Sunday, July 31, 2011

Deleted scene from the Captain America movie


Captain America: Mister Stark, I find myself in need of a certain amount of technological assistance. You see, I'm going up against Nazis armed with laser cannons that can reduce groups of men to their constituent amino acids; turrets powered by some kind of ancient artifact; and tanks almost, but not quite, bigger than your mom. I need some help here, is what I'm saying.

Tony Stark Sr.: What'd you say about my mom?

Captain America: Let's stay focused here, Stark. How can you help me?

Tony Stark Sr.: Well, it took me several years to develop, but I have constructed for you a circular disc that, when angled properly by the user, can deflect projectile weapons and even melee attacks, thereby preserving you from harm. You can attach it to your arm or, in a pinch, hold it with one hand.

Captain America: Did... did you just re-invent the shield? Did you really take millions of dollars in government grants in order to give me the foremost in cutting-edge medieval technology?

Tony Stark Sr.: Please! They didn't have polymers in the middle ages.

Captain America: So.... it's a plastic shield, then.

Tony Stark Sr.: "Polymers" sounds more scientific. Plus! You can also, I dunno, throw it. Don't think they did that in the middle ages.

Captain America: So what did you use the rest of the money on, out of curiosity? This thing must've cost all of twenty bucks.

Tony Stark Sr.: Eh, going out clubbing. Scoring chicks. You know how it is.

Captain America: How... why... but clubbing doesn't cost several million dollars!

Tony Stark Sr.: Depends on if you're doing it right.




Friday, July 29, 2011

Where Are They Now? Part 2

Ceinlys, for the next several decades, continued seeking glorious death in battle, only to be defeated at every turn when legion upon legion of advancing Necrons crumbled before his might. Deeply frustrated as he was, when rewarded with a commemorative heavy bolter by the Deathwatch, he tore his clothes, gnashed his teeth, and fired his bolter in rage up at the sky (which, due to an earlier mishap with his medicines, he currently believed to be the emperor's literal home.) Thankfully, this was mistaken for religious zeal by his brethren, earning him the name of "Shinkicker the Holy." He continues to seek his death to this day.

Unsuccessfully.

Ceros continued making wagers with Taros regarding number of opponents killed. These wagers became more and more elaborate as time went on, involving specific styles of killing and trick shots, and eventually culminated in Ceros inventing an elaborate system of points whereby each space marine could quantify exactly how much better he was at killing than his counterpart. At the moment, Ceros and Taros each think the other owes him five hundred heavy bolter rounds. Inquisitor Silberthorn refuses to adjudicate.

Veer continued his work for Inquisitor Silberthorn in his capacity as a sniper. As the Inquisitor's trust in him and his abilities grew, Veer quickly advanced from assassin, to elite assassin, to diplomat, and then back to assassin when the Inquisitor realized that Veer's open and trusting nature made him perhaps the worst possible choice for any sort of diplomatic post. Veer kept the monocle, though. And the sash.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Deathwatch: Where Are They Now? Part 1

And so the day is saved! (WARNING: fluff heresy ahead)

Inquisitor Silberthorn went on to become Inquisitor Lord Silberthorn after the previous Inquisitor Lord was killed in an industrial accident involving several turbo-penetrator rounds impacting various parts of his body. Silberthorn then named several planets after himself, one upon which he later ordered an Exterminatus.

The left side of his face was burned off in a battle with a troop of Chaos Space Marines. However, with the assistance of extensive reconstructive surgery costing upwards of several million Thrones, his left eyebrow is making a full recovery.

Taros went on to fight in many wars, and also to replace several of his fleshy bits with shiny metallic bits. During the Sixth Tau Incursion he became famed throughout the sector for accidentally becoming warboss of a neutral ork tribe, thereby obtaining enough green-skinned meat shields to get his own men into close combat with few casualties.

Infern continues to drift through the warp, scheming revenge upon Veer and also maybe the others (but especially Veer.) Plus, he's channeling the Emperor as well as ever.

I mean the Warp.

Only a song remains to mark his passing:

"your heart was a swarm of bees
And they don't and they will never leave
I hear them buzzing there invisibly
And now it's just you and me."

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

A roller-coaster ride of vexation

DAY 1:

Me: "So, I hear you're working on Interesting Research!"
The Professor: "I am indeed! I actually just got here, and am hiring grad students right now."
Me: "Excellent! And I could start immediately?"
The Professor: "Just so! I'd like to meet again next week. Have sixty pages of analytical literature, it's on the house."
Me: "Excellent!"

DAY 5:

Me: "So, I've read the stuff, and I feel like I'd be a good fit for your group! What say you?"
The Professor: "Well, thing about that is.... I actually only have one additional spot in the group, so I have to make the hiring decision very carefully. Also I have to chat with the Grad Program Coordinator. I'll get back to you in a couple days with my answer."
Me: "Excellent! And you'll get back to me at that time?"
The Professor: "Just so!"

DAY 7:

Me: ....
The Professor: (absent)

DAY 9:

Me: "So how's that hiring decision coming along?"
The Professor: "mmmmmmmmmmMMMMMWorking on it. Don't worry, I'll get back to you tomorrow with my answer."
Me: "..."

DAY 10 (today!):

Me: (compulsively refresh email)
Email: "Nothing new to report!"
(repeat)
(repeat)
(repeat)
(Clock strikes 5:00 PM)


Saturday, July 23, 2011

Deathwatch: A Choose Your Own Adventure: The Vision Quest: A True Story

A warped landscape surrounds our hero, the pastel-colored trees twisting in on themselves in a hideous mockery of the natural order. A great, spherical being, almost too bright to behold, floats before him. It has either eight or sixteen wings, precessing around themselves in a fashion casting doubt on which direction it faces. The space marine tenses, waiting for the thing to speak, or attack, or... well, something.

IF YOU ARE GENRE-SAAVY, TURN TO PAGE 44.

IF YOU ARE INFERN OBLINIUS, TURN TO PAGE 111.

PAGE 44

The luminous entity brightens further. "Hello, human-- I am your human lord, the God-Emperor of Mankind himself! I offer you power and blessings beyond your wildest imaginings, if you pledge yourself to me!"

"You are very clearly a daemon who wants to eat my brains. Or whatever it is you guys do."


"What? Of course not! I am the very model of your puny human emperor! Why, my very corpse is dessicating in Holy Terra herself! Also, you're thinking of zombies."

"My answer is still no. Go back to hell, I guess is the general thrust of my message here."


"Well... it's a fair cop, I guess. But it is funny you speak of thrusting, for Lord Slaanesh--"

"Gonna ride right past the part where you finish that sentence."

PAGE 111

The luminous entity brightens further. "Hello, mortal-- I am your lord, the God-Emperor of Mankind himself! I offer you power and blessings beyond your wildest imaginings, if you pledge yourself to me!"

"I dunno... if you're a demon, pledging myself to you would be pretty heretical."

"But consider! If I am the Emperor, NOT pledging yourself to me would be even MORE heretical!"

"Fair point."

"Plus, I have a great many unhol-- er, hallowed gifts which I can bestow on my unwitting vic-- ah, worshippers! Would I be able to do that if I WASN'T the emperor?"

"Well... no. But what exactly is the nature of these gifts, if I may ask?"

"ALL THE TENTACLES."

"That sounds... pretty unholy, actually."

"Look, I don't exactly have all day here. What would YOU choose as a gift?"

"Some more effective painkillers would be nice."

"Excellent! I shall then equip you with five syringes of a painkiller so powerful, so terrible in its glory, that I had to consume seventeen individual planets in order to make them! A narcotic so potent that to even comprehend its true purpose is to become hopelessly addicted, a willing slave to the doom of the universe, and servant to the Lord of Pain himself!"

"I'm pretty sure you meant the God-Emperor right there."

"Yes. Yes I did."

".... sold!"

Thursday, July 21, 2011

A very hypocritical blog post

So in my perhaps UNWISE quest to write a substantive blog post every two days, I have run into the difficulty of not having anything in particular to say for today. I find that this dilemma can be solved by the following methods!

1) Strong, yet formulaic post builds (my CSI Puns series, for example)
2) Doing ACTUAL WORK and coming up with a REAL TOPIC of discussion (NOOOOO)
3) Linking to stuff!
4) Cannibalizing the work of my fellow bloggers by providing supporting commentary to their laborious... labors.
5) Meta! (DO NOT DO THIS)

I favor #1 when #2 proves fruitless, as it generates original content while making few demands on the ever-fickle Muse. In that, I find it's a bit like drunken college hookups: quick, easy, but with the potential to accidentally create something of lasting value out of a half-hour of awkward, yet occasionally enjoyable shenanigans. I'm not sure what contraceptives are in this metaphor.

Of course, I can do #4 and go all recursive with it a la Inception, a film so memetic that I can quote from it without actually having seen the movie. I like to think of this as a bit like #2, but I also kind of view meta-posts as being sort of like first-date discussions where the topic is the awkwardness of first-dating: okay, as far as it goes, but nothing arises from it. At the end of your comedy bit about the horrors of first-dating, you're still on that first date, and have to deal with this fact just as you had to earlier. It's a strategic dead-end, is what I'm saying. On the other hand, it does buy you some time with which to think of other good stuff to talk about, such as your research project on shooting monkeys with lasers.

In other news, I'm very tired! I shall speak to you all again in a couple days, when I should be working in my new Analytical Chemistry-oriented research group. Awwwww yeah. Incidentally, soliciting topics for future blog-o-posting right now!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

A Game Of Thrones-- TV/Book comparison, pt 1

Spoiler warning: I WOULD NOT ADVISE JULIA TO READ THIS UNTIL SHE GETS, LIKE, SEVERAL MORE CHAPTERS INTO THE BOOK. Also anybody else who doesn't want minor first-season/first-book spoilers for the series.



So I've now both watched and read A Game of Thrones, and I thought it might be neat to investigate how the transition from book to TV series was done. For the most part the lines were kept the same from the book to the screen, which makes any differences cropping up particularly illustrative. I'll be focusing on just a couple of the differences for now, but I'll likely be throwing in a few others later as I notice them.

Difference #1: A Lighter and Softer Stark Family

Catelyn and Ned Stark are much softer and gentler in the TV show than in the series. Catelyn, for example, clearly despises Jon Snow (Ned's bastard child), and this manifests itself in her really, really not wanting him around during times of stress. When Bran gets hurled out the window and Catelyn is sitting at his bedside, Jon comes to say a few words to him before he leaves Winterfell.

In the show:
Catelyn barely tolerates Jon's presence, glowering at him as he speaks to Bran, until finally she tells him "I need you to leave."

In the book:
Catelyn threatens to throw him out of the room, but doesn't actually follow through on her threat. When Jon finishes with Bran and begins to leave the room, Catelyn says "It should have been you (laying in the bed dying)". Definitely the harsher Catelyn, by any standard.

Reason: The show can't let us in the main character's heads like in the books, so they get less automatic sympathy from the audience-- the protagonists have to show that they deserve our sympathy. This means they can't be overly harsh, or the audience will just stop caring what happens to them.

Difference #2: Roz.

Roz. In the show, she's an extremely popular prostitute hired by several of the main characters and... well, she's not actually in the book. As far as I can tell, she serves three apparent purposes, two of them obvious and one of them (I believe) less-obvious.

Reason the First: FAAAAAAAAAANSERVICE.
'Nuff said.

Reason the Second: Interactive thought bubble.
The book series is told in third-person limited, meaning that we basically live inside the point-of-view character's head. That means we get to hear their thoughts as they're having them. Unfortunately, there's not really a non-awkward way to access the important thoughts of main characters on camera; since the perspective rotates between characters, it would feel incredibly awkward to use voiceovers for this purpose. This is doubly true when the book's narrator is performing exposition, rather than the characters themselves.

Roz The Prostitute is a rather elegant solution to this; without really intruding on the main plot, her own character can act as a sounding board for the other characters to, uh, "sound off" on. (I did not mean that to sound as dirty as it did.) For example, look at the scene between her and Theon Greyjoy. The discussion between Theon and she clarifies the complex relationship (a mix of "adopted son" and "hostage") between Theon and the Stark family-- a bit of exposition that would be difficult to do otherwise.

Reason the Third: Greek Chorus
She acts like a sort of greek chorus, putting the actions of the characters in perspective and more-or-less telling the audience how we should feel about them. Lemme use the Theon Greyjoy conversation again as an example. The conversation basically goes:

Roz: Heeeeeey Theon. How's being a hostage treating you?
Theon Greyjoy: I resent that! I'm a Greyjoy, you know, of the Most Noble And Ancient House of Greyjoy-- you've got to treat me with more respect!
Roz: LOL
Theon Greyjoy: No, but seriously, I'm not taking that from a prostitute. I'm a tremendously important individual, you see, worthy of--
Roz: OLOLOLOLOLOLOLOL

This is an important function, since in the books it's very clear, from Theon's private thoughts, that he's a very whiny and self-important individual. His conversation with Roz puts this into greater focus, letting us observe this while Roz, the audience surrogate, belittles him. Hilarity ensues!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Whoo shipping!



Okayokayokay. So there's one thing that bugs me about the new HP movie. And that would be this:


Specifically, why would JK Rowling use a shallow love interest when there's an actually-developed character, like, right there:



These two characters I will subject to the well-known test of "describing her personality if she had never met the love interest." I guess this might not be quite fair-- of course Luna Lovegood would pass the test, because she doesn't actually end up as a love interest, which means without any sort of concrete personality she would just be "extra #14" and probably get eaten by a griffin during the climax of the film.

At any rate, Luna Lovegood is:

  • Probably insane
  • Believes in all manner of bizarre conspiracy theories
  • Maybe psychic (or possibly just got lucky a couple times with her bizarre conspiracy theories)
  • Basically, a female, magical Dale Gribble.
Just imagine this in a dress and witch's hat, and you're basically there.

Ginny Weasley, without Harry, is:
  • Good at magic
  • Ginger?
  • ...
  • Good at magic
My main point being that the movies (and possibly books) would be much improved by merging Luna Lovegood and Ginny Weasley into a single character, named Luna Lovegood. Of course, there are other possibilities for non-shallow alternative love interests. In ascending order of interest, they are as follows:













Thursday, July 14, 2011

CSI: Flotilla

"Commander Shepard! Commander Shepard!"

"Dammit, Jenkins, this'd better be important. Legion's beating the pants off me in Call of Honor."

"Well, sir, the ship Ludkrig just got hit by a missile volley. Blew it to smithereens."

"What?! From what source?"

"The missiles appear to have been shot from the Ludkrig itself. I don't know why."

"Intriguing. Who's flying this ship? I have a hunch."

"Let's see... that'd be Johann Gunneson, sir. He performs well piloting transport ships, but it's been a long time since we've had him flying anything with armaments."

"Hmm. Well, seems to me ol' Johann forgot all he knew about computer-guided missiles. But I guess..."


"...it all came back to him eventually."



Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Computational Chemistry!?

Ah! I very nearly reneged on my promise of another post today. And every two days thereafter. Hrrrrrm. Perhaps I was being overly hasty in making that declaration... or perhaps, just hasty enough?

But no matter. The important thing is, I'm searching for a new research group-- in computational modeling of chemical reactions, no less! This is actually quite a bit more viable than I suspected at first, and I've got an invitation now to go to group meetings for one of the groups I'm interested in. This is a very good thing, because if you're being invited to group meetings this means there's actually a chance you'll be joining the group.

Downsides of computational chem:
  • Requires taking a couple more courses in quantum mechanics next year.
  • It doesn't use any of my painstakingly acquired Organic Chemistry skills.
  • Funding? I dunno.
Upsides of computational chem:
  • I get to program! Wheee!
  • It doesn't use any of my painstakingly acquired Organic Chemistry skills!
  • Involves ingratiating myself with our silicon soon-to-be overlords; this will be useful when THE SINGULARITY arrives, and my programming experience helps me to avoid the attentions of the Flesh Recyclers.
  • Apparently computational chemistry types are all hardcore/raging nerds, whereas other chemistry fields are populated primarily by boring, garden-variety-type nerds.
Although I gotta say, the interview I had with one of the professors today was a bit awkward. He spent quite some time explaining the intricacies of various types of quantum mechanical calculations to me, and I suspect he didn't realize that-- being as I am a former synthetic chemist whose main responsibilities were pouring things into other things-- his discussions of the pros and cons of different electron modeling systems went over about as well as my attempts to teach my dog Dixie how to play chess.

No matter how many times I tell her, she always forgets to castle.


There's often a point in these interviews where I realize I'm in way over my head, but realize also that this has been true long enough that any questions I could ask would instantly reveal that I had only understood about 20-30% of the discussion. Typically my best case in these situations is to smile, nod, and bide my time until I can move the discussion onto safer ground. It's an acquired skill, much like curling your tongue or wrestling honey badgers.







The important thing is, don't wrestle honey badgers.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Man, I haven't written on here in like a month. You know how long that is? That's like thirty days. (Varying, naturally, from month to month. Dammit, Gregorian calendar.)

Anyway! Feeling inspired by HTMC's and Tropegirl's recent forays back into regular posting, I have decided to blog every other day because so help me, I will not be outdone by HTMC. Also, because I always seem to get roped into the trap of waiting for stuff to happen that I want to blog about, and then deciding "eh, not good enough" when I finally consider writing it. As I may have mentioned earlier, in my experience the Muse comes when you call her, but never otherwise!

Therefore, I present to you: a tale from a recent family reunion-type deal in Idaho this weekend! I hadn't heard it, and neither have you!*

So a guy's in a plane, right? And this ancient Buddhist monk is teaching him to skydive. (Look, I don't know why. It's because of, like, enlightenment or something. Anyway, are you telling this tale or am I?)

(Ingrates.)

So the monk tells the budding skydiver, "Remember, when you jump out of the airplane, count to ten, pull this cord to your right, and your parachute will open."

The skydiver replies, "Supposing it doesn't, what do I do then?"

"In the extremely unlikely event of the parachute not opening, we have a backup parachute you can open by pulling the cord on your left."

"And if that doesn't open?"

"Pray fervently to the Buddha for your safety."

"Got it."

So the Moment of Truth arrives, and the man jumps out of the airplane. He counts to ten, and pulls the cord on his right-- nothing happens. He pulls the cord on his left-- the parachute completely fails to open. Finally, believing all hope is lost, he yells "Save me, Buddha!" And a giant, golden hand swoops down from the heavens, plucking him from the air and bearing him gently down to the earth.

On reaching the ground, the man sighs in relief, muttering "thank God!"

Then the hand squishes him.


--------------

*if you know what's good for you. I'm looking at you, Stormshrug.