Christopher Merle

Que sera, sera, whatever will be, will be, but first I need more coffee.

Month: August 2006

Children of the Corn

I just finished reading Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma and so far I’ve learned American’s are indeed Children of the Corn, Carbon-13 based life-forms, or walking corn chips. Maize has a special ability to absorb more carbon-13 isotope than other plants. Corn pervades our entire food chain from the high fructose corn syrup in our soft drinks to our corn-fed hamburgers.

Because of Corn’s ability to metabolize Carbon-13 it leaves an unmistakeable, mass-spectrometer fingerprint over our entire food chain in the US. Anyway, read the book. I will continue to remain an omnivore, though the book certainly explains why some people go vegan.

Just watched this talk given by Joel Salatin of Polyface Farms. His farm and philosophy were covered extensively in The Omnivore’s Dilemma.

Comic Books

I have a traditional view of comic books. Comic books are for kids. And are a good way to get them to read. I read comic books when I was a kid and I grew out of them. I have expressed this opinion on numerous occasions and I get dirty looks from adult readers of comic books. Then they ask me what I read? I’d say DC comics. And they would say “Oh, well that explains everything.” I get the same response from Christians who ask me what I was raised as when I tell them I’m no longer a Christian. I’d say I was raised Catholic and they would invariably respond “Oh, well that explains everything.” Other than annoying me it explains nothing and all it does is reinforce my opinion of both groups.

I’ll save my comments about religion for another blog entry, so back to comics. I lived to read the Sunday comics in the newspaper. I’d read them everyday in the newspaper. I’d get newspapers from my grandmother and aunt who had comics that weren’t in our local newspaper. I watched Saturday morning cartoons when they were only on Saturday. I still watch animated cartoons. My current favorites are SpongeBob and Angry Beavers.

So why don’t I still read comic books then? I outgrew them. I think that response is what annoys the adult comic book fans. I have an exception rule. There are certain genres and kinds of foods I don’t like, but I’ll make an exception if they are really good. I have read a few X-Men compilations. I’ll watch a horror film if it’s really good. I’ll eat chocolate cake or ham if it’s really good as well as Tex Mex. Yeah, I’m a snob when it comes to certain things. I’ll watch mysteries and westerns but not read them. I’ll read the ocasional mystery. I’ll even watch comic books that were turned into movies.

There are just some things I won’t invest too much effort or time in. I don’t expect comic book fans to like other genres or medias. So it bothers me when they say I haven’t read the right comic. That may be true, but I’m not interested. So what prompted me to write this blog entry?

I read an article on the Christian Science Monitor website about graphic novels. Graphic novels are book length comic books. And how it was getting tweens to read more. Tweens are pre-teen children 8-12. And you know what, that is the perfect demographic for comic books. That’s when I read them. It was about the sixth grade when I discovered book science fiction and started my transition to the books.

It’s not about what to read or what format to read. It’s about reading. It’s getting kids to read. So there.
Tweens curl up with graphic novels.

Science Is Irrelevant

I was reading about The Republican War on Science, a book I’m likely to read. I was reminded of a talk that Feynman gave now preserved in a book. He said that science was irrelevant. Unfortunately, I have to agree. How else could we let this war on science be winning? He said that we allow it to be irrelevant. Unfortunately it is very relevant, but everywhere it is has become highly politicized. Things like the conclusion from climate research that man is responsible for global warming; Embryonic stem cell research; food safety; the overprescription of antibiotics, bird flu and other pandemic threats. The list goes one.

In a talk that Feynman gave at the Galileo Symposium in Italy in 1964, he captures this aspect of scientific ignorance in his unique way. “I want to answer the question as to why people can remain so woefully ignorant and not get into difficulties in modern society. The answer is that science is irrelevant. And I will explain what I mean just in a minute. It isn’t that it has to be, but that we let it be irrelevant to society.” [source: The Pleasure of Finding Things Out, Perseus Publishing]

Armadillocon

For some unknown reason, I kept thinking that Armadillocon was in Amarillo, TX. I don’t know how many times I went to their website and Austin, TX simply did not register. Anyway, Melissa and I drove down to Austin. We stopped in McKinney overnight, so we didn’t have to drive it all in one day. Along the way we saw the signs for Bio Willie. Willie Nelson’s biodiesel truck stop. I wish I’d gotten a picture.
Overall I enjoyed the convention. They had lower attendance this year due mainly to their hosting World Fantasy Convention in November. The hotel was really nice. There were only two room parties, Fen Con and Apollocon.

I’d say the highlight of the con was Violet Crown Radio Players‘ presentation of King Kong. They had a very nice set up. an industrial sized mixer, and lots of $300 microphones. The best part were the period costumes the voice actors wore. I closed my eyes a number of times to imagine I was listening to it on the radio. It worked. I’m a big fan of radio theatre. I fell in love with it when I heard my first episode (Fit the Third) of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy when it first aired on Public Radio in Tulsa way back in 1980, I think.

The two panels I enjoyed the most were on fantastic fiction of the 19th century and Robert E. Howard, the creator of Conan. I was a little disappointed in the panel on online publishing. The got sidetracked onto epaper and other realsoonnow technologies. But basically, there is still no viable model yet for science fiction at least to make money in online publishing. The dealer’s room was pretty good. It had fewer dealers than Conestoga and was more spread out. It is way too crowded. They either need to give them more room or have fewer dealers. Their art show was smaller than ours, but good. I liked the way Conestoga’s is laid out better.

I’ll have more to say later. I think.

Cone-f***ing-stoga

Conestoga is Tulsa’s “literary” science fiction and fantasy convention is over for yet another year. I had a great time, but didn’t get to see much of the con. I spent most of the time in the podcasting room during the day Saturday and Sunday. I’m the podcaster you see. I got a lot of great interviews. And I’ll be posting them on the Conestoga website over the next few months. Elspeth Bloodgood did a great job on the podcasts I asked her to host. I owe her a beer.

Next year, I’ll do fewer podcasts so I can see more of the con. I had no problem doing them. At my last one of the day I was setting up to my last interview of the day Saturday. It was one of the bigger name guests. And he/she/it asked me basically if I did this all day. I said, hang on a second, and I’ll tell you my secret. I had to take care of something real quick before answering. I then said I used to work in a call center and talked all day long to people I didn’t want to. Now I get to talk to people I want. (OK that was written awkwardly, but you can figure it out if you read it again several times, but is probably not worth the effort).

As for the convention itself, if the fans and guest don’t notice any problems then it was a good con. Alas, there were a few noticeable glitches, but overall it was a good con. I only had two beers the whole con though I probably drank 4 or 5 hurling monkeys. I’m not sure I want to know what was in them. Tasty as they were they didn’t have enough alcohol in them for me to get blottoed.

I’m not sure if my master plan worked. Only the next few months will tell. Paul Fischer of the Balticon Podcast inspired me to do a convention podcast and thus the Conestoga Podcast was born. We are the second con to do them. I searched and searched and searched the Internets and could not find another science fiction or fantasy convention other than Balticon’s. There are lots of sci fi related podcasts out there. Oh, my master plan.

I want to spread the Gospel of podcasting to mid-America fandom. Podcasting is still so new that most people give you a blank stare when you bring up the subject. It really is a great tool to promote a convention. I interviewed guests who would be attending beforehand and I interviewed guests at the convention.

I’m sure I’ll have more to say later. The question is will I write it in my f***ing blog.

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