Stay on target…

Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens will never be as good as it is in this moment, as I sit in the IMAX theater at the Bob Bullock State History Museum waiting for the movie to start.

Right now, the movie is pure anticipation.

Soon, it will be real. Whether it’s good, bad, or Phantom Menace, this moment will be lost forever.

Savor moments like this, my friends.


Revisiting Sansa and Ramsay on “Game of Thrones,” One Week Later

I wrote a post a few days ago about the instantly-infamous rape scene in the Game of Thrones episode “Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken,” in which I basically said that I found the scene excruciating and unnecessary, but also that the incident itself served the larger narrative of the show. Having now seen the next episode, “The Gift,” I feel rather vindicated in two areas: (1) that the scene served a larger narrative, and (2) that the scene was needlessly brutal.

What “The Gift” managed to accomplish, and where “Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken” fell short, is in what one might call the fine art of “less is more” in filmmaking.



The titular alien in the original Alien, to give one example, was scary not only because it was an eight-foot-tall creature with a retractable jaw that bled acid, but also because we barely ever saw it. Continue reading


This Week in WTF, April 3, 2015

– I’d hate to see what would happen if he got hold of her Eggo: A woman in Akron, Ohio was arrested for allegedly stabbing her boyfriend repeatedly, allegedly because he ate all of her salsa (h/t Paul).

Look, I get how important salsa can be, and I don’t want to get too high and mighty about my condiments……but see, I’m from San Antonio, and we take our salsa very seriously. I mean, like, extremely seriously. I would take the Pepsi challenge with Ohio salsa any day, and you know what’s great about Texas? There is always more salsa.

– If you’re just going to let your mouth hang open like that…: The pitcher plant, at least from a conceptual standpoint, might be the most terrifying organism to have ever existed. Yes, I’m including spiders and sharks in my analysis. Pitcher plants are at least as terrifying as winged devourers, except that they have the added factor of being real. They just sit there, waiting for something to land on them, or crawl up on them, just to slip and fall into the pitcher, where they are digested, pretty much in the open air.

Pitcher plants…grow[] long tube-shaped leaves into which insects fall. Some of the largest have pitchers up to a foot deep and can consume a whole frog or even a rat unlucky enough to fall into them. Sophisticated chemistry helps make the pitcher a death trap. Nepenthes rafflesiana, a pitcher plant that grows in jungles on Borneo, produces nectar that both lures insects and forms a slick surface on which they can’t get a grip. Insects that land on the rim of the pitcher hydroplane on the liquid and tumble in. The digestive fluid in which they fall has very different properties. Rather than being slippery, it’s gooey. If a fly tries to lift its leg up into the air to escape, the fluid holds on tenaciously, like a rubber band.

Pitcher plants are like tiny, real-life Sarlaccs, except that everyone can hear you scream.

Also, no tentacles……yet……

One species that lives on the island of Borneo, however, seems to have found another means of sustenance: as a bat toilet: Continue reading


The Truth About the Sarlacc

This BuzzFeed listicle on movie monsters that look like sex organs is a bit too obvious for my taste (Of course the creature from Alien looks like a penis! That was the point!!!), it gets points for identifying the Sarlacc from Return of the Jedi as a “spiny desert anus.”

George Lucas may have spruced up the Giant Pit of Carkoon sequence in the re-releases, but the sarlacc will always be a spiny desert anus in the hearts of old-school fans.

Bravo, I say.


We Will Be Assimilated

I’m not sure if “Space Station Earth” looks more like the Death Star (as Gizmodo‘s Darren Orf thinks) or like the Earth a few centuries after the Borg take over. Here’s its take on downtown Austin:

(I took a screen capture in case the map doesn’t embed.)

Regardless, Mapbox Studio seems like a pretty awesome website.


What I’m Reading, August 14, 2014

The Domestic Cat Genome Has Been Fully Sequenced, and It’s Fascinating, Annalee Newitz, io9, August 11, 2014

Now that we have this complete, annotated genome sequence, scientists will be able to analyze cat genetics much more effectively. Cats suffer from many of the same diseases as humans, including versions of leukemia and AIDS, so the cat genome may help us understand the development of these conditions better. Don’t worry — that doesn’t mean scientists will be experimenting on kitties. It just means that we can compare their genomes to ours to see whether there are similarities that shed light on why we are vulnerable (or not) to the diseases.

Cats also have what biologists call “a highly conserved ancestral mammal genome organization,” which means that many stretches of their genome haven’t changed much over evolutionary time. Put simply, domestic cats haven’t changed much since they first evolved. This could allow us to understand mammal evolution better. It could also answer a question that remains a mystery: why did dog domestication change canines so much, whereas cat domestication didn’t change cats much at all?

As migrant children face backlash, communities mobilize to drown out hate, Laurie Smolenski, Waging Nonviolence, August 10, 2014 (via Yes! Magazine)

Continue reading


Disney Mucks with the Star Wars Calendar

I’ve never been all that much into the Star Wars Expanded Universe, the massive set of books, comics, and other works that build on the original movie trilogy and, to an extent, the prequel trilogy. I will say that I have always respected the amount of work, attention to detail, and commitment to maintaining continuity that seems to have gone into building the SWEU. (With some major exceptions—[cough]Ewok Adventure[cough]—of course

Now, Lucas himself mucked about with the continuity a bit in the prequels, such as with the story of who built C-3PO, but the SWEU (mostly) effectively fills in the historical and narrative gaps of the world Lucas created.

Until Disney took over, that is, and proclaimed that the SWEU is not canonical anymore, to the extent that it ever was. (To be fair, Disney spent more on on Lucasfilm in one fell swoop than I’ve spent on Star Wars properties in my entire life, but that only means that, in a strict capitalist sense, they have more say over the Star Wars canon than I do individually. Strength in numbers, fans….)

501st Legion Adelaide

Some people take Star Wars very seriously.

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The Greatest Star Wars GIF You Will Ever See

This masterpiece comes to us via MrTidbits. It appeared almost a year ago via khaos324, on Geeks of Doom, and I’m sure elsewhere. It originated, it would appear, as a video from 1A4STUDIO, may their name resonate through all eternity.

Also, no littering.

A New Hope


LEGO Ambitions of Youth

As a kid, I aspired to build my own LEGO Star Destroyer. The goal was to build an Executor-class ship. It’s been done, but I wanted to build one at minifigure scale—meaning that it would include all of the ship’s interior details (bridge, launch and landing bays, crew quarters, commissary, canteen, latrine, etc.) Still, I would’ve settled for an Imperial-class ship. (Such a thing has been attempted, although it was a Corellian Corvette instead of a Start Destroyer.)

Between all the Town and Space LEGOLAND sets that I had as a kid, I probably still never came close to having enough pieces for such an ambitious project—and certainly not enough gray pieces. The thing probably would’ve been about fifteen feet long, at least. Besides that, I never really had the attention span for the project.

It was therefore with a mixture of admiration and mild jealousy-fueled disdain that I learned of Bonsol Colony, an expansive LEGO project by Flickr user wobnam (h/t Kevin).

Flickr won’t allow embedding because of frames, so here’s a screen shot instead. Go check out the whole set. Continue reading