Flying My Dork Flag in “The Dork Forest”

*thunk* *thunk*

Can you hear the sound of me bouncing off the walls? That’s because I did an episode of “The Dork Forest,” hosted by the phenomenal podcaster and comic Jackie Kashian. We talk Olympics, we talk women in sports, we talk about what to watch in Paris. And I believe I said, “did you know…” at least twelve times.

I fly the dork flag, I flash the dork badge, I proudly use my exclusive dork encoder ring to unlock special features.

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The Death Rays of the Greeks (Another Cool Olympic Thing)

Did Archimedes get the idea for his ship-destroying death ray while watching the Olympics? Did he hang around the Temple of Hestia? And what’s the Gilligan’s Island connection?

#ParisIsComing. The Paris Olympics will take place July 26-August 11– mark those sixteen days of glory on your 2024 calendar. I’m gearing up, so to get you in the mood, I’ll be sharing some preliminary posts over the next few months.

Today is all about the torch lighting. I might call it the torturous trail to the torch or the traditional tale or the tantalizing tutelage, but let’s just call it a blog post for now.

Did He or Didn’t He Burn Down the Roman Fleet?

Archimedes was a pretty smart guy, a scientist and philosopher who lived in Syracuse during a time after the Golden Age of Greece, just as the Romans were starting to expand their territory. Archimedes was considered a Greek, even though Syracuse is on the island of Sicily, located right off the coast of Rome. You can probably guess, therefore, who was involved in the Siege of Syracuse that took place from 214 to 212 BCE. Good ol’ Archimedes helped fend off the Romans for months on end.

Giulio Parigi’s 1599 painting of the “claw of Archimedes,” Wikimedia.

Our Greek (Sicilian) scientist invented several successful anti-siege weapons, including one called the “claw,” which was a combination crane and grappling hook. Because Archimedes was super good at geometry and its uses in levers, pulleys, and architecture, he devised other weapons that launched stones and projectiles as well as fortification walls that were hard to scale.

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Z is for Zuul

Zuul crurivastator (Zuul, destroyer of shins), wikipedia.
Zuul, the Gatekeeper of Gozer, photo from

Yes, Zuul from Ghostbusters. Zuul who inhabits Sigourney Weaver’s body in order to search for the Keymaster, schlubby Rick Moranis, so that their coupling will release the demon Gozer into the world. A nerdy fantasy written by nerds for nerds.

I was never a fan of the movie, but yesterday, when I was running down the list of which “Z” dinosaur would get the honor to front my very last post, and I said Zuul, my spouse immediately said Oh! The Gatekeeper of Gozer. Paleontologists, I suppose, are as nerdy as romance writers, medieval historians, and Hollywood directors, so, yes….

They did indeed name a dinosaur for Zuul.

Instead, it could have been one of the following… (list thoughtfully provided by although it’s incomplete, since they forgot about Zuul).

  • Zalmoxes – A strange-looking ornithopod from Romania.
  • Zanabazar – Named after a Buddhist spiritual leader.
  • Zapalasaurus – This “diplodocoid” sauropod lived in early Cretaceous South America.
  • Zby – This dinosaur’s name was inversely proportional to its size.
  • Zephyrosaurus – Otherwise known as the Western Wind Lizard.
  • Zhanghenglong – A transitional hadrosaur of late Cretaceous Asia.
  • Zhejiangosaurus – The first identified nodosaur from Asia.
  • Zhenyuanlong – Also known as the “fluffy feathered poodle from hell.”
  • Zhongyuansaurus – The only known ankylosaur to lack a tail club.
  • Zhuchengceratops – It probably figured on the lunch menu of Zhuchengtyrannus.
  • Zhuchengosaurus – This hadrosaur was even bigger than Shantungosaurus.
  • Zhuchengtyrannus – This Asian tyrannosaur was the size of T. Rex.
  • Zuniceratops – This horned dinosaur was discovered by an eight-year-old boy.
  • Zuolong – It was named after General Tso, of Chinese restaurant fame.
  • Zupaysaurus – This “devil lizard” was one of the earliest theropods

But, nope, I picked Zuul.

For this last post on dinosaurs (*sniff* now I’m getting a bit verklempt), I will share some information on dinosaur naming conventions, as well as a few final thoughts on why we find dinosaurs so fascinating.

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