. You too can read more about Cody in the LA Times Article “Diablo Cody: From stripper to screenwriter”.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Girl Powah


Artists Tiffany Ludwig and Renee Piechocki, who collaborate under the name "Two Girls Working" have been interviewing women about clothes, make-up, self esteem, and power in order to create art installations, an online multimedia archive, and a new book called "Trappings: Stories of Women, Power and Clothing."

Many a New Year's Eve ago, I had an intense conversation with a friend of a friend. He despised make-up, declaring women only used it out of a lack of self esteem. I was convinced of quite the opposite and tried to reveal to him my deep connection with cosmetics. Especially in the US, cosmetics are so deeply ingrained in a woman's culture and considered a territory outside a man's culture that he found the concept difficult to digest. I tried to explain how, when I'm looking in the mirror, applying eyeliner or mascara, I oftentimes imagine I feel an invisible connection with the thousands of millions of women before me who have done the same thing. Just imagine, Cleopatra, Marie Antoinette, Alice Paul, Josephine Baker, and Lady Diana all applied their make-up with the same minute strokes, the same half-opened lips, the same deadly concentration and somehow each of us is connected to the others in an infinite femininity that is a little bit ritual, a little bit sacred and a little bit fun.

Read for yourself how women speak about their emotional connections with a little black dress and pearls or THAT pair of perfect red shoes in the Seattle Times article “Two women explore "Trappings" of power clothes”.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

What She Hath Wrought


Candybuffet doesn't usually succumb to these awfully trendy food trends, but a recipe for butterbeer inspired by the Harry Potter series happens to be intriguing, geeky, and candied all in one bite (and utterly takes the cake).

Entertainment Weekly suggested a version of the wizards’ pick-me-up made of Michelob Light and Butterscotch Schnapps was becoming a frat party staple, but finding little evidence of any such thing on the net, I decided to test drive a version of my own consisting of

12 oz Michelob light (1 can)
1 1/2 oz (shots) of Butterscotch Scnapps

(Yum! And it even passed a FreshSnaps flavor test) and will be serving it up for the New Year’s Holiday. You can try it out as soon as you dare, otherwise check out the Entertainment Weekly article on Rowling naming her the "Entertainer of the Year," preceeding a nice anaylisis of Rowling impact on modern culture.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Planeguage



The above is not a little known word in the English vocabulary. Instead, it is a new program launched by Delta Air Line's, Inc to raise awareness of good behavior in the air through animated videos. The humorous in-flight videos show passengers confronted with delicate social situations like "Middleman" (those guys who hog all the arm space in the middle seat), "Kidtastrophe" (doe I really need to explain this one?), and "Shady Lady" (passengers who raise or close window shades without considering other passengers. Exponential growth in air travel has meant thousands of new passengers who have never been in the air, and I for one am relived that Delta has stepped up to the plate to educate customers about what it means to be a good travel companion.

Read the USA Today's Article "Flying the Friendlier Skies" for an overview or take a look at the online version of the videos at Delta Air Lines' blog, Under the Wing.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

It was the Worst of Openers


When I was a wee lass, we subscribed to Games Magazine. Well, I use the word subscribe to mean, poured over, tore pages out of, fought over, scribbled upon and basically defaced each issue into an unrecognizable pulp of paper. Inside each magazine were hours of word, logic and visual puzzles that would make your hair stand on end. And (very often) in December there was also the results of the world's best-known bad-writing contest, the "Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest".

The name of the contest hails from author Edward George Bulwer-Lytton, whose 1830 novel "Paul Clifford" opens with the sentence, "It was a dark and stormy night". The contest's founder acknowledges that writing badly on purpose is hard work, something like "impersonating a drunk on ice skates." That's why BLFC winners make world headlines each summer with such overworked sentences as:

She resolved to end the love affair with Ramon tonight . . . summarily, like Martha Stewart ripping the sand vein out of a shrimp's tail . . .though the term "love affair" now struck her as a ridiculous euphemism . . . not unlike "sand vein," which is after all an intestine, not a vein . . . and that tarry substance inside certainly isn't sand . . . and that brought her back to Ramon. (2004 Winner)

or

The heather-encrusted Headlands, veiled in fog as thick as smoke in a crowded pub, hunched precariously over the moors, their rocky elbows slipping off land's end, their bulbous, craggy noses thrust into the thick foam of the North Sea like bearded old men falling asleep in their
pints. (2000 Winner)

To view the 2007 contest winners, runner-up and dishonorable mentions visit the 2007 winners circle at their homepage. To try your hand at attainable foulness, you can also check out the
contest rules.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Park on the Grass


Hailed as the solution to erosion and urban runoff, which poisons our lakes and rivers, grasscrete consists of 47% concrete and 53% holes.The idea is to let grass grow between the surfaces of the concrete allowing for the same kind of rain and flood water absorption that occurs over natural soil...in a parking lot.

Developers pour concrete over 2' by 4' blocks called "formers" that biodegrade. As they degrade grass grows into the holes. Cool, huh? It can even be used in reservoirs and Drainage channels. Unfortunately, grasscrete is currently 30% more expensive than concrete. But as the price comes down, I think it is more exciting and innovative than plastic.


Take a look at the website for more pictures and case studies, one of which shows an English Manor house that had had its grass verges destroyed by overflow parking and country fairs, but has now been laying grasscrete for the past 15 years, providing hard parking for cars and natural graze land for the estate farm's sheep when not in use.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Rock, Paper, Scissors


Went to a house warming this weekend, where the host pulled out a wacky version of Dutch shuffleboard, heartily enjoyed by adults and children.When it came near to my turn, there were only two people who hadn't had a go, so I gamely offered a quick Rock, Paper, Scissors throw down to determine who goes next.


Here's the thing, on reflection, Rock, Paper, Scissors is universal.Almost every civilized human being over the age of four knows how to play and would agree that the results are fair. The action is cyclical, understandable and almost karmic.


This morning, it seems that the New York Times agrees with me. Check out their article, "Rock-Paper-Scissors is Universal", regarding how the three-pronged nature of Rock, Paper, Scissors applies to nature and, indeed, seems to be one of its primary methods of stability. The article is part of a larger section, "The 70 Ideas of 2007", which is well worth a read too.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Interesting Web Browsers You've Never Heard Of


Is it sick, sick, that I only recently installed FireFox? And that was because my Internet Explorer kept crashing for unknown reasons and I finally got it up just enough to Google FireFox and wrestle the download URL from the browser. I'm not old-fashioned by any sense of the word, but I do like familiarity. Still I'm surprised at how compatible, customizable and, well brilliant, FireFox is (hello, instant spell checker! Are you listening Microsoft?). I feel guilty for my late and trepidatious behavior. Afterall it was named by Forbes.com as "the best browser" in a 2004 and "product of the year" by PC World in 2005.

For you others frightened of change, take a closer look at some rather unknown, forgotten, advanced or experimental browsers reviewed by Smashing Magazine in "Web Browsers You Have Never Heard of". You maybe surprised (and exceptionally needy) one day.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

It's Comcrapstic!


Anyone who doesn't know that I hate Comcast, doesn't know that I live and breath. We wouldn't subscribe to their circle of evil, or eyeball their triple play of doom if they weren't the only cable show in-town or if one could get the English Premier League on Netflix.

For S&G's, I was re-reading about the 75-year-old grandma from Manassas, Virginia who became infamous for "Taking a Whack Against Comcast" (after getting fed up with constant delays and blatant indifference at Comcast's customer service office, she re-visited the office with a hammer and took out a couple of keyboards, monitors and a phone). Then I remembered a light at the end of the tunnel I hadn't blogged about. Comcast corporate regularly tunes in to one of their biggest negative publicity sites, the blog "ComcastMustDie.com" written by Bob Garfield (co-host of the On The Media show on National Public Radio and author of the "Ad Review" features in the magazine Advertising Age). One of my favorite quotes from their huge array of complaints runs something like this:

This story has it all – shocking lack of competence, outright lies, and a customer service system that can best be described as Soviet in its hopeless ineptitude and ability to drain time and destroy souls.

The good new continues as consumers who post their outrageous, Com-crap-stic stories on this sight, often have their complaints seen to by someone at Comcast's Corporate office. One commenter replied:

This site is fantastic. Quickly after making my post I received 3 phone calls from Comcast: (1) a fellow named Mark called from corporate, left his number and told me I would be contacted by someone from my local office, (2) a call from Gwen who was at the local office letting me know who specifically would be handling my case, and finally (3) Rebecca who was handling my case. After some phone tag (due to my schedule - not Comcast's fault), I was able to connect with Rebecca today who had gone through my bill, corrected all of the charges and let me know my new monthly balance. She also made sure that I was credited for past charges and called to let me know how much my new statement amount was so that I wouldn't overpay.

If you too, like Sisyphus, are forced to shoulder the burden of Comcast's non-existent customer service only to find it rolling back downhill to where you started, you should not delay in checking out Bob's blog.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Finnimbrun


A finnimbrun is an obsolete word (my favorite kind!) for a (often rare) trinket or knick-knack. It is so obsolete that I can not even discover a consistent etymology and therefore reliable plural form of the word. Why do you care? Well, the fact of the matter is, there are many, many, many words in American vernacular that mean trinket or knick knack and these words actually already suffice without having to add finnimbrun to your vocabulary. So why should you? Why did I even welcome you to the world of finnimbrun?

It is because of the sound of the word. The bold faced rhythm of it. The creative fun you can have with making up new grammatical forms of it, like "Finnimbrunian" that are downright fantastic, even Tolkien, in their sound. Like a bunch of unflinching, relentless dwarves who slaved over their hammers to make exquisitely awful figurines to fill their cultured grandmother's house with semi-magical and well-crafted knick-knacks that she can't stand but has resignedly decided to decorate the back of her toilet with. It sounds like an adjective describing the astronomically (literally, not figuratively) unkempt house of Lady Aughra from the Dark Crystal you know the one, the woman with the one eye that you're sure was knocked out by one of her harrowingly fast, disregarded orreries that were the star of that famous, chaotic scene instead of her. It sounds like the collective noun for a team of mice that consequently you discovered running all over you like Reepicheep and his gang did all over Aslan before they learned the power of speech (and if you don't understand the last reference, what is wrong with you? Read the Chronicles of Narnia already, for yourself, if you really try, you can do it in one night).

Anyway, all my blathering is simply to say yes, you may say trinkets, you may say knick knacks, you may say tchotchkes, frou frou, bricka-brack, baubles, whatnot or junk, but Finnimbrun is much, much, much more fun to say.

Monday, December 3, 2007

The End of America


Naomi Wolf the author of "The End of America: Letter of Warning to a Young Patriot" and this interview, "The End of America? Naomi Wolf Thinks It Could Happen" is well worth the read, considering how she warns that Americans must be vigilant about protecting our freedoms and Democracy. Wolf is a well-known author and feminist and was a White House consultant in the Clinton era. Recently, she has been studying historical fascism and her new book outlines the ten steps fascist regimes have taken in order to gain control. She then she parallels these with current (and recently instituted) United States policies. Notably, she cautions that we can not expect an open, transparent, and accountable election in 2008 and we can expect hyped terrorism threats and purged voter rolls.

Now, don't get all uppity, my conservative friends. It is of great confusion to me how Liberals (and others) who cry for change are often decried as unpatriotic. In our great country of America, the soul of our honorable forefathers was not one of complacency, but of tolerance and freedom, consequently some of the greatest lessons in Christianity (and heck, just about every other meaningful, world religion) and in my opinion the hardest religious lesson to learn. I once had a conversation with a family member about patriotism and rebellion. Can one be a liberal and a patriot, while experiencing the throes of rebellion? I outlined my argument thus: what if one lived in Georgia in the terrible days of segregation? To be outraged at the segregation, would that make one disloyal to the great state of Georgia? Or would that love of Georgia make one activate on its behalf, to right the wrongs of an unfair authority and restore Georgia's honor through protests and rallies, in the hope of making one's state greater? Are not these the actions of true patriots?

Tangentially, the current instability in the U.S. (and a recent viewing of Children of Men) have forced me to look at our modern society through more emotionally charged, spiritual glasses. Specifically, to one forced into years and years of Bible study (think what you like, I rather enjoyed it and at the end of the day, nothing shuts up an overzealous, intolerant Bible-beater like a good counter knowledge of the Bible) one can't help but compare the idea of the Biblical "Time of Tribulation" with the good ole'-fashioned, godlessness of now (of course, I think "The Millennium" is a spot on reference to Star Trek, The Next Generation, as well).

For more ideas on why the end might be near, see my post from Cracked.com about apocryphal prophesies. Even if you have something better to do you should probable read it. Heck, you should read it even if you've read it before.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Confessions of a Thirty-Something Career Girl


Daily Mail's article, "Confessions of a Thirty-Something Career Girl Who Pays for a Male Escort" is more than it seems to be. It is not just a titillating glimpse into reverse stereotyping, but rather an interesting foray into the future of the sex industry (boy, my relatives are gonna love this post). It reminds me of a Marie Claire article, "Where Women Pay $12,000 for Male Affection" I read eons ago about the rise of "Host" clubs in Japan (heavens, did I really read it in 2003?). That article lead to a conversation with my good friend, Sarah, about how the "Lady's clubs" that exist for women in the United States are completely unappealing because the are the exact opposite of "Gentleman's clubs". A bunch of meatheads squelching against you in a bar and trying to get into your pants? That's what women avoid on a day-to-day basis. What women really want is the REVERSE of a "Gentleman's club". A nice place to sit down after work, engage in some flattering conversation and let nice guys fondle your knee, chat you up, and buy you drinks (even if you are the one really buying them). Peek at the articles and decide for yourselves.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Six Ideas That Will Change the World


Six Ideas That Will Change the World” from Esquire magazine introduces you to a few, little known technologies that are likely to change the face of humanity as much as coming down from the trees. From “flexible” electronic circuits imbedded in plastic that eliminate the fragile rigidity of electronics and can be applied to prostheses, to the invention of a plastic that is made from the biodegradable oils of orange peels, to (one of my favorites) the downfall of capitalistic internet censorship. (If you've read CandyBuffet’s comments (see the Candy Machine), you know that Internet Censorship is not just for developing countries but is just as prevalent in corporate and military installations at home). None of these ideas are idle, expensive technologies that are unlikely to make it out of a lab, but instead each one is an exciting, new look at a promising horizon.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Excellent Blog Designs


Ever notice how utterly important it is for your blog to not look like a blog? “30 More Excellent Blog Designs” from Smashing Magazine comes in handy. It totally fills in the infinite loop of how a “blog” seems to fill one's head with an infinite amount of ghastly images taken from the page of another's electronic journal and replaces them with the clean, well-thought out designs of free-lance writers with design departments and more wisdom than can fit in their own novels. As if.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Things Female Gamers Hear on Xbox Live


"Things Female Gamers Hear on Xbox Live" is just a bit of fun and I Dug it (with a capital "D". Don't know what I mean? Well, when are you going to visit Digg?). Anyhoos, its going to be my new online script sheet. The same old questions should get the same old answers, by everyone.

Monday, November 19, 2007

The Tattoo Issue


Well, I have been doing the hard think about a) touching up the tattoo and b) getting a new one. Yep. Can't help thinking about it. After spending years deliberating during ages 15 to 19, I took the plunge in 1995 and got a beautiful blue-gray tattoo of a crescent moon and stars. My brother (with whom I was living) went ape-shit. My mother (with whom I was not living) was rather accepting, especially since the whole dealy fit under a quarter. Nowadays, very small, very meaningful tattoos are quite popular. My sister-in-law sports the script words "be the change you wish to see in the world" in fine black ink on her back, just under her ribs. I also remember fancying the tattoo of three dime-sized, five-pointed stars a saw on this one woman's back, perfectly evenly spaced out along her spine and only revealed by a backless top.

When I got my tattoo twelve years ago, I remember choosing blue-gray, because it was the closest thing I could get to silver. While metallic inks still aren't available to the skin-art crowd, there are other intriguing options on the market. Ultra-violet tattoo ink is available that is nearly invisible to the naked eye, but glows a brilliant bluish-white when under a black light (it FDA approved and has been tested for over ten years and semi-permanent tattoos can be zapped away with one lazer treatment.

Friday, November 16, 2007

The Death of the Stars


A friend sent me this thought provoking article (Shout out Emily), "The Dark Side" from the New Yorker describing civilization's assault on the stars. For instance, for someone standing on the North Rim of the Grand Canyon on a moonless night, the brightest feature of the sky is not the Milky Way but the glow of Las Vegas, a hundred and seventy-five miles away. To recapture a night sky of equivalent darkness that Galileo must have gazed at one needs to travel to the Australian outback, the mountains in Peru or (in my opinion) right smack dab in the middle of the ocean with no running lights--(my lucky brother).

Read more to learn how excessive, poorly designed outdoor lighting wastes electricity, imperils human health and safety and increasingly, deprives many of us of a direct relationship with the nighttime sky, a powerful source of reflection, inspiration, discovery, and plain old jaw-dropping wonder.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Candies of the Glaucous Witch


Anyone who was at my last birthday party will know that I have an absurd fascination with Death in the Afternoon (No, not the Hemmingway novel, you ninnys). Well, like minders may finally be able to throw out their disgusting bottles of Pernod for the real thing (which didn't have to be smuggled from Amsterdam like mine). Read the New York Times Article, "the Glass Half Full of Mystique and Misery" for a look at Absinthe's triumphant return.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Women in the Workplace


This article, "Success In the Workplace: Be A Woman Only Not So Much" came as a neato nicety in my in-box from my dear friend, FreshSnaps. It hits the nail on the head in so many succinct ways. In four short paragraphs, Jezebel points out that women have come a long way in the work place and it hasn't been that far at all. Acting like a man garners just as much criticism as acting like a woman. If you really want to get ahead in the business world, you have no choice but to thumb your nose at the man and (gulp) act like yourself. Oh yes, and don't forget to find a suitable outlet for your resulting rage.

Friday, November 9, 2007

The 10 Most Terrifyingly Inspirational '80s Songs



It's been awhile since I visited my old friend Cracked.com and its list of Terrifyingly Inspirational '80s Songs has shown me the error of my ways. Do not mistake this list for a jot down of soul searching, bubble-gum, positive-thinkin', crooners that 80's radio stations loved to rocket to the top of the charts. Every song on this list is "terrifyingly inspirational" because they're about taking names and kickin' ass. And oh, yes, the succinct description of Number 7, Pat Benatar's "Love is a battlefield" is worth the price of admission alone.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Bush's Reign


CandyBuffet has a sincere interest in the personality of the current President of the United States not only because they share an astrological sign, but they also share the same birthday (along with, thank goodness, the current Dalai Lama). In Anthony Lewis's NY Times article "The Imperial President", he reviews Robert Draper's book, "Dead Certain" about the Bush Younger's Presidency. In spite of the mean-spirited frat boy pranks, "the President is not stupid", Lewis suggests. His homespun manner is well-liked by the American people and his clumsy "plain folks" talk is guileless and comes naturally. However, King George's informed tactics are as ruthless as they are shockingly effective and seem "to lack the intellectual curiosity that makes for an interesting mind" or perhaps (in my opinion) an ethical one. Take a gander at the article for yourself.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

The Angels have the Phone Box!


Zeno Apparel is the source of my new and utterly fabulous Doctor Who t-shirt. They also had a surprisingly extensive collection of cleanly designed geeky shirts (the large Power Button shirt was a keeper as was the Trashy Hearts shirt). They don't take credit cards but they do take Paypal and shipping was super fast and secure.

By the way, the Doctor Who Episode "Blink" by Stephen Moffat was given an 5.5 rating ("Off the Scale") by the BBC's "Fear Forecasters". Whether you are a child or not, I suggest viewing it in the daytime. Preferably behind a sofa.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Compact Fluorescent Bulbs Really Save


We know it makes good economic sense to switch from Incandescents to compact fluorescents (CFLs) but finally someone breaks down the mumbo-jumbo, feeling good greenness into hard concrete dollars in "How Much Do Compact Fluorescent Bulbs Really Cost?" from Get Rich Slowly. Let your next expensive light bulb purchase make you feel all glowy inside, not only because you're saving energy, but also because you are simultaneously saving up for that new Halo game.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Excellent Blog Designs


Ever notice how it is utterly important for your blog to not look like a blog? “30 More Excellent Blog Designs” from Smashing Magazine comes in handy. It totally fills in the infinite loop of how a “blog” seems to fill ones head with an infinite amount of ghastly images taken from the page of one's electronic journal and replaces them with the clean, well thought out designs of a free lance writer with a marketing department and with more wisdom than can fit in their own novels. As if.

Minimalistic Website Designs


You've heard it time and time again, but here is viable proof that Less is More. Laid out in stunning array by VandelayDesign, these 25 Beautiful Minimalistic Website Designs should be studied over and over again by any person hoping to have a clever and attractive webpage. The important elements that make these websites work are helpfully pointed out by VandelayDesign. Examine how these websites use stunning imagery, very few colors and well-defined columns to augment their ideas, then take the little lessons you've learned and, er, imitate their layout shamelessly.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Eight Keys to a Happier Marriage


Zen Habits article on the "Eight Keys to a Happier Marriage" not only make good sense for married people but for maintaining healthy relationships with your close friends and family. They also make good tenants for living a self-accepting life full of healthy relationships and should be taped to your bathroom mirror.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

What Did You Call It?


I am so glad that the New York Times started making their articles free. Without them, I wouldn't have stumbled upon this delightful little gem, "What Did You Call It?" about acceptable words for a woman's private parts. In my opinion "down there" always sounded like a bad After School Special and the word my husband and I currently use is the same as the first name of the mechanic on the old "Dukes of Hazzard".

Which really demonstrates, as the article details, that there is a vacuum in popular discourse showing a need for a word for female genitalia that is not clinical, crude, coy, misogynistic or descriptive of a vagina from a man’s point of view.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

7 Can’t-Miss Ways To Kick-Start The Writing Habit


The writer in all of us is always looking for a way to short cut that dreadful period of time when you are sitting in front of the computer all set to start furiously typing and mysteriously can not get the black on white.

Free Lance Folder's "7 Can’t-Miss Ways To Kick-Start The Writing Habit", gives ideas on how to stop fearing the moment of starting your term paper, new novel, angsty poem, or blog entry and to just start writing. Try and remember, folks, to 'write for the trash can'. The most difficult part of writing is the act of putting the pen on the paper.

Monday, October 29, 2007

15 Unreasonably Useful Websites


This extremely well thought out list from WebUpon, "15 Unreasonably Useful Websites" not only includes no brainers like YouTube, Craigslist, Wikipedia and IMBD but also pure strokes of genius like MusicTheory (a website that contains lessons, trainers, as well as several other utilities) and Freedocumentaries (a catalog of documentaries covering a zillion different topics that you can browse by region, theme, or title. The videos are free!!).

For even more ridiculously useful sites, check out WebUpon previous article, "15 Ridiculously Useful Websites". Which includes "Retail Me Not" (an online coupon hunting site I cannot live without) and the very exciting "What Should I read Next?" which calculates future books that should hop into your library based on what you have already read.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Poison is Sexy


I...well, truthfully, I had all sorts of blogs planned. Funny blogs from cracked.com, serious blogs about women's images in advertising, thoughtful blogs regarding ways to concentrate at work and sources for inspiration while writing. But they were all trumped by this article about the "Top Ten Poisonous Plants". There are so many uses for this article outside of the realm of poisoning your enemies (Not that I am condoning that). There is infinite foder for realistic fiction writing, realistic non-fiction writing, creative D&D names, Steam-punk survival manuals, poetic analogies, creative Halo handles and even creative Shakespearean insults. It's like all of my blog threads rolled into one. I don't even care if you people don't find the list relevant. It is just so totally frickin' cool to know these plants.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Sim City is the New Scary


The new Sim City game is dubbed "SimCity Societes" allowing you focus on the social aspects of your urban creation. Build an artistic city, an Orwellian city, a futuristic city, a green city, a spiritual community or any freaking kind of society you want.

Did you love the natural disasters element of the original (including letting Godzilla destroy your hard work)? The forthcoming installment of the classic urban simulation franchise, Sim City, will include a global warming variable. Should players choose to build their cities dependent on the types of sources for power that conserve in-game money with little regard to the environment, their carbon ratings will rise and, at reaching critical levels, the game will issue alerts about the threat of the various new natural disasters like droughts, heat waves and more. Alternatively, players can strive to create a greener environment and avoid hazards caused by excessive carbon emissions by choosing from a variety of Alternative Energy low-carbon power options (sponsored by BP, so get ready for some heavy-handed in-game branding). Informative real-world snippets about power production and conservation will also be available in-game, informing players of global warming issues both virtually and in reality.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

The etymology of swearing


The New Republic has a delightful article, "What the F***?", on the origins and versatility of English swearwords, most notably the "F" word. This topic is of particular interest to me ever since I started dabbling in fantasy novels. What makes a good swear word in an invented culture? What exactly do we find offensive in our own culture? What is taboo? Which is more taboo, sex words, religion words, or excrement words?

In the Goofy Foot Press's, "The Guide to Getting It On", Chapter Three is dedicated to "Dirty Words". The chapter is not concerned with the fun and perhaps sexy kind of dirty words, but instead is pointed to make you think why, especially in the U.S., swear words are most often sex words. In Sweden, for example one of their very dirtiest words means "yellow snow" (Yes, the dirtiest kind of yellow snow) and the Norwegian word for "devil" is treated in the same way as our F-word. They also touch on why most of our dirtiest words revolve around calling each other slang for female genitalia. Even little girls do it on the playground as if to say "You're the woman in sex, you piece of garbage!" whether she is talking to other girls or boys. Why does our culture associate cowardice and filth with being a woman or having a woman's genitals?

Finally, in Bill Bryson's "Mother Tongue", he admits that until the 1870s, the words "Damn", "Jesus" and "Hell" were a great deal more taboo than "F_* or "Sh_*" in English (a fact evidenced by which words I feel comfortable writing in this blog in order for it to remain relatively clean). When did swearing by sex become more forbidden than swearing by God?

Ponder this, the next time you generate a random Shakespearean insult. (Okay a the random Shakespearean insult generator is just good SCA fun, but ponder anyway).

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Manly Drinks


Don't be deceived by the title of this article. "Manly Drinks" isn't a list of imbibements that will quickly get interns drunk, or a list of blue-hued atrocities shot at bachelor parties with bad ass names like Zombie, Cement Mixer or Mind Eraser. It is a list of classics. The drinks of wise, confident men and, in my opinion, the drinks of those women in the drop waist twenties dresses with a feather and a few spangles in their hair, the kohl on their eyelids, listening to the Billie Holiday in tiny but well appointed apartments with the red glasses from dime stores in a pretty cabinet and a bottle of rye under their beds.

It's a cute but succinct article from Campus Squeeze, which caters mostly to males but could benefit from the instruction of some of those women afore mentioned. Any one of these drinks could be your never fail fall back upon entering a dive bar or for when the liquor cabinet is at a strain, whether your male or female.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Interviewing Cheat Sheet


Whether your looking for a job, looking for someone to fill a job or trying to ace your next job review, everyone should take a look at HR World's "Interviewing Cheat Sheet:100 Resources for Interviewers and Canidates". This incredibly detailed article collects guides and links to sources such as the Wall Street Journal and FOCUS magazine, organizing great study resources like the most common interview questions (so you can practice your answers) and strategies for different types of interviews (including group interviews, telephone interviews and the dreaded dinner interview). The Cheat Sheet also pops up with more uncommon tidbits like how to be a short story teller so you will be remembered by interviewers and how to dress for your dream job (the link from Washington State University is most excellently illustrated). In short, the cheat sheet is the yellow brick road to all the interview necessities in emerald city. Bookmark it in your favorites, now.

Monday, October 15, 2007

SteamPunk Magazine


SteamPunk Magazine is offering a free pdf download of their devastatingly interesting “A SteamPunk’s Guide to the Apocalypse”. The 56-page guide is illustrated by Colin Foran who's drawings remind me of the stylings of the webcomic "Ice" (a neo-apocaclyptic treat that can be found in my Sweetshop).

From descriptions of the appropriateness of clothing made from patchworked upholstry scraps to the fundamentals of hoarding toothpaste, the guide is a creepy, punky scream somewhere between this side of Gormenghast and A Canticle for Leibowitz. Enjoy.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Discover the .edu underground


This amazingly useful compilation "Discover the .edu Underground" comes straight from Lifehacker.com via its popularity at Digg. Now, I don't usually frequent sites with names like "Lifehacker" (or so I say) but the pure genius of this compilation is undeniable. I'm only surprised lifehacker is the first one to publish it. The gist is this: literally thousands of .edu sites are bursting with incredibly useful and interesting information and resources, but they are vastly underused and neglected by the internet community because most of them don't pop up to the surface of average search engines. Read Lifehacker's list, conveniently divided by Art, Science, Space, Humanities, Photography, History and more.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Free online money management


Mint: Refreshing Money Management, is a free, on-line source to help track spending and bills to manage your money. Mint connects to your banks, credit unions, and credit card providers and keeps your transactions and account balances in one place. It will even auto-balance your checkbook and (especially wonderful) auto organize your transactions, showing you how much you spend on gas, groceries, parking, rent, restaurants, DVD rentals or whatever. An advanced alerting system highlights any unusual activity, low balances, unwanted fees and charges, and upcoming bills to give you an intimate and amazingly accurate view of your financial life.

Terrified of putting your finicial info "out there"? Mint uses high level security standards (including encryption, auditing, logging, backups, and safe-guarding data) while never knowing your personal identity. It also uses Yodlee to connect to your financial institutions, which is the same back-end aggregation system used by Bank of America, Fidelity, and Microsoft Money. Yodlee's security practices are audited by the NSA, Visa, Mastercard, and numerous other major banks.

Finally, in an interesting twist, Mint doesn't just spit out reports on your finances, it searches through thousands of offers from hundreds of providers to find better deals on everything from bank accounts to credit cards, cable, phone and Internet plans, tayloring suggestions based on your individual spending patterns. The suggestions aren't annoying pop-ups either. You visit a seperate tab if you're interested in shopping around (an honestly who isn't?).

Try it out. I am.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Consumer Consequences, the Online Eco-Game


Treehugger.com brought my attention to this resource, Consumer Consequences, an online game that calculates your overall ecological footprint designed by American Public Media. Create your own character, then face a series of questionis about lifestyle, buying habits and transportation choices while background graphics reflecting your in-game "world" of waste and consumption slides across the screen.

Consumer Consequences gives interesting snippets of information, tailored to your state and lifestyle, along the way and allows you to compare your score with others within your demographic. Even better, it offers suggestions on how to improve your lifestyle if you receive a less than perfect score.

Also, check out the treehugger article for an in-depth review.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Do You Recognize These 10 Mental Blocks to Creative Thinking?


Whether trying to finish that story, solve a problem at the office, work out new Suduku patterns or just trying to find the last change in a "what's different about these two pictures" puzzle, changing your perspective and seeing things differently than you currently do is essential for creative results.

Copyblogger has a wonderful article "Do You Recognize These 10 Mental Blocks to Creativity" which focuses on releasing practicality and logical thinking in favor of kicking your inner "editor" out of the same room as your inner "artist".

Monday, October 1, 2007

Star Trek Writers Are Right Again


BreitBart.com has an exciting article "Parallel Universes Exist" regarding the nature of parallel universes and the studies of their realities. There's not much more to say about this awesome topic except that Dr. Who, writer Steven Moffat probably just squeed.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

5 Nutritious Habits of the Planet's Healthiest Countries


The oldest man in the world currently resides in Japan. When awarded with the certificate of his esteemed status, he told presenters that he'd rather being eating his fish and tofu (All right, not really, but I'm sure he would have if anyone had asked).

CNN's article "5 Nutritious Habits of the Planet's Healthiest Countries" points out that a diet of Twinkies and Captain Crunch, while appetizing, may be perpetuating the current fat epidemic that is sweeping the American countryside. Other countries, however, continue to practice what we all learned in elementary school but resist trying for ourselves: Eat your fruits and vegetables and one day you may get a certificate from Guiness as well.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

The 5 Most Kick-Ass Apocalyptic Prophecies


Convinced Nostrodamus's Mabus stands for G.W. Bush? Perhaps Cracked.com has some insight on why we should consider running for the hills. "The 5 Most Kick-Ass Apocalyptic Prophecies" will remind you that stocking up on bottled water and refreshing your flesh-eating zombie killing techniques may not necessarilly be a bad thing. Just look what happened to the Hopi Indians.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Orange Bitters


This most excellent recipe for Orange Bitters comes from Savuer magazine via Whitney Hall (Woo! Thanks, H). Mixology is quite the rage right now with restaurants priding themselves on "hand-made" cocktails replete with house-brewed infusions, hand-cut ice-cubes, home-made syrups and old-timey recipes. Finally, I can live out my childhood dream of becoming and alchemic apothecary.

The orginal recipe can be found here.

Makes about 2 1⁄2 cups
Once a barman's staple, orange bitters—a potent concoction of botanicals used to deepen the character of many cocktails—is nowadays hard to find. The simplest way to enjoy this homemade version is to stir a teaspoon or two into a glass of tonic water; you can also use it to complete any number of cocktails, such as the manhattan, the dry martini, and the Fitty-Fitty. The process takes over three weeks, but it's well worth it.

4 seville oranges
2 whole cloves
2 whole coriander seeds
1 whole allspice
1 cardamom pod
1 pint 90-proof vodka


  1. Preheat oven to 175°. Scrub oranges well; remove and reserve the whole peel. (Save orange segments for another use.) Finely chop peel into 1⁄4" pieces and spread out on a baking sheet in a single layer. Bake peel, turning 2 or 3 times with a spoon, until almost completely dry, about 2 hours; let cool.

  2. Put peel, cloves, coriander seeds, allspice, cardamom pod, and vodka into a large jar. Secure tightly with a lid and set aside in a dark place to let steep for 3 weeks, giving the jar a good shake every day or two.

  3. Strain the liquid through a fine sieve into a clean jar, secure tightly with a lid, and set vodka mixture aside.

  4. Next, transfer the peel and spices to a small pot, add 1 cup water, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer gently for 15 minutes. Transfer contents of pot to a small bowl, cover, and set aside to let steep for 24 hours. Strain contents of bowl through a fine sieve into the vodka mixture, pressing down on the solids to extract as much liquid as possible; discard solids.

  5. Strain the bitters again through 4–5 layers of cheesecloth into a medium bowl, then return to jar. Store for up to 6 months.

First published in Saveur, Issue #99

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Excellent Blog Designs


Ever notice how utterly important it is for your blog to not look like a blog? “30 More Excellent Blog Designs” from Smashing Magazine comes in handy. It totally fills in the infinite loop of how a “blog” seems to fill one's head with an infinite amount of ghastly images taken from the page of one's electronic journal and replaces them with the clean, well thought out designs of a free lance writer with s design department and more wisdom than can fit in their own novels. As if.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

The 22 Most Corrupt Members of Congress


In light of Congress recently sticking it to Washingtonians (the Senate narrowly voted down even hearing the DC Right to Vote bill), I'm posting the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington's (CREW) third annual report on "The 22 Most Corrupt Members of Congress". CREW has launched a tandem website, Beyond Delay, offering short summaries of each member’s transgressions as well as full-length profiles and accompanying exhibits. I read it, so should you.

You don't know exactly how congress is sticking it to Washingtonians? Oh, you do, but are caught up in that "Washington, DC is not a state" argument? Just check out these brief statistics that you too can view at the U.S. Census website:

Pop. State of Wyoming: 506,000 2005
Pop. of Washington DC: 554,000

Fed Tax Revenue of Wyoming: 2,245,265 Thousand Dollars
Fed Tax Revenue of Wash, DC: 3,963,547 Thousand Dollars

Wyoming Seats in Congress: 3
Wash., DC Seats in Congress: 0

Oh, I suppose there is an easier solution if one wants to preserve the sanctity of the Constitution and refuse D. C. citizens representation in Congress. Exclude D. C. citizens from Federal taxes. Or we could secede back to the United Kingdom. After all, our forefathers rebelled against the tyranny of one King George, a second shouldn't make much of a difference.

Book Autopsies


Brian Dettmer carves into books revealing the artwork inside, creating complex three-dimensional sculptures. The effect is a mind-boggling mix of sculpture, literature and whimsical craftmanship, both edgy and dreamlike and more than a little steam-punk in my estimation.

By altering the books without inserting or changing the location of any of the book's contents, Dettmer creates a powerful commentary on the book and its content. An intricate alternative interpretation of the books, if you will.

Feast your eyes on samples of his work at the Aron Packer gallery or at centripetal notion.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

13 things that do not make sense


Was browsing through the August issue of Discover magazine this morning and read a fascinating article regarding the race to discover Higgs boson particles. Higgs boson particles (if they exist) would help explain the existence of mass, unifying gravity with the rest of the forces in the Grand Unification Theory (GUT) and clear up gaping holes in the Standard Model (which describes all fundamental particles in the universe). It got me to thinking how something so commonplace in Physics, like mass, is not fully understood nor proven. The discovery of Higgs boson particles could be as paradigm altering as Einstein's special relativity to Newtonian laws.

In light of humanity looking through the one-way mirror of science, read this New Scientist article on "13 Things that do Not Make Sense". From Dark Matter to Homeopathy the article explores so many of out modern scientific problems that can't help but make Scientists feel like they are wondering why planets "wander" in the sky in the Ptolemaic age (Answer: planets revolve around the sun not the earth).

Monday, September 10, 2007

7 Reasons the 21st Century is Making You Miserable


It's Monday. Don't you want to know why you're miserable? It may be the 21 Century that's getting you down. To find out exactly why, pay close attention to this article on Cracked "7 Reasons the 21st Century is Making You Miserable". Our inability to tolerate the little annoyances of life may be tied to the unnecessity of having to do so in our modern age.

Cracked is usually full of quirky little humorous tidbits, but this article sheds some real light on the pitfalls of electronic communication, the effect of isolation on intimacy, and the addictive electronic sensationalism that drives our most common formats of communication today. It's worth the ponder.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

The Excellence of Power Napping


RirianProject is a blog run by an especially meticulous Romanian student bent on improving the quality of physical and psychological life. Well, CandyBuffet is a magical thinker after all and she's all for it. Check out his recent post on power-napping, "10 Benefits of Power Napping and How to Do It".

CandyBuffet has been hypnotizing herself to sleep ever since she read "The Bridge Across Forever" by Richard Bach in College. Whether or not any actual hypnosis is going on, the mantra he used in the book works pretty well for rapidly relaxing my body into sleep form. You can try it:

Lie down (or lean on something) and become still.
Take a deep breath and think: My body is relaxing.
Take another deep breath, slower and think of each body part relaxing and sinking into the surface you are lying (or leaning) on.
Take another slow, deep breath and think: My body is completely relaxed, now.
Take another breath and think: My mind is completely relaxed, now.
Take another and think: I am in a deep sleep, now.
Take another and think: I am in a deep sleep. I shall wake in (give your body a time) as refreshed as from eight hours of deep sleep.

Keep repeating this last until, well, you don't have to any more, 'cause your asleep.

Don't forget to browse around RirianProject after you've read the article. Maybe you will learn to put your exercise bike in the kitchen, where it can be some use to you while you're on the phone.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Faster, Pussycat! Write! Write!


Last month I discussed how PicktheBrain is dedicated to your self improvement. If you haven't stopped by, you should. Yesterday, their blog section published this intriguing article on "How to Write Faster, Better, and Easier". The article is stock full of intuitive little tips like cultivating "idea time" differently then "writing time". The extra bonus? Commenters extol their favorite writing tips at the end.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Best Indie Viedo Games


Looking for that elusive 15 minutes of fun? Played your eyes out on Chip's Challenge? The Independent Gaming Source has come out with a list of "50 Really Good Indie Video Games" (with links to every one). Most of the games are free, all of them intriguing. Get your fun on in Interactive Fiction games (IF), Dungeon Level games (DL), and cool competitive simulations including timeless, hand-fashioned masterpieces like "Cave Story", "Dwarf Fortress" (DL), and "Varicella" (IF).

When you've exausted your possibilities (a lengthy task indeed) check out their bigger list of over a hundred favorite independent titles from the TIGForums community.

Friday, August 31, 2007

The Matter of Seggri


I recently added a new flavor entitled "The Matter of Seggri". This flavor will mark posts dealing with gender issues. The title of the flavor is taken from a popular Ursula K. LeGuin short story of the same name.

"The Matter of Seggri" won the James Tiptree, Jr. Award in 1994 (the first time this award was ever given to a work of short fiction) and in the words of the Triptree Award Judges, has been called "A how-to manual on how to explore gender issues through the use of science fiction (Ellen Kushner)" and "Fascinating for its anthropological detail (Pat Murphy)". Praise and a brief description are below:

"Seggri deals with gender issues in a way that only science fiction can: by creating a society that has different assumptions than ours, thus forcing us to examine our own." (Pat Murphy)

"On Seggri, women far outnumber the men, an imbalance that, notes one Hainish observer, "has produced a society in which, as far as I can tell, the men have all the privilege and the women have all the power." Men and boys over the age of 11 live in hierarchically organized "castles." They gain glory by competing in games, cheered on by the women; the women do all the productive and political work of the society, and the two genders meet only in the "fuckeries." The women may enjoy sex with men, but naturally they form their primary erotic and social bonds with other women. Both the society and the story are complex, covering several generations and told from various viewpoints. Though undeniably different from our own society, Seggri eerily echoes it, and like several of this year's shortlisted works-notably Arnason's "The Lovers" and Charnas's The Furies-the focus is on those who, by asking questions and/or not fitting in, become harbingers of change." (Susanna J. Sturgis)

You can find "The Matter of Seggri" in Birthdays of the World and Other Stories and old issue of crank magazine. I highly recomend it as a must read. An excerpt may be had at Ursula K. LeGuin's website.

You can also find a copy of this post in the comments of the Candy Machine.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Myths About Girls, Math and Science


Live Science has this article "5 Myths About Girls, Math and Science" regarding persistent stereotypes of girls learning Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) subjects (Are you listening parents with girls?). Of particular interest is Myth 5 "At the college level, changing the [Science] curriculum runs the risk of watering down important "sink or swim" coursework".

In my experience, (having taken extensive courses in an all female Physics Department at my Alma Mater and also at the predominately male Physics Department at their nearby, co-ed "Brother" College) predominately male programs place an emphasis on an aggressive weeding out of perceived "weaker" students while the female programs placed an emphasis on group coursework and team projects. The males often perceived this as a "watering down" of the material and complained the female-dominated seminars were easier. However, the Princeton Review of both Departments (which occurred during my Senior year) concluded that the males and females from both departments scored similarly on the same achievement tests.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Top 100 Undiscovered Websites


PC Magazine in the perpetrator of this grand list of awesome stops along the information highway, "The Top 100 Undiscovered Web Sites". At least 50 of these should be bookmarked in your favorites.

My favorites include "Wikisky" (A superb star resource for astronomy geeks), "Luminosity" (games lab tested to improve brain power!) and "Extratasty" (pop in all the ingredients of your bar and out pop drink recipes), all of which will soon be featured in CandyBuffet.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

The Age of Steampunk


The "Nagy Magical-Movable-Type Pixello-Dynamotronic Computational Engine" or simply "Computational Engine" by Datamancer. What looks like a book on the stand at right is actually a flatbed scanner and the circular centerpiece is a cd-rom drive. And yes, the keyboard has typewriter keys.


The Boston Globe is running a lovely article "The Age of Steampunk" on art/techno/victoriana-philes creating steampunk-like artifacts out of modern technology. At the heart of the article is the transcendence of our own modern ornamentation. Ours is an era of sleek minamalism that is ultimately forgetable. There are those (no one I know of course) that long for the heft of anachronistic apparati.

Take a look at some of the inventive conversions and wonderful works of art in the Globe's Gallery. Also, don't forget to take a look at Datamancer's works, many of which are higlighted in the article.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Pick The Brain


PickTheBrain.com is a website dedicated to self improvement by focusing on increasing productivity, researching motivation, explaining positive psychology and encouraging self education. I rather like it. From the person who never got around to reading that book on how to stop procrastination (seriously, I had it for year and never read it, I finally had to give it away) PickTheBrain offers a nifty little blog with distilled wisdom in small bites. Recent articles include 14 Ways to Procrastinate Productively (one of my favorites), "How to Grow the Action Habit", which focuses on habits you should cultivate in order to put ideas into action and "21 Proven Motivation Tactics", which I wish I'd read when I was Drum Major of the marching band in High School but is still a winner for those of us in leadership and managerial positions. Next time you need a distraction, waste a little time browsing at PickTheBrain. You won't feel so guilty when you pick up tidbits on how to get things done.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Acorn Studios


Acorn Studios carries the geekiest gifts made from recycled electronics. Amaze your geeky friends with earrings and clocks made from circuitboards, notebooks with floppy disk covers or (my personal favorite) magnet sets made from discarded keyboard and cash registers keys (pictured at left). Bask in the glow that while you are spreading geekdom through out the world, you are still marvelously eco-conscious.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

J.K. Rowling Fan Interview


At the end of last month, J.K. Rowling gave a informative, no-holds-barred web-interview to fans through London publisher Bloombury.com detailing the aftermath of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows and what sorts of things happened to our heroes (and their foils) in the oncoming years. Fans e-mailed over 120,000 requests in a little over an hour's time and were ruthless with their questions, both thought provoking and comedic.

J.K. Rowling is very free with even the most detailed of the requests and the insight to her thought process and how she detailed her world is quite fascinating.

Fan website "The Leaky Cauldron" has the full text of the interview. Don't even click if you haven't read her seventh book. The interview is spoiltastic.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Hypophora


The hypophora is a rhetorical and literary device we were all likely enamoured with in the earliest stages in our academic careers, but have probably not ever been able to identify by name. Simply put, it is a figure of speech where the speaker poses a question and then answers it. The answer or discussion of possible answers (no matter how lengthy, you thesis writers) may be referred to as anthypophora.

I always like to think of hypophora as "Hyper Paragraphs" (a useful mnemonic since I am not too fond of the device). However, the use of the self-answered question is well documented in ancient Greek and has quite a historic literary fan club including Cicero, Quintillian, and Paul the Apostle and one can't really make it through an anti-war protest without its familiar trappings (When do we want change? We want it now!).

So instead of asking, "Is that a rhetorical question?", you may try "Hypophoras are traditionally answered by the speaker" (Just try to be as snotty as possible during delivery). Just be wary of using hypophora too often in a domestic argument, (Did you put away the dishes? No. Did you vacuum like I asked? No.) You may find that over use could mean a wearing out of the hypophora's welcome as well as your own.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

L’Oreal’s Fake Eyelashes


Vindication at last! Anyone who would listen has heard CandyBuffet's rage against the use of fake eyelashes in mascara advertisements. How I missed this news article from the London Times a couple of weeks ago is just astonishing (and proof that I should be reading Jezebel.com more often). Do you here that noise? Those are my tears of joy that justice is being served.

Advertising watchdog in a flutter over L’Oreal’s fake eyelashes

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Astronomy Picture of the Day


Jupiter rising over the Tetons

Astronomy Picture of the Day (APOD) contains the largest collection of annotated astronomical images on the internet. Run by two professional astronomers (Robert Nemiroff and Jerry Bonnell) their sources include professional astronomers, amateur astronomers, photographers and NASA. The pictures are stunning, the annotation liberal, and the archives are extensive.

Each day a different image or photograph of our universe is featured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer. The picture of the day is often related to current events or new problems in Astronomy or space exploration.

Expand your astronomical acumen or just get some kickin' wallpaper images.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Um, ick?


Thank goodness for Boing Boing, who caught this piece from the U.S. News and World Report about 10 Things You Didn't Know About Karl Rove coinciding with Rove's departure from the White House. Go ahead, read it. Then take a shower.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Halo 3: Fastest Selling Pre-ordered Game Ever


In a strategy utilized by other big entertainment launches, retailers around the world have begun taking preorders for Halo 3 by Bungie for the Xbox 360. Were you thinking of going in for the ultra-collectible Legendary Edition of the game? Then you'd better hurry, because demand has been so strong for the Legendary Edition of the game that it is expected to be sold out by the time the game launches on September 25 making presales for Halo 3 the fastest in video game history.

How big is the hype? Mountain Dew will be co-branding soda cans in the first ever soft drink game release collaboration. Burger King Corp. will be sponsoring the launched with themed packaging for customers and exclusive on-line content. 7-Eleven has announced in-store promotions including Halo 3 branded Slurpee cups and Pontiac will be holding special Garage testing of the game with the release of it upcoming G6 GXP Street (1,000 Pontiac buyers will receive the game with their car purchase). And Comcast will be featuring High Definition videos on its ON-DEMAND Service.

The Game Gods include an official update on the release at their website. CandyBuffet's advice? Buy early. Buy hard mis amigos.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Liveplasma


CandyBuffet loves the stars. Candybuffet also loves fresh indie music. Now there is a website that combines the two. Liveplasma.com pops up a map of your musical solar system after you enter an artist you love. Each planet is a different band in your selections orbit (varying by style, instruments, genre, epoch, etc.). The larger the planet, the more popular the group. The nearer the planets are to your entry, the greater the chance that you will like it. Pan across your new musical universe with your mouse or print out your new musical solar system map and hang it up in your cubicle.

Liveplasma has also recently launched a similar search based on your favorite movies, directors and actors. You hear that Netflixers? Go forth and conquer.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

ICED


CNN ran this story, "Game Focuses on Immigration Issues" last Friday about a new video game developed by Mallika Dutt at Breakthrough that focuses on Immigration issues. The kicker is that the game invites players to step into the shoes of foreigners who run afoul of the U.S. immigration system. Two of the characters are a Japanese computer science student who fails to take a full load of university classes and loses his student visa and a 10th-grade Indian girl detained because of a high school essay she wrote on the Department of Homeland Security. Players try to avoid deportation by keeping a low profile and performing community service. Shoplifting or jumping a subway turnstile loses points. Lose too many, and your character ends up in a federal detention facility.

Bit of a step apart from the "Oregon Trail" game I used to play in middle school.

ICED is part of a new trend of games and new media developed to highlight social issues around the world. And immigration isn't the only serious topic being addressed by groups with an agenda. This article from the LA Times last week, "Immigration Debate Finds Itself in Play", notes how political candidates are using games to reach voters, starbucks recently partnered with an environmental organization to create a game about global warming, and students at the University of Denver developed a video game called "Squeezed" designed to raise empathy for migrant laborers.

Last Tuesday, the Colbert Report interviewed author and game analyst, Ian Bogost, about his new book Persuasive Games: The Expressive Power of Videogames. Bogost explores the value of using games as education or tools to explore different complex issues in a meaningful way, like disrupting fundamental attitudes and beliefs about the world (a game that deals with China's treasury bond threats against the U.S. dollar? How about cultural collisions (and compromises) when global economies collide?)

ICED (or "I Can End Deportation" and a double entendre for the acronym for the Department of Homeland Security's Immigration and Customs Enforcement office) will be released in October 2007 and available for play for free online (I'll be posting it in my sweetshop when it comes out).

You can read the first chapter of Persuasive Games by Ian Bogost, here.

Monday, August 6, 2007

8 Important Lessons Learned From 80's Cartoons



Well, I had so much fun on Cracked the other day that I was browsing there again and came across this little gem article, 8 Important Lessons Learned From 80's Cartoons. The first item should come as no surprise to any of my friends from the 80's, primarily that communism works and the Smurfs are here to prove it. Also, a couple of nights ago, completely without prompting, some friends were over and came up with He-man's little secret all on their own.

Personally, I think that the list should be expanded to include the Dungeons and Dragons cartoon, where the lesson would be: That whining complainer in the back of the group? Guess what? He's right.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Less Talky, More Typey


In On Writing, Stephen King's collective essays about the writing process, he suggests aspiring wordsmiths set a goal of 1,000 words a day (or as he calls it, "getting the black on white"). I myself, aspire to this industrious goal, but I struggle even more with calculating how many words I have written that day. I'm too lazy (or perhaps it's too tedious) to repeatedly use the word count tool in Microsoft Word to figure out if I've missed my mark (or need to celebrate because I've exceeded it).

Enter this nifty little Macro from Allen Wyatt's Word Tips on Displaying a Live Word Count. Read the article then copy the Visual Basic program onto your clipboard. If you don't know how to install a Macro in Word then read the instructions below:

  1. Open the Microsoft Word document where you want a live word count.
  2. Go to Tools --> Macro --> Record New Macro.
  3. Enter a unique Macro name; Assign the Macro to the Toolbar; and under "Store Macro in" select your open document.
  4. Press "Okay" and the little stop button comes up. Press Stop.
  5. Go to Tools --> Macro --> Macros.
  6. Highlight the Macro you just recorded and click "Step Into".
  7. Paste Allen Wyatt's Program over the contents (the entire contents including Sub and End) and save.
Wallah! Now in the title bar next to the file name, a word count appears that continually updates as you write. Allen Wyatt has a ton of nifty tips for manipulating Microsoft Word into the bendy shapes you wished it came with, so feel free to check out his entire site.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

The 9 Most Typecast Actors of All Time


This article, The 9 Most Typecast Actors of All Time, from Cracked made me giggle and giggle. Especially number 7 (Kelsey Grammer) and number 5 (Samuel L. Jackson).

I was hoping that this would be a list of bit character actors (you know, the people you've seen a million times but you can't remember their names). It's not, but I've been inspired to make my own. Stay tuned for my 10 Most Typecast Character Actors of All Time.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Come With Me If You Want To Live


The Times Online published a nifty little list of the 50 Coolest Movie Robots of All Time to coincide with the release the Transformers movie. They weighted each robot on a scale of 1-10 according to plausibility, coolness, dangerousness and comedy (Personally, I think Twikie got shafted, but you decide). Click on the links and you will get entertaining video footage of the robots in question.

For a little extra fun, I decided to score myself on how well I knew their robots, giving myself (1 point) - if I had heard about the robot, (2 points) - If I had chosen to see the movie or television show in which the robot existed and (3 points) - If a had seen the show more than once just to see the robot again. I scored 74 pts out of a possible 150 pts. How did you do?

Monday, July 30, 2007

Ryan Jacobs


Earlier I blogged about Mississippi based Amy C. Evans. Her fantastic blog, Made in Mississippi led me to Ryan Jacobs a quirky artist who mixes silhouettes and watercolors with pop art organics and anatomical correctness. The above painting reminds me of a candied Mandelbrot set.

The simple lines and unspoken violence of this summer bike below (entitled "Accident prone") remind me of the "Menaced Objects" series by Edward Gorey. I'd really love to see more of him. Jacobs art reminds of old lithographs one could come across in a forgotten thrift store on a sunny day. The lithographs feel worn to the eye, their subject remains intriguing and much of the art is heavily influenced by politics and national culture. See for yourself at

http://www.ryanjacobsmith.com/menu_01.html