Good Monday! It’s link day! Here’s a bunch of stuff I found around the internet last week. I hope you enjoy it. (It’s a total coincidence that I found mostly space-themed stuff. Blame it on Supermoon.)
Do you remember the saga of Mutant Jello – the anthropomorphized glob of super strength gelatine that lived on the window of ThinkGeek HQ for four months? You can be sure ThinkGeek didn’t forget.
Happy birthday, Jello Overlord.
Phil Plait, known on the interwebs as The Bad Astronomer, is an astronomer, lecturer, and all around smart guy. He has the rare ability to take super complicated ideas, like astrophysics, and talk about them in ways you can understand, without sounding like a condescending know-it-all. In his blog, Bad Astronomy, Plait shares the most interesting stuff happening in the world of astronomy.
This week he offered up two gems. First, a time-lapse video of Saturn and Jupiter from Sander van den Berg titled “Outer Space“. The video is amazing. There is something fascinating about these planets, and van den Berg captures their grace and beauty perfectly.
Second, a project that tugs on my comic-loving heartstrings – Zen Pencils does Tyson. Neil Tyson’s words as interpreted by comic artist Gavin Aung Than is a thing of pure awesome. Be sure to take a peek at the full collection at the Zen Pencils website. Some of my faves are here, here, and here.
I have a deep affection for Amanda Palmer. She’s beautiful, crazy talented, and funny, but she’s also clever. Through hard work, commitment to herself and her dreams, and persistence, she has built a magical musical following that rivals those with major label backing and marketing teams. And she did it all by herself. She has taken the “1000 true fans” model and multiplied it. (If you’ve never heard of “1000 true fans” and you are a creator of art, you owe it to yourself to read that post.)
On the morning of April 30, AFP launched her kickstarter campaign for her latest project – a yet-to-be-titled album, art book, and tour of her and the Grand Theft Orchestra. In just over six hours she reached her goal of $100,000. In six days she collected $500,000. Sunday morning (May 6th), she topped 10,000 backers. She did all of this through word-of-mouth advertising. Her fans posted on Twitter and Facebook and tumblr and blogs across the internet, spreading the word about this project as only loving fans can.
Because of this rapid success, there are stories popping up about her “overnight success” as an artist and musician. Those stories ignore the decade of work AFP has put into creating her vast network of supporters and fans. Leave it to John Scalzi to point it out:
Between then and now most of what I know about Palmer is her working her ass off: Making music, playing that music, going off and making more, and building both awareness and a fan base. She left her music label a few years ago and has been putting out music independently since then; she’s presumably learned a thing or two about the mechanisms of DIY art during that time — and in that time she’s trained her fans in the fine art of supporting a truly indie musician (or at the very least, a truly indie Amanda Palmer). This is hugely important.
All of which is to say that like so many overnight successes, this isn’t. It’s the result of someone working for a very long time to get themselves into a position to make the most of this particular kind of opportunity.
The rest of the post – Amanda Palmer, Kickstarter, and Everything – goes into detail on the kind of commitment a project like this entails, and ends with some advice for creators of all types: put in the time, do the work, and you can find success.
Craig Engler is a geek. He’s a writer, a gamer, and the Senior Vice President of Digital for Syfy. He was also overweight. The solution for this former computer hacker and Nintendo nerd? Weight Hacking.
Weighthacker is “a site that provides smart strategies and tips for geeks who want to lose weight and get healthier”. It’s not another diet program. It’s a way of looking at healthy lifestyle changes from a geeks perspective. It’s a collection of cool gadgets, hacks, and mods to change the way you move and think in your environment, along with scientific studies to support the information. It’s healthy living for geeks, by geeks.
Engler has really got something here. He isn’t someone jumping on the “geek chic” bandwagon, trying to sell to our niche culture – he’s one of us. I’ll be keeping my eye on Weighthacker, and the companion book Weight Hacking: A How-To Guide For Geeks Who Want To Lose Weight And Get Fit.
Last week, Nathan Fillion live-tweeted during a Firefly marathon. Two of my fave tweets:
“@JulztheNurse: Something about (being) a Browncoat… I am a part of something unique and beautiful.” If you’re a Browncoat, you are.
— Nathan Fillion (@NathanFillion) April 29, 2012
I’m so proud to be a Browncoat.
That ship sure felt like home.
— Nathan Fillion (@NathanFillion) April 29, 2012
Not gonna lie – that made me tear up. I’m glad he said this because, as a fan, I always felt like this show was more than just a show for the actors. That it was more than just a part or a paycheck. I know actors say that whatever project they are currently working on is “really special” and they feel “connected” to the cast and crew, but Firefly seems to be… more… to everyone involved.
SFX talks to Rod Roddenberry about Trek Nation. SFX is a brilliant science fiction and fantasy magazine. (Seriously, they always get the best scoops about EVERYTHING in the world of SF/F.) Trek Nation is an amazing documentary from Rod Roddenberry, son of Gene Roddenberry, about the life of his father and the legacy he left behind.
The interview comes before the international premiere at SCI-FI-LONDON, but American fans had a chance to see it when it aired on the Science Channel in November of last year.
This documentary is honestly not what I expected. I expected a bunch of behind-the-scenes footage of Gene on the sets of Star Trek: The Original Series and Star Trek: The Next Generation. Maybe some family photos. Interviews with the stars (Shatner, Nimoy, Stewart) and producers (Berman).
I was delightfully mistaken.
More than anything, this is the story of a son discovering his father. Forget that these people are famous. Forget that it’s Sir Patrick Stewart and Stan Lee and George Lucas, and see them as they were to Gene – friends. Rod is sitting down and having a conversation with his father’s closest friends. They just happen to be celebrities. It’s a touching, emotional, brutally honest look at the life of a man through the eyes of the people he loved.
(One of the most telling moments in the documentary and mentioned in the article is Rod’s conversation with Wil Wheaton. When Wil mentions the ensign bars, you can see the remnants of hurt and jealousy in Rod’s face and the love and admiration in Wil’s. You can also see that these men are close friends, not just Hollywood “friends”.)
Finally, for something totally cool and educational, I give you The Scale of the Universe 2. Using a slidebar, you can zoom through objects and see how their size and scale fits in the grand scheme of things. You can go from the tiniest object (which I think is still just a theoretical object…) all the way out to the size of the observable universe. (NO EDGE!) It’s a really great educational tool that’s fun to play with. The music is soft and unobtrusive (you can mute it if you want), and the images and animations are fantastic.
Thanks to Felicia Day for making this one of her Fave Fives in this episode of The Flog.
Bonus link – Portal cake!
Click the pic for a close-up shot!
That’s it for this week, folks. If you see something I missed, send me the link via Twitter, email, or the comments below, and I’ll try to include it next week. And as always, don’t forget to be awesome!