Sunday, December 31, 2006

What is Mia Made Of?

So, the upcoming Wonder Woman film is getting a lot of coverage, Astonishing X-Men has gotten its fair share, and the Buffy: Season 8 comic certainly isn't flying under the radar. Shoot, even Runaways is getting press. Have you been wondering what's going on with Joss Whedon's other project, Goners? The answer is not much, but you can get all the latest information here.

Fly, My Pretties!

Tetrapod zoologist Darren Naish has just put up a couple of interesting posts about golden eagles killing much larger land animals, wolves in particular. Neat, eh?

What Makes Us Human?

I've just watched a couple of episodes of a series called What Makes us Human? on the Science Channel. It's a fascinating look at what distinguishes humans from our nearest relatives, and I encourage you to check it out.

Ready, Fight!

As I mentioned last time, Newton and Marley get along very well. Here's a short video of them play-fighting. Please note how well Marley restrains himself.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Mr. Marley I Presume

Team Grondul recently traveled to Atlanta to spend a couple of winter holidays with my family. The trip gave my parents their first opportunity to meet their "granddoggy," and it offered Newton his first chance to meet his "cousin" Marley. The two pups got along famously. The 55-pound Marley played very gently with the 10-pound Newton, and I think Newton now wants to be a boxer when he grows up.

Here are some photos of the two of them together and a couple of Newton in Marley's bed, which is comically oversized:

Saturday, December 23, 2006

A Festivus for the Rest of Us

It appears, from this article, that Festivus is starting to take off.

Festivus, it turns out, was not invented in 1997 by the Seinfeld writing staff. In fact, it was created way back in 1966 by the father of a future screenwriter on the series. All the features of the holiday other than the Festivus pole---the feats of strength, the airing of grievances---were part of his family's annual tradition. Now, the holiday is starting to grow in popularity, due principally to its anti-commercial message---no gifts are exchanged at Festivus, and little decoration is needed---and sales of Festivus poles are climbing.

Perhaps Festivus will replace the Winter Solstice as my second favorite winter holiday. (Michaelmas will remain my favorite, of course.)

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

The Prisoner Returns, For Real This Time

It appears that AMC will be airing a remake of The Prisoner starting in January 2008. Groovy.

Torchwood Returns

It looks like a second series of Torchwood has been commissioned. It will hit the air late in 2007.

Doctor Hero Trek

Two pieces of Heroes casting have surfaced recently. Stop reading now if you'd like to avoid minor spoilers.
  • First, Christopher Eccleston, who played the ninth Doctor in the re-imagined Doctor Who, will appear in the series as Claude, a man with the power of invisibility.
  • Second, George Takei, who played Sulu in Star Trek, will appear in the series as Hiro Nakamura's father.
Neat, eh?

Monday, December 18, 2006

It's Not How You Feel; It's How You Look.

Although Alison is the one who frequents a web site called The Superficial, I'm perhaps more interested in appearances than she is. Here's a breakdown of my various superficial interests, with some fun links:
  • Heraldry. Yeah, yeah, I admit it's pretty dorky, but I think representing something as complex as an individual or family identity with a two-dimensional image that can easily be describe in plain text is rather fascinating. Additionally, I've always thought the sometimes silly mythological animals used in heraldry were fun.*
  • Flags. Vexillology is much like heraldry, but with nations in place of individuals, so it's no sureprise that I'm interested in it. I'm certainly no vexillologist, but I can sometimes tell a lot about a country just by looking at its flag, and I think that's cool.
  • Logos and Wordmarks. Logos are, of course, modern-day coats of arms, representing corporate entities, sports teams, bands or even individuals**. Plus, logos are not constrained by all the heraldic rules, so they can be extremely creative. Males in the readership may be horrified to hear this, but I'm not much of a sports fan. In fact---gasp!---I'm often more interested in a team's logo or uniform than their performance. If you are at all like me, you may want to check out the Society for Sports Uniform Research for the latest news on logo, uni, and color changes.
  • Sports uniforms. See above entry, then go to SSUR and Uni Watch.
  • Names. Even though Alison and I aren't planning on naming an children any time soon,*** I find personal names quite fascinating. The most interesting online resource I've found in this category is the NameVoyager, which uses Social Security data to plot the frequency (in children per million) of a name as a function of time, since the 1880s. If you enter a partial name, it will plot all names starting with that string. Neat, eh? For maximum fun, enter "Willow" or "Xander" and look for the spike after Buffy the Vampire Slayer hit the airwaves. Hah! Nerds, you gotta love them.
So there you go. If you are interested in these topics, too, just click on "superficialities" under "Subject Tags" to the right, and you'll see all our bloggin' in this category.

* Perhaps that's related to my passing interest in cryptozoology.
** And I'm not just talking about superheroes like the Batman or eccentrics like Prince Rogers Nelson here.
*** I repeat, for our parents, we are not planning children in the immediate future.

Newton Aloysius Grondul

Our pup's full name is Newton Aloysius* Grondul, but he has acquired several nicknames during his time with us. Here's a list of all the ones I can think of at the moment:
  • Little Guy. This is the name we use most often with him. We use it more often, probably, than Newton.
  • Fuzzface. We came up with this one because, well, his face is fuzzy.
  • Fuzzbutt. This name's a slightly naughtier version of the previous one. Plus, it's assonant.
  • Muzzlepuff. See this definition, and all will be revealed.
  • Tiny Thunder. This is the sound he makes running down the hall after stealing a sock. This is also the name he'll use if he ever becomes a professional wrestler.
  • SeƱor Puppers. Alison yoinked this name from Cute Overload, and I can't blame her. I mean, this little guy is really cute, and he looks not unlike Newton.
  • Mutton Chops. I came up with this name after we had him groomed for the first time. His new 'do made him look more than a bit like General Ambrose Burnside.

* We chose this middle name because it seemed like it would be fun to yell in a fit of righteous anger.

How the Grinch Didn't Steal Christmas

Yesterday afternoon, Alison and I hosted our second annual party-to-watch-winter-holiday-movies. Our plan was to watch How the Grinch Stole Christmas and The Nightmare before Christmas, but we somehow never got around to it. Instead, we all just chatted and ate. I think a good time was had by most, possibly all, so I'll call it a success. I should point out that Newton, having been recently groomed and showing off his new "sit" and "down" skills, was the hit of the party.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Chocolate Meets Peanut Butter

I've been using this metaphor for years. I guess that makes me a corporate shill, since the wording comes straight from an advertising campaign:
two great tastes that taste together, metaphor. Any case of synergy, where the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.
A couple of years ago, Nick exposed me to wording more like this, which is what I mostly use now:
chocolate meets peanut butter, metaphor. Any case of two great tastes that taste together.

Drive, Gorramit!

Nathan Fillion has been cast in Tim Minear's upcoming series Drive. Fillion, for those of you who don't know, and are thus just uncool, played Captain Malcolm Reynolds on Firefly and in Serenity and played Caleb in the seventh season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Minear, meanwhile, wrote, executive produced, and directed episodes of Angel, Firefly, and Wonderfalls. If you've ever read this blog, you can guess that I think this is a case of chocolate meeting peanut butter.

For the record, here's the 'Pedia's description of the Drive:
The series is set across the backdrop of an illegal road race with the central focus being on the competitors and eventually on the puppet masters behind the race. Regarding the tone of the show, Minear has described it thusly: "A secret, illegal, underground road race can be anything from Cannonball Run to The Game to North by Northwest to Magnolia-on-wheels. Ours is all those things."
I'm skeptical about the setup, but I 'm optimistic that the pairing of Fillion and Minear will be well worth watching. The show was picked up by Fox*, as a mid-season replacement, based on a pilot episode, which featured Ivan Sergei in the role Fillion has been cast to play. It's not clear to me whether (a) the relevant scenes in the pilot will be re-shot before it's broadcast, (b) the entire pilot will be re-shot before it's shown, or (c) the pilot will not be broadcast at all.

Look for Drive to hit the small screen in March or April.

* The single word "Fox" has me worried, given the tendency of the company to cancel good shows before they can find their audiences.** Still, I'm hopeful that Fox will give the series a fair shake.

** See, for example, the aforementioned Firefly and Wonderfalls.

Wile E. Coyote, Super Genius

Brian is an evil genius. Seriously evil. He has that in common with Lisa.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

I'm unreasonably pleased...

...that we have taught Newton to sit and lie down. It is so cute! He puts his little butt down sooo emphatically. It's like he wants there to be an audible "plop!" so we'll be sure to give him that treat.

I'm so excited! I feel a little sillly since I know this is something that almost every dog owner teaches their dog, but I have never done it before. Muffy was NEVER fact, she did an amazing job of training us. I vowed that I would not do the same thing with Newton, but I wasn't sure if I could actually do this stuff. It really gives me hope that he caught on so quickly. Our first puppy class with dogs is this weekend and I can't wait! Yay!

1 Down, 1 to Go

Well, tonight I took the final exam in my Java class. Now I just need to give a talk on production of polarization-entangled photon pairs by four-wave mixing in optical fiber---a subject I know very little about---and I'll be done with both my classes. Remind me, why did I want to go back to school?

Approval vs. Time

Brian just pointed out this plot of George Bush's approval rating as a function of time. Note that you can zoom in to 2004-2006 if you like. Interesting.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Alien Big Cats

Here's another cryptozoological post from Darren Naish. In this one, Naish discusses the evidence that alien big cats (ABCs) are loose in the UK. Neat!

"Sasquatch" is Fun to Say

Apparently, Tetrapod Zoology is my new favorite blog. I just mentioned it a couple of weeks ago, and here I am bringing it up again. This time, I'd like to point you to this article, where the author summarizes the evidence for and against the existence of sasquatch in a pretty even-handed way. Check it out.

Ep and Sode

Here are a couple of neologisms---abbreviations, really---which originated with the same word, but have quite different meanings. I can't take credit for inventing either of them, but I enjoy using them quite a bit.
ep, noun. An episode in a television or film series.

sode, noun. A brief but traumatic medical or psychological event.
Example: Jaye had a sode on the pilot ep of Wonderfalls.

The Heroes Get Lost

You may recall that, the second time I mentioned Heroes on the blog, I described it as Lost meets Rising Stars. The plot of the show is much like that of Rising Stars: a more realistic take on the superhero genre. The style and feel of the show, however, is more like Lost, or Lost before I grew tired of it. Anyway, the reason I bring all this up is that Tom just sent me a link to this article comparing and contrasting Heroes and Lost. I particularly enjoyed the part where the author pits the corresponding elements of the shows against each other to determine which is, in his opinion, the better show. I encourage you to read it.

I also encourage you to check out Heroes if you haven't already. New episodes, starting with Episode 12, will re-begin airing on January 22, Monday nights on NBC. Now, you may feel that, if you haven't seen the first 11 eps, you'll be lost, and that's partially true. But you can watch all the previous episodes on the official site. The site also has short online comic books that add extra background and detail to the story presented on the screen. So, get watching, then get reading.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Talk about a deal-breaker!

Well, folks, here is a deal-breaker from my perspective.

Michael is a bed-destroyer. That's night of sleeping in a bed and he can totally destroy it. Somehow in his sleep, he manages to untuck the sheet from the foot of the bed, take his pillowcases most of the way off his pillows, kick the comforter completely off the bed, and sometimes he even manages to pull one corner of the fitted sheet off. What does he DO all night? I lie there and sleep, so my covers are mostly in the same place when I'm done. It's like he's working out even at night. Crazy boy...this might be a deal-breaker.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Lessons Newton Taught Us: Productivity

More wisdom we've never acquired without Newton:
It's very difficult to get any work done with an attention-craving, sock-loving puppy in the house.

Mad Props

It appears that a blogger in the UK has been reading Industrial-Strength Science. Nosdivad* is a "student at Birmingham reading** Computer Science," a self-described nerd, a gamer, a fan of neologisms, and clearly in need of a haircut. If you look halfway done this post, you'll see that he describes our blog as "a really nice read from two folks in Maryland who talk about technology, life, tv, music, their dog, and various random stuff that everyone likes to read." Cool, eh? Anyway, his own blog, Surreality, also covers a random assortment of topics. One recent post includes the latest trailer for the uncreatively named Spider-Man 3, which has some good footage of Venom and Sandman, but also gives too much of the story away. I encourage you to check out the blog and the trailer.

* I can only assume his surname is Davidson.
** I love Britishisms.

Industrial-Strength Science, Version 2

Sharp-eyed readers will notice that the blog has undergone some changes over the weekend. Of particular note are the tags or labels. Each post carries a number* of tags which indicate (some of) the topics or subjects discussed in that entry. You can click on the tag to see all the posts on that topic. What's more, all the tags on our blog are listed at right, so you can access any topic we cover right from whatever page you are reading. Neat, eh?

These tags also provide a means of comparing the prevalence of the various subjects. For example, from the list at right, we can see that the most frequent topic on the blog---and this is no surprise to me---is "movies and TV." The second and third most frequent are "science," with 52 posts, and " science fiction," with 49.

* In truth a few posts carry no tags, but, to paraphrase Lindsey Naegle, zero's a number.

Friday, December 08, 2006

PS Wii

Here's your un-asked-for gaming-console update. It's pretty much all about Wii today.
  • It looks like the little Nintendo Wii is soundly beating the Sony PlayStation 3 in terms of console sales, even though the PS3 went on sale a bit earlier. A lot of that is due to the much lower price of the Wii, and a lot is due to production problems with the PS3, but it also seems that the novel user interface is doing just what Nintendo planned, bringing new demographics to the game-console market.
  • Speaking of broadening the game-console demographics, here's a tongue-in-cheek (I hope) editorial about that phenomenon.
  • Lastly, here's a very positive review for the latest Zelda title, The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, as played on the Wii.

The Whedon Update

So I'm sure the Whedonites in the readership are wondering what's up with Joss' various projects. Here're are a couple of relevant links.
  • First, Whedon just talked to TV Guide, mostly about the upcoming Buffy: Season 8 comic series, which will be cannon in the Buffyverse and answer Dawn's "What are we gonna do now?" Other topics discussed: Firefly/Serenity---nothing happening---Wonder Woman---rewriting now, no casting yet---and Battlestar Galactica---apparently Whedon's favorite show.
  • Apparently, something is happening with Seren-ifly, just not what you might think: Multiverse is announcing today that they've signed a deal with Fox to bring a massively multiplayer online role-playing game based on the Firefly universe to market. Look for the game in 2008. As far as I can tell, Whedon's not involved, so I'm a little skeptical.
  • In other Seren-ifly-in-other-media news, it looks like there's going to be another Serenity comic limited series. It will be called Serenity: Better Days, and it should be out next year.
Speaking of Buffy, Firefly, and Battlestar Galactica, you may be interested to know that the first Battlestar episode written by Jane Espenson airs tonight on the Sci Fi Channel.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Lessons Newton Taught Us: Puppies vs. Redemption

Another nugget o' wisdom we learned from our pup:
Puppies are haaarrd. Harder even than redemption.

Andrew Seeking Redemption

While my perfectly cromulent metaphors are generally inspired by Star Trek, this one was inspired by Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
Andrew seeking redemption, metaphor. Any person working hard to achieve a laudable goal, but also whining about the difficulty of the task.

Monday, December 04, 2006

You Say Play-Doh. I Say Play Dough.

Do you have kids, or are you a kid at heart? Do you embrace the do-it-yourself spirit? Then you might be interested in making your own play dough. We've done this, without the cream of tartar, and it worked quite well. This strikes me as a fun parent-child project; the parent and child spend quality time together, the kid gets fun dough at the end, and the child learns the satisfaction of DIY.

Game Review: Bookworm Adventures

I'm now completely addicted to Bookworm Adventures. Thanks a lot, Tycho. As Tycho said, it's bassically a Scrabble RPG, and I find it quite entertaining. It's quite satisfying to suddenly pull a long word containing several colored tiles out of what had been a hopeless set of characters only a moment before. Last night, Alison and I were playing together---the game does not support multiple players, as far as I know, but that didn't stop Team Grondul from putting our heads together to vanquish mythological creatures with spelling---and we were each Brian with the overhead projector on several occasions. Overall, I give it 8.0 out of 10.

Poor Little Guy

We had Newton neutered on Friday. (Thus, we are considering renaming him "Neuton".) The procedure itself went reasonably well, but Newton had a bad reaction to the anesthesia; Friday night, he would periodically rouse himself and groggily make his way to the litter box to make a diarrheal deposit. There was also vomiting, I'm sad to say. I was really impressed, though, given his apparent grogginess and probable nausea, that all the defecating and regurgitating occurred in the box and on the kitchen floor, respectively.

On Saturday morning, he got his mouth caught on the cone collar when trying to escape from it, resulting in a cut on his lip. We took the collar off him, and he was pretty good about not chewing at his incision. I think the laser cutting was helpful there.

So, as you can tell, he had a pretty rough 24 hours. The good news is that the effects of the anesthetic seemed to wear off by Saturday, and the cut was minor. Our main challenge at that point was keeping him from being too active and popping his sutures. As a result of all this caretaking, Alison and I didn't get much sleep over the weekend. It was not the most restful weekend we've ever had.

Friday, December 01, 2006

The Lord of All 5 Babylon Rings

Have you ever noticed significant similarities between the Lord of the Rings and Babylon 5? Well, I have, and now I've found a good discussion of these parallels on the 'Pedia. This article, in fact, includes not only all the similarities I noticed, but also several more. I encourage you to read it.

Wolf or Woof?

After watching Nova's Dogs and More Dogs, I found this very informative blog entry. The author presents some compelling evidence that dogs are not descended directly from wolves, as is commonly claimed, but rather from a now-extinct species of pariah-like wild dogs. Check it out.