Thursday, May 31, 2007

Blue Moon

The Blue Moon through the oak tree outside our window is beautiful. I hear tell that sometimes a Blue Moon is actually blue, but I've never seen it that color.

There is a popular idea that the Blue Moon is the 2nd full moon in any month which has 2 full moons, but Sky&Telescope debunks that notion, as does's urbanlegends site.

When the kids were little we had a book named Walk When the Moon is Full. Well, we still have it, but we don't still make the walks; I've forgotten when we stopped those. We would take a walk on the night of the full moon and notice what differences there were from month to month. One of the early walks was when my oldest was just 3 or so, and there was snow deep enough to make snow angels in the moonlight.

photo above is from Flickr


This movie stars Charles Boyer, Hedy Lamarr, Alan Hale and Gene Lockhart. Algiers is a remake of an earlier French film and is sometimes considered a precursor to film noir.

via youtube:

Bibi.vlog has a comment and some links, including one to a download site.

Film Noir on the NYT List

This blog has listed the films noir that are in the NYT Best 1000 Films list:

Crossfire (1947)
Double Indemnity (1944)
Force of Evil (1948)
High Sierra (1941)
Laura (1944) one of my favorites
M (1931) Oh, I've tried several times but found myself too disturbed by this film to get far. I'll try again, I'm sure.
M (1951)
Midnight (1934)
Notorious (1946)
Ossessione (1943)
Out of the Past (1947)
Pickup on South Street (1953)
Shadow of a Doubt (1943)
Strangers on a Train (1951)
Suspicion (1941)
Sweet Smell of Success (1957)
The Asphalt Jungle (1950)
The Big Clock (1948)
The Big Heat (1953)
The Big Sleep (1946)
The Killers (1946)
The Letter (1940), but it's been decades ago
The Maltese Falcon (1941)
The Postman Always Rings Twice (1946)
The Scoundrel (1935)
The Set-Up (1949)
The Third Man (1949) I looked for this earlier in the week at Spin Street, but they were out. It's next on my to-buy list
The Verdict (1946)
They Live by Night (1948)
Touch of Evil (1958)
White Heat (1949)
You Only Live Once (1937)

The number of these I have seen is pitifully small. I've put them in bold print.

update 6/9: This post refutes the idea that Laura can be classified as film noir.


This game has 2 levels: Mindfields and Mindfields 2. Work you way across enemy lines in these multi-level games.

HT: blogcritics

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Bones by Burke

I found this Edgar Award winner by Jan Burke oddly satisfying. There was an annoying info dump fairly early on and I did have some trouble remembering who some of the characters were, but I enjoyed this book. It was descriptive enough without being unpleasantly graphic, and the author had a way of letting you know things without spelling them out. Bones is an Irene Kelly novel.

from the back of the book:

"What really happened to Julia Sayre? She disappeared four years ago. A young mother of two, Sayre was more than a news story to reporter Irene Kelly. When Sayre's family sought Irene's help, the search became a personal mission and a fruitless one. Despite Irene's best efforts, only one person knew where to find Sayre: her killer. Now, years later, one of the most notorious criminals on death row is willing to talk. Condemned for unimaginable acts of torture and murder, Nick Parrish is plea bargaining for a life sentence by leading Irene and a select group of officials to the secluded mountain grave of his victim. Soon, in the dark isolation of the Sierra Nevadas, they will discover what really happened. But Parrish's most terrifying secret is yet to come. And he's saving it just for Irene... "

Jeanne d'Arc

Today is the anniversary of Joan of Arc's martyrdom in 1431. She was only 19 years old. Though short, her life has continued ability to inspire. There is much information available about her, including transcripts from her trial which reveal a lot about her childhood. This site includes many links to resources. There is a beautiful movie of her life available online and on DVD.

This picture is Joan of Arc Kissing the Sword of Deliverance by Dante Gabriel Rossetti


Classic film noir, Detour tells the story of the tragic turn of events in a man's life when the wrong car offers him a ride. It is directed by Edgar G. Ulmer.

via Youtube:

The movie is dark and bleak and hopeless. Not gonna work for someone whose favorites feature the Marx Brothers.

Detour has been selected to the Library of Congress National Film Registry for preservation but is not on imdb's top-50 noir list.

update 6/8/2007: Bright Lights Film Journal article, reviewing the film and its dvd release. From the article:
Detour has one of the more convoluted plots in noir, packing a flashback structure, an extended voiceover, a cross-country trek, a mysterious death, an "accidental" murder, an identity exchange, an unforgettable femme fatale, and one of the most pathetic, masochistic antiheroes ever into its 67-minute running time.

update 10/23/2007:
1001 Flicks has a review.

Movie Zeal is including Detour in its Month of Noir.

FilmFanatic has a review.

Penguins Are Sensitive

or so says Lyle Lovett:

Play Solitaire Scrabble Online

They've turned traditional Scrabble into a free online solitaire version. You can play it here.

The comment by Anonymous below posted on 4/17/2010 brings my attention to the fact that this is now a dead link. Not surprising on a link from a post that's almost 3 years old, but a quick google search turns up the successor game Lexulous, which is also playable as a Facebook application.

Or Anonymous might prefer to curse the darkness. Either way is good with me. I never played Scrabulous and don't play Lexulous, but I do know how to do a simple google search.


Yes it does! And here's proof:

a + b = c

4a - 3a + 4b - 3b = 4c - 3c

4a + 4b - 4c = 3a + 3b - 3c

4(a + b - c) = 3(a + b - c)

4 = 3

from FutilityCloset

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Anniversary of First Everest Ascent

Today is the anniversary of the first ascent of Mount Everest. On this date in 1953 Tenzing Norgay and Edmund Hillary were the first to make it to the summit and safely home again.

photo above is from Flickr

The Seventh Seal

The Seventh Seal is a foreign film from 1957 directed by Ingmar Bergman. It stars Max von Sydow as the knight returning home from the crusades who plays a game of chess with Death with his fate dependent on the outcome of the game. It is #12 on the Arts and Faith list of 100 most spiritually significant films. We have the Criterion DVD.

This is a trailer:

Youtube has this online in 9 parts. part 1:

part 2, part 3, part 4, part 5, part 6, part 7, part 8, part 9

It's on Roger Ebert's list of great films. Moria calls it "one of the genuine masterpieces of cinema." Senses of Cinema says of this film: "It teaches us to see anew, with the faith, innocence and wonder of the believer or child." ens with this:
With its sparse, stylized, thematic dialogue, its austere sound effects, and its dignified melancholy music, The Seventh Seal survives as a compelling, if obsessive film, visually beautiful but permeated by the lighter as well as the darkest aspects of religious experience. It remains a powerful study in the cruelty of the religious impulse once it has soured in the human consciousness and merged with the darker aspects of the psyche. Bergman, at this spiritually troubled time in his life, was concerned with, "the idea of the Christian God as something destructive and fantastically dangerous, something filled with risk for the human being and bringing out in him the dark destructive forces instead of the opposite."

The New York Times describes it as
a piercing and powerful contemplation of the passage of man upon this earth. Essentially intellectual, yet emotionally stimulating, too, says,
Though the film’s theme, the silence of God and the horror of death if there is no afterlife, is an essentially religious one, The Seventh Seal doesn’t really deal with religion or God as such, but with the place of God and religion in the human heart and human society.

9/12/2007: The Criterion Collection blog has a review.

2/3/2008: The House of Mirth and Movies hasa review.

4/24/2009: We watched this tonight, The Younger Son and The Husband having never seen it before.

6/14/2009: Criterion Confessions has a review.

Word Search

Try it. I can't beat the high score.

Scriabin Etude Op 8 No 12

Evgeny Kissin playing:

Monday, May 28, 2007

Cimarron Rose

This is the first book in James Lee Burke's Billy Bob Holland series.

From the back of the book:

Texas attorney Billy Bob Holland has many secrets in his dark past. Among them is his illegitimate son, Lucas Smothers. When Lucas is arrested for murdering his girlfriend, Holland knows that he has no choice but to try to save the boy, regardless of what it may mean to his own - or the boy's reputation.

The boy is a country musician, abused by his stepfather and haunted by the possibility that he did, indeed, commit the murder in a drunken black-out. But Billy Bob knows the propensity of the small Texas town to make scapegoats of the innocent, and to exploit and sexually abuse those who are without power.

The dead woman was with Lucas the night she died. Everyone knows that. But they were also with the East Enders -- the kids from the good homes with the rich daddies, whose morals are as loose as their pocketbooks. Lucas doesn't want Billy Bob to drag the dead girl's name through the mud, but Billy Bob knows that he'll need to do much worse if he is to save his son's life.

Cimarron Rose won the Edgar Award for best novel in 1998, but it's not been that great a read for me. It has too much cruel violence for my taste and the core plot element of so much drug use is not a subject I enjoy reading about.

I'll pass this one along to a friend to see if she might like it, and I'll skip the rest in the series.

Kansas: Icarus II

In honour of Memorial Day

HT: Positive Liberty

The Creation Museum

I've been gathering links lately and am posting them all today to celebrate the Grand Opening of this facility.

We might as well start with The Carnival, which groups lots of links in one magnificent blog post. It's the mother of all resources on this subject.

These I came across independently of the carnival:

This review includes homeschooling in the commentary. I hate it when they do that!

Religion Clause has a link to and commentary on The Chronicle of Higher Education's look at this museum.

The Enquirer asks the question, "How much money and glitz does it take to institutionalize a scientific lie?"

The New York Times did a review.

EvolutionBlog has a link to and commentary on the New York Times article as does

The Denialism blog links to and comments on the LATimes story.

Street Prophets has titled their post "Welcome to Bedrock".

The thinkevolution blog calls it an "unnatural history museum".

You can read the short Reuters news story at Scientific American's site, where they also say, "New Creation Museum Mostly Illustrates that Creationists Have Lots of Cash".

Yummyummy has a link to this little 2 1/2 minute CNN video:'s article, titled "Meet the Flintstones," spends much of its time reviewing coverage elsewhere, and they have links.

There's been some attention paid at Dark Christianity's LiveJournal.

BoingBoing has links.

Christdot mentions the museum opening but doesn't have much to say.

Galactic Interactions builds their commentary around the Bible and Math.

The Carnival of the Godless includes a post on the subject.

Greg Laden's blog includes a look at the cultural context out of which this museum has come and concludes by saying,
It is important to preserve this period of American history, or more exactly, the history of our (perhaps unique, or at least extreme) American propensity to believe the strangest things, to have the strangest practices. There are museums and institutes dedicated to alien abduction, to the study of bigfoot, to the yoyo and the hula-hoop, to white supremacy, to pin-ball, and to Cadillac convertibles. The creation museum will fit in nicely with this panoply of the irrelevant, the parade of oddities, this historical warehouse of the weird.

Long live the creation museum.

Defcon has a "Fight back against ignorance" petition you can sign. They explain their efforts here and cover Ken Ham's response here.

Dispatches From the Culture Wars has a link to this comment.

CBN has a friendly take. Their video can be viewed at youtube.

Ken Ham has a blog, and he claims there that the opening of his museum is "not just a historic event in America, but a historic event in Christendom".

AnswersInGenesis has a tour online.

News articles abound:

The Christian Post: "Creation Museum Revives Christian Debates Over Earth's Evolution"

The Washington Post: "A Monument To Creation -Kentucky Museum Discounts Centuries of Research, Critics Say"

USA Today has the Associated Press story.

Alternet has the Christian Science Monitor reporter's story.


google it for much more.

Ken Ham answers the question "Did God create in 6 literal days?":


Galactic Interactions has a new post: "May 28 : a Dark Day for Science and for Christianity as the "Creation Museum" Opens".
I have a deep sympathy with him as he shares with us how it feels to be a Christian in the face of this:

It bothers me, seriously, as a Christian.

First, there's the fact that these jokers loudly proclaim themselves as Christians, and not only that, but as somehow the "true" Christians. It seems that they've defined the purest Christians as the most ignorant ones, the ones who believe that thinking critically is a sin, the ones who believe that the Bible must be interpreted literally even where it makes no sense because, even though they claim that we are somehow "different" from the animals because we can cogitate, we're not really supposed to cogitate.

It's embarrassing. It's deeply embarrassing.

He has a lot more to say on the subject, and it's good to hear a scientist say it.

He closes with this:

Christians, wake up. Decry this ignorance, for that is what it is. Take back the name of your faith, and call out these ignorant creationists for what they are. Don't let them claim that any sort of Biblical literalism is at all holy or pure or a evidence of strong faith in the face of a cultural assault. Paint it for what it is; willful ignorance, held to and promoted, an embarrassing excuse for a religious tradition, an embarrassing excuse for human activity.

Words are not able to express how strong my horror and anger at the opening of this museum is.

There's a photo tour here via digg.

Another update:

Religion News Blog carries a story on the museum opening.

Friendly Atheist
has a report on his day at the museum. He describes his interactions with interviewers and others who were there. This is "part 1", so there'll be more.

Evolutionblog has a transcript of the Ken Ham/Lawrence Krauss debate on Fox's O'Reilly Factor last night. I didn't see it, being much too busy eating barbeque and visiting with family at the time. He quotes Ham as saying,

What we're trying to accomplish is this: you know, through this nation whole generations of young people are being taught in the public schools there's no God, life evolved by natural processes, they're really just animals in the fight for survival, and that very much determines their morality, how they view themselves, their purpose and meaning in life, and so on. And what we wanted to do, was to give them information that's been censored from the culture

Here's a youtube video of the action:

The Pew Forum has an excerpt from and a link to a Washington Post story.

Yet another update:

Pharyngula is encouraging reports to look into the museum's finances.

And still more:

Dispatches from the Culture Wars rebuts the argument promoted in the planetarium of the Creation Museum.

Evolving Thoughts doesn't address the museum, but I thought the post dealt nicely with what is involved in trying to interpret the creation story literally.

Pharyngula reviews Salon's report, and here's the Salon article. DarkChristian at LJ has comments about Salon's article that reference the Pharyngula post.

More updating:

has an update. Their article has links from both sides, "a sampling of some of the reactions to the Creation Museum".

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Veni Creator Spiritus

Come, Holy Ghost, our souls inspire,
And lighten with celestial fire,
Thou the anointing Spirit art,
Who dost thy sevenfold gifts impart.

Thy blessed unction from above,
Is comfort, life, and fire of love,
Enable with perpetual light
The dullness of our blinded sight.

Anoint and cheer our soiled face
With the abundance of thy grace.
Keep far our foes, give peace at home;
Where thou art Guide, no ill can come.

Teach us to know the Father, Son,
And thee, of both, to be but One;
That, through the ages all along,
This may be our endless song:

Praise to thy eternal merit,
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.

picture above is from the GBGM-UMW site


Acts 2:1-21

1 When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. 2 And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. 3 Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. 4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability.

5 Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven living in Jerusalem. 6 And at this sound the crowd gathered and was bewildered, because each one heard them speaking in the native language of each. 7 Amazed and astonished, they asked, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? 8 And how is it that we hear, each of us, in our own native language? 9 Parthians, Medes, Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, 11 Cretans and Arabs—in our own languages we hear them speaking about God’s deeds of power.” 12 All were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “What does this mean?” 13 But others sneered and said, “They are filled with new wine.”

14 But Peter, standing with the eleven, raised his voice and addressed them, “Men of Judea and all who live in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and listen to what I say. 15Indeed, these are not drunk, as you suppose, for it is only nine o”clock in the morning. 16 No, this is what was spoken through the prophet Joel: 17 ‘In the last days it will be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams. 18 Even upon my slaves, both men and women, in those days I will pour out my Spirit; and they shall prophesy. 19 And I will show portents in the heaven above and signs on the earth below, blood, and fire, and smoky mist. 20 The sun shall be turned to darkness and the moon to blood, before the coming of the Lord’s great and glorious day. 21 Then everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.’

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Some Mormon Beliefs Explained

What Mormon Theology Is Really All About

A Christian group made this short back in the 1970s to debunk the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Top 10 Movie Spaceships

Here's the list from

Friday, May 25, 2007

Happy Anniversary, Star Wars

I remember seeing it when it came to a theater near me. Then I remember how long we had to wait to see the sequel, but it was worth every minute. I've gotten a kick out of the varied blog postings and news articles celebrating the day but this one from Locusts & Honey is a favorite:

Sister Act

This is another of those movies that all but one of us had seen. #2 Son had never seen it, and #1 Son announced that it was high time that oversight was remedied. Sister Act is always a hit around here. Here's a link to the wiki article.

This is my favorite song from the movie:

Star Trek connection: Guinan, of course.

Moby Dick: Book of Prophecy?

I had no idea so many assassinations were foretold in the Great American Novel! Check it out here.

Where do they keep the bloggers?

Married To The Sea

Click here for a larger copy of this picture. The larger version encroached on my sidebar, so I smallified it.

A Fair(y) Use Tale

Thursday, May 24, 2007

House of Flying Daggers

Some of us watched this movie almost a year ago. I've seen it now 3 times and #2 Son has seen it at least 4 times, but tonight was the first time #1 Son had seen it. What stands out most to me in this film is the color. Color is a more important element in this movie than in any other one I can recall.

Here's the trailer:

Cat Golf

You're a cat with a bow and arrow. Try it.

compliments of blogcritics

For What It's Worth

Buffalo Springfield

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Fritz Lang's "M"

God help me, but I can't manage to watch this film. I've tried, but I can't get further than 5 or 6 minutes into it. I find the child endangerment theme too disturbing. Much too disturbing. I don't know if this is something that would ease as the film continues, but I can't get past that poor little girl....

Ah, well, perhaps it's best to just leave it for now.


The CriterionCollection blog has a review of M. As much as I like Peter Lorre and Fritz Lang I still haven't watched this film.

Arctic Blue

In the mood for a game? Arctic Blue lets you help the boat avoid the icebergs. After you've been playing in the cold for a while you might be interested in seeing what some other folks are up to at the poles. The International Polar Year is in full swing, and they have lots of diverse offerings, including lots of information about icebergs, which have always fascinated me. There's more about icebergs at wikipedia.

The photo above is from Flickr.

Scribble Scrabble

Henri Matisse said, "Drawing is . . . not an exercise of particular dexterity, but above all a means of expressing intimate feelings and moods."

Express Yourself!

Ring Clock

But you can't wear this one on your finger.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

101 Dalmations

We were shopping for clothes, really we were, it's just that there is a shelf in the back of the Goodwill store where they keep books, CDs, computer games, movies.... And there it was: 101 Dalmatians. It was on VHS and not DVD, but at this point we didn't care. We leapt at the chance to see this movie again after at least 8 years.

Cruella De vil is the quintessential villain, perfectly evil. And that song! Delicious!

Cruella De Vil, Cruella De Vil
If she doesn't scare you
No evil thing will
To see her is to
Take a sudden chill
Cruella, Cruella De Vil

The curl of her lips
The ice in her stare
All innocent children
Had better beware
She's like a spider waiting
For the kill
Look out for Cruella De Vil

At first you think Cruella is the devil
But after time has worn away the shock
You come to realize
You've seen her kind of eyes
Watching you from underneath
A rock!

This vampire bat
This inhuman beast
She ought to be locked up
And never released
The world was such
A wholesome place until
Cruella, Cruella De Vil

This movie came out in 1961, so I'd have been in kindergarten when I saw it in the theater. I loved it, and my kids loved it when they saw it. I do wish Disney movies were just available instead of released rarely in that orchestrated way.

We also bought some clothes, and a good time was had by all.

Death by Sheer Torture

I'm trying to remember how I came across this book -why I bought it to begin with.... Well, I've nosed around a bit and can't track it back.

At any rate, I'm glad to have found Robert Barnard's Perry Trethowan series. They are told in the first person by a British police inspector whose life of normalcy belies his eccentric family history.

From the back of the book:

Even though policeman Perry Trethowan severed all ties with his father a long time ago, the embarrassing circumstances surrounding the old man's demise are certain to make him the laughingstock of the police department. And then his supervisor suggests the unthinkable -that he return to his ancestral home for the funeral and get the goods on his family.

The characters have real personalities, and I got a kick out of the family interactions and Perry's handling of the situation. I'll definitely read more in this series as I come across them.


I remember now how I came across this book: It is on the list of 100 Favorite Mysteries of the 20th Century as selected by the Independent Mystery Booksellers Association's online members.

Books for Teens

Literary Compass has an annotated list of must-reads here.

This is their book list with the ones I've read in bold print:


* Anything by Ray Bradbury
o Something Wicked This Way Comes
o Dandelion Wine
o The Martian Chronicles
o Fahrenheit 451
o The Illustrated Man

* Tarzan of the Apes by Edgar Rice Burroughs
* The Belgariad by David Eddings
* Animal Farm by George Orwell
* The Once and Future King by T.H. White
* The Book of the Dun Cow by Walter Wangerin, Jr.

Science Fiction

* Flatland by Edwin Abbott
* The Foundation Series by Isaac Asimov
* The Caves of Steel by Isaac Asimov
* Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card
* The Lost World by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
* Time and Again by Jack Finney


* The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara
* The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas
* Mr. Midshipman Easy by Captain Frederick Marryat
* Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott


* The Father Brown stories by G. K. Chesterton
* Anything by Agatha Christie, "especially the novels featuring Hercule Poirot" (I've read a few Christie novels)
* The Brother Cadfael series by Ellis Peters

Assorted other titles:

* Captains Courageous by Rudyard Kipling
* To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
* The Ox-bow Incident by Walter Van Tilburg Clark
* Hondo by Louis L'Amour
* Shane by Jack Schaefer
* Hiroshima by John Hersey
* All Creatures Great and Small by James Herriot

HT: SFSignal, where I find so many good things

Sumo: A Beginner's Guide

This Beginner's Guide to Sumo offers information on the origin of Sumo and its rules, the various ranks, its special rituals and etiquette, the referees and judges and much more that contributes to the uniqueness of this ancient sport.

Here's a bout between old favorites:

Failure to Communicate

A worldwide survey was conducted by the UN. The only question asked was:

"Would you please give your honest opinion about solutions to the food shortage in the rest of the world?"

The survey was a huge failure.

In Africa they didn't know what "food" meant.
In Eastern Europe they didn't know what "honest" meant.
In Western Europe they didn't know what "shortage" meant.
In China they didn't know what "opinion" meant.
In the Middle East they didn't know what "solution" meant.
In South America they didn't know what "please" meant.
And in the USA they didn't know what "the rest of the world" meant.

Now, leaving aside the stereotyping of the other countries, what does it say about the U.S. that not knowing "what "the rest of the world" meant" hits a target. Hmmm... I read an article the other day talking about how Western scientists and economists tend to sweep into a foreign land and impose "solutions" with total disregard for the culture suffering the problem. Context matters.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Sunset Boulevard

I know I said I wouldn't start with this one, but Davis-Kidd had it on the shelf for $10 so I watched Sunset Boulevard this afternoon.

I don't hear about this as much as I do some of the other film noir classics, but now that I've seen it that surprises me. Gloria Swanson stars as an aging silent film star who was unable to make the move into talkies but who devotes herself to planning a return to the big screen. William Holden plays the down-on-his-luck writer who agrees to help her with the script she's preparing. There are wonderful cameos by the likes of Cecil B. DeMille, Hedda Hopper and Buster Keaton, who play themselves.

Here's a trailer:

Firefly Poll

Do not pass Go; Do not collect $200. Go directly to the poll and vote for your favorite Firefly episode. I voted for Jaynestown, but I'm weird.

Numa Numa Storm Trooper

I always did get a kick out of that Numa Numa Guy.

HT: Kontraband

Friends, Lovers, Chocolate

I do enjoy this author. Friends, Lovers, Chocolate is the 2nd in the Isabel Dalhousie mystery series by Alexander McCall Smith. I have read 3 books by him, including 44 Scotland Street.

From the back of this book:

In this delightful second installment in Alexander McCall Smith’s bestselling detective series, the irrepressibly curious Isabel Dalhousie gets caught up in a highly unusual affair of the heart.

When Isabel is asked to cover for vacationing Cat at her delicatessen, she meets a man with a most interesting problem. He recently had a heart transplant and is suddenly haunted by memories of events that never happened to him.The situation piques her insatiable curiosity: Could the memories be connected with the donor’s demise? Naturally, Isabel’s friend Jamie thinks it is none of Isabel’s business. Meanwhile, Grace, Isabel’s housekeeper, has become infatuated with a man at her spiritualist meeting, and Cat brings home an Italian lothario. That makes for some particularly tricky problems–both practical and philosophical–for Isabel to unravel in this enormously engaging and highly unusual mystery.

There's a reading group guide here, but I haven't looked at it.

I like the characters in his books. The books themselves are relatively slow-moving and are well-paced. I always look forward to the next one, and I do have several more of his books on my weighed-down to-be-read shelves. It's a comfort to have unread books that I can count on to be thoroughly enjoyable.

Telling Time

with an angel

Sunday, May 20, 2007


Of the 5 most-active volcanoes in the world the only one in the United States is in Hawaii. Kilauea Volcano has been erupting continuously since January 3, 1983. There are links to videos of this volcano here. This site, which offers virtual field trips says,

Unlike most other active volcanoes, Kilauea is approachable. It has been called the "drive-up" volcano because of the ease of access to many of its areas of volcanic activity, especially the summit caldera.

But let it be also said that some people have died.

There is a camera which updates every 5 minutes here.

The photo above is from Flickr.

Casablanca Balloon

Have you ever seen the film Casablanca? Well, I'll bet you never noticed the balloon that appears in that movie:

HT: videosift

Puzzles and Paradoxes

Five great puzzles and paradoxes to tickle the mind, including Hempel’s paradox. More on Hempel's Paradox can be found here and here,

HT: Reddit
Photo: Wikipedia

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Birdie Beginnings

See photos of a chick's development here.

The photo came from the Wikipedia article on chickens.

Penguins by Bunnies

Yes, the moment you've been waiting for: the people who present the 30-second Bunny productions have done March of the Penguins. You can watch it here.

The photo of Emperor Penguins above came from Wikipedia.

Sumo Thumb Wrestling

Sumo Thumb Westling? Watch a match here.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Monty Python and the Holy Grail

I hadn't seen this movie since it first came out and #2 Son had never seen it, so it was a good pick for the night. I had forgotten a lot of Monty Python and the Holy Grail and it's lost a lot of the fun for me over the years, but it still has its moments.

The Black Knight scene:

And a Star Trek connection:

The Cube

by Jim Henson

HT: Yummy

Pick Your Favorite Fantasy Books

Choose 10 from this long list of possibilities. I had trouble narrowing it down to just 10, but I picked these:

Abbot's Flatland

Bradbury's Something Wicked This Way Comes

Carroll's Alice's Adventures In Wonderland

Donaldson's Thomas Covenant trilogy

Grahame's The Wind in the Willows

Juster's The Phantom Tollbooth

Rowling's Harry Potter books

Antoine de Saint-Exupery's The Little Prince

Tolkien's The Hobbit

Tolkien's Lord of the Rings trilogy

Hard choices. Very hard choices.

How Rare Is Your Personality?

Here's Me:

Your Personality is Very Rare (INTP)

Your personality type is goofy, imaginative, relaxed, and brilliant.

Only about 4% of all people have your personality, including 2% of all women and 6% of all men
You are Introverted, Intuitive, Thinking, and Perceiving.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

R.I.P. Lloyd Alexander

Lloyd Alexander died today. This is a great loss. His books were much loved by my kids. The Chronicles of Prydain was a favorite. There are links to some information about his life and works here.

HT: SFSignal


We have ducks! The mallards might think the swimming pool will be a good place to rear their little ones?


HT: Methoblog


HT: videosift

Ascension Day

Today is the Feast of the Ascension, now almost universally translated to the Sunday following and called "Ascension Sunday". But today is the actual feast day.

The picture is The Ascension of Christ by Salvador Dali.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

The Animation's Revenge

Remember this one?

Well, there's a sequel here:

IMDB's Top Film Noir

IMDB has a list of the top film noir according to their participants. The Top 10:

1. Sunset Blvd. (1950)
2. M (1931)
3. The Third Man (1949)
4. Double Indemnity (1944)
5. The Maltese Falcon (1941)
6. Touch of Evil (1958)
7. Strangers on a Train (1951)
8. Du rififi chez les hommes (1955)
9. The Big Sleep (1946)
10. Notorious (1946)

I'm ashamed to admit how few on this list I've seen, but I think I'll make an effort to work my way through this list and maybe even their Top 50.

Many of these are readily available. Sunset Boulevard, for example, is a movie I have never seen. The film stars William Holden and Gloria Swanson. carries it for under $8. It's not available online and I don't currently own it, so I won't start with it. I'll watch for it at Spin Street.

One Train

HT: Neatorama

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Underwater Otter Ballet

Cloth Simulation

Cloth Simulation.


Samurai are an ancient class of Japanese warriors. There is much information about the Samurai online, including at Samurai Archives,

Here's a modern animated fable highlighting a Samurai's bravery, persistence and creativity:

Here is an online Samurai game:

Games at - Samurai Warrior
Samurai Warrior

Defeat the renegades before they defeat you.

Play this free game now!!

There is also a Samurai board game.

There is a Star Trek connection.

Welcome to Hell

Monday, May 14, 2007

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Mother's Day

A Mother's Day picnic at the park! The weather was perfect.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Two Trains

Two Trains

The Dark Crystal

The Dark Crystal, a beautiful Jim Henson film, came out in 1982 before I had children to appreciate it, but we loved it ourselves and introduced it to the kiddos as they came along. This film has something to offer to people of all ages. A sequel is in the works.

The trailer:

Variety introduces its review with this:
The Dark Crystal, besides being a dazzling technological and artistic achievement by a band of talented artists and performers, presents a dark side of Muppet creators Jim Henson and Frank Oz that could teach a lesson in morality to youngsters at the same time it is entertaining their parents.

Moria says, "The depth of detail put into the design of this world and sets is stunning." Decent doesn't like it. Neither does The New York Times.'s review, which mentions flaws but calls it "an amazing experience," has been lost in the confusion of the switch to syfy, but it's cached here.

7/9/2009: The Younger Son, The Daughter and I watched this again during lunch.

Friday, May 11, 2007

The Sound of Silence

Simon and Garfunkel

Top SF Videos Online

Here is an annotated list of the top SF videos online.

This one struck my fancy:

and Rockfish is fun:

HT: SFSignal

Batman Begins

Batman Begins is the definitive film of the Batman story. It strikes just the right balance and sets the perfect tone. We've watched this movie before, and it's our favorite film version. The sequel is due out next year.

The trailer:

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Bill's Trombone

Edwin John

When Bill were late from work one night he hadn't come to harm
But when he did arrive he carried parcel under th' arm.
"What's that?" said owd Bill's missus in a somewhat doubtful tone,"
"I bought it secondhand," said Bill wi' pride, "its a trombone!"
That properly set missus off, but Bill didn't dispute her,
He just ate tea and went upstairs and took his trombone tutor.

First blast he gave cracked window pane and it were such a row
T neighbours thought as somebody were torturin' a cow!
And policeman on his beat outside turned pale and phoned up station,
And streets away folk bunged up ears, there was some consternation!
As weeks went by his tone improved and neighbours got immune,
And now and then they even thought they recognised a tune.

A circus come to town one day wi' band trombonist ill,
And manager were in a sweat until he heard of Bill.
He found him in the "Dog and Duck" and offered him a job,
Wi' loan of fancy uniform as well as fee five bob
That night in tent Bill looked a treat and music sounded grand,
Especially when Bill were playin' same tune as the band!

All Wigan folks was there enn block, Bill's missus were that proud,
She said "Bah Gum! I never knew our Bill could blow that loud!"
The star turn of the show were then a furrin' looking chap
Climbed into cage o' roarin' lions and didn't care a rap!
At least he didn't care until the biggest lion made bold
To sock him one in t' lug wi' paw and laid the beggar cold!

Then this ferocious animile walked straightway out of cage
And glared around the circus ring lashin' his tail wi' rage.
There weren't no rush for doors or owt, and all was still as still,
For t' folks was petrified wi' fear, all exceptin' owd Bill.
He climbed down from his seat in t' band and walked into the ring,
And putting trombone next lion's ear, he blew like anything!

At this the creature gave a roar, but owd Bill didn't flinch,
He blew another mighty blast and never gave an inch.
This made the lion blink a bit, he thought as Bill were spoofin',
And then he let off such a roar as nearly fetched the roof in!
Bill looked the lion up and down and said "All right, you gump,"
Then took trombone and blew a noise resemblin t' last trump!

He blew trombone clean inside-out, and spellbound folks all saw
T' lion put tail betwixt his legs and touch forelock wi' paw.
He gave a coo like little dove, his face were drawn and sad,
As owd Bill shoved him back in t' cage, and people cheered like mad!
And as he stood in t' circus ring before the cheerin' masses,
He found himself kissed on both cheeks by buxom circus lasses!

"Look here, me lad," said missus, when she got Bill home that night.
"Dunna thee play wi' lions no more thee gave me such a fright!
"I'll tell thee what," she added, "i've ne'er heard of such a thing
As kissin' them there hussies in a public circus ring!"
Bill said he wouldn't play no more as his trombone was burst,
The runnin' costs were far too high in keepin' down his thirst!

from Make 'Em Laugh

Dracula Sequel

Talk is there'll be a sequel to the Bela Lugosi Dracula. Cinematical has casting news, including John Hurt as Van Helsing.

Singer Prince Inspired By Prophets

Yes, I was surprised, too, but according to Ekklesia

One of the world’s greatest musician and most flamboyant pop stars, Prince, has announced that the prophets found in the bible are currently his greatest inspiration.

The revelation came as the funk sensation was unveiling his plans for 21 shows he will be playing in London this August.


At the press conference the purple pop star explained that added he did not expect to be back in London performing for some time after 2007, saying that he needed to take some time out to “study and travel”

When asked by journalists what he was going to be studying, he replied: “The Bible”.

The Sun newspaper reported that when someone in the audience laughed in response to the announcement of his religious convictions, the notoriously emotional singer walked off in ‘a huff’.

The GuardianUnlimited has the story here, and the TimesOnline covers it here.

Here's Purple Rain:

Betty Boop as Cinderella

HT: Bibi VideoBlog

Betty Boop also starred in this jazzy version of Snow White:

Wednesday, May 09, 2007


Tuvalu is the most recent country to join the United Nations. All the fuss about global warming has brought attention to the plight of this multi-island nation, which consists of scattered atolls susceptible to rising sea levels. The country's web site describes Tuvalu as
an independent constitutional monarchy in the southwest Pacific Ocean between latitudes 5 degrees and 11 degrees south and longitudes 176 degrees and 180 degrees east. Formerly known as the Ellice Islands, they separated from the Gilbert Islands after a referendum in 1975, and achieved independence from Great Britain on October 1, 1978. The population of 11,636 (est 2005) live on Tuvalu's nine atolls, which have a total land area of 10 square miles, or 27 square kilometres. This ranks Tuvalu as the fourth smallest country in the world, in terms of land area.

The site has information on the history of Tuvalu, including its involvement in WW2, the changing flag and other matters of interest. Some myths and legends from Tuvalu are chronicled here. The CIA Factbook entry gives Tuvalu's comparative size as "0.1 times the size of Washington, DC" and its range of elevation as
lowest point: Pacific Ocean 0 m
highest point: unnamed location 5 m

and highlights the environmental crisis:

since there are no streams or rivers and groundwater is not potable, most water needs must be met by catchment systems with storage facilities (the Japanese Government has built one desalination plant and plans to build one other); beachhead erosion because of the use of sand for building materials; excessive clearance of forest undergrowth for use as fuel; damage to coral reefs from the spread of the Crown of Thorns starfish; Tuvalu is concerned about global increases in greenhouse gas emissions and their effect on rising sea levels, which threaten the country's underground water table; in 2000, the government appealed to Australia and New Zealand to take in Tuvaluans if rising sea levels should make evacuation necessary

The BBC site has a profile of Tuvalu here.

Videos illustrating life on the islands include one emphasizing their culture:

a welcome to the various individual islands (in 3 parts):

part 1

part 2

part 3

a GoogleEarth tour which would remind me of a certain video game if they hadn't used such dreadfully schmaltzy music:

There's an experimental foreign film named Tuvalu. There's a good review of the film here.

The map at the top of this post came from here.

Argument to Beethoven's 5th

Sumo For Women

I didn't know women did sumo wrestling, but East/West magazine has an article on the subject. The women's sport is called Shin Sumo, and this article mentions some of the controversy involved in meeting Olympic requirements that sports be open to both sexes. Even though
The term "sumo" first appeared in one of Japan's oldest historical works in reference to a wrestling match between two unclad females in the fifth century
the Japan Sumo Association does not endorse it.

Photo from Flickr

Tuesday, May 08, 2007


HubbleSite has an interesting set of astronomy resources. Check out how to make your own hand-held hubble, listen to the weekly audio broadcast on the astronomy discovery of the moment, look up information at their Reference Desk, get your own Hubble wall mural, and so much more!

Otter Cam

Check out the Otter Cam at the Monterey Bay Aquarium otter exhibit.

The Year's Last Trombone Lesson

Trombone lessons are over for the year for #2 Son.

Beginning trombone information:

A jazz great:

Monday, May 07, 2007

Why People Believe Strange Things

Tennessee Penguins

The Aquarium in Chattanooga has a new penguin exhibit (penguin cam at that link). The exhibit features gentoo and macaroni penguins. There are already lots of videos of the penguins at youtube.

Battleship Potemkin

This film is considered one of the most important of the silent films. The Battleship Potemkin is a Russian movie directed by Sergei Eisenstein and released in 1925. There is a good overview of the film's history and significance here. Roger Ebert concludes his analysis by saying,

``Battleship Potemkin'' is no longer considered the greatest film ever made, but it is obligatory for anyone interested in film history...

It is available for sale on DVD and can be viewed online or downloaded free at the Internet Archive, viewed online at or viewed at googlevideo:

update 2/10/2008: the googlevideo originally embedded here is no longer available, but here's another:

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Velociraptor Attack

The American Society for Velociraptor Attack Prevention has many helpful suggestions on how to prevent attack. Do not ignore this simple advice!