Monthly Archives: January 2011

Quotes and Jokes in the Continued Lack of Substance While Still Providing Deep Social Insights

What? It could happen.


“It is always to be taken for granted, that those who oppose an equality of rights never mean the exclusion should take place on themselves.” — Thomas Paine


College Humor explains How UPS Deliveries Actually Work:


“Some of the loudest, most proudly ignorant guessing in the world is going on in Washington today. Our leaders are sick of all the solid information that has been dumped on humanity by research and scholarship and investigative reporting. They think that the whole country is sick of it, and they could be right. It isn’t the gold standard that they want to put us back on. They want us on something even more basic. They want to put us back on the snake-oil standard.” – Kurt Vonnegut Jr.


College Humor also shows what would happen If Movie Characters Had the Internet:


“The world bursts at the seams with people ready to tell you you’re not good enough. On occasion, some may be correct. But do not do their work for them. Seek any job; ask anyone out; pursue any goal. Don’t take it personally when they say ‘no’ – they may not be smart enough to say ‘yes’.” – Keith Olbermann


Isaiah Mustafa returns to remind us that both himself and Old Spice are awesome in I’m Back:


“I can’t understand why people are frightened of new ideas. I’m frightened of the old ones.” — John Cage


But seriously, hey, we came up with it all on our own, right off the bat:

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More Things that the Internet Made For Me While I’m Freezing

A bunch of young, remarkably silly actors in Chicago, StarKid Productions,  including Darren Criss, currently on the t.v. show Glee, put together a satirical play, A Very Potter Musical, about the story of Harry Potter. (Criss plays Potter and wrote some of the songs.) They then concocted the even sillier A Very Potter Sequel. The live performance of these musicals are up on YouTube for all to see, but here’s a bit I particularly like from A Very Potter Musical in which Voldemort, played beautifully by Joe Walker, celebrates his return with tap dancing:

StarKids are doing a new SF musical called Starship. Worth checking out, especially if you are in Chicago and can catch them live.  (Again, really good young actors, Hollywood, please pay attention.)

Next, via SF Signal, Julian Smith is a YouTube video creator and he brings the scary punk aspect to literature in his very catchy song, I’m Reading A Book:

Third, awhile back I put up a comic YouTube music video called Shed a Tear from Kevin Wu and Ryan Higa. Now Higa, with the help of David Choi and J.R. Aquino, have another music video that is almost equally silly, called I’m Hardcore :

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Lazy Teenage Superheroes — A Really Cool Thing the Internet Made For Me

For the stated budget of just $300, special effects artist Michael Ashton wrote with Adam Royster and directed the live action digital short Lazy Teenage Superheroes. The story is about three young former superheroes who now chill with slacking and drinking and have moved into a warehouse space with their non-powered but brave mascot buddy, Ty, dealing with the occasional annoying revenge visit from supervillains. The visual effects are great. The cast, who obviously worked for free beer, is a group of new guys who are already better than half the young actors visited upon us in t.v. and film, and oddly enough the daughter of Kevin Costner, Annie Costner. Here’s hoping her dad or J.J. Abrams, or Seth Green or somebody starts hiring these actors or gets Michael Ashton to work on one of the many up-coming superhero movies. Or better yet, turn Lazy Teenage Superheroes into a movie, t.v. series or Web series.  We would be happy to have some more. (Thanks to SFSignal who got it from Blastr.)

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1) District 9s writer/director Neill Blomkamp is now a man to watch, so it’s not a surprise that he’s hooked top stars Jodie Foster and Matt Damon to headline his new movie,  Elysium. Set far in the future, it’s about… well we don’t know what it’s actually about, but we do know that Sharlto Copley, the star of District 9, will be in it too. Blomkamp and his producers are now picking which studio is going to back the project.

2) Ron Howard has taken up the mantle of bringing Stephen King’s dark fantasy series The Dark Tower to the big screen and the little screen at the same time for Universal/NBC through his production company with Brian Grazer. Apparently, the plan is to have a first film, directed by Howard, followed by a first season of the t.v. show that follows the events of the film, also directed by Howard, followed by a second film, followed by a flashback season for the second season of the t.v. show, and on down through the seven novels, short stories and comicbook lines that make up The Dark Tower universe. I don’t know how exactly that’s supposed to work unless the t.v. seasons are done primarily as complete miniseries, and even then, I’m not sure how that’s going to work. Rumors are swirling that Viggo Mortensen or Javier Bardem may play the older version of the main character, Roland Deschain, a magical gunslinger bent on revenge. Both guys are good, but I’d suggest getting a strong character actor in the main role and let the bigger names cameo in the films or on t.v. There may very well be Web stuff as well on this deal, so keep an eye out.

3) Godzilla, as we know, cannot die. So Warner Brothers and Legendary Pictures are trying to launch the giant lizard again on the Hollywood film screen. (The quirky, messy 1998 attempt starring Matthew Broderick didn’t go so well at the box office.) Japan’s Toho Co. sold the rights last year and Warner has tapped British filmmaker Gareth Edwards to direct. Edwards has gotten a lot of buzz for his low budget indie SF film Monsters.

4) I can say without question that the big budget action movie G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra was one of the most thrown-together illogical messes I’ve seen in some time, with lousy CGI, despite a very talented cast who managed to say all the lines with straight faces. Perhaps because of that cast, the movie made a big haul in worldwide box office, and so a sequel is coming from Paramount. This time, though, it might be somewhat more bearable. The director of the first film, Steven Sommers, will not be helming the sequel, and the script for the new movie is being written by Rhett Rheese and Paul Wernick, who wrote the great zombie action comedy Zombieland. So at least the dialogue may be better.

5) Disney’s Tron: Legacy had mixed reactions and mixed box office, but Disney is all in and bringing Tron to the t.v. screens as an animated mini-series for summer 2012. The animated series will cover the period between the first, original Tron film and the events of the sequel and concentrate on the computer world of the Grid. Bruce Boxleitner, who starred in both films, will be voicing his roles, as will Elijah Wood, Linda Moore, Paul Reubens and Lance Henriksen. So basically, all the sorts of things you thought were going to be in the new movie will probably be in the cartoon version.

6) Marvel Studios knows that they can’t bring every character they have in Marvel Comics to the big screen. But there’s nothing to stop them from bringing quite a few of them to the small screen. In addition to trying to adapt the dark superhero series Cloak and Dagger for t.v. (apparently ignoring the presence of The Cape already on t.v. now,) Marvel is taking a series from their MAX imprint umbrella series Alias, written by Brian Michael Bendis and Michael Gaydos, called AKA Jessica Jones for ABC. The comic is about Jones, a former superhero named Jewel who suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder, and so has retired to be a private investigator, as there is no stress or danger or violence in that line of work whatsoever. Jones gets dragged back into the world of superheroes, possibly again because she is a private investigator. The script of the series is being written by Melissa Rosenberg, who also wrote the third Twilight movie, Twilight: Eclipse, the one with the big fight scenes.

7) The Carl Brandon Society has announced the winners of the Parallax and Kindred Awards. The Parallax Award is given to works of speculative fiction created by a self-identified person of color. It was awarded to Hiromi Goto for the novel Half World. The Kindred Award is given to any work of speculative fiction dealing with issues of race and ethnicity. It was awarded to Justine Larbalestier for her novel Liar. Both awards carry a $1000 prize and were presented at the Arisia convention.

8 ) Wonder Woman, recently ejected from the big screens, has now been exiled from the small screens too. The major U.S. broadcasters have passed on a proposed television series from impresario David E. Kelley and Warner Bros. Television. Apparently, even the CW didn’t want to do it, despite being owned by Warner Bros. A likely problem was that the new series was going to be very expensive, and given that it’s focused on a female lead, not a male, that was probably not a gamble execs are willing to take right now and will discourage cable stations as well. Wonder Woman is the most popular, well known female superhero the comics world has ever created and remains hugely popular in comics and animated cartoons on t.v.. We still like her, just as she is. This shouldn’t be this hard to do in 2011, people. At this point, I’d take a show where Lynda Carter reprises the hit t.v. role from forty years ago and plays her as a semi-retired Amazon princess and the show is about her young daughter dealing with the new paradigms of the modern world.

9) Producer Neal Moritz is doing a new version of Phillip K. Dick’s short story, “We Can Remember It for You Wholesale,” which was also the basis for the weird SF shoot-em-up action picture in 1990 starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Total Recall. This time, Colin Farrell will play Douglas Quaid, the mild mannered guy who finds he may have been a spy when he tries to get memory implants. Moritz plans to follow Dick’s story more closely and won’t be having any of the action set on Mars, with the movie instead focusing more on an overcrowded, near future Earth.


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And Some Silly Videos Also to Go With the Snow

The first one is a truly clever marriage proposal, raising the bar rather high for other guys and gals contemplating wowing their significant other into the contract of marriage. The guy created his own Muppets movie trailer. See his blog for the whole story:

And the video below for the proposal. Jim Hensen would approve.

The next video explains why border fences are about as useful as belly lint, even if you don’t have a ladder:

In China, or possible Taiwan, a couple of teenagers have very cool dance moves:

This last video is silly but also profound. Seems there is a musical group of young hip-hoppers in Africa called Wafalme who are making waves and topping charts. They are very involved with aid efforts to reduce poverty in Kenya, Africa and throughout the world. Their latest single, Trash is Cash, is part of that effort and amusingly details recycling programs that are turning the mounds of trash in which so many people still have to live into a form of income and environmentalism. It will make you laugh, the chorus line is very catchy, and if you are in a first world country with a computer watching it, it will remind you that your life is so way cool. And so are these kids. Lady Gaga should put them in her next video and do better than just death fantasies. She’s getting repetitive.

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Puzzlements of Spam Advertising, Since it is Snowing Here

Yet another in my small series of I don’t really understand how this does anything on the Web advertising, specifically fake comments on my blog attempts, which is obviously what I get a lot of these days. But I’m finding a kind of poetry in them, in both the illogic and the wording.

1) This comment was attached to a blog entry where I provided links to various articles around the Web, in other words, no real essays or info from me despite the “comment” commenting on the excellent info and writing I was doing. It is also worded in a way that clearly indicates that the composer is not a native English speaker (but that’s what makes it poetic.) And also funky because the address connection as it turns out is for the West Corvina Orthodontists. Apparently, a foreign sounding comment praising an essay I didn’t write is supposed to send people to be customers of California orthodontists? I’m sure that this doesn’t cost this professional group that much to do it, but why? Still, it is very pretty:

“This is laid out quite quite and you may see from the top quality, that it has been researched and thought out incredibly very. I have bookmarked it and am going to forward it to others that i know will be really interested within the info. My father is in this business, he’ll love the way you laid out the information, I’ve sent him your hyperlink. I’ve alos posted a permanent hyperlink on my web page for other to find this. It’s difficult for anybody to disagree with this, the information is fantastically put together.”

Of course I’m dying to know what business his imaginary father is supposed to be in. Orthodontia?

2) This next one was attached to a movie trailer blog post of mine. I’m not entirely sure what it’s selling — real estate? Home design? Sex toys? But it’s very Zen:

“Unquestionably the biggest day-dream of most people is to energetic in their own homes. It is realizable instead of every one due not all can have the means such an portion, do not worry at hand designing the lineage and the stairs that you at one’s desire go and aid and not lose anything.”

I think that if we could figure this out, we might know the meaning of life. I particularly would like to know how to energetic in my own home.

3) This last one also was attached to a blog post that offered videos, so again no written essays or information:

“Paul has shown incredible passion while expressing views. Thanks for the great information, I have it bookmarked

Paul? Who the hey is Paul? What is he doing on my blog? Maybe they just got the wrong blog? Oh, wait, no, they’re selling some sort of ceramic wear or something.

If you blog and you get comments like this in your spam filter, a really good or poetic one, I think I’ve started collecting them (the text only, not the spam links.) They are just too fascinating. And I still don’t see the point of doing them as ads that will never see the page and wouldn’t sell anything even if they did. Or maybe that’s the point. Maybe something is trying to contact us and get us to talk to the West Corvina orthodontists and save the world!


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Movie Trailers to Cheer Us Up in the New Year

There is sad news in the world today, and so we turn for a brief respite to movie trailers, because I don’t want to think anymore about the other stuff:

1) First up, this month in January, Thandie Newton and Hayden Christensen discuss how they have funky first names while starring in a supernatural horror post-apocalypse movie called Vanishing on 7th Street. The lights go out in Detroit, most of the population disappears, leaving clothing and objects behind, and then the sun doesn’t show up and the few survivors realize the darkness is eating people. Think Pitch Black meets the collapse of the U.S. auto industry and only those car headlamps can save us. Actually, it looks creepily kind of interesting:

2) Next, James Cameron is doing something weird in February producing the film Sanctum, and when Cameron likes to get weird, it’s often worth checking out. An adventure thriller about a cave expedition team who are in a really big, scary, largely submerged cave system:

3) Also in February, Ed Helms revisits Hangover territory in a comedy about an incredibly sheltered, messed up  insurance salesman who goes to  Cedar Rapids, Iowa to a convention to save his company and gets taken on a wild ride in the big city in the comedy filmCedar Rapids:

4) In March, Bradley Cooper takes the leading man role in the SF thriller Limitless, about a blocked writer who takes an experimental brain boosting drug and finds he can see every which way he’s in trouble with Robert DeNiro:

5) Also in March is the animated kids comedy Mars Needs Moms, which has Joan Cusack voicing a mom who looks scarily like Joan Cusack. Seth Green voices the boy who strives to get his mom back from the aliens and Dan Fogler, the Tony-winning singer who is fast becoming one of my fav character actors, plays a guy helping the boy out:

6) April brings us Hanna, a spy thriller about a rogue agent who trains his daughter to be an assassin, and he may have done that because of a secret experiment. Think The Professional meets Species. The teen girl, Saoirse Ronan, is another one of these scarily brilliant kid actors. Maybe they are breeding those in experiments. And Cate Blanchett does her ice queen best:

7) Also in April, on the other side of the axis, is a talent-loaded, very odd trash comedy, Your Highness from the folks who did Pineapple Express. It features Danny McBride as the ner-do-well brother in a fairy tale kingdom to James Franco’s more heroic prince. When Franco’s bride, Zooey Deschenel (yay! More funky first names!) is kidnapped by wizard Justin Theroux who wants to take over the world, McBride’s Thadeous has to saddle up and help his brother with the aide of an uber-competent warrior woman played by Natalie Portman, shaking off her ballerina blues:




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That Face that Graced Us

Actor Pete Postlethwaite lost his battle against cancer yesterday and died at the age of sixty-four.  A star of t.v., film, and stage, he was revered in Britain, respected everywhere else, and known for his distinctive, bony face and wonderful voice.  He received an Oscar nomination for his role in In the Name of the Father, and was awarded an OBE. He was an activist for environmental issues and most recently graced us with lovely turns in the hit movies Inception and The Town. His last film role appears to be in the up-coming British comedy Killing Bono.  He will be missed on the boards and the screens. Here’s a bit of him doing Prospero in Shakespeare’s The Tempest:

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Interesting Writings for the New Year

Welcome to 2011! For my household, 2010 was not an amazing year but it was way, way better than 2008 and 2009. We hope that this new year will be a new start for many people and get better for all, not worse. Here is the grab-bag of interesting writings that accumulated while I was dancing about like a crazy woman:

1) First off, the grimmer stuff — two articles from online magazine Salon that document things going on in the on-going war against women, a war that is set to escalate in 2011 in the U.S. with a new Congress that has shifted to the far right, and with state legislations also continuing their shift to the far right and their tendency to propose and attempt to enact unconstitutional laws against women’s civil rights:

2) Moving on to publishing, Richard Dansky points out that arguing that your subjective views are objective is a weak strategy:

3) Author James Knapp ponders how to publicize his books, (warning, this is likely to make you chuckle):

4) Writer Roxane Gay pointed out that the latest edition of Best American Short Stories was predominantly white and male in its contributors. This produced the usual screaming about whether particular anthology editors are racist scumbags or not and whether anyone has the right to point to demographic disparities, totally ignoring the real issue which is that in some areas of publishing, female writers are still being blocked out and in too many areas of publishing, including SFF, non-white writers are still blocked out and that it would be nice to improve the rate of progress so that this doesn’t happen so much anymore. In this follow-up to her original post, Gay brilliantly illuminates the problems inherent in even attempting a discussion of these issues:

5) Eric Rosenfield provides an interesting, short piece on the illusion of slipstream and how putting a purple sash on category SFF as different from green sashes is ridiculous and he proposes an approach in eliminating the imaginary war. I’m all for it, except that I do think there’s a bit of a flaw — a lot of the people who read Haruki Murakami also already read China Mieville. But wait, that’s not a flaw really, just evidence that it’s working:

6) Next up, a very interesting interview with the head of Sony’s E-Reader division about e-reading and the market:

7) While the world may seem very grim (see the war on women articles above,) actually good things are happening and progress of sorts is being made. The redoubtable Charlie Stross explains:

8 ) And lastly, a picture instead of a writing — the very weird sport/exhibition of human pyramids!

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