First British Scifi Film Released from Archive for Christmas

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First ever British sci-fi feature film released
Britain’s first ever sci-fi feature film, A Message from Mars, will be available to watch in full for the first time in over a century on BFI Player and BBC Arts Online.

The science fiction film  A Message From Mars was first released in 1913, which makes it over a century old.  The original tinting and tones have been restored.  To recreate the original score for this silent film, a piano from 1913 was used for authenticity of sound.  Further work on the film’s sound was done by the New Radiophonic Workshop, also known for creating the sound of Doctor Who’s Tardis.

A Message From Mars was the first full length British science fiction film, beginning a robust tradition of speculative fiction and fantasy in British cinema, and eventually, television.

The film will be released this coming Friday, December 12th.

It’s certainly going to be weird in that way only early cinema can be, and in the way of classic scifi. Reportedly the film has a similar story to A Christmas Carol, or perhaps It’s A Wonderful Life, with a Martian come to Earth to “change the heart of a selfish man.” Sounds like a great reason to stay in and stay warm on a December evening.

Seriously, why do we Facebook?

I’m an analyst at an online marketing company. You would think that I could easily explain what social networks are really for. Self promotion? Communication? Maintaining relationships with people across the world? The answer is messy and changes almost daily.

cat chased by turtleI personally am very bad at my own social media presence. I’m grumpy, I don’t like people, and I unfriend individuals for posting crap like Anti-Vaccine stuff with increasing regularity.  I post an inconsistent mix of articles ranging from geek culture to race issues. Basically, for myself, I break all the rules I’m very familiar with for marketing one’s product or self. If I ever have a book or comic to push, I’ll have some clean up to do.

So what am I doing with Facebook? I mostly use it keep tabs on friends I never see, and send them links to stuff I think they’ll appreciate. I’ve thought about trying to do that with email, but it never really seems to take off. I deleted my original profile and now use a new, very incomplete profile, free of my work or educational history, that is constantly asking me to fill that out. I verified with a Google Voice number I use specifically for things I don’t want contacting me. I do not upload my own pictures there. There are a handful of pages I actually pay attention to, simply because those entities for some reason put more work into their page than their real website (or don’t have a website). A few social groups use private groups to communicate, that’s the main reason I still log in at all.

zombieWhat am I doing with Google+? Basically just hanging out in a private group for the department I work for. I do like using it to find more intellectual things to follow (I have a growing list of Robot-themed pages and people) for the sake of getting interesting news on topics I like. I’m certainly not using it to connect with anyone. And since Google killed the authorship search feature earlier this year, it’s growing less and less relevant. I’m sad about that.

What am I doing with Twitter? I don’t post much, and when I do it’s usually just sending out the same links I like to post on Facebook, though I tend to filter myself much less on Twitter when it comes to sending out incendiary articles. I have pretty much zero following of my own at the moment, so I have that rare opportunity to shout whatever I damn well feel like and no one will hear me. I do, however, avoid hashtag campaigns. The GGator nonsense was more than a little scary.  Mostly I just get to follow people who are interesting; scientists, authors, bloggers I like. It’s also the best way to get immediate news, either locally or nationally, sometimes globally.

corgi runI’m trying to start blogging again, and I really enjoy WordPress and Medium. WordPress has a really great community devoting specifically to teaching people how to make the most of WordPress and develop the habit of using it. I have to wonder if other networks would benefit from such a program.

Tumblr… I get addicted to Tumblr and have to take breaks. It’s probably a good thing that no one bothers with the #NSFW tag, so I just can’t waste time there during my work day.  I like it. If you can just find your people on there, it can be a really beautiful/crazy/weird thing.  But it is really intense, difficult to wrap one’s head around, and Yahoo is trying all kinds of stuff to figure out how to make money off of it.

skateboardcatSo what about Ello? Or Diaspora (cheeseandglory@diasp.org)? I like both of them, but I can’t get any of the people I communicate with online to really use them.  Diaspora would really fit with one of the communities I associate with, but migrating all of them over would take an awful lot of organization. Maybe I just need to go look for other burners already on there and call it good.

I think Ello is for artists and techies right now.  I wish I had the time and focus to try and connect with any of them.  If I was actively producing art right now, this is definitely one place where I would show that off.  Although one could easily ask there why do I need something else besides DeviantArt to maintain?

I wrote most of this blog post originally in my Ello (@cheeseandglory). I only pulled it out so I wouldn’t lose it if the browser crashed. It feels an awful lot like Livejournal, or even the old Myspace blogging feature. That isn’t a bad thing. They were solid services then, and Livejournal is still very much alive and kicking.  I like that Ello currently has limitless possibilities, and that the people who are using it have to figure out how they want to use it.

white squirrelI started thinking about this very big question this morning because I’m reading a white paper from Radium One on a concept called “Dark Social,” which is a very silly name for a simple fact; almost 70% of the times a link is shared, it isn’t done through a Facebook/Twitter/social network post, but rather through directly messaging the link to someone, posting it in a forum, or *gasp* even emailing the link to someone.  That tells me that we’re still interested in a more direct communication, and a conversation about the things that interest us with the people we bother to communicate with.

That’s a big deal.  Huge, in fact.  That’s the baby being more interested in the cardboard box the toy came in than the toy itself.

terrified spacecatPeople get mad at Facebook partly because they’re being herded into someone else’s big vision about how everyone is someday going to communicate, and these people don’t feel like they’re in control.  But the fact is that most of those people have no idea how to be in control of their online lives; it takes a lot of work, knowledge, and deep understanding to really get that. They use Facebook because it’s easy, and it’s easy because it’s prepackaged. It’s like choosing the Twinkie you can eat right away over baking an amazing eclair from scratch. Or Hell, just knowing where to go to get an amazing eclair from the local small business baker.

I am aware that the above paragraph is a very big generalization that ignores the subtleties of demographics. Young people in their 20’s are much more likely to have an innate grasp of what makes a social network useful or useless. Hence Snapchat, Vine, and a million other little mobile experiments coming, going, and occasionally sticking around.  But young people still aren’t using Diaspora, an open source social network alternative that really puts the user in control, down to choosing the server your data is stored in. That might change if they ever get a stable app and someone feels like putting some resources into promoting a Pod to young demographics. That would be a very interesting experiment.

chicken riding turtleThese are very big questions, the evolution of which has fascinated me since the age of IRC channels and MUDS (yes, you read that right).  I’m very interested to see what, if any, effect wearables will have on communication and digital socializing (There’s another thing currently with limitless possibilities, that clever people with find interesting uses for eventually).

My mind may be drawn into these issues today because I recently finished John Scalzi‘s excellent scifi novel Lock In, which tackles a number of big questions about how society responds to and eventually integrates technology.  And there’s my anthropology background; I simply am fascinated by the feedback loop between technology and cultural change. Social media is can even effect how the brain is wired.

Obviously, these things chew at my consciousness pretty insistently. I won’t bore those reading my blog with too many posts like this (unless you folks actually like this sort of thing), but occasionally I just need to ramble on a deep topic.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled cat gif.

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Day Before Thanksgiving Ramble

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This is my first year ever to really cook a Thanksgiving dinner, which we’re taking to my boyfriend’s parents’ house tomorrow. We were originally going to have them over, but as our apartment building nightmare isn’t quite over yet, I’m still not comfortable with guests at our place.

This is the result of one of those awkward “I’m a vegetarian and can’t do that thing you do every year, can we please do something else?” moments with Reed’s parents. They traditionally drive out to Salado to eat at the Stage Coach Inn, which cooks a “traditional” meal that basically consists of meat and chicken stock. Thankfully, they’re very accommodating and sweet. And I get to cook, which is almost always happy making.

Having said that, I’l like to point out that cutting up a pumpkin for roasting is a seriously frustrating experience.

Despite that, Phase I of Thanksgiving cooking was completed last night around 2am, against all sense and reason, and Reed now is home from work guarding a fridge full of pumpkin pot pie filling, roasted sweet potatoes and apples, and the supplies for Phase II;  balsamic roasted brussel sprouts, pie crust, and a second round of pumpkin bread.  He’s home from work with our brand new Wii U, and I am so jealous.

The dark chocolate pumpkin bread I baked last night has been nearly half eaten. Word is quickly spreading around the office, especially among departments I used to belong to, that the time has come and the bread is finally here.

cat eating turkeyI’m looking forward to the long weekend. A day with family, an evening with friends, seeing a movie with a dear friend of ours on Friday, and then we’re going to Celtic Christmas at the Texas Renaissance Festival on Sunday. Of course I’ll try not to feel guilty about not spending the extra two days on our big Rearrange the Whole Damn House project. I’m a little nervous that I may cave in and go on a big trip to Ikea on Saturday, as our grand plan requires buying several new bookcases.

Most importantly, I don’t have to look at a single spreadsheet for four whole days!

My Wurstfest Adventure, or, The Mass Consumption of Animal Flesh

babyduckjourneyWe slept through two alarms this morning. That’s unusual, because the alarms sound like a raging mob of quacking, blood thirsty ducks stampeding into the room to eat our eyes, and we tend to respond to that proactively. Our exhaustion from the events of the past several weeks has finally overcome our very real fear of imaginary ducks.

Normally, I would argue this is a good thing, as we obviously needed the sleep, but today we had plans. Today, we were going to Wurstfest.

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If you aren’t anywhere near central Texas, and you didn’t bother to click on that link I provided as reference, you might be wondering what the hell Wurstfest is. In short, Wurstfest is the real Oktoberfest event of Texas. There is beer, there is meat, there is polka, and there are old ladies wearing drindls. And German-style baked goods.

I should point that a) I’m a vegetarian, and b) my partner doesn’t drink alcohol. This absolutely was a great idea. And we absolutely did not know that we would be pawns in a game stretching all eternity for the very fate of the world.

 

It was cold and damp outside. We drove for about an hour and a half through a thick mist that hid the hills and draped the distant downtown buildings of San Marcos and Kyle in a surreal fog. The mist also made us go briefly insane, as we decided to turn off of the interstate into San Marcos in search of an ATM that would not charge us the crazy fees we knew we’d encounter at the festival. Half an hour of trying to match information on our bank’s website to the varying opinion of Google Maps (who decided overnight to totally change up their Android UI, WHICH DID NOT HELP) left us feeling that paying an extra four bucks for convenience wasn’t that big a deal.

wetcatshakeFinally, we arrived in New Braunfels, and decided to turn off the Maps app and follow the gigantic signs spanning their cute downtown area. Then there was the ordeal with trying to figure out which parking areas were scams and which were legit. After driving around some more, I threw ten dollars at the problem, and we started trudging through the mud and the mist towards Landa Park where the festival is held.

Having never been there before, I was not prepared. It’s gorgeous, with the Comal River flowing through the grounds. It was so cold that big puffs of mist for rising up off of the water and floating out into the road.

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There’s a waterfall. I realize it’s just a spillway, but it looks nice surrounded by the old buildings and the trees.

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After we were done gaping at the spillway, we made our way across the bridge to the Markt, where most of the food and beer is, as well as the warm and generally safe Wursthall. And of course there’s the traditional art celebrating the mass consumption of sausage and general practice of blood sacrifice to the elder gods. That’s what this is depicting, right? I can’t imagine any other reason that anyone would pain this:

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imageWe were starving, but we don’t actively worship the elder gods, so the mass consumption of animal flesh all around us had not yet become an influence. We had some traditional soft pretzels instead. They were, at that particular moment, the best thing ever. Little did we know that we were following the grand schemes of the elder gods…

 

 

And oh yes, from above, the Old Ones were watching us.

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We found our friends we were meeting. Pretzel cravings having been satisfied, we thirsted greatly now needed drink. But to get drink one must have drink tickets. To get tickets, one must pay the beer gods, beneath their great spinning wheel, which I think throws children out into space or the mouth of a space wyrm, at least. Either way, they took our money and we bought a pitcher of Dunkels.

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We then made our way to the Wurst Hall, which is warm, dry, and full of polka. There are rows and rows of tables full of people who generally seem to be at ease. Some people wore traditional hats, some wore drindls. Many of them danced polka out on the floor. It was grand demonstration of the sway the elder gods still hold over the general populace, with this great festival of mass consumption of flesh.

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So much polka…

And we drank.

Even Reed drank, when we realized that they have non-alcoholic St. Pauli Girl.

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But as we drank, our pretzels ran out and we began again to hunger. Yet still, no sausage had been consumed. From above, we felt their eyes on us, unsatisfied…

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The temptation grew stronger, but I held on for a while longer, when I realized that one can buy a dollar’s worth of Pepto Bismol from the vendors. A reminder of the price of service to the Old Ones, and the inevitable, terrible transformation one’s very insides are subjected to.

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But suddenly we were across the festival, standing before a glorious sign for the Edelweis Deli, and its terrible deer head that had summoned us through our hunger and weakness.

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The deer head was speaking to us. Whispering of saurkraut and good spicy mustard, and the taste of meat. Horrified at the thought of ingesting the remains of something with an advanced nervous system, I tried to turn away, but it was too late.

They had Reed.

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True love knows no bounds, and there was no way I was going to let him get pulled inside out until his consciousness was in another dimension without me. The thought of dealing with the sticky, grumpy, gaseous thing left in his place turned my stomach even more than the task now before me.

Smothered in saurkraut and mustard, memories of the old ways and another life rose up in my mind. Of good bratwurst eaten greedily and ignorantly, the twisting horror of my insides simply what was normal. It was such an easy thing…

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I took four bites before I handed it over to Reed. But the Old Ones had won. They had won, and they knew it, celebrating above us the mass consumption of flesh.

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Horrified, I bought the healthiest, least harmful thing I could find, and inhaled the most delicious apple strudel I have ever had.  I could feel its powers fighting against the darkness trying to take hold. I had hope again in its sweet, cinnamony goo filling.

 

 

 

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The drive home was long, and dark. I’ve locked myself away in this room, confused by the strange sounds coming from the kitchen. Water running, dishes clinking, broken occasionally by what could only be described as the deadly vapors of the Elder Gods’ powers being released into our dimension. My boyfriend washing the dishes has never been so terrifying.

As for me, the battle inside has been raging between those four bites of wurst and the strudel. The sounds… oh, the horrible, terrible sounds, like a transdimensional whale trying to rip its way through the fabric that separates our reality from theirs. Their powers will only grow…

terrified spacecatAt least I understand what’s happening. There’s a transdimensional battle for the very soul of our Universe every time I eat meat. But damn, that bratwurst tasted good.  None of the blissfully ignorant will ever know what I really gave up to save the world from being consumed by some dread immortal monster from the Netherworlds.

Happy Wurstfest!

Blogging 101 Day One

catblogI’ve been trying to kick this blog into life for months now, so I decided to give the WordPress Blogging 101 challenge a try.  I signed up for November, and then an unexpected life event ate up nearly the entire first half of the month (I’ll tell that horror story another time). Now I’m going to play catch up this week and see where it takes me.

The first assignment is an introduction post. I’ve always been very bad at those. Here goes.

Once upon a time, I was a enthusiastic writer and blogged regularly. I had a small but growing following that appreciated my sense of humor and story telling style. Then life got really weird, and more or less overnight I wasn’t stable enough to maintain basic commitments that would keep me fed and housed, much less stuff that left me exposed to the entirety of the internet.  So my writing, all my writing, fizzled out. There was a spark here and there over the years, even a few flare ups that almost pulled up the momentum to really do it again, but ultimately I just couldn’t get it together enough to keep a commitment to write regularly, publicly or privately.

hamstermechHappily, in the many years that have passed since then, I’ve put together a very nice little life with a decent job, wonderful partner, and residence in an active, interesting city. I have found myself with enough mental, emotional, and financial slack to really ask what I want to do with my time, and even with my life overall. I’ve always felt a calling to write, and when I do it feels like I’ve found a piece that’s been missing.

I’m not sure what this blog will be about. That has a lot to do with why I can’t seem to keep it going.  I don’t generally read “this is my life story” type blogs, but that’s definitely what I was writing in the past. I’ve taken stabs at becoming a movie or comic or book reviewer, and I’ll keep posting my thoughts on those things here.  I also really enjoy extra nerdy articles that are the result of hours of research and dot connecting, so some of those will show up.  I cook a lot, and have thoughts on vegetarianism and some of the other food movements going on. I make stuff, and I love craft/DIY blogs with great tutorials. I’m interested in news that has anything to do with scientific discovery, and I’m also a big online marketing nerd thanks to my job. I love monster movies, science fiction, and cheesy horror. I have really good advice on how to teach yourself anything and make it in today’s world without a college degree. I have an unhealthy love for cat GIFs.

I think I’ll just take a shot gun approach to it, and try to babble daily about anything that catches my interest until the blog develops a real personality. I chose the name Cheese and Glory kind of with that intent, after all.  To create a place where all my interests can live together. If I want to do something more personal, or separate out some of my other stuff, I can always start another blog.

So, yeah, that’s my introduction. I’m Jenn, and this is the blog Cheese and Glory.

Review – The Hundred Foot Journey

movie poster for The Hundred Foot JourneyThis is the warm and fuzzy date night movie of the summer.  Grab your person you like to feel happy with and go see The Hundred Foot Journey this weekend.

A sweet story about chasing dreams, tough decisions, and making peace from the director of Chocolat, Lasse Halstrom, The Hundred Foot Journey pulls you in so close that you can almost smell the clash of turmeric against subtle French sauces.

The Kadam family has run a respected restaurant in Mumbai for years, when one terrible evening politics turn an angry mob onto their neighborhood. They lose everything in a fire. The family lands for a time in England as refugees, until the unstoppable Papa, played by Om Puri, decides that England is unsuitable for the new restaurant he dreams of, throws his children in a van and starts driving across Europe.

Happenstance breaks the van down in a small French village.  Papa, and his cooking prodigy son Hassan (Manish Dayal) fall in love with an abandoned old restaurant for sale. Seeing also the amazing quality of fresh local ingredients at the town market, Papa decides to buy the property and settle the family down.  This horrifies his more sensible children, because directly across the street is a restaurant known regionally for its highly rated classic French cuisine.  How could the Kaddam family possibly compete? Unperturbed, Papa is determined to bring fine Indian cooking to the area, fully believing that Hassan, an incredibly talented chef, will soon be renowned for his cooking.

Across the street, Madame Mallory (Dame Helen Mirren) has little patience for either competition or a neighbor who could affect her carefully cultivated classic French atmosphere.  A fierce cold war quickly ensues between the Madame and Papa, the blows ranging from dirty tricks at the market to demanding city code enforcement.  While his father wages war, Hassan seeks out an education in French cooking, befriending Marguerite (Charlotte Le Bon), the Madame’s sous chef.

These characters are rich and worth knowing, and the Hundred Foot Journey they travel together is a story you will be glad to know.  This is a film about people, and their conflicts, and working things out.  It is both heart wrenching and positive. You should see A Hundred Foot Journey with someone who likes your smile.