Monthly Archives: October 2011

The Only Talk Combining Exoplanet Hunting and My Little Ponies You Will Need Today

At last it can be seen: my hour-long talk about how astronomers find planets outside our solar system, complete with a Goatse joke and pedagogical My Little Ponies.

I gave this talk for the second time at Geek Media Expo in Nashville. I had good panel attendance even though I was talking at 9 AM on Saturday, and the talk went really well, which is nice since I was taping it for posterity. You always hope that footage of you that ends up on YouTube doesn’t make you look silly.

Well, there goes that hope.

If you want to follow along with the presentation at home, feel free to download the PowerPoint presentation and even my script.

Eli, Liza and their cousins

From Kansas City to Geek Media Expo Vol. 3

We’ve been going from pillar to post the last few weeks. The bulk of our time was taken up preparing for and then taking a trip to Kansas City to see my brother and his family. Eli and Liza were very excited to see their cousins. The four of them immediately formed a band and posed for their first album cover.

Eli, Liza and their cousins

This is, of course, not how they normally behaved. This is how they normally behaved.

Eli, Liza and their cousins mug for the camera

You will be surprised to discover that Granade kids can be hams, I’m sure. We also got to hear a great concert of Virgil Thomson’s music. Thomson was a composer and music critic from Kansas City. The concert, which took place in the beautiful Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts, was part of a planned PBS special. My brother the musicologist was one of the hosts, which meant he got to go up on stage and educate us about Thomson while also being funny.

Before the concert we went to Oklahoma Joe’s, a barbeque restaurant in a gas station. I didn’t include “housed in a gas station” in my rundown of how to choose a barbeque restaurant, but I should have: two of the best barbeque places I’ve eaten at were in gas stations. We dressed up for our night on the town, went to Oklahoma Joe’s, and then went to the concert smelling faintly of meat and awesome.

When we came back I headed to Geek Media Expo, where I did my usual guest schtick of talking about science, My Little Pony, and more science. Crispy and I taped our 100th episode of WhatTheCast there, complete with new theme music and several defunct Zunes to mark Microsoft’s ignominious withdrawal from the world of mp3 players, and the two of us provided sports commentary for the Race of the Tauntauns, in which our racers leapt around a ballroom in ThinkGeek tauntaun sleeping bags. This was highly entertaining, especially in the final race which involved two tauntaun racers checking each other, shoving each other into the ballroom’s pillars, and trying to step on the other racer’s tauntaun’s tail. I also did an unusual thing for me: I wore a costume for part of the convention. If I can find a picture of me being Jamie Hyneman, I’ll post it here. In the meantime, please enjoy this picture of me in my Super Saiyan form that Thomas Kerns took.

Stephen as a Super Saiyan

I’ve got video of my exoplanet talk which I’ll be posting later as well as the 100th episode of WhatTheCast. With luck, you’ll also get to see me wearing a beret and a scowl.

Becoming Disillusioned With Insects

My first inkling that something was wrong happened the other night when Liza came running to me, holding her large stuffed bee and crying. “A fly landed on bee-hee-hee,” she sobbed, tears leaving shiny trails down her cheeks.

Liza had always loved flies, calling them our “usually fly pets”. I couldn’t understand why she as so upset, which, to be fair, is often the way it is with four year olds. Confused, I asked her, “Okay, but what happens when a fly lands on bee?”

“IT VOMITS ON BEEEEEE!” Liza wailed.

Misty had the same look that my dog MacGregor used to have when he realized he’d done something wrong by accident. “I told her that flies vomit on things they’re going to eat.” She paused. Liza wailed louder. “I think that may have been a tactical error.”

Indeed, Liza took to freaking out any time that a fly was in the same room as she was. The fly would buzz and Liza’s eyes would widen as she backed away from the fly, possibly afraid that it would sense her fear and vomit all over her in a giant Cronenberg-esque display of grotesqueness.

This story has a happy ending, though. This morning at breakfast several flies were flying around our table. “Maybe we could put out really sticky fly paper and put some food on it and then the flies could have their own food,” Liza told us.

Eli chimed in, “I helped her not be afraid of flies. I told her that when they vomit, they suck it right back up so it goes away.”

I can’t wait to see what Liza does the next time she has a stomach virus.

but what if i’m the bats guy

While I was deep in preparation for Dragon*Con this year, artist Katie Cook had a flash of insight: what if Bruce Wayne actually thought he was a bat, aided and abetted by Alfred? It all started with a tweet.

[blackbirdpie id=”103272093067657216″]

From there Katie soon had a rogue’s gallery of villains from an actual scarecrow in a field to a choose-your-own-adventure book. It’s one of the best Batman pitches I’ve read in a long time. Plus there were drawings!

Drawing of Alfred agreeing that Bruce is a bat

Comics Alliance and Newsarama have the full list of tweets. Katie later created a three-panel thumbnail of BATS. Seriously, go read this. It’s highly entertaining.