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Posts Tagged ‘Arts’

The CN Tower Struck By Lightning

August 29, 2011 1 comment

It happens pretty often, but seeing it on video is quite cool.

On August 24, 2011 there was a large electrical storm over Toronto, Ontario. The CN Tower itself was struck by lightning about 15 times in a half hour.

My Adventures at the Calgary Comic Expo

June 20, 2011 Leave a comment

Despite being a lifetime nerd, I have never been to a sci-fi or comic book convention!

I know, I know. The lack of nerd cred on my part is somewhat disheartening.

But don’t worry, because my Comic expo virginity has now been taken by the Calgary Comic Expo.

I had a really great time. I got to meet some great people, saw some live StarCraft action, and even got a chance to hear William Shatner speak and take some questions from the audience.

What blew me away most though were the costumes. The amount of work that must go into some of them was astounding. Here are a few samples:

Wolverine and...someone I recognize but can't remember the name.

The contact lenses show a nice level of dedication to the costume.

X-Men. And woman. X-People I suppose.

Bob from ReBoot. I was impressed at the number of ReBoot fans.

Classic

Dude behind him is checking out his ass, I think.

The hands look a little big to me.

Thundercats! Awesome!

Elektra, some dude, and Poison Ivy.

The one on the right is a different shade of green. Maybe she was sick?

Creepy. Creepy/Awesome.

William Shatner also gave a talk to a crowd of about 4000. He was made an honorary Calgarian by the Mayor of Calgary, and took some audience questions.

One such question went like this:

Girl: This question is from my Dad. What was it like being on ‘Star Trek’?

Shatner: Tell your dad that I was cleaning green paint off myself every night!

Crowd: *Applause*

He was actually a very funny guy and very entertaining.

I also found out that DC comics is rebooting all of its stories, so maybe I can start reading comic books and actually know whats going on!

All in all, a great time and lots of great people. I’ll be back again next year!

“If Undergrads Are Our Future, We’re All Doomed!”

June 9, 2011 Leave a comment

I love the comics strip “Piled Higher and Deeper”

It depicts the trials and tribulations of being a graduate student. Even though I ditched the life of a grad student after my masters, I can still remember the horrors I experienced. And now, A MOVIE!

Is this “squee” worthy? I think so… SQUEEEEEEE!

 

Shock wave from a Trombone Caught on Film

May 29, 2011 Leave a comment

The weak shock wave emanating from a trombone was captured on film and presented at the 161st Meeting of the Acoustical Society for America in Seattle.

The researchers used schlieren photography to capture the images. This method is able to image fluids through the changes in their refractive index and is used largely in aeronautical engineering to study air flow around airplanes.

It’s also wicked-cool :)

My Top 10 Sci-Fi/Fantasy Novels: #2 – Flowers For Algernon

April 29, 2011 1 comment

#2 – Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes (1966)


This is the only book I’ve ever read that has actually made me cry.

Yup, this 200 pound dude has actually starting shedding tears while sitting and reading a book. This  book.

Algernon is a laboratory mouse which has undergone a procedure to increase its intelligence. When the procedure works, the scientists decide to try the procedure on a mentally challenged person named Charlie.

The book is written in the first-person from Charlie’s perspective. Charlie was asked to write progress reports before and after the experiment, and this creates a very unique reading experience.

The first few reports are before the procedure. Charlie has poor grammar, spelling mistakes and finds it difficult to write very much. But you gain a sense of connection with Charlie, especially when he discusses how he is treated by his family and co-workers.

As the procedure begins to take effect, Charlie’s writing becomes more lucid and he actually starts to do his own scientific research. He falls in love. Basically, he begins to live a normal life.

Then, Algernon begins to deteriorate, and Charlie wonders if the same will happen to him.

Despite being published 45 years ago, the themes of ethical scientific research and treatment of the disabled are still very much relevant.

It’s an incredible book that shared the Nebula Award for Best Novel in 1966.

“all my life I wantid to be smart and not dumb and my mom always tolld me to try and lern just like Miss Kinnian tells me but its very hard to be smart and even when I lern something in Miss Kinnians class at the school I ferget alot.”

– Daniel Keyes, Flowers for Algernon

All Entries

#10 – Watership Down

#9 – The Harry Potter Series

#8 – The Wheel of Time Series

#7 – The Stars My Destination

#6 – To Say Nothing of the Dog

#5 – Doomsday Book

#4 – Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal

#3 – The Farseer Trilogy

#2 – Flowers for Algernon

#1 – The Martian Chronicles

My Top 10 Sci-Fi/Fantasy Novels: #3 – The Farseer Trilogy

April 28, 2011 4 comments

#3 – The Farseer Trilogy by Robin Hobb (1995 – 1997)



Assassin's Apprentice: Book 1 of the Farseer Trilogy

Robin Hobb’s writing style has a lot of similarities with George RR Martin. She makes her audience identify with the main character, and then she makes that character suffer.

She also creates villains so evil that I get physically angry when I read her books. I get invested in the character’s struggle and I cannot put the book down.

The Farseer Trilogy follows the story of FitzChivalry Farseer; the bastard child of a murdered prince who has to grow up in the castle where, were he conceived legitimately, he would have one day ruled.

Instead, he works as a stable-hand until the King decides he could be trained in a more  useful purpose: an assassin.

While it is set in a fantasy world, there is only a limited amount of magic. The two types are called ‘the skill’, which is the ability to speak to others minds and influence their thoughts. The second is called ‘the wit’, a magic which allows those with the talent for it to speak to animals. This magic is considered ‘unclean’ and its use is forbidden.

Of course, poor Fitz has both the skill and the wit. Craziness.

Fitz manages to befriend the King’s court jester, known only as ‘the Fool’. The Fool however, is more than what he seems.

The second and third books expand the story into an all-out struggle for Fitz and the Fool the save not only the Kingdom, but the entire world.

Although the story is considered ‘epic’, it is the characters that truly drive this story. It is also interesting to read a story written by a woman, but told in the first-person perspective of a male character.

This is definitely a trilogy to check out if you have any interest at all in fantasy novels.

“The fight isn’t over until you win it, Fitz. That’s all you have to remember. No matter what the other man says.”

– Robin Hobb, The Farseer Trilogy

All Entries

#10 – Watership Down

#9 – The Harry Potter Series

#8 – The Wheel of Time Series

#7 – The Stars My Destination

#6 – To Say Nothing of the Dog

#5 – Doomsday Book

#4 – Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal

#3 – The Farseer Trilogy

#2 – Flowers for Algernon

#1 – The Martian Chronicles

My Top 10 Sci-Fi/Fantasy Novels: #8 – The Wheel of Time Series

April 23, 2011 1 comment

#8 – The Wheel of Time Series (1990 – 2012)



Cover of

This epic 14-book series is finally coming to a close in 2012. If you haven’t read the series, here is the skinny:

The Dark One is going to break out of his sealed prison to destroy the world and a group of kids from a small village have to stop him.

You know, that old gag.

Even though the premise is a bit overused, the first 5 or 6 books of the series were great. Literally, fantastic! Engaging characters, funny dialogue, magic and Trollocs.

Obviously drawing from Tolkien, the author, Robert Jordan, expanded on Tolkien and created an incredibly detailed and believable world in which all these events transpire.

But then, things went to hell.

Jordan had created such a detailed world, and his books sold so well, that he went a bit nuts with it. Books 6 through 11 had a much slower pace, more politics, more subplots, and less action. Most of these middle-books were by no means bad; they were still entertaining and I somewhat enjoyed them. But they had nothing on those first 6 installments.

So many of Jordan’s followers began to lose faith. With 2-3 years between books and very few plot advances, people were understandably frustrated and wondered if the series would ever get finished.

Then Robert Jordan died.

He passed away on September 16, 2007 from cardiac amyloidosis. But he did pass on all his notes to another fantasy author: Brandon Sanderson.

Sanderson took over the final books of the series, three in total. Two have been released and they have received rave reviews. It seems the Wheel has turned and the magic of the series has returned.

So that is where we are now. Waiting on the very last book. Devout fans will be flocking to the bookstores when ‘A Memory of Light’ is released, supposedly in March of 2012.

And I will be one of them.

Despite the flaws of some of the middle installements of this series, ‘The Wheel of Time’ is an incredible work of epic fantasy and should not be missed.

The Wheel of Time turns, and Ages come and pass, leaving memories that become legend. Legend fades to myth, and even myth is long forgotten when the Age that gave it birth comes again.

– Robert Jordan, The Wheel of Time

All Entries

#10 – Watership Down

#9 – The Harry Potter Series

#8 – The Wheel of Time Series

#7 – The Stars My Destination

#6 – To Say Nothing of the Dog

#5 – Doomsday Book

#4 – Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal

#3 – The Farseer Trilogy

#2 – Flowers for Algernon

#1 – The Martian Chronicles