yiskah asks about:
Molvanîa is a fictional eastern European country introduced to me by my former boss, via the book and the website. I blogged it here and here, and even Ken MacLeod got in on the act. Choice extracts:
The Vzintga Gorge was cut between precipitous cliffs by the powerful River Vzintga, which flows down numerous pools and waterfalls. There is a marked trail to the top of the gorge where the views are quite outstanding. Sadly, the spectacular cable-car that once carried visitors across the gorge no longer operates, but you can still see the old pylons and engine-house as well as view a memorial plaque dedicated to the service's last 20 passengers.
The unofficial capital of the Great Central Valley region, Jzerbo may not look all that inviting to the first-time visitor, with its jumble of grim Soviet-era housing and concentration of heavy industry. But thanks to frequent, heavy smog, many of these visual eye-sores remain hidden from the average visitor.
Ted Chiang is a great but not very prolific science fiction writer, the youngest person to have won a Nebula award in one sense, and the second youngest to have won either a Hugo or a Nebula in another sense. His brilliant novelette "Tower of Babylon", in which the builders of the tower succeed in breaking into the vault of heaven, was published in Omni when he was only 23 and won a Nebula. (The next youngest winner, Samuel R.Delany, published his novel Babel-17 when he was 24.) Chiang now has two more Nebulas and a Hugo, and (like me) was born in 1967; only one person born after either of us, Kelly Link (1969), has won either award (like Chiang she has three Nebulas and a Hugo). I have written up Chiang's short story, "Hell Is The Absence of God", which won both Hugo and nebula, here.
Roger Zelazny was very much my favourite sf writer as a teenager, and I retain a strong degree of affection for him. I did a brief piece on him here, and retain the ambition of doing something more substantive at some point. I particularly loved his earlier works, where his meditations on mythology and his gift for descriptive writing merged very effectively; I strongly recommend Lord of Light and This Immortal. I'm also a fan of some of his mid-period books, like Doorways in the Sand, whose eternal student hero has to deal with the theft of an alien artifact, and the late but effective pastiche A Night in the Lonesome October. Even the second set of Amber books were not as bad as I remembered when I reread them a few years back. (And the first five remain pretty good.) I have gone to the lengths of reading three books about Zelazny, more than for any other sf author bar Tolkien.
This is of course a cut down version of the famous Pink Floyd poster advertising the six best-known albums (variously referred to as the "Pink Floyd girls" or the "back catalogue"). Left to right: Atom Heart Mother, Relics, The Dark Side of the Moon, Wish You were Here, The Wall, and Animals. I'm a man of unexciting musical tastes, so the three covers in my icon are the three albums I like most (ie The Dark Side of the Moon, Wish You were Here, and The Wall).
I find the image very sexy, and use it to illustrate my occasional entries on topics relating to sex and sexuality. I would love to know more about its origins, though recent investigations have yet to bear fruit.
These are a delicacy from the former Soviet republic of Georgia, whose cuisine I have come to love over the last few years while I was professionally engaged there. No longer as much involved professionally, but still very very interested in the cooking.
Khinkali are a sort of stuffed dumpling, mince (or, for non-carnivores, cheese) inside a pastry package, lightly boiled and served with ground pepper. Yummy.
This is of the Gettysburg Address as reproduced in the Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC, and the words highlighted are from the last sentence:
"that we here highly resolve thatLincoln is a great political figure, and the Gettysburg Address one of the great speeches of all time, and the Lincoln Memorial one of the great monuments of the world. However, I haven't yet thought of a good use for the icon.
these dead shall not have died in
vain, that this nation under God
shall have a new birth of freedom,
and that government of the people,
by the people, for the people shall
not perish from the earth. "
Also this was one of the first pictures I took and uploaded with my then new digital camera two years ago. Now the camera is dying on me, but I still have the pictures.
So I hope you feel better informed now.