Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Mental Constipation Thanks to Walt

I hate it when I can't think of a post. I know I don't have to post here everyday, but I usually want to. And then life happens. I have a good excuse this week though. We're going to Disneyland. Yeah, the Magic Kingdom. I haven't been in four years and I am ridiculously excited. Yes, I am a child. I don't know what it is, but I can't seem to think of a single bad memory of Disneyland. I know I've waited over an hour in line to ride Pirates of the Caribbean before, but apparently it was worth it. I know listening to "It's a Small World" will ensure that I have that song embedded in my brain for a week, but I don't care. We took my daughter four years ago and she was super princess crazy at the time. Now she could care less. I'd be sad except she's decided Jack Sparrow and Indiana Jones are very cool and I applaud her taste. My son hasn't been before so he isn't quite sure why he should be excited, but he's willing to humor us in the meantime. So my brain is thinking ahead to the trip. I'm picking the rides to go on and trying to figure out how to keep my son from running off without putting a leash on him. I'm looking forward to not having to cook for a few days and hitting some of the restaurants. And mostly, I'm just enjoying the fact that I feel a little like a kid again. **QUICK NOTE** Head over to Pat's Fantasy Hotlist and check out his latest contest. He's giving away 4 different series' of books!

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

More Copies of Omega Sol Available!


I'm so excited! Penguin Books generously offered to contribute more books to my Omega Sol giveaway, so now I have 5 copies to offer.

I am extending the contest until Sunday to give more people a chance to enter.

If you haven't gotten your entry in yet, be sure you do!

Monday, April 28, 2008

Must See in the Theatre Movies of Summer

The summer movie season is finally getting ready to hit theatres and it's about time! It seems like it's been forever since there has been anything worth paying full price for but this summer seems like it's going to be a good one. There are a couple of sequels in the bunch, but many of the new movies headed to theatres are big screen originals; which is refreshing given last year's glut of 3-peats. However, being a parent means that I can't see every movie that comes out in the theatre as it's released. I have to save up my babysitting miles and try to pick the most worthy movies to spend them on. Here's a list of what I'm choosing from. May 2nd Iron Man May 9th Speed Racer May 16th The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian May 22nd Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull June 6th Kung Fu Panda June 13th The Incredible Hulk June 20th Get Smart July 2nd Hancock July 11th Hellboy: The Golden Army July 18th The Dark Knight July 25th The X Files: I Want to Believe August 1st The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor So which one's am I going to cash my babysitting chips on? Iron Man I was slightly reluctant to get my hopes up for this at first, but Robert Downey is calling to me. I love that a great actor has been cast in a comic book role-- Christian Bale proved how effective that is. And the previews are making it look as if this one might live up to my expectations. Indiana Jones This goes totally without saying. I wouldn't miss what may be my last chance to see Indy on the big screen for anything. Hellboy Well, this is one I'd like to see, but I may have a problem getting my husband to go. But hey, if I go alone I don't have to worry about getting grandma to babysit. Yeah, mommy time. The Dark Knight This is an absolute no brainer. R.I.P. Heath Ledger *Special Mention* James Bond: Quantum of Solace This isn't scheduled to hit theatres until November 7th, but I will most definitely be seeing it in the theatre. So what movie would get your hard earned babysitting time?

Sunday, April 27, 2008

A Little Help

When I switched my template I lost a ton of information. I was so determined to get this template up that I pretty much dumped everything to make it work. Not too bright. So I'm trying to remember the links I had put up. I had all kinds, book review sites, sci-fi sites and personal blogs. I've only put up personal blogs so far but I know I don't have them all. I can remember a lot of sites I need to put up, like i09, Pat's Fantasy Hotlist and Fantasy Book Critic. But I need help fleshing out my links. If anyone here doesn't see their site up, let me know and I'll add it. Plus if you can think of any sci-fi links I should put up, please let me know. Thanks!

Winner! Alien Nation Ultimate Movie Collection


I have randomly picked a winner for the box set of the "Alien Nation Ultimate Movie Collection" and the winner is,

Dawn Miears.

Congrats!

Thanks to all who entered.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Oh is this a lovely template or what?

I just found this template and I LOVE it. I'll be tweaking it a bit over the next couple of days. For some reason I can't load it on my book review site, so I may have to delete that blog or change its URL to get this new template up. So anyway, if you see stuff changing around here, don't be too surprised.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Thanks

Thanks everyone for letting me have a little temper tantrum yesterday. I got a little discouraged because I saw another blog with the "Alien Nation" giveaway with over 125 entries and had a WTF!? moment. It just boggled my mind that out of say 300 viewers only 3 or 4 would be interested. Then I started having blog envy and that never ends well. I appreciate the encouragement. I have been thinking of changing things up though. The Pioneer Woman has an awesome setup on her blog that literally has me drooling. She kind of does what I do (only waaaaay better) in that she has several different blog pages. She originally set it up like I have, with links on one blog page to the others. But now she has a template that allows you to scan all the pages on the main page. What's great about that is that she doesn't need to update each page everyday because you can immediately see the updated content to go directly to that. I'm definitely feeling her setup. At this point though I don't know squat about setting up that kind of template. She uses Wordpress and I am completely in the dark on how to set it up. I've scanned all kinds of blogger templates and can't find anything of that caliber so I expect I'm going to have to have a site designed for me. Maybe then my blog envy will go away. Till then, here's a little video of Optimus Prime doing an "Evolution of Dance" tribute. Watch at least until the Villiage People song comes up. The hip thrusts are slightly disturbing, but funny.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Time To Take it Down??

I'm having one of those nights when I can't think of a post. This happens sometimes (to all of us I'm sure), I'll be trolling other sci-fi blogs hoping for inspiration but most of the time I feel like a copy-cat and I don't want to rip-off other blogs all the time. But I've been having an inferiority complex lately. I still get a decent amount of hits here everyday, at least a few hundred a day, but very few comments. I'm beginning to think I don't have any nerd cred. I haven't done the conventions and I'm not really up on all the news. My book review blog seems to be doing better and I'm thinking I may need to re-consolidate my blogs or just take this one down. I think my main love is the books anyway so maybe I should just concentrate on that.... I mean jeebus. 3 lousy comments (and one of them mine!) on a free box set of DVD's?? What's up with that?

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Alien Nation Ultimate Movie Collection Giveaway!


Ya! I have more free stuff to giveaway!

This time I have a box set of Alien Nation Ultimate Movie Collection that has just been released.

Continuing where the television series left off, Matt Sikes and George Francisco are an unlikely team of detectives who solve crime and moderate human and alien Newcomer activity in this collection of Alien Nation movies that debuted on television. The collection features the following five films: Alien Nation: Dark Horizon (1994), Alien Nation: Body and Soul (1995), Alien Nation: Millennium (1996), Alien Nation: The Enemy Within (1996) and Alien Nation: The Udara Legacy (1997).

Set includes storyboards, still galleries, gag reels and commentary among other extras.

If this sounds interesting to you, just comment here or email me at sqt1969(at)gmail(dot)com under the header "alien" to enter and I will randomly pick a winner on Sunday April 27th. Make sure I can get in touch with you easily, I need to pass on your address to have the set shipped asap. If I don't hear back from the winner within 24 hours I will pass the set on to someone else. U.S. entries only.

Good luck!

Monday, April 21, 2008

Thoughts on the Final Cylon

The new season of "Battlestar Galactica" has reinvigorated my interest in the series. The first two season kept me at the edge of my seat but season three fell a little flat to me. That said, it's still one of (if not the) best series on TV right now. All other remakes are beyond pale in comparison-- don't even get me started on "Knight Rider."

So the big question now is who is the final cylon?

I hope you all are up to date on the show. I've been really nice in not putting up spoilers after last season's finale and the revelation that Anders, Tigh, Tyrol and Tory are 4 of the 5 hidden cylons. And if you haven't seen last Friday's episode, I'll still be nice and not spoil the ending, but damn! That was a good one.

I have no particular insights on the final cylon but I have been pondering the subject like the geek I am and I couple things have occurred to me.

First, the balance between the male and female cylons is now tipped strongly to one side. With the addition of Tigh, Tyrol and Anders there are now 7 male models (the other men being Simon, Cavil, Leoben, and Doral). I don't know if this is significant but the women in BSG have been a force to be reckoned with throughout the series. Maybe they felt the need to have more male cylons since the female cylons have such presence-- Six is my favorite.

So if I were to follow my first thought I have to consider the fact that Starbuck is the final cylon. It would make it much easier to explain her apparent death and resurrection wouldn't it? I assume cylon technology would be able to duplicate Kara's raider and it wouldn't be that hard to put a duplicate in her place and send her back to the Galactica. The only hitch here so far is that the main cylon group we've been following don't know who the final 5 are and couldn't have done the switcheroo. Which leads me to think that the final 5 cylon models have to be somewhere out there, traveling in much the same way the original group of cylons are out in space. I can't imagine why the final 5 are separated from the first group, though I'm sure the show's creators will explain that. Well, I hope they will.

But I don't know if the creators of the show will do the obvious and make Starbuck the final cylon. If they don't, I'm still going to stick to my original assumption that it will be a woman. So that leaves Admiral Adama off of my particular list. I also assume it's a character we're familiar with. The only other female character that stands out is Laura Roslin. That would be an interesting twist wouldn't it? I remember in the first season there were all these prophesies that Roslin would lead the survivors to Earth, but none of them said she wasn't a cylon.

But again, I have to go back to my Starbuck-is-the-cylon theory. The last four to be revealed heard the music that triggered their awareness while going through a nebula, but Kara wasn't on the ship at the time-- of course we don't know where she was. But Roslin was on the ship and wasn't affected the same way as the other four were, so that could lead me to speculate that the last cylon wasn't with the Galactica fleet; leading me back to Starbuck. I haven't forgotten that the cylons kept Starbuck in captivity, but since they don't know the identities of the final five, that doesn't really mean anything.

So I guess that's where I'm at right now. I'm throwing my prediction out that the final cylon is Kara Thrace-- until the show has some new twist that makes me change my mind.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

I'm Totally Copying This Post Because It's Awesome


I was going to write a post about how much I love BSG and how great I think this final (Waaaaah!) season has been so far. I watched it on Friday and thought it was seriously intense-- though I won't spoil it for anyone who hasn't seen it.

Anyway, I clicked on my link to i09 and they had an interview with the characters who were revealed last season to have been four of the final five cylons.

I so can't compete with that.

So I'm going to post part of the interview ere and link you to the rest of it because if you're a fan of BSG, you'll love it. ((Spoiler warning))


Battlestar Galactica's Secret Cylons Tell AllWhy does Anders stay with Starbuck, when she treats him like crap? Will Col. Tigh still have his eyepatch for the rest of the season? What's up with Tory's sexuality? Michael Trucco (Anders), Rekha Sharma (Tory), and Michael Hogan (Tigh) answered these, and several other questions yesterday at New York Comic-Con. Plus we saw a new trailer that included some important scenes from upcoming episodes.

Before the questioning even began, Sci Fi screened a quickie trailer spliced together with scenes from episodes to come. It's hard to say what's fact and what is fiction with all the character dream sequences that have happened so far in BSG, but this is what I put together from mere half seconds of footage.

Adama Knows — Or Does He?
Adama figures out who the four cylons are aboard his ship. I based this on a quickie moment where you see Adama drinking next to Chief Tyrol and Adama leans over and sneers, "I guess they can't take being married to a cylon." Plus there seems to be a huge Tigh and Adama fist fight in the works from a quickly cut scene where the two were throwing down.

Chief Loses Faith And Some Hair
Granted, the Chief never had that much religion to begin with, besides stating that he was son of a prophet and figuring out the Eye of Jupiter. But a bald chief takes a run at a cylon screaming something about their one true god.

Starbuck Loses The Little Sanity She Has Left
Starbuck opens a notebook and looks on in shock as the number '6' has been written over and over again.

Bump In The Road To Earth
Starbuck's command is being challenged and it's down to the wire problems take over her Mission: Find Earth trip. I based this on a lot Starbucks crew members yelling at her and then eventually Helo (on the communicator) that they only had a little time left. Yeah this one's a little predictable it's not like they were just going to find Earth in the next episode, or do they?

Important Questions Answered, Or No Commented

Q: What was your initial reaction when you heard you were going to be a cylon?

Michael Hogan: For me it was disbelief. As Hogan it was disbelief. I thought that's kitschy that's cheap. Of everybody who's ever been on Battlestar Galactica, Col. Tigh was second to last of who should be a cylon. And so I thought of course it's obvious that will be the surprise. So I didn't believe it, I didn't like it. I had actually said numerous times once we were shooting Battlestar Galactica, am I ever glad that I'm not playing a cylon. But over the four years that we've been doing this. The powers that be have never steered me wrong, I may have disagreed with them, and sometimes they go along with me. But when they've stuck to their guns, I mean wow look what they put Tigh through so I got to stick with them

Rekha Sharma: I was so excited. I started squealing in my room. I came out and told my friends what I just read. And then I proceed to behave really calmly because it was an early draft, things could change, don't get too excited you could get knock off early... [fake yells] But I'm going to be a cylon. I'm still here so we'll see how that goes.

Michael Trucco: My first reaction was, so I guess I'm coming back. I was only supposed to be around for two episodes. Somehow I hood winked them into keeping me around for about 20 more. It was great it, it was obviously a bit of a surprise for all of us. I got teased and you largely think that they are bullshitting you because there are so many rumors and lies. I kept thinking there is no way in hell that they would pick me as a cylon. When I found out I read ahead, the first thing I did was call Ron and David and tried to figure out what were the implications for our character. How does this reconcile the last two and a half years, suddenly we have this new found identity. So we worked it out and I think it worked out pretty good.

How did you work with "All Along The Watchtower?"

Michael Hogan: I had Bob Dylan's version and Hendrix's version in my trailer. I of course was alive when that first came out. These fools weren't, it was just too much to have them in my trailer it cranked it to the max and Hendrix is just wailing away. And Rekha, 'going oh my god.' So I thought, "Welcome aboard."

Do the actors treat you differently now that you're cylons?

Michael Hogan: That's all backstage. They treat us with great respect.

Michael Trucco: They were jealous.

Did you get any backstory for Tory? Does she always cry during sex?

Rekha Sharma: They did not create a backstory for Tory besides her job. I spoke to Ron Moore at a party. He said he would love to know what my thoughts were. I got to be part of a collaborative experience of creating my characters backstory so that's really fun and really exciting.

Michael Trucco: Who did the crying during sex part?

Rekha Sharma: Michael Angeli is responsible for that. Apparently there is some person he knew through someone, this is a true story apparently. So he wanted me to carry that torch.

Michael Trucco: You didn't cry when you were with Anders?

Rekha Sharma: Hell no... my personal choice was to make that a lie because I wasn't happy to be in bed with the guy who ruined my life on New Caprica.

Click HERE to read the rest of the interview.




Friday, April 18, 2008

Friday Feature, Best Posts Revisited: Is Starship Troopers the Greatest Movie Ever......or Complete Crap?

I don't know if this is actually a "best post," but it was probably the first one to ever generate more than one or two comments on my blog. Granted, my comment numbers are modest, but I'll take what I can get. Well, the title of this post ought to put anyone who reads this firmly in one camp or the other. The reason I ask the question is because so many sci-fi lovers I know LOVE this movie. It is a great sci-fi story. Where the controversy comes in is whether or not you're a fan of Robert Heinlein, who wrote the original story. Heinlein fans apparently fall into the group that believe the movie is crap. I'm not a particular fan of Heinlein, though maybe I should try a little harder. I tried to read "Stranger in a Strange Land" years ago, and just couldn't get into it. I've been reluctant to pick up a Heinlein book ever since. But as far as Starship Troopers goes, I am kind of on the fence. Though, I probably fall more into the category of a fan of the movie. Why? Well, I have watched it more than once, and I don't do that if I really don't care for something. Another reason is that the movie did leave an impression; enough so that I am writing a post in my blog nine years after the movie came out. That says something. If you haven't seen the movie, it's not too difficult to summarize. It's a war movie, but instead of fighting another country we're fighting aliens- referred to as "bugs." And boy do they look like bugs, great big scary ones. The society depicted in the movie is futuristic and far more militaristic than ours is now. It has pretty decent special effects, especially for its time; and the bugs make such a menacing enemy that it's hard to see how the humans could effectively fight them. Another interesting plot point is that military service is compulsory for a person to become a citizen. (if I remember correctly) From the descriptions I have read of Heinlein's book, citizenship means you must fight to vote, though it's not clear what the scope of citizenship means in the movie. But what really stands out about the movie is the use of propaganda films to sell the war to the people. The film reels hearken back to WWII when the U.S. would make propaganda reels to show to the public, and Starship Troopers shows the very same thing. War is sold as patriotic and noble. In stark contrast to this is the reality of war that is shown as the movie moves along. Even in basic training there are violent accidents. One cadet is killed in a live ammo exercise and flogging is shown as the accepted form of punishment. But this is nothing compared to the violence that is shown when the cadets go to war. The military is completely out-classed by the bugs and they take heavy losses. These are brutally depicted in the movie as well. Another thing that invites a lot of comment about the movie is that the people in it are stunningly beautiful. You have Caspar Van Dien and Denise Richards as the lead characters. Two people not particularly known for their great acting skills, but very well known for their looks. Most of the secondary characters are very good looking as well. I find this an interesting choice and who knows, maybe it was a choice intended to show a contrast between the beauty of unscarred innocence and brutality of war. I don't know if that's the case, but the contrast does show up in the movie regardless. The movie is only loosely based on the book according to Wikipidea. In fact, the article states that Paul Verhoeven, the director, didn't even finish the book; though he still puts some of the book's dialogue into the movie. And this is where the biggest controversy comes in. Apparently Heinlein's mobile infantry in the book was far more developed than in the movie; the difference has been blamed on budget constraints. And while some people were bothered by that, overall the biggest complaint was that Heinlein emphasized fascism quite a bit more than was shown in the movie. In fact, the movie depicted the society as far more liberal, with women serving in the military and the sexes mingle quite freely without embarrassment; even bunking and showering together. At the end of the day, I guess it's what you want out of the movie that determines whether you like it or not. If you're looking for a pretty straight forward action movie with a lot of blood and guts, you'll probably like it. If you're looking for social commentary, maybe the book would be more to your taste. And regardless of anything, the movie is over nine years old and the book was published in 1959. The fact that anyone is still talking about it says something doesn't it?

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Love Bites

This post is dedicated to my friend Furiousball who is in an understandable funk right now.

Love. We're always looking for it. We write poems and songs about it. We act like fools for it. And if we can't find it we sign up for online dating services in the hope that somewhere, in some corner of the world, there is someone out there who will fall hopelessly, shamelessly in love with us.

And it happens. We fall in love and maybe our significant other loves us back. But does that always mean a happy ending?

Not by a long shot.

Even Hollywood, the land of the happy ending, can sell us on the fact that everyone lives happily ever after-- you gotta throw some reality in there sometime. So here's some not-so-happily-ever-after love stories that show that sometimes love bites. Hard.

Kyle Reese & Sarah Connor

I had these two on my Love Fantastic post, but I may have to rethink the positive aspects of this love story. Oh sure, the chemistry was great and together they brought forth humanity's greatest hope. But the fallout of this love story is rough. Kyle's one bright spot in a pretty dismal life is his love affair with Sarah and that gets cuts short before he gets a chance to enjoy it. Sarah then gets to have a baby alone, try to raise him to be the ultimate warrior while trying to convince the world she isn't crazy only to die an early death from cancer. One reason to avoid the tough-guy types.

Padme Amidala & Anakin Skywalker

Oh sure, women love the bad boys. Let this be a lesson to you ladies, when a man slaughters a whole village--it's not a good sign. Padme must've been attracted to what seemed like Anakin's devil-may-care attitude and he had an eye for older women. But this is an another example of chemistry just not being enough to overcome those nasty inner demons. Anakin may have thought love would be enough to keep him happy, but it wasn't long before the dark side continued to beckon with promises of power and glory. Once facing what her man has become Amidala loses her will to live, even after the birth of her children. And Anakin ends up as a heavy breather in a black suit. Not a happy ending for anyone.

Wash & Zoe

Wash and Zoe actually had it right. They fell in love and stayed in love. They even worked together. And this is the classic example of why you can't ever take love for granted. Even when you do everything right-- you nurture the relationship and you're happy. Wham! The love of your life is unexpectedly harpooned to death. Who gets over that?

Rose DeWitt Bukater & Jack Dawson

These two really should have known better. Society would never have understood but these two kids couldn't help themselves. Rose, a spoiled high-society type, falls for Jack, a slightly grungy artist. Their love is strong enough that Rose decides to leave her rich fiancee for Jack, and even poses for a racy nude drawing. But fate had other plans and Jack ended up on the ocean floor. Does anyone think these two would have made it anyway? I have my doubts.

Buffy & Angel

This is another one that just couldn't last. I mean really, a vampire slayer and a vampire? Sure Angel had a soul, but at the end of the day, still a vampire. And the worst part of this story is that if Angel has one moment of true happiness, such as when he's with Buffy, he loses his soul and reverts to being totally evil. Evil vampires don't make good boyfriends. And Buffy was so scarred by the experience she ended up sleeping with another vampire. Someone should have told this girl that you are supposed to learn from bad relationships.

Number Six & Gaius Baltar

Okay, this story isn't over yet and I don't know how it's going to end, but this is one relationship with some pretty heavy consequences. Gaius just thought he was having a fling but his libido nearly wiped out humanity. And despite finding out that the lovely woman he was sleeping with was a cylon, he still couldn't get her out of his head. In fact, both of these two have had a rather obsessive relationship with each other. Which just goes to show you that obsessive love doesn't ever have a pretty ending.

*Sigh*

It just goes to show you, Shakespeare knew what he was talking about when he wrote "Romeo & Juliet." Love is rough. Even when you think it's good, it can turn on you.

I need some more NyQuil. And a Prozac.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

*&^%$# Ebay

Okay. I had intended to write a "real" post today. Really. I put up a review on my book review blog earlier today and I was going to think of something to put up here. Stupidly, I didn't get on the computer until 10:00pm. You know how it is, I had to see who got kicked off "Dancing With the Stars." So then I get on the computer and see that I won an item on Ebay. Cool. There's a book I've been wanting and I got it cheap. So I figure I'll just pay for my book and then whip something up to put on my blog. Then I tried to log in to paypal. What a friggin' pain! We moved a few months ago and I have not been able to change my account information for anything. I tried to change the email and it asks for my bank account number to confirm that the account belongs to me. So I put in my bank account number and it says I haven't entered all the numbers. I check again. Nope, all there. But it won't take my info. Argggg! I spend a good half and hour trying to update my account and it just isn't happening. Fine. I decide to sign up a new account with the new email address. But paypal won't take that because I had added the new email to the old account. Grrrrrr! Then I remember I have another email address that we never use because it sucks; but it'll do if I can just get the stupid paypal account set up and current. So I enter all my info and hit enter but paypal won't take it because the address on the account doesn't match my credit card. WTF? Oh, for some reason the paypal site keeps changing my info to show an address I haven't lived at in 3 years and I have no idea why. This goes on for a good half and hour before I get the new account set up. Back and forth between the address, the expiration date on the debit card, my email and the password. Ugh, this is so not worth the bother. But I persevere and I got the darned account set up. Triumphantly I click on the "pay now" button to pay for my book and get on with the rest of my life and Ebay decides to tell me that the seller cannot accept payments from paypal at this time. Oh. Hell. No. So then I'm clicking all over the place trying to figure out how the heck I'm supposed to pay for this stupid book, that you know, maybe I don't really need, only to see that the seller won't accept any other methods. Bloody hell. For this I wasted an hour of my life? So anyway, no sci-fi post tonight. I'm feeling slightly frustrated and I haven't done anything but peck away at my computer keyboard for the last hour. I need some NyQuil.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Blurg


Sorry for the lack of posts. I have a cold that is leaving me too muddle headed to write.

The NyQuil isn't helping either.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Friday Feature, Best Posts Revisited: Sid and Marty Krofft Made Me What I Am Today

A blue mutant? No, no that's not it. A fan of fantasy and sci-fi of course. You probably have to be a bit older, like me, to remember the shows put out by Sid and Marty Krofft. But if you are my age, chances are you not only remember, but devotedly watched them like I did. I mean, who could resist? Talking cars (before Knight Rider), bugs, sea monsters and whatever a Pufnstuf is. If I try to remember the Sid and Marty Krofft shows I watched as a kid, the first one that comes to mind is Land of the Lost. My husband and I still refer back to this show; usually it's something like, doesn't that guy look like Chaka? Land of the Lost was a show about a family, Rick, Will and Holly Marshall, who were rafting when a big earthquake hit and sucked through a dimensional portal into the Land of the Lost. I remember it kind of being a prehistoric place, populated by dinosaurs and cavemen like people-- including Chaka; though other people from other times in history were also brought there. Like all Krofft shows, the costumes are cheesy and the sets even worse. But who cares when you're a kid? I thought it was great. What could be better than reptilian/insectoid villains like the Sleestak? H.R. Pufnstuf is another Krofft show that has managed to become part of the vernacular of my life. Witches are not witches, they're Witchiepoo! This is another show where a human gets lost in another land. This time it's a boy named Jimmy who gets lost on Living Island, where everything is well....alive. H.R. Pufnstuf is a dragon who befriends Jimmy and tries to help him. Jimmy also has a talking flute named Freddie that Witchiepoo is always trying to steal; and if that doesn't sound good enough, then how about the fact that Witchipoo rode a broom with with a steering wheel named Vroom Broom? I don't make this stuff up folks. And then there's Sigmund and the Sea Monsters. Oh, I loved Sigmund. Instead of a human getting lost, this time it was the sea monster who ended up in the human world. Sigmund left his mean sea monster family and ends up being taken in by Johnny and his brother Scott. There isn't much more to it than that. Again, totally cheesy costumes, but I swear, my son looked just like Sigmund when he got his first tooth in. Another one of my favorites was the Bugaloos This one was about a bunch of buglike people who had wings and could fly. I think I liked this one because they always played music. The Bugaloos were a musical group that lived in Tranquility Forest who were always being chased by the jealous Benita Bizarre. Bizarre was jealous of the Bugaloos talent and popularity and was always trying to catch them. And lastly, there was Wonderbug a show about a talking Dune buggy. Basically a rip off of Speed Buggy, a cartoon about a talking Dune buggy. But who cares about these things when you're a kid? I didn't. I just liked the show because it had a talking car. I mean, who doesn't? A lot of these shows, when I look at them as an adult, make me think they were conceived over several bong hits. And lots of people apparently felt the same way since there was this whole controversy over the name H.R. Pufnstuf. Many thought Pufnstuf referred to "puffin' stuff" like pot. The Krofft brothers denied this, but really, who comes up with stuff like the Vroom Broom and the Sleestak's when they're sober? I'm just sayin' But oh, the happy, lost Saturday afternoons I spent watching these shows. How lucky was I that I didn't have a Mom who insisted I do something more constructive with my time? Thanks Mom.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

CGI: the Good, Bad, & the Ugly

One thing that is pretty much inescapable in today's sci-fi and fantasy and that is CGI or computer generated imagery. George Lucas has probably been the single most influential movie-maker when it comes to CGI, most notably using it to spectacular effect in his first Star Wars movie. But over the years CGI has become something of a blessing and a curse for sci-fi lovers. When used with live action CGI can be tough to integrate naturally into a story, though it can add some dazzling visuals. CGI is great when it is used in animated films such as Toy Story or Monsters Inc. but it can be jarring when fused with human interaction.

Here's my look at CGI and who I think did it well, and who didn't.


The Abyss

I loved this movie when it first came out. When I think of films set in or on the ocean I usually think of submarines or sharks. "The Abyss" took a totally different angle and took us inside an underwater oil platform. After a submarine sinks deep in the ocean a SEAL team is sent to the underwater oil platform as a base to investigate the wreck. The SEAL and the crew from the oil platform both head to investigate the sub and first encounter the mysterious life forms that are living under the sea. At first we don't know what they are, but soon we realize they can manipulate water when they send a tentacle formed from seawater to investigate the humans on the rig. (Best line in the film: "Raise your hand if you think that was a Russian water tentacle...") I liked the use of CGI in this film. It was effective without being overused.

Verdict: Good CGI

The Hulk

I had high hopes for this when it first came out. Many of us remember growing up with the TV series The Incredible Hulk starring Bill Bixby and a green painted Lou Ferrigno. I always liked the show as a kid and couldn't wait for David Banner to utter his famous Don't make me angry, you wouldn't like me when I'm angry... line. Back in the day the most realistic thing they could do was use two actors, one for David and one for The Hulk, to demonstrate the transformation from man to monster. But the movie seemed to promise something more; a bigger badder Hulk. The problem with the movie version though was that The Hulk wasn't just big, he was massive on a scale that was so far beyond realism that I couldn't take my mind away from the fact that he was fake. Add to that the fact that his face looked a bit like a petulant child and I was lost for good.

Verdict: Bad CGI

Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace

Jar Jar Binks.

Verdict: Ugly CGI

Jurassic Park

"Jurassic Park" was one of the first movies to effectively blend live action and CGI on a huge scale. I can't imagine how much work must have gone into this film. The dinosaurs are big, scary, foreign and IMO pretty darned realistic (though having never seen a live dinosaur, what do I know?) Some people like to debate whether or not this movie stayed close enough to the book to be considered good, but if you like your CGI, it's hard to deny the special effects in this were impressive. I was especially taken by how well the Velociraptors were done. In most movies the big Tyrannosaurus rex would have taken center stage, but the raptors were given a very convincing menace.

Verdict: Good CGI

Van Helsing

I really wanted to like this movie. It's no secret I have a massive crush on Hugh Jackman and I usually manage to love him in everything, but this movie was just too busy and had too much CGI in my opinion to really work. As a monster hunter, Van Helsing faces vampires, werewolves and the Frankenstein monster. If the movie had only focused on one or two monsters I could probably have gone along and enjoyed the show. But overall I felt there was just too much and not enough of it was well done. By the time the Frankenstein monster showed up, I had already checked out.

Verdict: Bad CGI

League of Extraordinary Gentlemen

Mr. Hyde.

Verdict: Ugly CGI

Pan's Labyrinth

This movie is a stunner on so many levels. It's imaginative, well written and acted and beautifully conceived. This movie, in the hands of a less skilled director could have been a disaster but Guillermo del Toro delivers an adult fairy tale that is unforgettable. Blending dark images of a fairy tale world inhabited by fairies and fauns with post-Civil War Spain, "Pan's Labyrinth" fuses live action and CGI with absolute conviction.

Verdict: Good DGI

Wild Wild West

This movie was a fiasco from its inception. It is a strange attempt to fuse westerns with science fiction in sort of a steampunk adaptation. Starring Will Smith as Jim West and a severely overacting Kenneth Branagh as the villain Arliss Loveless, the movie has all kinds of bizarre inventions including nitroglycerin-powered penny-farthing bicycles, spring-loaded notebooks, bulletproof chainmail, flying machines, steam tanks, and Loveless's giant mechanical spider. (source~ Wikipedia) This is another example of waaaay too much CGI. It's bad enough the movie was poorly written and directed, but the CGI did nothing to add to it either.

Verdict: Bad CGI

The Mummy Returns

The hideous scorpion-fused-with-The Rock.

Verdict: Ugly CGI

Boy, I could go on and on. In fact, I bet this post will have a sequel since there is so much CGI out there. So get the sequel started-- what would you add?


Sunday, April 06, 2008

Fantasy & Sci-Fi Hall of Shame

I was watching TV the other day and saw a feature on a news show about the worst movies of all time, and I had to cringe at how many were sci-fi or fantasy films. But the sad truth is that while movie makers try to explore the unknown through our entertainment, they've managed to make some real turkeys. Funny thing though, I grew up watching a lot of these movies, and I am a little embarrassed to admit, some of them may have contributed to my love of the genre. But as an adult I can no longer look away and pretend they don't stink up the room just by being on the screen.

Xanadu

I haven't watched Xanadu in years, so all I really remember is that Olivia Newton John starred as a roller skating muse who falls in love with a mortal. That's right, roller skates figured into this gawd-awful movie. The soundtrack was a massive success but the movie was universally panned-- with good reason. This was actually on TV recently and I couldn't sit through five minutes of the horrible acting. I still can't believe Gene Kelly was in this atrocity.

Battlefield Earth

I have never actually sat through this film. It was crucified so severely when it came out that I knew to never attempt to sit through it. About the only thing I know about the movie is that it was based on a book by L. Ron Hubbard and adapted (poorly) by well known Scientologist John Travolta. I think the best way to sum up this movie is to simply quote the critics:

Bakersfield Runner MICHAEL A. LIEBEL In short, "Battlefield Earth" is a big, moronic, lumbering dud that is so absolutely dreadful to watch that it winds up inciting more laughs than it should. Holding a magnifying glass up to “Battlefield Earth” won’t do anyone any good, really. This is, hands down, one of the worst science fiction films ever made and that’s saying a lot.

Box Office Magazine "It is, in fact, utterly inane and innocuous in the most harmless, uninteresting way--the fruit of an overrated star’s overblown ego, recklessly indulged by studio excess."

CNN.com Review: Logic loses in 'Battlefield Earth': Let's get one thing straight. "Battlefield Earth" was only made because John Travolta wanted it made. It's been his baby from start to finish. It's not a pretty baby.

Colorado Daily "It’s a battle to not walk out" I don't think cult-followers need worry unless they're concerned for the health of some members they know. If those Scientologists are fans of film, they may consider "Battlefield Earth" a call to mass suicide.


'Nuff said.

Jaws 3-D

Sadly, I did see this movie when it came out in the theatre. In some ways my friends enjoyed it simply for the cheese factor, but even as teenagers we knew a dud when we saw one. But really, a shark movie sequel in 3-D? We should have known better, though the audience may be forgiven for assuming a movie starring Dennis Quaid and Louis Gossett Jr. would be halfway decent. Quaid starred as the oldest son from the original Jaws movies, grown up and now working for SeaWorld and getting ready to open an "Undersea Kingdom"-- which ironically is very like the Shark Encounter SeaWorld now has. I don't remember all the details of the movie, but I do remember two things: A shark coming through a glass enclosure to attack the people observing it; and a shark being blown up. All in 3-D. Terrible plot and terrible special effects.

Superman III & IV

I also watched Superman III in the movie theatre, but that experience prevented me from wasting my money on Superman IV. In fact, for many years I totally forgot that a Superman IV had even been made. It was on TV one day and I remember looking at my husband and asking did they make a Superman IV? and I also remember him looking at me and saying I don't know... We flipped on the movie and it only took a few seconds of seeing some really bad special effects to know why we had never seen this movie. Superman III on the other hand was a cruel sort of bait-and-switch done by the movie studios. The original Superman and Superman II were both pretty darn good movies and knowing that Christopher Reeve was going to star in the third installment probably drew a lot of people to the theater despite hearing some bad reviews. Again, I haven't seen Superman III in many years because, like all of this list, it was so bad that I wouldn't watch it again except under duress. What I do remember is Superman turning evil after being exposed to some synthetic Kryptonite, Richard Pryor trying really hard to be funny and the absence of Lex Luthor. Why bother?

Batman and Robin

The original Batman film franchise had already been dying a slow death with the merry-go-round cast of Batmans including Michael Keaton and Val Kilmer before George Clooney decided to take on the role. Apparently deciding that Batman, and the slew of villains (this time including Arnold Schwarzenegger as Mr. Freeze and Uma Thurman as Poison Ivy) were no longer interesting enough to carry a film, the writers decided to add Batgirl (Alicia Silverstone) to the story, and bring back Robin (Chris O'Donnel who was introduced in "Batman Forever"). Again, there isn't a whole lot to remember about this film. It was busy without being interesting and the overload of muscular costumes and cod-pieces kind of hurt my eyes after awhile.

Howard the Duck

I can't believe this movie was ever made. Watch THIS to see what I mean.

Catwoman

I actually know people who liked this film, but frankly, I think it belongs in the Hall of Shame. The best thing about the character of Catwoman is that she's a villain. Michelle Pfeiffer was probably the best thing about the original "Batman." She played the role with relish and knew that being a bad girl was way more interesting than the alternative. But this lame movie attempted to make Catwoman more of a hero and essentially took the teeth out of the character. Add an overacting Sharon Stone and you end up with a mess.

Highlander II

I don't think movie makers have ever really done this series justice. But the original movie manages to avoid the Hall of Shame because it's kind of like the original "Terminator" in that despite its low budget, the idea takes hold. It also didn't hurt that Sean Connery had a starring role. But even Bond himself couldn't save this awful sequel. Again, I have to apologise for my hazy memory (c'mon, how many of you have recently watched any of these movies?) so all I really recall is something about the ozone layer, aliens and the ghost of Sean Connery. You make sense of that...

Now I know there are a lot of other atrocious movies out there. I have looked up lists of the worst sci-fi and titles like, "Bloodsucking Freaks" comes up. But the truth is I think a Hall of Shame belongs to the big-budget movies that actually star people whose names we know and make it to the big screen. There should be actual shame involved on the part of movie makers who should know better IMHO. So tell me, what shameful movies would make your list?

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Friday Feature, Best Posts Revisited: Good Ideas Gone Wrong

I don't know if this was a "best post," but it was certainly one of my most popular. And given the lack of comments these days, maybe I need to revisit the past.... I've noticed a disturbing trend among some of my favorite sci-fi movies; the inability to make a decent sequel. Am I the only one who has noticed this? Somehow I doubt it. The Star Wars saga IMO turned out to be one of the biggest disappointments ever. Granted, Lucas managed to make the first trilogy worth watching. Star Wars itself will always be the best one, but The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi were worthy successors. But what the Hell happened after that? The second trilogy was such a letdown to me. I tried to like The Phantom Menace, I did. But there were so many things that bothered me. I wasn't a huge fan of the young Anakin and Natalie Portman brought new meaning to the description "wooden." And need I really get into the whole Jar Jar Binks issue? So when Attack of the Clones came out, I didn't exactly rush to the box office, and I humbly admit I haven't even seen Revenge of the Sith. ((ducks)) If I had to pick out one thing that ruined the last Star Wars trilogy it would be the over-emphasis on computer graphics and a complete lack of character building. I know I am not the first to say it, but that doesn't make it a less valid complaint. Another great idea that fell apart was the Matrix movie franchise. Man, I loved the Matrix too. I thought it was the most interesting, innovative movie I had seen in a long long time. I was so looking forward to the sequel and couldn't have been more excited that they were making THREE of them! *sigh* And then I saw The Matrix Reloaded. To be honest, I didn't understand but half of what they were talking about. And it seemed to me they were trying so hard to be deep, they forgot to make the story interesting. There were some good fight scenes, of which I am a big fan and the freeway chase scene was fun. But other than that, I was disappointed enough not to bother to see Matrix Revolutions in the movie theater. I did maintain enough hope to rent the final movie, but frankly, I couldn't wait for the darn thing to end. I think the makers of the third movie ended up making the same mistake George Lucas did and spent too much time on computer generated stunts and forgot the story. And the CGI at the end of the movie wasn't even convincing to me. I thought it looked terribly fake. The Terminator series did manage to fare better than most, with two really good films with the original Terminator and T2: Judgement Day. Nope this one didn't fall apart until T3: Rise of the Machines. The only thing I liked about this one was the Terminatrix; I guess I like strong women. The biggest mistakes here were that James Cameron didn't direct the film and it didn't include Linda Hamilton. I didn't mind Nick Stahl too much as John Conner, but I would've preferred Edward Furlong if only for consistency. Since I already mentioned Highlander in a recent post, I won't delve into that any further right now. Though it fits since the first movie is the only one worth mentioning. Let me know if you agree with my assessment or if you think I am way off. And as always, tell me if you think I left anything out.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

70's-80's Remake Hell

I don't remember the 70's or the 80's as being the heyday of television, but somehow Hollywood has gotten the idea that we can't get enough. It's so bad that NBC co-chairman Marc Graboff made these comments about adding the remake of "Knight Rider" (a horrible horrible show) to the 2008-2009 schedule.

People need to escape. Ben [Silverman, NBC's head of programming]'s programming strategy is to find some shows where people can tune in and then mentally tune out. That's his directive, and I think you'll see that reflected in the programs. ~i09.

The horror!

So that's the reason we've been subjected to atrocities like Charlie's Angels and Starsky & Hutch? And the reason we will be soon subjected to Land of the Lost, Get Smart (although this ran mostly in the 60's and God help me, I may have a fliker of hope for this one) and rumored remakes of The A-Team and CHiPs (with Wilmer Valderrama as Ponch(!).

Have we learned nothing from The Dukes of Hazzard? Miami Vice?

In a way I blame Battlestar Galactica. BSG wasn't the first remake from the 70's or the 80's, but it proved you could take a show from those decades and turn it into something special. The problem is that no one has been able to duplicate that feat yet (unless I'm missing something). I think Bionic Woman is the only show that has at least attempted to be halfway decent, no surprise since it's also produced by BSG's David Eick, but it never gelled the way BSG did.

In fact, most of the remakes I have mentioned here have been awful. I'm still offended that Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson absolutely made a mockery of Starsky & Hutch, which I think was a pretty decent show. I mean, it's really nothing to me if CHiPs sucks because it was always hokey, but maybe we could have left The Incredible Hulk alone. But no, they've made another one-- a remake of the remake. When will the insanity end?
~And it looks like the same cheesy CGI as the last one....

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Quick Note

I HAD to link to THIS ARTICLE at i09 about NBC picking up "Knight Rider" for it's 2008-2009 season. No, this isn't an April Fool's joke. Unfortunately. Also, check out my book review blog if you like short stories. I'm giving away one set of 3 books of short stories... Keep reading to the next post if you like musclebound women. You might want to skip the last picture though; it's a bit scary.