Zoë Keating is Phenomenal

27 02 2009

I stole that title directly from Wheaton’s site.  No apologies.  You’ll understand after you watch.

Quoth the Wheaton:

See that MacBook next to her? She uses that to sample herself several times to build a rhythm, and then she plays over it, like a one-woman string quartet. Or quintet. Or awesometet. I didn’t realize this the first time I heard her; I just thought her music was haunting and beautiful, but once I knew what she was doing, I was awestruck. In fact, knowing how she does it, I defy you to listen to it again and keep your jaw off the floor.

So you don’t have to watch her for the whole 7 min.  Just watch her for a bit and then let it play in the background.  Or better yet, don’t take your eyes off her once!

Wonder if I can get her permission to sample some of her music for the astronomy podcast this October.



21 02 2009

So it’s been a while since I’ve written.  I’ve had so many things going on that the blog had to move to the back of the must-do line.  Well, I’ve been caught up for several days now but I still haven’t been able to get back into any routine.

I had a fantastic time on the trip and I’m pleased with all the people who went.  I will post a full report soon.

In the meantime, there are so many things happening astronomically right now that I feel WAY behind in that area.  I’m probably going to take care of catching up with some of those things first.  I’m sure as soon as I start writing again I’ll bombard you with stuff.

The Wild Green Yonder

8 02 2009

Oooooooooo!   You know what this post is about, don’t you?!?!?


The final Futurama DVD is being released on February 24, and from the reviews I’ve read from the pre-release screening at the NY Comic-Con, it could be the best of the series.  There’s a very good write-up about it over at io9.com. Here’s a snipet:

And as always, since the Futurama writing team is stocked with more Harvard math majors than Texas Instruments, there’s a couple of science references clearly meant for about .01% of the audience. Personal favorite: a space-zamboni buffs the rings of Saturn, while a sign in the background reads “Mind The Keeler Gap.” That being the 42-kilometer wide gap in Saturn’s A-ring, not a nod to Futurama/Simpsons scribe Ken Keeler. Hey guess what, Keeler majored in Applied Mathematics at Harvard University!

When a beloved series ends it leaves a gaping hole in the hearts of its fans.  Occasionally this prompts the creators to step out on a limb and produce some extra content that runs in the theaters.  There are many examples — Star Trek, X-Files, Twin Peaks, Powerpuff Girls, Star Trek again, Cowboy Bebop.  Would Scooby-Doo fit on that list?  How about Batman?

Anyway, the masterminds behind Futurama chose to instead produce movies that went direct-to-DVD, probably a good move since they had several full-length scripts in the works.  If they were going to do a one-shot, like the Simpsons movie, then the theaters would have definitely been the way to go.  But I don’t think movie-goers would have supported more than a couple of trips to the theater, especially considering how forgetful Bender’s Game was.  So rather than start one in the theater and then looking like it had been a failure by releasing the others to DVD, the folks in charge did the right thing by putting each of these gems straight into the DVD market where they can stand on their own and can become underground classics — which in many cases makes them even more popular in the future than traditional money-makers.

So awesome!  I really hope this one lives up to the hype and gives us a lot of quality lines to quote to our geeky friends that’ll confuse all the ‘normal’ folks who really should just give up and go back to their Biggest Loser obsessions and Friends reruns.  Go geeks!

I’m going to see Ben Stein

6 02 2009

So I know he’s famously controversial with his scientific opinions, but c’mon!  Who can deny that they don’t find his voice soothingly hypnotizing!  And he’s coming to a college campus near me.  So if you’d like to join me, here’s the info:

Ben Stein

Ben Stein
February 10, 2009, 7:30 p.m.,

Harding University, Searcy AR

He’ll be talking in the Benson Auditorium — and there’s no admission fee.  Here’s a map.  (It’s located in the middle of the academic buildings.)

So with all the heat he’s gotten from the scientific blogging community, why would I go?  Because I want to hear what he has to say.  Ben Stein is a brilliant man who has served Presidents and written many highly acclaimed books.  I’ve been wanting to meet him for a very long time.  Long before he upset so many folks.

But at this point I’m not going to give any sort of opinion of my own toward anything he may have said.  I want to listen to him myself and review his motives and his actual words to my own satisfaction.  Hopefully, I’ll even get to ask him a question or two at the end of his talk.

Hmmmmm.  Listening to a man before passing  judgment…  Would you ask anything less of me?

If you’d like to go listen with me, I’d love to have you.  Seriously!  Let me know ahead of time and we’ll meet up someplace.  Should be an interesting evening one way or the other.  Oh, and I’ll be sure to take good notes and report back what happens to my blog.  Promise!

Just for you, Dave!

4 02 2009

This hawsome pic is of Mt. Rainier near Seattle.


See those tornado-like puffy things?  They’re lenticular clouds.  I gleaned this pic from NASA’s Astronomy Picture of the Day, though it’s not really about astronomy.  (Aaaah, they do that sometimes.)  Anyway, go over there for tons more information!

And Dave, should you see something like this you really should take a picture for us.  ‘k?

10 Things You Didn’t Care To Know About Me

3 02 2009

These are facts about me, Terry Johnson.  They are little known, rambling, uninspired, useless facts.  I was going to call them FAQs, but really no one would ever ask me this stuff.  So they’re more like RAQs, I guess.  Yeah, that’s the ticket!

Try to stay conscious.

1.  My favorite food is indeed cornbread & milk. Not cornbread …and milk.  Cornbread & milk!  You crumble up the cornbread into a glass of milk and eat it with a spoon.  There’s nothing in this world I’d rather eat.  Even apple pie.  Although cornbread and peas are an incredible combination as well.

2.  Beans are my nemesis. Peas are awesome.  Beans are evil.  Any kind of bean.  Don’t want ’em in my chili or on my taco.  And by peas I mean purple-hull peas, not those nasty green roundish things.

3.  I own Ren & Stimpy’s first season. One of my all-time favorite sketches from this series is when Stimpy is playing Dr. Stupid and is asked what that white thing is in his can of beans.  He responds, “The Queen Bean!  And all the other beans are the worker beans!”  Thank you, Dr. Stupid.  The second season was terrible.

4.  I’ve met Billy West. The entertainment committee at UCA invited him to give a speech on the ubiquity of humor across cultures one night while I was in school there.  At least, that’s what he talked about regardless of what he was actually brought there to do.  He showed a clip of Ren & Stimpy overdubbed in Japanese and it was just as funny without knowing any of the words.  Really cool.  Also, we got to hear him say, “No sir, I don’t like it.”

5.  I own a DivX player. Actually, I own two!  It works great for putting all my Stephen King movies on a single DVD and then just keeping up with that one disc instead of a collection.  And if I miss 24 or House I just pull down a copy in xvid format, copy it to a flashdrive, and watch it through my player.  I’ll be taking a player along to Nashville in a couple of weeks with my students, just in case someone has all five seasons of Futurama ripped down to 3 DVDs.  (like I do!)

6.  I close my eyes during really scary scenes. I love scary movies — at least the thoughtful kind.  Hack and slash films don’t really keep me interested, but I love thrillers like What Lies Beneath, The Frighteners and 13 Ghosts.  My favorite scary movie is possibly the remake of Stephen King’s The Shining with Steven Weber giving a knock-down performance.  I hate the Kubric version, but with King writing the teleplay himself, this version gets time in my player every year.  Still, when the kid walks into that bathroom and you know the crazyscary lady is behind that curtain…  I haven’t actually ever seen that part.  Brrrr!

7.  I love the movie Hackers. Sure, why not?  But I think Matthew Lillard has something to do with it.  He really made his character believable, which is more than I can say for anyone else in that movie.  Especially Angelina Jolie.  But wow, was she ever teh hawt!

8.  I do not think Angelina Jolie is hot. Yeah, I know what I just said… but I think that was the geek in me talking.  She played a hacker in that movie and as every guy knows there’s nothing hotter than a girl who’s also a geek.  After that she played normal roles and saw that I wasn’t really attracted to her at all.  Maybe it was her ever-ballooning lips that turned me away.

9.  I am a nerd, not a geek. But I was always a geek-wannabe.  My parents took away my D&D dice when I was in my early teens because of some made-for-TV movie that showed some kids going schizo from playing it.  My folks also thought Star Wars figurines were too pricey, especially when you could get some Space 1999 knock-offs for a lot less.  (In retrospect, I really wish I had some of those old Space 1999 collectibles back, but my mom gave them all away.)  No, I’m afraid I’m just a nerd.  Doomed to be smart enough to calculate square roots in my head, but not cool enough to fit in with that hip role-playing crowd.

10.  My middle name is Luther. I received a lot of flak for this back in high school.  I put up with some kids calling me Luthor for years.  They meant it mean and I bore their insults.  Now that I’m much older I really wish I had just owned it.  I think it would be cool to be known as the evil Luthor.  Maybe they would’ve started calling me Lex.  Now there’s a cool name!  Not at all like that nerdy name, Clark.  And then later in life instead of writing a blog spot about how the kids used to make fun of me and call me Luthor, I could have focused my persona into an insatiable drive to engineer a masterful plan of world domination and complete annihilation of my enemies thus fulfilling the role created by my tormentors’ branding in delicious irony!  And then you would have no choice but to embrace your new balding overlord!  Bwahahahaa!  Except, of course, I was never quite that cool and my nerdiness actually self-branded me solidly as a Clark.  Oh well.  A man can dream.  A man can dream…

Bonus Fact:  My favorite song is One Country by Midnight Oil. It’s really close between that one and Don’t Dream It’s Over by Crowded House.  There’s this fabulous line in One Country where Peter Garrett sings “Who laughs at their nagging doubts?”   Funny story here.  One night I was playing that album while working late and a coworker quite seriously asked, “Did he just say ‘Who laughs at their naked dance?”  Ummm.  Wow.  But to this day I can’t hear that line without thinking about the line it could have been.

So there you have it.  All the RACs I could string together for now.  Next installment… Lex Sings The Best Of William Shatner!  Stay tuned.