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2013.01.12: "How do I know you're not a cockroach?"

Sunday, January 13, 2013

A lazy-ish Saturday, our pop culture evening, potential future shopping, etc.


We stayed up late Friday evening after finishing "Revelations" ('The X-Files,' featuring Kenneth Welsh, whom many also know from 'Twin Peaks' (Windom Earle)) and the unaired pilot to 'Dollhouse.' I showed Ms. S. the latest and far from greatest episode of 'The Big Bang Theory.'

It's a more than problematic episode.

Such lazy writing. 'More than problematic.' It's problematic. No: it's bad and insulting. Structurally there are two 'plots', one following the men, one the women. The men's gets worse as the episode progresses; the women's gets a bit better. There are three moments/aspects that are rightly amusing despite the overall direness of the episode as a whole: the reveal of Leonard's makeup kit and Penny's reaction (Ms. S. is a theater person; it made perfect sense to her), the reveal of Sheldo's Data constume and the resulting photo shoot; and the women's increasingly intense discussion of Thor's hammer, the last being the only part of the episode that wasn't full of contempt for so-called 'nerd culture'

Others have already discussed the idea of 'nerd face' (analog to black face, yellow face, etc.), though given the white male privilege already present in society in general and the dominance of white men in so-called nerd culture, the comparison is suggestive but unconvincing overall.

When I watched the episode Thursday evening I chuckled at the three aspects indicated above and concluded that I would show it all to Ms. S., who does not watch the show. Furthermore, I have no intention of getting the two of us to watch it together; we have enough distractions, mostly better. But in a way what made it such a horrible representative of the show -- or of good television in general -- made it entertaining as a stand-alone half hour of television in general. And so we laughed, winced, grumbled, chuckled, and ranted about it afterward, something we rarely do with shows we respect.

Afterward came some YouTube videos.

Since we had gone to see "The Hobbit" last week Ms. S. was curious about a claim an acquaintance/colleague of hers had made, that the old animated "Hobbit" contained a disco song. To this I had to reply, "A-ha!" "No", and "Well, let me clarify." "The Hobbit" contains no such piece of music, but after Bakshi's "Lord of the Rings" failed and didn't get to be completed, the makers of "The Hobbit" returned and produced their own animated "Return of the King," which is truly dreadful ... and many of us probably remember it from our childhoods. I was compelled to show Ms. S. a clip featuring "Where there's a whip there's a way." And now she has it stuck in her head.

Bwahahaha ...

Many more videos, including a good amount of Electric Six, Bowie, Klaus Nomi, and Jobriath followed. I eventually went to bed, and Ms. S. stayed up much later, as is her wont. And yet she awoke at 9:30. She was expected to get up at 12:30. Midway though breakfast she revealed that she thought it was 3:30 and that she's slept in ... and so not long after breakfast she returned to bed, and thus my quite mid-morning and afternoon began (workouts, shower, lunch, doing dishes, computer stuff ...)


Later Ms. S. awoke 'for real' and hours after that we had time for our evening rotation, which included the excellent season three episode "War of the Coprophages" (see: title quote).

Part of my love for this episode lies in the title, in the term 'coprophage,' a word combining two bundles of meaning, copro and phage, that most people rarely think about. The former links to coprolith (fossilized dung), for example; the latter gives us not only bacteriophage but also esophagus and sarcophagus.

Another aspect of joy deals with the performances. Mulder and Scully both dial it back and all the guest stars dial it up; they're all 'quirky,' from the local cop to the entomologist and the wheelchair-bound roboticist who is framed a bit as a Stephen Hawking of robotics.

But another part is the smartness of the writing and structure. It's an episode -- by Darrin Morgan -- that is 'having fun.' It splits our leads and marginalizes Scully, mainly with a running gag. As in the best 'X-Files' episodes our leads are always 'behind,' trying to catch up, but here they're both on top of things and behind the 'perps' ... Scully's explanations are correct in each instance (and likely not just a rationalization or rational alternative to a paranormal explanation, as is often the case), but in the aggregate something larger is suggested at each turn, and at no point are our leads 'in control.' It's a shaggy dog story meets wild goose chase in a sense. Plus: the dog from "Clyde Bruckman's Final Repose" makes a return.

We also got to return to 'Dollhouse' with the beginning of season two ("Vows"). We're in the curious situation that it appears at times that everyone but Eliza Dushku is in on 'a joke' ... if not 'the joke.' She's the 'weakest-link' and the show is nominally about her, but everybody else gets more interesting material and, especially, ensemble work. Here we get introduced to Alexis Denisof's Senator Perrin, we get a 'BSG' reunion (Helo & Apollo), and while Ms. S. doesn't approve of the new but not quite improved 'crazy' Dr. Saunders, I like the unstability she adds.

Along the way dinner was cooked and consumed. Damn, I loved baked sweet potatoes. And roasted (with salt, ginger, and dill) carrots. And sauerkraut. And, and, and ...

And anyway, since we had time this Saturday evening, we opted for a bad movie. A very bad movie: "Doom" (2005), based rather loosely on the old computer game but resembling more than anything "Resident Evil: ON MARS!" Yeah, I'll believe Karl Urban and Rosamund Pike are twins. I'll give this to The Rock, though: he's the only guy in the movie who is not slumming it. That's good and bad. The bad? He's not slumming it because as an actor (at least at this point) he is not better than this material. But the good? He gives it his all, whereas others sleepwalk through and phone it in. I hesitate to say that this movie was a 'lost opportunity,' but again it's an example of post-2000-ish sci-fi-ish movies that begin with lots of exposition and are high-concept and deep in 'mythology' but limited in story (if not plot). But it's a perfectly fine piece of trash to play in the background while knitting or writing programming notes.

Afterward I had an impulse to look up Doom, which I haven't played in quite a few years, as well as Quake. I used to run a home Quake server (back 2001 to 2003) out of our house. We had multiple IP addresses that were rather stable, as good as static, and so we could play with friends across the country (though lag could build up), but we used it mainly for Quake -- and Half-Life -- parties at our place. Get a bunch of guys on the sofas and chairs with plenty to eat and drink and just spend hours fragging each other.

"Doomsday Engine" seems perfectly functional on the Doom front these days, with a native Mac client, and I have the old WAD files archived in various locations. For Quake I may play with the Dark Places" engine as well as "QuakeSpasm," though what interests me more at the moment is what I should use -- perhaps "Quake Forge"? -- as a stand-alone server, perhaps running on the iBook so I could just log on every so often, running a client from the MacBook Pro. Perhaps introduce Ms. S. to it ... not that that's likely.


When Ms. S. was at work the other night she found herself watching Dr. Oz, which led her through his recommendations to adzuki / azuki beans.

And we love our legumes.

She wants to try them, but doesn't want to (1) have to drive to Birmingham and Whole Foods or (2) order online (e.g. Amazon); they're not something most of the local stores would carry, though Manna has a limited bulk section and might stock them.

There used to be an 'Asian market' at the corner of McFarland and Hargrove, but it was quite sad looking the one time we went there a few years ago, and evidently it is no longer there. Tying into 'The Big Bang Theory,' one of the city's comic book stores (or only?) is/was located around the corner, but I've never been there. I did, however, read "Superiod Spider-Man" #1 today, and while it's relatively well-written and a good continuation of "Amazing Spider-Man" #700, etc., I'm not yet convinced that I care enough about it to continue. Anway ...

But that led to a quick and dirty search, and -- we're talking about uncreative naming here -- off on Greensboro there's an Asian market by the name of ... "Asian Market." Oepn 7 days a week, 8:30 to 7:30. And so a trip is in order, not just for the beans, but because there might be interesting produce as well as nifty imported products. They appear to cater to the university population. Yay.

IV. Links:

- Review: QuakeSpasm retroinvader.wordpress.c

- Fancy Beans: Bean Inventory fancybeans.tumblr.com/po

- Asian Market www.facebook.com/pages/A

- Journey Kitchen: Masala Chai www.journeykitchen.com/2
and Recipe: Masal Chai Tea | The Kitchen www.thekitchn.com/recipe
(a standard/basic approach ... easily modified and delicious ... it's why I have half a pound of Assam black tea in the cupboard)
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