36 thoughts on “Sunday Update

  1. Sickies all around! But I’m still going to hear Mayim Bialik speak at a luncheon here in Tucson. She’s a trained neuroscientist, what I would study if I were younger and smarter. For any other readers who may feel the same way:

    From “Brain Pickings”: Neuroscientist David Eagleman, author of the excellent Incognito: The Secret Lives of the Brain, explores the concept of “the umwelt” coined by biologist Jakob von Uexküll in 1909 – the idea that different animals in the same ecosystem pick up on different elements of their environment and thus live in different micro-realities based on the subset of the world they’re able to detect. Eagleman stresses the importance of recognizing our own umwelt – our unawareness of the limits of our awareness:

    “I think it would be useful if the concept of the umwelt were embedded in the public lexicon. It neatly captures the idea of limited knowledge, of unobtainable information, and of unimagined possibilities. Consider the criticisms of policy, the assertions of dogma, the declarations of fact that you hear every day – and just imagine if all of these could be infused with the proper intellectual humility that comes from appreciating the amount unseen.”

  2. Woke up with Manilow’s “Copacabana” stuck in my head. Not sure if this is a sign of mental illness or that I time traveled to the late seventies during the night. At any rate, hoping this gets cleared up by blasting some Bee Gees into the neighborhood.

  3. A nice sunny warm Sunday after torrential thunderstorms yesterday. Not sure why my head is killing me. Maybe it was the vodka….

  4. Sleeping till noon and relaxing by surfing around, will watch a movie and probably also read some more in Cherie Priest’s Dreadnought because it’s so good. Today is the day where children dress up and go door to door and sing to get some candy or spare change to buy candy for, here in Denmark, so I’ve given a little spare change to some singing, dressed up children. Yesterday I visited my mother and had a friend over to watch us some Stargate SG-1 and just hang out together and I stayed up late, chatting with an online friend which is why I slept till noon today.

  5. My wife and I adored “The Secret World of Arrietty” last night at the ArcLight in Pasadena’s Pasao Colorado (original title “Kari-gurashi no Arietti”, 2010). It is a beautiful film, a quintessential example of “Fantasy with rivets.”

    A visually stunning, and typically heartwarming product of Studio Ghibli, it has one foot in the Western Tokyo’s neighborhood of Koganei, where the studio is located, one foot in England, as it is an adaptation of Mary Norton’s famous novel “The Borrowers”, and one foot in the USA (as a Disney-distributed version with American voice acting by Will Arnett, Bridgit Mendler, David Henrie, and Amy Poehler.

    The ingenious screenplay is by the great Hayao Miyazaki, in collaboration with Keiko Niwa. It is not directed by Miyazaki (credited with “Planning and Screenplay) but by Hiromasa Yonebayashi

    Checking wikipedia I see, and agree as correct:
    The Borrowers, published in 1952, is the first in a series of children’s fantasy novels by English author Mary Norton. The novel and its sequels are about tiny people who live in people’s homes and “borrow” things to survive while keeping their existence unknown. The central characters of the novels are a borrower family surnamed Clock: Pod, Homily and their spirited teenage daughter, Arrietty. The Borrowers won the 1952 Carnegie Medal.[1] In 2007, the novel was selected by judges of the CILIP Carnegie Medal for children’s literature as one of the ten most important children’s novels of the past 70 years.

    The Borrowers was followed by a series of sequels recounting the further adventures of the Clock family:

    * The Borrowers Afield (first published in 1955)
    * The Borrowers Afloat (first published in 1959)
    * The Borrowers Aloft (first published in 1961), which includes “Poor Stainless” (a story from Homily’s childhood)
    * The Borrowers Avenged (first published in 1982)

    What makes the film a great success is not just being true to the books, but showing the step-by-step technology needed by the little people to survive in a hostile world of cruel giant Homo sapiens, and the birds, cats, and insects who would crush or eat them. The technological details give this the “Fantasy with rivets” sense, shared by good Science Fiction. In fact, it is science fictional in attention to, for example, surface tension at that spatial scale, though not to the extent of explaining the violation of the square-cube law. In the real world, ants, and other organisms are subject to a scientific principle, first described in 1638 by Galileo Galilei in his Two New Sciences, which limits their size.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Square-cube_law

    • The film is satisfying in a similar way as, to switch genres, “The Day of the Jackal” — the 1973 Anglo-French film, set in August 1963 and based on the novel of the same name by Frederick Forsyth. When one sees an assassin practicing to blow apart the head of President of France, Charles de Gaulle, on 22 August 1962, by the militant French underground organization OAS in anger over the French government’s decision to give independence to Algeria, by practice blowing up a watermelon hanging from a tree at the same range for shooting. One thinks “I did not think of that, but now that I see it, it makes logical sense.” In the same way, the techniques used by little people to get a cube of sugar from the human kitchen makes one say: “That’s how a smart individual WOULD do it.”

    The new versions leaves in the dust several earlier screen adaptations of The Borrowers:
    * The Borrowers: a 1973 American made-for-TV movie in the Hallmark Hall of Fame.
    * The Borrowers: a 1992 BBC TV series and its 1993 sequel The Return of the Borrowers, both starring Ian Holm and Penelope Wilton.
    * The Borrowers: a 1997 film with a British/American cast including Tom Felton, John Goodman, Jim Broadbent, Celia Imrie and Mark Williams.

    I have not seen, so cannot compare, “The Borrowers”: a 2011 BBC production starring Stephen Fry, Victoria Wood, and Christopher Eccleston. I suggest that you buy the book, and choose for yourself whether to read it first, or see what my wife and I saw last night, with English language version Producers Kathleen Kennedy and Frank Marshall. But don’t wait too long — the big screen shows dazzling effect for Atsushi Okui ‘s cinematography and Art Directors Yôji Takeshige and Noboru Yoshida. Not to be missed! Great for adults (honest about Death, and sometimes being unable to realize our dreams), children, and the child in each of us.

  6. My Sunday is rainy and clammy, with a side of tax preparation. But last night I watched three Buster Keaton movies I hadn’t seen before, courtesy of Netflix: the hour-long “Go West” featuring possibly the best trained cow in the history of cinema; and the shorts “The Scarecrow” and “The Paleface”. “The Scarecrow” features a cleverly arranged bachelor pad that is even more ingenious than the galley in “The Navigator”. It also has an amazing stunt dog. Highly recommended. (“The Paleface” is rather halfhearted and forgettable, alas.)

  7. My kids saw “The Secret World of Arrietty” on Friday with grandpa, they enjoyed it. I think I will bring home the Borrowers books for them to read.
    Today: Tried to sleep in, failed. Had a lovely breakfast with family, watched the kids play for awhile. Now I think a nap, then I need to head to work to clean. More family time planned, dinner, family time, then I will cry myself to sleep thinking about my bank account.
    Happy Sunday!

  8. >>How is your Sunday?

    Filled with chores but with time to enjoy a walk to the park with my daughters. Dinner guests tonight so must get shopping and prep done. Wondering how the heck I missed The Borrowers while humming along to Copacabana…

  9. Jakob von Uexküll wrote a great description of the world as perceived by a spider. Every science fiction author should read it. I don’t know where my copy went… I thought about that when reading Vinge’s A Deepness in the Sky (Hugo Award for best SF novel of the year, this seems to be a good time to re-assess it and the novel that inspired it, A Fire Upon the Deep, which won the Hugo in 1993).

    An Interstellar Geography of Mind: A Fire Upon the Deep and A Deepness in the Sky by Vernor Vinge
    Reviewed by Amy Harlib

    http://www.strangehorizons.com/2001/20010709/vinge.shtml

    9 July 2001

    “…Equally huge, complex and captivating as A Fire Upon the Deep, A Deepness in the Sky is set primarily in the system of the mysterious On/Off star that cycles from solar heat to dimness over periods of a couple of centuries. Its narrative focuses on three groups of characters. Investigating this enigmatic stellar phenomenon is the innovative Qeng Ho interstellar free trading fleet, hoping that understanding the star’s weird physics may lead to an improved star drive. Residing in the system are sentient arachnoid beings, known as the Spiders, who inhabit the single planet orbiting the On/Off star. Although the Spiders are at present weak and divided into bellicose factions, they are thought to be descendants of an advanced civilization that once roamed throughout the galaxy. The Spiders survive the dark cycles of their star by hibernating in ‘deepnesses’ far under the surface of the planet. Arriving at the same time as the Traders is the third group, the Emergents. A human-descended political entity (as are the Traders themselves), the Emergents are a ruthless society based on the Focus, a bio-technological enslavement of minds. Anticipating the incredible riches to be obtained by the group that opens trade with the aliens, the Emergents attack the Qeng Ho. The aftermath of their fight leaves both missions crippled and dependent on the Spider’s ability to develop technology advanced enough to help them.”

  10. ******INSTANT VOICE RELIEF*******

    This is trick used for drill sgts and cadre all over the globe. A spoonful of honey and lemons. You will notice instant voice relief. This is considered holistic, so use liberally.

  11. My Sunday contains a certain amount of wishing I was at Boskone hanging out with you guys. Besides that, it’s about to contain art-making, and some paperwork later in the day after the good light has gone.

  12. I might suggest an old family remedy for a scratchy/sore throat or a cough: Equal amounts of honey, lemon juice, and bourbon. It really does soothe the throat, and if you imbibe enough of it, you probably won’t care that you have a sore throat. (That part might make the reading memorable, but not in a good way.)

  13. @ Johnny Carruthers,
    Considering John is a completely sober person by choice a bunch of bourbon would definitely be memorable since he would likely puke all over.

  14. Really enjoyed your reading(s)! Glad to have had the chance to say a long distance hello to Krissy as well. Thanks for coming to Boston.

  15. Science fiction conish, though without actually being at a con. Committee meeting for Swecon (annual national Swedish science fiction con), doing some committee stuff for Åcon (local con in Mariehamn, Åland. Almost no participants from Åland, but people go there from Sweden and mainland Finland, with a few scattered members from other palces). Oh, and a meeting for a local theater festival and trying to get some damn work done as well.

    //JJ

  16. Thank you thank you….recouping from a knee injury, I have devoured 3 of your books this week…OLD MAN”S WAR, GHOST BRIGADE…10 minutes ago just finished LAST COLONY….next I will make a cup of tea and begin ZOE”S TALE…WOW….I have not been a fan of Science Fiction…but at the urging of a friend, read OLD MAN”S WAR…I’m hooked. I just ordered ANDROID”S DREAM . Thank you Thank you. Keep writting. I am a BIGTIME fan now.

  17. Today is soup day. I’m making several types of soup to freeze and share with friends. One of our kids is a vegan, and I have lots of food allergies, so this makes our lives easier on week nights. My “new” soup is curried lentil and sweet potato soup with cocoanut milk. I’m also making garbanzo bean soup with rosemary, chicken and rice soup, and black bean and orange soup. The house smells wonderful.

    Happy Sunday.

  18. My 22″ Dell desktop monitor died yesterday, so we went out and replaced it with a 27″ Samsung. Also bought a USB wireless adapter. We have the setup in the living room and I do the vast majority of my computing here in my office, which is literally at the other end of the house. Hubby never quite believed me when I kept telling him I was lucky to get a couple of bars on the signal range icon. He suggested replacing the internal PCI adapter with an external USB adapter specifically designed for longer range. I had some minor difficulty setting it up, computers aren’t really my “thing” insofar as the technical aspect is concerned, but now that it’s up and running it works beautifully. Wish I’d done it sooner!

    My FIL turned 75 yesterday, so we took my inlaws out to dinner. At the moment, hubby’s in the living room playing Civ with his best friend, so I’m just sitting here watching TV and enjoying my new monitor. Happy Sunday, everybody!

    :-)

  19. re Sheilawill @ #1, Mayim Bialik is also one of the funniest actresses anywhere. Love her in Big Bang Theory.

    Sunday over on this side of Massachusetts is clear and breezy. Spent the morning outside and then ate an excellent meal, deep fried oysters.

    John, sorry I didn’t make it to Boskone, but I flat bleeping hate that city.

  20. With the involvement of a good friend:

    1. Baked a batch chocolate-chip cookies out of this kit I won at a Christmas gift exchange.

    2. Ate lunch at this Chinese restaurant that was new to us.

    3. Watched “Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame” (A).

    Sitting in Northern Virginia I’m now just waiting to see if the weather turns ugly overnight.

  21. So tired. This was the first weekend of filming. Six hours of sleep Thursday -> Friday. Three hours of sleep Friday -> Saturday. Not enough last night. Outdoor shoots in ~30F (at least I got to wear my coat?). And the gastroenteritis didn’t help. OTOH, it was awesome. Now, I have to write a paper on Milton’s Areopagitica…

  22. My Sunday? Fabulous. On vacation in Arizona, drove from Scottsdale to Tucson by way of Casa Grande National Park, an incredible Hohokan compound including a four-story earthen structure from the 1300s. Went walking towards the restaurant district looking for supper and stumbled across the monthly Food Truck Roundup, where we had pork belly ban minh (Vietnamese sandwiches), a pulled pork Cubano, and duck fat french fries. Finished with salted caramel filled chocolate whoopee pie. Yum…

  23. Fiddle class; trip to Panacea (our vegan oasis which, sadly, is closing down; the upside I take from this is that vegan products are available in sufficient quantities in other stores in Toronto that we don’t need one dedicated to them); checking Home Depot, Lowes, and Rona to match grout colour in bathroom; dinner out with milady; over to her dad’s to deliver Gatorade and a few other things to keep nourished and hydrated through a stomach bug; home to couchsurf. “And so to bed”.

  24. Loved working at Boskone registration this morning – many smiling people, even if a bit unevenly caffeinated. Saw nice guest of honor writer dude (with marked scotch-and-soda voice). Hung with many cool people; had dinner with really cool people.

    Nice weekend. Most of us local to Boston are waiting for winter to arrive. We figure it will be April 1 again, just like 1997.

  25. Thanks for coming to Boskone! I was at the reading. I meant to ask your advice for people new to the ukulele, but was distracted by the awesomeness of the Redshirts prologue.

  26. Thanks for being at Boskone and doing your kaffeeklatsche. My wife (in Puerto Rico) asked me about you (she’s a blog fan). I txt’ed back, “Scalzi’s a gas! He’s mildly hyper. Bounces his knee. Talks fast and very funny. Gave me a refreshingly no-bullshit answer to a question about his book.”

    Really appreciated your approachability. Glad you were there.

  27. Sheilawill @ 1st comment: Heh. I went to junior high with Mayim Bialik, albeit a grade ahead of her, in a program for eggheads. Nice to see my fellow IHPeer is doing something with her brain like we were all supposed to. :)

  28. Sunday? I had coffee and a bagel in the Boskone Staff Den. (Thanks to Joni Dashoff and her staff for keeping us fueled!) Talked with Mike Walsh about some revisions to the Old Earth Books web site and picked up a copy of OEB’s latest, a new edition of Keith Robert’s Pavane. Attended Mr. Scalzi’s reading at 1 pm and took a few pictures (I will sort through and edit them tonight and post to Facebook). And spent a few hours helping to tear down the Boskone art show.

  29. I attended the reading and had a lot of fun…except I was sitting next to the dude at the end of the second row that exploded into fits of “squeeing” laughter after every sentence you delivered. EVERY sentence. That got old real quick, but I guess it’s the price one pays. Squeeing Dude, if you read this, gotta lay off the Red Bull, man.

    Also, folks who mobbed up at the end of the reading after being told the signing was cancelled due to a family emergency…for shame, people. For shame.

    Still, all the panels were great. The H. Beam Piper panel was surprisingly informative – gotta find some of his works soon.

Comments are closed.