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what to buy me for christmas. [seven things. 12.1.10]

Hm, I see that look in your eyes. You look worried, apprehensive, even a bit nonplussed. You don’t know what to buy me for Christmas, but you aren’t sure how to ask. Well, fear not, the mere fact that you want to buy me something for Christmas at all is charming. You’re so sweet!

I have decided to help you out, here is an entire post, a seven (because seven is the perfect number, making this the perfect list) things post, where I tell you exactly what sorts of things I like. You can take this information and simply buy me something off of my list, or, you can use the list as inspiration to buy me something similar. Also, feel free to use this list to buy things for other loved ones. My taste is pretty awesome, and regardless of who you are buying for, your kids, your pets, your spouse, your grandma… anyone would love to receive any of the gifts on this list. It’s universal.


1. Number one of my list for a reason. I am in love with this print… I want a copy for every room in my house, and maybe two for the bedroom.

Buy it here.


2. I already linked to this during the Halloween Moviefest, but it is worth linking to again.

Buy it here.


3. Fucking Boba Fett sneakers!!

These had a limited run, and it was a while ago, so good luck finding them.

Buy it somewhere??


4. Alt Movie Posters

These things are like hipster movie lover crack. I’m a sucker for them.

You can find some of my personal favorite designers of said posters here, here and here. Also, here.


5. Jawa Lawn Gnome… this list makes me look more like a Star Wars fanatic than I remember being.

Buy it here.


6. A Doctor Who keychain, specifically the Sonic Screwdriver. Unless you know someone who is selling their old Tardis, this is the closest I can come to actually being Doctor Who.

Flashlight form works too.

Buy it here: Keychain. Flashlight.
7. The National

Would someone be willing to look into how much it would cost to put them on call at all times. All I really want is to know that whenever I’m in the mood for a National show I could just give them a call and get my fix. That would be really great, thanks!



Like every blog in the universe, we get lots of spam in our comments section from random bots trying to add links to sites. It’s a pretty awesome part of my day, going in to make sure all the spam is actually spam, because once in a while a real comment goes there by mistake. The reason it’s awesome is because often, the fake comments that are supposed to pass as a real reader’s thoughts on a post are utterly nonsensical. The better ones look like vague praise, a random “Great article!” thrown in with a devious link to a weight loss calculator. However, those are actually few and far between. Often, the comments are just a random string of words that has no possible meaning. I wanted to share today’s example of this with you.

Hello admin did you had old videos ? I appreciate clerical evolve for my dad …

The comment is so awesome, I almost allowed it to attach to the post. It’s such a universal feeling right? Who doesn’t appreciate clerical evolve for their dad?


secret rooms and history boners.

I had a conversation recently with someone who claimed to have ‘wasted’ her time majoring in history in college. When I smacked her across the mouth, stood over her and screamed ‘WHAT DO YOU THINK INDIANA JONES MAJORED IN? BUSINESS?!’ I think she realized the important place that history takes in our society.

All the same, I found her outlook unsettling. Perhaps what the worldwide students of history need is a new leader. Someone that can inspire them to reapply themselves to deciphering the lessons of the past, someone that won’t end up starring alongside a vine-swinging Shia LaBeouf, and someone that isn’t scared to talk to the media about hidden rooms filled with skeletons and treasure. Perhaps that someone is D V Sharma, of the Archeological Survey of India.

Following the recent discovery of a secret room with no entrance at the National Library in India, D V Sharma had this to say to the media about what might lie inside:

“It could be just about anything. Skeletons and treasure chests are the two things that top our speculations because it is not natural for a building to have such a huge enclosure that has no opening.”

Think about that for a second – a real life historian is being quoted in the media about a secret room that’s been walled up for 250 years as saying that ‘skeletons and treasure chests’ are their biggest leads on what it could contain. If this doesn’t give you a history-boner, I don’t know what would.

Secret Chamber in National Library [via BoingBoing]


love and the art of dragon training.

Emily and I just watched How To Train Your Dragon for the second time. Upon first viewing, I was really surprised with how much I loved this movie, as I’m usually not one for non-Pixar animated fare. I was wondering if I’d enjoy the film as much the second time around. I was quite pleased that I most certainly did. I’m pretty sure it’s one of my five favorite animated films ever.

As far as the general filmmaking goes, HTTYD is tight, with better pacing and development than most movies offer. The voice talent is strong, with some extra quirk thrown, since all these Nordic adult vikings speak with a Scottish accent, while all the viking teens speak with non-regional American accents (it’s awesome, because it doesn’t make any sense). Visually, the film is beautiful in all ways possible.

Plus, no nerdboy with an overactive imagination grows up without fantasies of riding a dragon… who the hell wouldn’t want to fly on the back of a beast called a nightfury?

Yet, while all that certainly ensures my enjoyment, it’s the fact that this movie can be read in such wonderful ways that secures it a place in my animated film canon. I was moved by messages in the film of learning to embrace who we are, even when our families and communities make that difficult, of challenging our cultural biases and prejudices, as well as the film’s treatment of the importance of community and intimacy.

If you haven’t seen the film, this is about to get a bit spoiler-heavy, so be warned.

Our young hero, Hiccup, has so much trouble finding his place. As the scrawny, sensitive, wildly intelligent son of the gruff, strong, fearless viking leader, he doesn’t fit into any of the normal viking categories. Yet, his inability to fit in results in his ability to question the values and assumptions of his world, changing everything for the better.

His sensitivity, which keeps him from killing the dragon he traps, makes room for an unlikely friendship which helps him learn that everything the vikings assume about their mysterious dragon enemies is wrong. Everything is read through the assumption that vikings are dangerous killing machines, while the defensiveness of the dragons is used as confirmation that this is true. Hiccup is the only one who looks beneath his worldview, to see that even the predatory habits of the dragons aren’t what they appear to be.

Things certainly get more difficult along the way, but eventually everyone comes to see the world more clearly because Hiccup insists on asking inconvenient questions no one else will ask.

Hiccup’s friendship with Toothless, a dragon who belongs to the most feared dragon species of all, the mysterious nightfuries, is one of my favorite onscreen relationships in recent memory. What begins as fear, uncertainty, and a lack of understanding eventually develops into a fiercely loyal friendship in which each is willing to risk everything for each other. The honesty of how real trust and intimacy develop was really beautiful for me to see in glorious 3-D.

Most beautifully of all is what Hiccup and Toothless mean for each other by the final scene. The events of the story leave both scarred, each is missing a part of themselves. Yet, in relationship they become more than they are alone. By the end of the film, they are only truly whole when they are flying together. I literally teared up both times when we see that the metal peg that has replaced Hiccup’s foot is made to connect with the saddle contraption that allows Toothless to be able to fly.

Maybe it’s just me, we always respond to stories in ways that are unique to us, and sometimes a story comes along that connects with us in a way we can’t necessarily articulate or understand. Whether it’s just me or not, How To Train Your Dragon struck me on both viewings as touching and insightful; reminding me to settle into who I am, as awkward and odd as I may seem, even to myself, and that intimacy truly costs us something, yet life in genuine community with others offers us more than we could ever hope to discover on our own.


fragile things. [books.]

If you read this blog regularly, then you’ve probably guessed I’m a sucker for an imagination that intrigues me. The reason I can’t get enough of folks like Guillermo del Toro, C.S. Lewis, Susanna Clarke, J.K. Rowling, Alan Moore or Hayao Miyazaki, is because their imaginations are so rich and beautiful. Their ability to dream up new worlds, creatures, and magics don’t provide mere escapism, they actually help us deal with, understand, and engage our world better. In their stories, we can learn to ask better questions. Their curiosity, which manifests in fantastical worlds of wonder and adventure, can stimulate our own curiosity, that is, if we are looking closely. I love so many imaginations, and I am so happy that our ability to share information at this point in history means I can enter into their dreamworlds with the turn of a page or the click of a few computer keys.

Yet, of all the creators whose imaginations stoke my own fires of curiosity and wonder, there is one who stands above the rest. Mr. Neil Gaiman, writer of so very many wonderful things, including The Sandman graphic novels, Coraline, Stardust, American Gods,and MirrorMask.

Gaiman’s work is dark and beautiful, most often a macabre dance between death and redemption, horror and joy, all the time helping the reader discover that these things are never opposites or enemies, but siblings, or even lovers. At times, his work is adults only, while much of his work is actually “children’s literature.” Yet, the themes and questions that seem to fascinate Gaiman remain consistent throughout, and he has a masterful grasp on the reality that, when written well, children’s literature can be as meaningful and formative for adults as for kids. Gaiman understands his craft well, not just using story toward powerful ends, but also writing about story, and how storytelling changes both the storyteller and the hearer/reader in profound and mysterious ways.

If you’ve never read Gaiman, his collection of short stories, Fragile Things: Short Fictions and Wonders
probably wouldn’t be a bad place to start. I just finished it last week, and at the end of each story or poem, I would be physically unable to put the book down. I simply had to move on to the next offering.

Sherlock Holmes, the Harlequin, teenage alien tourists, some sort of zombie/vampire hybrid, sabertooth tigers, hell, ghost kids, and a world in which fantasy and reality is reversed… this book has it all. Part of me wants to start a book club just to go through this book, to ruminate over all the brilliant moments and hold all the ideas and questions up to the light.

If you are in the mood for some wonderfully dark and imaginative storytelling, then you should most definitely give this book a try.