Monday, April 30, 2007

A New Flash Gordon

I got home late this evening, which doesn't leave me with much time to write a post. So, I cruised the sci-fi sites in search of something and found out that the Sci-fi Channel is going to do a new Flash Gordon series. Interesting. I just hope it isn't as cheesy as the 80's version. Anyway, I'm just going to copy and paste what they have on their site here, and you can tell me what you think.

PASADENA, Calif. (January 12, 2007) — SCI FI Channel has greenlit production on Flash Gordon, based on the popular comic-strip franchise, it was announced today at the Television Critic's Association tour. Production on the 22 one-hour episodes begins in Canada in early 2007. The series, produced by Reunion Pictures, is slated to debut on SCI FI in July of 2007, with a broadcast syndication window to follow.

Under an agreement with property owner King Features Syndicate, the new series is being produced by RHI's Robert Halmi Sr. and Robert Halmi Jr. (Tin Man, Mitch Albom's The Five People You Meet in Heaven, The Ten Commandments), who previously produced SCI FI's popular miniseries event Legend of Earthsea.

Ming, Dale Arden and Dr. Hans Zarkov are among the many beloved characters returning to television in this contemporary retelling of the intergalactic exploits of Flash Gordon. Stellar adventures and heroic battles mark this inventive new take on the perennial science-fiction classic. The Flash Gordon comic strip was created in 1934 by legendary comic-strip artist Alex Raymond and is still distributed internationally today by King Features Syndicate.


Flash Uses Tin For Mongo

SCI FI Channel's upcoming original series Flash Gordon will make use of some pieces of the elaborate sets for SCI FI's miniseries Tin Man, which is also filming in Vancouver, Canada, Mark Stern, SCI FI's executive vice president of original programming, told SCI FI Wire. Flash Gordon, a 21st-century update of the classic comic-strip serial, begins shooting on May 1 and premieres on Aug. 10.

Reusing the sets will allow Flash to create a rich look for the planet Mongo, Stern said. "There are some elements of the villain in Tin Man that are similarly dictatoresque in the villain Ming the Merciless on Mongo [in Flash Gordon]," Stern said in an interview at an NBC press event in Pasadena, Calif., over the weekend. "The Wicked Witch in Tin Man definitely has this dictatorship thing going on. So her palace has this Albert Speer-like 1930s design, with Roman columns and fascinating big elaborate halls. So we could retool and repaint and change the glass, and it will be very distinguishably different."

Eric Johnson (Smallville) is set to play the lead role. He said the Flash Gordon set has a "retro-futurisitic feel" to it. "It's the same company making both shows, so whatever you can beg or borrow makes sense," he said. "We're shooting in Vancouver, same place, but this is a very different set. It's like if someone gave you the frame of a car, and you can easily put a new engine in it."

Sunday, April 29, 2007

How Do You Define Sci-fi?

Science Fiction n. A literary or cinematic genre in which fantasy, typically based on speculative scientific discoveries or developments, environmental changes, space travel, or life on other planets, forms part of the plot or background. sciencefiction sci'ence-fic'tion (sī'əns-fĭk'shən) adj. Peter P, a fairly regular contributor here, made this statement in a previous thread: Firefly/Serenity is not even science fiction. It is a story about life in a dim future. It has almost no sci-fi elements. (Other than the fact that characters live inside a rocket ship.) Do you agree? To be honest, I don't. I think science fiction is meant to be mostly reality based. It's meant to see into the future to some degree and tell us what technological advances we might see someday. I think Serenity fits the criteria perfectly. I would also argue that Peter's argument is flawed since Serenity/Firefly had more elements than just space ships. The technology used to "study" River's mind was certainly advanced. And if I remember correctly, River also ended up with certain psychic abilities due to the experimentation she endured. And maybe it's just me, but I seriously doubt her fighting skills were a result of lots of martial arts training. And weren't the Reavers also a result of scientific experimentation as well? There was an attempt to give the show a Wild West feel, but the sci-fi elements were there. Nonetheless, I may be mistaken in what I believe sci-fi really means. Should sci-fi be so much beyond our experience that we just sit in awe? I remember when I first saw the alien in the movie Alien. That was certainly beyond anything I had ever experienced. Should sci-fi movie makers/authors strive for that all the time? Or do you think Peter was just trying to pick a fight? (sorry Peter)

Who is Your Daemon?

Found this on Skittles site... Here's the link to the Golden Compass Website.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Booked by 3 Meme

My friend Deslily tagged me with a book meme and since books are some of my favorite things, I thought I'd play along. Name up the three characters you'd like to meet. Sookie Stackhouse: Charlaine Harris's Southern Vampire novels are one of my all time favorite guilty pleasures. I unabashedly love these books despite their chick lit status and Sookie has become one of my favorite heroines. She's one of those people you'd like to have as a best friend; even though she can read your mind. She has a Southern sensibility and wit that makes her seem very real. James Bond: If he looked like Daniel Craig that is. I mean, wouldn't you? Lucas Davenport: John Sandford writes my favorite detective novels and the character of Lucas Davenport is just cool. He's aging, sometimes cranky and never afraid to get in someones face if he needs to. Name up to three characters you'd like to be. A Dragonrider of Pern: How cool would it be to have a telepathic dragon to ride around on? Kerowyn: I like the fantasy of Mercedes Lackey, at least the stuff before she decided to co-write a bazillion books with other authors. Kerowyn is one of her older characters. She starts out as a tougher-than-nails mercenary who finds out she has some magical abilities. If I'm going to be a fictional character, I like the idea of having some magic at my fingertips. Polgara: I liked David Eddings's books a lot more when I was younger, but Polgara would still be a pretty good person to be. She's powerful and gets her happy ending. What could be better than that? Name up to three characters who scare you. Pennywise: Clowns kind of give me the heebie jeebies anyway, but Stephen King created a doozy with Pennywise. Hannibal Lecter: Fascinating and scary. Not someone I would want to meet. Ever. Satan: Hey, the Bible is a book right? Actually, I can't count how many books I've read that have cast Satan as the main villain. And you know what? He's pretty much always scary. This was actually a ridiculously hard list. I didn't know who to pick for the "who I would want to be" category. Let's face it, most main characters don't exactly have an easy life. So this is what I came up with. I'm not going to tag anyone, though if anyone wants to volunteer.....


A little while back our resident heretic, Stewart Sternberg, blasphemed most heinously by suggesting (cover your eyes, gentle readers) that "Star Trek Sucks!" There was, to put it mildly, some unrest amongst the goodfolk of this parish. The witch-burning was due for yesterday (marshmallows provided) but has been delayed due to bad weather. Mr Sternberg has taken advantage of the interregnum, and has escaped to the hills, whence he continues to preachify his unnatural preachins. HOWEVER, in his desperation to escape, he left behind him his blasphemous bible, The Big Book of Science Fiction and Fantasy Heresies. It is not known who committed these horrifying notions to paper (or human skin, as I suspect it may be). Obviously, it must be destroyed (Think of the children! Won't somebody please think of the children?) but I've managed to take a sneak peak and have recorded some of the vilest entries. Read on, if you dare...

1. "Ja Ja Binks isn't all that bad, really, I mean, c'mon, Star Wars is a kids film"
2. "All in all, you can see why the Stargate SG-1 has been going for ten seasons, when Firefly didn't even get through one. It's just a better show."
3. "The writers of Lost know how it's going to end. It's certianly not going to be a hastily cobbled together mishmash of storylines filmed on a drastically reduced budget like the final season of Alias."
4. "Bobba Fett's a bit shit, really, isn't he?"
5. "The poems in Lord of the Rings are really great!"
"I miss Captain Janeway, don't you?"
7. "I was never sexually attracted to anyone in Buffy."
8. "When you think about it, you start to realise that the best sci-fi around is on the Oxygen network. Those repeats of Touched by an Angel knock BSG into a cocked hat."
9. "The X-Files was so much better without Mulder. I never got that guy."
10. "Those Eragon books are crap, aren't they?"
11. "Serenity was a let down. I hate Joss Whedon"
12. "The Hitchikers' Guide to the Galaxy movie is funnier than the books."
13. "I hope Robert Jordan's got another eleven volumes of The Wheel of Time, I just love how it keeps getting longer and longer."
14. "Wil Wheaton is hot."

Alas! Gentle readers, I can bring myself to write no more! I feel mine very soul being rent from mine breast (ahem). But if you brave souls have heard of any other science fiction heresies, blasphemies, or just out-and-out SINFUL SPEAKINGS, add them to the comments... I'm going to Confession.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Espresso Ninjas

Ninjas can even make coffee look cooler. For more videos by Young H. Lee visit

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Which One is the Most Overrated?

Busy Busy....

I don't like to go too long without putting a post up, but I've been working on a writing assignment for Stewart Sternberg that I posted on my other blog. I'll try to get a post up in the late morning (unless someone else gets one up first--hint hint). If there's anything you'd like to see, let me know. Otherwise you'll just have to take your chances with whatever I come up with. Update: Nevermind. I'll throw up a poll. Those are easy. :)

Monday, April 23, 2007

It's Not An Obsession...

I can stop any time I want to. Really! I can! I just don't want to right now. I am NOT addicted to the new Robin Hood series on BBCA. It 's just that it is probably the best Robin Hood I've ever seen or read. Only Sherwood by Parke Godwin. even comes close. True there are some apparent inconsistencies with historical reality. Even more with the traditional Robin Hood. However, many of these are explained as the series progresses. The plot of each episode builds nicely upon the last without leaving you with the sense that you are missing some very important pieces of the story if you miss a week (and reruns are plentiful if you do). The characters are well developed - the Sheriff of Nottingham is absolutely delightful in his own especially wicked way. The dialog is snappy and and the acting is well done. The emotions are palpable. And the characters are definitely more that is apparent at first. There are emotional undercurrents and backstories aplenty. One of the many fun aspects of this version is that Robin has adopted many of the things he admired from his Saracen enemies in the Holy Land. His bow is recurved and his preferred blade is a scimitar (although the choreographer seems to forget from time to time that a scimitar is a single edged blade. All of this combines to build a delightful new rendition of a beloved legend. One fit to cleanse our palate of Kevin Costner and maybe even Errol Flynn. And I could seriously stop watching any time I wanted to. If I wanted to. Which I don't. Shut up.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Comic Book Animation: The Evolution

I loved comic books when I was a kid. My mom was very understanding about my strange pastime and would often buy comics for me to read. At least I was reading something right?

Truthfully, I was probably more interested in the animation than the actual story. Yet, that's kind of the point isn't it? If we wanted just the story, we'd buy a novel and call it a day.

But the animation has sure changed over the years hasn't it?

I'm certainly not the first one to notice the trend or comment on it. But I am often struck by just how much things have changed. I suppose one could say it's a natural effect of time and changing technology, taste and culture. Well, I guess that is it in a nutshell.

Still, when I look at the way things have changed I have to ask why everything has become sooo exaggerated?

It's not shocking that women have always been, shall we say, idealized. Take this classic image of Batgirl: super tight costume- check: provocative pose (for the time)-check: unrealistically proportioned body-check.

But that is nothing compared to how women are depicted today.
Look as this updated picture of Batgirl; Can you say painted on? Is there a reason she's actually wearing a costume? And this is a fairly tame comic book woman. Take a look at this picture from the comic book Mantra, mentioned over at Dave's Long Box: I can honestly say I never went to school with anyone who dressed like that.

But we all know it isn't just the women: Check out Batman and Superman in this picture.

When did they start making steroids for superheroes?

Animation in general has improved but I do wonder why it has become so over-exaggerated and hypersexualized? It seems almost too easy to say that it's because the target audience is hormonal, teenage boys. I've trolled the net enough to find lots of different people who like comics, including women; and not everyone is really into the current trends in animation.

So what do you think of where comic book animation is going? Do the images ever bother you or do you think it's just a natural progression? Do you think characters like Batman and Superman will continue to look massively over-muscled or do you think the artists will scale back?

I would ask if you thought the images of women would become less voyeuristic, but they've pretty much always been that way, and I don't see that changing.

But really, what do you think of comic book animation in general?

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Star Trek Sucks!!!

I am about to commit blasphemy, everybody turn away!!!

(I take a deep breath, exhale slowly)

Last week I rented a couple of old STAR TREK episodes from Netflix. I've been chewing my way through old episodes of MISSION IMPOSSIBLE and I SPY, so I figured--what the hell. As I sat in my living room listening to William Shatner I squirmed. I squirmed again. Finally, in the middle of a third episode, I shut it off, sealed the DVDs in their protective envelopes, and shipped them back to Netflix.

Don't get me wrong, I love "The Next Generation" and the other incarnations Roddenberry's hucksterism, but the original show is so dated as to almost be unwatchable unless one is doing so as a study in old television shows. Trust me, "Mission Impossible" suffers too, but curiously not as much.

I know some will argue "Star Trek" was unique. "Star Trek" broke ground, it paved the way. Heretic!!!!! Unclean!!!!!!

Okay, stop. Having been around long enough to have enjoyed the original series in their first airings, let me say that we were so hungry for science fiction that we would have watched cardboard cutouts and hairy men in pajamas. It was different in the sixties. Science fiction wasn't respectable, nor were the effects out there developed enough to effectively bring respectable science fiction to the screen. Please don't talk to me about the exceptions...I'm talking as a whole.

Thankfully, there were tons of things to read and there were comic books. If you were around in the late sixties, while you might have been able to watch a few cheesy Saturday matinees, there was little else available in the genre. read. Thank God for "Childhood End", "Cat's Cradle", "I,Robot", "Dune", "Canticle For Leibowitz", "Foundation" and "Martian Chronicles". And by the way, if you haven't read these works, then you should hang your head in shame and stop pretending to be a science fiction fan. Seriously. I'll wait for those of you to either apologize and swear to correct the situation, or to leave. Go find a Buffy fan fiction website.

They gone? Okay, I'll continue...

So "Star Trek"? It came around at the right place at the right times, and it tried some different things. Unlike "Twilight Zone" and "Outer Limits" it gave us regular characters to identify with. But I'm putting things in perspective. "Star Trek"???? Sorry, Picard, it just wasn't magical. The original show developed an aura and a culture. The aura and the culture have survived, but the actual show? Go on, go back. I dare you. Go and watch ten random episodes and then tell me how well this show survived. Watch the episode with the black and white race warring against the white and black race, starring Frank Gershwin. Watch "Mudd's Women", one of the most embarassing displays of schmaltz and drecht. Check out "A Piece of The Action" where the crew has to deal with an alien version of Chicago during the days of rum running and mobster action.

Yes, there were the occasional exceptional episodes, but as a whole...AS A WHOLE.."Star Trek sucked!!!" There, I said it. I'll say it again. IT SUCKED. And, it almost ruined science fiction for many of us at the time. With the genre seeking the monied pockets of the Trekkies, suddenly almost every novel I picked up had a spaceship and a crew going places that no one had gone before. It almost wrecked the genre in the same way the "Star Wars" would later crush creativity with more corporate types putting out one trite copycat space opera after another.

So, having vented my spleen about "Star Trek", and having done so unapologetically, I will slink back to my cave and drink pickle juice. I have a few other sacred cows to attack, but I'll hold off doing so until a later post.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

200 Big Ones......

Yep. 200 posts. You were counting weren't you? Okay, you weren't. But it's a milestone of sorts, isn't it? I don't even know, except I notice a lot of people on other blogs trumpeting the fact that they have hit 100, 200 and so on. Not that there's anything wrong with that. So to commemorate 200 posts on this humble blog, I'm going to do something I should have done a long time ago; pay homage to the wonderful people who regularly post on this blog so that I have 200 posts to brag about. Crunchy Carpets: I ran into Crunchy while I was blog hopping and thought wow, I have a lot in common with this person; and that was before I knew I had found another sci-fi geek-- who just so happens to be married to a fellow sci-fi geek. Crunchy has become integral to this blog IMO, not only for her kind of in-the-know perspective on the sci-fi community, but also for her quick wit and often funny comments. Crunchy's name is even a great reflection on her personality. She's grounded, real and I feel privileged to have her here. Stewart Sternberg: There's no greater compliment than having someone like Stewart not only visit, but post on my blog. Stewart is one Hell of a writer and mentor. I love his sense of the macabre, which so often finds its way into his posts, and his appreciation of the ridiculous. He loves controversy and debate but always remains a gentleman (don't let him tell you otherwise). His blog is often my first stop of the day just because I can't wait to see what got his attention today. Truly, a man who is never dull. Jon the Intergalactic Gladiator: Jon was one of the first blogs I started going to regularly. I hadn't seen blogs like his before. He had running stories on his blog about, well, himself: funny stories about his adventures as a Space Gladiator-- needless to say, I was hooked. I actually talked Jon into his first post on this blog, a book review, and lucky for me he continued to post. I love Jon's sense of humor and his imagination and I am always curious to see what he comes up with next. Hey There Skippy: Skippy has possibly one of the funniest blogs I go to. Always irreverent, Skippy's blog usually makes me laugh out loud. Skippy was another one I was lucky enough to coerce into posting on my blog; and thank goodness. Otherwise, who would I have to post about Dr. Who? (never underestimate the importance of Dr. Who) But I am especially lucky that Skippy shares his wit with us; it always brightens up my day. Solshine: Solshine is a kindred spirit. She calls her blog, Sci-fi/Journalist, and the first time I saw it I thought that could be me. You know, sci-fi blog, Journalism degree and all... never mind, this isn't about me. Solshine always comes up with cool stuff: great videos and imaginative topics. And if that wasn't enough, she has her own sci-fi blog, but still posts here too. I love Solshine's reviews too. (on her blog) Too many people are kind of wishy-washy on reviews, but not Solshine; she tells you what she really thinks. I love that! Odd Mix: Odd Mix is probably my shyest poster. He did tell me when he first came on as a contributor that he probably wouldn't be able to post much. But so what. He's a cool guy with a farm and a beautiful family. He took time out of his busy life to email me and tell me how much he liked my blog. How nice is that? And without his contribution, I wouldn't be at 200 posts quite yet-- so he must be included. Seriously though, if you haven't visited, you should. He's a good guy. My sincerest thanks go out to all of you. This blog is waaaaay better with all your contributions. This blog has become a reflection of the personalities who post here as well as my regular visitors-- who must also be thanked! If you haven't visited the following blogs, well, what's wrong with you? Captain Picard's Journal Alex (adult content) Sci-fi Chick Curmudgeon Mist1 Faberdatch Asara Avery Deslily Morgen Empress Bee Lee Lee Old Bitter Balls (adult content) Professor Xavier Mike Kate S. Jedimerc Scotty Neila Sgt Dub Nurse Ratched I hope I didn't forget anyone... So thanks everyone for indulging my blogging habit and sharing your time with me.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007


The total effect of a person's actions and conduct during the successive phases of the person's existence, regarded as determining the person's destiny Or, what goes around comes around. I've been experiencing good Karma this week. First I won a set of books from Pat's Fantasy Hotlist; and as if that wasn't good enough, I won a very cool T-shirt from Carl over at Stainless Steel Droppings. I wonder what I did to deserve all this good fortune? Maybe I'm superstitious, but I do believe in Karma. So I'm wondering, what good deed should I do in return? Or does being on the receiving end of good Karma mean that I have already done my good deed? Maybe I'm over thinking this. But I am thankful for gifts like this. So thank you Carl and thank you Pat. It is much appreciated.

Henchmen of the World Unite

Inspired by SQT's splendid post below, I've taken it upon myself (please, grateful public, no flowers) to compile a list of some of the best villainous sidekicks, known professionally as henchmen. Actually, that makes it sound like they have some sort of Union, who would probably have a code of practice:

"A good henchman is only loyal to their evil overlord either out of fear or the belief that there is some nefarious benefit to their own base interests. A good henchman carries out his orders with a mixture of both sadistic relish and burning resentment at being ordered around. A good henchman will swap sides at a moments notice and come crawling back just as soon as the wind changes. A good henchman enjoys nothing more than muttering under his or her breath about their working conditions. A good henchman expects a certain level of casual abuse (physical or verbal) from their employer. Above all, a good henchman really wants to be the Big Bad."

That said, let's take a look at some classic henchmen over the years, some cartoons, some movies, begining with my own personal favourite:

Evil Lyn: Skeletor's right-hand woman in He-Man and the Masters of the Universe. What a magnificent bitch! She hated Skeletor almost as much as she hated He-Man and had a wicked line in reasons why everyone else was mentally submnormal. She was also totally bad-ass. And who couldn't but love that headdress? There are just not enough villainesses in cartoons these days.

Iago: I know this is like, cartoon heresy or similar, but if it weren't for this splendidly craven anthropomorphic parrot, Aladdin would have been utterly unbearable for me. He's the ultimate in cowardly-bad-guys-with-a-heart-of-gold and is funny enough to almost not make me throw up during A Whole New World. But obviously not enough to make me watch the movie again. Mostly because I've made it my life's work to destroy all copies I lay eyes upon.

Starscream: Another total bitch, Starscream was a breath of self-interested, narrow-minded pathological loathing and envy amongst all the noble happy-clappy edutainment morality lessons laughing at the end of episodes drivel that tended to make up early 80s episodes of Transformers. The best thing about Starscream was just HOW much he hated his boss, Megatron - leading to the classic line in Transformers the Movie when he throws a dying Megatron out of a spaceship, "Oh, how it pains me to do this..." I really hope he's in the new movie.

The Witch-King of Angmar: OK, bit of a category shift here. The Lord of the Nazgul is a very serious bad-ass indeed. And I think his rendering in the LOTR movies is one of the most awe-inspiring cinematic sights in recent years. Now, pedants amongst you will point out that The Witch King's boss, Sauron, was himself a henchman of the fallen God, Morgoth. However, you have overlooked the point that I don't have time to go into that here so ssshh. Also, the Witch-King meets his comeuppance at the hands of a hot blonde in chainmail, thereby rendering him a vital component of both feminist iconography and 13-year-old boys' dreams for years to come.

Lloyd, Lloyd & Floyd: Anyone remember The Racoons? These three little piggies were anti-environmentalist Ant-Eater tycoon (do keep up) Cyril Sneer's whiny little henchmen. They were incredibly inept thieves for the most part. I'm only including them here because a) that show had the acest theme music ever and b) my sister does a great impression of the pigs squealing "Bossh, bossh". I'm not sure which of Lloyd, Lloyd or Floyd this picture is. A fabulous prize to anyone who knows.

OK, so they're almost all cartoons. What can I say, I'm feeling juvenile today.

So what (slightly less infantile) henchmen would all y'all include?

Sunday, April 15, 2007

What Would We Do Without a Good Sidekick?

Sidekicks. The number two man (or woman) who offers advice and one liners. How boring our heroes would be without them. So in honor of the faithful sidekick, I offer a list. A sort of tribute to the loyal few who make the heroes look good. Spock & Dr. McCoy: Okay, I know this is two sidekicks, but I almost feel that I can't have one without the other. The original Star Trek's Spock and Dr. McCoy (Bones) are almost like the angel and the devil on Kirk's shoulders; with Spock representing logic and Bones representing emotion. We all know the most famous lines the two characters utter that is not logical... I'm a doctor not a .........! and the show wouldn't have been the same without either of them. While Kirk was busy charging forward, these two characters were busily trying to make sure he made the right decisions; and bickering about it the whole time. Samwise Gamgee: Talk about your loyal friend. I don't think friends come more faithful than Sam Gamgee from The Lord of the Rings. Not only does Sam insist on accompanying Frodo on his dangerous journey to Mordor, but he refuses to lose faith in Frodo. Sam somehow manages to be simple and wise at the same time; and it's because of this contradiction that he became one of my favorite characters in the LOTR series. Robin: Poor Robin, always the bridesmaid, never the ...... never mind. Actually, Robin is pretty much the quintessential sidekick isn't he? Always there to help Batman and defer to the wisdom of the Caped Crusader. But didn't Robin often get short shrift in the Batman TV shows and movies? At least it always seemed that way to me. Though it appears that Teen Titans is doing what it can to make the character more cool. But I still love Robin for the simple fact that he is one of the first sidekicks I ever got to know. I grew up on the campy Batman TV show and loved Robin's holy......Batman! catchphrase. Willow Rosenberg: I know not everyone is a fan of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer series, but I enjoyed it. Willow was the best friend I wish I would have had; except when she went evil and started flaying people... But Willow was great. She was almost too sweet in the beginning but she was still fun; definitely the loyal friend who had the funny one-liners. It was interesting to watch her grow and develop as a character on the show. In fact, I thought she was more interesting than Buffy most of the time. Hoban (Wash) Washburne: I don't know anyone (yet) who didn't like Wash. He seemed to be the guy who would raise his eyebrows at his Captain, but follow orders nonetheless. I don't know if he qualifies as an actual sidekick since the show was such an ensemble, but he did fit the personae IMO. Wash could be laid back or a little panicked depending on the situation, yet you could always count on him as the comic relief. I still pretend the end of Serenity never occurred. Gabrielle: Xena is basically one of my all time favorite guilty pleasures. I like the campiness of the show. Gabrielle was a great sidekick IMO. Starting out as an innocent idealist, she slowly grows more world-weary as the show goes on. But she never stops trying to get Xena to be a little more idealistic and, like many sidekicks, has more faith in the hero(ine) than Xena does in herself. There was always a kind of wink wink, nudge nudge quality to Gabrielle and Xena's partnership, but the mentor-protégé relationship is still prevalent throughout most of the show. Starbuck: This is another character that I am not really sure if he is a sidekick or another lead in the show. But as the best friend of the main character, I'm going to put him in the sidekick category. I loved the original Starbuck on Battlestar Galactica. He was an unrepentant womanizer, gambler and all around goof-off, but he seemed to have such fun. There are moments when I like the new Starbuck, but she is quite a bit more psycho (than the original) and seems to have left most of the fun behind. Ron Weasley & Hermione Granger: Again, I have another duo. Harry Potter is obviously not everyone's cup of tea, but hey, it's a big seller, so lots of us like it, right? And I like Ron and Hermione. Harry is a hero with a lot of help: Ron throws himself right into the action with Harry and Hermione is always the one with the quick solutions. Like many sidekicks, Ron is forever living in the shadow of his friend, but gamely keeps his loyalty. And though Hermione is a bit of a know-it-all, she's still awfully handy in a bad situation. I think Harry Potter is in general a great story for kids and the relationship between Harry, Ron and Hermione is something that, as a parent, I like having as a example of great friendships for my own kids. As always, this is but a small sampling of some of my favorite characters from sci-fi/fantasy TV, movies and books. I'm sure I've left many off the list. So let me know who you think should have been included.

I Love Free Stuff...

Lucky me! I won a set of books that was being given away on Pat's Fantasy Hotlist. So keep an eye on his blog and be sure to enter the contests for free books. They really do give them away.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

The Name of the Wind

Have you ever read someone's writing and thought, if I had a tenth of their talent I'd be a better writer..? That's exactly what I thought while reading The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss. I haven't written that many book reviews on this site: mostly because I haven't read much that seems to be worth the time. The reviews I've done so far have mostly been written because I couldn't think of anything else to post that day. Sorry about that. The thing is, I don't like to recommend a book unless it's worth the money spent. I read a lot of books and some are entertaining, but most are still pretty average or cliché; whatever you want to call them. This book? I bought hardbound and felt it was worth every penny. The Name of the Wind is a fairly big book, running just over 650 pages, and yet the story has only barely begun. Rothfuss is not an author who is afraid to take his time. The main character's name is Kvothe and we learn early on that the man's reputation is legend. But this is no Mary Sue character; Rothfuss is too skilled a writer for that. Publishers Weekly describes the books as follows: The originality of Rothfuss's outstanding debut fantasy, the first of a trilogy, lies less in its unnamed imaginary world than in its precise execution. Kvothe ("pronounced nearly the same as 'Quothe' "), the hero and villain of a thousand tales who's presumed dead, lives as the simple proprietor of the Waystone Inn under an assumed name. Prompted by a biographer called Chronicler who realizes his true identity, Kvothe starts to tell his life story. From his upbringing as an actor in his family's traveling troupe of magicians, jugglers and jesters, the Edema Ruh, to feral child on the streets of the vast port city of Tarbean, then his education at "the University," Kvothe is driven by twin imperatives—his desire to learn the higher magic of naming and his need to discover as much as possible about the Chandrian, the demons of legend who murdered his family. As absorbing on a second reading as it is on the first, this is the type of assured, rich first novel most writers can only dream of producing. The fantasy world has a new star. That's a pretty good summation of the book. But what they don't tell you is how Rothfuss's execution of the story takes it beyond the sum of it's parts. Kvothe is a character that is the stuff of legend. He's brilliant and gifted and in most books would have won his fortune and the girl by the end of the first 300 pages; but Rothfuss prefers to make Kvothe a much more realistic character. He's brilliant and gifted; yes. But he rarely manages to do anything but live hand to mouth. He doesn't have riches falling at his feet and he often makes rash, foolish choices. And Rothfuss also demonstrates a gift for dialogue, giving Kvothe a glib humor that often gets him in trouble. Rothfuss also demonstrates an amazing ability to create a very layered story. There are many moments in the book when tales are told and songs are sung that add so much detail that it sucks you into its world and you just want to know more. At the same time, by the end of the book we have more questions than answers. There are villains, but we don't really know much about them. There are creatures known as Fae, but again, they're a mystery. There are demons-- I think, and other dangers as yet unexplained. In fact, this book really just lays the foundation for the rest of the story; we are told that much. But it is still so satisfying. Ultimately, The Name of the Wind is just a damn good book.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Why New Computers Suck

Okay, I can't really blame the computer, but I'm going to anyway. I was merrily writing a new post about the 2007 Summer movie season, when I hit some buttons on my new (and unfamiliar) keyboard and managed to delete the whole post. *Bangs head on desk* Why do I do these things? Why? Anyway, it's still early. So I'll redo the list, with links (because that's the kind of girl I am) for all of you, and you can tell me what you are looking forward to and what you think will be a colossal waste of time. May 4: Spider-Man 3 May 18: Shrek the Third May 25: Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End June 8: Ocean's Thirteen June 15: Fantastic Four and the Silver Surfer June 22: Evan Almighty June 29: Live Free or Die Hard, Ratatouille, Martian Child July 4: Transformers July 13: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix July 27: The Simpsons Movie August 3: The Bourne Ultimatum I saved this at least 3 times while I was rewriting it. Obviously I'm looking forward to Spiderman 3, but Shrek and Ratatouille get high marks because I can take my kids to see them. I might actually be tempted to see the new Fantastic 4, but that will depend a lot on the reviews. And maybe I'm a geek (you don't have to tell me that though...) but I do like the Harry Potter movies. So, at least there will be something to watch this Summer. I swear, there hasn't been anything worth watching since Casino Royale, so it's about time the studio's released something. Yeah, about &^%$ time. Okay, I'm a tad touchy because I had to rewrite this post. But you get the idea...

God Bless You, Mr. Vonnegut

Kurt Vonnegut, who passed yesterday at the age of eighty four, lived through the fire bombing of Dresden in WWII. He saw the brutality of war and what it did to a people. He understood that while politicians beat their chests and sing of glory and victory, that there can be no victory in the humiliation and destruction of a people. Through his writing, Vonnegut has tried to compel us to see war in human terms, to understand the cost.

An outspoken critic of the illegal war in Vietnam, Vonnegut also spoke out against the oil war in Iraq. Even before the U.S. started bombing Baghdad, Vonnegut was criticizing Bush's policies.

Somebody will ask why this political posting is being made on a blog dedicated to science fiction and fantasy? It's because Vonnegut was an important writer in the genre and his writing was decidedly political and antiwar in nature. His works "Slaughterhouse Five", "Cat's Cradle" and "Mother Night" are important works of literature, working as both speculative fiction and as political statements that the military industrial complex would just as well have us turn a blind eye to. While science fiction and fantasy is wonderful escapist literature, it works best when it is making a true statement about human nature and our position in the world around us.

With his passing, how can one better honor this man than by taking up mantle of peace activist? Here's to you, Mr. Vonnegut. So it Goes. Get us out of Iraq now.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

The Devil You Say

I love stories dealing with Satan, don't you? There's something about evil which is s-o-o-o-o deliciously seductive. Of course the man downstairs that we've come to know and love is an invention of medieval Christianity, whose purpose was to scare up converts and justify all manner of inexcusable activity. Speaking inquisitionally. And of course the faithful will insist that the dark one has been around since the old testament (not exactly true, at least not the Satan that has become the staple of Christian mythology). But none of this matters, for I'm talking about the character Satan, the metaphorical figure that we've all come to adore. I'm speaking about Satan the Trope, the Symbol, the MAN!!!!

The American Satan, or rather the Western version of Satan (no, not Dick Cheney) is a wonderful figure born of concern over class structure and class warfare. He is a tempter, primarily offering economic reward and power. But the spin I adore, created during the Great Depression by Stephen Vincent Benet in his classic "The Devil and Daniel Webster" suggests that one can deal with Satan and win. This recreation and destruction of Goethe's "Faust" gave us a archetype that has become a staple of American film and literature.

Consider these uniquely American incarnations of Satan, all memorable celluloid creations:

--Ray Walston brought his Broadway Mr. Applegate to screen in "Damn Yankees". Lucifer meddling in the world of professional baseball. It was a perfect marriage.

--Victor Buono, he of tremendous girth, played the Dark Master in "The Evil", a wretched film where everyone is killed off one by one, but Buono relishes his role and chews the scenery with such unbridled delight Satan becomes the only likeable character.

--Jack Nicholson. Seeing Nicholson in "The Witches of Eastwick" probably made God chuckle. His scene in the church, where he speaks before a horrified congregation about the opposite sex, is a classic moment in film. "Women...did He do it to us on purpose or by accident.? I'm only asking because if it was by accident..then maybe there's something we can do about it!"

--Al Pacino is a deliciously seductive version of Mr. Scratch in "The Devil's Advocate". If I had been Keanu Reeves, I would have embraced the dark side, enjoyed the penthouse, and cast caution to the wind. I mean...Al Pacino was that appealing.

--Robert DeNiro in "Angel Heart". Now, DeNiro is a more traditional Satanic figure in this film, but worth the ride nonetheless. He plays Louis Cyphre (Lucifer...get it?) as a sophisticated, shadowy figure come to collect his due. Not an inspired character or performance. But hey, it's DeNiro.

--Viggio Mortensen played Satan in "The Prophecy". I think I applauded when I first saw this. I loved the idea of warring factions of angels, and Satan stepping in because they were invading his turf.

--and coming next year some time, hopefully, "I, Lucifer". Based on a book by Glen Duncan, this fantasy, currently in production, is about God giving Satan one last chance at redemption, provided The Dark One can live a blameless life as human.

I know there are some who will read this who will roll their eyes and think my fondness for Lucifer is somewhat blasphemous. Well, yeah. Thank God. But before you cast a finger of accusation, allow me to recall an extraordinary piece written by Ray Bradbury. It appeared in Playboy. It was an alternative ending that he wrote for "Rosemary's Baby". In his piece, Rosemary narrowly escapes the Satanists, who are unable to enter a church, and brings her infant before the altar. She falls to her knees and raising the baby, she implores God to forgive his son.

Only Bradbury. Or Alice Cooper.

One More Thing...

I promise, I'll have a real post up soon. But I've been meaning to put this up for a couple of days and simply forgot. Carl over at Stainless Steel Droppings has a page set up for his Once Upon A Time Challenge for book reviews. If you are interested in reading the reviews or submitting your own, go HERE.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Quick Note

I just found a new blog called Pat's Fantasy Hotlist. The reason I mention it is because he regularly lists contests for free books. I sent an email hoping to get some books, but thought I'd point the rest of you over so you could have a chance to get some free stuff too! Good luck. I also got another email regarding the TV show Heroes. If you're interested, check out the rest of this post.... --NBC is hosting an interactive alternate-reality game for Heroes on, and the latest installment should be going up by the end of the day today. The game involves investigating Primatech Paper and Mr. Bennett, and the URL above is the blog for Hana (the character who can sense the Internet with her mind). --NBC tells me that, instead of offering only that week’s episode through NBC Rewind ( after Chapter 19 airs, they’re going to offer the previous 5 episodes, so that’s even more time to catch up. --And finally, NBC is also offering for download on their site a “Countdown Clock,” which sits on your desktop and counts down the days, hours, minutes and seconds until Chapter 19 finally airs. You and your readers can pick it up here: There’s a version for Mac and Windows, the Windows version requires the Yahoo Widget Engine, the Mac version requires OS X 10.4.

For Our Impoverished American Readers...

... we have some good news! BBC America will be screening the Doctor Who spinoff Torchwood and spy drama MI5, known in the UK as Spooks, later this year. Torchwood will join the rather good Buffy-inspired Hex and a couple of other shows in a Saturday evening strand called (in what we must assume is a total failure of imagination and not just BBC America trying to annoy me) "Supernatural Saturdays. More after the jump...

BBC America are going to be theming most of their programming now (see here for full details) and there's plenty for sci-fi fans to enjoy. Spy drama MI5 qualifies as sci-fi in the same way as James Bond does and is worth watching for the same reasons (pretty people and cool bad guys) and because it really is insanely tense. Torchwood spins the Captain Jack Character off from Doctor Who, which delighted bisexuals across the known universe (see picture for evidence) and, whilst it's a bit ropey at first, it's pretty ace by the last episodes of the season. Hex I'm less familiar with but it's essentially a witchcraft-in-highschool affair and, according to some good friends whose judgement I trust (despite them being my friends) it's jolly good.

I also want to reccomend Waking the Dead on BBc America, which isn't sci-fi at all, but rather is like the clever, non-irritating version of the bastard love child of CSI and Cold Case (try not think about that too long, just enjoy the show - especially for the fact that the two main characters are... OVER 55 years old!!!!!)

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Friday, April 06, 2007

Star Trek-- So Many to Choose From

Hello all, I'm back and on my new computer. We have Windows Vista now, which takes some getting used to. None of our old drivers work and now we have to find new ones so that we can use our printer and other hardware. It's still a lot better than what I was working with before though. I had no idea my blog color was so faint. Let me know how it shows up on your computers and if you'd recommend a color change. I don't mind if you tell me you don't like it. Much. Anyway. I've been unable to confidently write a new post so I'm ready to jump back in. Of course, that doesn't mean all of a sudden I'll have better blog content, but I guess you can't have it all. Since I am a little boggled still, I'm going to go back to an old favorite: Star Trek. I was thinking about doing another poll to avoid having to write a long post, but decided to spare you that at the last minute. I was thinking, as a topic, to ask what your favorite TV shows were, and as I was composing it realized that half the list would just be Star Trek shows of different varieties. And it made me wonder, is Star Trek that good? When you look at the series as a whole and all the movies it's almost a little overwhelming to realize how big the franchise is. It's also interesting to go back and look at the history a little bit. For example, I didn't know that the Original Series only ran for 80 episodes, less than half the time The Next Generation (178 episodes), DS9 (176 episodes) and Voyager (172 episodes) ran. Even Enterprise ran longer at 98 episodes. I don't suppose it's too unusual for a series to be under-appreciated in its time, just look at Firefly. But even if the original series didn't last that long, the concept sure has. Personally I go into fits and starts when it comes to all the shows. I didn't watch the original when it came out because I wasn't actually born until the show was off the air-- though I remember it being on in reruns pretty much throughout my whole life. I was really a Next Generation fan because it came out at just the right time for me to really get into it and enjoy it. Because I liked TNG so much I watched DS9 too, though I began to burn out toward the end. And that was a shame because I didn't watch Voyager with the same dedication as the earlier series' and I hear I may have missed out. Enterprise got my attention mostly due to Scott Bakula, whom I had really liked in Quantum Leap, though I never watched every episode. So I guess I'd consider myself a lukewarm Star Trek fan. I've always liked it- even seen all the movies. But I have not dedicated myself to every show ever aired. I've also never done the conventions. But I guess the real question is, does the concept deserve so many series'? I've even read that certain networks are throwing around the idea of developing another version in the near future. Do you guys think the Star Trek franchise can go on indefinitely? Or do you think we'll all eventually burn out on the idea?

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Is Joss Whedon Serenity Hotter better than George Lucas Star Wars?

Much scandal and raising of eyebrows here in Britain as readers of our top sci-fi magazine, SFX have voted Serenity as the best sci-fi film of all time, beating the expected winner, Star Wars into second place. Usually the British press couldn't give a flying Ewok about sci-fi (other than Doctor Who, which enjoys the status of "national treasure") but this poll has been all over the news. Baffled non-sci-fi-fans have been asking how little-known Serenity can have defeated Star Wars - a film which, in the popular imagination, is effecitvely synonymous with sci-fi. Well, how indeed?

First of all, I don't really think that anyone really believes that Serenity is a better film than Star Wars. But I do think that lots of people - including me - think that Firefly, the TV series from whence Serenity came, was all-in-all a finer piece of entertainment than Star Wars. A vote for Serenity was effecitvely a vote for Firefly - a much-loved and unbelievably-cancelled-in-its-prime TV show.

Secondly, for hard-core sci-fi-fans, the best sci-fi has always been on TV (Star Trek, BSG, B5, Dr Who, X-Files, Buffy, Angel etc etc), whilst most non-fans usually only encounter sci-fi at an "event" movie like Star Wars or Spiderman (which, on an unrelated note, I think is the most overrated piece of poop this side of 5oCent). This poll seems to me to have been taken as an opportunity for sci-fi fans to show that they value "their" sci-fi over more populist, non-fan material.

Thirdly, these "BEST EVER" polls are largely specious exercises in filling up magazines. They were fun for a while, circa the turn of the millenium, but I think now people are wise to polls and surveys asking them to identify an objective best. Rather than go for the obvious answer (in this case Star Wars), fans tend to respond with something that makes them appear individual and knowledgeable about the genre (Serenity). It's why people always say they prefer the Beatles' White Album, when really, they only want to listen to The Greatest Hits, 1961-66.

Or maybe I'm wrong and Serenity IS better than Star Wars...

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Heroes News

I got a very nice email today from a representative over at NBC regarding the TV show Heroes. I'm going to just copy the email and post it here-- it's much easier that way. :) Only 19 days til Heroes’ new episodes start airing, and the suspense of all the cliffhangers set up in “Parasites” finally ends. Until then, I wanted to point you and your readers towards the first part of a preview of Episode 19, hosted at NBC’s Heroes MySpace page: The second part of the clip is on, along with a contest your readers can enter to win a trip to LA and a Heroes set tour. Both the first and second clips are scheduled to go live at midnight pacific time tonight. You’ve probably heard about this already, but the auction for the original artwork in Heroes ends Wednesday at midnight PST. The site is here: ((I don't know if this link will work-- I tried it and it comes up "page not found")) And if you or any of your readers missed the first 18 episodes, they’re all available for free on NBC’s site, but only temporarily—after Chapter 19 airs, the site will only have the current week’s episode. Here’s the URL for the episodes: Very nice! I can go back and catch up on all the early episodes.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Crummy Computers and the Google Gods

Well, I'm limping along on a computer that's showing me about half the screen. We've tried over the last few months to get the thing fixed, but it has decided to tell us in no uncertain terms that it is through with us and we better find a replacement. We've ordered a new computer and I expect we'll have it in a day or two. So please bear with me until then. I had a post about half written when this all came about, so I'm going to try to finish what I had started. I don't know If I will be successful in getting this to post before the computer completely craps out on me. If I do manage to post it, that means I have probably used up all my luck and will probably be staring at a black screen very soon. Anyway. Lately the Google Gods have been good to me. I've been getting quite a few more hits than I used to. In the past I was lucky if I got 6-10 hits a day off of the Google search engine and now I'm getting over 200 hits a day, largely sent to me by Google. Why? I haven't a clue. One curious thing I have noticed is that most of my traffic is due to one search in particular. Female action heroes. Oh, I will sometimes get search terms that mention things like thongs or bondage, but we don't need to go into detail on that. But 10 to 1 the Google searches that lead people to my blog are about female action heroes. Curious. But rather than repeat the past, I thought I'd mention a few more of my favorite women, and see if Google responds. But this time I'm going to mention the bad girls. The villainesses. Yeah. Elle Driver: By far my favorite character in the Kill Bill movies was Elle Driver. Darryl Hannah played Elle with such unrepentant sadism and relish, how could you not love to hate this woman? I honestly had no idea that Darryl Hannah had such a dark side until I saw this movie and I couldn't wait to see what she was going to do next. I loved her obvious anger when she was not allowed to kill an unconscious Beatrix Kiddo and her cool indifference after Michael Madsen had been bitten by a Black Mamba. Ever since I saw Kill Bill, I've wanted to dress up as Driver for Halloween, I just haven't had the opportunity- yet. Mystique: My avatar kind of says it all doesn't it? I've always thought Mystique was cool, though I didn't really like how she looked until I saw the drawings Mike Mayhew had done for Marvel Comics. Mystique is a woman I think many of us can relate to on some level. Shunned most of her life for being different she still manages to survive and get a little vengeance where she can. She's no saint, but she's not always a sinner either; and mostly, she plays by her own rules. Bond Villainesses: So far, the villainesses of James Bond, that I can think of, are a little bit stereotypical, but a lot of fun. These women like to use men and prove their superiority in any way possible. Maybe they are a means to allow Bond his casual misogyny. At any rate, I like them and I don't even mind seeing them get their comeuppance from Bond. Not very feminist of me ( I know Alex), but oh well. Fatima Blush Xenia Onatopp May Day Elektra King Caprica Six: Who knew Cyborgs could be so seductive? Tricia Helfer is awesome as Caprica Six on the new BSG in my opinion. I'll never forget the mini-series that gave birth to the show. The scene in which Caprica Six looks at a crying infant in perplexity and does the unthinkable when she kills it-- no doubt justifying such a horrible act with the knowledge that mankind is soon to face eradication by the Cylons-- is flat-out horrifying. We should hate this character, both for what she has done and what she represents, and yet, somehow we can't help but look on in fascination as she evolves. Like the Sharon Valerii character, Six appears to be developing a sense of empathy for the humans. Her relationship with Gaius Baltar is both co-dependant and antagonistic-- and never less than fascinating. I had actually planned on writing about a few more women, but I swear I can see my computer slowly fading before my eyes. I'm going to pretty much throw this up and hope it posts. Tell me what women you would have liked to have seen on the list-- I can always expand on this topic later.

Brand New Doctor Who Review

In SQT's regrettable absence (don't believe all that about broken computers, she is CLEARLY on the lam from the feebs) I thought I'd post a review of episode one of the new series of Doctor Who for your reading pleasure. Of course, if you don't like Doctor Who then it won't be a pleasure at all. And if you do like Doctor Who but don't live in the UK, then it's going to be downright painful for you.

Either way, it was FANTASTIC...

The story itself need not trouble us overlong. Basically: hospital transported to the moon, sweet old lady is actually blood-sucking homicidal alien, enter giant space rhinos (the Judoon - ace name) hot in pursuit of old lady/killer, the Doctor saves the day. No, the focus of this first episode was to introduce Freema Agyeman as the Doctor's new companion, medical student Martha Jones. The chemistry between Agyeman and
David Tennant's Doctor was great - teasing with the right levels of mistrust and respect. There was a lot of concern about the absence of Billie Piper's iconic Rose - whose popularity helped cement the returning show as a massive success in the UK - but Agyeman and series honcho Russell T Davies have laid the groundwork not for a "replacement Rose" but for an entirely new, self-contained companion. The fact that Martha is an academic makes her far less likely to take what the Doctor says at face value. Rose, it was clear, was in love with the Doctor. I think Martha is more likely to see him as a sort of colleague or ally. My one gripe is that Martha also comes with a large family who, we are promised, feature in future episodes. This slightly annoyed me when we had to keep revisiting Rose's screechy Mum, Jackie, but at least she was only one woman. Martha's family seem equally annoying - but there are FIVE of them... sigh. I get that Russell T Davies wants to "ground" the series in reality, but must he ground it in such tiresome people? I mean, Martha's middle-aged Dad even has a trophy girlfriend (yaaawn).

That quibble aside, this was a splendid bit of sci-fi "family fun" (hate that term, but it works here perfectly). Considering the relatively tiny budget that the BBC works with, the Doctor Who special effects team do an amazing job, expecially the make-up crew - the latex space-rhino Judoon were totally convincing - and the set painters who made a lovely, atmospheric job of the lunar backgrounds.

The acting, as with all BBC shows, was great. David Tennant gets better and better as the Doctor: more alien, more interesting an
d less with the silliness that almost undermined him entirely early in his tenure. Freema Agyeman was, as mentioned, splendid. And a special mention must go to Anne Reid (left), as super criminal alien Florence Finnega! Reid is a well-known comedy and dramatic actress in Britian, and she turned more than a few heads a couple of years ago in the movie The Mother - in which she plays a woman who has an affair with her son-in-law, played by Daniel Craig - who I believe certain blue-skinned proprietesses in the near vicinity have something of a personal interest in...

So, top hole and all that. I love this show, my critical faculties are demolished as soon as the music comes on - next week they meet Shakespeare and some demon witches. What's not to like?