Betsy Devine: Funny ha-ha and/or funny peculiar

Making trouble today for a better tomorrow…

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Entries Tagged as 'Life, the universe, and everything'

Uptalk and dinosaur teeth

June 11th, 2005 · Comments Off on Uptalk and dinosaur teeth

Steven Pinker calls it “uptalk.”

Californians’ uptalk (sentences that sound like questions)
is no more pusillanimous or noncommittal than Canadians’
habitual “eh?”

Carcharodontosaurus saharicus
Middle Cretaceous- 100 million years old!
Kem Kem Valley, (Tafilalt) area near Taouz, Morocco

Maxilla and Mandible, Columbus Ave between 81st and 82nd Streets.

Tags: Life, the universe, and everything

Six feet of bulbous-snouted flesh-eating crocodile skull

June 10th, 2005 · Comments Off on Six feet of bulbous-snouted flesh-eating crocodile skull

Would your living room look better with a six-foot long one-hundred-toothed replica crocodilian skull on display? Sure it would…and for a mere $5,900, will make that dream come true:

Sarcosuchus imperator (flesh eating crocodile), nicknamed Supercroc, lived during the Cretaceous period (65 – 144 MYA). With an estimated body length of 40 feet, and a skull over 5 1/2 feet long, Supercroc is one of the largest crocodiles that ever walked the Earth.

It is believed that Sarcosuchus was an ambush predator capable of killing large dinosaurs that wandered too close to the water’s edge. The Sarcosuchus’s unusual bulbous snout is thought to have given it a greater ability to smell prey and make louder sounds… Shown here with a human skull for comparison. Individual tooth also available, KO-156. Please see our Dinosaurs and Fossils, and Reptiles catagories.

They also make lots of fake skulls for forensic classrooms… Ewww-factor very high, but fascinating. Thanks to Amity for the jaw-dropping linkage.

Tags: Life, the universe, and everything

That’s the trouble with Italian food…

June 6th, 2005 · Comments Off on That’s the trouble with Italian food…

…four or five days later, you’re hungry again!”

(I’m quoting a hand-printed signs from Mimmo’s Italian restaurant on Ocean Avenue in York, ME, which serves exactly that kind of Italian food. Mimmo, the owner and chef, walks around when the kitchen is quiet, greeting newcomers and schmoozing with neighborhood friends.

Another Mimmo-ism: “What’s special tonight? Everything on my menu, that’s what’s special.?

I’m up in Maine, taking a moment to stop and smell the lilacs, here with my lilac-growing little sister.

I asked Marie if she had a word of wisdom to share with my blog readers and she said, incredulously “A word? Just one?” Which just goes to show you how wise my sister is.


I do have a wise saying from my little brother, who went home this morning. “When you are skiing,” he said, “the very best moments come right before the moment when you say, ‘Uh oh, I think I’m in trouble.’ ”

In fact, Kevin’s insight applies to many fun things.

But not, so far as I know, to smelling the lilacs.

Tags: Life, the universe, and everything

Thanks to Wayne and Catherine from n/e + 1

June 4th, 2005 · Comments Off on Thanks to Wayne and Catherine from n/e + 1

AaronLinda: Nobel laureates Aaron Ciechanover (Chemistry 2004) and Linda Buck (Medicine 2004)<br />“> <br />
What fun–and now I’m so tired. Partying until 1:30 a.m. and then up at 6 to pack. <br /><a href=What an incredible party.

here we all were, riding on a bus to Golden Plate Banquet. Frank and I
turned around in our seats to ask George Lucas and Dorothy Hamill, who
were sitting behind us, if there were any tricky parts to the gold
medal ceremony. (They told us there weren’t.) Then we started talking
about the different things that go wrong at Oscar and Nobel ceremonies.

At the banquet, we sat with Frank’s Nobel littermates Aaron Ciechanover, Linda Buck, and David Gross–and John Fogerty of Creedence Clearwater Revival.

Flashback to 1970 or so when I was struggling to convince a
classical music fan that there was really good music in rock and roll.
Mrs. Krasner challenged  me to play her something convincing.
Because she loved Beethoven (crash, jangle, thump!)  I picked
Creedence Clearwater’s “Proud Mary.” I don’t think I really convinced
her to switch from Beethoven based on that playing, but I really enjoyed
telling John Fogerty the story.  He’s redhot on stage (and touring now!) but very sweet in person.

So why is this blogger laughing so hard? Just as Linda Buck got
ready to snap the picture, Sam Donaldson popped up behind her and
started giving her devil’s horns.

Isaac Asimov told Marvin Minsky, “Don’t ask any questions, just go.

That was good advice.

If this sounds as if I’m bragging–what can I say?
Blogging about it is as close as I can come to inviting all my blogfriends
to have this fun with me.

Tags: Life, the universe, and everything

Sally Field: “How do I transition into being old?”

June 3rd, 2005 · Comments Off on Sally Field: “How do I transition into being old?”

Theater: Sondheim, Albee, Field, Washington, Jones at 2005 International Achievement Summit

Left to right, Stephen Sondheim, Edward Albee, Sally Field, Denzel Washington, and James Earl Jones answer questions from the audience. Some of my favorite short bits:

James Earl Jones: “Creating a performance requires going down inside yourself to find what is really there. Much of what you will need to find and use involves parts of yourself you wouldn’t normally want to display in public.”

Edward Albee: (In response to a student question on why people chose to spend their lives in theater) “I write plays because I am a playwright.”

Stephen Sondheim: “In theater, when you see your work, it’s constantly changing, alive. And that’s a delight, even when you’re embarassed by what they’re doing.”

Denzel Washington: “My advice to you is fail big. In some lines of work, that might not be a good thing. But I never understood people who want something to fall back on. If I’m going to fall, I want to fall forward!”

Sally Field: “My advice to all of you? Take an acting class, and take it seriously.”

Earlier in the day, Sally Field (one of this year’s award winners) gave a longer and quite nitty gritty short talk about the sequential career problems of a life spent in acting:

“I have been a professional actor for 41 years. I have survived in a profession where there is no tenure. [After a year of playing Gidget on TV] I was 19 years old and I did not want to play a flying nun. For three years of my life, everyone had a flying nun joke. The actress who played the Mother Superior took me to see Lee Strasberg, and I began taking acting lessons. I worked as a flying nun all day, and at night I was Sartre’s “respectful prostitute.”

How do I transition into being old? How do I survive in an industry that has no use for women of age?

Joseph Campbell said you must enter the forest where it is darkest, and where there is no path. As an actor you enter the forest where it is darkest again and again and again. Where there is no path, and especially not your own path.

Tags: Life, the universe, and everything

George Lucas: “I’ve spent the last 30 years making one damn movie.”

June 2nd, 2005 · Comments Off on George Lucas: “I’ve spent the last 30 years making one damn movie.”

Lucas: George Lucas addresses 2005 International Achievement Summit Just a few notes from a tiny subset of today’s speeches–Lech Walesa, Elie Wiesel, et al will have to wait until after I get some sleep.

George Lucas:

I’ve spent the last 30 years making one damn movie. I’m over 60 years old. If I could have gotten this done when I was 25 I’d be in a whole different place….

At the time I made the first Star Wars movie, Richard Nixon was talking about changing the Constitution so that he could have more than two terms as President–so that he could become President for life. I was interested in how governments switch over from democracy to tyranny, and I did a lot of research for the movie’s backstory. Basically, how it happens is that the democracy seems impotent or slow, so the government gets turned over to somebody who can get the job done. And that person usually turns out to be a tyrant.

When I made Star Wars, I was making a movie for adolescents. Before I switched to film school, I was an anthropology major. I wanted to make a move that served the purpose that storytelling did for thousands of years–to tell young people what society expected of them. Fairy tales were invented to do what mythology used to do before that…

How has our emotional intelligence changed over the past 3 or 4000 years? Or do the old stories still work? I think I’ve proved conclusively that they do work. (Cheers from audience) So my advice to mythmakers of the future would be to retell the old stories in a different form so that they apply to the generation coming up….

Yes, I do know who Anakin’s father is. No, I will not tell you who Anakin’s father is.

Tags: Life, the universe, and everything

Morality versus “Polka for the folk along the parapets…”

May 31st, 2005 · 1 Comment

If a song is playing and re-playing in your head, is it immoral to sing it for somebody else? Is it still immoral if you like the song replaying in your head?

OK, probably immoral, but here are my excuses for singing “Off to Massachusetts”* for Dave Winer’s podcast yesterday:

  • Few people know so many rhymes for Massachusetts.
  • When Dave’s winding road bends again toward Cambridge, this silly song could be a kind of anthem
  • I got this CD as free blog-booty from the Little Women showfolk.
  • It’s just the kind of song you feel like singing to serenade your scrambled eggs in any random hotel breakfast room.

Are songs contagious just from the lyrics alone? If you dare, read on for a small sample…

If you say “Come with me,
off to Massachusetts,”
Then to Massachusetts we will go
We will buy dishes there, maybe even two sets,
Buy the finest china then we’ll dine a while on Crepes Suzettes…

We will build model boats,
off in Massachusetts,
There in Massachusetts,
By the bay.
Put them together and
Wait until the glue sets
While we wait we’ll polka
For the folk along the parapets…

* “Off to Massachusetts” is a duet for Beth and Mr. March in Little Women: The Musical — You can play a small sample from
the Amazon page for the Little Women CD Amazon’s sample will give you a much better idea than my acappella rendition for Dave, but it’s also more likely to get stuck inside your own head.

Tags: Life, the universe, and everything

Ultimate h2g2 computer nerd joke

May 27th, 2005 · Comments Off on Ultimate h2g2 computer nerd joke

How would you describe Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy?

  1. A book by Douglas Adams
  2. A TV show with Simon Jones
  3. A movie with Zooey Deschanel
  4. A book playing major roles in all the above
  5. The ultimate in Graphical User Interfaces

If you picked #5, you agree with the ticket printers at Fresh Pond Cinema…

hitchhikersGui: Movie ticket stub says "HITCHHIKERS GUI"

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Tags: Life, the universe, and everything

For more satisfying VROOM! CRASH! and KABLOOIE!

May 26th, 2005 · Comments Off on For more satisfying VROOM! CRASH! and KABLOOIE!

BoxsterAnim: Zooming red Porsche Boxster, based on art from Physics for Game Programmers

Action movie directors have a huge advantage over game designers on creating realistic wham, pow, boom, and splatter. That’s because Mother Nature pumps out free supplies of real physics all over the planet. You want earth’s gravity, blood’s viscosity, or Newton’s three laws? In the real world, you’ve got them!

But in a game world, no force pulls objects down toward the bottom of the screen unless somebody has programmed fake gravity in.

Even if you’re not a game designer there’s a lot of enjoyable physics in the free sample online chapter of
Physics for Game Programmers
(ISBN 1-59059-472-X)

  • When two cars collide, what fraction of the collision is inelastic?
  • How do you figure out a tire’s characteristics from the letters and numbers on its side?
  • What’s the difference between tires rolling and skidding?
  • How do you compute a car’s top speed from its “redline”?

Sadly, the top speed of the 2004 Porsche Boxster S is “only” 266 km/hr, almost 30 km/hr below its theoretical maximum, “because the car is also subject to the
decelerating forces of aerodynamic drag and rolling friction.” Ah well, real life is full of such disappointments.

If you have a physics maven on your gift list, Father’s Day is just around the corner….

I heard about this via Joey deVilla’s IndieGameDev. Mysteriously, this book is for sale online from its publisher at $44 and change but from Amazon for less than $30. I wonder what the heck the physics of that is?

Tags: Life, the universe, and everything

How to do everything, including bar karaoke moves for Japan

May 20th, 2005 · Comments Off on How to do everything, including bar karaoke moves for Japan

Kottke posted a funny parody how-to on different ways to order from restaurant menus. (To order a la Malcolm Gladwell, ” Glance quickly at the menu and order whatever catches your eye first. Spend no more than 2-3 seconds deciding or the quality of your choice (and your meal) will decline.”)

Here are a few of my own favorite how-tos from around the web, some of them very elaborate:

British pub etiquette
“There are strict rules of etiquette involved in attracting the attention of bar staff. The ritual procedure is best described as a sort of subtle pantomime – not the kind of children’s pantomime you see on stage at Christmas, more like an Ingmar Bergman film in which the twitch of an eyebrow speaks volumes.”
Tricks of a whole bunch of different trades
“If you have to change a light bulb where the glass is broken, you can press a potato into the metal base to unscrew the remains of the bulb from the fixture.”
How to get drunk with co-workers in Japan (multi-page with Flash movie)
“It is most important never to fill your own glass or cup. Pouring is a sign of respect or friendship…If you want to drink more but nobody pours for you, fill somebody else’s glass and he will notice.”

Tags: Life, the universe, and everything