Wednesday, April 29, 2009

My top five user-powered websites

Having your own website and keeping it updated can be hard. Case in point: it's been a couple of weeks since I've updated my blog (aside, of course, from keeping track of what movies I've watched in my post Movies I should see). The following blogs are a few of my favorite that have gotten around that troublesome area by being powered on the submissions of readers.

PostSecret - The most famous site for this. For those of you not familiar, this is Frank Warren's blog, and each weekly entry is comprised of art postcards sent to him from around the world, each bearing an anonymous secret from the sender.

Dear Old Love - The web owner describes the site as "short notes to people we've loved (or at least liked). Requited or unrequited." Basically, a one- or two-line note to an ex, with some sort of a confession or definition of the relationship.

FMyLife - Perhaps a little overindulgent sometimes, but kudos for people admitting embarrassing moments. Each describes an unfortunate incident that happened to the writer, such as incredibly clumsy or awkward moments. The format of the notes can get on my nerves (each one starting with "Today," and ending with "FML"), but the laughs are worth it.

Texts From Last Night - The largest portion of texts logged on this site are people either incredibly drunk or suffering from the next-day effects of such. Some just make you shake your head, but some of them are a great log of those one-liners you generally just throw out there and then forget.

I Can Has Cheezburger - I know, quite a bit different than the other sites, but still. It's mostly pictures of cats in funny or awkward positions, with an appropriate caption. I get caught up on this site sometimes and could look for hours (and I don't even like cats).

So, that's my top five. What are YOUR favorites?

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Tharon Musser

I just found out via this blip article on IMDB that famed lighting designer Tharon Musser has passed away. I didn't know her... but then I kind of feel like I did a little bit.

I went to the same college as Musser. Everyone who's gone to Berea College knows that it is far more than a college -- it's an experience, a way of life, a defining factor. Once on choir tour with the college, I by chance was housed with an elderly couple who not only were in college at the same time as she was -- they knew her. They told me bits of trivia, like that she had an illegal car that she kept offcampus (cars are very strictly policed at Berea, and in her day would be absolutely forbidden). But most of what I heard of her was from my best friend Sarah, also a lighting designer and graduate of Berea, who closely followed Musser's career and tried to follow her example.

Musser made a splash on Broadway with designs such as the iconic "A Chorus Line", and really introduced computerized lighting as we know it today. There's a pretty good short article about her here, and her Wikipedia entry here.

Friday, April 10, 2009


Okay, is this another one that I'm the last to hear about? I started reading Harry Potter after the 4th book came out, didn't even know Twilight existed until less than a year ago, and I didn't hear about "Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog" until this week. And now I hear about Vampirates. To quote the back of the book:

Well, if pirates are bad,
And vampires are worse,
Then I pray that as long as I be
That though I sing of Vampirates
I never one shall see.

Has anyone read this book? Or books, I should say, as I did a quick search and discovered there are at least 5 or 6 of these things out there. And if you have... are they as bad as they sound? Because while I love pirates, and am impartial about vampires, I think this may be the most intriguing young adult novel since 1980's teen hit The Mall.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

"Come and get it, Potter!"

Originally uploaded by lauraejordan
Another recent knitting project. I knit both the sweater vest and the scarf. It's all in Lion Brand Wool-Ease (a wool\acrylic blend), lovingly knit by those two hands visible in the photo.

The sweater is actually the first garment I've knit, and I'm pretty pleased with it. I think if I was going to make another for myself, I would make the v-neck a little deeper, and add a couple more inches of ribbing at the hips, as well as narrow the shoulders at the sleeve holes.

Both of these items are available for purchase at my Etsy shop, and I'd be happy to answer any questions about the patterns or how to make the items. I'm all about sharing the love!

Cake or Death?

Originally uploaded by lauraejordan
My latest knitting project: Cake or Death gauntlets. It's a heavy modification of a wristlet pattern I found a while back, with a little embroidery action. I know the Eddie Izzard reference is subtle (especially since it's not the most masterful picture of a slice of cake ever created), but I prefer small references rather than a big ol' shirt that says "Hey, I love Eddie Izzard, and he said 'Cake or Death' that one time."

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Hollywood AD

MULDER: How come when people come back from the dead they always want to hurt the living?

SCULLY: Well, that's because people can't really come back from the dead, Mulder. I mean, ghosts and zombies are just projections of our own repressed cannibalistic and sexual fears and desires. They are who we fear that we are at heart-- just mindless automatons who can only kill and eat.

MULDER: Party pooper. Well, I got a new theory. I say that when zombies try to eat people, that's just the first stage. You see, they've just come back from being dead so they're going to do all the things they miss from when they were alive. So, first, they're going to eat, then they're going to drink, then they're going to dance and make love.

SCULLY: Oh, I see. So it's just that we never get to stay with them long enough to see the gentler side of the undead.

MULDER: Exactly.

Excerpt from "The X-Files" episode Hollywood AD (7x18), courtesy of Inside the X

A lot of people will tell a lie when asked what their greatest fears are. After all, why share your greatest fear? You never know who's going to use it against you. Well, I'm pretty honest about my greatest fear. It's zombies. I hate zombies.

I know it's irrational. Zombies probably don't exist... right? It's like Freddy Krueger and other imaginary terrors -- we're still afraid, though there's nothing there. But I'm not afraid of anything else -- not vampires, werewolves, Bigfoot, or any other manufactured creature. What is it about these freaking zombies?

I guess Scully's theory is one possibility. Do I fear that that's all I'm good for? Or is it an amalgamation of my own dislikes? I was not a child who ever bit other people, and I found it abhorrent when another child was a biter. I can be okay with blood in films, but not gore. And, of course, I'm a vegetarian. which began with a childhood "grossout" factor when it came to tendons and veins and all that stuff you relate between the animal and humans... which is the typical fare of zombies, of course.

I guess the best I can do is to hope that if zombies really *did* exist, it'd be more like Mulder says: they're just revived versions of ourselves, reveling in what they had lost. Regardless, I think I'll sleep with a blunt object next to my bed tonight.

Closet Trekkie?

Okay, I'll admit, I don't know a whole lot about Star Trek. My dad must've been a fan, because we had the first 3 films bootleg-taped off TV when I was a kid -- you know, the old-fashioned way, where you had to sit by the VCR with a fresh tape and wait until your movie came on. I'm not sure at what age my older brother discovered the tapes, but I've seen those 3 movies more than I would care to count. Star Trek V: The Final Frontier remains the only one I haven't seen more than once, and is the second movie I remember seeing in a theatre (after The Land Before Time). He loved all the series as well, but I didn't see more than a few episodes of each of those. I guess you could say I became an unwitting fan, much like in later years when my brother discovered James Bond in much the same way. Ah, the days when we were still young enough to want to play with toys, but old enough where the only way I could get my brother to play My Little Ponies with me was if I let the Starship Enterprise visit Ponyland.

Anyway, back to the point. Maybe it's just old muscle memory, or Star Trek is kind of like comfort food, but I'm pretty excited about the new movie. Never mind that Zachary Quinto is in it; the hair and ears do little to obscure his hotness. But I'm interested to see the latest chapter in this saga, and am more intrigued now that I know a group of diehard fans have given the film a thumbs-up. And we all know from the last 3 Star Wars films -- fans don't have to enjoy something even if it *is* in the official "canon"... unless they're dumb.

A surprise screening of the new Star Trek film was held last night in Austin, TX. You can read the thrilling first-hand account at Ain't It Cool News. I'm sure my big brother, who lives in that area now, is pretty pissed off to not have happened to be there. I have to say that my little fangirl heart is a little achy at having missed it myself, but no matter; a few weeks, I'll have my own, Nimoy-free, official-release viewing here in Knoxville. So poo on you all who got to see it. You aren't so special. I can see Leonard Nimoy whenever I want, on YouTube.

Superhero domino mask

That Costume Girl shares her creative idea on a quick, , cheap, disposable domino mask for all your superhero needs.

Mask Wrap

Web Love!

Rainn Wilson's Twitter pointed me towards this website he helped create, Soul Pancake. This link will take you to to info page on the site. To quote:

"We want to make discussions about Spirituality, Creativity, and Philosophy cool again. Were they ever cool? I have no idea. But it seems like a good idea. We want to engage the user to “Chew on Life’s Big Questions”™. (I was kidding about the ™ symbol; you can use that phrase however you want. Even to sell frozen taquitos.)."

I recommend you check it out. We can always use more introspection.

Costume Win

Great costume idea: Jackie Earle Haley. Achieved by combining Rorshach and Freddy Krueger costumes. Fun for the whole family!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Superheroes: Fashion and Fantasy

Superheroes: Fashion and Fantasy

I missed this exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, but there's still an in-depth look at costuming for superheroes on their website. It's a long read, but a good one.

The Science of Superheroes

Using Superheroes to Teach Physics: College Courses in Sci-Fi

( -- One of the more perplexing questions facing science these days is this one: How do we get more young people interested in science? Leading the way are a number of college courses -- that can be taken for credit -- that focus on the science in science fiction. After all, why can't superheroes, Star Trek and Harry Potter teach us about the answer to life, the universe and everything? (Or, at least debate the merits of the answer "42".)

This short article discusses classes at a few universities across the country which deal with reality in relation to a work of popular fiction (namely "The Science of Superheroes", a course taught at the University of California at Irvine). Understandably, not everyone sees it as a valid course -- after all, what part of "real-life science in the world of people who can magically fly" screams "This is the university for your troublesome teen!"?

I, of course, take the proponent's side, based on my own experience. I am not at all a science-minded person. I find some experiments interesting, but when it comes to memorizing facts and formulas, I'm useless. But when I was in high school, I was a huge (and I mean *huge*) fan of "The X-Files". Useless in most everyday situations, yes; but it helped me understand science in a way textbooks alone never could. For example, when I may otherwise never have learned what a chimera was, I was able to recall an episode of the same name, in which a woman was two creatures in one, and put that in the sidebar of my notes. I'm sure I still have some of those notes packed away, scrawling in the margins to "Remember (insert episode name here)!" Association is, after all, purported to be one of the best methods of retention; why should this case be any different?

In a similar vein, the one piece of information I retained in my entire Anatomy and Physiology course in college is that the sarcoplasmic reticulum surrounds the vasicle, because the textbook noted that it was "much like the sleeve of a loosely crocheted sweater". The second I read it, I knew I'd remember it forever.

The point isn't connecting science to something "cool" or "popular", it's relating it to something you already know. Some people, like me, just aren't science-minded. Isn't it nice to think there's some way we could understand it anyway?