Don't Shake the Flask

Because you don't know if it'll explode

Month: July, 2008


Booking Through Thursday: Endings

What are your favourite final sentences from books? Is there a book that you liked specially because of its last sentence? Or a book, perhaps that you didn’t like but still remember simply because of the last line?

Like I said last week, I have a terrible time remembering actual lines from books. Yes, even if it’s the last line.

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The Thursday Threesome: Terms of Use

Onesome: Terms– of endearment: do you have any you particularly like to use? How about one others use that just grates on you?

I don’t use terms of endearment for anyone. I’m not that kind of person. As for other people using them–I guess it doesn’t matter so much if it comes from a woman because it sounds sincere. If a man is addressing somebody else with an endearment, I can just ignore it. If it’s directed at me, I always have the urge to pummel his face.

Twosome: of– the several types of access to the Internet, which one do you use? Dialup, DSL, Broadband, WiFi? Just how connected are you?

Dialup and WiFi. At the moment, I have no inclination to throw money at the other types.

Threesome: Use–less labels: seen any good ones lately? You know, the ones that were issued by the Department of Redundancy Department. …or maybe by the Darwin Awards Review Committee. I’m thinking this crowd probably has some real winners…

I haven’t seen any labels lately, but I do recall redundant phrases that people cite as examples of pleonasms like “fatal murder” or “advanced planning”.

A Belated Hey

Tangled Bank #110 is up at Pharyngula. So go read some science on birds, plants, and living forever.

Man, I Feel Like an Outlier

Dustbury recently mused about some articles on women bloggers which I found interesting but anecdotal. I’ve never really contemplated if the blogging styles are different between males and females because I’m an out-of-the-loop blogger who mostly lurks on other people’s blogs and could care less about the number of people visiting my own. But, some brief (possibly unrelated) thoughts on the commentary:

-Maybe other women are outspoken with their empathy, but I’m not. I view it on the same level as sidewalk preaching. All show but completely empty.

-I like one-liners. It succinctly gets the message across. Blabbering on and on and on convinces me (others may think differently) that you have no substance.

-It’s hooey and hubris if you think women are sharing wisdom on the blogosphere. Very few bloggers, if any, are sharing any wisdom. If it looks like wisdom, it’s probably a turd disguised with blowhard smugness. The blogosphere does have some information, but it’s mostly opinion and daily mental debris.

-On fearlessness: it depends on what you mean by that. Some people are fearless about spouting off their opinions–like heated controversies on political blogs, for instance. I personally do not find this fearless. It’s just your opinion, after all. What’s truly fearless is sharing stuff about your personal life. You turn into an exhibitionist with no privacy.

-Call me cynical, but I am skeptical when people say that they blog because they want to make people happy. It sounds like a stock Miss America answer for something that can’t be quite articulated.

-I have no idea if women bloggers really do respond faster to comments than male bloggers, because I certainly don’t. Heck, I usually answer e-mails only when they can’t be put off any longer. I don’t have time to sit around waiting for comments.

-I take all bloggers with the same amount of seriousness. Which includes liberal amounts of eye-rolling.

“Dark” Certainly Describes It

The problem with not seeing certain movies on the opening day is that you hear other people talking about it, unsuspectingly getting your expectations up. The Dark Knight is one of these movies. Acquaintances of mine have raved about it, even going so far as to watch it more than once. I, however, have yet to watch any film in which I could justify a multi-theater experience. At any rate, I was thinking, if what people say about The Dark Knight is even ten percent true, it’s going to be a decent action flick.

Another reason why I was feeling a bit leery at the prospect of seeing this movie was that this would be the first movie I’ve seen in a theater since Casino Royale. I’m not even going to try to convince anyone that I was too busy to go to a theater since the Christmas of 2006. It’s just that I’m beginning to believe that going to a theater is pointless unless it’s playing a movie with lots of fighting and explosions. It’s the whole sonic experience. The DVD is not the same.

While I enjoyed Christian Bale’s performance in Batman Begins and would say that it was a really good film, I never really compared it to the previous Batman films because it was all about Bruce Wayne/Batman rather than the villains. The Dark Knight on the other hand is all about the villain–Batman, despite the title, is actually more like a strong secondary character. When people say that the antagonist is the foil to the protagonist, I’d say the protagonist is the foil to the antagonist. Heath Ledger’s portrayal of the Joker steals every scene. While Jack Nicholson’s Joker in the original 1989 movie was like an obnoxious and petulant teenager hopped up on too many happy pills, the Joker in The Dark Knight is devoid of all self-preservation, psychotic and compelling all rolled into one. He creeps you out even while he makes you laugh.

The more philosophical bent of the film was interesting. Some might argue that this elevates this beyond the superhero genre. Partly it’s about the concept of morality as being not so black and white. It’s also about rules and the lack thereof. While law-abiding citizens follow rules, the usual criminals and the mob do things for money, and even Batman follows a code of his own while sinking deeper into moral ambiguity–the Joker follows no rules which makes him far more dangerous than all the other crooks in Gotham combined.

I’d have to say that The Dark Knight was probably better than all of the previous Batman films. Or at least I liked it better than the others. Sure, there was plenty of action, cool gadgets, and angsty characters. But I think my favorite scene probably made me understand why some people might want to throw more money at the local theater: the Joker in a nurse’s uniform blowing up the General Hospital before escaping on a school bus. Evil and insanity wrapped up in something white and wholesome–the physical embodiment of practically every other characters’ (or everyone’s, perhaps?) psychological state.

A Sleep-Deprived Note from the Lab

I’ve never been fond of country music. I can barely tolerate it. But after being subjected to almost twenty-four hours of non-stop country music accompanied by bad sing-alongs that should have been confined to a soundproof bathroom, I’m ready to gut someone with a pipette.


Booking Through Thursday: Beginnings

What are your favourite first sentences from books? Is there a book that you liked specially because of its first sentence? Or a book, perhaps that you didn’t like but still remember simply because of the first line?

I am terrible at memorizing lines to anything. I do not remember first sentences, last sentences, or even middle sentences of books. Nor do I remember lyrics, speeches, poems, Shakespearean monologues, quotes, or anything with more than three words in a certain order. I remember characters and plotlines though.

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The Thursday Threesome: Toys ‘r Us

Onesome: Toys–? Any new tech toys at your place? No? What would you like to have that is all sorts of “new and improved” and just hard to live without?

None lately. And I can live without quite a bit of technological gadgetry. As for work in the lab, well, anything new and improved would be great. But like all things, one has to consider the budget and whether or not you really need it.

Twosome: ‘r– you ready for school to be in session again? Good grief, it’s only July, but the Back to School sales have been in place for a few weeks now. Do you have a trinket you’re planning on buying for yourself or the kids for this next year?

I suppose I’ll be as ready as I ever will be. And no, I do not plan on buying anything for school.

Threesome: Us–? Nah, nothing fancy going on on this blog space. How about you: any changes planned on your site in the upcoming months?

None. Don’t have any time to alter the layout. Or the inclination.

Stuff To Read

Lots of free books of the SFF variety are available until Sunday. Now I’ll have to figure out if I even have time to read any of it.

An Example of a Typical Weekend

I come into lab in the morning thinking that I’ll do something that won’t take that long and leave me time to go do, oh, some grocery shopping or laundry. And then one thing leads to another and the next time I’m looking at the clock, it’s seven in the evening and I’ve completely missed lunch.


This makes me feel vaguely resentful of certain grad students who take off Friday for “three-day weekends” and then come back Tuesday to ask me how my weekend went.


Booking Through Thursday: Vacation Spots

Do you buy books while on vacation/holiday? Do you have favorite bookstores that you only get to visit while away on a trip? What/Where are they?

This depends on the vacation. If it’s mostly for relaxing or I’m going to museums or I happen to be in a place where a bookstore is located nearby, of course I’m going to go in and at least browse. Sometimes I come away with a book and sometimes I don’t. I don’t really have a favorite bookstore that I visit on trips–probably because I try not to vacation in one place over and over again unless I have good reason.

Almost completely unrelated: I recently got an mp3 player and I’m thinking about hacking it so I can read ebooks on it. It’s not so much how as “do I really want to do it?” I’ll probably end up mulling about this idea over the next week or two. But at least it would be more portable than the laptop.

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The Thursday Threesome: Guys and Dolls

Onesome: Guys– do the darnedest things, -right? What’s the darnedest thing you’ve had a male acquaintance do that you just know a gal would never even think of? (Okay, girls, toilet seats do not count on this one!)

Of course it doesn’t count–especially if a girl learns to pee standing upright. And unless it’s related to his physiology, if a guy does something weird, I usually chalk it up to that particular individual. It rarely crosses my mind that “this is something only a guy would do” or conversely, “this is something only a girl would do.” I’m an equalist–which means that I believe that both sexes have the capacity for stupidity.

Twosome: and– to turn it around, what’s the darnedest thing you’ve had a female acquaintance do that you just know a guy would never even think of? (Okay, guys, that hair-flip move doesn’t count either…)

See above. Also, I think some things are socially conditioned. The other gender may be thinking it (there’s always the possibility, of course, since no one has invented a mind reading machine) but he won’t do it because he was taught not to do it. Besides, I’ve seen guys with long hair do hair-flips before.

Threesome: Doll–ing yourself up? What is your idea of dress-up? Hmmm… Let’s go with Summer wear for now!

My normal mode of dress is jeans and t-shirt. So pretty much anything else is dress up.

Written Word Immersion

So I was reading this article about dismantling the assumption that most romance readers “self-insert” in the novels that they consume. This made me wonder how people approach any type of reading. Judging from the comments, it’s probably foolhardy to make generalizations about groups of readers. Nobody reads the same way. Sure, there will be those who will read as if they were the main character. Others, not so much or not at all. I read fiction as if I were the Sphere peeking into Flatland–only with the added dimension of getting into the characters’ heads. Yet I don’t want to be a character at all, which probably explains why I dislike most books written in first person.

For some reason, this also reminded me of the forums for National Novel Writing Month. Every year, there will be some writers posting about how their muse will give them ideas or how their characters will talk to them. And every year, I will roll my eyes about those posts. But hey, if that’s how those people write, then let them be, no matter how irrational and idiotic I may privately think their methods are. That’s the sort of approach I have with other people’s reading habits: they can read however the heck they want, even if I think it’s stupid or politically incorrect. How one reads is a matter of interpretation, not right and wrong.

Aside: Recently, I was in a conversation about fantasy books and the subject of a Certain Novel came up. Although I have not read this book, I had already formed some negative opinions on it due to a variety of reviews and the author’s background. However, I managed to hold my tongue before completely shooting down a fan’s enthusiasm. Because I haven’t read the book, my opinion on the matter probably holds little water anyway. And even if I had read the book, that doesn’t make someone else’s opinion invalid. As for other people pontificating their negative views on things they haven’t read and looking down on people who have read it, well, they run the risk of looking like self-important chumps (even if they are literature profs, editors, book critics in the New York Times or somebody’s grandmother).