Monthly Archives: March 2011

Internet Videos that will Cheer One Up

There is an Australian musical comedy group called The Axis of Awesome. I do not know how these guys escaped my notice before, but I am now smitten. Below is the truly frightening argument that all hit pop songs are made up of the same Four Chords. Actually, it’s not an argument: they are and the guys show you by playing them together.

And then there’s a wonderful video they just recently did for Funny or Die about How to Write a Love Song:

Next, a fun, deftly animated music video about Club Villain:

And lastly, this video shows the wonderful connectivity of the new Internet world. There’s this character actor, Jesse Heiman. I see him almost every week playing Buy More employee Fernando on the t.v. series Chuck. He’s done a lot of bit parts — NCIS, Maybe It’s Me, Hollywood Wasteland, American Pie 2 — and extra work. He’s best known for his role as the fraternity pledge Budnick in the Will Farrell film Old School and the indie movie The Jerk Theory. He’s the kind of actor you see a great deal, find the face vaguely familiar but probably don’t remember unless they get a breakout role. Salt of the unappreciated earth in Hollywood.

And then there’s this guy in Sweden, Wilhelm Hempel. In Sweden. Who happened to notice Heiman when he kept appearing in things and did some research. And he created a video called The World’s Greatest Extra which shows clips of some of Heiman’s numerous extra and bit part appearances. And this video has gotten nearly 2 million hits and made the Web media rounds. It may have helped Heiman’s career. Is this of earth-shattering importance in our lives? No, but somehow that an American character actor could have gotten a shout-out from a guy in Sweden that then ricochets about the globe makes me feel a lot better than the news coming out of Japan. If we’re going to be all electrical while the fuel supply still holds, we might as well get serendipitous. So here’s the video and an article with more info about Heiman. Whom I will wave to now when he shows up on Chuck.



Filed under Humor, Movies/TV, Music, SFFH

Diana Wynne Jones

I don’t like having to do a lot of obituary notices and I really hate this one: British fantasy author Diana Wynne Jones passed away this weekend after a long battle with lung cancer at the age of 76. Jones was a giant in the field, particularly in the world of childrens/YA where she was much loved.  A winner of numerous Carnegie Medals and Mythopoeic Awards, she was best known for her Chrestomanci books, Dogsbody, the Derkholm duology, the Dalemark series and Howl’s Moving Castle, which was turned into an animated movie nominated for an Academy Award. More to the point, she was funny, generous, smart and articulate — one of the best ambassadors we had for books.

Here are some accounts by writers who loved her:

More stars dimming. Let’s hope for a happier spring.

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Interesting Writings on a…Seriously? More snow? The leaves are changing for fall in Australia already.

1) Justine Larbalestier makes what is a rare online appearance for her these days to explain to writers why they should love their bad reviews, not go around bullying reviewers and making themselves look silly in:

2) Borders has a fun thing on their blog where they have authors duel each other in conversations. Joe Abercrombie has participated in several of these to great effect. He’s currently hamming it up with fellow author Anton Strout about D&D and many other things. Go check it out:

3) Salon’s aviation expert points out the mindscrew of clean water and electronics in the Third World and what that means for the whole world:

4) The talented author N.K. Jemisin talks about the job of the writer regarding reader expectations:

5) Marty Halpern talks about the perpetual zombie meme of SF dying:

6) Paul di Filippo looks at the zombie meme in a different way:

7) Author Stephen Hunt declares that the BBC in the UK really needs to stop sometimes putting up the imaginary wall between university professors who are writing contemporary drama and university professors who are writing science fiction and fantasy, or at least if you’re going to have the imaginary wall, don’t leave out SFF when you’re trashing genres on your programs:

8 ) Publisher Lou Anders once again tries to explain that it does take work and cost to make decent e-books for retail sale. It will fall on deaf ears but like Hunt’s war on the BBC, we must try now and again to instill some sense:

9) In the wake of the death of children’s author Brian Jacques, teacher and writer John Ottinger tells a lovely story about the magic that is books and why it is important to let kids read whatever they want, that art is broader than your philosophy, Horatio. Jacques’ books will be doing this sort of thing for decades to come:

10) Literary agent Rachelle Gardner continues her thankless task of trying to explain to writers how publishing actually works:

11) Author Cat Valente deals with the idea that all art in any form in the electrosphere should just be one price, the price we used to charge for things in 1968:

12) Chuck Wendig suggests that investing in authors is a good thing for everybody:

13) The Crotchety Old Fan, getting crotchety about the disdain given to some sorts of older SF, comes up with a great idea: call it all Rocketpunk! I’m on board:

Yes, I had a lot of them saved up. More reading for you!

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And Speaking of Wonder Women

Elizabeth Taylor was a goddess above other goddesses in the film age of goddesses. She was beautiful, poised, exasperating, gutsy, sharp and fascinating. And that was just on screen. Off screen, she stole husbands, boozed and screamed, got married a lot, delivered looks of withering scorn and princess grace, and oddly enough, helped women’s lib while selling diamonds and perfume. She survived deadly illness, broken hips and Richard Burton.  She was a vocal activist for HIV/AIDS. She won two Oscars and was a Kennedy Center Honoree. She was…well, she was Elizabeth Taylor. And today, she passed from the world due to congestive heart failure. The stars dim just a bit.

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Wonder Woman Gets Her Look

Last year, I did a piece about how DC Comics had re-vamped female superhero extraordinaire Wonder Woman‘s costume, how the film people trying to make a Wonder Woman movie had worries about the old costume and so might use the new one, and how both costumes were impractical for superheroes:

Since then, the Wonder Woman movie got nixed and the heroine got relegated back to television where David Kelly attempted to sell a new show about her, failed, then succeeded (leading us to wonder if Wonder Woman’s alter ego cover identity would be as a lawyer spending lots of time in a courtroom.) Actress Adrianne Palicki, previously from Friday Night Lights, was cast as the new Wonder Woman, and so the big first question was, how were they going to handle the costume in 2011. They went with the new one from the comics, right? Wrong! They combined the old traditional leotard costume with the new revamped Laura Croft style one in the comics. Behold:

It’s not horrible. There may be some screams from purists about turning the traditional red boots blue. And it’s still delightfully impractical. I said that the original costume was like a bathing suit with boots, the new comics one was like pajamas. This one: female pro wrestling! Which will be an interesting combination with David Kelly’s wordy dialogue. I don’t envy Palicki trying to go to the bathroom in those pants. But I’m giving it a thumbs up. At least it’s not generic and an Amazon princess should never be generic.




Filed under Humor, Movies/TV, SFFH

Taylor Mali Speaks Truth to Power

This is a few years old, but is sadly even more relative today. Taylor Mali, a teacher and a poet, performs “What Teachers Make”:


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A Little Pegg and Frost

Following the movie trailers, I’ve been waiting a couple of years for the film Paul, the latest affectionate spoof from Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, after Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, and in the last few days leading up to the wider North American release, the boys are doing their best promos to entertain us. Here is one they did for College Humor, and it’s a pip. Make that sophisticated beeps and whistles.


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Movie Trailers Packed in Slush

It’s Spring! Kind of. And evidently, the idea that the summer movie season should start earlier and earlier has not been discarded. A full slate of films is now running March to September. In March, we have:

1) A film I have long awaited: Paul from Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, and this time the director of Superbad. Having tackled the zombie oeuvre in the famous Shaun of the Dead, and the buddy cop thriller in Hot Fuzz, Pegg and Frost have now gone after the alien contact SF tradition, with a somewhat bigger budget and a great cast. Two British fans of all things alien come to the U.S. for ComicCon and go on a driving tour that includes Area 51, which happens to intersect with the escape efforts of an actual alien, voiced by Seth Rogan.  The film also stars Kristen Wigg, Sigourney Weaver, Jason Bateman, Jane Lynch, Jeffrey Tambor and many others. (Next up for the satiric crew, they’re going to do a disaster movie spoof, when Pegg finds the time off from Mission Impossible and Star Trek movies.)

2) In Win Win, Paul Giamatti plays a depressed, down on his luck attorney who moonlights as a high school wrestling team. A stroke of somewhat illicit luck places a star athlete in his keeping and a shot at redemptive profit, but the boy’s mother may derail everything. It’s a Paul Giamatti comedy and those are never bad:

3) Also in the quirky dysfunctional family comedy area is Peep World, about a fractious family whose star sibling writes an autobiographical novel about them and the subsequent fall-out. Stars Rainn Wilson, Sarah Silverman, Michael C. Hall, Ben Schwartz, Judy Greer, Lesley Anne Warren, Ron Rifkin, Kate Mara — a bunch of people who excel at chewing scenery in delightful ways.

4) Family oriented but more dramatic is The Music Never Stopped, about a father who tries to help his son’s memory problems from a serious brain injury. (Based on one of Oliver Saks’ case stories.) It stars the incomprable J.K. Simmons and a strong cast.

5) Last, but not least, a new trailer for Sucker Punch, which comes from Zack Snyder of 300 and Watchmen fame. A young woman is committed to an asylum by her wicked stepfather and creates an imaginary reality to free herself and other inmates. It stars Emily Browning, who was so wonderfully perfect as Violet in Lemony Snickett, and a great cast.





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An Awesome Kid

On a more uplifting note, a sign that the Republican war on women will fail in the end:

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So, Japan

And California, Hawaii, and the places in between. It sucks. If you can help, the Red Cross seems to be the central provider at the moment:


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