Monday, March 31, 2008

Science and Fiction

Dear Blog

When I started you about a year and half ago, I gave you a theme. I gave you a title and called you Fantasy and Sci-fi Lovin' and I've tried to stay true to you-- to the best of my ability.

But I had something of an epiphany today. At the gym.

Science fiction occurs in real life. Yep, it surely does. I know the "fiction" in the title would make it seem impossible, but I'm telling you, I see science and fiction together every single day I go to the gym.

Exhibit #1

Don't get me wrong. I totally admire the dedication it takes to get this physique. And maybe I'm a tad cynical, but I just don't see this body happening on a woman without some serious scientific intervention. Now, I don't know who this woman is, and I don't want to accuse her of using steroids if she hasn't in fact used them. But something tells me her voice is a tad husky.


Exhibit #2

This is another sort of science fiction I also see everyday at the gym. This woman is also apparently a famous female body builder, though I chose to focus on other....er....assets. I think it's safe to say that without the intervention of current medical advances, this woman's rather impressive rack wouldn't otherwise be possible-- not to mention gravity defying.






Exhibit #3

Oh jeez, I apologise for this. I really do. Some works of science fiction should remain a mystery. I promise, dear blog, to go back to my regular subjects tomorrow and leave the real world out of it. *shudder*


Sunday, March 30, 2008

The Best 11 Time Travel Tales of All Time

My new friends over at InfoAddict posted a great article about time travel and hoped we'd join in the discussion. ~Written by Matt Butrovich, Chris Jensen, Phillip Radke, Christiaan Allebest, Daniel Espinoza Today we present to you our picks for the greatest time travel stories ever created. All mediums were considered, including film, television, print, and video games. Some of them are timeless (no pun intended) classics and known by all, but we've got a couple of surprises in store for you as well. Tell us your favorites that we might have left out in the Comments section! Let's get the ball rolling with some choice selections from the small screen. Television Futurama Alright, it's open for debate whether Futurama counts here, and it probably depends on your definition of time travel, but I'm including it anyway. If you've somehow missed out on one of the greatest cartoon series ever made, Futurama focuses on pizza delivery boy Philip J. Fry's experiences in the 31st century after being cryogenically frozen for 1,000 years. Over the course of five seasons, Fry works as a delivery boy for the Planet Express service and tries to come to terms with an Earth that bears little semblance to the world he left behind, all the while leaving viewers laughing hysterically. Though cryogenic freezing might not be time travel, the series does focus on proper time travel on several occasions, including the recently released Futurama movie 'Bender's Big Score.' However, the greatest instance of time travel on Futurama has to be the third season's 'Roswell That Ends Well,' which won the 2002 Emmy Award for Outstanding Animated Program (Less Than One Hour). In a fluke accident caused by Fry microwaving a metal container of popcorn at the exact same moment a star goes supernova, the crew of the Planet Express ship is propelled over 1,000 years into the past to Roswell, New Mexico in 1947. You can figure out where the story goes from there. The crew arrive at the shocking realization that the crash-landing of their delivery ship is in fact the catalyst of the infamous Roswell UFO incident. A discombobulated Bender is captured by military forces along with Dr. Zoidberg, and mistakenly identified as a spacecraft and autopsied respectively. At the same time, Fry encounters his own grandparents, which leads to one of the most surprisingly hilarious moments the series has ever produced, and it forever changes the way we look at him. To spoil it would be criminal, so if you've never seen this episode, you owe it to yourself to track it down. -mb Doctor Who I've only recently gotten hooked on Doctor Who with the most recent seasons featuring the ninth and tenth Doctors, but I can already claim it as one of my favorites. No doubt Doctor Who holds a special place in the hearts of thousands of others, being the longest running science fiction TV series of all time. If the series isn't ringing a bell then you're probably not living in the UK, as the show is produced and aired by the BBC. Watching the series in the United States requires you to be a frequent PBS viewer to catch the odd airing, or to keep tabs on the Sci Fi Channel's schedule and view it there. The show centers around the adventures of an alien time-traveler known only as "The Doctor" who voyages through space and time in his ship the TARDIS. I suppose I should mention that the TARDIS looks like a blue police phone box. Trust me, it's cooler than it sounds. Along his journey he picks up human companions and travels between past ages like Victorian England, depression-era New York, and ancient Rome. The Doctor's travels aren't restricted to the past era, as the show goes on to provide wildly entertaining visions of the future thousands, and even millions of years from now. The latest season is set to begin shortly, and you can catch the trailer right here. -mb Read the rest of the article HERE

Friday, March 28, 2008

Friday Feature, Best Posts Revisited: Superman Can't Have Sex by Stewart Sternberg

Fridays are usually a slow day around here. So rather than try to think of an imaginative post that will likely just sit here, unloved, I'm going to re-visit some great old posts that new readers might enjoy.


There are two reasons nerds shouldn't drink, the first involves drool and the second involves magic marker. Well, there's a third...they sit around and talk about the feasibility of Superheroes. Oh yeah.

It can't be helped. Sit us around and get us to talking about comics and soon you'll hear such gems as:

"Dude, Superman can't have sex."
"Dude, why not?"
"Dude, involuntary muscle contractions would kill her...not just that..."
"Oh wow."
"Yeah, that too."
"Dude, do you think Power-Woman is real?"
"Yes, I've written a poem for her: 'Power-Woman, all dressed in white, I'd like to take you out tonight'"
"Dude, that's so lame."

I can't tell you the hours of discussion involving such matters as: "You notice in the original comic, Spidey had to take off his shoes to stick to a wall? How is it he can stick when he's wearing his red spidey boots?" "What's the most damage Wolverine can take before he can't heal himself?" and of course, "She-Hulk...how come she doesn't get all ugly and stupid like her cousin?" Wait...I'm still thinking about She-Hulk. Wait...still thinking. Okay.


Recently, the BBC did a show called "The Science of SuperHeroes" in which some basic questions about the enhanced humans were answered (they also did one about the science of James Bond). I suggest going to the website and looking around. Interesting stuff.

Let me give you an example of some of the material covered. We'll focus on the science of Superman. What follows is an excerpt from the website:

Superhuman strength
From Krypton's size and mass, and a few equations, its gravity works out to be at least ten times as strong as Earth’s. Since lifting an object on Earth would take ten times less effort than on Krypton, Superman could lift a car as easily as we lift a wheelbarrow. It’s the same reason astronauts on the Moon can take 25 metre jumps and lift huge objects with ease. Their muscles have adapted to work in the Earth’s gravitational field. So the Moon’s weaker gravity (one sixth the strength of Earth’s) doesn’t pull them back towards the surface as much.
Solar-powered superhero
Superman apparently gets some of his tremendous energy directly from our Sun. The yellowish light that comes from the Sun contains more energy that the red light that bathed Superman’s home planet. Also, Krypton was probably a lot further away from its sun, since larger planets are more likely to orbit their stars at a greater distance. Other descriptions of Krypton suggest that it had a very dusty atmosphere, which would also block sunlight from reaching the people living on the surface. So while Superman is on Earth he receives much more solar energy than on Krypton, making him much more powerful.


You see what I mean? It's nerd crack. It's the sort of stuff that gives us something to dream about while significant others are off watching "American Idol" or "Desperate Housewives".
So, check it out. It will give you something to fall back on the next time you and the crew get together and start arguing about the X-Men. And if you're going to a convention any time in the future, well...it will just be assumed you know this stuff.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Brave New Frontier?

Yes, I'm walking the line again...

I have to admit, I'm kind of flummoxed by this story I read today. A transgendered man is pregnant with a baby girl and due to give birth this July.

Wow.

This gets my attention for a lot of reasons. I'm not particularly judgemental about straight-gay issues. I pretty much figure I have no business worrying about someone else's sex life. I don't even particularly care that a woman might decide to become a man and then have a baby. Whatever floats your boat.

What does get my attention is the medical intervention required to make this possible and the question of whether we may be messing around with Mother Nature a bit too much. According to the article I read in the Times Online, Thomas Beatie (formerly known as Tracy Lagondino) underwent gender reassignment surgery that involved chest reconstruction and testosterone therapy, but chose to keep his(?) reproductive rights (in other words, all the internal female organs).

The mind boggles.

The article mentions that Beatie stopped taking testosterone therapy and was able to conceive through artificial insemination without the need for additional hormone therapy. There is some concern that the baby could be affected by the testosterone that has been injected into his system over the last ten years since his ovaries and eggs have been exposed to the abnormally high levels the whole time. At this point I admit, I have a hard time thinking of Beatie as a "he" since I'm writing about eggs and ovaries, but legally, he is a man.

As I sit here writing this I do wonder if I have the right to judge the decision Beatie has made. I'm a little uncomfortable that this story makes me squirm a little bit. I like to think I'm open minded and I do think it's very brave of Beatie to come forward and talk about his story. His is married and his wife is unable to have children, which prompted his extraordinary choice to conceive.

At the same time I wonder at the things we, as humans, decide to do sometimes. I know a woman who used a method called MicroSorting to ensure that her last child would be a girl. I'm amazed, and yet appalled that we have gotten to the point that we are now choosing the gender of our children. I know-- I shouldn't make that kind of a judgement. But jeez, how much of a control freak do you have to be to go through that much trouble to make sure your kid is the proper gender? All I'm saying is that I can't say that only choosing to keep the male child has worked all that well for the Chinese, so maybe we should leave some things up to nature (or God if you prefer) to decide.

At any rate, science is allowing human beings to take remarkable liberties with our reproductive choices and I'm not sure what I think about it. One the one hand, I have friends who have beautiful children they wouldn't have been able to have without In Vitro fertilization and I can rationalize that as a good use of science. But can I argue that they are more deserving of a child than Beatie? Mostly, I'd say no. But there may be issues with the health of the baby Beatie is expecting due to his previous hormone therapy and I must admit, that makes me a little less open minded about his decision to conceive.

That said, the baby is on its way and I hope for a healthy happy child.

Monday, March 24, 2008

I Walk the Line

Despite my blog's Fantasy and Sci-fi Lovin' title, I have been known to stray off the strictly sci-fi and fantasy lovin' path from time to time.

There are times when this is really easy to justify. James Bond may not be a character out of high fantasy, but until pocket sized rebreathers, or bowler hats as weapons become commonplace or believable, I can probably get away with featuring Bond on my site without question.

On the other hand I do walk a fine line when I feature movies like The Bourne Ultimatum or Live Free or Die Hard. Most action films don't fit into the sci-fi/fantasy category as a rule, though I tend to bring them into the fold because so many aspects of these films cross the line from reality to fantasy. Take "Live Free or Die Hard" as an example; how many men do you know who have walked on the wing of a F-35 Lightning Jet while in flight and lived to tell about it? I'm guessing none.

I've never fretted about my inclusion of movies or TV shows that don't fit squarely into the sci-fi/fantasy category. I've always kind of had the 'out' that this is just a blog and I'm just someone who is having fun throwing up bits of nonsense and hoping that one or two people out there will be entertained. And hey, it's my blog and I'll stray off topic if I want to.

But then I realized something. Many of my favorite TV shows, movies and books kind of walk the line too. It's a funny thing. My mom, and I'm sure a lot of other people out there would say they're not particular fans of fantasy or sci-fi. But they'll watch an episode of CSI with great enthusiasm probably never really connecting the dots with the fact that nowhere but in a fantasy world could the test results from a DNA sample come back in a half-hour. I mean c'mon people, I like a little realism in my true-crime entertainment!

But you probably get where I'm going with this. I've noticed a lot of TV shows and movies throw in little bits of fantasy with real-life and people with all kinds of taste seem to enjoy it. I remember when Edward Scissorhands came out in 1990. Visually it was so different with all the pastel colors but the only real fantasy element was the fact that Edward was not a natural born human and he had hands made of scissors (hence the title). Most of the movie really revolved around his attempts to fit into normal society and the strange reactions-- and sometimes bigotry, he faced. The movie, whether because of or despite its fantasy elements was critically acclaimed and became a cult classic.

I'm sure if you were to think about it, you could easily come up with tons of movies that have some fantasy or sci-fi elements but don't quite fall into the categories, like Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon or Being John Malkovich (which you may just consider weird), but still find a wide audience.

And I don't know if it's deliberate, but I am coming to notice a trend on TV in which small bits of fantasy find their way into prime-time shows, like New Amsterdam, Chuck and Pushing Daisies that bring a bit of the otherworldly into our ordinary world. I like to think this is because we all like fantasy, but if I was being cynical I might suggest that it's because many people don't like to consider themselves fans of fantasy or sci-fi, but they can accept a little bit of whimsy in their entertainment.

Me? I like the fact that a little bit of the fantastic finds its way into so much of our entertainment. Who knows, some people may be converted into fantasy/sci-fi fans without even realizing it.


Friday, March 21, 2008

BSG Top Ten List

Sorry for throwing up a Youtube video rather than a real post. But I've been in a pissy mood lately. Should I mention that? I won't bore you with more posts on enlightenment though. At least until my next existential crisis.....

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

If I Only Had a Laptop

You ever have one of those days? I doubt I even have to spell it out, you know exactly what I mean don't you? I always plan to do more than I can manage to get done each day. I have good intentions; do laundry, take the kids to the park, clean the bathrooms, write a post for the blog.... I think I did a load of laundry today. Oh, and I made it to the gym. And I sold some stuff on Craigslist and had somebody come by and do a termite inspection-- though all I had to do was stand there. So I got a little bit done today, not much, but some. But like always, I did plan to do something more interesting than ramble on about my day when I finally got a chance to post something to the blog. And I would have if I could have gotten to the %$#&* computer. You see, we only have one computer. That means my window of opportunity usually come between my daughter playing on the Webkins site and my husband's obsession with iTunes. Take tonight for instance. My husband says goodnight and I think great, now I can get on the computer. But oh no, before I even head up the stairs he's online. And it's kind of like waiting in line at the DMV. I get all twitchy and impatient thinking when is it finally going to be my turn? Then, just like at the DMV, I start getting all huffy and loud and make not-so-subtle comments about the time it's taking to do a simple task. After about an hour of this my husband finally gets the hint and goes to bed. But then I'm stuck with the late-night time slot on the computer and all I can think about is the sleep I'm losing while I try to formulate a coherent post that in someway relates to sci-fi. But sometimes the challenge is beyond my abilities. R.I.P Arthur C. Clark 1917-2008.

Monday, March 17, 2008

"Wizard's First Rule" Comes to TV and Will Farrell Does "Land of the Lost"

Sam Raimi, famous for "Spiderman," Xena" and "Hercules" is going to produce a television series based on Terry Goodkind's Sword of Truth series.

On network TV.

Seriously.

Has anyone read this series? I admit, I gave up about 5 books in when it became really redundant. But this is a very violent series. I liked it at first, though I have later become convinced the series is a serious rip-off of Robert Jordan's "Wheel of Time" series-- but that's beside the point.

If you haven't read the series, let me tell you. It has torture, rape, sex-- sex and torture-- all that good stuff. And it's going to be broadcast on ABC?

Now you're really curious to see it aren't you?

Yeah me too.

It starts production in May and is scheduled for Fall. Read the full article HERE.

In other totally bizarre news, Will Farrell has started shooting a big screen remake of Sid and Marty Krofft's Land of the Lost.

Wow. Just wow.

From Firstshowing.net:

The film's plot is described as a spoof revolving around "a disgraced paleontologist, his assistant and a macho tour guide who find themselves in a strange world inhabited by dinosaurs, monkey people and reptilian Sleestaks."

Who knows, since the original series was so over-the-top with bad special effects a spoof might work.

But still. If it's as bad as Starsky and Hutch, then I think we should mass boycott all remakes.

And just for giggles, this commercial cracks me up every time I see it....


Sunday, March 16, 2008

Hmmm, Should I Buy a New Living Room Set or a Cylon?

...I mean, who needs a flat-screen TV? I could put this 7-foot Cylon in my living room and call it art... From Geek Alerts... The Life-size Cylon figure, as seen in the reimagined Sci-Fi series ‘Battlestar Galactica’, is manufactured exclusively by Fred Barton Productions, Inc. of Los Angeles, California, and licensed through Universal Studios. Each Cylon is hand-made using only the finest materials and overseen by the ‘Robot Man’ himself, Fred Barton. This outstanding 7-foot replica features both the haunting visor lights of the robotic soldier synchronized to the menacing, eerie hum of the Cylon Centurion. It is sure to impress not only fellow fans of the epic ‘Battlestar Galactica’saga, but those who are just encountering the stunning Cylon robot for the first time. Features: 100% fiberglass body CGI based Hammered Duo-Tone Finish Advanced Electronics Synchronized Stereo Red LED light effects in visor The Cylon Life-Size Figure ($7,900) is available from Sideshow Collectibles

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Enlightening Entertainment

Since it seems as if I have a theme going on here, I might as well continue with the original idea I had when I put up my first post about enlightenment. I mentioned before that one of the things I love about sci-fi and fantasy is that it explores the unknown. Enlightenment doesn't have to be about religious themes, though it so often is. But mostly it's about understanding and awareness of virtually any form. I think human beings are more or less in a constant state of seeking enlightenment. There are books galore on figuring out what our purpose in life ought to be. There are books that swear we can change our lives by changing our thinking and others that say we should leave it all up to God. I think most of us can agree that we won't know any of these answers until we die, and that's even assuming there's a life after this one. And that's the basic struggle isn't it? I would be willing to bet most people hope there's a life after this one. Preferably one without struggle, depression or hopelessness-- in other words, one that isn't Hell. But is there really a Heaven? Nirvana? An alternate reality? Who knows. But our entertainment sure likes to tease us with the possibilities doesn't it? Or maybe we like to tease ourselves. Humans are kind of perverse that way aren't they. So here's a look at some entertainment that attempts to look at the world from different angles and offer up some unique explanations of the unknown. The Matrix You can't really have this discussion without looking at "The Matrix" can you? Not only was "The Matrix" a visually dazzling movie but it was a mind bender. Even though it's just a movie it makes you look at the world in a completely different way. How many of us go through our lives, just going through the motions and never really question anything? I think I can count myself in that category much of the time. But just imagine if there was a completely alternate reality lying just beneath our own? It's not as crazy as it sounds. Some scientists actually believe they can prove the existence of parallel universes, though that isn't really what "The Matrix" is about. No, this is a film that asks us to question reality and our desire to really know the truth. I'm sure if I was to delve into it more I could come up with tons of religious and mythical connotations as well; Neo being "the one", Trinity's name, The Oracle, even the names of the ships have meaning -- The Nebuchadnezzar, The Shiva, The Osiris, The Prometheus-- I could go on and on. Clearly when this was written is was meant to be something that could make you think and want to debate the deeper meanings. I, Robot by Isaac Asimov I read this book years ago, so my recollection may be rusty. I'm sure the movie bears some resemblance to the book; though Hollywood surely missed the mark like they do with most big-budget adaptations. What I remember though is the idea of robots having self awareness. I don't know if Asimov was the first to theorize that man made creations could one develop sentience but it's an idea that has blazed across our consciousness. From TV shows like "Battlestar Galactica" to movies like "The Terminator" and "Blade Runner" we've been asking ourselves how far can we go with technology before it rebels against us. And the even larger question is can we create life from inert matter? Can it have a soul? Saving Grace Every now and then a TV show comes along that tries to get us in touch with our Christian side. "Touched by an Angel" and "Highway to Heaven" are my earliest recollections, and they were rather touchy-feely if I remember correctly. I don't think "Saving Grace" could be called a sweet show, though it is meant to make you think. What I like about this show is that it doesn't necessarily take the easy way out. It appears that Grace is being visited by an angel who is trying to save her soul, but at the same time there's always this kernel of doubt. What if she is just hallucinating? Or having really vivid dreams? Overall I'd say the show is arguing the case for Christianity and really, if you're not interested in exploring that, you may not like it. But even if you don't consider yourself Christian, but rather say a spiritual person that doesn't practice a particular faith, it still has a point to make. To me, the main statement this show makes is that God (or whatever you want to call him/her/it) is interested in us even if we aren't interested in him. That there is something larger than ourselves that cares about us even if we don't acknowledge its existence. Something to ponder. Star Trek I also think this conversation can't really happen without mentioning "Star Trek." What's great about "Star Trek" is that is explores so many unknowns. It isn't the first show to explore the universe or encounter alien life, but the show in its many incarnations did so much more. It explored the boundaries of space and time. It asked moral questions and pushed racial boundaries. It was in so many ways an influence on society both in terms of entertainment and technology. I can't say the show necessarily answered any of the questions is posed but you gotta love that it tried. And the subjects this show covered are so vast that I have a hard time even latching on to one particular subject. For some reason I keep flashing back to "Q," the omniscient being that first appeared in The Next Generation series. I think the reason I remember him so well is because he may have been all powerful, but he wasn't benign, and I think that is another way to question whether or not God, or a god (as in a minor deity) is worthy of being worshiped simply because it holds great power. X-Men I originally was going to list "Heroes" here, but I kind of think "X-Men" came up with the idea first. What I mean is that "X-Men" asks how would we handle it if humanity suddenly became inexplicable? What if human development made massive leaps that defied science and evolution? How would we rationalize it? And would we, out of fear, despise those who were different? Sadly, I think it's human nature to despise what we fear and I'm happy that the "X-Men" movies managed to make this point so clearly. In a world that allowed a man like Adolf Hitler to rise into power we can't afford to be so narrow-minded but we still are. This is entertainment I can get behind. Something that might actually teach my children tolerance. X-Files I loved "X-Files" and I am so glad they're making another movie. You gotta love a main character like Fox Mulder. A man who has a poster over his desk that shows a spaceship with the caption "I Want to Believe." But the X-Files wasn't only about alien contact, it was about any unexplained phenomenon-- that had a show about a genie no less! This is a show that took every boogie monster from our childhood and said what if it was real? You had government conspiracies, alien abductions, and exorcisms. Virtually any paranormal subject you can think of, "X-Files" brought into the show. I sure miss it. I'm sure there are tons more shows, books and movies that I could list here, but I think I'm going to run the risk of becoming redundant. You get the point though. We like to challenge ourselves, even when it comes to our entertainment, to explore the world-- and universe-- around us. This is a good thing. A very good thing. And I hope we never become so complacent that we stop asking the big questions. TV would become one long episode of "Knight Rider" if we did, and I don't think I could stand that.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

A Quick Question About Enlightenment

So would you take the red pill or the blue pill? I'm sure you know what I'm talking about, but just in case, here's a refresher. In "The Matrix" Neo is offered the chance to see the world as really exists by taking a red pill or he can take the blue pill, forget everything, and continue living his life in blissful ignorance. I'd be willing to bet most people would take the red pill-- though they might regret it later (just as Joe Pantoliano's character "Cypher" did). I think it's in our nature to want to know what's going on, even if we choose to put the blinders back on later. Do you agree? Could you actually choose not to know?

Winner! DVD Copy of Appleseed Ex Machina

I went to Random.org, an idea I stole from Ree, to choose the winner of a DVD copy of Appleseed Ex Machina. And the random numbers told me that Furiousball is my winner! Congrats Furiousball. Email me your snail mail address and I'll get it sent off to you. Thanks everyone for playing along. Hopefully I'll have some more good stuff to pass on soon.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Enlightenment

Most of the time I try not to put too much personal info on my entertainment blogs-- I reserve the really embarrassing stuff for my personal blog. But at the same time this isn't a professional site. It's usually just me, typing away at my keyboard, musing on whatever seems interesting at that particular moment. I have deviated from my original plan over this last year. My personal life threw me some curve-balls and try as I might to avoid them, some of them still whacked me upside the head. Somehow I kept standing (well, most of the time) and I think in part, this little blog helped quite a bit. Let me explain. A little over four months ago I became an orphan. Oh, my parents are still alive, but they removed themselves quite drastically from my life. It wasn't a falling out, it was more that they fell apart and I couldn't, and frankly wouldn't try to piece things back together for them. That may sound cold-hearted but I think in my heart of hearts it was the right thing to do-- for them and me. During all the drama I kept coming back to my blog, mostly late at night when my mind couldn't settle down and I needed something calming and meditative to do. And then abruptly, the drama was over. They left (to Thailand if you were wondering) and all of a sudden I realized that was really and truly on my own. Actually, I have been on my own for a long time but I think as adult children we don't really understand this until we can't pick up the phone and ask mom what to do when our four-year-old son gets kicked out of the gym child-care for picking up another child by the neck and hauling them around the place (true story). By now you're probably wondering what the heck does this have to do with sci-fi? Trust me, I'm getting to that. The first couple of months after my parents left, I'm almost ashamed to admit, I was relieved. Okay, I'm still relieved. My life is quieter and blessedly drama free. But I never realized how much time I filled worrying about my parent's situation. I was often my turns angry, frustrated and sad. I kept trying to think of solutions to their problems and wasted a lot of time and energy on that. And you'd think that now that everything is over and I can finally sit and listen to myself think that I'd be happy. I fully expected that I would be deliriously happy once I didn't have all the extra stress in my life, and I am happier. But now with all the free time I have to just think I've realized that I'm yearning for more. More what? Heck, I don't know. I've spent the last couple of months in kind of a post-traumatic let down. I have been lazier than you can possibly believe; like an 20-year-old college student that thinks getting up at the crack of 10am for a class means you need a 2 hour nap to recoup your energy. My main goal has been to beat Guitar Hero on hard (9 songs so far). And it's been good. But now I'm looking at my life and I'm realizing there's a void. I've been filling it up stuff: good books, guitar hero, naps, hair dye, brownies-- you name it. But my conscience keeps nagging me. It's like this insistent knocking inside my head that says you should be doing something! I've been finding myself drawn to books like Eat, Pray, Love and Finding Your Own North Star, not my normal fare at all! But there is something in me right now that is craving meaning to my life. Maybe it's a looming mid-life crisis; I hope that's not it but hey, it happens to the best of us right? Again, what does this have to do with a sci-fi blog? Aside from my husband and my kids, the one constant in my life for a good long while has been my love of all things fantastic and unexplained. Even as a kid, when life got too heavy to handle, I would retreat into my books. Fantasy has always been my poison of choice when it comes to reading but boy, I love sci-fi on film. I think I was attracted to these genres because I'm always a little too busy inside my own head. I have trouble sleeping because I can never shut my brain down but I can lose myself in a good book or movie. The ones that always stick with me are the ones that ask the same kinds of questions I'm asking myself now: Is there a larger purpose to my life? Does there have to be? Is there a larger purpose to our universe? Does there have to be? Movies like "Star Wars," that might seem so simplistic on the surface, still have mystical- almost religious- elements, like The Force. "The Matrix" is a beautiful fusion of science and religion with Neo as our savior. "Star Trek" is to me an almost literal translation of our quest for understanding the meaning of life. Science fiction and fantasy, are to me, and probably so many other people, a door to enlightenment. I may deviate from time to time and pull a book or two off of the self-help aisle, but nothing makes me happier than when a beloved author offers up a small bit of insight that pulls me away from my conscious self and opens a door in my mind-- I live for those small victories. I know I've meandered a bit (a lot) in this post and I'm probably really reaching when it comes to tying my personal quirks to my choice of entertainment. But I can't help feel that we all do this to some degree. I know women who live for romance books and can't watch "Pride and Prejudice" enough (the original BBC version of course-- I've nearly got it memorized). I guess the point I'm trying to make is that we're drawn to what resonates with us on a gut level. Probably these things will change over time; at least we can hope so. I'd hate to think that what resonated with me at 14 is still relevant now. I had intended to write a post about movies, TV shows and books that focus on enlightenment as a theme but I kind of let my personal digressions lead me along this evening. Sorry if that is a disappointment. But I think I'll reserve that topic as sort of a Part II to this post. For now. I'm going to have some tea and muse some more on self-enlightenment. Or read a book. Whichever.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Quick Note

I'm giving away a free copy of "The Name of the Wind" on my Book Review Blog. Head on over for your chance to win.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Who Would Make Your 'Laminated List?'

I was watching New Amsterdam this evening and decided I have a new crush. The star of the show, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, is hawt! I've also realized that I seem to have a particular type when it comes to the men I drool over. Maybe I'm the only one who sees it, but he reminds me a little of my main celebrity-crush, Hugh Jackman. Anyway, thinking of these hot men reminded me of an episode of "Friends" that created the cultural phenomenon of the Laminated List. The urban dictionary defines the list as: A list of the top 5 people, usually celebrities, with whom you could have sex with without repercussions, if the opportunity arose, regardless of whether you were in a relationship or not. A woman's laminated list might be: 1.) Mel Gibson 2.) Brad Pitt 3.) Colin Ferrel 4.) Pierce Brosnan 5.) Russell Crowe C'mon, don't tell me you've never considered who'd be on your list. The funny part for me is that beyond Hugh Jackman, and now Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, I have a hard time coming up with a solid list. Well, okay, add Daniel Craig-- then it gets hard. The final two. Hmmm. Let me think. Brad Pitt? Good looking but not rugged enough. Jamie Bamber? Very good looking but I think he may be short. Orlando Bloom? Cute but too young. Justin Timberlake? Ditto. Jake Gyllenhaal? Ditto. Johnny Depp? Very nice but I like a man to look like he bathes once in a while. Harrison Ford? ...That's a tough one. But I seem to really favor men closer to my own age. Clive Owen? Ooooh, definite possibility. So you can see my dilemma. It's hard to nail it down isn't it? So I guess my list -- so far-- would be. 1. Hugh Jackman (he is my first love) 2. Daniel Craig (Bond. Need I say more?) 3. Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (Sigh) 4. TBD 5. TBD Now it's your turn. I'd like to know who you'd put on your list. I'm not going for sci-fi people either. Just those people who'd make your top five. Maybe I'll get some good suggestions...

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

"Our Nerd King Has Fallen"

The title of this post comes from an article in The San Francisco Chronicle about the death of Gary Gygax, the co-creator of Dungeons & Dragons. I never played D & D but I have read series' of books, like the Dragonlance Chronicles that take story elements from the game. I can't claim to be knowledgeable about role playing games but I do remember when D & D became the big thing. The Chronicle sums up the culture around the game quite well. ... in 1974, when D&D was invented, and later in the 1970s, when Advanced Dungeons & Dragons became immensely popular, it was a unique form of entertainment made by intelligent outcasts for intelligent outcasts who previously had little or no foothold in popular culture. As much as Gene Roddenberry and George Lucas, Gygax helped muscle fantasy into the mainstream. If you were a teenage or preteen kid in the late '70s or early '80s, playing D&D was also about belonging in a world where the nerds hadn't quite figured out how to get their revenge. Much like the popular kids' letterman jacket, carrying around a Dungeon Master's Guide or a Monster Manual - both stamped with "By Gary Gygax" in big white letters across the bottom - was a sign that you were part of something. Ain't that the truth? I've always felt more at home with people who understand why I like to read fantasy books and watch sci-fi films. People who don't scoff because I would still pay good money to see a Star Trek film. But Gygax did more than just create a nerd sub-culture. He created something that has crossed all social boundaries when you think about it. Role playing games have gone mainstream with virtually every household owning something made by Playstation and Nintendo. Whether those people who favor the shooter games know it or not, Gygax may very well have influenced the creation of all forms of role playing entertainment. But I don't need to tell this crowd that do I? Tell the truth. How many of you were up late last night playing World of Warcraft?

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Quick Note


Fantasy Book Critic has two sets of the first two books of Joe Abercrombie's First Law series to giveaway. I highly recommend you sign up for this one. Great, great series. I'm reading "Before They Are Hanged" right now and I think it's a must read.

Monday, March 03, 2008

DVD Giveaway!

I put up a post on Feb 20th that featured a trailer for the sci-fi/anime film Appleseed Ex Machina. If you haven't had a chance to check out the trailer, you should, it looks amazing. I can offer a copy for giveaway (U.S. entries only). If you're interested, comment here or email me at sqt1969(at)gmail(dot)com, and I will randomly pick a winner. Make sure I can get in touch with you easily so I can forward your address to the people at Warner Bros. who are offering this video for giveaway. If I am unable to get an address within 48 hours I will pass the video on to another entrant. Contest ends Tuesday March 11th. Good luck!

Saturday, March 01, 2008

More Women of Action

I don't know how many people out there monitor their blog traffic, but I do to a small extent. I have a blog counter that lets me know how much traffic I get and where it's coming from. I don't check it that often, but every now and then I like to take a look.

One thing I've noticed is that most people who come to my site via Google usually arrive by typing in a search that revolves around the female sci-fi/action hero. Surprisingly, I don't get a lot of people who type in naughty search queries, but I suppose I keep this blog family friendly.

I don't know precisely how many people have come here looking for posts about the women of sci-fi, but I've had thousands of hits on this blog from Google, and most of those hits are from people looking for more hot, tough women.

Well okay then. Here you go.

In my last post about female action heroes, I mentioned Wonder Woman, Ellen Ripley, Xena and the Bionic Woman among others. It was a post that featured the women of the past, the ones who paved the way for the women of today. So now I'm going to feature some of my current favorites and you can chime in with your choices.


Jennifer Garner
I have made fun of Garner's acting in the past, a lot. But I have to admit, if there is anyone who has the athleticism needed to pull off some heroic stunts it's Garner. I enjoyed her in "Alias" before the plot got too outlandish and loved watching her spin her sai in "Elektra" (though she was way too easy to kill IMO). Is she a great actor? Probably not. But she can run, flip and jump with the best of them and that makes her a great woman of action.




Michelle Yeoh
I love Michelle Yeoh. I think she is beyond cool. I first noticed her in the James Bond movie "Tomorrow Never Dies" and thought she was the best thing about the movie. But it wasn't until "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" that I really realized how fabulous she is. This is a woman who can act and perform one hell of a fight scene. I don't know if the third Mummy movie is going to be any good, but with Yeoh as part of the cast it has a chance of being half-way decent.




Kate Beckinsale
Who would have thought that the beautiful and delicate looking Beckinsale could be such a kick-ass heroine? If I had only seen her in "Pearl Harbor" I wouldn't have thought it was possible but she proved me wrong with her portrayal of the vampire Death Dealer Selene in "Underworld." I didn't actually think I was going to like "Underworld" much when it came out but Beckinsale brought a dry wit to the role that made it so much more interesting. And somehow, even vampire teeth look okay on her.



Angelina Jolie
Jolie is another actress who fooled me at first. She is so beautiful and, like Beckinsdale, very delicate looking. I really wasn't sure she'd be a good Lara Croft when I heard they were making "Tomb Raider," but happily she was great. Jolie is my kind of girl too. She keeps on making movies that feature strong, if not conventional, women. From "Mr. and Mrs. Smith" to the upcoming Wanted Jolie shows a fearlessness in her choice of roles--even at the risk of being over-the-top. They might not always be Oscar winning material, but they're the kind of movies I like to watch.



Katee Sackhoff
Sackhoff is one of those actresses that I am a little on the fence where she is concerned, but I chose to include her on this list because she still kicks butt. I really didn't know if I was going to like a female Starbuck when the new BSG first aired, and I still have my moments when I wish Starbuck was a guy. But Sackhoff won me over in the role because she walks such a fine line with the character between sanity and just plain crazy-- and does it well. I just wish that her character in "Bionic Woman" was less of the same character so we could get a chance to see if Katee can play it straight.



Summer Glau
River may very well have been my favorite character in "Firefly," though I must admit to loving the whole cast. Glau is another of those women who might, at first glance, appear too fragile to take on an action role. And through most of "Firefly's" run River wasn't one of the tougher character. But boy, in "Serenity" she shows all the guys how it's done. I haven't watched all the the "Sarah Connor Chronicles" yet, so I don't know if she works as a Terminator. But I still think she's cool.



Gina Torres
Torres has been around awhile and I don't think she gets the credit she deserves. I remember first seeing her years ago in a couple of episodes of "Hercules" and thinking she played a great tough chic. And mostly, that's been where you'd see her, in episodes of your favorite TV shows, from "Alias," "Angel" and "La Femme Nikita." Finally she got a lead role in a TV show with "Firefly," though that proved to be way too short lived. Hopefully, we'll see more of Gina soon.


Those are just some of my favorites. I'm sure there are plenty more, though my brain is short-circuiting at the moment. So please, tell me who you would add to the list. If I keep getting the Google searches looking for more women, I may have to deliver more lists!