Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Book Review: The Year's Best Fantasy: First Annual Collection

I've previously read at least one of the The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror anthologies edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling: the 7th (1993). I suspect that I've read another, but if I did I don't remember which one it was. Anyway, I generally enjoyed the 1993 edition (with the glaring exceptions of "Dying in Bangkok" by Dan Simmons and "The Last Crossing" by Thomas Tessier—I had to stop reading both of them before finishing because they were so vile), so when I spotted this in a thrift shop I decided to purchase it. I will review each story separately and then the collection as a whole at the end.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Movie Review: The Host

I knew that The Host was based on a book by Stephenie Meyer, the same author who wrote the Twilight series. So when I decided to rent The Host from RedBox I just assumed that there would be a RiffTrax [1] available to help me make it through the movie unscathed. To my surprise RiffTrax hasn't done anything with The Host, yet. But by then it was too late—I'd already come home with the DVD. So we watched it commentary-free.

Movie Review: Breaking Dawn, Part 1 and Part 2 (RiffTrax)

Breaking Dawn [1] was 756 pages long (hardcover) and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows [2] was 759 pages long (hardcover). Both were made into two movies, each. The Hobbit wasn't even half as long as either, clocking in at a mere 310 pages long. I imagine that when the producers of Breaking Dawn, Part 1 and Part 2 and the producers of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1 and Part 2 found out that Peter Jackson was making The Hobbit into three movies, they all facepalmed.[3] As it was, two movies was a lot of Breaking Dawn to take. So let's all be glad that The Hobbit wasn't around to put dangerous ideas into their heads.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Wisconsin Fungi and Slime Molds

Because of its humid, temperate climate, Wisconsin is host to a greater diversity of fungi and slime molds than Utah.[1] Slime molds used to be classified as fungi (hence the word mold in their name), but they are now classified as amoebas. When food is scarce, the amoebas congregate into a sticky mass (hence the word slime in their name) so that they can create a reproductive structure. A few days ago I went on a walk with Lilli around our apartment complex and took some pictures.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Book Review: Leading Edge, Issue 61

Technically this isn't a book review, it's a review of the 61st issue of the BYU science fiction publication, Leading Edge.[1] I borrowed it from my neighbor who has, in the past, worked on the slush pile [2] and later as a webmaster for the magazine. This particular issue was the "30th Anniversary Edition" and featured special solicited contributions from well-known authors Brandon Sanderson, David Farland, and Dan Wells. I'll give a mini-review of each of the short stories contained therein, but I won't be reviewing the interview, art, book reviews, poetry, or writing tips.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Logo Ambigrams

It's been a while since I posted any ambigrams.[1] That's partly because of how busy I was working on my dissertation last year. It's also because of some of the technical demands in this batch of ambigrams. I wanted to take logos that already existed and convert them into ambigrams. So not only did I have to make words that were mostly legible when read in either direction, but I also had to maintain, as much as possible, the visual style and integrity of the original logo.

NOTE: to pause the animated .gif images, simply hit the ESC key on your keyboard. To resume, hit the refresh button on your browser.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Book Review: Pirate Latitudes

Michael Crichton died in late 2008 of throat cancer.[1] Several months later, in 2009, his publishers (HarperCollin) reported that they had found two manuscripts that he was working on before his death. One was a novel technothriller about fringe technologies, called Micro, which was published in 2011. The other was a novel about pirates [2] that Crichton had been working on sinced the 1970s.[3] This one was given the title Pirate Latitudes and was published in 2009.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Matt Gets Published! III

When I started my Ph.D. at BYU, in 2007, the Department of Microbiology and Molecular Biology [1] had a loose, unwritten rule that Ph.D. candidates needed to publish two scientific papers before receiving their degree—the first to prove you could do it and the second to prove that the first wasn't a fluke. My first publication towards my degree [2] concerned several plasmids (extra, but expendable, pieces of DNA carried by some bacteria) that interfered with the symbiosis between the soil bacterium Sinorhizobium meliloti and it's legume host (plants in the genus Medicago, which includes alfalfa). My second paper towards my Ph.D. didn't actually appear in print until this month (even though I've already graduated [2] and moved to Madison, Wisconsin to work on a post-doc [3]). Since it was written and ready to sumbit, my Ph.D. committee felt I was ready to defend.

The End of Procrastination IV

Last year, as the deadline for my dissertation began to loom, lots of my personal projects got put on hold. A few weeks ago, when I went to Minneapolis for the 22nd North American Symbiotic Nitrogen Fixation Conference [1], I had lots of time on the bus. There was supposed to be wi-fi, but it was out more often than not. So I took the time to touch up some of the photos I've been meaning to upload to Wikimedia Commons.