Good things to read.
Sandman. I’ve only missed the boat on this series by a few decades, but a friend recently lent me the first three collected volumes. I’m hooked on Gaiman’s ethereal romp through the multiverse and pleasantly surprised by all the DC Comics cameos so far. At first it was jarring, but it’s also kind of cool to see old favorites like Batman, Scarecrow, and Wesley Dodds in these weird asides.
Death from the Skies. From Bad Astronomy’s Phil Plait, this is a fun romp through all the ways the Universe can kill us: coronal mass ejections, Supernovae, Gamma Ray Bursts, Aliens, Asteroids, and Black Holes. The Death of the Universe. Very tongue in cheek, but hugely informative about this weird, weird universe we live in.
October Country. Ray Bradbury is a hero of mine, and this collection of dark, moody stories is one of my all-time favorites. Some of the tales are a little dated, but Bradbury’s rich prose and shivery explorations of the human heart make them all timeless classics. Read them aloud at a campfire by a lake in the autumn…
Good things to watch.
Orange is the New Black. Netflix’s latest original series is full of wit and heart. I’ve only just started to watch it, but it’s easy to see why it’s a big hit. The characters are well-written, smartly acted, and full of messy contradictions. Their world is as alien (to me) as any I’ve read in speculative fiction, and possibly even more fascinating. Looking forward to seeing more.
Sherlock. I’m sure this has been on a lot of folks’ lists, but I’ve recently been rewatching the first two seasons in anticipation of the upcoming third. Admittedly, some of the mysteries are a little muddled and don’t quite make sense sometimes, but the show is really about the bromance of Sherlock and Watson, and in that it succeeds wildly. Cumberbatch and Freeman seem born to play the roles, and their portrayals almost make you forget that the pair originated in Victorian times not in modern day.
Star Trek DS9. An older show but one that bears rewatching. Star Trek is a venerable franchise, and it can often seem there’s nothing new to be done in its name. Thanks to the benefit of Netflix and binge watching, I’ve been revisiting this series, confirming my opinion it’s the most mature of any of the Trek series so far. It manages to take the noble optimism of Star Trek, muddle it with real messy human drama, and still leave you hopeful on the other side. It’s no wonder Ronald Moore went on to reinvent Battlestar Galactica. I’m hoping he comes back to Star Trek someday.
Good things to use.
Star Walk. My favorite apps right now are heavily influenced by my week at the Launch Pad astronomy workshop–I’ve got space on my brain! Skywalk is a nifty app for the iPad that’s like an interactive heads-up-display for the night sky! Not only does it show you all the stars, nebulae, and constellations, but you can also display the sky in other wavelength’s of the electro-magnetic spectrum (infrared, UV, Gamma Rays!). There’s a clock feature too, so you can fast forward (or rewind) the sky to a given time of day. There’s a feature to overlay the HUD on the actual night sky through your iPad camera, but I live in Los Angeles, and the stars are never bright enough for this to work.
Exoplanet. Another iPad/iPhone app for Space Science geeks, this one focused on cataloging all the extrasolar planets we’ve discovered so far. The app is very interactive, with great animation and graphics to help you visualize the alien star systems. With its zoomable map of the Milky Way, you really feel like you’re living in Star Trek. The app updates with new planets as they are discovered.
Chef’s Knife. I’m doing more cooking these days, and as I’ve learned from my chef-trained wife, there’s nothing as universally handy in the kitchen as a good chef’s knife. With a little practice, there’s nothing you can’t slice or dice — and the flat of the blade (carefully!) makes a great tool for smashing and scooping.
Connect with Andrew on Twitter, @inkgorilla.