Saturday, November 25, 2006

The Bad Place by Dean Koontz

The Bad Place is an SF horror novel about an amnesiac man who teleports when he falls asleep and a married detective team that tries to help him.

I don't read that much horror, so I can't comment on how this novel compares to other texts in the genre, but I found The Bad Place entertaining, and a fast-paced, light read. The conceit was a little too outrageous for me to suspend disbelief, but the pacing and supernatural imagery were effective and fun.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Tryptophan

First, the definition:

Main Entry: tryp·to·phan
Pronunciation: 'trip-t&-"fan
Variant(s): also tryp·to·phane /-"fAn/
Function: noun
Etymology: International Scientific Vocabulary tryptic + -o- + -phane
: a crystalline essential amino acid C11H12N2O2 that is widely distributed in proteins

Source: Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary

Tryptophan and turkey:

This snippet from a Wikipedia entry on tryptophan offers some evidence that tryptophan in turkey is not likely the soporific that it's commonly believed to be.
According to popular belief, tryptophan in turkey meat causes drowsiness. Turkey does contain tryptophan, which does have a documented sleep-inducing effect as it is readily converted into serotonin by the body. However, tryptophan is effective only when taken on its own as a free amino acid. Tryptophan in turkey is found as part of a protein, and, in small enough amounts, this mechanism seems unlikely.

A more-likely hypothesis is that the ingestion of large quantities of food, such as at a Thanksgiving feast, means that large quantities of both carbohydrates and branched-chain amino acids are consumed. Like carbohydrates, branched-chain amino acids require insulin to be transduced through the myocyte membranes, which, after a large meal, creates a competition among the amino acids and glucose for insulin, while simultaneously creating tryptophan's reduced competition with other amino acids for the Large Neutral Amino Acid Transporter protein for transduction across the blood-brain barrier.
In other words, Happy Thanksgiving everybody!

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Gary's Blog

My friend Gary — who is now living in Japan with his wife — has recently started a blog chronicling his adventures in Japan.

His posts are very readable, with a distinctive style. He's also uploaded many pictures that illustrate the places and events described in his posts.

Gary's Blog is at http://kimmelhurt.blogspot.com/.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Casino Royale

I went to see Casino Royale last night and very much enjoyed the idea and most of the execution in bringing the Bond franchise back to its roots, with an origin story and a young and untested Bond.

Daniel Craig was great as the young Bond and deftly plays the character as an intense and strapping agent, clearly skilled but learning his way and prone to arrogance and errors in judgment.

The film was a bit long and could have used some additional editing, but it was certainly the most enjoyable Bond film in recent memory and infuses the franchise with some desperately needed originality and charisma.

F.E.A.R. Extraction Point

F.E.A.R. Extraction Point is an expansion to the original F.E.A.R., and provides many of the same creepy visuals and breathless gun battles that were prominent in the original game.

The continuation starts right after the original game ends, amid the wreckage of the Black Hawk helicopter that was ferrying you to safety. Your point in the expansion is straightforward: to battle through an army of replicants and other foes and reach an extraction point and helicopter to fly you out of the immediate danger zone.

As PC shooter expansions go, F.E.A.R. Extraction Point delivers and provides about 6 hours of memorable firefights, advanced artificial intelligence, and effective horror atmosphere. The game also includes a few new weapons, including a bullet-spitting chaingun and deployable gun sentries. New environments introduced in Extraction Point include a subway level and some new office interiors.

The plot doesn't really go anyway and at best can be described as an extended epilogue to the campaign in F.E.A.R. Ultimately, this isn't a problem though as Extraction Point is really all about the visceral firefights. Fortunately, in this area, the game soars.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Put on Your Scrubs!

For those of you who haven't heard, Scrubs will be back on NBC this season. The latest news from NBC is that the show will begin airing on November 30 and then thereafter every Thursday night, in the 9:00 - 9:30 (EST) time slot.

If you haven't watched Scrubs in a while and need to get back in the mood of the show, you can catch it now on Comedy Central, where it airs Monday through Saturday, two or four episodes per day, depending on the day.

If you need more Scrubs, check out this expansive Scrubs fan portal, where you will find everything from news and faqs about the show, a listing of songs that aired in the episodes, and links to other Scrubs websites. While you're there, be sure and take the Scrubs Personality Test to see which Scrubs character you most resemble.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

A New Hope?

While the Death Star hasn't been destroyed yet, it seems with the likely Democratic Senate victories in Montana and Virginia, that the Jedi X-Wings have finally launched and are preparing for their attack runs.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Chanur's Venture by C.J. Cherryh

Chanur's Venture is the sequel to Cherryh's popular The Pride of Chanur, and continues the spare opera of the lionine hani in a future confederacy of alien races bound by trade.

As with the first novel, I enjoyed the story in Chanur's Venture but struggled with Cherryh's prose style. I won't repeat the points I raised about Cherryh's writing that I made in my capsule review of The Pride of Chanur, but, suffice it to say, in the end, I was only able to gleam all the text's hazy plot points after I skipped ahead to the next novel in the series and read the synopsis of what had gone before.