Thursday May 1, 2008

Either a Prediction or Free Advice

Joss Whedon's upcoming series Dollhouse is about people who can be temporarily programmed with any personality or skills.  The Actives, as they're called, spend time between missions at a facility called The Dollhouse, where they have only rudimentary personalities of their own, and their names reflect this; the characters announced so are called Echo, Sierra, Victor, and November.  Get it?  They're named according to the phonetic alphabet.

Continue reading "Either a Prediction or Free Advice"

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Sunday April 20, 2008

Fact-checking Ray Bradbury

James Lileks dug up an amazing bit of pop-culture this week: a TV commercial in which none other than Ray Bradbury appears, hawking Sunsweet pitted prunes.  No kidding.  Check it out:

At the end of his post (it's the most recent one at the moment, the permalink isn't working) Lileks writes, citing Bradbury's own words, "It's true: he didn't mention prunes in any of his stories."  But is this true?  The answer may shock you!

Continue reading "Fact-checking Ray Bradbury"

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Monday September 17, 2007

Mysterons vs. Mysterians

I suppose confusion is understandable—the names are so similar, after all—but I think it's important that we get this straight once and for all.  So pay close attention:

Continue reading "Mysterons vs. Mysterians"

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Tuesday June 12, 2007

Blogging the 2007 Bee

Although we missed the live broadcast, thanks to the miracle of TiVo we were able to catch a late-night repeat of the final rounds of the 2007 Scripps National Spelling Bee.  What follows are some observations about the Bee and a discussion of the particular words the kids had to spell.  Fair warning: lots of spoilers, including most importantly the correct spellings of the words. 

Continue reading "Blogging the 2007 Bee"

I am The Tensor, and I approve this post.
11:20 PM in Linguistics , Television | Comments (9) | Submit: | Links:

Monday April 2, 2007

Video Free Association

After the jump: a random walk though pop culture and my subconscious via YouTube.

Continue reading "Video Free Association"

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Monday January 15, 2007

Star Trek vs. Jefferson Airplane

Check out this awesome video mashup.  I hope you relish it as much as I:

Most linguisticky moment: "smoking caterpillar"—the edit is in just the right place to get you to reanalyze hookah-smoking caterpillar in the intended way.  The "remember" bit is clever too—referencing a scene from Wrath of Khan by using a similar scene from TOS without breaking up the visual feel of the video.

It's amazing how close to the surface the drug subtext was in Trek.  For a similar mashup addressing a different subtext, see Closer [NSFW].

I am The Tensor, and I approve this post.
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Monday December 11, 2006

"Darmok"

[This is part of an ongoing occasional series about linguistics in science fiction.  Fair warning: spoilers.]  I've been meaning to write about the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "Darmok" for years.  In fact, I had it in mind when I started this blog, and I promised that a post about it was imminent in September of 2004.  (Doh!)  Well, during our ongoing sojourn in Germany, we discovered to our horror that we'd run out of English-language TV.  Fortunately, I remembered that I've had an AVI of "Darmok" sitting in my hard drive since July of 2004, so we fired it up and watched it.

"Darkmok" is easily the most linguistic of the Star Trek episodes I've seen.  Unlike a lot of the SF I discuss, it's pretty well-known, so I'm a little nervous about writing about it—I'm sure you can find many, many essays about it online, but hopefully I have something to add.  For a comprehensive review, check out this page by Raphael Carter, which includes both a summary and a glossary of all the alien utterances in the episode (and from which I got the official spellings of most of the proper names).  I'm going to summarize the linguistic aspects of the story, then analyze where I think they're wrong—which is, unfortunately, pretty often.

Continue reading ""Darmok""

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05:58 AM in Linguistics in SF , Television | Comments (45) | Submit: | Links:

Tuesday September 5, 2006

Metropolitan?

Pop quiz, hotshot.  In the opening credits for the old Adventures of Superman TV show, is Clark Kent described as:

...mild-mannered reporter for a great metropolitan newspaper...

or:

...mild-mannered reporter for a great Metropolitan newspaper...

You make the call!

I am The Tensor, and I approve this post.
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Saturday July 22, 2006

Whedon and Feminism

For those of you who are into this sort of thing: an interesting post on the new-to-me blog Wax Banks titled "Is Joss Whedon feminist enough?"  Follow the links, there's a lot more where that came from.  (hat tip: jobbi)

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Saturday July 15, 2006

Credit Where It's Due?

Some of you may recall that I took Stephen Colbert to task a few weeks ago for an elementary error he made on his show.  Well, this week on the 7/12 episode of "Late Night with Conan O'Brien", Our Steve finally decided to do the right thing and come clean.  (Thanks to commenter Robbie on the aforelinked post for calling my attention to this.)  I feel vindicated...more or less.

Continue reading "Credit Where It's Due?"

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Wednesday June 21, 2006

The Statistics of Deal or No Deal

After having managed to unintentionally avoid yet another pop culture phenomenon for months, I finally saw an episode of Deal or No Deal the other night—my parents had attended a taping and so were visible in the background.  After watching the show, I did what any self-respecting computer geek would have done: I spent about 15 hours over the next few days writing code to figure out the statistics behind the game.  I've distilled what I've learned into this post.

Continue reading "The Statistics of Deal or No Deal"

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Thursday June 8, 2006

Wronginess

On the 6/8 edition of The Colbert Report, Our Steve nailed the MSM drones over at CNN for a glaring error.  During a CNN "report" about 6/6/06 and its connection to Satan, they showed a piece of artwork that seemed to show a devil's face.  Steve wasn't buying it—he recognized that the image was actually from a painting of the balrog of Moria in the 1977 Lord of the Rings calendar.  Unfortunately, Colbert then went on to embarrass himself just as thoroughly as those hacks over at CNN.

Continue reading "Wronginess"

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Saturday May 20, 2006

Eye of the Beholder

Submitted for your approval, direct from the depths of one man's subconscious.  On the left, Gary Numan, 38 seconds into the the video for "Cars".  On the right, one of the doctors from the Twilight Zone episode "Eye of the Beholder":

The same hair, the same eye liner, the same curl of the lip.  Coincidence?  Perhaps, but maybe something more—for you see, this just happens to be...The Twilight Zone.

I am The Tensor, and I approve this post.
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Tuesday March 28, 2006

This I Believe #9

...that New Caprica is Earth during the last Ice Age.

Continue reading "This I Believe #9"

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Wednesday February 1, 2006

Cole Burt!

In a comment on a previous post here about the literary output of Stephen Colbert (or rather, "Stephen Colbert"), Bridget of ilani ilani mentioned that she's known Stephen's brother all her life, and that the Colbert family doesn't pronounce their name with the very classy silent 't' Colbert uses on TV.  As you might imagine, I was disappointed and more than a little skeptical that Our Steve would deceive us, The Heroes, in such a way, but an installment of the Repor(t) from last week offered incontrovertible proof of Bridget's claim.  In a segment on Seasonal Affective Disorder, Colbert tried to shake himself out of his own SAD funk, saying:

It's so stupid—we got a show to do.  Come on, snap out of it, Colbert!

And there it was, clear as day: in his excitement, he accidentally said "cole-burt" instead of "cole-bear".  I'm still shaken.  Who are you really, Stephen?  How could lie to us like that for so long?  This is like that whole James Frey thing, except times, like, a million.  I don't know what to think.

I am The Tensor, and I approve this post.
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Tuesday January 10, 2006

Tek Jansen Redux!

I've posted before about the newest sensation in fake-celebrity-authored fake technothriller space opera: Stephen Colbert's Alpha Squad 7: Lady Nocturne: A Tek Jansen Adventure.  Well, thanks to long-time-reader-first-time-emailer Brian White, I have fantastic news to report.  Colbert has apparently decided to do an end run around the elitist bookanistas in the mainstream publishing industry by self-publishing his 100,000 word epic, a chapter at a time, on the new Tek Jansen website.  O happy day!

Continue reading "Tek Jansen Redux!"

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02:46 PM in Science Fiction , Television | Comments (1) | Submit: | Links:

Saturday October 29, 2005

Tek Jansen!

If you've been waiting for the Next Great Sci-Fi Adventure Novel, you're in luck.  It's already been written, and by a fictional character to boot.  TV news personality "Stephen Colbert" (as opposed to comedian Stephen Colbert) is posting excerpts from his "self-published, currently undistributed" novel Alpha Squad 7: Lady Nocturne: A Tek Jansen Adventure on the website for The Colbert Report.  The first few paragraphs from chapter 26, "Abraxxia's Gambit", are truly exceptional.  More please!

Continue reading "Tek Jansen!"

I am The Tensor, and I approve this post.
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