So, a little while back I was listening to the This American Life podcast. Apparently they were doing a repeat; the episode I heard, 178: Superpowers, says that it had an original air date of 2/23/2001. I actually recommend giving the whole episode a listen, as it's really good. In particular, I am fascinated by Zora, a self-made superheroine.
But, the topic I want to cover today is a question posed by John Hodgman (of "I'm a PC" fame). Through some bizarre agency, you have been given an opportunity to gain superpowers. However, your choices are flight or invisibility. That's it. Which would you choose?
( Hawkman or Invisible Girl?Collapse )
Things that I am thankful for:
My health. All of the health problems that I currently suffer from are obviously the result of my weight. Given what I have seen others struggle with, I am very grateful that my health is not worse. And that what I do have is within my control to fix.
My family. We're not really close any more. And that is certainly my fault as much as anyone's. But, the serious majority of my friends come from families that are at least hostile environments, if not outright damaging or abusive. So, I am constantly thankful that I was raised by people who loved me, and each other, very much.
My career. I am lucky enough to be in a career that is interesting, challenging, and financially rewarding. While I haven't yet found a way to tell people what I do that doesn't result in their eyes glazing over, no one is ever dismissive of my skills.
My mind. I don't know if this is a chicken or egg thing, but I am constantly looking for answers. I am fortunate that I have a mind that is usually able to find, understand, and remember those answers. I really can't imagine what it must be like to read an article, and not be able to comprehend what it is saying. It would be endlessly frustrating for me.
My friends. While too many of them only exist to me on the other side of this monitor screen, I still treasure them. I have been blessed to know some truly remarkable and wonderful individuals.
My music. Hits me, so hard. Makes me say, "Oh, my Lord. Thank you for blessing me with a mind to rhyme and two hype feet."
The time and place in which I live. I try very hard to remember that I live in one of the most prosperous places that has ever existed on this planet. I take for granted a standard of living that people only 150 years ago would consider miraculous. I happen to believe that that propserity is no accident, but a result of the Founding Fathers of this country setting down some critical freedoms that have encouraged growth, relative honesty among our politicians, and a remarkable diversity in our population.
Further, I was born at a time where I got to see an explosion of technology first-hand, and got to ride the wave of the cultural changes that come with it. Geeks of my age were lucky enough to have some truly remarkable cartoons when we were kids, a great renaissance of science fiction and fantasy properties when we were in college, and an amazing array of geek-friendly shows, movies, etc. now. I can't imagine a time that, for my interests and tastes, would have been better to grow up.
I am very thankful to have the internet. I can't even imagine life without it any more.
And finally, of course, I am forever grateful to have my wife. She has been the best partner in this life that I could have asked for. We share a sense of humor, a taste in movies and TV shows, a desire to travel, and even, for the most part, political and religious views. We have reached that perfect balance, where we have just enough differences to keep conversation going, but not so many differences to turn conversations into arguments. Agreeing to be my wife is the greatest gift she ever could have given me.
So, this topic has been in the news a lot lately. Bullying. Here's a few links for you to peruse:
A boy dresses as Daphne for Halloween, and is ostracized by the other parents.
Pixar employees send the message "It Gets Better."
One family tries to battle cyber-bullying.
And, finally, we'll cap off your reading with this excellent blog post, in which one of the gamers I follow on Twitter talks about how he got bullied, what the long-term effects were, and how he's trying to keep his kid from either bullying, or being bullied.
( Some of my own experiences, and some of my own thoughts.Collapse )
Like a truly staggering number of people this weekend, I went to see Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. I wasn't entirely sure I wanted to do it this weekend. I mean, it was going to be packed. But, I loves me some HP, so I did it. I even managed to do it on IMAX (this is a movie where the IMAX experience is totally worth it).
This movie is dark. It is intense. It is gut-wrenching. One of the very first scenes is Hermione casting a spell to remove herself from her parents' memories, so that they would be safe. I almost broke down right there.
The cast has all matured into these roles brilliantly. Obviously, many of the adults were already experienced and recognized talents long before being cast for this movie. But all of the kids have really come a long way from the first movie. The core trio have some really excellent chops individually, and some fantastic chemistry as a group. But even the relatively small bits from characters such as Neville and Luna show that they have a lot of talent.
I also have to really hand it to the director. The first half of this book dragged. While the movie had its slow parts as well, most of it was paced really well. I was totally sucked in from the first moment. There were only a few moments where the movie loosened its grip. And yet, the movie still hit every plot point it needed to, gave every important character the moment in the spotlight that was needed, and stayed wonderfully emotionally true to the story.
As always, the visuals in this movie were absolutely fantastic. I'll come back to that in the spoiler-y bit below with specific examples. But, the producers and visual arts teams continue to outdo themselves. Everything, from the sets to the costumes to the special effects to the, um, special bit (again, see below) was just perfect.
I can't do a movie review without finding something negative to say. Um.... Oh yeah! Bill Nighy plays Rufus Scrimgeour. But, his voice was just too close to Davy Jones. I kept expecting him to say, "Tell me Harry, do you fear death?" *grin*
Probably the most important note is that the screenwriters and director have finally gotten the knack of adapting the novels. The movies have always felt rushed and awkward, as Rowling's sprawling method of dribbling out clues gets condensed. Not so with this movie. Maybe it just benefits from being split into two. I don't know. But, it works.
( Spoiler-y content behind the cut.Collapse )
I have to say, without reservation, that this is the best movie in the Harry Potter franchise. Well, to date anyways. I don't know just how good the conclusion will be. But I can't wait to find out.
Heh. I did this just a couple months ago, on a cruise. Well, I wasn't totally cut off. My wife still checked her email daily. We did watch TV, but it was movies being run on the ship, not any kind of news or regular programming. But, I was pretty much off-line for two weeks. Personally, I really enjoyed it. I wouldn't want to go back to not having the internet at all. But, it was really nice to take a break.
So, I was pointed to this article yesterday: The "real" victims of online piracy. (No, I have no idea why they put quotes around "real." Seems to me that it undermines the impact of the article.)
( This isn't the fun kind of piracy, with booty and eyepatches.Collapse )
Have you read more than 6 of these books? The BBC believes most people will have read only 6 of the 100 books listed here.
( A new variant on the book meme.Collapse )
So, 21 books read, with another 14 at least attempted. I'm actually quite pleased with how few I checked that I had seen the movie version, but not read the book. I do find it interesting that there are 16 books on this list that I have never even heard of.
I'm thinking I may need to put some Bronte/Austen/Hardy on my "to read" list. I have long turned my nose up at them, but it's clear that I am doing so based on an idea of what they are, rather than from direct experience.
Do you remember my epiphany, from a couple weeks ago? I realized that it wouldn't be that hard to jigger the new Gamma World to run Rifts. Or, well, I realized that it was possible, and was hoping it wouldn't be that hard. I've been tinkering with it on and off since then. So far, I have come up with the basic origins.
( Game blather within, you have been warned.Collapse )
I think I may be failing at NaBlogWriMo. I'm just running dry here. I have a couple posts that I am working on. One about Gamma Rifts, a couple short stories, and a couple more philosophical posts. But, none of them are working for me. I'm not "feeling it."
Of course, if I was a real writer, I would just power through this, and get my damned word count out. But, I'm not a real writer. For pretty much exactly that reason. I don't like forcing it. I like to be able to walk away when everything that comes out of my fingers feels stale and stupid. It's not about waiting for a mythical muse. It's just about whether or not I'm in the zone.
Today, I am definitely not in the zone. I wasn't really in the zone yesterday, either. Maybe I will be tomorrow, I don't know.
I am a hobbyist writer. I write for pleasure. My pleasure, mostly. Which is probably good, since my efforts don't seem to find an audience. I'm not trying to go all "poor, pitiful me." But, the comment counts are telling, I think. (Admittedly, I seem to have a couple fans this year, which is a whole lot better than last year.)
I'm not sure why I don't get comments. Is my stuff too long? Too boring? Do I wrap things up too well, and people just can't think of anything to add? Do I leave it with too few questions, making people think that I don't want comments?
Yeah, okay, this is starting to veer into pity party territory. That's not what this is about. I'm just saying that it's really looking like blogging probably isn't my thing. At least, not in any of the big leagues. Though, I did see a discussion of the Role Players Blogging Network today, in which they consider the minimum contribution for an "active" account to be once a quarter. So, maybe I'm being too harsh on myself.
It's a weird feeling for me, though. I'm a smart guy. I've got a lot going on. I have diverse interests, and probably the ability to really pursue any of them. But, I don't. I always seem to lack that critical element of passion. I feel like a super-saturated solution, that is just waiting for one tiny seed to fall in and pull crystals out of the water.
Huh, look at that. This might actually count as a proper blog post itself.