22 January 2013

Triviality II: Wordplay

Rob's Note: Trivialities will now be only published on Tuesdays to be alliterative, i.e. "Triviality Tuesday". That being said, this won't be a weekly thing, because it is rather hard to write one of these. I'm not exactly sure why. I guess because I'm trying to make it interesting and factual, and that isn't exactly a strong suit of mine. Might as well be writing a bloody essay. That being said, here we go!

I love wordplay. The ability to manipulate words to your advantage, to twist them your way to create something new, to synthesize a fun phrase, to pass the time -- it's brilliant. I carry my notebook everywhere and on particularly boring jaunts to the store or dentist I'll start trying to make anagrams and stuff of the like.

Wordplay is rather fun and interesting, but not necessarily sensible. :) I've learned a lot recently about the etymology of English, not least from my never-ending Latin studies and the reading of one of Bill Bryson's excellent books, The Mother Tongue. Mr. Bryson is brilliant. He's one of my favorite authors. He manages to mix wit along with amazing trivial knowledge. His books (especially I'm A Stranger Here Myself) should be required reading. But I digress.

There are 3 different areas of wordplay I just love. They're rather unknown, except for anagrams, which are rather widespread. I won't cover puns and palindromes which are rather commonplace, and useless. (Who am I to call them useless? The other ones are rather useless also.) Eh, I'll briefly cover them.

Puns are just taking a word and making them into a sentence with the topic of your word. Some of the ones I've made are:

Decimals are pointless.
Is there any whey to make cheese and milk?

Yeah, I'm not necessarily good at it.

Palindromes I hate. I'm sorry. They're just so random, and they're very uncomprehensible, and palindrome isn't even a palindrome! It should be palindromemordnilap, a true palindrome. Spelled frontwards and backwards.

Some examples from the Web involve:

Satan, oscillate my metallic sonatas!
Dennis and Edna sinned.
Madam, I'm Adam.

Anagrams is where the fun begins. I love these. They may not make sense all the time, but some do. Look at these.
Robert Miranda = Bernard M. Ratio (my true alias)
circumstantial evidence = can ruin a selected victim
The Morse Code = here come dots!
orchestra = carthorse

You get me? I love these! They're so awesome and cool.

Holorimes are cooler still. Two phrases that sound exactly the same.

I love you = isle of view

And there's one phrase, mentioned by Bill Bryson, that's a couplet, that follows the scheme. It does its best to be wacky. :)

"In Ayrshire hill areas, a cruise, eh, lass?"
"Inertia, hilarious, accrues, hélas!" ~Miles Kington, 1988

Then we have rebus puzzles. These are when you place words a certain way or something. Like if you were to type 'rainbow' and color each letter a different color of the rainbow. Not much to be said here but there are two examples for you.



The first one is small print, the second is John Underhill, Andover, Mass. Get it? Position of the words reveals. Bryson uses it a lot in his books to criticize the Postal Service. :)

There are also spoonerisms and malapropisms, but those are pretty basic and not much to be said there. Just substituting a word for another.

And that's your lesson for today. Now, go and out and turn the Earth into a more worldy word. :)

19 January 2013

Fringe Review of Series Finale: Liberty and An Enemy of Fate

Full spoilers follow as usual.

I cried. So hard and depressingly. I'm not proud of it. What has been my favorite TV show, and often, sole divertment, has now ended.

It ended on good terms. I'm happy of that. But the sacrifices made were the worst of all. First, a brief recap of the first 80 minutes

Michael has been taken to Liberty Island. Broyles gets the info at the risk of Olivia gets herself jacked up with Cortexiphan at ungodly levels to go to the Other Side to use their Liberty Island. I knew we needed closure over there, at least a visit...(A daisy-chain of cool things, Wyman called it.) She meets Lincoln and Fauxlivia Lee, married, and asks for their help. She manages to get Michael, and then ports back over there, gets on a boat to the safe place over here. She says goodbye to everyone and brings Michael back.

Then Donald comes along, starts working on this really cool machine from the schematics that have been shown at least 20 times this season. He finishes, it doesn't work, he goes to December for help. December goes to 2609 to get the part of the plan they're missing, but he hangs himself? Loyalist killed him? IDK. But the piece is gone, and the plan doesn't work.

Acid, I mean Astrid, decides to use one of their shipping lanes from the future instead of Donald's cool device. They get ready, but Broyles has been captured by Windmark. Peter looks through the amber for a final piece of the PLAN, but finds a tape to him. He and Walter watch it, and it's Walter's sacrifice.

"I know in my soul this is what I am supposed to do," he heartbreakingly tells Peter. "Nature abhors a paradox. The Boy and I will live in 2167, and I will never see you again." The video mentions a letter Peter is supposed to get - which will lead him to the Lab, and Walter will not be there. He will have vanished.

Peter is sad, and Walter too. "You are my favorite thing, Peter. My very favorite thing." :) I was so sad at that point.

Astrid calls Walter over. She has found Gene, ambered. She didn't want to unamber her because she would moo loudly. Walter chuckles and calls her by her real name.

"It's a very beautiful name." "What is?" "Astrid."

Olivia and Astrid get the Fringe cases ready to attack. They need the shipping cube to open the wormhole, and they might as well get Broyles. At the lab, Donald tells Walter, "I shall do the sacrifice. I will cease to exist in any case." He has feelings for his son now, that he didn't have before.

Olivia and Peter go, and GO FORTH AND FRINGE-CONQUER!

It is impossible to explain the scene where they walk through the hallway. Floating Observers, killer butterfly, Ability Toxin, nematode worms galore, parasitic slugs in one guy's mouth, shapeshifter gummy face on another...It was so amazing and epic, and I was cheering and clapping for all the epicness.

They get the cube, and Broyles, and they all go off on a merry chase to set the PLAN.

The Beacons are for traveling to the future
The Equations are to calibrate the machine
The Rocks are to stabilize the wormhole
The Cube is to open the wormhole
The Magnet is to send the Beacons far into the future
And the Boy is to go into the future.

They use more Fringe cases "PETER! LOOK! WHAT DID I TELL YOU!" (cue floating guy) "IT'S COOL!" Oh, Walter.

They get it all set up, but then Windmark comes. The bastard. He starts beating up Peter and Astrid horribly, and Oliviar too. Then Olivia closes her eyes and makes the whole city black out. She gets a nearby car, drives it toward Windmark...


Finally, he's dead. At last. But Donald takes Michael and begins running. Running. Running. RUNNING...


Donald lies dead on the floor, killed by a stray bullet. Michael begins to play the little music box from last episode, and Walter looks at Peter. He nods. He takes the child's hand, they walk into the wormhole...

"I love you dad."


2015. The day in the park. Etta runs toward Peter...but...no flash. They get home, and Peter looks in his mail. He finds a letter from Walter. He opens it...

The white tulip.

Fade to glyph.

I cried at that scene. The father, and now the son. Walter is gone, September is dead, December is dead...and then all the Other Observers, but they didn't matter. Sorry, Team Fedora.

My favorite scene was the Walter-Peter lab scene, the white tulip end scene, and the Gene-Astrid-Walter in the amber moment. Walter didn't get a moment with Olivia, really. Sad.

Overall, 10/10. There were some mysteries in the series overall, but I'm prepared to disregard them as continuity errors. :) But this ending is bittersweet. Usually, I could turn off and look in earnest for the next season to arrive. Not this time.

No, indeed, not this time.

13 January 2013

Triviality I: Geography

This is a random topic to talk about, mainly because it's rather disconnected from what I've talked about. But this, I feel, needs to be written down, instead of my Moleskine-poster boy rants. :)
This will be a new "column", as it were, called Triviality, where I take a subject and expound a bit on something trivial about it. Hence Triviality. Today's topic? Geography.

 I love geography and cartography. A pastime of mine is making large-scale, detailed maps of fictional lands in my stories in a sketchbook I have. But I've always loved geography, too. When I was 4, I had this globe - talking, of course, and a Quantum Pad. That thing was the BEST! Before LeapFrog changed and dumbed-down and made Disney iPads (by the way, I should mention I HATE Disney with a PASSION, but that's a story for another time), there was the Quantum Pad.
Look. And revel in the beauty and complexity
that was 2003 technology for kids.

Amazing, isn't it? My favorite book for it was "World Geography". And it was there I learned my geography.

It taught me the 190 countries there were back then, with the countries' anthems, density, population, resources, cultures, and God knows what else. It was amazing.

And then there were stationery shops. As a kid when I would go to my family's ancestral town down in Mexico, I would keep journals. (Wonder where those are?) And I would buy notebooks and pens at these awesome stationery shops-convenience stores.  I remember 2 in particular. And I would buy my notebooks and pens and snacks there. And it was there I learned my geography further, for the shops would sell mapamundis (world maps) and astonishingly detailed maps of the continents.

Of course, they were in Spanish, so that gave me the added benefit of learning geography AND the Spanish name for countries, which in turn taught me about eponyms and such. But now, I'd like to talk about the main topic this evening: medieval maps, back when people were so woefully, sadly ignorant of the shape the world was.

There are 3 maps of special importance: Gerard Kremer (Gerardus Mercator)'s 1596 map, Albertinus de Virga's map in 1412, and Martin Waldseemuller's 1507 map. 

Waldseemuller's was the most accurate by far. de Virga's mappamundi disappeared or was taken by a Cahill, whether you believe history or a completely overpriced mainstream book series that attempts to explain medieval history to kids. Mercator's map was good, he invented the atlas, he Latinized his name to something cool, but his mapmaking techniques were just distorted. The "Mercator Technique" I believe it's called, creates distortions near the poles, making Greenland bigger than Africa. (It's smaller than Mexico, I'm sure. Correct me if I'm wrong.)

America? Ameryk? Whatevs.
That leaves the German cartographer Waldseemuller. Everyone gives old Martin the honour of "naming America after Amerigo Vespucci!" This is completely inaccurate. Let me explain.
Back then, people DID NOT name countries and territories after their first name. They did it after their last. So, "Vesperia" for Damien Vesper, :), "Mirandania" for me, ""Delaware" after Lord De La Warr, and "Bolivia" after the revolutionary Simon Bolivar. 

I follow with Messrs. John and Mitchinson (who wrote the brilliant "Book of General Ignorance" and whom I borrow their notes as I type this) when they say it was named after the captain Richard Ameryk, who traveled around that area. So, sorry Vespucci. (On the bright side, at least we're not the United States of Vespuccia.) 

But I digress. And that is today's topic. Hope you learned something.


12 January 2013

Recap and Review of FRINGE Season 5, Episode 11: The Boy Must Live

Let me start by saying that this episode was everything I could have hoped it would be. However...

Plot A: Walter decides to go into THE TANK to find Donald. He finds his apartment and locates it.

En route to Donald's apartment, Walter tells Peter that when the Boy (Michael) touched him, he regained all his memories of the original timeline. Yay! "I thought you'd be fatter", he tells Peter, smiling.

They meet with Donald: September with a pretty good hairdo, some stubble, and a warm Mr. Rogers-esque outfit. But he only has eyes for Michael. They do this hand-touch thing, then everyone goes inside.

Donald tells them everything:

He was captured for betraying the Observers to the Bishops. They took his tech and did "the unthinkable": give him his humanity back. "I don't mind. I have always held this era in the highest regard."

On the fateful day of February 20, 2167, a Norwegian scientist from Oslo discovered that if one manipulates the portion of the brain of jealousy, one becomes exponentially smarter. Following this, the Observers were created: first the tech, then by an asexual breeding technique.

ONE PERSON REQUIRED: By using genes from one person, the Observers are able to create a person by building them in a tank. They become full-fledged rather quickly.

Michael was created by using September's genes. But early in his "development", the doctors noticed that Michael was becoming smart...but emphatic also. :o They stunted his growth, labelled him "anomalous" and were gonna kill him.

But September took him and hid him in the past (2008, with that ever-creepy scene of the Child under the site). "After seeing how fathers loved their sons in this time, I was...inspired to do the same." Aww. Interesting parallels betwixt Walter/Peter and Donald/Michael.

September watched a movie with Walter. It was "Singing in the Rain." After watching it he chose the name "Donald O'Conner" from the actor. So that's his name now.

THE PLAN is to send little Michael to 2167 and show the cold and crafty Norwegians that the Observers are not needed. With little Michael, one can be smart and empathic. But since Donald no longer has his tech, they need the magnet and all that random stuff.

BOOM. Answers, answers, and ANSWERS. Yes. While I love character development, I enjoy answers more than anything.

However, Oliviar tells Peter that she thinks she's gonna get Etta back. Peter is more reserved. After his venture to 2609-man, I think he'd be more embarrassed to see her back. But I hope that she isn't back. It sounds mean, but the show would have more meaning if Etta (and Nina and Simon by extension) stayed dead. To show that lives are necessary. And speaking of lives...

And off they go to get the final piece of the plan: some future-tech from 2609 in Donald's storage bay. Which leads to Plot Number Two.

Plot B: Windmark goes to the year 2609. (Which all along, I have endorsed and supported. Like "An Origin Story" that wasn't, THIS episode should have been named that)

I particularly liked the trademark Fringe Floating Location Sign written in English and Observer Language. I need to get solving that thing...I love cryptography.
He meets with THE COMMANDER of the Observers. Nice fellow. He tells him "Anomaly XB-6783746 has been located. He has been found hidden in 2036. I will ask for extraction."

THE COMMANDER says "no. The boy is irrelevant. He is of no consequence-blah blah blah."

Windmark: "These fugitives must be destroyed!"
The Commander: "What is wrong with you?" :)
Windmark: Ending their existence consumes me.

Poor Windmark. He's been a most intriguing character. Dare I say it - he's better than Mr. Jones and Newton and Walternate and William Bell? Indeed. All four villains from all four previous seasons have had their ups and downs (especially the disappointing Season 4 finale). But he ports back to 2036 (as always, hardly any exposition) and there.

Plot A and B combined: Windmark goes to Donald's apartment and he finds them gone. He turns on some music and his assistant starts tapping his foot to it. What is going on? I think THE PLAN isn't gonna work - instead it involves Michael showing the O.o, not the 2167 guy, that emotions are necessary.

Donald explodes the place but Windmark and his lackey escape. For once the Loyalists are "ept" and set a perimeter.

In the storage, Donald and Walter talk. Walter knows something grave- HE HAS TO DIE. Donald sadly nods. "It was your decision." That sounds so fake...but necessary. Am I in denial? It would be an intriguing ending but a sad one. Bittwrsweet.

Donald hands him THE ENVELOPE - with the White Tulip, from the 4th best Fringe episode ever. (1st, 2nd, and 3rd? Back to Where You've Never Been, Entrada, and Peter, of course.)

The Envelope is empty. "I'd like that tulip - where is it?" "I do not know, Walter." Walter needs that tulip - for catharsis, I'd guess - before he dies. :( And one final notice- "When you pulled me and Peter out of the lake, you told me that "The boy is important. He has to live.' You weren't talking about my son. You were talking about yours." Retcon! Peter is important, not bald-empathic-highly intelligent kid from the Matrix! I'm sorry, but this is clearly anticlimactic. But no matter.

They get the stuff and leave. Donald is not coming with them - there is something he has to do. They all leave, but there's a perimeter. They split up and walk to the monorail. They all catch up, but the Loyalists are coming and...

Michael steps out the door as it closes. And stands on the platform. Olivia stares in shock as the monorail goes away and the Loyalists find him. And take him to Windmark.

"Hello," Windmark smiles, as...fade to glyph. Then black.

9.0 out of 10. I wish there was more exposition, as far as 2609 went. Nonetheless, I enjoyed the answers, it was all pulled off well, but I wish that the alarm hadn't been so sudden. Windmark could have died there! Nonetheless, I cannot wait for next week's 2-parter series finale. :(

05 January 2013

A Conversation Between Two Brits at Dinner

I mean no offense to any Brits when doing this, I just jotted this down in my Moleskine in a moment of boredom. Consider this a small view inside the gears and cogs of my mind. If you're especially British-literate, you might recognise some of the things Richard and Charles say. Some are quotes pulled from books.  

Richard: Oh, hello Charlie, pleasure seeing you again, I dare say.
Charles: I've told you not to call me that.
Richard: I'm sorry, Charlie, I can't hear what you're saying. Blasted hearing aid, I dare say.
Charles: Oh, Richard...eating as usual, I see.
Richard: It's a rather cheap dinner, but I must be fed if I do.
Charles: How's your son? I heard he's in deep for that murder.
Richard: I'm quite proud. You know he burned him alive after he stabbed 'im?
Charles: A chip off the old block.
Richard: Indeed, Charlie. But learned it at Eton, I dare say. Heaven knows where he got it.
Charles: Indeed, indeed. Mind passing me the port?
Richard: You know, I'm starting to wonder something. Mind helping me take my mind off it?
Charles: Of course. What's it?
Richard: I don't remember inviting you to dinner. What are you doing here?
Charles: No idea. I just remember walking in. Good port, this.
Richard: Yes, indeed. I got it from a chap down Tot'ham Court Road. Shilling and sixpence.
Charles: So what was your problem?
Richard: Oh, that was it. Unless you'd hear about the wolves. Dreadful thieves. I've a poison over there, to go and kill them. I'll go out this evening.
Charles: How brave of you.
Richard: Indeed, I thought so too. My servants are excellent at this sort of thing.
Charles: It's rather drafty. Mind if I close the windows?
Richard: No, I'm afraid it's part of our fire-prevention system.
Charles: Oh, genius! How do you come up with these ideas?
Richard: Here, take this candle.
Charles: Won't the draft blow through and set fire?
Richard: Heaven only knows. But that architect chap -- now, what was his name? You know him.
Charles: do?
Richard: Yes, the chap from Norfolk...you must remember him...He said he went to Mare with you...
Charles: Oh, Jackson! Yes, I remember Jackson. He was always rather bright.
Richard: He is. He has this sensitivity to overhead lights. Shines right up. Pass the port, Charlie.
Charles: He's a perfect Christmas tree, that one. So, what'll happen to your son?
Richard: The usual, I suppose. Sent'ncing, he escapes, he shows up for my money...
Charles: Well, you must pay him, I suppose.
Richard: No, but I send him a Christmas card every year. Pass the port, I said, please Charlie.
Charles: Sorry, Ricky, but this port, it's quite excellent.
Richard: Ricky. That has a nice ring to it.
Charles: Oh, Richard... *sighs*

(the candle tips over and sets the table aflame.)
Charles: Oh dear! Oh, my goodness Richard, no! We need to --
Richard: That's fine. I knew it would happen eventually. Nothing to be done.
Charles: What do you mean? Of course, we --
Richard: I'll go get another table. The castle may take some time.
Charles: You must have a cab! We must leave this place or risk getting burned.
Richard: You go, I'll stay behind. There's this wonderful painting in the gallery down the hall...
Charles: Oh, is there?
Richard: Yes, will you follow me?
Charles: Shame about the port. Good port, that - hic! - was.
Richard: Hello, what's this! (picks up bottle in the corner) AUTHENTIC PORT. Oh dear.
Charles: What's the matter?
Richard: I put the wolves' poison as a doorstop and the port on the table. Oh dear. I thought I did.
Charles: Well, I must say there is something to be said for poison. What type?
Richard: Hemlock.
Charles: Oh, like that brilliant philosopher. Oh, well done, Ricky.
Richard: Indeed.
(The two leave.)

Copyright Robert Miranda, 2013

01 January 2013

Happy New 2013!

Well, it's 2013 now, and it seems that another year's ahead of everybody. By the end of this, I will hopefully still be alive, be a sophomore writing in the newspaper, and 2 AP classes, and have most likely gone to Hawai'i a third time. I'll also hopefully have written my third November NaNo Novel, so that counts as well.

Of course, I don't really know. As to the alive part, it all dates back to my grandmother's morbid accounts "You don't know if you'll even be alive next year!" And then the classes is my neurotic way of keeping that in check, and then we've been to Hawai'i twice, and my mother wants to go again, bless her. Or Cancun, she says. And the Novel is obvious.

My Moleskine still remains empty, and I doubt I'll write anything in it soon. Perhaps I will get the courage to write in it someday, and then I will do something with it. I'm really leaning towards that Victorian epistolary...

My desk calendar still isn't here, and for that I am sad. (Am I?) I am. For the first time in 3 years, not counting vacations away, I have not woken up and taken off a calendar page. :( I'll have to sue the Postal Service or Amazon for false adverts. They said a WEEK. It's been one. But I jest in despair.

I've lately been interested in the science of alchemy, and have found an excellent game that's occupying my time. If anyone needs me, I will be there. It's all due to my chemistry interestings.

Metallious + Sun → Aurum


To the next.