Thursday, August 18, 2011

Creatures in my Backyard | Smiley Face Moth?

Most of what I write in fantasy, takes place out of doors... primitive, undeveloped areas, with rough structures or things carved from rock. The bitter irony is that, for all intents and purposes, I am a city-slicker. I live now in the smallest town I've ever lived in, in a terrain that (five years later) remains mostly strange to me.

I have done research, have watched an unmentionable amount of NatGeo, Discovery, NOVA, etc. However, when it comes to the outdoors, I remain a city boy.

I'm working on it. I took this picture with my phone a week or two ago, been meaning to figure out what it is.

Smiley Face Moth(?) says, "Have a nice day!"

For starters, I have only cropped the photo to show its relative size against the bricks on the home exterior. Colors are unadjusted.

Death's Head Hawkmoth
Image: Wikipedia
If you look on its back, between the wings, behind its head, there looks to be a big ole smiley face. Now, I've heard of Death's head (hawk)moths, but this doesn't appear to be that.

Until I figure out what it is, I'm a gonna call it the smiley face moth.

Is this the most exciting thing I've found in my backyard? No, but it's the only one I managed to get a halfway decent photo of.

Anyone know what this is? Educate a city boy!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Spoilers don't spoil, according to study.

One of the reasons I haven't written anything here about A Dance with Dragons is because I am not sure that I could without spoiling it. But, according to Reuters, I might be doing you a favor.

This article on Yahoo news states, "A new study by researchers from the University of California at San Diego shows spoilers may enhance enjoyment, even for suspense-driven story lines and film plots."

Ha, really?

Now personally, I might agree. Depending on the spoiler. As oft as not, I'm reading for the enjoyment of doing so, for the author's prose and for the way they flow the plot. For interesting characters and clever dialogue.

So, no, a spoiler doesn't ruin it for me. Although, if we're going to talk about GRRM, I'd prefer not to know who is going to die. Or, as in ADWD, appear to die. But even if I know that, I'm still going to read the book and most likely enjoy it with/without advanced knowledge.

The article agrees with me, in that. "The researchers said in the study, which will be published in the journal Psychological Science, they found that the success of entertainment does not rest on suspense alone."

Aside, and related, exciting new standards for psychological testing.

"For the study each story was read by up to 30 people and presented in two formats -- in the original version and with a spoiling paragraph inserted in the story." (Emphasis mine.)

Wow, really? Thirty people is enough of a control group to post results in a psychology journal? Bull - if I had tried to pull that sort of nonsense while I was at school, I would have been the class clown.

It's an interesting discussion all the same. What do you think of spoilers?

Source: Yahoo News