Oct 29, 2010
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...
Oct 29, 2010
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,...
Oct 28, 2010
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...
Oct 27, 2010
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.
Oct 25, 2010
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,...
Oct 21, 2010
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...
Oct 20, 2010
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...
Oct 19, 2010
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...