Monday, December 22, 2003
Today is the shortest day of the year. After Solstice, even though the worst of the cold is still ahead, at least the dark will begin to lose its grip. I am at war, futile war, with winter.
Yesterday, I wrote 1,504 words and finished Part Two of "The Dry Salvages." A gluttony of words. I would be a poet, if I had the talent. Words would be chosen one by one, not by the bucketful. My longest work would be, perhaps, a thousand words long.
Today, however, I'll write nothing (well, I'm writing this), because I have to go out there, beyond the cryosphere, beyond my front door, beyond the wrought-iron fence meant to keep the world at bay, and shop. If I don't, I'll be thought a heel, a cheapskate, a thoughtless bitch who doesn't know the true meaning of Christmas. I do, of course. The true meaning of Christmas is Retail Profit. I may have resigned from the species, but I know the rules.
Forget all that stuff about first-person and HPL, at least for today. Last night I finally saw the last two episodes of the Discovery Channel's Dinosaur Planet. I was very impressed by Walking With Dinosaurs (except for the badly designed Tyrannosaurus). It was a fabulous visual time machine. There was great attention to detail. I was amazed. Subsequent specials - Allosaurus: A Walking With Dinosaurs Special, Walking With Prehistoric Beasts, When Dinosaurs Roamed America, and Walking With Cavemen - were less impressive, as production values obviously fell. Still, they were decent science and generally enjoyable. Sadly, the four episodes that comprise Dinosaur Planet are no where near as good as their predecessors. The graphics were often shoddy and the science was often atrocious. Note to world: There were no grasslands in the Cretaceous Period! Though primitive marsh grasses were present, grass did not become widespread, creating prairies and revolutionizing ecosystems, until the late Tertiary, many millions of years after the extinction of dinosaurs. One of the marvelous things about the original WWD series was that it took great pains to film in locations where grass is still absent. But in Dinosaur Planet, we're treated to herds of titanosaurs and hadrosaurs and ceratoposians wandering across vast grasslands in Montana and Patagonia. Worse yet, the absurd anthropomorphizing of the creatures, giving them cute names like "Pod" and "Alpha" and "White Tip," and ascribing to them all sorts of mammalian characteristics and mannerisms. At times, Dinosaur Planet was no more accurate than Disney's kiddy film Dinosaur. Frell, why didn't they just go ahead and have the dinosaurs in Dinosaur Planet speak!
There were plenty of other errors and oddities. For example, Carcharodontosaurus, known only from Africa (Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria, Libya, and Niger), is shown hunting titanosaurids in South America. The toothed bird Ichthyornis is not known from southern Europe, only North America. Pyroraptor is known only from France, not Romania. Why the didn't the Romanian episode use the nodosaurid ankylosaur Struthiosaurus, the primitive hadrosaur Telmatosaurus transsylvanicus, or the ornithopod Rhabodon (Was that the dwarf iguanodontid? If so, they should have identified it as such.), all known from the Transylvanian assemblage. I could go on and on. That the creators of this series got so much so wrong, and cutsied everything up, makes me angry. I know, as a paleontologist and former educator, that you can get kids (and adults) interested in dinosaurs with good science! You don't have to stoop to pandering.
Enough ranting for today. I have to shop. I tried to get it all done online, but ran out of time. You'd think I could have done better, only buying gifts for two people. I suck.