Old-school wiggins: House of the Devil

House of the Devil scared the crap out of me last night. It’s the strangest thing, because you know, I’ve been watching horror films regularly since I was about six years old, and nothing’s ever really scared me since Carrie, which I saw when I was maybe eight. (Pontypool is scary, but it never made me worry for my own safety.) To borrow... read more

Fun size? What’s fun about less CANDY?

When I was a little kid, I lived on the East Coast and every Halloween I’d Trick or Treat my way home from school. Most people weren’t home from work yet, so it wasn’t very profitable, but it was usually crisp and sunny, with gutters heaped shin-deep with shuffled decks of glossy orange leaves. Other CANDY-intent kids (and in my mind,... read more

Spend a month doing something amazing

National Novel Writing Month has a simple premise. You write 50,000 words of fiction in November. Got that? Okay, good. Go to it. You might have some questions. Something like this: Q: I’m not an author! A: You are now. Write. Q: I’ve never figured out sentence structure! A: Not important. You can edit later. Write. Q: Why? What do I get out of... read more

Scrivener might CHANGE YOUR LIFE

My job is to take software and see if I can make it break, then tell the developers how it broke (we call that “Quality Assurance”). The side effect to this is that I employ the same strategy in my day-to-day interactions with software as well. In general, programs I use go through the Inquiry, Inquisition, and finally Investment phases. The... read more

Zodiac: Toxic Lobsters Unite!

Every term I subject my UCLA students to two fragments of Neal Stephenson’s excellent novel Zodiac. First, there’s the snarkalicious opening line: Roscommon came and laid waste to the garden an hour after dawn, about the time I usually get out of bed and he usually passes out on the shoulder of some freeway. And this bit: On the screen,... read more

Ninjas. Hot ones. Need I say more?

The year was 2004. I was voting for John Kerry (*sigh*) at a polling place located in a rather stately library, and I was stuck at the end of a very long queue of other restless Americans. Just as I got in, the cover of a book caught my eye and I picked it up, intending to idly flip through it and set it back down. 208 pages later, and still in line, I... read more

At least you died young and sexy, brah

Ah, October. For a homebody who loves shitty movies, there’s no more exhilarating time to be alive. You can’t swing a sack o’ coffee toffees without hitting some cheap movie you never heard of that features Satan, monsters, gratuitous nudity, and B-listers slumming it in Argentina. (I’m thinking specifically of the one where William... read more

Time travel to Tenth Century Japan

What if we could visit a woman who lived over a thousand years ago? We can’t (curse you, malfunctioning time travel equipment in my basement!), but we can get close by reading the actual personal diary of a woman who lived at the court of the Emperor of Japan a thousand years ago. The Pillow Book of Sei Shonagon is a spontaneous, playful diary filled... read more
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