Archive for July, 2013

Ode to Joy Played on a Theremin in a Matryoshka Doll

Wednesday, July 31st, 2013

“The players here are using devices called Matryomins. They’re single-oscillator theremins that happen to be contained inside a matryoshka doll.”

167 of them.

Shoegazer Sunday: Belle and Sebastian’s “Sleep Around the Clock”

Sunday, July 28th, 2013

Here’s another “Is it Shoegaze or not” entry, with Belle and Sebastian’s “Sleep Around the Clock,” which is more bouncy retro low-fi pop, but there’s enough of a shoegaze tinge to it (a little like Black Tambourine) that I’m throwing it in here.

Plus I like the sciency theme of the video. So there.

Restaurant Review: July 27, 2013: Prima Pizza Pasta

Saturday, July 27th, 2013

(Here’s a restaurant review in route to its place on

Prima Pizza Pasta
6001 W Parmer Ln (the same corner as the HEB)

Once upon a time, this space was a CiCi’s pizza. And it closed. How hard can it be to make a profit at a pizza place when your primary ingredient is cardboard?

So I was somewhat skeptical when new pizza place went in there. Though situated at a semi-major intersection at Parmer and McNeil, it’s as far as you can get from the center’s anchor store (HEB) and still be in the same center. So how good could their chances be?

After more than a year: So far, so good. It really helps when you serve excellent pizza.

Things started off right with the garlic cheese bread, which was excellent; a fellow diner said it was better than that served at Reale’s, which is high praise indeed. Also good were the free rolls. (Alas, the calimari remains nothing to write home about.)

The pizza itself remains excellent, an exemplary example of the new York style soft thin-crust pizza; I’d have to compare it back-to-back with Reale’s to see which I prefer. In fact, I like the pizza so much that I frequently pick up a slice or two on Fridays. At some point I also want to try some of the non-pizza dishes, which have received a fair amount of praise from fellow diners. And the service from our waitress was also excellent, with many an preemptive soft-drink refill.

If you like pizza and live anywhere north, you should definitely make an effort to check out Prima. So far they seem to have remained undiscovered, and have plenty of uncrowded seating to enjoy some delicious Italian food.

Hollywood Auction Alert

Saturday, July 27th, 2013

Hollywood auction house is having another big auction of film memorabilia, including a few interesting SF-related items:

  • The fourth issue of the fanzine Imagination, which includes Ray Bradbury’s first published story.
  • Willis O’Brien’s very shoggothian concept art for an unproduced film called The Bubbles, featuring “bubble-like creatures in Baja, California that devour everything in their path.”

  • Electrodes from both the James Whale Frankenstein and Young Frankenstein.
  • A diving helmet from 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.
  • Concept art from Forbidden Planet.
  • Charlton Heston’s torn Planet of the Ape pants, plus ape masks.
  • Props from Alien and Aliens
  • A bunch of Star Wars posters and props.
  • Lots of The Nightmare Before Christmas props and sets.
  • Some Matrix stuff, both from the good one and the crappy ones.
  • That farking annoying robot from The Black Hole.
  • Frank’s bunny mask from Donnie Darko.
  • Enough stuff from The Wizard of Oz. and The Sound of Music to start your own museum.
  • Plus Bruce Lee’s nun-chucks, Conan’s sword, the Terminator’s gun, Jason’s machete, Maximus’ axe, Legalos’ arrow, Indiana Jones’ whip, Jack Sparrow’s sword, Captain Kirk’s phaser, a Ghostbusters proton pack, The Comedian’s pistols, Freddy Kreuger’s fingernails, Rambo’s knife, James Bond’s gun, and Scarface’s “little friend.”

    The auction is online in a “Flipbook” format, evidently invented because HTML was insufficiently annoying.

    Alice and the Lizard People

    Tuesday, July 23rd, 2013

    You’ve probably heard of Alice Walker, author of The Color Purple and the fringe SF book The Temple of My Familiar.

    What you may not have heard is that she’s a fan of David icke, he of the shape-shifting lizard people.

    And Ms. Walker is evidently a believer:

    Earlier I wrote that David Icke reminded me of Malcolm X. I was thinking especially of Malcolm’s fearlessness. A fearlessness that made him seem cold, actually, though we know he wasn’t really. All that love of us that kept driving him to improve our lot; often into quite the wrong direction, but I need not go into that. What I was remembering was how he called our oppressors “blue eyed devils.” Now who could that have been? Well, we see them here in David Icke’s book as the descendants of the reptilian race that landed on our sweet planet the moment they could get a glimpse of it through the mist that used to cover it (before there was a moon). No kidding. Deep breath! Yes, before there was a moon! (Oh, I love the moon; can I keep it? Please?). Anyway, there they came, these space beings (we’re space beings too, of course, not to forget that). But they looked…. different than us. And they were.

    They wanted gold and they wanted slaves to mine it for them. Now gosh, who does this remind us of? I only am asking. You do the work. Apparently their own planet needed this metal to continue its, apparently, long life. Credo Mutwa, Zulu shaman – and I am on my knees here in gratitude that he held on long enough to tell us about this – calls them the Chitauri, which has become my favorite word of all time (well, of this time that I’m learning all this): my partner and I go around saying Oh, Chitauri, whenever we get a glimpse of one or two of the Chitauri offspring, aka Illuminati bloodline families and their puppets, on the telly. It’s quite the stress reliever, just knowing what we’re looking at. And I like saying “telly” too, because it sounds so English and David Icke-esque.

    It’s an amazing book, HUMAN RACE GET OFF YOUR KNEES, and reading it was the ultimate reading adventure. I felt it was the first time I was able to observe, and mostly imagine and comprehend, the root of the incredible evil that has engulfed our planet. A lot of it is how shall we say: shocking, beyond belief (but not really, if you don’t get too scared), stunning, profound. The deconstruction of language is breathtaking, the interrogation of symbols startling. Magical, in a way. I kept going: Oh, so that’s why…. You will too.

    The Reptilian space beings whose hybrid (part human, part reptile) descendants make our lives hell in Paradise were blue eyed devils to Malcolm X, the devil himself to my Christian parents, who never talked about eye color, which I think was not only prudent but wise, although they seemed clear enough about his sex, and as demons in many other religions, including the non-religion, Buddhism, where the advice is often to invite them in until they go away. But maybe these were other kinds of demons. Not the ones controlling not just you, but everything.

    Sorry, I’m still in the “beyond belief” camp.

    In a more recent post, Walker expresses enthusiasm for Icke’s new 24-hour international news network.

    (In the video Icke says he’s crowdsourcing his new network, called The People’s Voice, and, in fact, he’s raised over £300,000.)

    Well, we all have our flaws. I enjoy truly crappy Sci-Fi original movies like Sharknado. Alice Walker believes in shape-shifting lizard people who rule the world and oppress black people.

    It’s always something…

    Library Additions: Two Interesting Books

    Monday, July 22nd, 2013

    My acquisition of new books didn’t stop while I was cataloging my big Zelazny purchase, though it did slow down. In particular, Half Price Books had one of their regular coupon sales, where the coupons start out by offering you 50% off one book Sunday, 40% off Monday-Tuesday, etc. Since Dwight was going to be out of town, he generously gave me his coupons before he left, so I used two 50% off coupons for the following the first day of the sale:

  • Ballard, J. G. The Drought. Jonathan Cape, 1965. First hardback edition and first complete edition, a Near Fine+ copy, with spine of book itself slightly discolored and small sticker for London bookseller Foley’s on inside cover, in a Fine dust jacket. Currey, page 22. Goddard and Pringle, J. G. Ballard: The First Twenty Years, item 59. Bought for $212.50, marked down from $425.

  • Chabon, Michael. Fountain City: A Novel Wrecked. McSweeney’s, 2010. First edition paperback original, a small, slightly oblong format, roughly 5 1/4″ high, by 6 1/4″ long, a Fine- copy in Fine- fold over wrappers (which fold out into a sort of map picture), with a tiny, 1/16″ cut to top font cover. The opening chapters of a novel Chabon abandoned. Bought for $22.50, down from $45.

  • Shoegaze Sunday: Alcest’s “Beings of Light”

    Sunday, July 21st, 2013

    I can’t decide whether Alcest is Shoegaze, Depressive Metal, or some offshoot of the RenFaire school of ProgRock (more long-forgotten French prog band Manticore than Jethro Tull). Here’s “Beings of Light,” which features a female lead singer rather the usual metal “screaming with a mouthful of gravel” that seems to have become standard in the genre, which they do on some of their other songs.

    Whatever it is, it’s interesting enough to be worth a listen.

    Happy 44th Birthday, Apollo 11

    Saturday, July 20th, 2013

    To celebrate the 4th anniversary of the moon landing, here’s footage from For All Mankind, with Brian’s Eno’s “An Ending (Ascent)” on the soundtrack.

    I recommend both the movie and the soundtrack.

    Sharknado 2: The Sharknadoing

    Wednesday, July 17th, 2013

    Our short national nightmare is finally over! (Or, alternately, continues.)

    There will be a sequel to Sharknado.

    Set in New York City.

    Since John DeNardo at SF Signal has dubbed me “The Official Sharknado News Source,” I feel that I would be remiss in not mentioning it.

    I’m going to go ahead and predict right now that it will feature one scene with an enraged Alec Baldwin pummeling a shark to death with his fists.

    Oh, they also want Johnny Depp to star in it. Good luck with that…

    Major Award Announcement: Runner-Up to Awfulness

    Monday, July 15th, 2013

    I am proud to announce that I have “won” (if won is the proper word) the coveted Grand Panjandrum’s Special Award in the Bulwer-Lytton Contest.

    The Bulwer-Lytton Contest is to write the worst possible opening sentence to a non-existent novel. I’ve won Dishonorable Mention several times, but this is the first time I’ve placed higher (Grand Panjandrum’s is essentially equivalent to second place).

    My “winning” entry, in all its dubious glory:

    “Don’t know no tunnels hereabout,” said the old-timer, “unless you mean the abandoned subway line that runs from Hanging Hill, under that weird ruined church, beneath the Indian burial ground, past the dilapidated Usher mansion, and out to the old abandoned asylum for the criminally insane where they had all those murders.”

    Look upon my prose, ye mighty…