August 23, 2017

No words.

I mean, millions of words have been expended online about the eclipse, the science, the lead-up, the traffic. I could rehash all that because I was one of an estimated million people who went to Wyoming for the event. (Normal population of Wyoming: 480,000.)

You see the pictures and read the commentaries, and this is one of those things that entirely exceeds any expectation. The reason people in the know urge everyone to go see totality if you can:  because it’s indescribable.  Until you’ve seen it, you can’t know.

There’s a hole in the sky, with the purest white light emanating from it. There are stars in a darkened sky. There’s the pinkish orange haze of a sunset all the way around, a 360 degree dome of twilight.  And then the stab of searing light at the top edge of the sun and the real world returns.

At our location, totality was set to last something like 2 minutes 30 seconds, give or take. I set the timer on my phone for 2 minutes and started it when totality started, so we’d have some warning when sunlight was about to come back, and so no one would have to check the time.  I didn’t hear the timer go off. Someone else heard it. I couldn’t believe it. Fastest two minutes of my whole life.

I’ve always known about eclipse chasers:  people who travel the world, seeking out the next location of totality, planning their lives around that next chance to experience a minute or two of cosmic wonder.  I imagine after Monday there are thousands of new eclipse chasers. Next one in the continental U.S. is 2024.  Start planning now.



So this is from last December, when the Star Wars: The Power of Costume exhibit came to the Denver Art Museum. I can’t remember if I talked about it at all. But it was really cool to see some of the classic costumes up close, and realize things like Emperor Palpatine’s cloak is made from waffle weave cotton. Heh.  I know the local Star Wars cosplay groups, like the Rebel Legion and 501st, were in heaven.

Just a couple of pics:

The crowd around this one was always thick. It became something of a shrine in the days after Carrie Fisher’s passing.

From a costuming perspective, the cool thing I learned about this iconic outfit:  the body of the dress is one piece. It’s made like a classic SCA T-tunic, the length of fabric draped over the shoulders, with only two seams up the sides, continuing to form the sleeves. The collar and hood are added and fasten in the back.  It’s wonderfully simple and very 70’s when you look at the lines of it out of the context of the film.

This display just made me really happy:

Finn and Rey, BFFs!  And once again, deceptively simple. Much of these costumes are found pieces, patched together.

Mostly what I really loved was the chance to look at costumes, and Star Wars, in the context of art. It’s all art!


I spent this weekend at an SCA event that nearly got flooded out by an epic 2-hour mountain deluge and I got no sleep because I was freezing cold and I’m still dehydrated and BANNERLESS COMES OUT TOMORROW and BANNERLESS #2 IS DUE ON FRIDAY and I’m a little frazzled so here’s a quick post, with a few more thoughts on Spider-Man: Homecoming.


Michael Keaton is a treasure, and his evolution from Bat to Bird to Vulture is tremendous fun.

A lot of comics geeks are bitching about young Aunt May, and first off it’s really wonderful to hear a 50 year old woman called young, but I really like young Aunt May, that she’s Peter’s aunt and not his great aunt, that she’s a regular harried middle aged woman, still vibrant, and she worries and has a million things going on, and there are all these implications — she’s lost her husband (as implied in the brief backstory given in Civil War), her sibling (Peter’s parent), and gosh darn it she’s not going to lose Peter, and that’s why she’s so flustered about him. I love it.

My comics geek friend is tremendously happy that this Spider-Man invented his own mechanical web-slingers, just like in the comics, rather than have it be biological because that never really worked, did it?

I’m scared to go back and watch the first Sam Raimi Spider-Man because while I loved it to pieces, I’m worried that it will now look as cheesy and dated as the first Tim Burton Batman.

I’ve been saying “I can be your guy in a chair” all weekend. I’m pretty sure that whole thing was a dig at the DC TV shows.

Just like the ferry scene was a dig at The Dark Knight.

And then when the door opened at Liz’s house, HOLY SHIT.

Those Captain America high school PSA’s were a riot.  “How many more of these are there?”

I loved the opening scene, all these real world implications of the alien invasion in Avengers, like yes there’s going to be contractors hired to clean up the city, and this is something I think the MCU is doing really well, following through some of these implications — and not in a big way. It’s part of the worldbuilding. It’s always there in the background. It’s lovely.

I loved Peter’s complete meltdown when Vulture dropped the ceiling on him. He’s still a kid. He panicked. Such a human moment.

And I loved that he fought the big last battle in his homemade sweat suit costume.

Okay that’s probably enough now…



barn owl

June 26, 2017

Sometimes, birding happens when you don’t expect it. “Oh yeah, there are a couple of barn owls living out in the arena,” the co-owner of the farm where I ride said. WHAT?!  See, with the nice weather I haven’t been in the indoor riding arena in a couple months. So I checked it out.

So wonderful. This is so happy making. He didn’t seem too bothered by my presence, but he did watch me the entire time I was watching him, no matter where in the arena I went.

Also, I’m reminded of the babe…


So my biggest obstacle to better birding is the fact that I’m most definitely, decisively, not a morning person. Of course, the best time to see birds is in the couple of hours after dawn (you know, when all the birds are singing so loudly right outside your window).

Saturday I got it into my head I was going to get out to the Walden Ponds area at the crack of dawn. Didn’t quite make it, but I did get there at 7:30 am. (People who know me will be entirely amazed at this. I did it, guys! 7 freaking thirty!)

I sort of had this idea that if I got out early enough the birds would just swarm me, come right out of the trees and pose for me, making them easy to watch and ID. This did not happen. Like, at all. But, there were a lot more of them singing, and I bagged a few ID’s I don’t normally see at that spot:  lots of yellow warblers, a couple of cedar waxwings.

I did have two really great birding moments:

First, a whole flock of wood ducks. Half of them males in full plumage. Arguably one of the most beautiful birds in North America and they were all just right there.

Second: a western wood-pewee sitting on her nest. Her tiny little adorable cup-like nest, just comfy as she pleased, with papa bird sitting nearby. I would never have ID’d her without papa bird sitting there. I went home and checked the guide for the species, which describes their adorable cup-like nests. (I really like my new birding guide, because frequently it says exactly what I put in my field notes.)

Sometimes I get really frustrated, because I’ll spot a bird I can’t ID right away, and I make notes as best as I can — and then the guides fail me. The birding app fails me. They seem to contradict one another and my notes that I thought were so good aren’t good at all, because there are 15 species that size and shape that have a little bit of yellow on their bellies, and I forgot to write down the leg color, which turns out to be the decisive marking. I’m a terrible birdwatcher, I’m afraid.  I never thought I’d be able to ID this little gray thing on her tiny nest. But I googled “western wood pewee nest” and it’s right there, that’s just what she looked like. I’m calling it.

I bet if I go back in a couple weeks there’ll be little baby pewees sticking their heads up.

In other news, there is a bird called a wood pewee.



fidget spinner

June 12, 2017

My model of fidget spinner has been around for 10,000+ years.

(I’ve been plying two strands of mixed wool. Time to unload the spindle and do the rest.)


so I had this dream….

April 12, 2017

So last night I dreamed up an entire cheesy 80’s action movie.  The plot:  somehow, a floppy disk containing a bunch of top-secret Soviet plans gets switched out for a disk with video games, so the kids end up with the Soviet plans, and the spies end up with the games.  (This is so circa 1985 I’m frankly shocked that no one ever actually did this story.  At least I don’t think they did. Anyone?)

The main characters are played by William Shatner as the cynical cop with a heart of gold, and his sidekick is Patrick Stewart playing a Drunken Master-type martial arts character. (I know, right?!)  The spies are a trio of deep undercover Soviet agents disguised as yuppies.  One of them’s chosen weapon is a circular saw.  Protip:  circular saw is a terrible weapon.  In my dream, he sliced himself more than anyone else, and the effect was more horrifying than comic. I couldn’t tell if it was supposed to be comic. There was a lot of blood.

There was also a French deli that was having chocolate supply issues.  This was where the accidental swap with the disks happened.

Unfortunately, I woke up before anything in the plot could resolve. I woke myself up because I was just so surprised that this wasn’t an actual movie. This seems like it should be an actual movie.