Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Nut jobs

I wonder what these guys are doing with their stolen reproduction medieval castration tongs.... Drinking game? Keeping their weed in it? Random castration of partygoers? Hazing? The possibilities are truly endless.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Plain and great

It had been maybe four years since I've been up in Nebraska in the summertime, and the last time I was up there in summery weather, I flew instead of driving. It is so nice there in the summer. Much cooler than Texas (at least this past week). Beautiful sunsets and sunrises. Fields of growing things. And this giant sky that I really miss sometimes. I saw three fields full of blooming sunflowers in Kansas on the drive up that just took my breath away. Plus lots of corn and soybeans and sorghum and such.

To further prove my lack of photo taking smartness, there really aren't any pictures of all those cool fields, although I did get some pretty shots (like the one above) from the window of the car in one of my many drives between Lincoln and Nebraska City with my dad while I was up north. I also got about five million pictures of my sister's new dog, Bartleby, that I just couldn't bear to delete, a couple shots of a hula hoop contest that took place in my parents living room, and a few car shots in Oklahoma (I really like those rock things you drive through on I-35 just north of the Texas border). Check out the evidence here.

Much of my trip was spent in my grandfather's apartment with my dad and my aunts helping to sort things to go to different relatives, to save and decide on later, or to sell at a big garage sale they are going to have next month. I came away with a small box of goodies -- its a strange deal to go through a whole apartment and say what you want and what you don't want. I'm pleased with what I took -- most of the things have a nice sentimental connection, and some of the things are just useful. Much of the sorting process made me want to go home and get rid of at least half my stuff. I always feel that way about my files after processing a particularly gritty collection at work too. Why do I have all this stuff? What if I died tomorrow and people had to sort through it? Perhaps this epiphany will help me to finally clean out my closet....

Monday, August 29, 2005

Movin' Out

Now I love Billy Joel as much as the next person (or even more than the next person, if that person is Josh), but this is rather silly. Especially the plot summary.

[Also, I am back in Austin and totally tired after driving for 12 hours yesterday and waking up at 5:45 this morning for a full day of work. I shall now resume my normal schedule, and thanks for all your good thoughts on my tough week. More later.]

Sunday, August 21, 2005

The Big Easy (or why do I only take boring pictures?)

So I am back after nearly a week in New Orleans. The conference was really good, although tiring. I saw lots of friends, got to hang out with Professor Romance himself, ate a ton of good food, and drank about a million drinks.

What didn't I do in New Orleans? Apparantly, take pictures. I have this problem where I really like to have pictures of stuff, but I don't like to be bogged down by carrying my camera with me or actually taking it out and pressing the go button. So, all my pictures from New Orleans were taken in my hotel room, or when I had a few minutes between conference sessions and was hanging out by the river by myself. Hence the large ratio of self portraits in this and other Flickr collections. Hope you like to look at pictures of me (and the Mississipi River).

And now, a brief list of things I remember about New Orleans:
-- Two for one Mint Julips. I could have had twenty, and yet I only had three.
-- A hotel bar that looked like a carosel and where the barstools slowly rotated around the middle of the bar.
-- Turtle soup. And honeydew iced tea. Oh my god, it was awesome.
-- Rain, but just for brief periods.
-- Hand grenades.
-- Jellyfish at the aquarium -- they had a dozen different kinds and each one was just fascinating. I loved those guys. They also had some crazy sea horses that looked like plants (what were those guys called, tjd?).
-- A delicious muffeleta at the Napolean House, along with a refreshing Pimms Cup.
-- The Famous Ferdi sandwhich at Mother's. The half just about kicked my ass, I would have died if I had ordered a whole. I think there were five kinds of meat on it, and a ton of dressing.
-- Oh and some archivy conference stuff as well.


In other, sad news, I got a call on Friday night that my wonderful grandfather passed away at the age of 97 -- I cut my New Orleans trip short by one day, so I could have a day or two at home before driving up to Nebraska on Tuesday to help out my dad and attend the funeral. It means another week of holding your breath for spacebeer posts, but I'll be back with a vengence next week, promise.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Bye Bye

I will be out of town and potentially completely out of contact with all compu-boxes for the next week or so as I attend a conference in New Orleans. Maybe I will bring back a memory or a picture that I can post upon my return.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Media Overload

I've been away from the computer for a few days while I rapidly ingested the newest Harry Potter book, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. Totally good, and although I can't believe that I've turned into a super Harry Potter fan, I did spend at least half an hour going over plot points and theories of what will happen next with a friend at work. Sheesh. Just stamp a big ole lightening bolt on my forehead while you're at it.

I got this volume on Tuesday from my new boss at work (as my former Harry Potter supplier, A., up and moved to North Carolina, and I didn't want to go out and buy it since I knew millions of others had and I could probably get one of those millions to loan it to me). But I am going off to New Orleans for a week on Monday, and I wanted to get the book back to my boss by Friday so that I wouldn't keep it for two weeks. I worked it out, and I think I read the whole 650 page thing in about seven hours -- after work I'd read as much as I could before dinner, then watch some episodes of Les Vampires with Josh (if you haven't seen this, go rent it -- its a French serial from 1915/1916 staring Musidora as Irma Vep, one of the lead members of the Vampires, a tricky theiving gang. She is awesome, and there are some pretty amazing stunts in there), then read more before bed. Thursday night we took a break from the vampires and went downtown to see We Jam Econo: The Story of the Minutemen instead, which was also good, but involved way less stunts than Les Vampires.

After the movie, I finished up the last 100 pages of H.P. and was only about half an hour late in going to bed. Ta da!

[And the picture with this post isn't of the latest Harry Potter book, but rather the first book with its Greek cover. Check out more international covers -- I really like the Germany, Iceland and Iran...]

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Stamp Tramp

Check out some more stamps from the archives. This eel is pretty great, but you've got to check out the quadruple kitty surprise.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Flash Gordon

Oh yes, yesterday I spent a couple hours reading the sixth Flash Gordon adventure, The War of the Cybernauts:

Just check out those Cybernauts. They are like bubblegum machines crossed with weather vanes. And the alien lady-General (who looks just like a sexy Earth lady), has some lovely boots.

Of course, it all makes sense when you read the back of the book (click to make it bigger), now doesn't it:

Flash Gordon was, of course, a comic book and film serial in the 1930s (see some awesome pictures of the cast here or just do an image search of Flash Gordon and soak it all in), and was later novelized into books such as this one, which came out at the surprisingly late date of 1975.

A brief plot synopsis: Flash and Dr. Zarkov are sent into space to explore a strange UFO that has sucked in 12 "super-sophisticated space-probe satellites" (or SSSS's for short). Naturally, the UFO sucks their space ship in too. They then discover that the object is a gypsy planet that floats from solar system to solar system on which two groups of very human-like aliens live. They have been fighting a war against each other for tens of thousands of years -- generations ago they invented cybernauts to do all of the fighting, and those cybernauts have created a second generation of robots to help them do their work. The men do nothing but program the cybernauts and invent new things, and the women have taken over as the military and political leaders. Also the women are all real sexy. Just see what happens when General Ild sees Flash for the first time:

"There was something lacking in the men of Ildhaven. In the ancient books she had read exciting stories of duels, and jousting tourneys, and fights -- man-to-man combats -- that stirred her blood. That was before the development of the cybernauts. Now the men were hairless and endowed with large brains and small muscles... It was no wonder the women had revolted over a hundred years ago and taken over the reins of the war machines... It was said that in ancient times the men had been the warriors, and the women the householders. But with the invention of the cybbies, the mechanical servants, that had all changed. The men, whose earlier physiques had been rugged for fighting, hunting, and building, had deteriorated when they became masters and programmers of powered servants. The women, then, freed of all household chores, had slowly moved into the vacuum left by the men as they pursued mathematics and engineering and technology..."

[Kind of makes you want to step back from the computer and lift some weights or something, doesn't it...]

So, naturally, she thinks Flash Gordon, being the manly-man that he is, is pretty hot stuff. She tries to seduce him, but Flash wants to remain faithful to his fiance back on Earth. This makes the General mad, and she sends Flash and Zarkov on a suicide mission to destroy the War Computer of the enemy. How will it turn out? Will Flash and Zarkov survive? And how will they ever return to Earth?

I had fun reading this book -- its got some pretty wild explorations of gender rolls, plus robots and lots of strange abbreviations (SSSS's!). Its also got a neat twist at the end where what one thinks will be the moral of the story, doesn't quite work out that way.

I give it five thumbs up.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Saturday, August 06, 2005


Yesterday I finished reading Roger Ebert's The Great Movies II, a book I've been reading a bit of here and a bit of there since Josh got it back in February. Previously I read his The Great Movies, so I naturally had to read the second one as well. AND not only have I read both of the books, I've also seen every movie in them. I've actually seen every one of Ebert's great movies, many of which are not in the two books because he writes about a new one every other week. I don't always agree with everything Ebert says, but out of all of these movies, I haven't really liked only a handful. Most of them truly are great, and besides including many of the usual suspects, Ebert takes some changes and brings up some movies that aren't really part of the traditional "Great" canon.

The set up of the books is really nice -- an alphabetical arrangement of 100 films, each given a three or four page review and accompanied by a beautiful screen still. The stills might be my favorite part of the book, they are well-selected and lovely to look at.

So, if you are wondering what you should rent next, perchance check out this list.

Thursday, August 04, 2005


It is extremely dangerous to leave me alone in a room with a bizarre collection of correspondence from a crazy Romanian mathematician/artist and a scanner. I spent at least half of today grabbing people and waving my latest weird stamp or crazy note in their faces. I present you now with two of my favorites:

Posted by Picasa
First, a completely awesome stamp from India heralding the joy of solar energy. I basically like everything about this stamp, but I especially love the colors and the sun.

Posted by Picasa
And here we have a printed Romanian envelope commemorating the "World Chess Championship juniors of 20, girls and boys." If anything should be celebrated in envelope form, it is the juniors of 20, and nothing says we care better than a strange half-lava-lamp/half-chess board planet afloat in a galaxy spewing chess pieces.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005


A few days ago I finished reading Josephine: A Life of the Empress by Carolly Erickson. One thing you might not know about me is that I have an odd fascination for royalty -- particularly queens, princesses and empresses. In the past, I've mostly read about English royalty (especially Elizabeth and Henry the VIIIths six wives), but after reading A Tale of Two Cities last month, I felt like I needed a little more French Revolution. This book did not disappoint.

Truth be told, its a lot more like a novel than a history book, which probably isn't good if you are looking for some solid, impartial, historical facts, but which is good if you just want to get an idea about Josephine and her life, and you don't already know much about French history. It is also good if you want some juicy descriptions of parlor life shortly after the Terror:

"Dancing became a kind of exorcism in which the horrors of the recent past were conjured away. At the Victim's Balls, relatives of guillotine victims scoffed at death, wearing red ribbons around their necks as reminders of the bloody chop of the blade, bowing their heads jerkily in imitation of the falling heads, clothing themselves in bloody scarlet."

The general story is that Josephine grew up in Martinique, the eldest daughter of a down-on-his-luck plantation owner and minor French aristocrat. She went to Paris when she was 17 and married her step-cousin, who had inherited money but needed to be married to begin to spend it. The marriage didn't really work out, but they did have two kids. Like many upper-class Parisians of the time, they also both had lots of affairs. The French Revolution came and first things were okay, then bad, then both of them found themselves in prison awaiting execution -- Josephine made it through but hubby did not. After the Terror calmed down, there were more affairs and the salon life, before Josephine met this up and coming Italian general named Napoleon. Napoleon won more and more battles, the group governing the country was shaky anyway, and before anyone knew it, he was crowned Emperor with Josephine as Empress. Before they even got there, though, their marriage had practically fallen apart.

Josephine is interesting in that she was a woman who did not seem all that smart, or beautiful, or rich, but she was ambitious, and she did know how to take care of herself and get what she wanted. People often commented on how nice and good-natured she was, although she also seemed to be very emotional and physically weak. Her story is interesting to me, because she became royalty without being born into it, partially from her own work, partially from her husband's success in battle, and mostly because Napoleon looked like a national hero right when France really wanted someone to focus on.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Mind-blowing lines

This guy does not know what a chump he is. Both yesterday and today I saw guys painting lines for parking spaces using these awesome little car things that look like a mix between a riding lawnmower and a go-cart. They drive around really fast, occasionally slowing down to extend a little paint jet and paint a perfect parking space line. Wow. They seemed so unnecessary. It was like the guy whose job it was to paint lines with the thing above decided to design his own line painter and then make it go really fast and have paint jets on it. That's the human mind at work, folks.

Monday, August 01, 2005

A Super Sunday Drive

I had my camera all charged up to take pictures on Saturday night, and ended up not taking a one. What better use of all that battery power than to document our trip down Guadalupe and South Congress to take back movies and eat enchiladas. What better way indeed. Check out the crazy time we had here.